Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 2, 2015

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 2, 2015

Georgia and American History

John Wesley left Savannah on December 2, 1737.

John Wesley’s strict discipline as rector of Christ Church in Savannah irritated his parishioners. More trouble followed when he fell in love with Sophia Hopkey, the niece of Georgia’s chief magistrate. When she married another man, Wesley banned her from Holy Communion, damaging her reputation in the community.

His successful romantic rival sued him; but Wesley refused to recognize the authority of the court, and the man who would eventually found a major Protestant denomination in America left Georgia in disgrace on December 2, 1737

Touro Synagogue, the oldest existing synagogue in the United States, was dedicated on December 2, 1763 in Newport, Rhode Island.

The Skirmish at Rocky Creek Church took place near Waynesboro, Georgia on December 2, 1864.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Chatham County will host a Special Election for Sheriff on March 1, 2016 after the death of Sheriff Al St. Lawrence.

Roy Harris, the chief deputy in the Chatham County Sheriff’s office under St Lawrence, will continue as sheriff until March 1. Harris was recently sworn in as sheriff by Chief Superior Court Judge Michael Karpf.

St Lawrence, who had been sheriff since 1992, most recently won reelection in 2012 over Democratic challenger McArthur Holmes.

Overnight, Savannah politics has changed, with incumbent Mayor Edna Jackson ousted by businessman Eddie DeLoach.

Savannah will have a new mayor and three new city aldermen next year.

Eddie DeLoach defeated Savannah Mayor Edna Jackson in Tuesday’s municipal runoff after running a campaign centered largely on the rise in crime in the city during her administration.

DeLoach received 53 percent of the vote to unseat Jackson and earn his place as the head of the Savannah City Council, with all precincts reporting.

In addition, Bill Durrence defeated Savannah Alderwoman Mary Osborne to secure the District 2 seat with 63 percent of the vote. Brian Foster will also join the council after receiving 53 percent of the vote in his run against Alicia Blakely for the alderman at-large, post 2 seat.

About 38 percent of registered voters turned out for the runoff, which was about the same amount as the general election.

Following the general election and runoff, there will be four new members of the nine-member City Council next year.

Bill Dawers adds the following to our understanding of what happened in the election.

In the general election last month, there were 22,275 voters in the mayoral race. In the 2011 runoff, there were 19,702.

Tonight, there were 23,306 votes cast for mayor — an increase of over 1,000 from the general election (yes, voters can cast a ballot in the runoff even if they skipped the general).

Congratulations and condolences to Jodi Lott, who won the Special Runoff Election in House District 122 last night by better than 3-to-1 over Mack Taylor.

“It was very much a grassroots efforts, me knowing people that knew other people,” Lott said. “It kept spreading and spreading.”

Lott won 76 percent of the votes, 2,812 votes more than Taylor. Turnout for the runoff election was low – just 5,642 of the district’s 35,460 registered voters cast ballots, a 15.9 percent turnout.

Taylor, 42, an attorney and a former Columbia County commissioner, said the campaign was fraught with distractions.

In his call to Lott, Taylor said he asked her to pass a religious freedom bill when she gets to Atlanta.

A squib in the AJC Political Insider suggested that Lott’s election had something to do with the Religious Liberty bill, writing that Jodi Lott’s victory

could matter in the January fight over S.B. 129, the “religious liberty” bill. Lott had the backing of local business groups.

Senator Josh McKoon (R-Columbus) dismissed that notion, posting on Facebook,

Lott said that although she sought support from the Georgia chamber, among other organizations, it wasn’t until she made it into the runoff that the chamber showed any interest. She also supports the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, so she doesn’t think that is the reason for the ads attacking Taylor.

“I’ve never been against RFRA,” Lott said Monday. “In February of last year I was promoting RFRA.”

Sarah Harper Scott, who lives in the area, chimed in with this:

This race wasn’t about RFRA… it was about candidates and media. Taylor never recovered from the dirty fight in the general. Most constituents wanted someone who could work for them and wouldn’t quit if another opportunity came up.

Most local races are first and foremost about the candidates and about the voters in the district. But that’s hard to understand without being in the district day-in and day-out and makes writing about local races from Atlanta a difficult task.

