Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 21, 2015


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 21, 2015

USS Constitution, named by President George Washington, was launched in Boston Harbor on October 21, 1791.

During the War of 1812, the Constitution won its enduring nickname “Old Ironsides” after defeating the British warship Guerriére in a furious engagement off the coast of Nova Scotia. Witnesses claimed that the British shots merely bounced off the Constitution‘s sides, as if the ship were made of iron rather than wood. The success of the Constitution against the supposedly invincible Royal Navy provided a tremendous morale boost for the young American republic.

Today, Constitution serves as a museum ship, and has sailed under her own power as recently as 2012. Southern live oak, harvested and milled on St. Simons Island, Georgia, is a primary construction material for Constitution.

Dizzy Gillespie was born on this day in 1917 in Cheraw, South Carolina.

President Warren G. Harding spoke in Alabama on October 21, 1921, and publicly condemned the practice of lynching.

Harding was a progressive Republican politician who advocated full civil rights for African Americans and suffrage for women. He supported the Dyer Anti-lynching Bill in 1920. As a presidential candidate that year, he gained support for his views on women’s suffrage, but faced intense opposition on civil rights for blacks. The 1920s was a period of intense racism in the American South, characterized by frequent lynchings. In fact, the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) reported that, in 1920, lynching claimed, on average, the lives of two African Americans every week.

On October 21, 1976, Billy Carter spoke to an audience in Albany, Georgia, about his brother’s campaign for President.

On his brother Jimmy’s drinking habits, Billy said, “Jimmy used to drink liquor. Now he’s running for president he drinks Scotch, and I’ve never trusted a Scotch drinker.” Billy preferred the alcohol choice of his brother’s running mate, Walter Mondale – “I liked him the best of all the ones who came to Plains. He’s from a small town and he’s a beer drinker.”

Today, Billy Carter’s service station is preserved as a museum in Plains, Georgia.

The Atlanta Braves won the first game of the 1995 World Series on October 21, 1995, as Greg Maddux dominated the Cleveland Indians, allowing only two hits. Native American groups protested the names of both teams.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Wisconsin Republican Rep. Paul Ryan has several conditions he’d like met before he’s willing to run for Speaker of the House.

The Ways and Means chairman addressed his GOP colleagues at a special conference meeting, finally moving off his long-held position that he wants nothing to do with the speakership.

Inside the closed-door meeting, Ryan “did not announce a final decision on the speakership, but he did discuss what’s necessary, in his view, for the next speaker to be successful,” Ryan spokesman Brendan Buck said in an email to reporters.

Ryan’s four conditions to take the speakership are:

  • The GOP moves from an opposition party to a proposition party.
  • Update House rules so everyone can be a more effective representative.
  • Unify as a conference now, not after a divisive speaker election.
  • Avoid giving up time with his family.

The Washington Post Fix column says that Ryan’s gambit is a smart move for several reasons.

It takes away the Freedom Caucus’s ability to vote against something

The conservative/tea party wing of the GOP today has made its mark by, as much as anything, being the opposition. It resists any kind of compromise, and when it shakes things up by voting against the GOP establishment and throwing a curveball — as in the case of would-be-Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) — the GOP base eats it up.

Ryan is giving these groups the opportunity to reject him before he even runs — a considerably less sexy set of circumstances for members anxious to stick it to the GOP establishment. They still might reject him, but it won’t carry the drama of a floor vote or even a declared candidacy. Things will play out in the coming days, and Ryan will assess them.

Congressman Lynn Westmoreland (R-3d CD) is moving closer to a run for Speaker of the House.

Westmoreland has said he is thinking about a run, and he probably would not challenge Ryan if the former vice presidential candidate runs. But this afternoon he made his case to his fellow Southerners, a group that will be crucial to his long-shot campaign if he enters the fray. Other Republican would-be speakers talking to the Southern coalition in an informal meeting: Reps. Mike Conaway (Texas), Pete Sessions (Texas), Bill Flores (Texas) and Mike Pompeo (Kansas).

“It’s a different world than we’ve lived in before, especially with a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week news cycle. And we sell something and then the people get something else, and I think that’s because we oversell and underperform. … Candidates are selling what people want to buy, but when they get up here they find out that the market doesn’t sell that product. And so we’ve got to change that marketplace. …

“You can’t wait ’til the last minute and then stop and say, ‘OK, we’re going to negotiate a debt ceiling.’ Well it’s up Nov. 5, and it’s Oct. 30. Let’s be real, you’re not going to negotiate.

“What we need to do is whoever the new speaker is needs to go put 247 votes on the board [the entire Republican conference], and because it’s going to pass with Democrats or whatever, it’s going to pass. We’re going to put every Republican up on the board, just kind of send a message: Hey, there’s a new sheriff in town, and we’re going to do things differently.”

