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


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

The British Parliament enacted The Coercive Acts on March 28, 1774.

The Coercive Acts were a series of four acts established by the British government. The aim of the legislation was to restore order in Massachusetts and punish Bostonians for their Tea Party, in which members of the revolutionary-minded Sons of Liberty boarded three British tea ships in Boston Harbor and dumped 342 crates of tea—nearly $1 million worth in today’s money—into the water to protest the Tea Act.

Passed in response to the Americans’ disobedience, the Coercive Acts included:

The Boston Port Act, which closed the port of Boston until damages from the Boston Tea Party were paid.

The Massachusetts Government Act, which restricted Massachusetts; democratic town meetings and turned the governor’s council into an appointed body.

The Administration of Justice Act, which made British officials immune to criminal prosecution in Massachusetts.

The Quartering Act, which required colonists to house and quarter British troops on demand, including in their private homes as a last resort.

Thomas Jefferson was elected as a Virginia delegate to the Second Continental Congress on March 27, 1775.

On January 27, 1785, a charter was approved by the Georgia legislature for the first publicly-supported state university in America.

Colonel James Fannin, a Georgia native and Colonel in the Texas Regular Army and more than 300 other members of the Georgia battalion were executed on March 27, 1836 after surrendering to Santa Anna’s Mexican Army. Fannin County, Georgia is named after Col Fannin.

On January 26, 1846, the Supreme Court of Georgia held its first meeting.

On March 27, 1912, the first Japanese cherry trees were planted on the northern bank of the Potomac River near the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, DC. Next weekend, Brookhaven will hold the second annual Brookhaven Cherry Blossom Festival.

On January 26, 1914, John Sammons Bell was born in Macon, Georgia. Bell served as State Democratic Chairman, elected in 1954 for a four-year term, during which he designed the 1956 Georgia flag that incorporated a version of the Confederate Battle Flag. In 1960, Bell joined the Georgia Court of Appeals, serving until 1979. For those of you who remember the late State Rep. Bobby Franklin, in his office in the Legislative Office Building hung a framed 1956 flag signed by John Sammons Bell and photo of Bell and Franklin. On January 26, 2001, a committee of the Georgia Senate approved a new flag designed by Atlanta architect Cecil Alexander. A comprehensive history of the Georgia state flag prepared by the Senate Research office can be found here.

On March 27, 1941, Governor Eugene Talmadge signed legislation outlawing the handling of venomous snakes in such a way as to endanger another person or to encourage another person to handle a snake in such a way as to endanger them. The legislation resulted from a six-year old handling a venomous snake during a church service in Adel, Georgia, during which she was bitten and died. Under that act you could still handle snakes yourself as long as you didn’t endanger someone else.

On March 27, 1947, Governor Melvin Thompson signed legislation that made Georgia a “Right to Work State,” meaning that employees cannot generally be forced to join a union or pay dues in order to take a job. On the same day, gambling on sporting events was outlawed by another bill signed by Gov. Thompson.

Governor Ernest Vandiver signed legislation authorizing the construction of monuments to Georgians killed in battle at the Antietam and Gettysburg battlefields on March 28, 1961.

Identical 15 1/2-foot-tall monuments of Georgia blue granite were sculpted by Harry Sellers of Marietta Memorials. At the top of the shaft is the word “GEORGIA” over the state seal. Lower on the shaft is the inscription, “Georgia Confederate Soldiers, We sleep here in obedience; When duty called, we came; When Countdry called, we died.”

Georgia’s first “Sunshine Law” requiring open meetings of most state boards and commissions, was signed by Governor Jimmy Carter on March 28, 1972.

A nuclear reactor at Three Mile Island near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania overheated on March 28, 1979 and within days radiation levels had risen in a four county area. It was the most serious accident in commercial nuclear history in the United States.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

In Chatham County, Tuesday sees a runoff election for Chatham County Sheriff.

