Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections for December 4, 2012

Donner is a 1-2 year old boxer mix male who is good with people, dogs, and appears to not chase cats. He is available for adoption from the Walton County Animal Shelter.

Brandie is a 4-year old, 29# low-rider who’s about the size of a beagle. An owner turn-in, she’s said to be good with kids and other dogs. She’s available today from the Walton County Animal Shelter.
28845 is a pibble mix puppywho is friendly and playful. She and a number of other puppies, dogs and cats, is available for adoption from the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter for the discounted adoption fee of $30.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections

For a small number of voters across the state, today is Yet Another Election Day. I’ll be heading across the street shortly after publication this morning to vote in the runoff election for Mayor and City Council of the City of Brookhaven.

The first vote I will cast will be for J. Max Davis for Mayor. J. Max is a conservative who will help ensure that the City of Brookhaven fulfills its promise of lower taxes and better services. He led the group that worked for incorporation and is the best choice today. Davis is endorsed by State Rep. Mike Jacobs and State Senator Fran Millar.

His opponent, Sandy Murray, ran against State Rep. Mike Jacobs, who sponsored the incorporation legislation, and qualified to run against him this year before dropping out of that race and entering the race for Mayor. Murray opposed incorporation and worked to defeat the measure. She is supported by the Democratic Party of Georgia, with DPG Political Director Rashad Richey sending a mass email yesterday saying, “Sandy Murray is a solid Democrat running for Mayor of Brookhaven who will work with progressives….”

If I lived in her district, I would be voting today for Rebecca Chase Williams for District 1 City Council.

Senate District 30 voters will choose between State Rep. Bill Hembree and Mike Dugan in today’s runoff election, leading to the General Special Election on January 8, 2013.

Turnout could be light, if advance voting figures are any indication. Only 922 voters cast early ballots in Carroll County, about 1.8 percent of the 52,412 eligible voters.

Voters in Augusta City Commission District 1 will return to the polls today in a runoff election between Commissioner Matt Ait­ken and challenger Bill Fennoy. Aitken was first elected three years ago in a runoff against Fennoy.

Clayton County voters will fill two seats on the county board of education today. Clayton County is currently under investigation by SACS for board in-fighting.

District 2 incumbent Trinia Garrett will face Judy Johnson, and District 7 incumbent Wanda Smith will face Mark Christmas.

Currently, there are 18,600 registered voters in School Board District 2 and 13,775 in School Board District 7.

Early voting for the Dec. 4 election closed Friday, but the Elections and Registration Office has only received 9 in-person voters and 62 mailed absentee ballots.

“Observing the turn out for early voting, I do not anticipate a high volume of voters to turn out Tuesday,” said Elections Director Annie Bright.

Last week the State Elections Board fined Blackshear City Council Member David Broady $5500 for illegally handling 55 absentee votes in 2009 during his reelection campaign.

The civil fine amounts to $100 for each absentee vote the Georgia Secretary of State’s office investigation said Broady handled and delivered to the Blackshear post office just prior to the Dec. 1, 2009 city council District 4 runoff election.

Broady was accused of 55 felony counts of unlawful possession of absentee ballots. State law says it is illegal for anyone other than a person with legal authority to possess others’ ballots – such as an official overseeing an election – outside of the polling place.

State election officials launched a probe in January, 2011 following a complaint regarding the 2009 runoff between District 4 incumbent Broady and challenger Bernice Blakely Bowles. The State Election Board forwarded the case to the Attorney General’s office after a presentation in February this year after finding probable cause to proceed.

The absentee ballots allegedly handled by Broady were counted in the runoff election, in which Broady defeated Bowles 90-57.

In Troup County, there will be a rare runoff election for Sheriff as an independent candidate forced Democrat Ruben Hairston and Republican James Woodruff into a second round of voting. Hairston played professional football and was endorsed by the outgoing Republican sheriff.

Wilcox County also has a runoff election for Sheriff with Republican Mike Martin and Democrat Lonnie Curry on the ballot today.

McIntosh County hosts a runoff election for board of education between Republican Bonnie Caldwell and Democrat Vicky Persons after an independent ran in the general election.

Putnam County hosts a runoff election for District 1 County Commissioner with Republican Kelvin Irvin and Democrat Fred Ward making the cut.

Early voting in the special election runoff for the District 1 county commission seat ended Friday with a total of 317 ballots cast, according to the BER office. In addition, 62 absentee ballots had been returned by 5 p.m. Monday.

The Taylor County Commission District 4 seat is up for grabs today in a runoff election between incumbent Commissioner Jerry Albritton and challenger Russell Pounds, who tied in the general election with 343 votes each.

