Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 9, 2016

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Jun

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 9, 2016

Georgia’s colonial charter, signed by King George II was witnessed on June 9, 1732.

Click here for the full text of Georgia’s Royal Charter from 1732.

Click here to see the oldest copy of Georgia’s Royal Charter, which was presented to Georgia by South Carolina.

The Battle of Bloody Marsh was fought between Spanish forces and colonists under James Oglethorpe on St Simons Island, Georgia in 1742 on a date that is variously cited as June 9 or June 7, 1742. Thus began the rivalry between Georgia and Florida.

On June 9, 1772, the first naval attack of the Revolutionary War took place near Providence, Rhode Island, as HMS Gaspee, a British tax enforcement ship was baited into running aground and attacked by a boarding party the next day.

On June 9, 1864, Gen. W.T. Sherman moved his troops to Big Shanty, Georgia, now called Kennesaw, and beginning a four-week period sometimes called the Battle of Marietta.

Cream was formed on June 9, 1966 by Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker, and Jack Bruce.

On June 9, 1973, Secretariat won the Belmont Stakes and the Triple Crown, the first to win all three of the Triple Crown races since 1948. Secretariat was bred by Christopher Chenery, a graduate of Washington & Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, whose jockeys wore blue-and-white silks in honor of Chenery’s alma mater.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Apparently, I’m beginning a new statewide speaking tour. I’ll be addressing the Coweta County Republican Party this Saturday, June 11, 2016 from 9 AM to 11 AM at the Golden Corral, located at 605 Bullsboro, Newnan, GA, 30263. On Tuesday, June 14, 2016, I’ll speak to the Muscogee County Republican Party at the Hilton Garden Inn. I’ll send along more information when I receive it.

The AJC reports that more than $600,000 was spent by special interests, primarily protecting Republican legislative incumbents.

The largess came in between regular campaign filings with the state ethics commission, making it more difficult for the public to track. From big-business groups to liberal-leaning labor unions, most of the money is not subject to limits imposed on individual campaigns and went largely to direct mail, robocalls, and television and radio advertising.

State law allows so-called independent committees to raise and spend unlimited funds to influence the outcome of an election as long as the expenditures are not direct contributions to candidates. While called “independent,” they can pay for advertising, get-out-the-vote campaigns and other efforts to help candidates.

Political action committees, meanwhile, typically give directly to candidates and are subject to a limit of $2,600 per election for legislative races.

The largest single beneficiary of the “independent” group spending was state Sen. Brandon Beach, R-Alpharetta, who faced a competitive primary challenge from investor Aaron Barlow of Milton. Business groups backing Beach in part because of his support for a transportation tax hike last year and for MARTA expansion this year, spent heavily on his race.

The second-biggest beneficiary was a Republican challenger, Kerstin Liberty, who ran unsuccessfully to topple House Regulated Industries Chairman Howard Maxwell, R-Dallas.

Meanwhile, Georgia Democrats sing Kumbaya or hold a drum circle or group hug or whatever. From the AJC:

Clinton took Georgia’s Democratic primary by nearly three-quarters of the vote in March. But winning over Sanders’ supporters will be essential for the party to have any shot at turning the state blue in November.

The stakes are large for Georgia Democratic officials beyond November. They need to harness the enthusiasm that drew young voters to Sanders to grow the party — and have a shot at winning back statewide positions.

The question is whether those young voters will flock to Clinton’s campaign as enthusiastically as they joined Sanders. A range of national polls show many millennials say they can’t trust her, a problem that could dampen Democratic turnout.

The party has also faced internal divisions that have hampered its outreach efforts in recent years.

“There’s a great possibility we could line up behind Clinton,” said state Sen. Vincent Fort, Sanders’ top surrogate in Georgia. “But a lot of it depends on what happens with the issues that Bernie and his supporters have talked about for the last year — getting Wall Street under control, universal health care, a higher minimum wage. That’s what’s critical.”

Politico rates Georgia in the second tier of states that might be competitive in the 2016 Presidential election.

Clinton’s reaches: Arizona (27 percent nonwhite in 2012), Georgia (36 percent nonwhite in 2014 midterm election), Texas (34 percent nonwhite in 2014 midterm election):

In much the same way, Clinton’s reaches are states that have been solidly Republican — but also include significant minority populations.

These states are probably two or three elections away from moving into the battleground column. But in a landslide election, particularly one that galvanizes African-American and Latino voters, they could hypothetically be competitive.

Hispanics made up about 1 in 5 voters in Arizona in 2012, when Obama won 44 percent of the vote. A Clinton floor might be higher in Georgia, which has a greater number of nonwhite voters, and where Obama won 46 percent four years ago.

Prospective demographic changes that cause Dems elation are giving Republicans anxiety.

Republican strategists and donors say Trump’s latest foray into racial politics frustrates the party’s efforts to win over those [minority] voters. As the Republican National Committee acknowledged after Mitt Romney’s 2012 loss to Obama, it will be almost impossible for a Republican to win competitive battleground states without them.

“It’s not that Donald Trump has created a demographic problem for Republicans,” said Chip Lake, a Republican campaign consultant from Georgia. “That’s existed for a long time. But he’s highlighted the problem.”

Dawson Mayor Christopher Wright was indicted by a Terrell County grand jury, according to WALB.

Wright faces five charges: aggravated child molestation, aggravated sodomy, child molestation, rape, and aggravated rape.

Wright appeared before Magistrate Judge Linda Freeman Wednesday afternoon. Terrell County Superior Court Judge Joe Bishop set his bond at $50,000. He posted the bond late Wednesday afternoon, and walked out of the Terrell County jail.

Wright is still the mayor of Dawson, but the governor could appoint an ethics panel to recommend whether Wright should be suspended.

