Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 8, 2015


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 8, 2015

On July 8, 1776, the bell now known as the Liberty Bell rang in the tower of the Pennsylvania State House, now called Independence Hall, to announce the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence.

Rung to call the Pennsylvania Assembly together and to summon people for special announcements and events, it was also rung on important occasions, such as King George III’s 1761 ascension to the British throne and, in 1765, to call the people together to discuss Parliament’s controversial Stamp Act. With the outbreak of the American Revolution in April 1775, the bell was rung to announce the battles of Lexington and Concord. Its most famous tolling, however, was on July 8, 1776, when it summoned Philadelphia citizens for the first reading of the Declaration of Independence.

The Liberty Bell inscription includes a reference to Leviticus 25:10, “Proclaim Liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.”

On July 9, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was read aloud to General George Washington’s troops at the parade grounds in Manhattan.

On July 11, 1782, British colonists including British Royal Governor Sir James Wright, fled Georgia.

Wright had been the only colonial governor and Georgia the only colony to successfully implement the Stamp Act in 1765. As revolutionary fervor grew elsewhere in the colonies, Georgia remained the most loyal colony, declining to send delegates to the Continental Congress in 1774.

President Zachary Taylor died of cholera on July 9, 1850 and  Millard Fillmore was sworn in as the 13th President of the United States on July 10, 1850.

The first of General William Tecumseh Sherman’s troops, under Major General Schofield, crossed the Chattahoochee River between Powers Ferry and Johnson Ferry on July 8, 1864.

On July 9, 1864, Confederate troops retreated across the Chattahoochee River from Cobb County into Fulton County. Upriver, Sherman’s troops had already crossed and moved toward Atlanta.

On July 10, 1864, Conferderate forces retreated south across the Chattahoochee and burned the bridge behind them. General Sherman wrote later of the day,

General Garrard Moved rapidly on Roswell, and destroyed the factories which had supplied the rebel armies with cloth for years.

Over General Garrard was then ordered to secure the shallow ford at Roswell and hold it until he could be relieved by infantry, and as I contemplated transferring the Army of the Tennessee from the extreme right to the left, I ordered General Thomas to send a division of his infantry that was nearest up to Roswell to hold the ford until General McPherson could send up a corps from the neighborhood of Nickajack.

General Newton’s division was sent and held the ford until the arrival of General Dodge’s corps, which was soon followed by General McPherson’s whole army.

The Scopes “Monkey Trial” began on July 10, 1925, in which a Tennessee public school teacher was tried for teaching evolution, against state law. Three-time Democratic candidate for President William Jennings Bryan volunteered to help the prosecution, and famed lawyer Clarence Darrow defended John Thomas Scopes.

Former United States Senator from Texas Phil Gramm (R) was born on July 8, 1942 in Columbus, Georgia, where his father was stationed at Fort Benning.

On July 8, 1975, President Gerald Ford announced his candidacy for President in the 1976 elections.

On July 10, 1985, “Classic“ Coke returned, joining the new formula on store shelves.

The Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games broke ground for Atlanta Olympic Stadium on July 10, 1993; after the Olympics, the stadium was modified for baseball and became Turner Field.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Today ends the grace period for filing campaign disclosures. If you’ve forgotten about them, you might want to drop everything and start pulling together your recipts.

The body of an African-American man found hanging from a tree in Piedmont Park has been referred to the FBI and a march to protest police shootings took place last night on the downtown connector.

Yesterday, former State Rep. Ed Lindsey announced he would join the Dentons law firm, to help lead the State Government Affairs team for Georgia.

“Edward brings a keen understanding of the issues that arise at the intersection of business, politics and policy, and his unique insight will be of tremendous benefit to many of our clients,” said Eric Tanenblatt, co-leader of Dentons’ US Public Policy and Regulation practice. “His deep background in Georgia’s business and local communities coupled with his outstanding leadership are an excellent fit to lead and expand our Georgia State Government Affairs practice. We are fortunate to have Edward as a new member of our team and are confident that his experience will be a major asset to our clients and the Firm.”

At Dentons, Lindsey will provide leadership to the Firm’s Georgia State Government Affairs practice and help to expand Dentons’ public policy experience in the transportation and infrastructure, health care and education sectors, among others.

“We look forward to Edward joining, as his talents complement Dentons’ commitment to serving clients on high-profile public policy matters across the US,” said Mike McNamara, Dentons US managing partner.

The Trump campaign’s list of targeted states in November includes Georgia, which is usually reliably red in Presidential politics.

 Donald Trump’s political director, Jim Murphy, told a small group of House members Wednesday that the campaign is targeting a broad collection of 17 states in the general election, according to people at the meeting.

Mr. Murphy said Mr. Trump would focus on Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin.

Mr. Trump appears to be retreating from his pledge to compete in two other larger and more expensive Democratic leaning states, New York and California.

But Mr. Trump’s top targets include some Republican leaning states that should be safe zones. Two of those states – Georgia and Arizona – include a growing Hispanic vote, which polls show is widely resisting the presumptive GOP nominee.

Mr. Trump is ahead by only four points in Georgia – a state Mr. Romney won by eight points. In Arizona, a recent OH Predictive Insights survey showed him trailing Mrs. Clinton by four points. Mr. Romney won Arizona by a nine-point margin.

Elsewhere in the Wall Street Journal, a discussion of voter registration in battleground states.

