Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 1, 2016

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 1, 2016

In perhaps the most fitting historical tidbit ever, the United States House of Representatives first met on April 1, 1789 in New York City. Frederick Augustus Conrad Muhlenberg of Pennsylvania was elected the first Speaker of the House. Georgia’s first Members of Congress were James Jackson, Abraham Baldwin, and George Mathews.

On April 1, 1870, Robert E. Lee, President of Washington College in Lexington, Virginia, arrived in Savannah, Georgia. Lee’s career in the United States Army began with his first assignment at Cockspur Island near Savannah. While in Savannah for the 1870 trip, Lee was photographed with former General Joseph E. Johnston, who was in the insurance business there.

Happy Birthday to Phil Niekro, who turns 76 today. Niekro pitched for the Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves for twenty years, earning five trips to the All-Star Game, five gold gloves, led the league in wins twice, and came in second in balloting for the Cy Young award in 1969. In 1997, he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The next election in Georgia will be a Special Runoff Election in House District 162, held on April 26, 2016.

The Chatham County Board of Elections announced this week a runoff has been scheduled for April 26. Any voters in House District 162’s 19 precincts can cast ballots in the runoff, as long as they were registered to vote by March 7.

Professor Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia writes that a Donald Trump nomination could jeopardize Georgia’s standing as a red state in November’s Presidential election. Here’s the sum total of what he wrote about the Peach State in his most recent column,

[H]ere is our extra-early, ridiculously premature projection of the Electoral College map in a possible Hillary Clinton-Donald Trump matchup.

In fact, four normally Republican states (Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, and Missouri) would be somewhat less secure for the GOP than usual.

The polling averages for a Clinton-Trump face-off show roughly a 10 percentage point lead for the Democrat. RealClearPolitics has Clinton up about 11 points and HuffPost Pollster gives Clinton a lead of about nine points. Again, this suggests that one or more states currently rated Likely Republican (Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, and Missouri) might slip into the Democratic column.

Cruz could firm up the GOP’s chances in Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, and Missouri, and he could turn some of our Leans Democratic states back into Toss-ups.

Sabato’s suggestion that Georgia could go blue in 2018 assumes, of course, that Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee, which I think is less certain today than it was two weeks ago.

But fret not for Johnny Isakson’s reelection. So far, the Democratic party’s favorite hope, Jim Barksdale, has only the bare minimum of a website, and we aren’t aware of his having spoken to the media or voters yet, and Isakson has historically attracted broader support than any other statewide candidate I’m aware of.

More surprising to me was that the Democratic Party of Georgia failed to even field a candidate for the Public Service Commission, the only other statewide office on the ballot this year.

A group called Everytown for Gun Safety is running ads in Atlanta asking Governor Deal to veto campus carry legislation passed by the General Assembly.

Everytown for Gun Safety, a group backed by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, says it will spend $25,000 on ads running Thursday through Monday in metro Atlanta.

The ad highlights opposition by campus law enforcement officials and says guns, alcohol and students “don’t mix.”

State Senator Brandon Beach (R-Alpharetta) was disappointed by the veto of HB 757, the Religious Freedom compromise bill.

Beach said Friday that similar legislation has been passed in a number of other states over the years and many of them have won bids to host tournaments and championship games since.

“I also don’t think the movie industry is going to leave,” he said. “They like to make money and save money and it is a lot less expensive to film a movie here than it is in California.”

It appears highly unlikely that an override session of the legislature will be called, according to the AJC.

House Speaker David Ralston and Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle said Thursday that they would not push to overturn Gov. Nathan Deal’s veto of a “religious liberty” measure this year, but both vowed to unite behind a new version of the controversial legislation next year.

In an exclusive joint interview, the leaders of the two legislative chambers told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that they are ready for a fresh start on the debate over the measure, which would extend legal protections to opponents of same-sex marriage, and are heeding the calls of religious conservatives clamoring for more safeguards for faith-based organizations.

Some conservative legislators have called for a “veto session” to summon lawmakers back to Atlanta, a move that would require three-fifths support in each chamber. Overturning his veto would face a higher bar — two-thirds support in each chamber — a threshold the vote failed to reach in March.