Brunswick sees a runoff for the Brunswick-Glynn County Joint Water and Sewer Commission between Clifford Adams and Sandy Dean after a ten-candidate free-for-all general election.


Lobbyists are reminded that registration is due soon and the online renewal system will be available from December 17, 2012 through January 9, 2013. At least in theory. The computer system at the Commission appears to be down this morning. Consider yourselves warned.

Governor Nathan Deal named Senators Rick Jeffares and Charlie Bethel as Administration Floor Leaders, who join Senator Bill Jackson.

Deal also appointed two judges in the Bell-Forsyth Judicial Circuit.

Deal announced Monday that he tapped State Court Judge Philip C. Smith, 57, to the superior court. He then selected Forsyth Solicitor-General Leslie Abernathy, 45, to fill Smith’s seat on the state court.

Deal’s Judicial Nominating Commission had put both Smith and Abernathy on the short list for the superior court seat. The vacancy created by Smith’s promotion to the superior court was not advertised and did not go through the usual JNC vetting process, although previous governors have made similar moves.

The Atlanta City Council voted themselves pay raises yesterday, going from $39,000 to more than $60,000 and raising the Mayor’s pay from $147k to $184k per year. Because they deserve it.

The raises were pushed by an independent review committee that looked into compensation for Atlanta’s elected officials.  Supporters say bigger salaries would bring better candidates, but some union officials think the money would be better spent on those supplying city services.  Taxpayer watchdogs also wonder about the wisdom of giving elected officials big raises.

While most council members chose to remain silent on the issue, veteran council member Cleta Winslow defended her vote for the pay raise.

“There have been a lot media that’s been running around today — I’m not afraid of the media. I believe that we deserve the raise and I’m just going to say it,” Winslow said after listening to numerous speakers question the timing and amount of the proposed salary hike.

Fulton County will consider on Wednesday hiring Arnall Golden Gregory to lobby the General Assembly at a cost of more than $260,000.

After months of deadlock over how to handle the upcoming state Legislative session, on Wednesday the Fulton County Commission will consider hiring an outside lobbying firm at a cost of $260,416. Arnall Golden Gregory scored the best out of three bidders for the state- and federal-level lobbying job. Rusty Paul, a former Republican state senator and leader of the Georgia GOP, is a senior policy advisor at the law firm and co-chairs its government affairs team.

Paul was last seen on Fox5Atlanta defending the exorbitant lunch and flower bills of the Development Authority of Fulton County.

WABE asks “Who steals 20,000 bags of dog food,” after a theft of more than $30,000 worth of kibble from a warehouse. This guy, that’s who.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections for August 6, 2012

26200 is a young labrador mix who is said by volunteers to be very sweet and friendly and she is available for adoption today from the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter at 884 Winder Highway in Lawrenceville. Call the Shelter for more information 770-339-3200.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

As of Saturday, Fulton County was not finished counting votes in last Tuesday’s elections and Secretary of State Brian Kemp is not amused.

Brian Kemp said he is concerned about “numerous and substantial issues” surrounding Tuesday’s primary election in Fulton County and more concerned with a lack of communication with local voting officials.

WSB-TV reports that Fulton County was scheduled to certify the results of Tuesday’s primary by noon Saturday. That deadline came and went. Now county election officials plan to meet tonight.

“This process does not usually take this long and every time that we’ve worked a deadline out with them that deadline has been moved,” Kemp told the TV station in an interview.

Maybe the General Assembly should consider a mechanism for the Secretary of State’s office to remove or supervise elections officials whose departments aren’t performing well enough.

Kennesaw State University hosts the Center for Election Systems, which provides support for the state’s voting system.

“They provide an invaluable service to the state of Georgia,” Secretary of State Brian Kemp said. “This investment of taxpayer dollars provides a safe, secure and uniform election system that Georgia can be proud of.”

In late 2003, the center began preparing the election databases, also known as ballot building.

An election database maps precincts, races and candidates and provides for the storage of votes and eventual reporting for that election. The ballot is derived from the election database. Months before Election Day, the center begins preparing databases that produce the electronic printed and audio ballots used during an election.

There are specific election board rules that outline such things as how large a candidate’s name can appear on the ballot, the font size and the placement of a candidate’s name.

“By having a centralized building component, you have one spot where you can control that to make sure what’s seen by a voter in Fulton County in display, in receptiveness, in feel, looks the same as it does in Camden County,” [center director Michael] Barnes said.

The center builds ballots for 157 of the 159 counties to date, with only Cobb and Richmond counties doing it themselves.

