Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections for December 4, 2013

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Dec

Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections for December 4, 2013

“We often miss opportunity because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like work”

Thomas Edison

Election Results

Congratulations to State Senator-Elect Bruce Thompson, who carried all three counties in District 14 last night to win election and succeed Barry Loudermilk. The final tally was 2891 votes for Thompson to 1356 for Matt Laughridge.

County Laughridge Thompson Total % Thompson
Bartow 533 1260 1793 70.27%
Cherokee 765 1523 2288 66.56%
Cobb 58 198 256 77.34%
Total 1356 2981 4337 68.73%

“I’m very, very, very thankful to the people of Cherokee, Bartow and Cobb for seeing fit to put me in the seat as their next senator,” [Thompson told the Marietta Daily Journal].

So how did he beat someone who raised more than $100k and spent more than $60k during the runoff? I would submit to you that the magic number for Bruce Thompson was not denominated in dollars, but in doors.

During his winning campaign, Bruce Thompson knocked on 3100 doors personally; in the runoff election, he garnered 2981 votes. Additionally, Thompson was joined by his friends, family, and the elected officials who endorsed him (Sen. Josh McKoon was first, followed by State Rep. Scot Turner and Sen. Chuck Hufstetler) also went door-to-door with him.

In the wake of Sen. Mike Dugan’s December 2012 stunning upset over State Rep. Bill Hembree in a Special Election Runoff, I asked him Dugan how he won and his answer was similar to Thompson’s — personal voter contact. If you asked Senator John Wilkinson how he came from behind to win his December 2011 runoff, I suspect the answer would be the same. Scot Turner in February 2013 is another replay of the winning formula.

Pro-tip: If you ever decide to run for office, here’s the secret to winning any election ever: ask every voter personally for his or her vote. It’s that simple. The problem becomes more complex as the vote count gets larger, but the fundamental principle is that personal voter contact is the single most effective means of earning a voter’s support.

Direct mail, robocalls, volunteer contact, television and radio advertising all can play a part, but at best, each of those is a second-rate substitute for personal voter contact by the candidate himself or herself, followed by personal voter contact by an enthusiastic supporter.

When the candidate has personally met the voter, every piece of paid media that comes afterwards serves to reinforce the impression made at the voter’s door, and every piece of paid media is more effective when it’s in conjunction with a personal connection to the candidate.

I’ll tell you when I knew Bruce Thompson would win his election: when he told me he was running. By then I knew him well enough to know that he started his very successful insurance agency the way he would win his election: he left his office, knocked on people’s door, and asked for their business. There are few candidates who are willing and able to sustain a grueling door-to-door campaign; there are fewer who will do so and lose the election.

Elections held outside the normal voting calendar amplify this characteristic because fewer people will vote, and the individual voter’s personal motivation to cast a vote means more. If someone’s already heading to the ballots because they want to vote for President or Governor, or United States Senate, all you have to do to earn their vote is convince them to choose your name from the list already in front of them. In December, between Thanksgiving and Christmas, you have to convince a voter to make a special trip in between all the other things they have to do, which means that a personal connection to the candidate is much more important. And you create that connection as a candidate by getting in front of the voter, asking for their vote, and then ensuring they have every opportunity to vote.

Somebody asked on Twitter last night whether Laughridge’s defeat means that robo-calls are ineffective. The answer is no. Robocalls on their own, or without direct voter contact are less effective that direct voter contact. They’re often better than nothing. As part of a comprehensive campaign strategy, they can be useful in drawing attention to your direct mail if they hit voicemails on the same day that your mailpiece is delivered. They can help encourage identified voters for you or your candidate to vote early, or provide timely reminders of election day. But they’re vastly more effective when delivered to an individual who has has personal contact from the campaign. Combined with a really bad campaign, they can make things worse.

House District 104

Chuck Efstration won the Special Election Runoff for House District 104 over fellow Republican Teresa Cantrell.

Surpassing his opponent in votes by two-to-one, the Dacula man won the House District 104 seat, which Rep. Donna Sheldon vacated to focus on a congressional race.

“It’s a truly humbling experience to receive the trust of the public,” said Efstration, former prosecutor who will take office at the age of 30. “I understand that with that trust comes a mantle of responsibility and a need to follow through.”

After an unsuccessful congressional race in 2010, Efstration was the top vote-getter in last month’s special election for the state House of Representatives seat, setting up Tuesday’s runoff with Dacula activist Teresa Cantrell.

“This is so special,” Efstration said. “Now the real work begins.”

Efstration won nearly 65% of ballots cast (1230 out of 1895) in the Gwinnett County district.

House District 127

Brian Price (D) beat Diane B. Evans with 56.5% of the vote (1443 of 2554 votes cast) to earn a seat in the State House of Representatives.

County Evans Prince Total % Prince
Jefferson 874 303 1177 25.74%
Richmond 237 1140 1377 82.79%
Total 1111 1443 2554 56.50%

The election results above illustrate the importance of georgraphy and voter turnout in an election. This follows the same pattern set in the November election.