Both said they would oppose a veto session, with Ralston saying it “has the potential to be counterproductive.” Cagle didn’t close the door on an attempt to override the veto next year, though Ralston said he would rather devote his energy to trying to reach a consensus among lawmakers than reversing the governor’s decision.

“I don’t know that the votes would be there to override the veto,” Ralston said. “My preference would be to come together and focus on the substance of the bill rather than the rhetoric that’s out there — and reach a resolution.”

McClatchyDC takes a look at the dynamics of a GOP challenge to incumbent Congressman Austin Scott (R-Tifton).

A truck-driving Macon businesswoman and a former sheriff’s deputy with a history of crossing party lines are trying to oust Republican Austin Scott from his three-term seat in Congress as Georgia’s 8th district U.S. representative.

It’s the second time that Republican Angela Hicks, owner of Stuff It Mobile Storage, has crossed paths with Scott in the sprawling district that runs south from central Georgia to the Florida border.

And for Scott, the strong favorite to retain his seat, he’ll have to show he can withstand a growing anti-incumbent sentiment and the possible downstream electoral drag of a Donald Trump or Ted Cruz GOP presidential nomination.

“If the people give me the privilege to serve again,” Scott said, “I’m going to continue to do my job, with regard to constituent services locally, as the only Republican (from Georgia) on the Armed Services Committee in the House or the Senate, and I’m going to do my job to support agriculture and our farmers and our agricultural economy.”

[Angela] Hicks doesn’t consider herself part of the Republican Party’s tea-party faction: “I really hate to lump me to them or them to me,” she said.

With a self-funded campaign, Hicks has put up several dozen billboards throughout the district attacking Scott’s conservative bona fides and casting him as an establishment Republican who votes the party line – even when it goes against conservative principles.

Yesterday in Gwinnett County, a rag-tag ad hoc group of state legislators heard about business investment opportunities and issues.

“That idea of an incubator and direct support for the entrepreneur is something that’s going on all across the state,” said Atlanta Technology Angels board members Dan King, who also worked to start a Gwinnett Angels group. “There’s aggressive support by the chamber here and the communities around here, themselves, have started their own investment incubators.”

“I spend a lot of time going out to various organizations, to meetings all over the region, and the thing I hear consistently … is that in the metro Atlanta area and in Georgia, capital is the thing that consistently it’s said there’s not enough of,” Partnership Gwinnett Director of Entrepreneurship Mark Farmer said.

“Entrepreneurs all need the same things. They need customers, they need a place to work, they need mentoring, assistance, education and knowledge, but they also need money to make money.”

A study of rattlesnakes in South Georgia shows the state’s population holding steady.

DNR commissioned the survey because Eastern diamondbacks are being considered for protected status under the Endangered Species Act. Findings will help inform U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decisions on whether to list this native, the largest venomous snake in the region.

While Eastern diamondbacks have experienced significant decline in Georgia from habitat loss and from people killing them, Stevenson said the current population is solid. Study authors looked at 15 years of DNR and Orianne Society records and supplemented that information with reported sightings from a DNR Biotics web site as well as museum collections. In all they compiled close to 400 occurrence records.

Georgia Public Broadcasting looks at the issue of part-time legislators under the Gold Dome.

The old way the General Assembly was supposed to work back when they came up with this scheme is that they met during the winter quarter when the state university system was on quarters and it was when the crops … the fields were dead. And so you came after the harvest and you left right before planting time and that’s how it was supposed to work originally and that’s no longer where we live in the state.

Is that antiquated? Is that outmoded at this point? Do they need to be full time?

Well there’s there’s a case that could be made for full time legislators a number of states have the New York, California, Illinois … all have full time legislators. This is their career this is their job this is what they invest in. I think one of the big problems for us is that, yeah, it works for folks that are still are in farming career.

But today so few of our population work in agriculture, and are on the agricultural cycle there’s a lot of citizens that get left out of the chance to serve as a citizen legislator and there’s []ways you could do that we could still have part time legislators that stretch the season such legislative session around the year to do different things but this session the way it’s structured is pretty difficult to recruit ambitious politicians to want to invest in a lifetime in it.

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