“When we’re doing this in some cases it’s in a time window that’s extremely small,” Barnes said. “The election ended (Tuesday). Voters are anticipating to be voting on a ballot a week from Monday. You have no idea who’s in the runoff. You can’t guess. You have recounts going on. I calculated this morning that out of 159 counties we have 124 counties that have some form of a runoff, so that means we have to prepare 124 databases. Not only do we have to prepare them, they have to be built, they have to be viewed, they have to be checked, and then when we’re finished saying it’s good, they’re only given at that point to the counties for them to proof, because it’s the responsibility of the county to make sure that it’s correct.”

Some candidates in Cobb County complained that election results took too long to be released:

The first results from Cobb were not posted online until 9:39 p.m., more than two and a half hours after most polling places had closed. The nearly complete results were not available until 10 minutes before midnight. And it was 4:27 a.m. Wednesday before all the results were reported.

“You couldn’t get any results, and you had to go to the state level to do it,” said former county Commissioner Butch Thompson. “In somebody’s wisdom they decided that they didn’t want Cobb County to have the election results so normal people could see where we’re at. I don’t know why it now has to come under state control. It just doesn’t make sense to me. I found it real frustrating.”

State Rep. David Wilkerson (D-Austell), added: “Something needs to be done. Cobb used to be one of the counties that always had the earliest results coming in. At some point, people will start to question the process when you have that long of a delay.”

Cobb Elections Director Janine Eveler was doing things by the book and ensuring that the numbers posted were accurate, and she deserves credit for that.

“Everything went according to plan,” Eveler told the MDJ the next day. “We felt very good about the whole process. Our processes worked great.”

Coweta County election officials were disappointed with 27% turnout:

Turnout, however, was low, with only 27.17 percent of registered voters casting ballots.

“I was thinking we would have between 30 and 40 percent turnout,” Scoggins said.

And even so, “I think we were a little bit higher than the state,” she said.

While Chatham County’s 26% was higher than predicted.

About 26 percent of Chatham’s 141,282 registered voters cast ballots in the primary election, according to unofficial results.

Elections Supervisor Russell Bridges said there were no major problems.

“Everything went pretty well,” Bridges said.

The turnout was slightly higher than Bridge’s expectation of 20 percent. During the last primary before a presidential election in 2008, almost 23,000, or about 19 percent, of registered voters cast ballots.

The takeaway here: election turnout predictions by the people charged with administering elections are wild guesses.

Candidates for Augusta Commission and Richmond County Board of Education begin qualifying today.

Qualifying for five commission posts and five school board seats begins at 9 a.m. today in the office of Board of Elections Executive Director Lynn Bailey. It was moved from May by a federal judge while a lawsuit over district lines was contested.

Qualifying will be held during business hours today and Tuesday but ends at noon Wednesday. The qualifying fee for a school board seat is $100. The qualifying fee for a commission seat is $360, and candidates must live in the district they want to represent.

At least 13 candidates have expressed an interest in the Dis­tricts 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9 commission posts, but only one person has announced plans to seek a seat on the school board.

School board incumbents are not term-limited and have a combined 43 years of experience. Two of the longest-serving, District 1’s Marion Barnes and at-large member Helen Minchew, first took office in 2000.

Richmond County Repub­li­can voters overwhelmingly approved term limits for school board members in a primary straw poll, but implementing them would take an act of the Georgia Legislature.

According to the Savannah Morning News, the challenge of runoff elections is turning out your voters.

Primary leader usually wins

If history’s any guide, Anderson and Hoskins have a leg up, said University of Georgia political scientist Charles Bullock.

The leader in the primary wins runoffs about 70 percent of the time, said Bullock, who’s written extensively about them.

He and other experts say runoffs demand a different approach than primaries.

Bullock cited two key factors — lower turnout and a campaign that lasts less than three weeks.

“Your first objective,” Bullock said, “is to make sure the people who voted for you in the primary get back to the polls. There is usually a drop off.”

Savannah College of Art and Design political science professor Robert Eisinger agreed.

“Every campaign ought to know who their supporters are and let them know it’s not over,” Eisinger said.

But, especially in local campaigns, said Savannah political consultant David Simons, that’s not always easy.

It’s smarter, he said, to make “extremely targeted” appeals to people most likely to vote.

Voting history and demographic data such as age and race — all public record — can locate such people, Simons said.

Simons recommended that candidates use mostly phones and mailings.

“I wouldn’t spend a dime on TV or radio in a local race,” he said. “You’ll pay too much to reach people who won’t vote.”

Because there’s so little time, he and Bullock agreed, it makes little sense to try of drum up new support.

