Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 9, 2014

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Jun

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 9, 2014

Georgia’s colonial charter, signed by King George II was witnessed on June 9, 1732.

Cream was formed on June 9, 1966 by Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker, and Jack Bruce.

On June 9, 1973, Secretariat won the Belmont Stakes and the Triple Crown, the first to win all three of the Triple Crown races since 1948. Secretariat was bred by Christopher Chenery, a graduate of Washington & Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, whose jockeys wore blue-and-white silks in honor of Chenery’s alma mater.

On June 9, 1976, Jimmy Carter’s opponents in the Democratic Primary for President, George Wallace, Henry Jackson, and Chicago mayor Richard Daley, released their delegates and endorsed Carter, assuring the Georgian of the nomination.

Last week, Bill Nigut at Georgia Public Broadcasting wrote about the 70th Anniversary of D-Day and he began with the headlines from the Atlanta Journal and Constitution.

Reading the reports of the invasion as journalism rather than history makes even clearer the extraordinary courage and dedication of the soldiers who stormed the beaches, fighting for freedom and the preservation of Western democracies. Nothing can ever diminish the sacrifices made by young men – many of them no doubt Georgians – far from home on the beaches of Normandy on that historic day.

How ironic then, that the front page of the June 7, 1944, Atlanta Journal also carries another important story just under news of the invasion: “State Group Bans Negros in Primary. Subcommittee Holds Only White Electors Eligible to Vote.” The story reports that a subcommittee of the Georgia Democratic Party had adopted a resolution reaffirming the rule of the party that only whites could participate in the July 4 primary election. (Yes, another irony – the election would be held on Independence Day.) Georgia Democratic officials had found it necessary to reaffirm the rule in response to a U.S. Supreme Court decision handed down in April, 1944, which declared that Texas could not block black voters from casting ballots in primary elections. Georgia Democrats insisted the ruling had no impact here.

The history that we share as Georgians is so complex, so difficult to try to reconcile. It’s soul-piercing and almost unfathomable in today’s world to acknowledge that the heroism of Georgia soldiers liberating Europe stood in such stark contrast to the disenfranchisement of blacks at home. Freedom for the French began on that June day in 1944. It would be two decades later before blacks here won the right to the vote with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

From reader feedback, I know that the short history segments are very popular and entertaining. I hope they’re educational, because many of the historic struggles of Georgia from the colonial period, when Georgia was reticent about joining the Independence movement and considered particularly unfriendly to taxes, through the civil rights movement, still resonate today.

The structure of our elections, which include runoffs, originate in the days in which African-Americans were being forcibly excluded from civic life under the one-party rule of white Democrats. Recently, the issue of reparations for African-Americans has been resurrected as a topic of national conversation.

The better we understand our history, the better-prepared we are for the future.

Georgia Campaigns and Elections

Jack Kingston, in his bid for United States Senate, received the endorsement of Congressman Rob Woodall (R-7) last week.

U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall on Friday morning announced that he would pledge support for Kingston, the Savannah congressman running against businessman David Perdue for the U.S. Senate seat to replace the retiring Saxby Chambliss. The Senate GOP primary runoff will be July 22. In-person early voting begins on June 30.

“In my three years in Congress, I have come to know Jack Kingston as one of the most conservative members in the House,” Woodall said in a statement released by the organization “Friends of Jack Kingston.” “But more importantly, I have come to know him as one of the most effective members of the House.”

In the May primary election, Perdue received nearly 31 percent of the vote, while Kingston collected nearly 26 percent.<

“Jack has been an outspoken supporter of the FairTax, a committed advocate for our men and women in uniform, and a tireless budget hawk, serving on a committee that has reduced federal spending by more than a trillion dollars in just the three years that I have served in Congress,” Woodall said. “Jack Kingston is a family man of character who never forgets that he works for the people. He will make Georgia very proud in the United States Senate. Jack Kingston has my enthusiastic vote and full support.”