[In the November election], Prince led in Richmond County, winning all but one of its nine precincts voting in the special election. He totaled 1,226 votes with Murphy winning 739. Evans had 146 votes.

Evans, of Avera, Ga., had a strong showing in Jefferson County. She won 827 votes to Prince’s 242 votes and Murphy’s 111. Evans was the only candidate from Jefferson County.

At the Georgia State Capitol today

Governor Nathan Deal and First Lady Sandra Deal will light the Christmas tree at the Capitol today at 11 AM.

On Sunday, December 8th at 6 PM, the Deals will light the Christmas tree at the Governor’s Mansion. The Mansion will also host Christmas tours this season:

Christmas Tours December 9th – 20th
Monday – Friday: 9:30am – 11:00am
Saturday: 10:00am – 12:30pm
Sunday: 2:00 -4:00pm

For groups of 10 or more, please call 404.261.1776.

Please note that the Governor’s Mansion is a Toys for Tots drop off site.

This year’s Christmas tree at the Governor’s Mansion is a 40-foot red cedar that was grown at the Georgia International Horse Park in Conyers.

The majestic tree was selected by representatives of the Georgia Building Authority. It was cut down Monday morning and transported to the mansion located at 391 West Paces Ferry Road, where it will be decorated with between 40,000 and 50,000 lights for the “Christmas at the Mansion” lighting ceremony at 6 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 8.

After the holiday season, the tree will be taken down the week after Christmas and recycled by The Home Depot. The Georgia Building Authority will grind the stump of the cedar and plant three trees in its place.

“We are thrilled that a tree from the Georgia International Horse Park was chosen for the governor’s Christmas tree,” said Jennifer Bexley, director of the Georgia International Horse Park. “Of all the trees in northeast Georgia that could have been selected, it’s an honor that this tree came from Conyers and our world-class facility.”

Karen Handel on voter contact

Yesterday, Marsha Bomar Anderson posted on Facebook that she had received a personal call from Karen Handel wishing her luck in her election. Over the years, I’ve heard numerous stories of Handel doing this, back to her time as Secretary of State.

If you want to know what makes Karen Handel an excellent politician and helps her outperform what the campaign contribution disclosures would suggest, that is exhibit one. I can tell you from the way people who received those calls tell the story, it has made a lasting impression on many candidates.

While everyone loves a winner, it’s often the electoral losers who will make great contributions to the next election cycle. They still have the contacts and knowledge they developed during their own campaign, without the burden of actually serving in office.

Three-way race for PSC

Lavonia lawyer Doug Kidd announced yesterday that he will run for the Public Service Commission seat currently held by Lauren “Bubba” McDonald. From the Press Release:

Kidd, an attorney from Lavonia, said his campaign will focus on opening Georgia’s economy to newer and cheaper forms of energy and will aggressively advocate for fair and affordable energy rates.

“Georgia is at a crossroads in the energy industry,” Kidd said. “It’s an exciting time. Solar and biofuels are becoming more viable alternatives because of rapidly improving technology and we’re still finding new ways to make traditional sources such as coal and natural gas be ever more plentiful and affordable.”

Kidd also said his campaign will push for stronger ethics rules for the commission, including tougher rules on ex parte communications. “As an attorney, I know how important it is for rule makers to be fair and impartial, and allowing unfettered contact between commissioners and the utilities they regulate undermines the legitimacy of the PSC. We need to change that.”

Kidd joins Craig Lutz, a former member of the Flowery Branch City Council and Hall County Commission in challenging McDonald. In August, at Grillin’ with the Governor, Commissioner McDonald told me he is running for reelection.

Kip Klein, former GOP legislator dies

From Jim Galloway’s Political Insider:

Kip Klein, the Marietta attorney and former Republican state lawmaker, has died, his daughter confirmed this afternoon.

Klein was a pioneer in the Georgia GOP ranks, served in the Legislature from 1991 to 1997, and ran for the Republican nomination for attorney general in 1998, only to be beaten by David Ralston of Blue Ridge, who would go on to be House speaker. (Ralston would lose to Democratic incumbent Thurbert Baker.)

Klein and his wife Sharon began a second campaign, working with U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson – a close friend of the couple — on a compromise that would allow some research using embryonic stem cells, which had been severely restricted by President George W. Bush.

Klein’s daughter Shannon is now a staffer for Isakson. She said services have been set for 3 p.m. Friday at the First Baptist Church in Woodstock.

Ralston, the [S]peaker of the House, just sent over this note:

“Kip Klein embodied the very meaning of worthy adversary. I will forever remember his kind spirit and tenacious will, his passion for the ideas in which he believed, yet respect for those who disagreed with him. The integrity and dignity he brought to public service are qualities that are becoming all too rare in today’s political climate.”

The memorial service will be held this Friday at 3 PM at First Baptist Church in Woodstock.

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