In the Special Election for Senate District 20, I was frankly surprised to see it end without a runoff. But Larry Walker, III took 52 percent of the votes cast, winning without extra innings.

Walker got 52 percent of the votes across Senate District 20, which covers most of Houston plus all of Bleckley, Laurens and Pulaski counties.

He dispatched Vivian Childs, Brooks Keisler, Jon Martin, James Pettis and Mike Reece. None took more than 19 percent of the vote.

“I think people in the district recognized that I have the ability to be an effective leader in the Senate and liked my message of using some Middle Georgia common sense,” said Walker, as the last votes were being counted Tuesday night.

Walker campaigned on promises to cut red tape, trim taxes and protect Robins Air Force Base. He said the win was due to hard work from family, friends and supporters.

He dispatched Vivian Childs, Brooks Keisler, Jon Martin, James Pettis and Mike Reece. None took more than 19 percent of the vote.

“I think people in the district recognized that I have the ability to be an effective leader in the Senate and liked my message of using some Middle Georgia common sense,” said Walker, as the last votes were being counted Tuesday night.

Walker campaigned on promises to cut red tape, trim taxes and protect Robins Air Force Base. He said the win was due to hard work from family, friends and supporters.

This election wins the GaPundit award for ironic outcomes when combined with the District 146 race earlier this year, where Walker came in second. Most politicos would consider a Senate seat a higher attainment than a State House seat, but it could be that Walker, whose father served in the House for 32 years, would have preferred to serve in the lower chamber.

Senator McKoon also noted that Senator-elect Larry Walker has previously supported the Religious Liberty legislation, making both the Columbus Senator and his legislation winners on Tuesday night.

In Senate District 43, JaNice Van Ness won with what appears to be an 87-vote margin of victory over Democrat Tonya Anderson. The seat was previously held by a Democrat and generally votes at about 70% Democratic or higher. This is an epic bloody nose for Georgia Democrats, many of whom vented their frustration on Facebook last night.

A couple of things about that race are worth noting.

1. Republican Van Ness increased her vote total from 2995 in November to 3864 last night, a rise of nearly 30%. She also increased the number of votes she received in Rockdale, her home county, from 2180 to 2748.

2. Van Ness received 1617 early votes in the runoff, nearly 45% more than the 1119 early vote she received in November, despite an early voting period that was shortened two days by the Thanksgiving holiday.

3. Jack Kingston made a robocall last week promoting early voting and Lt. Governor Casey Cagle recorded a call that went out the day before the election. Both calls specifically targeted likely Republican voters in Rockdale and Newton counties.

4. Kingston also penned an email sent by the Georgia Republican Party about the importance of early voting and specifically noted the runoffs in both Savannah and SD 43. Kingston deserves a place on the list of last night’s winners for supporting candidates who legitimately were considered longshots going into the runoff.

Now, I don’t drink alcohol, but I’ve been told that Democrat tears mixed with bourbon makes a fine cocktail.

Johns Creek City Council will have three new members.

Unofficial results show candidate Chris Coughlin has won the special election for the Johns Creek City Council Post 2 seat. Coughlin is leading fellow challenger Todd Burkhalter with 59.05 percent, or 1,661 votes. Burkhalter trails with 40.95 percent, or 1,152 votes.

Coughlin will serve out the unexpired term for the Post 2 seat that ends Dec. 31. The seat was vacated by Brad Raffensperger, who ran for state Senate.

Unofficials results show Lin was elected to serve a full, four-year term that will start in January for the Post 2 seat. Lin leads the race with 52.54 percent, or 1,676 votes.

For the Post 5 seat, unofficial results show Stephanie Endres defeated fellow challenger Dr. Nazeera Dawood. Endres is currently polling at 57.82 percent, or 1,741 votes to Dawood’s 42.18 percent, or 1,270 votes. The Post 5 seat was vacated last year by Kelly Stewart, who also resigned to run for the state Senate.

Also on the list of last night’s winners is Georgia Right to Life PAC, who endorsed the winning candidates in all three runoff elections for Johns Creek City Council.

Chris Hewitt won a runoff election to the Forsyth City Council last night.

Royce Fowler won the Soperton Mayoral runoff, in which the earlier vote resulted in a tie.

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