Jack Kingston was also recently endorsed by Congressman Tom Price,

“Jack Kingston has always been a steadfast leader in the fight for conservative principles,” said Price.  “On a broad range of issues, he’s built a proven record of cutting wasteful spending and holding Washington accountable. He doesn’t shy away from making the tough but important decisions.”

“He’s tested, proven and won’t wilt in the face of pressure. The folks of Atlanta will be able to count on Jack Kingston when it comes to the issues we care the most about – expanding economic growth, reining in the power and reach of government, and replacing ObamaCare with patient-centered solutions. Simply put, he’ll be there for us. Jack’s a trusted ally and friend, and has a quality of character that will make him a strong voice in the U.S. Senate on behalf of Georgia families.”

Tom Crawford writes that endorsements from primary opponents might not be that helpful.

If you look at voter turnout figures in recent election cycles, it’s clear a large percentage of primary voters don’t bother to return for the runoff. The number of ballots cast in a primary election usually declines by 40 percent or more in the runoff – sometimes by more than 60 percent.

It’s a matter of human nature. Voters whose candidate was eliminated in the primary have much less incentive to turn out for a runoff election than those who voted for a successful candidate. They simply stay home on the day of the runoff. Setting aside the question of how many supporters will bother to vote in the runoff, there is the issue of how credible an endorsement can be when the candidate was so harshly critical of the person she is endorsing.

Most of the ink used in analyzing the results of the May 20 Republican Primary has been devoted to the question of Tea Party influence versus the Establishment, but it’s worth noting that some 66% of Georgia Republican Primary voters cast their ballots for an incumbent Congressman to take Saxby Chambliss’ seat in the Senate.

Cheryl Hill, widow of the late State Rep. Calvin Hill, has endorsed Wes Cantrell in the runoff election for the seat formerly occupied by her husband.

“I am honored that Wes looks to my husband as a guiding light for his actions while serving us. I know Calvin always had the best interests of this district at heart, and I feel confident in supporting Wes because I know he will lead the same way.”

“The main reason I decided to run for this office is because of the legacy of Calvin Hill. I became very concerned after the special election that Representative Hill’s legacy was not being fulfilled,” said Cantrell. “I want to lead in the same way that Calvin Hill led – as a representative that people respect and enjoy working with to find solutions to the issues facing Georgia. That’s why it is extremely gratifying and humbling to have the endorsement of Calvin’s widow Cheryl, and of his children Matt and Amanda.”

The endorsement from the Hill family comes on the heels of Cantrell garnering the most votes in the primary on May 20, despite campaigning for a quarter of the time his two opponents did. Hill’s support follows the endorsements of Representatives Michael Caldwell and Scot Turner, and State Senator Bruce Thompson – all representatives of Cherokee County in the state legislature.

Some of the best endorsements are when your campaign finance staff stamp “For Deposit Only” on the backs of checks, but what level of scrutiny should candidates give their donors before depositing their money?

Luckily, we have enterprising reporters who are ready to check out the history of political donors. Chris Joyner of the AJC writes about a small number of Kingston donors.

In late 2013, Kingston, an 11-term Republican congressman from Savannah, took in $80,052 in contributions from employees, their family members, consultants and contractors of two virtually unknown Gwinnett County companies: Confirmatrix Laboratories, a 2-year-old firm that performs urine and drug testing, and Nue Medical Consulting, a medical billing company founded last September.

Both companies are linked to Khalid A. Satary, a Palestinian also known as DJ Rock, who served more than three years in federal prison for running a large-scale counterfeit CD operation in the metro Atlanta area. Satary was released from prison in 2008 and federal officials have been trying to send him to out of the country ever since.

The AJC asked Kingston about the donations, a related fundraising event, and Satary’s criminal past on Wednesday. On Friday, the campaign announced Kingston would return the contributions.

“After reviewing this matter, we believe we are in full compliance with the law and federal elections regulations,” Kingston spokesman Chris Crawford said. “Out of an abundance of caution, however, we are returning contributions associated with this event due to external factors brought to our attention by members of the media.”

