Georgia’s rising minority populations improve Democrats’ chances to break the Republican grip on statewide offices this year, but independent-minded white voters remain the key target for the next 100 days until the November election.
The campaigns of Jason Carter for governor and Michelle Nunn for the Senate aim to push black voters to 30 percent of the electorate, while winning close to 30 percent of white voters — well more than Democrats have managed statewide of late. Republicans are putting more money into organizing while contending that Georgia still is fundamentally a red state.
Last week the general election field was set for a pair of nationally watched races atop Georgia’s ticket. Republican Gov. Nathan Deal faces a spirited challenge from Carter, the grandson of President Jimmy Carter. And Republican businessman David Perdue, the cousin of former Gov. Sonny Perdue, triumphed Tuesday in a runoff to face Nunn, the daughter of former U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn, for Georgia’s open Senate seat.
Democrats’ attempts to capture swing voters are on display in Nunn’s cautious approach on the new health care law and Carter’s “yes” vote on a contentious gun rights expansion.
At the same time, they are spending big on sophisticated tactics to target and turn out base voters in the hopes of imitating President Barack Obama’s vaunted campaign machine — since Obama never bothered to spend money in Georgia in his re-election bid.
AUSTELL — A $17 billion bill addressing issues with the Department of Veteran Affairs expected to move out of Congress this week includes $6.4 million to be spent on a new VA facility in Cobb County.
Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) said the money appropriated by the bill will be used in two ways: $10 billion will be used on a “choice provision,” which will allow veterans to choose to go to a local, Medicare-approved doctor if they live more than 40 miles away from a VA facility or if their appointment date is more than 30 days away from the time they call; and $7 billion will be spent on 27 new VA facilities to be built around the country.
The VA has come under fire during the last few months over a scandal involving long wait times for veterans to receive care from VA facilities and employees allegedly doctoring records to “make it look like they were doing the job when they really weren’t doing the job,” Isakson said.
MARIETTA — The City Council will consider adding 16 acres of property to its limits at tonight’s committee meetings.
The council’s Judicial/Legislative Committee will discuss adding 42 properties to the city along Lower Roswell Road, Rosewood Circle, Lott Avenue and Harris Drive.
The properties are part of an island of unincorporated Cobb within the city limits.
“There’s been discussion on and off in the past about filling in one of the holes that are within the city,” said Councilman Philip Goldstein, who chairs the committee. “I brought it up to see if there was any desire to fill in some of those holes.”
Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout—APEAL—is how influential data cruncher J.D. Power measures the ‘gratification’ a car owner experiences with each new model on the market. Researchers survey thousands of new car buyers across the country, asking them to grade their vehicles on 77 different attributes like fuel economy and styling, resulting in an average score that falls between 0 and 1,000.
For J.D. Power’s 2014 APEAL study, it seems that while new cars are coming with more technology and features than ever, the rise in owner satisfaction is not commensurate. The study shows that there isn’t much difference in satisfaction between owners of all-new models with the latest features and owners of models that have been on the market for several years, when it comes to things like the usefulness of the controls and functions in navigation, voice recognition, and other technology applications. These was a significant difference between satisfaction, however, when it came to more conventional attributes such as fuel economy and vehicle styling.
The brand with the highest score this year, 882 points, was Porsche. The German sports car brand has been at or near the top in the study for the past several years. Second was Jaguar with a score of 862 and third was Audi with a score of 858. Last on the list this year was Mitsubishi with a score of only 748. The industry average was 794, just one point below last year’s average.
Recently, a memo setting out Michelle Nunn’s campaign strategy was leaked and published by National Review. Here are some highlights, and a few we made up.
“So, my campaign plan got leaked by some hapless volunteer, and I was like, ‘ewwww!’”
Amatuer hour, amirite?
Your Georgia Desk:
From Governor Nathan Deal:
Tax-free holiday weekend Aug. 1-2
Gov. Nathan Deal signed House Bill 958, legislation that will extend the statewide back-to-school tax-free holiday and ENERGY STAR and WaterSense appliance tax-free holiday weekends for an additional two years. The bill, signed during visits to the Georgia Institute of Technology and the Atlanta Food Bank, is a direct result of the Governor’s Competitiveness Initiative and is a continuation of the Georgia Jobs and Family Tax Reform Plan originally signed into law in 2012.
“The sales tax holidays will allow Georgia’s families to save money on those necessary items for school and on appliances that will help conserve Georgia’s energy resources,” Deal said. (more…)
Republicans talk about Obama more than Nunn does herself, notes Andra Gillespie, an associate professor of political science at Emory University. She says that’s because Nunn is trying to walk a narrow line.
