Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 24, 2015

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 24, 2015

The only major battle on Sherman’s March to the Sea occurred at Griswoldsville on November 22, 1864; on the same day, federal troops marched into Milledgeville.

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On November 23, 1864, Sherman himself entered Milledgeville, where he used the Governor’s Mansion as his headquarters. Sherman’s forces left the capitol city on November 24th.

President John F. Kennedy became the fourth President of the United States to be assassinated in office on November 22, 1963. The next day, Jack Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald, who had been arrested for shooting Kennedy.

Construction on the Georgia Dome began on November 24, 1989.

On November 24, 1992, Republican Paul D. Coverdell defeated Democratic incumbent Wyche Fowler in the runoff election for United States Senate. We are thankful that Georgia has runoff elections, not something silly like drawing straws or instant runoff voting.

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Gratitude

A reader shared with us yesterday his gratitude for the chance to spend some time with some of our veterans. With his permission, here’s what he wrote:

I sing barbershop harmony, and this past Saturday, I rallied three other guys and we sang for the good folks at the Trinka Davis VA facility in Carrollton.  All I can say is “Wow!”  Very honoring and humbling to be able to sing for these folks – residents and staff alike.  The Patriot Guard Riders host an ice cream social each month, and we plugged in through my contact with PGR (another story for another time).

Grateful!  But the most amazing thing is how awesome that Trinka Davis veterans village is.  One of the eldest and more recent residents, has a book coming out telling the story of this VA facility.  As a servant to these veterans this past weekend, I am grateful on two levels: 1) for these fine folks who gave every measure; and 2) for the VA (and particularly the late Trinka Davis) in providing such a powerful example of a model VA facility.  Very cool, and mostly very honoring.  Check it out if you get the chance.  And search out George Woodruff’s book: “Just Before TAPS” due out in December.

A tip of the hat to Dennis Brannon for sending us that tidbit, and our deepest thanks to all our veterans and for those who kept the home fires burning so they could serve us.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The Donald J. Trump campaign sent out a message that Trump will be returning to Georgia soon. Not included in the message was the rumored location of Macon and date of November 30. The Trump campaign suggests tuning in to the @teamtrumpga Twitter account or liking the Georgia campaign Facebook page.

The 2016 Presidential Primary Election is about three months and eight days from today on March 1, 2016 and the 2016 General Primary Election for state and local offices in Georgia is exactly six months from now on May 24, 2015.

In House District 122 runoff election in Columbia County, both candidates are running as though they came in second place, but one has come from behind to win a runoff before. Will that be the difference here?

Last year, Mack Taylor ran for Columbia County’s District 3 Commissioner. He came in second in the November election against Trip Derry-Berry but overcame as the underdog in the runoffs. As for the open District 122 seat, many speculated Taylor would be the front runner but once again voter results proved he was still number two. Jodi Lott had the most votes but says she’s campaigning as if she had the least.

“I have been running as if I was the underdog from the beginning in August. I was the underdog. I was not a name that people recognized,” said Lott.

Taylor says he’s overcome the number two slot before but there’s no special secret to winning.

“The trick is getting people back out. Getting our supporters back out. We need our supporters back out there and vote for me. If we get our supporters back out and of course we’re picking up some new ones along the way we’ll end up victorious on election night.”

Elections will be on December 1st.

WTOC notes that early voting in Savannah’s Mayoral election is open through Wednesday of this week in advance of the Tuesday election one week from today.

We are one week away from Georgia’s runoff elections, and we have three big races you will see on the ballot in Savannah.

These include the race for mayor, Alderman at-large Post 2, and alderman for District 2.

You can head to the Voter Registration Main Office on Eisenhower Drive to cast your ballot. They will be taking your vote from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m.

Perhaps it was exacerbated by the large number of special elections this year, but a couple of calendar oddities have popped up. In the Special Runoff Election held July 14, 2015, the only Saturday early voting was held on July 4th, a national and state holiday. And in the December 1 Special Runoff elections, the week of early voting before the election is cut short by 40% because of the Thanksgiving holidays. I hope the General Assembly will take a look at how to deal with this in the future, maybe giving the SOS some latitude in setting early voting dates when state and federal holidays interfere.

Meanwhile, in middle Georgia, six Republicans are on the ballot in a Special Election on December 1, which could very easily result in a Special Runoff Election.

The six Republicans who want to be the next state senator for an area stretching from Warner Robins to Dublin all rank education and job policy high on their priority lists.

As the Dec. 1 election fast approaches, the challenge for each of them — Vivian Childs, Brooks Keisler, Jon Martin, James Pettis, Michael Reece and Larry Walker III — is to stand out in a crowded field.

The Macon Telegraph article is well worth reading in its entirety, especially if you live in the district.

Mary Kay Murphy is giving herself plenty of time by announcing her reelection campaign for the Gwinnett County Board of Education.

Mary Kay Murphy is looking to add to her 18 years on the Gwinnett County Board of Education.

The Duluth resident has announced that she is running for re-election next year to the School Board that she first was elected to in 1997. Murphy is the chairwoman of the School Board this year, and previously served in that role in 2000, 2004 and 2010.

In her last race in 2012, Murphy defeated Democratic challenger Jen Falk with 24,439 votes, or about 60 percent of the vote. Falk’s campaign centered on the budget, class size and graduation rates.

“I am running for re-election as a champion of public education to meet the needs of all our students and to prepare them for successful lives in the 21st century,” she said.

Lonnie Henderson, II will run as a Democrat for the sole County Commissioner seat in Walker County.

