Early voting numbers still low; primary election May 20 – Rome News-Tribune: Local

A county official is continuing to predict a low voter turnout for next week’s primary election, despite a better-than-usual participation rate during the one weekend date for advanced voting.

Friday is the last day of early voting prior to the May 20 election.

Evon Billups, elections supervisor for Floyd County, is still estimating about a 15-percent turnout of the county’s registered voters based on the numbers so far.
However, she said the total from the only weekend day that residents could vote during the early voting period, is notable.

A total of 56 voters cast ballots at the Floyd County Administration Building, 12 E. Fourth Ave., this past Saturday, two weeks after early voting began in Georgia.

“That’s a higher number than we’ve ever had on a Saturday,” Billups said. “It’s better than many of the weekday totals this time.”

via Early voting numbers still low; primary election May 20 – Rome News-Tribune: Local.

Adoptable Georgia Dogs for May 13, 2014

Dynamo

Dynamo is a young male Black Lab mix puppy who is available for adoption from Hall County Animal Shelter in Gainesville, Ga.

Hall22417374

ID #22417374 is a 3-month old Black Lab mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Hall County Animal Shelter in Gainesville, Ga.

BusterHall

Buster is an adult male Golden Retriever mix (looks like all Golden to me) who is available for adoption from the Hall County Animal Shelter in Gainesville, Ga.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 13, 2014

Yesterday, Republican Nancy Jester’s campaign for State School Superintendent received an important endorsement for voters who are concerned that our tax dollars — more than 50% of state tax revenue — are spent wisely.

Nancy Jester has already received support from radio talk show host Eric Erickson, Georgia State Senator Josh McKoon and former State Senator Eric Johnson. Today Ms. Jester received a shot in the arm from a national figure,  Americans For Tax Reform President Grover Norquist and the Cost of Government Center.

In a statement of support Norquist notes the efforts by Ms. Jester to use transparency and disclosure to the citizens of Georgia of all spending for the state on education.

“ATR and COGC  laud the efforts of Ms. Jester to improve the education system in the state of Georgia through sensible spending, increased transparency and strong accountability” said Norquist.

Ms. Jester has promised to “put the check register on-line for all to see” so that Georgians will know where their tax-dollars are being spent.

In one week, Georgia voters will cast their ballots in the 2014 Republican, Democratic and nonpartisan primaries. For many school systems across Georgia, this will be complicated by the fact that the fourth week in May is the last week for public schools. In Cobb County, it appears that all students will be released early on election day. Does that enhance or detract from voting? Will parents picking up their kids be able to vote at that time, or will the logisitics prevent their voting at all that day? More about early voting and voter turnout below.

On May 13, 1607, English settlers founded the first permanent English settlement in America, at Jamestown on the James River. This led to the first English-language politics in America:

Dispatched from England by the London Company, the colonists had sailed across the Atlantic aboard the Susan Constant,Godspeed, and Discovery. Upon landing at Jamestown, the first colonial council was held by seven settlers whose names had been chosen and placed in a sealed box by King James I. The council, which included Captain John Smith, an English adventurer, chose Edward Wingfield as its first president.

Lyman Hall arrived in Philadelphia as a delegate to the Second Continental Congress on May 13, 1775.

On May 13, 1798, a Constitutional Convention adopted the Georgia Constitution of 1798.

The first fighting at Resaca, Georgia took place on May 13, 1864 and Union forces marched into Dalton. On May 13, 1864, 257 cadets from the Virginia Military Institute camped at Mt. Crawford near Harrisonburg.The next day they would continue their march to New Market, Virginia.

On May 13, 1981, Pope John Paul II was shot at St. Peter’s Square in Rome.

On May 13, 2005, the Pentagon Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) recommended the closing of Fort McPherson in Atlanta, Fort Gillem in Forest Park, the Naval Air Station in Marietta, and the Naval Supply Corps School in Athens.

Debate about debates

Last week, the Republican National Committee convened in Nashville and took up the question of debates in the 2016 Presidential Primary season and created a Standing Committee on Presidential Primary Debates.

