Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 24, 2016


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 24, 2016

On October 24, 1733, the Georgia trustees ordered a ship to Rotterdam to pick up a group of Lutherans expelled from Salzburg, Austria, and then send the Salzburgers to Georgia.

On October 24, 1775, Lord John Murray Dunmore, British Governor of Virginia, ordered the British fleet to attack Norfolk, VA.

On October 24, 1790, the Rev. John Wesley wrote the last entry in his journal, which he began keeping on October 14, 1735.

The first American “Unknown Soldier” was chosen on October 24, 1921 in Chalons-sur-Marne, France.

Bearing the inscription “An Unknown American who gave his life in the World War,” the chosen casket traveled to Paris and then to Le Havre, France, where it would board the cruiser Olympia for the voyage across the Atlantic. Once back in the United States, the Unknown Soldier was buried in Arlington National Cemetery, near Washington, D.C.

The Charter of the United Nations took effect on October 24, 1945.

On October 24, 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower pledged the United States’ support for the South Vietnam government led by President Ngo Dinh Diem.

On October 24, 1976, Newsweek released a poll showing Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter leading President Gerald Ford in 24 states, with a combined 308 electoral voters.

Patricia Murphy writes in Roll Call about the time House Democratic Leader Richard Gephardt turned over the gavel to Newt Gingrich after the Georgia Congressman was elected Speaker of the U.S. House.

I have a surprising cure for you if you’re looking for a more inspiring example of American statesmanship — the moment in 1995 when House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt gave the speaker’s gavel to Newt Gingrich after the GOP won control of the chamber for the first time in 40 years.

If you haven’t watched the video of the handoff lately, you should. There in the grainy C-SPAN footage, you’ll see two adversaries rising together to a level of great leadership after a bitter campaign. Gephardt, magnanimous in defeat, told Gingrich, “with faith and with friendship and the deepest respect, you are now my speaker.”

Gingrich, who some remember only for his bareknuckled partisan brawls, was equally gracious in victory. He thanked Gephardt and outgoing Speaker Tom Foley for their hard work in the House before him and gently scolded his own caucus for cheering the Democrats’ defeat on the House floor moments earlier.

The two men went on to spar with each other as leaders for the next four years, but they had a mutual respect for each other then and remain friends today. At an event that they headlined together in Atlanta last week, Gephardt remembered his thoughts on the morning he prepared to lead the same peaceful transition of power that had defined American democracy for more than 200 years before that day.

Gingrich remembered walking from his apartment in the Methodist Building that morning to the Capitol, choking up as he described the moment he looked from the Speakers balcony toward the Lincoln Monument.

“I thinking, ‘I’m a lieutenant colonel’s son, who has been awarded by the people of Georgia 16 years representing them and selected by his colleagues, and I’m not about to have this burden,’” Gingrich said. “‘And my job is to represent the country for as long as the country wants me to.’”

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Early Voting Numbers

From the latest early voting file from the Secretary of State’s office:

In Person votes: 490,412

Mail-in ballots requested: 186,725

Mail-in ballots returned: 88,697 [Note this has been corrected from earlier.]

Mail-in ballots outstanding: 98,028

Electronic ballots requested: 12,348

Electronic ballots returned: 3,039

Electronic ballots outstanding: 9,309

TOTAL Absentee/Advance votes cast: 582,390

Changes to the federal Voting Rights Act mean fewer election observers in Georgia and elsewhere.

After the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in Shelby County v. Holder weakened a core provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the U.S. Department of Justice could deploy special election observers from the Office of Personnel Management only where authorized by a court order.

Because of that requirement, the department will send a smaller number of its own staff attorneys and other personnel to monitor elections next month in roughly half the states. Unlike the special observers, the department staffers won’t have the authority to view activity inside polling places and locations where votes are tallied unless they get approval from local officials.

That potential loss of access to real-time voting operations is causing concern among civil- and voting-rights activists about the integrity of Georgia’s vote process.

The Voting Rights Act allowed the attorney general to send observers to Georgia and eight other states with persistent histories of widespread voting discrimination if there were “meritorious complaints from residents, elected officials or civic participation organizations” that efforts to deny or hinder the right to vote “on account of race or color or (membership in a minority language group) are likely to occur.”

