Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 22, 2015


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 22, 2015

On April 22, 1891, Asa Candler bought the recipe for Coca-Cola for $2300 and eventually turned its marketing from a “brain tonic” into a plain old tasty beverage.

Adolf Hitler admitted defeat in World War II on April 22, 1945.

The Atlanta Braves won their first home game in Atlanta Stadium on April 22, 1966. The Braves beat the New York Mets 8-4. It’s interesting to look back at how the Braves landed in Atlanta.

During his 1961 campaign for mayor of Atlanta, Ivan Allen, Jr. promised to build a sports facility to attract a Major League Baseball team. After winning office, Allen chose a 47-acre plot in the Washington–Rawson neighborhood for the building site, citing its proximity to the Georgia State Capitol, downtown businesses and major highways. Allen, along with Atlanta Journal sports editor Furman Bisher, attempted to persuade Charlie Finley, owner of the Kansas City Athletics, to move his team to Atlanta. Finley was receptive and began discussing stadium design plans with Allen. The deal, however, ended in July 1963 when the American League did not approve the move.

In 1964, Mayor Allen announced that an unidentified team had given him a verbal commitment to move to Atlanta, provided a stadium was in place by 1966. Soon afterward, the prospective team was revealed to be the Milwaukee Braves, who announced in October that they intended to move to Atlanta for the 1965 season. However, court battles kept the Braves in Milwaukee for one last season.

A verbal commitment by an unnamed team brought the Braves here.

The Blues Brothers made their worldwide debut on Saturday Night Live on April 22, 1978. Two prominent Georgia musicians, Ray Charles (born Albany) and James Brown (died Atlanta) would co-star in The Blues Brothers movie.

[Language warning for this last clip.]

Former President Richard Nixon died on April 22, 1994.

Georgia Politics

Georgia Department of Veterans Service Commissioner Pete Wheeler died yesterday at the age of 92 after serving in that office since 1954.

He was Georgia’s longest-serving agency head and worked under a dozen governors, from Herman Talmadge to Nathan Deal.

In a 2006 interview with UGA’s Russell Library, Wheeler said his department was the first in state government to do away with segregation policies, integrating the Georgia War Veterans Home in Milledgeville. “We were the first state agency, even before the University of Georgia. We ended segregation in our department. We were the first one and I am very proud of that.”

Governor Nathan Deal announced that he will order flags flown at half-staff on Monday in honor of Commissioner Wheeler.

United States Senator Johnny Isakson, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, released a statement,

“Commissioner Pete Wheeler dedicated a lifetime of service to our state and nation and his fellow veterans. He made tremendous strides in modernizing and advancing services to benefit Georgia’s veterans and their families. He will be deeply missed by all Georgians and the millions of veterans across the country who have benefitted from his immeasurable contribution and courageous leadership.”

Bill Signing

Yesterday, Governor Nathan Deal signed a pair of bills to improve education across the state and to ease governmental burdens on new Charter Schools.

First up was the Opportunity School District legislation, Senate Bill 133,

Deal Signs OSD 1

From a press release by Gov. Deal’s office,

“By signing the Opportunity School District bill, we are promising better days ahead for students trapped in failing schools,” Deal said. “The power of positive change now rests in the hands of Georgia’s voters, and I know they share my belief that every child can learn and should have access to a high-quality education that prepares them for the workforce or for college.

“There are currently 139 schools across Georgia that have received a failing grade from the state accountability system for at least three consecutive years. Too few of these students go on to higher education, too few attain job skills and too few get a high school diploma. Too often this leads to a life that never fulfills its potential. With this new system, we can and will do better.”

The OSD legislation requires a constitutional amendment to be enacted. The General Assembly passed the constitutional amendment resolution and the implementing legislation during the 2015 legislative session. It now requires a majority approval by Georgia voters in the 2016 general election.

Deal also signed HB 372, the Utopian Academy for the Arts Act. The need for this law stems from efforts by Clayton County officials to obstruct the opening of a state-approved charter school, preventing children from attending class and costing the schools hundreds of thousands of dollars.

I can’t remember a previous bill signing that included a costume change, but Gov. Deal donned the blazer worn by students and administrators at Clayton County’s Utopian Academy to sign the bill helping that school.

