Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 10, 2017


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 10, 2017

Georgia and American History

On January 10, 1868, the Georgia Equal Rights Association was formed in Augusta.

On January 10, 1870, the Georgia General Assembly convened and seated African-American legislators who had been expelled in 1868.

Eugene Talmadge was sworn-in to his first term as Governor of Georgia on January 10, 1933.

Talmadge fired elected officials who resisted his authority. Others were thrown out of their offices. Literally.

After Julian Bond’s election to the Georgia House of Representatives in 1965, the chamber voted against seating him ostensibly because he had publicly state his opposition to the war in Vietnam. On January 10, 1967, after the United States Supreme Court held the legislature had denied Bond his right to free speech, he was seated as a member of the State House.

Governor Nathan Deal was sworn-in as the 82d Governor of Georgia on January 10, 2011 while snow shut down the planned public Inaugural.

Georgia Politics

Senator David Shafer was reelected yesterday as President Pro Tempore and David Ralston was reelected as Speaker of the House.

Today, the Georgia Chamber of Commerce hosts Eggs & Issues at the Georgia World Congress Center. This morning’s event includes U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, Governor Nathan Deal, Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle, and House Speaker David Ralston.

Governor Nathan Deal will deliver the State of the State address at 11 AM on Wednesday in the Georgia House Chamber. At 1:30 PM, Deal Chief of Staff Chris Riley and Budget Director Teresa MacCartney will deliver a media briefing on the Governor’s proposed state budget.

State House leaders passed an adjournment resolution setting the schedule of legislative days through February 2d.


Tuesday, January 10……….Legislative Day 2
Wednesday, January 11…..Legislative Day 3
Thursday, January 12……..Legislative Day 4

Monday, January 23……….Legislative Day 5
Tuesday, January 24……….Legislative Day 6
Wednesday, January 25…..Legislative Day 7
Thursday, January 26……..Legislative Day 8

Monday, January 30……….Legislative Day 5
Tuesday, January 31……….Legislative Day 2
Wednesday, February 1…..Legislative Day 3
Thursday, February 2……..Legislative Day 4

Committee Meetings


Senate Committee Leadership Announcements

Sen. Brandon Beach (R – Alpharetta) will serve as chair of the Senate Transportation Committee.
Sen. Ellis Black (R – Valdosta) will serve as chair of the Senate Retirement Committee.
Sen. Mike Dugan (R – Carrollton) will serve as chair of the Senate Economic Development Committee.
Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R – Rome) will serve as chair of the Senate Finance Committee and as vice chair of the Senate Retirement Committee.
Sen. Burt Jones (R – Jackson) will serve as chair of the Senate Insurance and Labor Committee.
Sen. William Ligon (R – Brunswick) will serve as chair of the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee and as vice chair of the Senate Ethics and Reapportionment and Redistricting Committees.
Sen. Jesse Stone (R – Waynesboro) will serve as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Sen. Ben Watson (R – Savannah) will serve as chair of the Senate Reapportionment and Redistricting Committee.
Sen. Lee Anderson (R – Grovetown) will serve as vice chair of the Senate Agriculture and Science and Technology Committees.
Sen. Matt Brass (R – Newnan) will serve as vice chair of the Senate Economic Development Committee.
Sen. Dean Burke (R – Bainbridge) will serve as vice chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.
Sen. John Kennedy (R – Macon) will serve as vice chair of the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee.
Sen. P.K. Martin (R – Lawrenceville) will serve as vice chair of the Senate State and Local Governmental Operations and Higher Education Committees.
Sen. Blake Tillery (R – Vidalia) will serve as vice chair of the Senate State Institutions and Properties Committee.

The Georgia State House now counts among its members the first Latina state legislator and the first openly gay male legislator.

State Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon) would prefer to decouple local Macon-Bibb elections from primary elections.

“This past election cycle, I didn’t even get to vote for myself in the Republican primary,” state Rep. Allen Peake said. That’s because a couple of key county races were going to get decided in the Democratic primary, and he wanted to vote in them instead of his own shoo-in primary.

“If I wanted to have a say-so in who was going to be the next … sheriff and tax commissioner, … then I needed to vote in the Democratic primary. And that’s crazy,” Peake said.

So he’s filing a bill in the state Legislature that could give each county’s group of lawmakers the right to erase the “D” or “R” behind the names of candidates for tax commissioner, sheriff, district attorney, coroner, and Superior Court clerk.

For a Republican would-be coroner or tax commissioner, Macon-Bibb County looks like a tough place to win office. As a whole, the county tends to vote blue, according to the last couple of years of election results.