State Rep. Valerie Clark (R-Lawrenceville) was named 2016 Legislator of the Year by the Johnson and Johnson Georgia Retirees Association.

The group highlighted her work on legislation that gave physicians the ability to write medical prescriptions to schools, youth camps and community groups so they could have medications, including inhalers and EpiPens, available for children if needed.

Clark was also praised for her involvement on legislation that restored insurance coverage for bariatric procedures.

Another piece of legislation she was praised for allowed pharmacists to log purchases of over-the-counter medications that contain psuedoephedrine so they could prevent people from buying large quantities that could be used to make methamphetamine.

“It is an honor to be named the 2016 Legislator of the Year and to be recognized for the work we have done in the General Assembly this session,” Clark said in a statement. “I hope that these bills will save lives and protect our school children, honest consumers and pharmacists, while preventing the production of an illegal drug that is destroying lives.”

The Gwinnett County Commission voted to spend nearly $5 million to design an expansion of the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center.

The decision was made in a 3-2 vote with commissioners Tommy Hunter and John Heard voting against it.

The expansion was approved as part of the county’s 2009 SPLOST, and the then-$2.8 million design contract was awarded to Pieper O’Brien Herr six years ago to come up with plans for the annex. County leaders put the project on the back burner not long afterward because of the recession and they’ve only just now come back to resuming work on it.

Gwinnett County got a clean bill of health for its accounting after an indepedent review of its 2015 financial statements.

Auditor Joel Black of Mauldin & Jenkins said the accounting firm could find no problems after reviewing county’s 2015 financial statements – an unusual distinction for a government the size of Gwinnett.

“We have a few other clients who have this, but not many,” Black told county commissioners in a briefing Tuesday morning. “Most governments comparable to your size will have some. Some have pages of (findings).”

County Commission Chairman Charlotte Nash, who previously was Gwinnett’s longtime county administrator and finance director, said she could not recall the county ever getting a completely clean audit, though findings in recent years have been minor. She credited the county’s finance department and independently elected constitutional officers for the clean audit.

Most Walker County voters in the Primary Election disapprove of the sole commissioner form of government in effect there.

After 75 percent of voters indicated during the May 24 primary that they don’t support the county’s sole commissioner system, state Rep. Steve Tarvin, R-Chickamauga, said he will study options for a new format. He will examine the county’s demographics and talk with other local government leaders in Georgia before announcing what he thinks is best for Walker County’s future.

Then, he plans to help write a resolution in the Georgia Legislature to put a question on a ballot in 2018. Do people really prefer a new type of government instead of the sole commissioner format? If a majority in Walker County votes yes for a second time, Tarvin said, a collection of local politicians can vie for the new board of commissioner seats in 2020.

During an October meeting, the Walker County Republican Party voted to put the referendum on the ballot this year, and two weeks ago, 4,505 of 5,985 voters said they wanted to move away from the sole commissioner form of government.

In order to act on the election results, though, supporters of the change need more allies than Tarvin.

You can’t put a binding referendum on the 2018 ballot without passing a local act in the state Legislature. And you can’t pass a local act without the approval of the local delegation. And in Walker County, the local delegation consists of Tarvin; state Rep. John Deffenbaugh, R-Lookout Mountain; and state Sen. Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga.

Publicly, the other two legislators have hesitated to throw full support behind the results.

Mullis did not return a call seeking comment this week, though he told the Walker County Messenger, “We recognize that it was a strong victory — but in a low voter turnout. So we will take it seriously and we will get together to see which direction we go in. But I’m not ready to draw the road map.”

The Cobb County Board of Education is considering another E-SPLOST, which would likely be on the ballot in March 2017. But projects under the current E-SPLOST are coming in higher than earlier estimated.

Macon-Bibb County has approved an ordinance to allow brewpubs to sell beer-to-go.

First, you need to know the difference between a brewery and a brewpub. Both of them make beer, but state law caps the amount that a brewpub can churn out. That’s because they’re supposed to primarily serve food and beverages.

Brewpubs have begun to change the way they serve the public. While Georgia breweries can’t sell beer directly to consumers and need a distributor to do so, brewpub owners believe that restriction shouldn’t apply to them. They want to sell pints of beer on the premises and half-gallon jugs — known as “growlers” — to take home.

Macon-Bibb County commissioners have been weighing a similar ordinance. A committee unanimously approved a brewpub license with the growler provision last month. The full commission gave its OK Tuesday night.

So why are local governments eager to jump on the bandwagon?

“In communities like Asheville, North Carolina, (and) in Charleston, South Carolina, you’ve seen places where the brewpubs themselves have become a part of the overall economic development and tourism package of a community,” said Alex Morrison, executive director of the Macon-Bibb County Urban Development Authority.

“What we’re finding is that there’s such a large community of craft brewers who do like beer tourism that they actually seek out new places to … market craft brews,” Morrison added. “And so you see tourism and out-of-town spending increase.”

Mike Garner plans to run as an independent candidate for Muscogee County Superior Clerk against Democratic nominee Ann Hardman.

Garner, well known for his criminal defense work, cited Hardman’s lack of court experience and the voters’ having no choice without a second candidate in the race as his reasons for running.

He said also that he fears Hardman will dismiss experienced workers when she takes office.

“The clerk’s office is the administrator of the court system here,” he said. “The clerk is the one who draws up all the criminal sentences; they keep the real estate records, and everybody who works in the clerk’s office is highly trained. It takes months to train the lowest-level clerks in that office, and they cover many different areas.”

Nancy Boren, executive director of the county elections board, said Garner will need signatures from 5,226 registered voters to meet the ballot threshold. That number as set by law must equal 5 percent of the county’s registered voters during the last election for the office, which was in 2012.

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