The five-way race to determine who fills the unexpired term of the late Sheriff Al St Lawrence, who died on Nov. 24 last year after a long fight with cancer, has been narrowed down to two people: Sheriff Roy Harris, who was appointed to the job after St Lawrence’s death, and John Wilcher, a retired colonel from the department who retired two years ago.

Sheriff Harris and Col. Wilcher were the top two vote-getters in the special nonpartisan election on March 1. Since neither man got at least 50 percent of the countywide vote, county voters must return to the polls Tuesday to finish the job. All voters are eligible to cast ballots, whether they voted on March 1 or not.

Also holding runoff elections tomorrow will be the City of Tucker, filling two seats on City Council.

The races in west Tucker’s district two will be decided in runoffs Mar. 29 due to none of the candidates winning a majority. Katherine Atteberry is running against Matt Robbins for post one while Susan Wood is up against Noelle Monferdini for post two.

Three candidates vie on Tuesday for the remainder of the term of the late State Rep. Bob Bryant, but the real prize is being listed as incumbent on the May 24 ballot for a full term.

[F]or the first time in 12 years, the constituents of state House District 162 were without a representative in the Capitol.

On Tuesday, they’ll vote in a special election to determine who gets to fill the remainder of Bryant’s term.

While the title won Tuesday will be more ceremonial than anything — this year’s legislative session has already wrapped — the same three candidates will be on the ballot in the May 24 primary. And since they’re all Democrats, that’s likely when Bryant’s successor for the next full term will be selected.

In the running are former Savannah City Council candidate Alicia Blakely, Feed the Hungry CEO Carl Gilliard of Garden City and Savannah businessman Josey Sheppard.

Qualifying is open this week for a Post 2 seat on the Peachtree Corners City Council after Jay Lowe resigned to run for State House.

Qualifying will be held from 9 a.m. until noon, and from 1-4 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday, and from 9 a.m. until noon on Wednesday. Candidates should go to the city clerk’s office at City Hall, 147 Technology Parkway, to file their paperwork. The qualifying fee is $240.

The special election to fill Lowe’s seat will be held on May 24. Residents must be registered to vote by April 26 to cast a ballot in the election.

The Georgia Judicial Nominations Commission has issued a shortlist of nominees for Superior Courts for the Appalachian and Western Judicial Circuits, as well as Clayton County State Court.

Gwinnett County State Court Judge Carla Brown was endorsed for reelection by the Georgia Association of Black Women Attorneys.

Gwinnett County property taxpayers may elect to receive their property tax bills electronically.

DeKalb County will continue to stagger forward under the leadership of a CEO elected countywide after the State House failed to vote on legislation by Senator Fran Millar to eliminate the position in favor of a more traditional elected County Chair and professional county manager.

Public comments sessions on transportation in Gwinnett County highlight the conundrum of Atlanta.

For some of residents attending that Tuesday’s transportation hearing, it was obvious what needed to be done: extend MARTA — or something like it — all the way to the Mall of Georgia. Others scoffed, citing a common estimate that it would cost $100 million a mile.

“You could buy everybody a new car for what it would cost to do that,” said Mike Waters, a former engineer for the Georgia Department of Transportation.

“But you couldn’t get them all on I-85,” said transit supporter Chuck Gillespie, sitting across the table.

Gwinnett voters have twice rejected MARTA. But once again, county officials are gauging residents’ interest in mass transit as they develop a long-term transportation plan this year.

As part of that effort, the county is hosting a series of hearings to seek public input on everything from roads and transit to bike and pedestrian paths. More than 60 people have attended the hearings so far.

Another 1,600 registered their opinions in an online transportation survey. In addition, the county plans to conduct a scientific telephone poll of residents this spring.

Tea Party Patriots of Jackson County will hold the equivalent of an undercard debate, as non-incumbent candidates for the Ninth Congressional District and United States Senate debate.