My thoughts? I think that crooks and criminals are likely to be sneaky when they make contributions to politicians, and it’s hard to expect politicians to run a full criminal background search on donor. But a quick Google search on major donors or bundlers is not too much to expect today. And, as in the case of the NBA forcing Donald Sterling to sell the LA Clippers for $2 billion dollars, are we better served when people whose actions we disapprove of have more money?

Returning the questionable donations is a good move, and about all you can expect.

Governor Deal appointed former State Senator Greg Goggans to the Georgia Board of Dentistry, a good choice in my humble opinion. As both a practicing hand-in-mouth professional, and a former state legislator, there are few better qualified to help the state agency move forward.

That said, service in the General Assembly does appear to have some career advancement rewards:

Of 34 Republican state senators in 2009, about 60 percent — 20 — have left the chamber (and at least three more are leaving at the end of this year). About two-thirds of those are back involved in state government, according to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution analysis.

Recently, the University System hired state Sen. Cecil Staton, R-Macon, to a newly created $165,000 a year administrative job. Also recently, former Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers was fired from his $150,000 a year job with Georgia Public Broadcasting, a hiring that brought Deal political grief when it was announced in late 2012.

The Senate Republican class of 2009-10 now gone from the chamber includes several other highly paid Deal appointees, a judge appointed by the governor, the state’s insurance commissioner, a couple of state House members, a Department of Transportation board member and some lobbyists.

Cam McWhirter profiles Jason Carter’s campaign for Governor in the Wall Street Journal:

[T]he contest between the 38-year-old Mr. Carter and Mr. Deal, 71, could be surprisingly competitive. A poll released May 26 by Rasmussen Reports showed Mr. Carter with a 48% to 41% lead. But other polls have found Mr. Deal ahead by several percentage points. RealClearPolitics, a news and polling aggregator, calls the race a tossup.

“For a long time you know, a lot of folks have not found a Democrat that they could vote for,” Mr. Carter said at a recent Kiwanis Club lunch here a city of 17,000 in rural South Georgia. “But we are now in a place that is changing.”

Recently Mr. Deal spoke at a state film industry meeting held at Manuel’s Tavern, a bar on Atlanta’s east side that was owned for years by a Democratic politician and where Jimmy Carter announced his plans to run for governor in 1970. Mr. Deal plans to lead a business mission this month to Israel, a not-so-subtle effort to highlight Jimmy Carter’s criticism of Israeli government policies toward Palestinians. That criticism angered many Jewish Americans.

The Deal campaign has raised more than $8 million so far, while the Carter campaign has raised $1.9 million, according to recent campaign filings.

Chip Lake, a Republican strategist, is heading the Georgia Victory Fund, a super PAC with a goal of raising $1.5 million to $2 million from national donors to criticize Mr. Carter in commercials. “He’s now walking on the stage that he has never been on before, and it’s our job to turn the lights on and make them very bright,” Mr. Lake said.

To win, Mr. Carter, a state senator who has never run for statewide office, would need blacks and Hispanic voters, whose numbers have been growing rapidly in the state, as well as liberals and independents. He also has to win more rural white voters—who for years have voted mainly for Republicans.

Scott Buchanan, a Southern politics expert at the Citadel in Charleston, S.C., said shifting demographics will make Georgia a political battleground “in the next election cycle or two,” but it is unclear if changes will lead to Democratic wins this fall.

“Shafer Amendment” boosted

While it hasn’t yet received much attention from the press, Senate Resolution 415 by Senate President Pro Tem David Shafer is receiving positive attention by grassroots Republican activists.

SR 415 places on the November ballot a Constitutional Amendment for the voters.

( ) YES
( ) NO

Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to prohibit the General Assembly from increasing the maximum state income tax rate?”</blockquote>

Upon the passage of  SR 415, Shafer discussed the rationale for the Amendment.

“If approved by voters this November, Georgia will be the only Southeastern state that constitutionally prohibits income tax increases,” said Sen. Shafer.  “This measure will help Georgia compete, attracting business and encouraging job formation.”

This weekend, the Jackson County Republican Party and the Teen Republicans State Convention both endorsed the Shafer Tax Cap Amendment.

 

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