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


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

On July 7, 1742, General James Oglethorpe was victorious over the Spanish at the Battle of Bloody Marsh and the Battle of Gully Hole Creek; a week later Gov. Montiano would call off the invasion of Georgia from Florida, leaving Georgia to develop as a British colony.

Sliced bread was invented on July 7, 1928 at the Chillicothe Baking Company in Chillicothe, Missouri.

On July 7, 1958, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the Alaska Statehood Act.

The first female cadets enrolled at West Point on July 7, 1976.

Sandra Day O’Connor was nominated to the United States Supreme Court by President Ronald Reagan on July 7, 1981.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

First, there’s this:

Then yesterday, Newt Gingrich joined Donald Trump onstage in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Backstage before the rally, Gingrich and Trump were live on Newt’s Facebook page.


Almost as an afterthought, Trump mentioned Gingrich, the former U.S. House speaker and presidential candidate, midway through his rant and again near the end of his speech. “No one would beat Newt” in vice presidential debates, Trump said, promising Gingrich would have some role in a Trump administration. He has been enjoying attention in recent days for parading possible vice presidential candidates on social media and in public appearances.

For his part, Gingrich took clear aim at Clinton.

“Is there a single person here who believes that if you had done what Hillary Clinton had done, you would not be prosecuted?” he asked.

The crowd answered with a loud “no.”

And from the Washington Post:

“Neeeeeewt!” They bellowed. “Neeeeeewt! Neeeeeewt!”

Newt it was.

Newt Gingrich, former House speaker and now a finalist in the search for Donald Trump’s running mate, quickly stepped up to the lectern. While officially just making a friendly trip with Trump to this swing state, it was also an audition for the No. 2 spot — a chance to showcase his wares and see for himself whether he fits comfortably within Trump’s orbit.

His brief turn was telling. From the start, Gingrich played the role of party elder. It was a nod, perhaps, to how as the veep pick he might put an emphasis on lifting vulnerable GOP candidates this fall rather than solely playing the part of Trump booster.

“I know with all of my heart,” Gingrich told them with the tone of an insistent teacher, that they would “carry this state” not only for Trump but for Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio. The crowd, dotted with clumps of rowdy men and women in Trump gear, politely clapped as if to accept the request.

In response, Gingrich offered his signature look: the dropping of his chin and a narrowed-eye glare, very Trump-like.

Gingrich then touted his biography, “a former speaker of the House who knew a little about Washington.” But he framed himself as someone with populist instincts in spite of his years on Capitol Hill. It was similar to how Trump has framed his time as a big GOP donor: Yes, he was on the inside, but in his mind that only makes him better at calling out corruption at the highest levels.

Gingrich said the Clinton email episode is reflective of a broader development in the country of “two Americas” — the “corrupt Washington of the old order” and “the rest of us.”

“I say to you, ‘Enough!’ ” Gingrich said, running through a list of gripes with Democrats. “Enough of lying to us about a person who deliberately obstructed justice and under any rule of law would today be facing a jury, not an election.”

Gingrich closed by referencing his time as a history professor in Georgia, in essence making the point to Trump’s campaign that if picked, he would be able to add some historical depth and intellectual sheen to Trump’s already roiling critique. And he showed that he’s willing to poke his friends in service of the nominee.

The new slogan for Democrats on the ballot seems to be “Not indicted (yet).”

Last week, incumbent Democratic DeKalb County Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton used it to ward off charges of corruption.

Sutton, who has faced multiple accusations of unethical behavior, called questions regarding her integrity “empty allegations,” arguing that FBI audits of Dekalb County exonerated her of wrongdoing while sending other officials to prison.

In response, [challenger Steve] Bradshaw drew his biggest applause of the night:

“If our litmus test (for quality government) is, ‘We’re not in jail yet so everything must all be okay,’ then we need a new litmus test,” he said.

Yesterday, Democratic Party of Georgia Chairman Dubose Porter called in to GPB’s “Political Rewind,” where I was on the panel.

Porter: “I think the bottom line is they found nothing criminal that they should prosecute…. Throughout the campaign they kept ‘when she’s indicted, when this happens’ as if it’s an impending storm…. But the bottom line is this was a great day for Hillary’s campaign. This is off the table now.”

 “The bottom line is they kept saying for months and months she was going to be indicted. There’s nothing to indict her over. So, I think for her, it was a great day for her campaign.”

Rehm: “I have to wonder if that’s going to become the new standard – unindicted…. that’ll fit nicely on a bumpersticker.”

The United States Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit has held that federal officials cannot evade the Freedom of Information Act by using a private email account for official business.

Throughout the case, the government argued that “[d]ocuments on a nongovernmental email server are outside the possession or control of federal agencies, and thus beyond the scope of FOIA.”

Judge David Sentelle, the chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, disagreed with that reasoning and ordered the lower court to reconsider the case.

“If a department head can deprive the citizens of their right to know what his department is up to by the simple expedient of maintaining his departmental emails on an account in another domain, that purpose is hardly served,” Sentelle wrote.

“It would make as much sense to say that the department head could deprive requestors of hard-copy documents by leaving them in a file at his daughter’s house and then claiming that they are under her control,” he said.

Less than two months after incumbent Republican Anthony Heath won reelection as Berrien County Sheriff, a Special Election has been called in November to replace him after he plead guilty to using excessive force .

Election officials say they expect a high turnout in November, which they say is good for Berrien County.

“Because it is a presidential election and more people will be interested in coming out and voting it will be great for Berrien County,” explains elections supervisor Melanie Ray, “For more people to be aware who their Sheriff will be for the next four years.”

Qualifying has not opened yet for the election.