Deal Signs Utopian 1

If I were a betting man, I’d wager $50 that his press people came up with the idea of putting on the blazer during the Masters.

The Governor’s signature is not required for proposed Constitutional Amendments, which require 2/3 majorities in each chamber and voter approval in a referendum.

Greg Bluestein of the AJC writes about the upcoming referendum, which will be on voters ballots for November 2016.

The governor and his allies have cast his constitutional amendment as a moral imperative. Deal said Tuesday that victims of the state’s worst schools “become the fodder of our prison system.”

Leading Democrats and some influential educators groups have staunchly opposed the plan, fearing it gives the governor’s office far too much power. DuBose Porter, who heads the Democratic Party of Georgia, said the fate of struggling schools shouldn’t rest in the hands of a governor who “has shown such a complete disregard for education and its funding.”

The plan, which passed both chambers by razor-thin margins, now hinges on a 24-word question that will be placed on ballots next year: “Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow the state to intervene in chronically failing public schools in order to improve student performance?”

Deal and his allies are already preparing what could be a multimillion-dollar campaign to push his top second-term initiative across the finish line. And critics have vowed to mount a counteroffensive.


Secretary of State Brian Kemp has called a Special Election for House District 115 to fill the seat vacated by former State Rep. Tyrone Brooks (D-Atlanta) before he plead guilty to federal fraud charges.

Notice is hereby given that a special election shall be held on June 16, 2015, in a portion of Fulton County to fill the vacancy in District 55 of the State House of Representatives created by the resignation of Tyrone Brooks. A run-off election, if needed, shall be held on July 14, 2015.

Qualifying for the special election shall be held in the Elections Division of the Office of Secretary of State, 802 West Tower, 2 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, SE, Atlanta, Georgia 30334.

The dates and hours of qualifying will be Tuesday, April 28, 2015 beginning at 9:00 a.m. and ending at 5:00 p.m.; Wednesday, April 29, 2015 beginning at 9:00 a.m. and ending at 5:00 p.m.; and Thursday, April 30, 2015 beginning at 9:00 a.m. and ending at 12 o’clock noon. The qualifying fee shall be $400.00.

Washington, DC

Senator Johnny Isakson’s spokesperson reiterated that the Senator will vote against the nomination of Loretta Lynch as United States Attorney General, according to the AJC.

“Following his meeting with Loretta Lynch and her confirmation hearings, Sen. Isakson was dissatisfied with her responses to questions regarding the constitutionality of President Obama’s executive action that attempts to circumvent Congress and grant amnesty to millions in this country illegally or her beliefs regarding protecting the Second Amendment.”

Senator David Perdue gavelled-in his first hearing as Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on State Department and USAID Management, International Operations, and Bilateral International Development’s on the operational effectiveness of the State Department. The Inspector General for the U.S. State Department and Broadcasting Board of Governors, Steve Linick, testified about the Office of the Inspector General’s (OIG) efforts, initiatives, and challenges in performing adequate oversight.

“Georgians sent me to Washington to make the federal government more effective, transparent, and accountable. Today’s hearing is part of our Congressional oversight authority. It is my hope that this first hearing and the bipartisan work of this subcommittee will help uncover ways we can improve and streamline oversight at the State Department in order to support the men and women who serve our country here at home and around the world,” said Perdue

“The Office of the Inspector General was designed to prevent waste, fraud, and abuse, and has laudably found ways to save taxpayers millions of dollars. However, they do not have autonomy or independence to conduct adequate oversight. Given the important mission of the State Department, it’s outrageous that Mr. Linick and his team are not given full authority to hold a department of 72,000 employees accountable. As chairman of this subcommittee, my goal is to improve the overall operational effectiveness of the State Department and provide greater transparency and accountability for the American people,” said Perdue.

Religious Liberty

Jim Jess wrote an account of how the resolution supporting Sen. Josh McKoon’s RFRA bill was passed by the Sixth District Convention of the Georgia Republican Party,

The first resolution supported Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s effort to hold what is being called an “SEC Primary” on March 1, 2016, which would be held the same day as a number of other Southern states. The regional primary would attract presidential candidates to campaign in the South. The second resolution opposed the Advanced Placement U.S. History (A-PUSH) framework being promoted by a national testing company and some education consultants. According to critics, the proposed A-PUSH curriculum focuses on America’s faults and ignores some of our nation’s great achievements. The delegates passed both of these resolutions by nearly unanimous majorities.

