Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 28, 2016

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 28, 2016

On January 28, 1733, Georgia’s first colonists celebrated a day of thanksgiving for their safe arrival in Savannah and Chief Tomochichi’s granting them permission to settle on the Yamacraw Bluff.

On January 28, 1943, Governor Ellis Arnall signed a joint resolution of the Georgia House and Senate amending the Georgia Constitution to make the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia a constitutional board and reduce the power of the Governor over the Regents.

The movement to a constitutional board came after the loss of accreditation of all Georgia state higher education institutions for white people. The previous Governor, Eugene Talmadge, had engineered the firing of UGA’s Dean of the College of Education; after the Board of Regents initially refused to fire the Dean, Talmadge dismissed three members, and replaced them with new appointees who voted for the firing. Talmadge lost the 1942 election to Arnall.

On January 28, 1986, the space shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds after liftoff as many Americans watched on live television. President Ronald Reagan addressed the loss of seven astronauts.

Reagan had originally been scheduled to give his State of the Union that evening, but cancelled the speech. His address on the Challenger disaster was written by Peggy Noonan. The speech written by Noonan and delivered by Reagan is ranked as one of the top ten political speeches of the 20th Century.

Happy birthday today to Northwestern University (1851), Yale Daily News (1878), the first daily college newspaper in the country, the United States Coast Guard (1915), and the Lego brick, which was patented on January 28, 1958. Elvis Presley made his first appearance on television on January 28, 1956 on the Stage Show on CBS.

Under the Gold Dome

Senate Committee Meetings

12:00 PM RULES UPON ADJOURNMENT 450 CAP

1:00 PM INSURANCE AND LABOR -CANCELLED 450 CAP

2:00 PM JUDICIARY 310 CLOB

3:00 PM JUDICIARY NON-CIVIL- CANCELLED 307 CLOB

3:00 PM TRANSPORTATION 125 CAP

4:00 PM BANKING AND FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS 310 CLOB

4:00 PM NATURAL RESOURCES AND THE ENVIRONMENT -CANCELLED 450 CAP

House Committee Meetings

TBD FLOOR SESSION (LD 12) HOUSE CHAMBER – 10:00AM

12:00 PM Judiciary Non-Civil Setzler Sub 515 CLOB

1:30 PM Education Sub on Academic Achievement & Curriculum 415 CLOB

2:00 PM JUDICIARY CIVIL 132 CLOB

2:00 PM TRANSPORTATION 506 CLOB

2:00 PM JUVENILE JUSTICE 406 CLOB

3:00 PM State Government Administrative Subcommittee 415 CLOB

On the Agenda in the State Government Administrative Subcommittee hearing at 3 PM in room 415 of the Coverdell Legislative Office Building is House Bill 561 by State Rep. Joe Wilkinson, which would name the State of Georgia’s first Official Dog.

Senate Rules Calendar

SB 263 – Law Enforcement Officers; provide governing authority; employs sworn police officers who are P.O.S.T certified; policies; disability in line of duty (PUB SAF-14th)

House Rules Calendar

Modified Open Rule
HB 750 – Supplemental appropriations; State Fiscal Year July 1, 2015 – June 30, 2016 (App-Ralston-7th) (Substitute)
Structured Rule
HB 742 – Revenue and taxation; Internal Revenue Code; define terms; incorporate certain provisions of federal law into Georgia law (W&M-Knight-130th)

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Yesterday, Chief Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court Hugh Thompson delivered his State of the Judiciary address.

Thompson told state lawmakers Wednesday that the Supreme Court of Georgia should only handle the most critical cases.

“The intent is to free up the state’s highest court to devote more time and more energy to the most complex and most difficult cases that have the greatest implications for the law,” he said.

Thompson said the Court of Appeals of Georgia should handle lesser cases dealing with issues like wills, land titles, divorce, and alimony–a recommendation recently made by Gov. Nathan Deal’s judicial review commission.

Ludacris headlined the School Choice rally at Liberty Plaza across from the Capitol yesterday.

The rally highlighted Senate Bill 92 and House Bill 243, which would establish an education savings account program in Georgia.

“Regardless to social status, all children should be able to access a great school,” said Ludacris. “Education savings accounts empower all children to be able to access a great education.”

The education savings account program would allegedly offer students more school choices. Sponsors of the bills argue the program would enable students to attend schools outside their communities regardless of their parents’ socioeconomic status.

“We want to expand choice and create options and opportunity. It shouldn’t be a one size fits all,” said Sen. Hunter Hill, R-Atlanta, one of the sponsors of SB 92.

Gov. Nathan Deal announced that the Georgia State Charter Schools Commission received a perfect score from the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA).

Of 161 authorizers assessed across the nation, the SCSC is one of two charter authorizers in Georgia and 31 charter school authorizers nationally to receive a perfect score.