Any candidates that did qualify for the normal election have the opportunity to re-qualify for the special election.

Here’s a question: the Democratic nominee for Berrien County Sheriff won 195 votes, while two Republicans – Heath with 1204 votes and S. Mathis with 701 – took more votes during primary elections. But Heath also won’t be on the ballot in November for the full four-year term, and the Special Election is only for the remainder of the current term that ends in December. Will the Republican Party be allowed to replace Heath on the November ballot, or will the Democratic candidate be unopposed?

In Meriwether County, Steve Whitlock will run as an independent candidate for Sheriff.

Whitlock began his law enforcement career in his native Meriwether County in 1982 as a deputy. He was previously the Meriwether County sheriff from 2000-2013 and has been with Grantville since February 2015. He became the full-time police October 2015. Whitlock was defeated by current Meriwether County Sheriff Chuck Smith in 2012.

“After the last election, I knew I would run again as an independent,” Whitlock said. “Last time, I had several hundred people tell me they would not vote for me because I was running as Democrat, and they were Republicans. I think the sheriff should be nonpartisan and run for the people and not the parties because you have to protect everyone.”

[Incumbent Sheriff Chuck] Smith will also run as an independent. Kenneth Knox has qualified to run as a Democrat.

Whitlock said if he does not win the sheriff seat, he plans to stay with Grantville because he has enjoyed working there.

Coweta County reports strong turnout in the runoff election for Third Congressional District.

On Tuesday, there were 51 early votes cast at the Coweta Voter Registration Office at 22 East Broad Street in downtown Newnan, and there were 39 votes cast at the Central Community Center, 65 Literary Lane, Newnan. On Wednesday, by 4 p.m., there were more than 50 votes cast downtown and 27 at Central for a total of more than 167 just the first two days.

That may not sound like many, but for the first few days of early voting in a runoff during a vacation period, it’s a lot.

Chandra Attenborough, poll manager at Central, said she was surprised to see that much of a turnout.

“I think it has gone much better than usual,” said Joan Hamilton, Coweta voter registrar.

Meanwhile, Lee County is seeing smaller turnout with only a Probate Judge on the runoff ballot.

Voter turn-out in Lee County has been okay, so far. There is one primary run-off race for voters- the probate judge seat.

Very few voters participated during the primary election.  “We are anticipating a lower turnout than what we would like, but we are encouraging everyone to come out and vote. We had a low turnout in the primary, and we really need to have people come out and vote,” said Lee Elections Supervisor  Veronica Johnson.

A fire station located in the City of Brookhaven was taken off the list of projects to be funded by DeKalb County’s next SPLOST.

On June 21, the DeKalb County governing authority hosted a meeting to discuss implementation of the (SPLOST) and Equalized Homestead Option Sales Tax (HOST) with governing authorities of Avondale Estates, Brookhaven, Chamblee, Clarkston, Decatur, Doraville, Dunwoody, Lithonia, Pine Lake, Stone Mountain and Tucker.

During the meeting, Brookhaven’s new City Manager Christian Sigman said he was curious why a proposed second fire station in Brookhaven was left off the SPLOST funding list.

“Presumably the fire station was based on some recommendation from the Chief as a response to cutting down response time,” Sigman said. “That second fire department is now off (the SPLOST list). Is that not an operational need anymore? What was the reasoning for taking that off the original list?”

A nine-person SPLOST citizen advisory committee helped create the final SPLOST project list. David Sjoquist, interim CEO of the citizen advisory committee, said  “If the facility was located near a municipality, we took it off the list. We weren’t interested or willing to spend unincorporated area money, which is what the SPLOST is, on services in municipalities,” Sjoquist said.

DeKalb County Interim CEO Lee May said the SPLOST funding creates a dilemma for the county and surrounding municipalities.

“We would have to look at the fire fund. That is a property tax fund. As far as these (SPLOST) funds are concerned, we can only deal with unincorporated focus dollars,” May said. “That’s our dilemma. It’s a weakness in the law itself because it doesn’t force us to sit down at the table and come up with those tier one projects. We have long said if a city definitely wants to see that project accomplished in their district, we would gladly put up funding to help accomplish that, but the cities have to come up with the funding itself.”

DeKalb County COmmissioner Nancy Jester calls the SPLOST “unacceptable.”

Sadly, as the county prepares the referendum question for the ballot, the proposed list of SPLOST projects has grown to include pet projects and monuments to government bureaucracy. This includes new parks, libraries, and an exceedingly large new government center – a Taj Mahal monument to ineffective government.

In addition to mission creep in the SPLOST list, important and defensible public safety improvements receive less funding than needed. Our police and fire departments both need new training facilities, yet SPLOST only proposes to fund 40% of this need. Fire Stations located within the city limits of any city have been removed no matter their current state of disrepair. Keep in mind, most fire stations within city limits serve areas that include multiple jurisdictions including multiple cities and unincorporated DeKalb. You should also note that you pay fire service tax to the county to protect life and property even as the county refuses to build or rebuild stations that are necessary to protect you.

We can consider a SPLOST that is serious about paving roads and addressing public safety. We must adhere to the original rationale for this proposal – paving and repairing roads and infrastructure. I will not support a SPLOST, raising your taxes, to fund pork barrel spending of any sort.

The Alternative Fuel Roadshow kicked off recently in LaGrange and includes three more stops in Metro Atlanta.

Riverside EpiCenter
235 Riverside Parkway, Austell
July 18th 9A-12N

University of North Georgia
Continuing Education Center
​25 Schultz Avenue, Dahlonega
July 19th 9A-12N
Lunch provided by Windstream

Duluth- Gwinnett
Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce
8500 Sugarloaf Parkway
July 20th 9A-12N

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