The event is set for 7 p.m. at the Nicholson Community Center on Lakeview Drive off Ga. 441 between Commerce and Athens.

Four candidates seeking the 9th District U.S. House seat will take part: Paul Broun, Roger Fitzpatrick, Bernie Fontaine and Mike Scupin. They are opposing current U.S. Rep. Doug Collins in the May 24 Republican primary.

Senate candidates Mary Kay Bacallao and Derrick Grayson also plan to take part. They are running against incumbent Sen. Johnny Isakson.

Both Collins and Isakson had prior commitments.

The forum will include statements from each candidate and questions from each other and audience members.

Religious Liberty Legislation

One of the big questions following the legislative session is whether Governor Deal will sign religious liberty legislation.

The Georgia Department of Economic Development wrote to Gov. Deal that two prospective new companies decided against Georgia because of the legislature’s consideration of the bill.

“We received official notification this morning that Georgia was dropped from contention from two pending economic projects we had been working at gdec prior to any decision being made on the bill,” [Chief of Staff to Gov. Deal Chris] Riley wrote, referring to the Georgia Department of Economic Development. “Both projects cited Hb 757 as why they were removing Georgia from consideration.”

The Gainesville Times looks at the decision before Gov. Deal,

State Sen. Butch Miller, R-Gainesville, a top floor leader for Deal, said the governor has until May 3 to make his decision.

Perception is everything.

“The news media has been completely wrong and no one from the governor’s office or anyone in the leadership has stood up to correct them on what it does,” Rep. Emory Dunahoo, R-Gainesville, said.

Dunahoo said the bill is a matter of protecting the religious views of Georgians who oppose same-sex marriage and keeping government from infringing on those beliefs.

Those who support the bill insist that discrimination is not the motivation.

Rep. Lee Hawkins, R-Gainesville, said he would never turn away gays and lesbians from his dental practice.

And the Rev. Tom Smiley, pastor of the Lakewood Baptist Church in Gainesville, said the new Midland Station Coffee Co. near the downtown square, which is backed by the church, would be open to all customers.

Former Governor Roy Barnes weighed in, predicting that Deal will veto the legislation, according to the Marietta Daily Journal,

Former Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes, who lost a re-election bid in 2002 partially over fallout from changes to the state flag, said Friday he feels strongly Gov. Nathan Deal will veto the General Assembly’s new “religious liberty” bill.

Barnes and many others in and out of government say it also would cost Cobb County and the state an enormous amount of money in terms of lost revenue from Hollywood and big businesses, both those located in Georgia now and others contemplating setting up shop in the state.

“I think it would be very harmful to Cobb County,” said Barnes, who lives in Marietta.

“We are more and more dependent on tourism. Travelers come through. Events are drawn to convention centers that have been very successful. It is apparent that the business community and big companies like Disney are very much opposed to this bill,” which Barnes said could cost many jobs.

Many Republicans disagree. State Rep. Earl Ehrhart, R-Powder Springs, said the bill will have “positive impact” and allows for no discrimination.

“I know some on the left claim that Armageddon is coming, but that’s not the case,” Ehrhart said. “That’s why I voted for it.”

But state Rep. Ed Setzler, R-Acworth, said talk of a negative economic impact is “nonsense.”

“The motion picture industry comes to Georgia because it’s a great place to make movies,” Setzler said. “That’s not going to change because the Legislature protects the First Amendment rights of citizens. Just as the First Amendment protects movie-makers, the First Amendment protects people of faith.”

Presidential Politics

Two competing narratives are emerging to predict shape who will become the Republican nominee for President this year. The first is that Senator Ted Cruz may emerge as the nominee because his campaign has been working the delegate selection process to maximize their yield of delegates after state presidential preference primary elections.

The best statement of this thesis I’ve heard is that the Republican National Convention is like a giant closed caucus, and closed caucuses are where Cruz has shown the greatest strength and strategic mastery.