A total of 153 counties in 11 states have been certified for federal observers since 1965. Mississippi’s 51 certified counties lead all states. Georgia is next, with 29 of its 159 counties – about 18 percent – authorized for federal monitors at least once since 1965.

The New Georgia Project says delays in processing voter registration applications could suppress voting in the Peach State.

In Georgia, Nse Ufot, executive director of the New Georgia Project, said more than 550,000 people have registered as new voters since the March primaries. But the process of validating those applications by election officials in 159 counties has been delayed, she said, in part by a lawsuit contesting a verification process that disqualified voters over easily resolved typos. That suit was settled a few weeks ago, Ufot said, but a backlog remains. “We find they [county election offices] are all along the ideological spectrum and the competence spectrum, if you will… what voter suppression looks like in Georgia is death by 1,000 cuts.”

In 2012, the New Georgia Project submitted 86,000 registrations, but only 40,000 people ended up on voter rolls on Election Day. What’s unclear is to what extent that history of constitutional voter suppression may repeat itself in 2016. Looking past registration issues, Ufot said that many counties moved or consolidated polling places in communities of color last spring to cuts costs, which caused confusion and raises questions about what’s planned for November 8.

In [Georgia in] 2012, 3.85 million people voted, with Mitt Romney beating Barack Obama by 300,000 votes. Right now, according to the Post’s survey, Clinton leads Trump by 4 percent. If the 2016 turnout is on par with 2012, that’s slightly more than 150,000 votes. Thus, how Georgia county election officials process more than half-a-million registrations could be decisive.

I would note that it’s properly called “voter suppression” if the people denied voter registration were eligible to vote but for their application being denied. If voter registration is denied for someone who isn’t eligble, that’s called “fraud prevention.”

An AJC poll shows the Opportunity School District Amendment #1 with serious opposition among voters.

The results released Friday found likely voters — regardless of party affiliation — siding nearly 2-1 against Amendment 1. The measure would amend Georgia’s constitution, authorizing the state to take over low-performing schools and the tax dollars associated with them, with the intent of turning them around.

Despite the sizable opposition the poll found, subsequent interviews uncovered uncertainty about the proposal. It’s so complicated it took 13 pages of legislation to describe, yet it’s summed up by a ballot question of two dozen words — words that are the subject of a lawsuit alleging they are misleading and one-sided in favor of the initiative. The ballot language does not make it clear that the state would take over failing schools; it merely says the state would “intervene” in them.

The AJC’s poll question was more explicit, citing the viewpoints of supporters and opponents.

The poll found 34 percent of likely voters would vote for the measure while 59 percent were opposed and 8 percent undecided. Support was greater among men at 37 percent versus 31 percent for women; it was weakest among Republicans at 28 percent and strongest among independents at 38 percent, with 34 percent of Democrats in favor.

In my opinion that’s a goofy way to poll a Constitutional Amendment. I’d have used the language voters will see on the ballot.

Politico writes that an upsurge in early voting by women bodes well for Hillary Clinton in Georgia.

[I]n Georgia, a new poll on Friday showed Clinton leading Trump by 5 percentage points among early voters — despite trailing Trump narrowly among likely voters — after a noticeable bump in early voting among women.

“I could see, the week following the first debate, the percentage of women requesting ballots increased in both North Carolina and Georgia,” said Michael McDonald, another early vote expert who runs the United States Elections Project.

Randy Evans, a Republican National committeeman from Georgia, said he’s skeptical that the debate was truly a flashpoint in the race for Clinton. He said early vote numbers indicate a higher proportion of votes from rural areas than four years ago, with lighter numbers in urban areas, suggesting a potential tilt toward Trump.

“I’m not gonna pretend, with this electorate, to have the crystal ball,” he said, citing internal polls he’s seen giving Trump a 4- to 6-point edge. “The Trump folks felt really good about the absentee voting … Somebody’s going to be really right and somebody’s going to be really wrong. I have no idea because both sides are so confident in their respective positions.”

The Associated Press thinks Georgia early voting is good for Trump.

Donald Trump, meanwhile, appears to be holding ground in Ohio, Iowa and Georgia, according to data compiled by The Associated Press. Those are important states for Trump, but not sufficient for him to win the presidency if he loses states like Florida or North Carolina.

“The Trump campaign should be concerned,” said Scott Tranter, co-founder of Optimus, a Republican data analytics firm. His firm’s analysis suggests a “strong final showing for the Clinton campaign” in early voting.

