Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 17, 2014


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 17, 2014

John Wesley, founder of Methodism, was born on June 17, 1703 in Epworth, England. As it happens, yesterday, I photographed a 1951 Plymouth and 1950 Dodge Coronet that were parked next to Epworth United Methodist Church in Atlanta. I’ve started a new website to document cars photographed on the street (as opposed to at car shows). If you’re into cars, I hope you’ll check it out.

On June 17, 1759, Sir Francis Drake claimed California for England.

On June 17, 1775, British forces under General William Howe engaged American colonists at the Battle of Bunker Hill.

On June 17, some 2,200 British forces under the command of Major General William Howe (1729-1814) and Brigadier General Robert Pigot (1720-96) landed on the Charlestown Peninsula then marched to Breed’s Hill. As the British advanced in columns against the Americans, Prescott, in an effort to conserve the Americans’ limited supply of ammunition, reportedly told his men, “Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes!” When the Redcoats were within several dozen yards, the Americans let loose with a lethal barrage of musket fire, throwing the British into retreat.

After re-forming their lines, the British attacked again, with much the same result. Prescott’s men were now low on ammunition, though, and when the Redcoats went up the hill for a third time, they reached the redoubts and engaged the Americans in hand-to-hand combat. The outnumbered Americans were forced to retreat. However, by the end of the engagement, the Patriots’ gunfire had cut down some 1,000 enemy troops, with more than 200 killed and more than 800 wounded. More than 100 Americans perished, while more than 300 others were wounded.

President Andrew Johnson appointed John Johnson (no relation) provisional Governor of Georgia after the Civil War on June 17, 1865; John Johnson had opposed secession.

France announced its intention to surrender to Germany on June 17, 1940.

Five men were arrested for burglary of the Democratic National Committee offices at the Watergate office and apartment complex in Washington, DC on June 17, 1972.

The affair began with the arrest of five men for breaking and entering into the Democratic National Committee (DNC) headquarters at the Watergate complex on June 17, 1972. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) connected cash found on the burglars to a slush fund used by the Committee for the Re-Election of the President, the official organization of Nixon’s campaign.

In July 1973, as evidence mounted against the president’s staff, including testimony provided by former staff members in an investigation conducted by the Senate Watergate Committee, it was revealed that President Nixon had a tape-recording system in his offices and he had recorded many conversations.

After a protracted series of bitter court battles, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the president had to hand over the tapes to government investigators; he ultimately complied.

Recordings from these tapes implicated the president, revealing he had attempted to cover up the questionable goings-on that had taken place after the break-in.

Facing near-certain impeachment in the House of Representatives and equally certain conviction by the Senate, Nixon resigned the presidency on August 9, 1974. His successor, Gerald Ford, then issued a pardon to him on September 8, 1974.

Newton Leroy Gingrich was born on June 17, 1943 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Gingrich graduated from college at Emory University, where he founded the Emory College Republicans. Gingrich’s congressional papers are collected in the the Georgia’s Political Heritage Program at West Georgia College, where he taught before being elected to Congress. Also at West Georgia are the papers of former Congressmen Bob Barr, Mac Collins, and Pat Swindall, along with a near-perfect replica of Georgia Speaker Tom Murphy’s office.

Shafer Amendment

Walter Jones of Morris News has written about the “Shafer Amendment” on the November ballot, which would permanently cap the state income tax rate at its current level.

The campaign to win voter support for capping the state income tax has begun with the endorsement of 17 economists last week.

Voters will decide on their general election ballot whether to prohibit the legislature from ever raising the tax rate beyond the current 6 percent. Grassroots support for the limit has been slowly building since the General Assembly passed the amendment with a two-thirds majority of the House and Senate.

Generally, economists see lowering expenses for businesses and individuals as freeing up money for investment and job creation. They also agree with the amendment’s sponsor, Senate President Pro Tempore David Shafer, R-Duluth, who prefers eventually shifting more of the tax burden to sales taxes.