“Michelle’s Nunn’s challenge is … to figure out a way to distance herself enough from the Obama administration that she can appeal to moderate undecided voters, but not do so in a way that she ends up alienating the Democratic establishment such that they don’t help her out,” she says.
That’s perhaps a reason why Nunn so frequently discusses her position on the Affordable Care Act. She says she wouldn’t repeal it, but believes Congress should look at it and “fix the things that aren’t working.”
But she’s studiously avoided saying whether she would have voted for it in the first place.
The Nunn campaign is hoping to build on the support President Obama drew two years ago in Georgia, when he came within 5 points of winning without ever campaigning in the state. But Republican political consultant Todd Rehm wonders whether the moderate Nunn will be able to count on that support.
“Without a presidential race that brought out some new voters, some folks who had lapsed into inactivity, it’s unclear how to get them enthusiastic if you’re not willing to go to the mat for your president,” he says.
But there’s something that Republicans and Democrats agree on — Georgia’s electorate is changing as its population grows, with the number of minority voters increasing and the proportion of white voters shrinking.
The race for Georgia’s open U.S. Senate has been costly. And not just in dollars. One veteran Senator – Saxby Chambliss – is retiring. And three sitting Congressmen will leave Washington at the end of this year because they gave up those posts to run for Chambliss’s seat. That’s a whole lot of Washington know-how. All were card-carrying Georgia fiscal conservatives, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t bring funding back to their districts.
When Chambliss announced he would retire last year, it set off a scramble among Republicans in Georgia who wanted to replace him.
Congressmen Phil Gingrey, Jack Kingston and Paul Broun all threw their hats in the ring. Kingston lasted the longest. But last week, the 11-term Congressman lost a primary runoff race to businessman David Perdue.
Charles Bullock, a political scientist at the University of Georgia, says earmark is now a dirty word for Republicans in Georgia. But most of them want Washington to fund the Savannah Harbor expansion.
Kingston has heavily lobbied the Obama administration and its predecessors on the project, which would allow for larger ships which will soon start coming from the Panama Canal. So far, the money hasn’t come through.
“It would be helpful for Georgia, especially in light of the concern about the dredging of the harbor in Savannah, which will probably wind up costing more than anyone expects, to have a senior appropriator there to be able to use his or her influence to help secure that funding,” he said.
Some are cheering the exit of incumbents, given the anti-Washington fervor alive Georgia. But Bullock says Kingston holds senior positions on budget committees, and that’s meant a lot to Georgia. Replacing him won’t happen overnight.
“It took Kingston well over a decade to work his way up to become an appropriations subcommittee chair so there will not be a person there to look out for efforts to get funding in Georgia,” he said.
Georgia’s ports handled a record number of units during the last fiscal year, according to figures released Monday.
The Port of Savannah moved more than 3 million container units for the first time ever, an increase of 6.3 percent over the previous year.
Curtis Foltz, the Executive Director of the Georgia Ports Authority, says an improving economy and labor disputes at ports on the West Coast have helped steer more business to Georgia’s ports.
“As the demographic growth occurs in the southeast, more and more customers want to come through our ports to access that strong, regional presence we have, and take advantage of really second-to-none highway and rail access,” he says.
The GPA also saw a record year in the total volume of goods handled. The ports moved more than 29 million tons of freight, up 8 percent from last year.
People from all over the country gathered in downtown Atlanta to give public comments at hearings that could have a huge impact on the EPA’s new Clean Power Plan.
The Environmental Protection Agency released the plan last month, which calls for a 30 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030. Under the plan, the EPA will set individual state-by-state carbon emissions goals. Opponents of the plan say it will hurt the economy and punishes energy industry workers.
Rep. Chuck Martin, R- Alpharetta, was one of the first people to speak at the Atlanta hearings on Tuesday at the Omni Hotel. He does not support the plan because he fears it is unrealistic and will hurt the entire economy.
“Ladies and gentlemen, if coal comes off the trains, all the other products that ride on the trains are going to get more expensive in your department store, in your grocery store,” said Martin. “If you don’t believe that that will have a negative impact on the economy, then we just differ.”
State Representative Mike Dudgeon, R- Johns Creek, spoke just a few blocks away from the hearings at a rally hosted by Americans For Prosperity.
“This is not about solar versus coal versus green. It’s about common sense and it’s about the economy,” said Dudgeon to a crowd of people wearing “Stop The EPA” t-shirts.