Center Forward has reserved $357,000 worth of television airtime in the 12th Congressional District to support the reelection of Democrat John Barrow.

A complaint has been filed with the Judicial Qualifications Commission accusing Gwinnett County State Court candidate Pam Britt of stealing signs from other candidates.

Britt said she has run an honest campaign and strongly denied stealing any signs. She said she did remove two signs from a campaign supporter’s property at their request about five weeks ago, because other candidates did not have permission to place signs there.

Britt said one of the signs was broken, laying in the street and had been run over by cars. She said she threw the sign, which was for Richard T. Winegarden, in the trash. Britt said she returned the other sign, which looked reusable, to its owner, Greg Lundy.

“The timing on this being the week of the election is suspicious,” Britt said. “I think it’s an attack on my character, and obviously I’m upset by it.”

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution attempted to contact the other four primary candidates for State Court Thursday — Brantley, Winegarden, Lundy and Norman Cuadra — but only Winegarden returned calls seeking comment.

When informed of the investigation, Winegarden declined to discuss the situation. “The JQC investigation is confidential, so I don’t think I should be talking about it,” he said.

Sign-stealing is a common complaint during election season, but it’s difficult to prove without witnesses or photographs, Gwinnett County Sheriff Butch Conway said.

“It’s just not something you expect in a judicial race — it’s more often city councils, county commission, state House,” Conway said.

Winegarden’s campaign manager called Duluth police Tuesday to report someone stole his campaign signs, spray-painted them with a black skull and crossbones and re-posted them at the intersection of Old Peachtree Road and Sugarloaf Parkway, according to an incident report.

At Saturday’s Gwinnett County Republican Party breakfast, State Court candidate Emily Brantley accused Britt of something arguably worse in a Gwinnett County runoff. Brantley said that Britt voted in the 2008 Democratic Presidential Preference Primary for either Barack Obama or Hilary Clinton. Maybe she voted for Bill Richardson?

In the Cobb County Commission Chair Runoff between incumbent Tim Lee and former Chair Bill Byrne, the challenger has picked up support from Larry Savage, who ran fourth in the primary election, while third-place finisher Mike Boyce will not endorse anyone.

Former county chairman candidate Larry Savage said he would campaign for Bill Byrne in the Aug. 21 runoff that will decide the next chairman if asked, while former candidate Mike Boyce said he would not be making an endorsement.

Voters sent Byrne and incumbent Tim Lee into the runoff in the Tuesday Republican primary race for county chairman. Lee led the pack with 29,024 votes, followed by Byrne, who received 19,388 votes, Boyce, who received 17,025 votes, and Savage, who received 7,662 votes.  About 60 percent of all voters cast a ballot against Chairman Lee.

Savage said he would work to help Byrne get elected if Byrne wanted.

“Bill sees the same thing that I saw starting more than two years ago — that we have lost our direction, we have gone adrift to the left, we’ve become decidedly more liberal in our approach to local government, and we just can’t continue that unless we want to turn out like everybody else that’s ever tried it,” Savage said Thursday. “That’s a natural thing that governments do over time is tilt to the left. They provide more and more services to more and more people and ever smaller groups, and it never works in the long run, and the only way it seems that people get over that is they go all the way to the end and to failure, and then they get to reset and start over, and I think we ought to be smart enough to be able not to do that.”

Were it to come down to picking a next-door neighbor, Savage said he might choose Lee because, on a personal level, Lee is likable.

“But Tim, I don’t know if Tim even has a personal view about government or if he has any philosophy about government,” Savage said. “He gets his direction from other people, and those other people, they may be upstanding citizens and successful business people and all that sort of thing, but they are not tuned in or obligated or committed in any way to the best interests of the county at large. They’ve got other interests that are a lot more parochial, and that’s the direction that the county follows.”

However, Savage said this is not about electing a next-door neighbor.

“We’re not electing a homecoming queen,” Savage said. “We’re not electing someone to be nice. We’re electing someone to deal with issues.

That Cobb Commission Chair runoff is likely to come down to voter turnout, according to even more politicos.

Marietta attorney Chuck Clay said it’s hard to say who could win the runoff because there should be a slight advantage to the incumbent, but with both Lee and Byrne being “known entities” in Cobb, it will all depend on who can get the most people back to the ballots in three weeks.

“The traditional rule is that if you’re an incumbent and you’re down, then you’re in trouble, but this is a little different scenario with the (TSPLOST) on and off, and both of these people have records that are known,” he said. “You don’t have an incumbent challenging a fresh face. It kind of throws that traditional view off.”