In Georgia, which also does not report party affiliation, both ballot requests and returns from black voters also trailed 2012 levels.

The Dalton Daily Citizen takes a look at early voting:

In 2012, a little less than half of the nearly 3.9 million votes in Georgia were cast before Election Day. That number is expected to be higher this year with more people, such as Rehmus, discovering the option.

Janine Eveler, elections director in Cobb County, noted that the early days of in-person advance voting tend to attract partisans. The more “sway-able” voters will hold off to see what else may transpire, she said.

For now, early voters remain a minority in Cobb County, and Eveler said she doesn’t see that changing anytime soon.

In 2012, a little less than half of the nearly 3.9 million votes in Georgia were cast before Election Day. That number is expected to be higher this year with more people, such as Rehmus, discovering the option.

Janine Eveler, elections director in Cobb County, noted that the early days of in-person advance voting tend to attract partisans. The more “sway-able” voters will hold off to see what else may transpire, she said.

For now, early voters remain a minority in Cobb County, and Eveler said she doesn’t see that changing anytime soon.

“I think the excitement of the day is always going to remain,” she said. “There are still going to be those who want to vote with neighbors at their polling place.”

“It has increased the pressure on campaigns to motivate their supporters to get out and vote,” said Michael Fitzgerald, who lives in Johns Creek and who is active with the state Republican Party.

That translates into a “longer period of pressure,” he said.

FoxNews does a drive-by analysis, suggesting that Johnny Isakson could lose in a January runoff, a possibility I’d rate as just slightly more likely than the Libertarian taking the whole enchilada in November. But they do make a good point about Georgia history.

The Peach State requires candidates secure 50.1 percent to avoid a runoff. GOP sources tell Fox they are sure Isakson will struggle to top 50 percent against Democratic challenger Jim Barksdale in November. An Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll out Friday shows Isakson scoring 47 percent and Barksdale clocking in at 32 percent. Libertarian Allen Buckley could be the spoiler, polling at 11 percent.

That helps propel the runoff scenario. Moreover, Hillary Clinton is making a push to flip Georgia this fall. Democrats are gaining traction, bolstered by changing demographics in the state.

Fox rates the seat as a solid Republican hold. But both sides could pour every possible nickel into a runoff if it determines which side controls the Senate.

Georgia’s been down this road before in presidential years. The late GOP Sen. Paul Coverdell unseated Democratic Sen. Wyche Fowler in a 1992 runoff. And Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss managed to hold his seat in a 2008 runoff against Democrat Jim Martin.

The Hill spoke to UGA professor Charles Bullock about the state’s demographics.

In Georgia, an exploding African-American population and shrinking share of white voters presents a challenge for Republicans.

“Demographics are moving in the right direction for Democrats,” said Charles Bullock, a professor of political science at the University of Georgia. “In terms of new worlds to conquer it’s close to the top of their list. By 2020, we’re probably talking about it as a traditional battleground state.”

“Democrats keep wishing and hoping they can flip Georgia and they love all the news about it being a close race but it’s just not going to happen,” said Alec Poitevint, the former chairman of the Georgia Republican Party. “Go ahead and check this column for Trump. Everything people are writing about is not going to happen.”

Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) said Democrats could win the state based on support from African Americans, but warned black voters won’t turn out for Clinton unless the campaign gives them a reason to.

Johnson, who is black, said the Clinton campaign risks appearing as if it is taking minority voters for granted in bypassing the state, ensuring it will stay under GOP control in 2016.

“It is extremely frustrating,” Johnson told The Hill. “I’m hearing a lot of frustration and angst. It’s not just from elected officials, it’s citizens on the ground wondering why we can’t get any love shown to us….We’re not being wooed for our votes. That’s a mistake.”

There’s a Senate race in Georgia, but it isn’t close. Incumbent Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) is running well ahead of Trump and walloping his rival, Jim Barksdale, by double-digits in every poll.

Hall County voters will be asked whether they support moving forward with a cost study for consolidating county and city governments.

Gainesville would be most impacted by a merger, and city officials roundly oppose the idea. They point to a study in the early 1990s that delivered mixed results on the cost savings and efficiencies a merger might generate.

Competition between Hall and Gainesville has ebbed and flowed in intensity over the years. But there’s a lot at stake to fight over.

