Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 7, 2016


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 7, 2016

Georgia and American History

On March 5, 1735, James Oglethorpe presented a budget to the trustees of Georgia and proposed seeking an appropriation from Parliament, thus beginning the addiction of the Georgia government to Other People’s Money.

On March 6, 1857, the United States Supreme Court published its opinion in Sanford v. Dred Scott.

the Court held that African Americans, whether slave or free, could not be American citizens and therefore had no standing to sue in federal court,and that the federal government had no power to regulate slavery in the federal territories acquired after the creation of the United States. Dred Scott, an African American slave who had been taken by his owners to free states and territories, attempted to sue for his freedom. In a 7–2 decision written by Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, the Court denied Scott’s request and in doing so, ruled an Act of Congress in this case—the Missouri Compromise of 1820 which prohibited slavery north of the parallel 36°30′ north—to be unconstitutional for the second time in its history.

The decision would prove to be an indirect catalyst for the American Civil War and was functionally superseded by the post-war Reconstruction Amendments. It is now widely regarded as the worst decision ever made by the Supreme Court.

One member of the Court that decided Dred Scott was Associate Justice James M Wayne, who was born in Savannah and served in Congress from Georgia from 1829 to 1835.

On March 7, 1861, delegates to the Georgia Secession Convention reconvened in Savannah to adopt a new state Constitution. A resolution offering to host the Confederate Capitol did not pass.

On March 5, 1869, the United States Congress refused to seat Georgia’s elected members of the House and Senate.

On March 7, 1965, a group of marchers led by Martin Luther King, Jr., met Alabama State Troopers on the Edmund Pettis Bridge in Selma, Alabama.

“I was hit in the head by a state trooper with a nightstick… I thought I saw death.”

—John Lewis, SNCC leader

As a student of Southern politics at Emory, we were immersed in reading about the Civil Rights Movement and its effect on Southern politics, and American politics. But it was not until years later that I saw the PBS series called “Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Movement 1956-1985.” It’s chilling to see American citizens turned away by armed police from attempts to register to vote.

John Lewis, now the United States Congressman from the Fifth District was in the front row wearing a light-colored overcoat and backpack.

Earlier this year, Patrick Saunders of the GaVoice asked Lewis what was in his backpack that day.

What was in the backpack?

I remember very well. As a matter of fact I went to the Army surplus store and bought this backpack. I really thought we were going to be successful walking all the way from Selma to Montgomery. And somehow, someway I thought maybe we would be arrested and we would go to jail, so while in jail I wanted to have something to read. I had two books in the backpack. I wanted to have something to eat—I had one apple and one orange. One apple and one orange wouldn’t last that long. Being in jail, you know I had been arrested and been to jail before, the sad thing about being in jail for two or three days, you need to brush your teeth. So there was toothpaste and a toothbrush in there.

I don’t know what happened to that backpack, I don’t know what happened to the two books. I don’t know what happened to the trench coat. One of the books was by a professor of political science at Harvard and the other book was by Thomas Merton, the monk. I just wished I had them. The Smithsonian and the Library of Congress are always asking me what happened to them and I tell them I really don’t know.

On March 5, 1977, President Jimmy Carter held the first “Dial-A-President” radio broadcast in which he fielded questions from radio listeners.

Under the Gold Dome Today

Qualifying begins today for Republican and Democratic candidates for federal, state, and local offices.

For federal and state offices, qualifying will be held at:

Georgia State Capitol Room 230

Begins at 9:00 AM on Monday, March 7, 2016

Ends at 12 noon on Friday, March 11, 2016

For county and municipal offices, check with your county elections board.

Click here for more information on qualifying for office.

Expect more announcements of retiring politicians and baby pols. From the AJC

At least 15 state lawmakers have already announced their retirements ahead of qualifying, including rising Republican star B.J. Pak, a state representative from Gwinnett County, and longtime GOP state Sens. Bill Jackson and Tommie Williams. Another no-show will be veteran Republican U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, who is quitting Congress but could be a possible candidate for governor in 2018.

This will also likely be old-home week for some candidates trying to make a comeback, with the possibilities including former U.S. Rep. Paul Broun — who could be eyeing a challenge to two-term U.S. Rep. Doug Collins — and former state Senate Rules Committee Chairman Don Balfour, who lost re-election two years ago after being cleared of criminal charges that he improperly claimed travel expenses as a state lawmaker.

Westmoreland’s decision not to run for another term in November gave way to a wide-open race for his conservative west Georgia seat. State Sen. Mike Crane,R-Newnan, West Point Mayor Drew Ferguson, developer Jim Pace and entrepreneur Richard Mix are among the contenders.