Conversely, in red-voting Houston County, it can be hard for Democrats. The races that Peake’s bill addresses were all Republican walkovers last year.

So Peake sees a problem: voters who don’t get a say in a particular local race because the party they prefer doesn’t run a candidate.

But state Sen. David Lucas is against the idea of taking away party labels in a place that’s solidly blue.

“So now Mr. Peake wants to do what he’s always done and that is to try and destroy the Democratic Party,” Lucas said.

On Josh McKoon

State Senator Josh McKoon has lost his committee chairmanship in the Senate.

Following through with a plan put in place less than two weeks ago, the Georgia Senate Republican leadership stripped controversial Columbus state Sen. Josh McKoon of his leadership position, McKoon confirmed late Monday.

It was done as part of a new rules package put in place on the first day of the 2017 session.

McKoon, starting his seventh year in the Senate representing District 29, had been chairman of the Judiciary Committee for four years. In late December, the Republican caucus met in Atlanta to set the rules for the 2017 General Assembly session. The group then decided to eliminate one of the three judiciary committees.

Rep. Richard Smith, R-Columbus, said there were two high-level meetings in which he was told that McKoon’s behavior was an issue and it was going to cost the Columbus region state funding. McKoon has contended that the CSU funding was not necessary for 2016 and will likely be in the 2017 budget.

The Senate also made a change that impacts the timing of bills making their way through the process in the closing days of the 40-day session. Called “Crossover Day,” the deadline for bills starting in the House to reach the Senate and starting in the Senate and reaching the House was changed to the 28th day of the session. In year’s past it was Day 30.

There’s been plenty of crowing about it by his enemies.

Those who think this rebuke, if that’s what it is, will silence McKoon are probably mistaken. After all, “The most dangerous creation of any society is the man who has nothing to lose.” I’d be surprised if McKoon loses any popularity on the GOP Speaker’s circuit or among his district’s Republican primary voters.

But beyond that, we may have lost sight of a relatively recent bit of political history. Think with me all the way back to 2008, when a well-respected Chairman of the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee challenged the reigning Speaker of the House. The upstart lost that race, and as a result, also lost his committee chairmanship, being demoted to Vice Chair of House Judiciary.

Less than two years later, the House member who lost his Chairmanship took the gavel and State Rep. David Ralston was elected Speaker of the House, where he still commands the rostrum.

I’m not comparing Sen. McKoon to Speaker Ralston, but the Senator’s current position isn’t entirely unlike the situation that the Speaker faced back in 2008.

Campaigns and Elections

Republican Chuck Payne and Democrat Debby Peppers face off in a Special Runoff Election for State Senate today.

The special election is being held because Gov. Nathan Deal appointed Charlie Bethel, a Republican from Dalton who had just been re-elected to the Senate in November, to the Georgia Court of Appeals. Bethel began those duties earlier this month. The district includes all of Whitfield and Murray counties and parts of Gordon and Pickens counties.

Payne, a former chairman of the Whitfield County Republican Party, received the most votes in the five-way special election on Dec. 13 with 1,792 (36.1 percent). Peppers, a former member of the Whitfield County Board of Commissioners, received the second most votes with 1,361 (27.42 percent). Since no one received a majority of the vote, state law required that the two candidates who received the most votes meet in a runoff to decide the winner.

During the campaign, Payne has focused on his conservative credentials while Peppers has said she will be an independent voice in the Legislature if elected. The special election is nonpartisan, but the candidates could list a party preference. Payne listed his party affiliation as Republican on the ballot. Peppers did not list an affiliation but has said she will caucus with the Democratic Party if elected.

State Rep. Chuck Martin has dropped out of the Sixth Congressional District special election to be held later this year, according to Kyle Wingfield of the AJC.

“When you really look at it, to run and win, you have to leave the community you love to do the job,” Martin said. “I felt like I would lose touch with my family and community. That’s just not me.”

The former Alpharetta mayor said he knew the race would be extremely competitive. “I had good feedback” about possibly getting in the race, he said. “I think we would have had support.”

At the end, he said, the prospect of starting over from the standpoint of building relationships and political capital was too much.

“I was never going to be in Washington 10 or 12 years from now,” he said. That wouldn’t have been my plan. It has re-energized me for what we’re doing down here (in the state legislature), though.”

Roy Daniels, a physician from Cobb County, joins the candidate field for Senate District 32, which Judson Hill will vacate in his run for Congress. Click here to visit his website.

Daniels joins the previously announced Dr. Kay Kirkpatrick and lawyer Gus Makris.



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