“We compete with them on almost everything,” Gibbs said, such as tax revenue, businesses, federal and state grants for parks, and other economic opportunities.

 Cave Springs voters will elect two new members to their City Council.

As advance voting continues on a county-wide ballot, Cave Spring residents also have separate special elections to decide.

City Elections Supervisor Judy Dickinson said five people have cast ballots since early voting started last week for two open seats on the City Council.

“We use paper ballots and they vote here, at City Hall,” she noted.

Charles Jackson and Nancy Fricks are vying for the Post 4 seat vacated by Dennis Shoaf last November, when he successfully ran for the mayoral position.

Nellie McCain is unopposed for the Post 3 seat, which has been empty since Nick McLemore resigned in June. She’ll also finish out a partially completed four-year term through the end of 2017.

Macon’s bike-sharing program has nearly 200 users since opening last month.

“Everything is smooth sailing. We haven’t had any complaints,” said Valerie Bradley, director of communications for the Macon-Bibb County Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We are very pleased in looking at the usage and the feedback we’ve received.”

Since the program was unveiled in three downtown locations Sept. 15, a total of 185 people have tried it out, said Jon Terbush, spokesman for the bike share company Zagster.

“Ridership is already up about 40 percent in October relative to last month,” Terbush said in an email to The Telegraph. “We expect it to continue climbing as more people become familiar with the program.”

The bikes are free for the first hour of every ride, and it costs $3 for each additional hour, with a cap at $30 per day.

Venture capital funding in Georgia is down in the third quarter from the same period in 2015.

According to this week’s Atlanta Business Chronicle, venture dollars raised by Atlanta companies fell 20 percent in the third quarter from the same time last year.

According to the MoneyTree report, published by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP and the National Venture Capital Association and based on data from Thomson Reuters, Georgia companies drew $63.13 million in venture funding in the third quarter, compared with $78.32 million a year earlier.

“There is a significant differential between a third quarter of a presidential election year versus a non-presidential election year because of uncertainty caused by what’s going to happen with the new administration,” said John Nee, partner in PwC’s Atlanta technology practice.

Daniel Field Airport hangar doors will be named after the 2012 T-SPLOST election, which passed in three of 12 regions in the state.

Gov. Nathan Deal will be at Daniel Field Airport on Wednesday for the dedication of newly refurbished hangar doors – more than 20 tons of motorized glass and steel – a project made possible by the votes and sales tax payments of Augusta residents.

Rather than dedicate the doors to an individual, the General Aviation Commission voted to tribute Augusta-Richmond County citizens, who led the state in voting “yes” to the Transportation Investment Act, said Becky Shealy, airport vice president of business development.

“It’s acknowledging the fact that this project would not have been possible if the voters of Augusta-Richmond County had not voted yes to the TSPLOST. It’s the commission’s way of saying, ‘thank you,’ ” Shealy said. “In my 50 years of existence, I can’t remember any project being dedicated to the citizens.”

On July 31, 2012, 35,329, or 58 percent, of Augusta voters approved adding a new special purpose, local option sales tax to raise an estimated $728 million over 10 years for transportation projects across 13 east Georgia counties.

The votes led a 54 percent victory in Region 7 – one of just three among the 12 regions voting on the tax to approve it. Three counties in Region 7, including Columbia, voted against the tax.

Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health will team up with the School of Medicine at Johns Hopkins University and Colorado State University in a $30 million study to assess indoor air quality.

Piedmont Fayette Hospital was named 2016 Large Hospital of the Year by the Georgia Alliance of Community Hospitals.

St Mary’s Healthcare System in Athens, GA was named one of America’s 100 Best Hospitals for Stroke Care and Gastrointestinal Care by Healthgrades.

St. Mary’s was among the hospitals Healthgrades identified as being the 100 best-performing hospitals across all conditions or procedures evaluated within Stroke Care and Gastrointestinal Care. St. Mary’s is the only hospital in the region to receive Healthgrades America’s 100 Best Hospitals Award for Stroke Care. St. Mary’s is also the only hospital in Georgia to be named one of Healthgrades America’s 100 Best Hospitals for Gastrointestinal Care for three consecutive years (2015-2017). In addition, St. Mary’s is the only hospital in the region to receive Healthgrades’ 2017 Joint Replacement Excellence Award.


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