But the big story is what the committee did not do. The committee received a number of resolutions its members refused to bring to the floor. While resolutions are often used in such gatherings to rally support for a number of Republican priorities, this committee seemed more interested in limiting the number of resolutions that delegates could consider.

In a rather unusual parliamentary procedure, a delegate asked for her resolution about the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), Senate Bill 129, to be discharged from the committee and sent to the floor for consideration. The delegates supported her position and voted to bring it to the floor. Two of the three Resolutions Committee members spoke against adopting the resolution, one even going so far as to argue that because some members of the legislature were confused about the legislation, delegates should not consider it. This prompted Fulton County delegate Nate Porter to stand and argue that the reason for resolutions is to give direction to those who are in office.

State Sen. Judson Hill (R-Marietta) also argued in support of the resolution. He said that delegates should not believe inaccurate information being circulated in the media, as many of these arguments against the bill were wrong. He pointed out the importance of enacting the legislation to protect citizens of faith who are being deprived of their rights.

When delegates voted on the resolution, nearly all the delegates in the auditorium rose to their feet to indicate their approval. Less than a dozen of the 200 delegates rose to vote “no.” The resolution will now be sent to the governor, lieutenant governor, speaker of the House and all members of the legislature to indicate the convention’s support for the bill.

GAGOP Chairman’s Race

The AJC Political Insider has a squib about a small billboard that has appeared in Athen, where the GOP State Convention will be held next month. The sign on Milledge Avenue reads, “Georgia GOP Must Elect New Chairman.”

Alex Johnson, the only known candidate running against current Chairman John Padgett, sent out an email trumpeting the results of a straw poll in the 3d Congressional District Convention,

First, at the 3rd District Convention, a straw poll was conducted which included a poll for GAGOP Chairman. I received 75% of the vote, with the incumbent receiving only 17%. If this is any indication of statewide trends, it shows a substantial desire for fresh, professional and energetic leadership within the GAGOP that will practice financial stewardship and truly support and grow our county parties. It also shows a substantial increase over the 40% of the votes received at the 2013 state convention.

Second, the 10th District Convention refused to seat Newton County delegates due to the rule-breaking that occurred at the County level. It is definitely refreshing to see the rules being upheld in the 10th district and a concerted effort to ensure that we Advance the GOP through growth of the party and not excluding hard-working Republicans. Hopefully the same will be done by the State GOP.

A quick review of straw poll results shows that they almost never reflect reality. I’d suggest that many straw polls are held specifically to boost candidates who may have a limited but active following.

In May 2013, before the last State Convention, the results of a straw poll showed the following:

Alex Johnson-47 votes
B. J. Van Gundy-32 votes
John Padgett-5 votes
Seth Harp-2 votes

Johnson also led an April Straw Poll in the Eleventh Congressional District

30% Alex Johnson 54 votes
25% Undecided 44 votes
24% John Padgett 43 votes
17% BJ Van Gundy 30 votes
4% Seth Harp 8 votes

In Athens that year, John Padgett led the first ballot, with Alex Johnson in second place, VanGundy third, and, if I recall correctly, Seth Harp dropped out.

As far as the Third Congressional District GOP being a bellweather for the rest of the state, have a look at the March 2014 straw poll results for the United States Senate race,

US Senate
Paul Broun………… 39%
Karen Handel…….. 36%
David Perdue…….. 12%
Derrick Grayson….. 9%
Jack Kingston…….. 2%
Phil Gingrey……….. 2%
Art Gardner……… 0.5%

David Pennington…. 60%
Nathan Deal……….. 35%
John Barge…………. 5%

State School Superintendant
Mary Kay Bacallao…. 56%
Nancy Jester……….. 21%
Richard Woods…….. 11%
Ashley Bell…………… 7%
Kira Willis……………. 3%
Allen Fort…………….. 1%
Mike Buck…………… 0%
Sharyl Dawes………… 0%
Fitz Johnson…………. 0%


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