For Lee, Clay said he’s has the advantage in fundraising and seems to be well-liked, but Byrne is a hardworking candidate and within “striking distance.”

He also said that traditionally, around 15 to 20 percent of registered voters turn out for the primaries, and somewhere around half of that will make a showing for runoffs.

“At this time, it’s purely a turnout issue — who can get folks to come back to the poll?” he said.

First-time Cobb Commission candidate Lisa Cupid forced incumbent Woody Thompson into a runoff as well.

Lisa Cupid … said she’s been endorsed by former candidates Monica DeLancy and Ruth Negron

Cupid said she is confident about the race, given that more than 70 percent of voters opposed Thompson.

“We were pretty successful knocking door to door and calling people directly,” she said. “That may have to continue.”

Thompson said he talked with Connie Taylor, whom he appointed to the SPLOST Oversight Committee and Board of Tax Assessors, about an endorsement.

While nothing is official, he feels confident about the endorsement from Taylor, who finished fourth in the race, just behind Dr. Michael Rhett.

“I think she’s on board to help,” Thompson said.

Muscogee County Sheriff John Darr holds a 76-vote lead over challenger Pam Brown in the Democratic primary.

Elections supervisor, Nancy Boren, says more than 260 military ballots were mailed out 45 days ago, some going as far as Iraq and Afghanistan.

Based upon previous elections, only 6 to 8 percent are normally returned to the office before the deadline. Soldiers have until Friday to submit their mail-in ballots.

“I am not expecting those ballots to make a big difference in the outcome,” explained Boren.

[Pam] Brown… stated she will request a recount if Darr is declared the nominee.

Henry County Commissioner Warren Holder has requested a recount in his narrow loss to challenger Bo Moss, which will be conducted today by the county elections office.

For now, unofficial and incomplete returns have businessman William J. “Bo” Moss defeating long-time incumbent District I Commissioner Warren Emory Holder. Moss received 50.2 percent of the vote, or 1,898 votes, while Holder secured 49.8 percent, or 1,883 votes.

“Unofficially, there is a 15-vote difference between ‘Bo’ Moss and Warren Holder for the District I Commissioner seat,” said election clerk Brook Schreiner. “Our office is still waiting on military absentees; they have until Friday at 3 p.m. to get their absentee votes to us. After 3 p.m., we will certify the election.”

Schreiner said although the Henry election office has completed the count for provisional ballots, the number of votes for Moss and Holder remains the same as election night.

“As of [Wednesday], we had not received any military votes in the mail,” said Shellnutt. “There will be an official and complete report on Friday, when will do a final count after the mail runs.”

Muscogee County coroner Bill Thrower, who was bounced from the ballot for paying with a bad check, is trying to collect nearly 6000 signatures by Thursday to qualify for the ballot.

Thrower says he has at least 4,000 signatures so far. Officials say by August 3 at noon, he must pay a $1800 qualifying fee and turn in a declaration of intent to run as an independent candidate.

Pro-tip: collect at least 50% more signatures than you need, so that you still have enough after a bunch of them are challenged and thrown out.

Clayton County voters will get a second bite at the apple in runoff elections for County Commission Chair, Sheriff, Commission District 3, and Senate district 44. In each of those races, the incumbent was forced into a runoff.

In the District 44 senate race, challenger Gail Buckner and incumbent Gail Davenport ran neck-and-neck throughout the evening. The results show Buckner finishing with 45.8 percent of the vote to Davenport’s 45.2.

In the race for sheriff of Clayton County, incumbent Kem Kimbrough led throughout the evening but challenger and former sheriff Victor Hill remained on his coattails. Kimbrough garnered 42.4 percent of the vote to Hill’s 37.5 percent.

The only remaining candidate in that race to finish with more than one percent of the vote was Clayton County Police Lt. Tina Daniel, who finished third with 12.9 percent.

The commission chairman’s race saw challenger Jeff Turner and incumbent Eldrin Bell neck-and-neck throughout the evening on Tuesday and, when the final votes were tallied, the two were separated by four tenths of a percentage point with Bell garnering 41.95 percent of the vote to Turner’s 41.91 percent.

The third candidate, Roberta Abdul-Salaam, finished with 16.1 percent.

In the Clayton County Commission District Three race, incumbent Wole Ralph and challenger Shana Rooks ran a close race throughout the evening with Ralph finishing on top with 44.07 percent of the vote to Rooks 42.7.

New District Attorney for the Northern Judicial Circuit (comprising  Hart, Elbert, Franklin, Madison, and Oglethorpe counties) Parks White is preparing to take over from incumbent Bob Lavender, whom he defeated in the Republican primary. Awkward.