Each debate sanctioned by the Standing Committee on Presidential Primary Debates shall be known as a “Sanctioned Debate.” Any presidential candidate who participates in any debate that is not a Sanctioned Debate shall not be eligible to participate in any further Sanctioned Debates.

The proliferation of debates is seen as partly responsible for the eventual defeat of Mitt Romney in the general election, as he was battered by opponents for the GOP nod; other Republicans think the debate provide an important vetting opportunity and ways for voters to learn more about the candidates.

Several committee members said they were worried that activists might see their ability to prod candidates reduced under the new rule.

“You’re going to squelch the ability of candidates to get to know their voter base, and the voter base to get to know their candidates,” said Diana Orrock, a national committeewoman from Nevada. “As a voter … I want to see the good, the bad and the ugly.”

The RNC measure affects only debates as candidates vie for the GOP nomination; the bipartisan Commission on Presidential Debates will still have final say on the elections between the Republican and Democratic nominees during the general election campaign.

But the RNC recommendation did take a step at reining the haphazard debate style that characterized the 2012 selection progress. The freewheeling system provided a seemingly endless series of debates, from which former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney emerged as the party’s nominee, but only after weathering harsh criticism from his rivals.

“Spending too much time fighting with each other distracts the party from its ultimate goal, which is winning the presidency,” said Bruce Ash, chairman of the RNC’s rules committee. Others said the debate moderators during the 2012 were hostile to the GOP or were Democrats who wanted Obama to win a second term.

The RNC rule does not explicitly pick debate moderators, but its members were openly critical of CNN journalist Candy Crowley, who moderated a debate between Romney and Obama. During that debate, Crowley corrected Romney’s erroneous claim that Obama had not called the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, an act of terror.

Republicans, including Romney’s top aides, were furious that the moderator interjected herself into the debate as it was happening. It remains a point of frustration for GOP leaders.

This is overlaid by jockeying between backers of potential 2016 candidates who want their favorites to have a playing field that best suits their perceived strengths.

Though the loss of free media exposure could hurt dark-horse candidates — think Rick Santorum, Ben Carson or Peter King — Priebus said campaigns-in-waiting do not view the changes as aimed at working to any one’s advantage.

“Privately, I’ve spoken to more than a few of the potential candidates,” he said, “and overwhelmingly they support this. Not even overwhelmingly — unanimously.”

Georgia commiteeman Randy Evans, who was a senior adviser to Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign, attributed Gingrich’s win in South Carolina and loss in Florida to good, and then bad, debate performances. But he supported the measure as a compromise. He said the ban on participating in sanctioned debates was not as stringent as some others had hoped for. At one point, for example, Priebus floated stripping delegates from candidates who went to non-allowed debates.

“This is the product that made the most sense at the end of the day,” said Evans.

Many Republicans agree that better selection of media partners will help the Republican candidates and provide better debates.

Because of last cycle’s circus-like atmosphere, and because of suspicions of liberal bias, some Republican constituents would like to ice out mainstream media journalists altogether.

“The people running the debates need to be Republicans,” said Georgia GOP Chairman John Padgett.

Randy Evans took to Facebook this weekend to discuss the role of moderators and how it appeared in the GPB Senate debate:

Watching GPB GOP Senatorial debate – it is an excellent example of why we passed a rule at the RNC addressing debates – every panelist thinks they are a candidate, trying to make their own points, and argue their own cases – and none are Republicans or know what is important to Republicans – it should be about the candidates, not the panelists

Having been a panelist at several debates during the GAGOP Chairman’s race and the Gainesville Senate debate, what I tried to do with my questions was: (1) involve the readers of GaPundit and grassroots Republicans by offering opportunities to literally write one of my questions; and (2) ask questions that would highlight substantive policy differences between the candidates and their records. I also like the approach taken by the Georgia YRs in the 11th District Congressional Candidates’ debate at the Cobb Galleria, where they took questions via Twitter.

