Yesterday was an ideal day to have some free time in our nation’s Capitol. All the politicians were home in their districts, and the cold weather made everything look clean and kept everyone else inside.
I’m in Washington covering the Republican National Committee’s Winter Meeting for InsiderAdvantage.com
RNC Rules Committee adopts package to change nomination process
Republican National Committeeman Randy Evans from Georgia shepherded the rules change package through the Committee process, where it passed overwhelmingly and will be voted on by the full RNC later this morning. InsiderAdvantage has the full text of an email Randy sent to his fellow Committee members outlining the changes. A brief excerpt:
Let me give you the background on how we got where we are, addressed all of the various concerns and then developed good sensible solutions. It starts, unfortunately, with one inescapable fact that we must all face: we have lost two consecutive Presidential elections – in some part due to the rules that govern our nomination process. Indeed, there has been a steady growing consensus among our Members, supporters, and fellow Republicans that we need to look carefully at our rules for selecting a nominee so that we don’t put our Party and candidates at a dangerous disadvantage before we even get started on the General Election campaign.
What Is The Overall Impact of the Changes?
The most significant impact is compression – meaning that the time from the beginning until the end of the nomination process is shorter in duration, with a corresponding shorter proportionality period. It is still a long time: approximately 75-105 days. But, that is significantly less than the six months when our candidates use up all their resources inflicting irreparable damage on each other only to find that they are left defenseless from late June until the August convention.
Having nominated two individuals whose appeal to the American heartland and “middle class” (I still hate that term) was minimal, leaders such as Mr. Evans are seeking a new calendar for nominating a candidate for president. It would preserve traditions such as Iowa and New Hampshire as early contests, but would force other states to hold off until later. The real goal is to give the Midwest, once a major part of any GOP victory against the Democrats, a chance to have a real say in who becomes the GOP nominee.
That’s a very smart move for a party that has seen its nomination wrapped up relatively early and generally by whichever candidate wins a relatively early Florida primary. If it could help bring a state like Ohio back into the Republican fold, it would be a stroke of genius. That is if the architects of the new schedule don’t forget that they must include Florida as a critical player or risk continuing to lose its massive electoral vote to the Democrats.
And I attended the meeting and witnessed an epic parliamentary slugfest between Evans, a master of procedure, and Morton Blackwell, who has served on the National Committee for some 25 years.
The major substantive point of contention between the two rules wizards was the extent to which the nomination process should be shortened.
Evans said at one point, “as Senior Adviser to the Newt Gingrich for President campaign, I can tell you that on the presidential campaign trail, fifteen days is forever.”
Blackwell was concerned that the proposal went too far toward shortening the process and might lead to an insufficiently-vetted nominee, saying, “I think we are going too far in shortening this process. We need an adequate amount of time for the candidate to be tested.” Blackwell also argued that the condensed schedule makes it more difficult for a “grassroots candidate” to arise as a condensed nomination schedule will require more resources to conduct simultaneous campaigns in more states.
Back in Georgia
On January 24, 1787, George Handley was elected Governor by the Georgia legislature. Under Handley’s leadership, a new state constitution was adopted in 1788.
On January 24, 1977, Horace T. Ward became the first black Superior Court Judge in Georgia; later President Carter would nominate him to the federal bench and he became the first black federal judge in the state. Ron Daniels has more on the illustrious career of Judge Ward.
On January 24, 1987, Hosea Williams led a second civil rights march in Forsyth County, after an earlier march was stopped. The counter-protest, which included some white supremacists brought national attention to Forsyth County.
On January 24, 2001, Governor Roy Barnes surprised the Georgia General Assembly with a proposal to adopt a “placemat” flag and banishing the 1956 flag to the dustbin. The vote on that visual abomination continues to have political repercussions.
Georgia’s legislative Democratic caucuses rolled-out their policy proposals yesterday, which include, from the AP:
Georgia Senate Democrats said Thursday that top priorities on their 2014 legislative agenda include addressing the state’s income gap and supporting working and middle class families.
“Georgia now ranks 40th in the nation with regard to income inequality and 27 percent of Georgia’s children are living in poverty – one out of every four kids,” Sen. Horacena Tate, of Atlanta, said in a statement.
Senate Democrats outlined an agenda that also includes doubling the state’s $5.15 minimum wage, expanding Georgia’s Medicaid system, providing funding for public education and ethics reform. Expanding Medicaid is a particular issue that Georgia lawmakers should take swift action on, Democratic senators said.
“Medicaid expansion would insure an additional 650,000 Georgians,” Sen. Vincent Fort, of Atlanta, said, adding that he considers expansion of the program morally and fiscally imperative.
Gov. Nathan Deal has said the state can’t afford to expand the program. However, Fort said the federal government would cover about 90 percent of the cost and expanding Medicaid “makes economic sense for individuals and businesses.”
On the House side, Democrats are backing a bill requiring state agencies to show how they’re spending money to outsource jobs.
None of the legislation stands much chance of winning passage since the General Assembly is heavily dominated by Republicans.
The minimum wage increase would appear to be a non-starter on cost alone. Plus, $10.10 an hour is higher than the federal minimum wage.
GOP Gov. Nathan Deal has vowed repeatedly that he will use the leeway granted by a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act to opt Georgia out of Medicaid expansion.
But on Thursday, Democrats promised to put pressure on their Republican colleagues by taking the minority party’s case to the public.
“We are not the silent minority sitting in the corner,” said Senate Minority Leader Steve Henson, D-Tucker. “ We’re going to open the eyes of Georgians and win some battles despite our numbers.”
Today, Senate Democrats outlined their agenda for the 2014 Legislative Session, which includes policies that will stifle job growth and bankrupt Georgia. In response, the Georgia Republican Party issued the following statements:
“The Senate Democrats’ legislative agenda is bad for Georgia,” said GAGOP Chairman John Padgett. “From billion dollar spending initiatives to job-killing mandates that will cripple our small businesses, Sen. Jason Carter and his liberal colleagues clearly care more about ideology than the people of Georgia.”
“Thanks to Obamacare, Georgia taxpayers will have to fork over $300 million in new healthcare costs this year. If the Gold Dome Democrats had it their way, Georgia would be on the hook for another $2.5 billion. That’s not a ‘good deal.’ That’s a recipe for disaster!”
Medicaid Expansion would add 620,000 people to Georgia’s taxpayer funded health plan at a cost of $2.5 billion over 10 years.
“To make matters worse, Senate Democrats want to launch an all out assault on job creators,” said Padgett. “The Democrats’ minimum wage hike, which nearly doubles the current rate, will stifle job creation, suppress business growth, and ultimately force many small business owners to close shop.”
Guns on campus received a fatal headshot from legislative counsel. From the AJC:
State Rep. Alan Powell, R-Hartswell, said a full year of negotiations over a bill to permit the carrying of concealed weapons on public university campuses has been for naught – after the General Assembly’s legal counsel pronounced a floated compromise unconstitutional.
The Legislature had been headed toward a measure that would have permitted university presidents to decide whether or not students – licensed and 21 years or older – would be permitted to carry weaponry in bookbags and on their person.
But on Tuesday, Powell and state Rep. Rick Jasperse, R-Jasper, were informed that optional provisions – whether “opt in” or “opt out” – wouldn’t pass muster. University presidents can’t decide what is a crime and what is not.
Both Senate and House convene at 9 AM today and are expected to break early so that members can return home for the weekend with their families and constituents. Only one committee meeting is scheduled for today after Session, when the Jacobs Subcommittee of Judiciary (Civil) will take up two bills beginning at 1:30 PM in Capitol 132.