“We must empower Georgia’s citizens with public school options and local flexibility if we want to continue to improve student achievement for future generations,” said Deal. “In recent years, the State Charter School Commission has expanded schooling options by establishing charter schools throughout the state. These schools are given greater flexibility in return for strong accountability for student academic success. The high-performing charter schools across Georgia provide an essential element of effective school choice and promote competition, innovation and strong parental involvement.”

NACSA focuses on the establishment of effective charter school policy and charter authorizing procedures that lead to quality public schools. In 2011, NACSA began publishing the Index, which outlines points of progress for authorizers in adopting 12 Essential Practices that are critical to fulfilling the responsibilities of an authorizer. NACSA pulls data for the Index from individual authorizer practices self-reported in response to NACSA’s annual survey of authorizers and recommends that authorizing staff and boards, charter schools and lawmakers use the results as a self-assessment tool and implement any missing practices.

The Senate Regulated Industries Committee voted to send the Pari-Mutuel Horse Racing legislation to the Senate floor with a “Do Pass” recommendation.

Senate Bill 264 and Senate Resolution 135 both still face long odds this year, as everyone from Gov. Nathan Deal to religious conservatives including the Georgia Baptist Mission Board have vocally opposed expanded access to gambling here.

But the votes to approve the measures by the Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee signaled a willingness by some leaders in the GOP-led state Legislature to keep the effort in play.

“I really feel it’s my obligation to put it on the ballot and let my constituents have their say, whether or not I’m for it or against it,” said state Sen. Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga, who voted for the measures in committee and happens to be chairman of the powerful Senate Rules Committee, which decides which bills receive a floor vote in the chamber.

Here’s my issue with any gambling legislation that puts the issue before the voters in a statewide referendum. You can’t even pretend that it will be a neutral vote without millions of dollars of advertising by gambling interests.

Mike Griffin, who represents the Georgia Baptist Convention at the Capitol noted that the agenda for the Regulated Industries Committee meeting wasn’t posted under 11:09 AM before a 1 PM meeting, which meant very short notice for those who opposed the bill.

Campus Carry will make another round of appearances at the Capitol this year, courtesy of legislation by State Reps. Rick Jasperse (R-Jasper) and Mandi Ballinger (R-Canton).

Rep. Rick Jasperse, R-Jasper, and Rep. Mandi Ballinger, R-Canton, have filed House Bill 859, which allows anyone with a weapons license to carry a gun anywhere on a public college or university campus, except for dormitories, Greek housing or at athletic events.

The bill already has dozens of co-sponsors, including Rep. John Meadows, R-Calhoun, chairman of the powerful rules Committee that decides which bills reach the House floor. During the 2014 gun bill debate, the House passed a version that included campus carry but it was removed by the Senate.

Campaigns and Elections

Yesterday, Jim Pace, a Peachtree City businessman, announced he will run for Congress in the Third Congressional District, from which Rep. Lynn Westmoreland is retiring.

“After much prayer, discussion with my family, and encouragement from so many throughout our community, I am proud to announce my candidacy for Congress,” Pace said. “I didn’t come to the decision to run easily. I’m not running for a career in politics or because I need a title. I am running because I truly believe that together we can make a difference and can solve our nation’s problems.”

“Our federal government is out of control, our national debt is quickly approaching $19 trillion and our nation is dire need for new leadership. We must return to the conservative economic principles and moral values that made our country the greatest country on Earth. We can’t expect different results in Congress from the same career politicians and out of touch bureaucrats who’ve have created this mess. I’ve spent my entire career managing businesses, building the economy and creating jobs”

“I want to take my private sector experience to Congress, so we can take back our country and put the power back in the hands of we the people of this great country.”

I suspect I’m not the only person who reads that statement and thinks it sounds an awful lot like something Sen. David Perdue would have said in 2014.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed advised the Hillary Clinton campaign to “quit acting alarmed.”

[Bernie] Sanders, he said, doesn’t have a “path to victory” in the 2016 race.

“I’m completely un-alarmed and I think that Secretary Clinton and the Clinton campaign should quit acting alarmed,” Reed said. “What we need to do is go to Iowa and work very hard every single day and win and not care by how much it is.”

The Judicial Nominations Commission has submitted a short list of candidates for an open seat on the he Superior Court of the Atlantic Judicial Circuit, which comprises Bryan, Evans, Liberty. Long, McIntosh, and Tattnall counties.

The following names were submitted to Governor Deal:

  • C. Jean Bolin – Judge, State Court of McIntosh County
  • Glen A. Cheney – sole practitioner, Glen A. Cheney, P.C
  • Leonard M. Grinstead – partner, Merritt and Grinstead

Residents of Gordon, Georgia filed suit seeking to remove two members of City Council from office.

The residents — Elijah Simmons, Kay Harris, Catherine L. Wells, Willie Mae Valdez and Michael Rice — contend that Gordon city councilmen Terry Eady and Freddie Densley violated the city’s charter by filing a separate suit in 2014 to remove Gordon Mayor Mary Ann Whipple-Lue from office, according to the lawsuit, filed in Wilkinson County Superior Court.