Click Here

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 2, 2012

Lilly and Libby are 5-month old mixed breed puppies who are available for adoption from the Cobb County Animal Shelter. They weigh about 16 pounds and are up-to-date on their shots and will be spayed, chipped, and tested for heartworms before they are adopted. They are in cage 315 in the puppy room and their ID numbers are 546760 (Lilly) and 546761 (Libby).

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan  Deal announced that he will work on prioritizing transportation projects in the wake of the defeat of T-SPLOST in all but three regions of the state:

“The voters of Georgia have spoken, and I will continue to do what I have done since I became governor: Work in consultation with state transportation leaders, legislators and local officials to establish our priority projects.

There will be belt-tightening. It’s certainly disappointing that we won’t have the resources to accomplish all the projects needed to get Georgians moving quicker, but it does force state officials, including myself, to focus all our attention on our most pressing needs.

For example, TSPLOST contained $600 million to rebuild the Ga. 400/I-285 interchange. We will face significant challenges in that corridor if that doesn’t get fixed, particularly after the tolls come down and volume increases. We’ll have a ‘need to do’ Transportation Improvement Program list, but not a ‘want to do’ list. In addition to tight state budgets, we’re also facing a significant reduction in federal funds so tough choices await.

On public transportation, yesterday’s vote slams the door on further expansion of our rail network any time soon. Neither I nor the Legislature has much of an appetite for new investments until there are significant reforms in how MARTA operates.

The referendum passed in three regions, and I think those regions will see great returns on their investment. Under the law, these regions will also receive a 90 percent match for local transportation projects, meaning they will only have to put up 10 percent from local funds. The law requires a 70-30 split in the regions that didn’t pass it.

As governor, I aim to make Georgia the No. 1 place in the nation to do business and improving our transportation infrastructure is a major part of that effort. Yesterday’s vote wasn’t an end of the discussion; it’s a transition point. We have much to do, and I’ll work with state and local officials to direct our limited resources to the most important projects.”

This is a positive development. Gov. Deal has shown a great facility for working with legislators and listening to and incorporating the ideas of people not named Nathan Deal. This is not a quality always found in Governors.

In the Ninth Congressional District, third-place finisher Roger Fitzpatrick said he will not endorse either Doug Collins or Martha Zoller.

Hall County Commissioner Ashley D. Bell, well-known for switching to the Republican Party, was defeated by Jeff Stowe in the Republican Primary.

Incumbent Hall County Chairman Tom Oliver came in second to Dick Mecum and is headed to a runoff..

Mecum, the former Hall County sheriff, earned 46 percent of the vote, while Oliver, the two-term incumbent, took in 34 percent.

Former North Hall Commissioner Steve Gailey earned enough votes to force the runoff.

Mecum finished just a few percentage points shy of winning the race outright.

Judicial, District Attorney, and Sheriff elections

We noted yesterday that Kathy Schrader took first place in the race for Gwinnett County Superior Court, receiving more than twice as many votes as the runner-up. Emily Brantley and Pam Britt go another round in the runoff election for Gwinnett State Court.

Superior Court Judge Art Smith, who was supported by Sen. Josh McKoon among others, combined a 150 vote margin in Muscogee County, his circuit’s most populous, with nearly 70% in Harris and took every other county except Talbot County in earning re-election to the six-county Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit.

Smith was the only one of five judges in the Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit who had opposition. He will serve a four-year term, as will the four judges who ran unopposed — John Allen, Gil McBride, Bobby Peters and Bill Rumer.

Smith was appointed to the bench in 2011 by Gov. Nathan Deal. He was appointed to complete the unfinished term for former Judge Doug Pullen, who stepped down last year amid a judicial misconduct investigation.

In DeKalb County, Judge Gail Flake was re-elected over Michael Rothenberg, who has been indicted for felony theft; apparently 28% of DeKalb County voters thought a (alleged) felon is better than a Flake. State Court Judge Dax Lopez also earned reelection.

In Fulton County, Judge Todd Markle won reelection with 54 percent over Clarence Johnson.

Fulton County Sheriff Ted Jackson appeared to hold a slim margin with 50.01 percent, to avoid a runoff. We’ll see if that holds.

Jackson won 34,648 votes, while Lankford received 22,483.

The Fulton County Board of Elections plans to have all the ballots counted and certified by Saturday, according to a spokeswoman.

“We’ve still got some absentee ballots and two more precincts,” Jackson said Wednesday morning. “We figure we’re about 50 percent plus 10 votes away from a runoff. I kept telling everybody, ‘every vote counts in this election.’”