He notes that even though the rate has remained the same for decades, the overall state budget has grown faster than the inflation rate and population, meaning the amendment won’t crimp government services. Other taxes and fees can still be hiked.

“If you’re attracting new business and see existing businesses expand, that in itself will give you new revenue,” Shafer said.

So why ask voters to limit the rate if it hasn’t changed in years?

To provide certainty to businesses, for one thing. All neighboring states have lower tax rates, but none of them have a constitutional maximum.

Asked if the amendment might boost the turnout of conservative voters, Shafer said his sole motive was to cap the income tax rate.

In the legislature, once the Senate had given it a super-majority, House Democrats took a unified stand against it. When the House passed a modified version anyway, Senate Democrats showed less enthusiasm for it.

For instance, Sen. Jason Carter of Atlanta, the Democratic nominee for governor, voted for the amendment the first time around but somehow missed the second vote.

Shafer said Friday he’s backing the formation of a committee to raise funds and campaign for the amendment.

In the meantime, Republican groups have begun to offer their own endorsements while DuBose Porter, chairman of the Democratic Party of Georgia, offered his condemnation.

This weekend, the Coweta County Republican Party went on the record supporting passage of the Tax Cap Amendment.

Coweta County Tax Cap Amendment Resolution

Yet another poll shows Kingston leading

A poll released by Human Events and Gravis Marketing shows Jack Kingston leading David Perdue in the runoff by 49-38.

“Kingston has a strong lead and it looks like it is his race to lose,” said Doug Kaplan, the president of Gravis Marketing, the Florida-based polling company that conducted the poll, which carries a 3 percent margin of error.

Kaplan said part of his confidence in the poll is that number of likely voters. “Seventy-nine percent of the respondents reported being very likely to vote, in addition to another 16 percent told us they are likely to vote.”

Derrick Dickey, the press secretary for the Perdue campaign, said he is confident the voters will choose the former CEO of Reebok.

“Georgians understand that you can’t trust the same politicians to fix the problems that they created,” he said. “On Election Day, we believe they will give a conservative outsider with the right experience a chance.”

Professor Charles S. Bullock III, the Richard B. Russell professor of political science at the University of Georgia, said he sees voters moving to Kingston after the initial primary vote.

“The 11-point Kingston advantage that your poll reports is right in line with 2 other recent surveys,” he said.

“Each of these surveys has Kingston right around 50 percent, meaning that he has doubled the support that he received on May 20. A reasonable interpretation is that supporters of candidates eliminated in the first round of voting are more likely to rally to Kingston than Perdue,” he said.

“Four months ago, Perdue was completely unknown,” he said. “He surged to the top of the crowded primary field with extensive TV advertising.”

Bullock said Perdue raised his name recognition, but one commercial backfired against him.

“His most heavily used ad showed his four leading opponents as crying babies,” he said.

“It was a tactical mistake to lump them together since that reduced the likelihood that supporters of the three candidates no longer in the hunt will turn to Perdue,” he said. “It was a rookie mistake – not thinking that if you make it into the runoff you will then hope to attract supporters of the eliminated candidates.”

“The outcome will be settled in metro Atlanta and Kingston did poorly there in May.  He needs to make inroads among those who backed Handel and Gingrich and those two have endorsed him,” he said.

Kingston also needs to energize his base, he said.

“He also needs to have strong turnout in the southern Georgia counties he has represented in his 22 years in Congress,” he said. “He ran exceptionally well there in May. Georgia’s Coastal Empire, as it likes to call itself, does not often have one of its own in the Senate so those voters have an added incentive to return to the polls in July.”

Why Georgia Matters

Julia Cannon with has a follow-up piece that explains part of why Georgia is so important in the fight for control of the United States Senate.

Democrats are excited about Nunn’s chances, said Rashad Taylor, who served as a Democrat in Georgia’s House of Representatives from 2009 until last year and is founder of Five Eleven, LLC, an Atlanta-based public affairs, political consulting, and government relations firm.