The suit contends that Gordon’s city charter prohibits any “elected official, appointed officer or employee of the city” from representing “other private interests in any action or proceeding against this city or any portion of its government.”

The residents also contend that Konreid Etheridge, a member of the Wilkinson County Board of Elections and Registration, who’s also a member of the Concerned Citizens of Gordon and a plaintiff in the suit against the mayor, violated a state law that prohibits a member of a county board of elections and registration from criticizing a candidate or officeholder.

The suit also alleges that Alicia Floyd, CEO of Concerned Citizens of Gordon, raised money to support political campaigns for Eady and Densley, along with paying legal fees related to the suit against Whipple-Lue, but failed to register and file campaign disclosure reports with the state.

State Rep. James Beverly (D-Macon) will file legislation to move Macon-Bibb County elections from May, when the General Primary is held, to November, when voters cast ballots in the General Election.

One reason he gives is that the public is confused by all the different election dates this year.

In his original comments earlier this month, state Rep. James Beverly, D-Macon, said he wants to switch Macon-Bibb County’s local elections from July to November.

The problem is that local, nonpartisan elections this year, as well as partisan primaries, are in May, not in July.

In 2013, the state Legislature approved a local act moving Macon-Bibb’s elections for mayor and county commission from November to July.

But a 2014 state law has since reset election schedules statewide and supersedes that 2013 act. That law moved the Macon-Bibb County elections to May, according to the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office.

Beverly said his assumption that Macon-Bibb’s elections were still scheduled for July illustrates the need for his bill. He wants local elections to be held at the same time as the November presidential election because that’s when voter turnout is highest.

Polling and the Presidential Debate

One of the best polling analyses I’ve seen recently is from McLaughlin & Associates, who polled for Governor Deal in 2014. It illuminates a lot of what we’ve seen recently in terms of which Republican Presidential candidates is attacking which of his fellow candidates. I’m going to skip the “topline” question and dive right into second choices.

[V]irtually all these primary voters had a second choice. Among the total, their second choice was Cruz 22 percent, Rubio 14 percent, Bush 11 percent, Trump 10 percent, Carson 10 percent, Fiorina 6 percent, Christie 6 percent, Huckabee 6 percent, Paul 5 percent, Kasich 2 percent, and Santorum 1 percent. It was clear that Ted Cruz has the most upside potential, followed by Marco Rubio, while only one in ten who currently aren’t voting for Trump see him as a second choice.

The leading second choices among the 36 percent who are currently Trump voters are: 39 percent for Cruz, 12 percent for Bush, and 10 percent for Carson. So the main beneficiary of attacks on Trump is Ted Cruz, while a handful votes go to Governor Bush or Dr. Carson.

The leading second choices among the 17 percent who are currently Cruz voters are: 30 percent to Rubio, 21 percent to Trump, 14 percent to Carson, and 13 percent to Fiorina. So if Senator Cruz takes a hit, it mainly helps Senator Rubio and Mr. Trump.

Among the 11 percent who are currently Rubio voters, 32 percent go to Cruz, 14 percent to Fiorina, 12 percent to Carson, and 11 percent to Christie. If Senator Rubio loses support, it helps Cruz most, then the rest scatter among Fiorina, Carson, and Christie.

Among the 9 percent who are Carson voters, their second choice is split almost equally: Cruz 20 percent, Rubio 20 percent, and 18 percent for Trump.

Basically, two-thirds of the second-choice voters for Cruz come from Trump. So you can expect Senator Cruz to continue to engage with Trump to try to make it a one-on-one race.

Most of Marco Rubio’s second-choice voters, 39 percent, come from Cruz, compared with only 16 percent from Trump and 15 percent from Carson. So expect Marco to go after Ted, because once voters leave Trump and go to Cruz, most won’t go back to Trump.

So, follow me for a moment here.

For Ted Cruz, the greatest upside potential comes from loosening voters from Donalg Trump, because those voters move to Cruz at 3 times the rate they move to any other candidate. That’s why we’ve seen Cruz so devastatingly dismantling the Donald.

For Marco Rubio, his best bet is to knock off Cruz voters, whom he picks up at a 3:2 ratio against Trump. It’s not nearly as convincing a margin as Trump voters who named Cruz as their second choice, but it appears to be the best move Rubio has. It may also be that Rubio believes either he cannot sustain an attack against both Cruz and Trump at the same time, or that he fears a backlash for going against Trump.

Tonight in the debate, Ted Cruz can be expected to continue waging mockery against Trump. But no other candidate comes close to Cruz in being the second choice for Trump voters, so their best move is against Cruz, in Rubio’s case.

Nobody has a great move tonight on the stage except Cruz and Rubio.

The dilemma for most of the remaining candidates is that none of them have a good move against the leaders.

If you’re Ben Carson, knocking a voter away from Trump means that you’ve more likely strengthened Ted Cruz than your own topline.

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