Jackson said he was surprised by his narrow win — if it survives — particularly given that his top opponent only avoided being retried on criminal charges of extortion and income tax evasion by agreeing to never seek a law enforcement job again.

Jane Morrison won the election for Fulton State Court, beating Melynee Leftridge by 61-39.

In Cobb County, Judge Reuben Green was re-elected to the Superior Court and Greg Poole won 51% in the race for an open seat in Superior Court.

Poole, who has been a juvenile court judge for nine years, has regularly filled in on Cobb’s superior court bench.

“I’ve been doing this for one week a month for nine and a half years,” Poole said. “I’m going to continue to do it that way. … There won’t be any change in basic policy. I want to be efficient. I want to move cases efficiently.”

Rebecca Keaton and John Skelton advance to a runoff for Cobb County Superior Court on August 21st.

Keaton, who earned her law degree at John Marshall, said: “We’ll run hard and do what we need to do to win the campaign.”

She is a wife and mother of three who lives in Kennesaw and said she wants to serve the people by using her skills to provide great customer service. She plans to implement one computer operating system and an “e-filing” system similar to the other candidates.

Skelton, who ran at the behest of incumbent Stephenson, said late Tuesday: “The best person for the job will get it.” He added that he hopes his opponent will keep the run off clean.

Skelton earned his law degree at the University of Georgia. He and his wife have two children.

Marsha Lake (39%) and Larry Burke (26%) earned slots in the runoff for State Court Judge.

Three incumbents District Attorneys were defeated in primary elections Tuesday.

Cathy Helms in the Alapaha Circuit in South Georgia, Robert Lavender in the state’s Northern Circuit which includes Hartwell and Elberton, and Robert Brooks of the Tallapoosa Circuit, which includes Bremen and Cedar­town, lost their re-election bids.

Lavender lost to Parks White, a Richmond County assistant district attorney and Iraqi war veteran who, as a lieutenant in the Navy Judge Advocate General Corps, worked with Iraqis to prosecute insurgents.

A child molestation case also figured in the Alapaha Circuit race and may have played a role in incumbent DA Cathy Helms’ defeat by Dick Perryman in the Republican primary. Perryman beat Helms by 202 votes, winning 51.16 percent to Helms’ 48.84 percent. There were no Democratic candidates.

A child molestation case also played a role in Tallapoosa Circuit chief assistant public defender Jack Browning’s campaign — and subsequent defeat — of one-term DA Robert Brooks. Browning formerly practiced law at Murphy, Murphy & Garner — the former firm of U.S. District Judge Harold Murphy of the Northern District of Georgia. The Tallapoosa Circuit includes Haralson and Polk counties.

On his campaign website, Browning highlighted the dismissal of some charges in a child molestation case and a plea deal with minimal jail time.

So we now know a winning formula for defeating an incumbent District Attorney. File that away for later.

Appalachian Circuit incumbent Joe Hendricks came in second and will face a runoff against Blue Ridge attorney B. Alison Sosebee, who received the support of third-place finisher Harry Doss.

Incumbent Herbert “Buzz” Franklin in the Lookout Mountain circuit holds a 44-vote margin over challenger Doug Woodruff and may face a recount.

Woodruff said Wednesday he doesn’t know whether all the absentee ballots have been counted and if he will seek a recount. “If the votes haven’t all been counted yet, the margin could either grow or be reduced,” he said. “It could go the other way. At this point, a 44-vote margin is not much.”

In the election for Hall County Sheriff, Jeff Strickland and Gerald Couch both earned a spot in the runoff.

As the race narrows to two men, Strickland, who was the agency’s highest ranking officer when he retired in October, said he will focus on what sets him apart from Couch, who led the agency’s criminal investigations division.

“I worked in a higher level than he did,” Strickland said. “I was in charge of an entire department with over 450 employees and a $29 million budget.”

Couch, too, said he will focus on his qualifications versus Strickland’s.

“I’ve worked in every single area of the sheriff’s office,” Couch said. “I think I have a huge advantage in that area.”

Patty Walters Laine (31%) and Brook Davidson (26%) made it into a runoff for Hall County Probate Court, beating out two other candidates.

Scott Peebles and Richard Roundtree are headed for a runoff for Richmond County Sheriff.

Recounts

In the Twelfth Congressional District Republican Primary, candidate Wright McLeod, who appears to have come in third, has not decided whether to seek a recount.

Preliminary results Wednesday showed McLeod trailing Augusta businessman Rick Allen by 584 votes, with all counties reporting but provisional ballots not yet counted.

In an afternoon e-mail, McLeod left his options open.