Speaking of debate….

Democratic U.S. Senate Todd Robinson got this zinger against fellow Democrat Michelle Nunn in the GPB debate for Senate.

I’ve written before that the November General Election is likely to be won or lost among unaffiliated white women, and Nunn’s answer was clearly aimed at them. The specific issues she mentioned were ensuring that the minimum wage is a livable wage (crypto-Dem speak for raising the minimum wage), comprehensive immigration reform, and pay equity.

A January Wall Street Journal poll showed that 60% of women nationally, compared to 41% of men, think raising the minimum wage should be a national priority this year. Use of this issue as a bludgeon against Republicans is part of the national Democratic strategy.

According to the Associated Press’s Alan Fram: “Democrats, aware that the measure faces all but certain rejection Wednesday in the chamber they control, plan to use the vote to buttress their campaign theme that the GOP is unwilling to protect financially struggling families. ‘Americans understand fairness, and they know it’s unfair for minimum-wage workers to put in a full day’s work, a full month’s work, a full year’s work, and still live in poverty,’ the measure’s sponsor, Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, said.

2014 Turnout: the Million Dollar Question

Today, I wrote at InsiderAdvantage.com that turnout appears to be sluggish this year, based on a very small sampling of two counties. While two counties is hardly a comprehensive look at turnout, when it’s the GOP powerhouse duo of Gwinnett and Cobb Counties, early turnout is very important both for those candidates on the ballot next Tuesday, and for November.

Cobb County saw 441 votes cast at two locations on Saturday, while Gwinnett saw 596. For Cobb, it wasn’t even that it was a small turnout – it was actually fewer votes cast than the preceding four weekdays.

The 441 Cobb Ballots cast on Saturday broke were distributed this way:

Republican…….334
Democratic……104
Nonpartisan……..3

In Gwinnett County, 596 ballots total were cast on Saturday. They broke down this way:

Republican…….389
Democratic……195
Nonpartisan…….12

While changes in the election schedule this year — namely a very early primary and a shorter advance voting period than 2010 — make a direct comparison to earlier years impossible, here’s where Cobb County early and advanced voting stands today compared to 2010 and 2012:

2014 through May 10….in-person …3830……mail……943…………total ….4773

2012 entire period.….….in-person …18,306…….mail…..5,953……….total…24,259

2010 total six weeks……..in-person….9,641…….mail….1,833………..total…11,474

[Note that mail votes returned in 2014 may be depressed by a lag between when the county election office mails ballots to voters and when they are received back by the county from the voter.]

While the 2012 early/advance numbers are final, and we still have this week’s ballots to include in the 2014 totals, it appears to me to show lagging turnout. Even if early voting this week doubles the first week’s totals, Cobb County early votes could be 10,000 fewer than the 2012 total.

So, what does this mean for total votes cast, including election day? The novelty of early voting and the ever-changing rules make it impossible to say, but here’s some historical perspective:

Cobb County 2012 Primary Election July 31st

Total ballots cast………..83,618

Early/advance cast……24,259

Percent early…………….29.0%

If early voting represents, as it did in the 2012 General Primary, approximately 30% of votes cast in Cobb County will be those cast last week and this week. And slow voter turnout to this point portends very low overall turnout statewide.

What could be causing low turnout this year? Obviously the change in election date is responsible for part of it, but national voter enthusiasm may be a factor as well. Gallup released a poll today that sheds some light.

A majority of U.S. registered voters, 53%, say they are less enthusiastic about voting than in previous elections, while 35% are more enthusiastic. This 18-percentage-point enthusiasm deficit is larger than what Gallup has measured in prior midterm election years, particularly in 2010 when there was record midterm enthusiasm.

Among registered voters, 42% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents currently say they are more enthusiastic than usual about voting, while 50% are less enthusiastic, resulting in an eight-point enthusiasm deficit. But Democrats are even less enthusiastic, with a 23-point deficit (32% more enthusiastic vs. 55% less enthusiastic).