“Michelle Nunn is in a great position to win. She has put together a top notch campaign operation,” Taylor said. “She is the type of person who has proven that she can raise the money to compete and who can attract the common sense voter from either party [...] who are just sick of gridlock in Washington.”

Taylor also pointed to Nunn’s father and other Georgia Democrats as evidence the state isn’t as conservative as it’s reputed to be.

However, perhaps the main reason Democrats see an opportunity to steal a Senate seat from the Republicans in Georgia is the brutal GOP primary underway in the state. No candidate received the required 50% of the vote necessary to lock down the Republican nomination in last month’s primary, which triggered a runoff between the top two finishers, Jack Kingston and David Perdue. The runoff is scheduled to take place July 22.

“The issue now is that people voting in midterm elections are voting not only for a candidate, but for a party to control the Senate. So Republicans are seeing a vote for Michelle Nunn as a vote for Harry Reid,” said Alan Abramowitz, a political scientist at Emory University in Atlanta who specializes in the political effects of demographic shifts.

Nunn has a secret weapon as she confronts these challenges. Operation “Bannock Street,” a Democratic Party plan to apply algorithmic technology to identify political leanings of potential voters and ideal methods of convincing them to vote, has allocated a large portion of its resources to the race in Georgia. According to an article written last Tuesday by The Guardian, “The push involves the recruitment of 4,000 paid staff and will cost $60m, and is being orchestrated from Washington by Guy Cecil,” the executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

However, even with high-tech tools at her disposal in a state where the electorate seems to be growing less and less red, Nunn may be facing an uphill battle. Abramowitz argued the “odds are against” Nunn because the demographic changes occurring in Georgia are happening slower than Democrats might like.

“We know, based on what the Census tells us, that the demographic makeup is changing in Georgia. Politically, this means that there is a gradually changing electorate [towards a more liberal balance,] but it is lagging a few years behind the general voting population,” Abramowitz said.

MDJ:Candidate in CD-11 weak on women’s issues

An editorial in the Marietta Daily Journal suggests that this Saturday’s debate between Bob Barr and Barry Loudermilk in the 11th Congressional District runoff indicates that Republicans may have an issue… with womens’ issues.

There’s not much difference between the two runoff candidates, issue-wise. But they both proved less than fully fluent when given the chance to talk about “women’s issues.” As a couple of Republican U.S. Senate candidates proved two years ago, it’s a potential minefield.
Evans asked the two to “talk to us about the issues that are important to women, who are at least 50 percent of the voters. What is the message you have for them?”

Loudermilk began by noting that his wife and daughters say that “if there’s a ‘war on women,’ it’s coming from the left, not the right.” But he went on to say that he doesn’t “segregate the issues because we hear the same things over and over again from men and women.” He then listed the top such issues as Obamacare, overspending and overregulation.

Barr began his answer by referencing recently released Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl and the six soldiers killed while trying to recover the apparent deserter and talked about how the mothers of those six must have felt. He then went on to talk about how Obama’s policies are “destroying our future.”

Dissatisfied with the answers, Evans tried again with a follow-up question. He said that well-known pollster Frank Luntz has noted that when asked, 70 percent of men judge the success of their lives by how their career went. On the other hand, 70 percent of women answer the question by saying they judge the success of their own lives by those of their children. That is, are their children able to find jobs, have good homes and find someone to love?

“So what, specifically, would you do to jump start the economy and help people find jobs and otherwise help those women understand that their children will have better lives than we did?” Evans asked.

As one politico was overheard telling Evans after the event was over, “I think your questions were better than their answers.”

Fluency in “women’s issues” may not be that important in winning a Republican Primary, but women who are unaffiliated with either party will certainly be at the center of the General Election races for United States Senate and Governor.

This presents a conundrum for Republicans: many think that a female candidate would be a better messenger on women’s issues, but we don’t often see women emerge from a GOP Primary at the statewide or local level. Maybe some communications coaching is in order?

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