Gov. Nathan Deal has come out in support of eliminating the CEO form of government, which is unique to DeKalb County.

Gov. Nathan Deal on Monday gave his blessing to a push to shift the county’s form of government away from the CEO model days after a key DeKalb Democrat said he would introduce the changes ahead of next year’s legislative session.

“I do think it’s a good idea and I actually broached that subject with [May] before I appointed him. And he indicated at that time that he, too, felt like that was a good idea,” said Deal, who added: “I do think it has shown that it is not a workable system.”

State Sen. Fran Millar and other DeKalb Republicans have long called for a shift to a county manager model, but the Democratically-controlled DeKalb delegation has been resistant.

DeKalb Republican Fran Millar (Dunwoody), who has been calling for elimination of the CEO position for years, responded on Facebook:

I appreciate Governor Deal’s support. He has been there for our citizens whenever we needed him and I am truly thankful.

The move to change the CEO form of DeKalb government also appears to have the support of newly-elected Democratic State House member Taylor Bennett (Brookhaven).

Rep. [Scott] Holcomb, who represents District 81 says he will introduce legislation in the next session of the General Assembly to do away with the position of Chief Executive Officer in DeKalb County. Representative Taylor Bennett, who represents the 80th District says he will be supporting those efforts and plans on being an integral part of the structural proposals.

“It’s time for us to consider changing the CEO model in DeKalb,” Rep. Holcomb said. “There is a real hunger for reform throughout the county and we need to take a hard look at restructuring county government away from the CEO model.”

“Regardless of pending cityhood initiatives, I believe that this proposed legislation will help deliver a better government to our residents. We should never stop looking for ways to better serve our constituents, and this legislation is simply one more step towards that goal,” Rep. Bennett told The Post. “I look forward to working with my colleagues in the General Assembly to improve county government in DeKalb, and I am eager in this instance as in all others, to help move our county and state forward.”

In the article about Democrats’ support for removing the CEO, the Brookhaven Post also notes another proposal.

Another idea is to install a number of at-large seats on the BOC. All too often we see “courtesy votes” where, for example, a Commissioner in one District may vote in support of an initiative in another District in exchange for that Commissioners support in their own. Sort of like an “I’ll give you this if you give me that” scenario. The thought is the at-large BOC seats would be held accountable to the voters of the County as a whole, not a particular District, thereby reducing these occurrences.

That’s a very bad idea. Larger districts make it harder for voters to replace an incumbent, and in my opinion, is a contributing factor in the corruption of DeKalb County. Most Commission Districts, whose residents number roughly 140,000 each, are nearly impossible for incumbents to lost, and more Super Districts, which are larger, exacerbate the problem. As I’ve noted before, the last DeKalb County Commissioner to lose a reelection was in 1992. The more-common way to exit office here is through indictment and plea deal or conviction.

If we move to more County Commissioners in DeKalb, it should reduce the number of residents in each district, not create more districts that are tantamount to life tenure or until indicted.

The United States Department of Agriculture has begun stockpiling pumpkin spice avian flu vaccine, according to

Apparently Georgia’s DUI statute requires neither an automobile nor being on the road for an arrest, as the guy who was arrested for DUI in a wheelchair at a Kroger.

After a fistfight between Buford City Commission member Chris Burge and the sons of his colleague, Mrs. Michael Smith, Smith denies the statements by Burge that led to the melee.

In explaining the melee, Burge, whose son Cory was also in the scuffle, has said that Smith’s sons were mad over comments Burge made accusing their mother of corruption.

“First and foremost,” Commissioner Smith said, “I welcome any unbiased investigation into everyone’s votes and find it ironic that he votes on matters concerning his own customers and city employed family members, but points fingers at me. I have always cleared any potentially controversial vote with the City Attorney prior to casting it.”

Burge has said the woman should have abstained from voting on projects that involved developers who are reportedly also clients of her son Carson Smith, who is a lawyer.

“At this point, I do not have any plans to resign,” she said, responding to Burge’s statements suggesting that she quit. “If I choose not to run for office of city commissioner in the future, it will be because of my desire to spend more time as a grandmother.”

Burge, who operates a local automotive shop, has also declined to resign.

DeKalb County Superior Court Judge Gail C. Flake has picked up an opponent for the May 24, 2016 election.

Angela Z. Brown, an attorney and municipal judge, is running against DeKalb County Superior Court Judge Gail C. Flake in next year’s election.

Brown said in her campaign announcement that an incumbent DeKalb Superior Court judge hasn’t been defeated in an election in more than 30 years, and she believes it’s time for a change.

Brown currently sits as a municipal judge in Lithonia, and she has also served as a judge in various courts in DeKalb and Cobb counties.

On Monday, October 26, 2015 at 7 PM, the Newton Conservative Liberty Alliance will host a candidate forum in the Special Election for Senate District 43.

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