So, what does this mean for campaigns in the field this week? The magic words are: “Get Out the Vote.” I also think it means that Jack Kingston and Karen Handel will both outperform their poll numbers and David Perdue may underperform his, giving us a tight race headed into the final stretch.

UPDATED: Cobb County sees 441 early votes cast Saturday

UPDATED at 2:20 PM: According to the Gwinnett County Board of Elections, 596 votes were cast on Saturday.

Republican…….389
Democratic……195
Nonpartisan…….12

ORIGINAL POST BELOW:

I just got off the phone with Janine Eveler, Director of the Cobb County Board of Elections, who told me that in two locations on Saturday, May 10th, the only required early voting of the Primary Election, 441 votes were cast, compared to 504 cast on Friday, May 9th.

From the Secretary of State’s early/absentee voter file released today, 130,295 voters in Georgia have cast early or absentee ballots through this weekend, though some counties may lag in reporting.

More data analysis will come after I eat some barbecue for lunch.

The 441 votes cast break down as:
Republican 334
Democratic 104
Nonpartisan. 3

10th District congressional candidates clash in televised debate | Online Athens

ATLANTA | Spending and the Constitution dominated a Sunday debate between the front-runners in the Republican primary for the 10th District.

Donna Sheldon pounced on Mike Collins for saying early in the campaign that he would have voted to raise the federal debt ceiling.

“I’ve explained this, and I’ll be glad to explain it again,” he said, adding that he would extend it while also imposing a plan for reducing it.

Sheldon disagreed, saying spending should be cut first.

“We have got to cut spending. We can’t continue to raise the debt limit,” she said.

And Jody Hice took fire from several directions about his interpretation of the Constitution because he has said he opposes any federal programs not envisioned by the Founding Fathers in their draft of the document.

Hice, whose platform is based on ending federal programs that are not part of the Founding Father’s original intent when they drafted the Constitution, was stumped when asked if he supported repeal of the 19th and 26th amendments since they weren’t part of the original document.

“I never claimed to be a constitutional scholar,” he said. “Being a constitutionalist doesn’t mean you have the whole document memorized.”

After another candidate said they concerned giving women and 18-year-olds the vote, Hice said he is opposed to repealing them.

Also in the contest are Gary Gerrard, Mitchell Swan, Stephen Simpson and Brian Slowinski.

via 10th District congressional candidates clash in televised debate | Online Athens.

GOP Senate candidates fight for nomination | Latest News | Columbus Ledger Enquirer

Each of Georgia’s seven Republican U.S. Senate hopefuls tried to stand out from the pack during a debate Saturday night at Columbus’ RiverCenter for the Performing Arts.

But apart from Cobb County patent attorney Art Gardner, who was quick to stake out his ground as the moderate in the race, they seemed much in agreement on most issues, particularly on repealing Obamacare.

“Government has no business in health care,” said Derrick Grayson, a minister, when asked about the Affordable Care Act. The legislation should be repealed so states deal with private insurers themselves, he said.

Former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel called the law an “$800 billion tax” that’s crushing jobs.

Congressman Jack Kingston said health care constitutes a sixth of the U.S. economy and should not be under government control.

The law should be repealed and programs for tax-free health savings accounts expanded, he said.

Business executive David Perdue said he and his wife recently got notice of new insurance requirements that included maternity care, though they’re well past their child-rearing years.

“Now if my wife has a baby today, we’ve got a real issue,” he joked.

Congressman Paul Broun said the law should be “ripped out by its root.”

Congressman Phil Gingrey said he publicly pledged to make repealing Obamacare a priority, proving he had “skin in the game” on the heath care issue.

Even Gardner, the centrist, said, “Obamacare is awful and needs to be repealed.”

He also said U.S. patent laws are making Americans pay more for prescription drugs than residents in other countries and should be altered to even the playing field.

via GOP Senate candidates fight for nomination | Latest News | Columbus Ledger Enquirer.