Trends are harder to discern in battleground states without partisan registration like Georgia, Virginia and Wisconsin. County and precinct data suggests Georgia remains Republican, Virginia is becoming more Democratic and Wisconsin is highly polarized and little changed from 2012, when Mr. Obama carried it 53% to 46%.

On GPB’s Political Rewind on Wednesday, Dr. Andra Gillespie of Emory University said,

“I’m always skeptical of the ‘Georgia’s a purple state’ thing. Even when we say that Georgia’s a purple state, we’re talking about the Republican candidate winning by a seven-to-nine point margin. We’re not talking about a two-to-three point margin and I doubt that would even happen in this particular [presidential] race.”

That clip begins about 29:20 into the show.

Project Vote has filed a federal lawsuit against Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, alleging that the state failed to produce voter registration records.

The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in Georgia’s Northern District on Wednesday, said that Project Vote first began attempting to get such records in 2014, and noted that the state’s elections director resigned in 2015 after “illegally changing the status of almost 8,000 voters from inactive to canceled” just three months before the previous year’s election, in violation of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA).

The suit was filed by Project Vote’s elections counsel, Michelle Kantor Cohen, along with a group of pro bono lawyers from Washington’s Ropes & Gray and James Cobb and T. Brandon Waddell of Atlanta’s Caplan Cobb.

In a statement, Cohen said the NVRA demands that such records be disclosed “to ensure that election officials are complying with the law when rejecting applications or removing voters from the rolls.”

Kemp’s spokeswoman, Candice Broce, said via email that the secretary’s office has “been more than cooperative and transparent with Project Vote through all of their information requests. We have dedicated a substantial amount of time and resources to gather information for this organization, and they have received the information free of charge.”

Broce said it was “disappointing” that Project Vote “resorted to this unnecessary measure when our office has acted in good faith throughout the entire process.”

WALB in Albany writes that some residents have been confused when they receive mail saying they are not registered to vote.

Folks in Cook County were concerned when voter registration cards showed up in their mailbox saying they weren’t registered to vote.

However, those forms aren’t from the local elections office or the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office.

“It contains the letter and the application on two separate forms of paper,” Cook County Elections Supervisor, Dawn Davis, describes the letter people have been receiving.

The forms look almost identical to the ones from the elections office, but these forms came from a non-profit organization called The Voter Participation Center.

Election officials say the forms are showing up all over Georgia

We first noted these voter registration mailings from the Voter Participation Center three weeks ago.

In Blackwell, Georgia, Kenneth E. Futch resigned as Chief Municipal Judge.

Futch, 56, who still holds his elected post of Bacon County State Court Judge, found himself at odds last month with lawyer John Thigpen Jr. The attorney was offering free legal representation to people cited by the Blackshear Police Department following a dispute Thigpen had with officers about handicapped parking in front of his law office.

The judge asserted Thigpen was breaking courtroom rules by soliciting business during a hearing and threatened to have him arrested. Thigpen denied the allegation and said he soon got a new client: Shelia Futch, who had made the audio recording of her husband.

Thigpen, who didn’t respond to a message this weekend, has said that the recording also contains the sound of Futch striking his wife. The tape was purportedly taken days before Kenneth Futch was shot at his Alma home in April. Sheila Futch was charged in the shooting. It isn’t clear why Kenneth Futch would use racial slurs in an argument with his wife. They’re both white.

Asked about the recording Saturday, the resigned judge declined to comment on the accusations other than to say: “I would like to be judged by my professionalism and fairness in my public life and not” private matters.

Futch said he has no intention of resigning from the Bacon County State Court seat to which he is elected.

Felony charges against Mark Thomason, publisher of the Fannin Focus and his lawyer Russell Stookey have been dropped by District Attorney Alison Sosebee, according to the AJC.

Thomason and Stookey were charged with identify fraud and attempted identity fraud because the attorney secured subpoenas for bank records they wanted to present as evidence in a pending court matter over whether the two had to pay the legal fees of a court stenographer who had sued the newspaper man for defamation.

Both were freed [on] bond June 25. Since then Thomason had to submit to three urine tests for alcohol and drugs, which was a condition of his release on bond, once as recent as this morning.

Chief Judge Brenda Weaver — who presides in Fannin, Gilmer and Pickens Counties – had asked Sosebee to pursue criminal charges after she learned of the subpoenas for records from her office’s operating account and from another jurist – now-former Judge Roger Bradley.

She said in a letter attached to the dismissal that she had had second thoughts about pursing a case.

Flowery Branch City Council voted to approve financing of approximately $5.3 million to build a City Hall.

Fulton County and local mayors agreed to place a 3/4 penny sales tax on the November ballot.

If it passes, it will be the first time Fulton County has been able to dedicate sales tax money to transportation improvements.

A new state law required all of the entities to agree on the referendum before it could be placed on the ballot. If approved, the tax will provide up to $655 million to spend on transportation needs in the county.

The bulk of the money, just more than a third, would go to congestion relief projects, like road widenings.

Other large categories of spending include operations and safety (which includes improving intersections and traffic signals) at 23 percent; maintenance and safety enhancements (like resurfacing roads and repairing guardrails) at 19 percent; and pedestrian and other streetscape improvements (like bike lanes and sidewalks) at 15 percent. The rest of the money will go toward repairing and replacing bridges, quick projects like filling potholes and managing the projects. A small amount also will go to the Fulton County Airport and to paying down debt.

“It’s a systemic approach,” Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul said. “Congestion relief is a moving target.”

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