The most highly watched race, however, is likely that of Isakson, who is seeking a third term after disclosing in June that he has Parkinson’s disease. Both parties have keyed on that race with the presumption he will have a Democratic challenger, although no one has raised his or her hand yet.

State Rep. Brad Raffensperger (R-Johns Creek) will qualify this week for reelection.

Senate President Pro Tem David Shafer announced of Facebook that he will qualify today for reelection. Shafer is also giving away campaign stickers.

Sen. Josh McKoon also posted on Facebook that he will qualify for reelection today.

Cherokee County Probate Judge Keith Wood announced he will seek reelection.
















9:30 AM RULES 341 CAP

1:00 PM Railway & Transit Sub 406 CLOB

1:00 PM W&M Public Finance & Policy Sub 133 CAP

1:30 PM W&M Sales Tax Sub 133 CAP

2:00 PM Highway Regulations Sub 406 CLOB


2:00 PM Academic Achievement and Curriculum Sub 415 CLOB

2:00 PM Regulations Sub 606 CLOB



3:30 PM Setzler Sub Judiciary Non-Civil 132 CAP

4:00 PM State Highways Sub 406 CLOB


No bills were added to the Senate calendar for MONDAY, MARCH 7. The following bills were tabled in the last session and may be taken off the table today:

HB 172 – Watercraft; operation while under the influence of alcohol, toxic vapors or drugs; revise types of vessels (NR&E – Gooch) (Lumsden)

HB 370 – Elections; provide for waivers of certain civil penalties and fees incurred by candidates for local elected office; provisions (ETHICS – Burke) (Fleming)


Modified Open Rule

SB 283 – Accounting for Public Funds; provide multibank pooling of depositories for acceptance of deposits of public funds from public bodies (B&B-Williamson-115th) Kennedy-18th

Legislation & Local

The fight for Marsy’s Law took to the phone lines and it has District Attorneys responding. From the Polk County Standard Journal,

Automated political campaign calls are at the source of a press release from Tallapoosa Circuit District Attorney Jack Browning today on his stance on victims rights and legislation going through the House to amend Georgia’s Constitution.

Browning said his major problem with the robo-calls is they provide inaccurate information about House Resolution 1199, which seeks an amendment to the state constitution in favor of victim’s rights.

Browning stated in the release that his problem with the robo-calls are that he hasn’t taken a position on victim’s rights, when [the calls state that his actions clearly have.

It also stated Georgia was one of 18 in the nation without rights guaranteed in the state constitution, Browning reports. He called that inaccurate because of the state’s Crime Victims’ Bill of Rights, which has been amended nine times since it’s inception in 1995.

Though frustrated by the fact that the robo-calls are providing what calls misleading information, he is glad for the springboard to a conversation about the problems he and other district attorneys have with the proposed legislation.

“Some of this language, although well-intended, appears to actually weaken the rights of victims in Georgia and may be detrimental to the effective administration of criminal justice in the state,” Browning’s release stated. “Furthermore, by placing a very detailed victims’ rights legislation into the Constitution, future amendments to strengthen victims’ rights would also require Constitutional amendments and ballot initiatives.”

It appears that District Attorneys are reacting the same way in Cherokee CountyDougherty County, Houston County, Haralson County, probably elsewhere.

A national group called “Everytown for Gun Safety” is running ads against the “Campus Carry” bill, HB 859.

The legislation, commonly referred to as the “campus carry bill,” would allow concealed carry permit holders to bring firearms onto college and technical school property. HB 859 would not permit people to bring guns to sporting events or into student housing, including sorority and fraternity houses.

“College tests a student’s judgment and responsibility,” a narrator reads in the commercial. “And sometimes students make bad decisions, especially when alcohol is involved.”

The bill’s primary sponsor Rep. Rick Jasperse, R-Jasper, said he designed the bill to help law-abiding students protect themselves.

“Really it’s a personal issue for those Georgians who are over 21 and giving them the opportunity not to be a victim if they choose to,” Rep. Jasperse explained.

DeKalb Ethics Commission

The members of the newly-reconstituted DeKalb Ethics Board moved unanimously to hire former Georgia State Ethics Commission Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission Executive Direct Stacey Kalberman.

But before you go congratulating Ms. Kalberman and the Board, note that the DeKalb County Commission must approve the hiring for it to take effect. The flies in the ointment are most likely to come from members of the Commission who have complaints pending before the Ethics Board.