The Washington Post looked at the Cruz campaign’s operation in state conventions,

The first point is that people intimately familiar with the convention process understand that points at which leverage can be applied to affect the outcome. And, second: They’re doing so.

It’s this sort of needle-threading, in part, that prompted the National Review’s Eliana Johnson to write this week that a contested convention favors Ted Cruz. She points to the fact that there’s a built-in advantage for someone with even tenuous ties to the establishment, such as in South Carolina.

Trump won every single one of the 50 delegates up for grabs in the state’s February 20 primary, which was open. But to serve as a delegate from South Carolina, one has to have been a delegate to the 2015 state convention, held before Trump even announced his candidacy. These are establishment people.

The Wall Street Journal looked at the Lousiana delegate selection process after that state’s primary,

Donald Trump beat Sen. Ted Cruz earlier this month in Louisiana’s Republican presidential primary by 3.6 percentage points, but the Texan may wind up with as many as 10 more delegates from the state than the businessman.

Mr. Cruz’s supporters also seized five of Louisiana’s six slots on the three powerful committees that will write the rules and platform at the Republican National Convention and mediate disputes over delegates’ eligibility this summer in Cleveland.

The little-noticed inside maneuvering that led to this outcome in Louisiana is another dramatic illustration of the inside game that could have an outsize influence on the bitter race for the GOP nomination.

The Trump campaign’s first problem is in the overall delegate count from Louisiana. Messrs. Trump and Cruz each won 18 delegates apiece based on the Louisiana results in the primary on March 5. But the five delegates awarded to Florida Sen. Marco Rubio are now free agents because he ended his campaign, and Louisiana Republicans expect them to swing behind Mr. Cruz.

Meanwhile, the state’s five unbound delegates—who are free to back the candidates of their choice—also are more likely to back Mr. Cruz than Mr. Trump, according to GOP officials in the state.

Trump even complained about the Louisiana process on Twitter, saying, “Just to show you how unfair Republican primary politics can be, I won the State of Louisiana and get less delegates than Cruz – Lawsuit coming”.

Cruz is also thought to have an advantage in Virginia, according to the Washington Times,

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz came in a distant third in Virginia’s Republican primary election, receiving less than half the number of votes than billionaire businessman Donald Trump. But if the Republican presidential convention in July goes to more than one round of voting, many political watchers believe Cruz could be poised to win a large majority of Virginia’s 49 delegates.

No group has shown a better mastery of intra-party maneuvering than Cruz’s tea party followers in Virginia. Ahead of the 2013 gubernatorial election, Former Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s supporters took control of the state party and outmuscled potential challengers for the gubernatorial nomination. Cuccinelli, a major Cruz surrogate, still has strong allies within the state party apparatus, including party chairman Whitbeck.

“It’s a Cuccinelli crowd that runs this state,” said Tom Davis, a former congressman who is the Virginia campaign chairman for Kasich.

State Sen. Bill Stanley, the Cruz campaign chairman in Virginia, said the campaign has long put an emphasis on being well organized and prepared for delegate elections and has been actively reminding its supporters of the importance of attending GOP district meetings and the state convention.

The second, competing, narrative is that if Trump enters the convention with a lead, he should be the nominee regardless.

Trump is virtually certain to arrive in Cleveland with millions more votes than Cruz or John Kasich, but he could still fall short of clinching the nomination outright. That would throw the contest to the delegates — and if Cruz packs the arena with supporters, Trump could watch the nomination slip away from him. And he knows it.

“I have a guy going around trying to steal people’s delegates. This is supposed to be America, a free America,” he said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” “You know, welcome to the Republican Party. What’s going on in the Republican Party is a disgrace. I have so many more votes and so many more delegates. And, frankly, whoever at the end, whoever has the most votes and the most delegates should be the nominee.”

Trump’s palpable frustration is a sign of how rapidly the hunt for delegates is overtaking the primary itself as the most critical battle in the 2016 GOP nominating process.

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