Democrats, Republicans face off in Senate debates – Washington Times

ATLANTA (AP) – Georgia Senate candidate Michelle Nunn brushed off criticism from her Democratic primary opponents during her first debate Sunday, defending her support for the Keystone XL oil pipeline and the Second Amendment.

Meanwhile, Republican candidates vying for Georgia’s open Senate seat also debated, sharpening their attacks against the two perceived front-runners with just over a week to go before the May 20 primaries.

On the Democratic side, Nunn has been running a centrist campaign, seeking to stay above the partisan fray and call for working with the GOP to get things done in Washington. The daughter of former Sen. Sam Nunn, a moderate Democrat who represented Georgia for years, she has launched TV ads focused on her career running a major nonprofit.

During the debate, one of her opponents, ROTC instructor Todd Anthony Robinson, of Columbus, noted Nunn’s ads don’t mention she’s a Democrat and asked her whether she supports President Barack Obama.

“I think it’s self-evident that since I am on the stage here that I am a Democrat,” Nunn said, listing her support for increasing the minimum wage, immigration reform and pay equality. “I am absolutely in pursuit of the Democratic nomination and at the same time I want to represent all of Georgia.”

Nunn also defended her initial support for military action against Syria, but said she was pleased a diplomatic solution was found instead. She also noted she supported gun rights and said her 11-year-old child is a hunter. She said supports legislation that would have expanded background checks to gun shows and Internet sales.

On the Keystone oil pipeline, Nunn said a federal study had concluded the “environmental impacts would be negligible” and the project would be important for jobs and energy independence. Former state lawmaker Steen Miles and physician Branko Radulovacki both said they opposed the project.

They also criticized Nunn for not appearing at previous debates and forums. Nunn’s campaign has said scheduling conflicts prevented her attendance at those prior events. The debate was recorded and scheduled to air Monday at 7 p.m. on Georgia Public Broadcasting.

The Republican debate was televised live and featured several testy exchanges among the seven candidates, particularly from former Dollar General CEO David Perdue and Rep. Jack Kingston of Savannah.

via Democrats, Republicans face off in Senate debates – Washington Times.

In debate, Senate candidates take aim at records | Georgia News – Home

The Republicans running for Georgia’s open U.S. Senate seat took aim at each other’s records and experience in a debate Saturday, with the three congressmen in the race facing criticism over their time in Washington.

The Republican primary fight has been closely watched nationally, with Republicans needing six seats to claim a majority in the U.S. Senate. Republicans can’t afford to lose the seat, which opened when Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss announced plans to retire.

The Georgia GOP primary is May 20. Continue reading

Adoptable Georgia Dogs for May 12, 2014

Georgia Brown 2

Georgia Brown is an adult female mix of Gordon Setter and Australian Cattle Dog. Georgia’s favorite things are belly rubs, cuddling, and Kongs full of peanut butter. She is a sweet and friendly girl that greets everyone with a wagging tale and a hug. Georgia is incredibly smart and already knows lots of commands including come, sit, stay, down, watch, crate, heel, crawl and turn. . . most of the time (and sometimes leave it and drop it!).

She is a middle aged dog at 5-6 years which means she is house-trained and has excellent manners. Georgia can be trusted alone and doesn’t get into anything she shouldn’t. She is also crate trained. She isn’t over the top energy wise but true to her breeds, she is looking for an active family that will meet her mental and physical needs.

Georgia Brown is available for adoption from Animal Action Rescue in Clarkston, Ga.

Georgia Brown1

General A Rod

General A Rod is a sweet adult male Chihuahua mix who is available for adoption from the Atlanta Humane Society.

I hope to find a family who can give me some yummy food to eat, lots of squeak and chew toys to play with, a warm bed to sleep in, and plenty of love and attention every day for the rest of my life.

Spot

Spot is an adult male Papillon mix who is available for adoption from the Etowah Valley Humane Society in Cartersville, Ga.

I am pleased to let you know that Buster, whose owner was a veteran who couldn’t keep Buster due to housing issues, has been adopted. I think I know the identity of the adopter, and I’ll bring you photos if possible.