Surveillance Nation

It’s not just the feds who have fits with passcode-connected cellphones that may be connected to crime – local law enforcement is interested in cracking the codes too. From the Gainesville Times,

Gainesville Police spokesman Sgt. Kevin Holbrook said at least 20 phones have been confiscated over the last five years that investigators have not been able to access because of pass codes.

“These cases have involved homicides, drugs, assaults and death investigations,” he added. “This is not just a problem with iPhones but Androids as well.”

Lee Darragh, district attorney for the Northeastern Judicial Circuit, said that while privacy concerns are valid, “the fact remains that information from cellphones has proven to a vital tool even locally for many years in finding criminals, tracking them until caught, and proving the cases against them where the other supporting evidence doesn’t fully wrap up the case.”

Hall County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Nicole Bailes said about 1 in 6 phones in such cases cannot be unlocked.

“From a local standpoint we have never encountered a cellphone that has been selectively encrypted as the San Bernardino suspects have done with their phone,” Bailes said.

“The issues that we have come across is the ability to unlock these devices that are password-protected,” she added. “There are some phones that have dated software or specific model phones that cannot be defeated.”

Sheriff Gerald Couch said the information on a mobile phone can contain geographical data, messages and personal contacts relevant to investigations.

“With that in mind the privacy of these devices must be respected unless the owner gives consent for a search or a judge determines a search is warranted based on probable cause,” he added.

Senator Judson Hill noted in his weekly constituent email that a bill regulating drone flights passed the State House.

Legislation placing restrictions on the operation of drones in Georgia has cleared the state House of Representatives. Under a bill the House passed unanimously during Monday’s marathon Crossover Day session, drones would be prohibited from flying low over private property without the owner’s permission. Operators would not be allowed to “weaponize” drones.

Also, the use of drones over private property would be considered an illegal search under Georgia law, requiring a warrant signed by a judge. However, legal protection from drone searches would not apply when drones are used to look for lost children or adults or for prison escapees.

When a Primary Win Really Isn’t

Part of this weekend’s new cycles was Sen. Ted Cruz running strongly against Donald Trump, carrying Kansas with 48.2% and Maine with 45.9%, while Trump won Louisiana with 41.4% against 37.8% for Cruz and Kentucky with 35.9% to 31.6% for Cruz.

The secondary story was Marco Rubio’s collapsing support everywhere but Puerto Rico, whose U.S. citizens may vote in Presidential primary elections, but not in the General Election.

The Associated Press carried a story stating that some Republicans are seeing Cruz as the viable alternative to Rubio now.

The Texas senator split contests with Trump in Saturday’s voting, bolstering his argument that only he can defeat the real estate mogul. Trump and Cruz are now significantly outpacing Marco Rubio in the delegate count, further shrinking the Florida senator’s already narrow path to the nomination.

If Rubio’s slide continues, he would be the latest establishment candidate to fall victim to an angry, frustrated electorate that cares little about endorsements from party leaders or newspaper editorial boards. Rubio has rolled out both at warp speed in recent weeks, but his appeal with Republican voters is not keeping pace.

Rubio rejected the idea that anti-Trump Republicans should rally around Cruz, arguing that the likely scenario is a long fight that leaves the party without a presumed nominee heading into the July convention.

“To be fair, it’s hard to imagine at this moment the way things are going anybody getting to” a majority of 1,237 delegates, Rubio told The Associated Press Sunday night. “Even Trump, he’d have to win over half the remaining delegates to get there and he’s not on pace to that now. We’ll see what happens. It’s a very unusual political year.”

But back to the question at hand. While the headline out of Lousiana’s primary was that Trump carried the state, a few eagle-eyed observers noted that Trump and Cruz actually tied in the number of delegates won in Louisiana. From a press release by the Louisiana Republican Party,

Trump received 124,818 votes, or 41.4%, this evening. Senator Ted Cruz received 113,949 votes, or 37.8%. No other candidate received more than 20% of the votes statewide. Therefore, complete but unofficial returns indicate that Trump will be allocated 12 at-large delegates, Cruz will receive 11 and five delegates will be unbound.

Each of Louisiana’s six congressional districts will receive three delegates to the Republican National Convention. Complete but unofficial returns indicate that Trump, Cruz and Senator Marco Rubio will each receive one delegate in each district except for the Fourth District, where Cruz will receive two delegates and Trump one.

So Trump took 12 statewide delegates to 11 for Cruz. But in the six Congressional District, Trump, Cruz, and Rubio each received one delegate per district, but Cruz picked up an extra delegate in the Fourth District.

Today, the delegate count stands at:


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