Mr. Henderson met with both the Republican and Democratic parties this week and made his decision off of a number of factors.

Mr. Henderson is also in the process of collecting 300 signatures to qualify as a Pauper, meaning he is attempting to have the $2,000+ qualification fee waived due to his income level.

“I feel that nationally, the parties are very different, but at a county government level, if you took the letters “R” and “D” away from the candidates, people would not know the difference in the way they govern local governments,” said Mr. Henderson.

Bernie Sanders held a Savannah rally where he drew a capacity crowd of 2500 liberals, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The venue reached capacity, which is around 2,500 seats, and volunteers frantically searched the rows to find vacant seats for the stragglers.

Finally, Mayor Edna Jackson took the stage amid, first, a chorus of cheers, and then, a chorus of boos.

Sanders began the town hall by talking about his campaign — a campaign that he says has garnered more than 800,000 individual contributions averaging around $30.

“So, I do not represent the billionaire class or corporate America,” Sanders said.

One of his longest applauses of the night — a 20 second standing ovation — came when he talked about introducing legislation that would make public universities tuition-free.

“People should not be denied going to college because they don’t have enough money,” he said.

The audience was also supportive when Sanders began talking about legislation that would take marijuana out of the controlled substances act.

“I’m not advocating smoking marijuana,” he said, and a few booed in the crowd. “It doesn’t make it legal, it just means that you’re not breaking the federal law. The reason we introduced that legislation is because I’ve talked to too many people whose lives have been destroyed because of the police records they get for possessing marijuana.”

Sanders said he advocates that full legalization of marijuana should be up to individual states.

His one mistake for the night was accidentally calling Savannah Atlanta. He quickly made it up to the crowd by playing it out as a confused man’s joke.

Sanders also met with Atlanta rapper Killer Mike, who endorsed Sanders after lunch at the Busy Bee.

Killer Mike cited Sanders’ stance on the Voting Rights Act, health care, education and ending the war on drugs as reasons for backing the Vermont senator’s Democratic campaign.

“I have said in many a rap, I don’t trust the church or the government, a Democrat, Republican, a pope, a bishop or those other men,” Killer Mike said. “But after spending five hours tonight, after spending five hours with someone who has spent the last 50 years radically fighting for your rights and mine, I can tell you that am very proud tonight to announce the next president of the United States, Sen. Bernie Sanders.”

You can tell that the girl standing behind Killer Mike in the video isn’t from Atlanta because her sign says, “Hotlanta.” You can tell the other girl behind Killer Mike isn’t paying attention because she’s messing around with her iPhone while Killer Mike speaks.

Today, the Augusta City Commission will discuss converting the Rocky Creek Enterprise Zone into a Tax Allocation District.

Housing and Community Development Director Hawthorne Welcher is expected to present a report on Enterprise Zones, which reduce property taxes, versus TADs to the city’s administrative services committee.

Georgia Regents Medical Center has received approval to build a 100-bed facility in Grovetown, GA.

The commissioner of the Georgia Department of Community Health signed the final order Monday allowing Georgia Regents Medical Center to build a hospital near Grovetown, closing the door for appeals from competing hospitals.

A certificate of need was given to the Georgia Regents a year ago to construct a 100-bed facility near Interstate 20. Doctors Hospital and University Health System, who also applied to build the Columbia County hospital, have challenged the certificate.

The Mayo Clinic pulled out of an agreement with Satilla Health Services in Waycross that would have strengthened the South Georgia hospital’s finances.

Officials with Mayo’s Florida operation said Friday that they ended the deal with Satilla in Waycross to focus on expanding specialty care for people with complex medical needs.

The Mayo pullout will return Satilla Regional Medical Center to the status of a standalone hospital at the very time when consolidation of health care facilities is accelerating, propelled partly by changes created under the Affordable Care Act.

“Long-term success as an independent hospital is increasingly difficult,’’ said Chris Kane, a health care consultant with DHG Healthcare in Atlanta.

Three years ago, Mayo Clinic, a renowned Minnesota-based health system, struck an agreement with Satilla Health Services — featuring a 231-bed hospital and two nursing homes — and renamed it Mayo Clinic Health System in Waycross. The South Georgia city is a few miles from the Florida line and only about 80 miles from Mayo’s Florida campus in Jacksonville.

At the time the deal was reached, Robert Trimm, president and CEO of Satilla, cited the economic vulnerability of standalone hospitals at a time when health care is rapidly evolving.

Kennesaw City Council member Leonard Church faces trial beginning December 7 on child molestation charges in Cobb County Superior Court.

2016 Legislative Issue Preview

School funding in Georgia is a perennial issue, but this year is different as we’ll have the recommendations of a blue ribbon panel to guide legislative efforts.

The state of Georgia should add some $258 million in school spending next year, and another $209 million when it can, and divvy it up differently, a blue-ribbon panel charged with advising Republican Gov. Nathan Deal said Thursday.

“The state passes out over $9 billion a year,” said Charles Knapp, chairman of the Georgia Education Reform Commission. “This formula drastically changes that, passes out the $9 billion on a student-based formula.”

The commission voted to recommend tying school funding to individual students, rather than using the current complex formula that takes into account things such as class size and teacher qualifications.

The new formula would give different weights to different kinds of students. Students from poor families or those learning English as a second language would generate more cash for their school, for example.

If the state adds the entire $467 million total that’s recommended, no school district would lose funds, according to the commission’s calculations.

That last bit is the crux of the matter – only by ensuring that no school district receives less than they did before can a rewrite have much chance of passage. But as we all know, in government dollars, the same amount next year somehow translates to “less” every single time.

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