“We are now considering our next steps,” he said. “I must consider whether or not a recount would be in the best interest of voters of the 12th District. Our campaign recognizes that requesting such would provide a ‘trust but verify’ approach to the election results and allow us all to move forward.”

Meanwhile, Allen resumed campaigning as though his place in the runoff weren’t in question.

Spencer Price has asked for a recount in his narrow defeat by Senator Cecil Staton.

“I appreciate the tremendous support from the voters of the 18th” District, said Price, reached via phone during a break from work Wednesday.

And “if I’m not successful, I will be back,” he added.

Station finished with 10,518 votes to Price’s 10,311. The final vote tally did not include 35 military ballots yet to be added.

Considering Staton’s 10-to-1 advantage in fundraising in the second quarter of 2012 — he collected about $115,000 — and his endorsements from party heavyweights such as Gov. Nathan Deal, it was an unusually close outcome.

Harris County Commission Chair Harry Lange has a slim 9-vote margin over Greg Allen who will seek a recount.

Allen defeated Lange at the polls, but fell behind when absentees were tallied; Lange, a three-term incumbent, collected 451 votes compared to Allen’s 442 with about three military and two provisional ballots uncounted, said Sherrail Jarrett, the county elections supervisor.

“I never really expected to garner the votes that I did to be honest with you, but just staying out and being in the community for so long, I knew I had a lot of support,” Allen said.

Both candidates voiced disappointment over voter turnout.

“I’m afraid a lot of my supporters figured they didn’t need to vote,” said Lange, 71, who estimated about 20 percent of registered voters in his district participated.

The race pitted a seasoned commission chairman against a youthful challenger, and the close finish seemed to reflect a string of controversies that have disquieted portions of the community in recent months.

“I’d heard so many people say they were dissatisfied,” said Commissioner Charles Wyatt, who isn’t up for re-election this year. “I hope it straightens Harry up. I hope it sends him a message.”

Lange attributed the dead heat in part to a long-running dispute over the use of the baseball fields in Mulberry Grove. County commissioners denied a rezoning request last year to prevent the fields from being used for travel ball.

Also in Muscogee County, Pam Brown, who challenged incumbent Sheriff John Darr, said she will request a recount.

“I’ll be asking for one, I’m certain I will,” Brown said. “I felt it would be close, but I thought that I would have the edge on him a little bit.”

The sheriff led Brown by a margin of about 0.448 percent — or 8,604 votes to 8,528 votes. Some 59 provisional ballots — votes not yet counted because of eligibility questions — remained out, and elections officials had received 22 military ballots as of Wednesday, said Nancy Boren, the county’s elections director.

About 200 military ballots were requested, but only a portion of those were expected to be returned.

The Muscogee County Board of Elections and Registrations plans to meet 3 p.m. Friday at the Government Center to certify election results. Georgia law allows for a recount when the margin of victory is within 1 percent.

If Darr prevails, Brown would have until Tuesday afternoon to request a recount in writing.

State Rep. Doug McKillip will not ask for a recount in his narrow loss to fellow Republican Regina Quick.

Runoffs

Carroll County Commission Chair Bill Chappell has been forced into a runoff with Marty Smith.

When the ballots were counted Tuesday night, Chappell has received the most votes, but the split was close to a three-way tie, a situation not usually found in incumbency races, one local political analyst observed.

The unofficial totals were Chappell with 4,594 votes, 34.9 percent; Smith with 4,356 votes, 33.1 percent; and third-place finisher Walt Hollingsworth, 4,217 votes, 32.0 percent.

Dr. Robert Sanders, a University of West Georgia political science professor, said he found the results “rather surprising” and was amazed at the closeness of the vote split and how no candidate was close to a majority.

“It goes to show that the Carroll County electorate is not thrilled with how things are going in county government,” Sanders said Wednesday. “There seems to be a number of issues, such as spending and services, but it may be reflective of general disappointment in government around the nation.”

Sanders said the vote seemed to be a question of, “Do you want the incumbency or not?” and it appears the Tuesday results showed nearly a two-to-one vote of dissatisfaction.

Click Here

Ends & Pieces

Seventy-three percent of Cobb County voters approved Sunday Sales in unincorporated parts of the county. This was a re-do of an earlier election in which only voters in unincorporated Cobb were allowed to vote; a court challenge overturned that election because all Cobb voters should have been polled.

A voting machine malfunctioned in Floyd County, trapping 85 uncounted votes; it is being sent to its manufacture to attempt to read those votes.

Visit Us On TwitterVisit Us On FacebookVisit Us On Google PlusVisit Us On PinterestVisit Us On YoutubeVisit Us On Linkedin