Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 4, 2017


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 4, 2017

Happy Star Wars Day! May the Fourth Be With You!

Georgia delegates convened in Augusta on May 4, 1789 to approve a new state Constitution and consider amendments.

One year and one day after General Sherman began the Atlanta campaign, on May 4, 1865, Atlanta surrendered. On the same day, the Army of the Potomac crossed the Rapidan River in Virginia and into the Wilderness.

One year after that, on May 4, 1865, the last meeting of the Confederate cabinet convened in the old Georgia State Bank Building, which was located at the site of the present-day Wilkes County Courthouse in Washington, Georgia.

On May 4, 1970, National Guard members shot into a crowd of protesting students, killing four and wounding nine others on the campus of Kent State University in Kent, Ohio.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal signed 34 bills yesterday. See the full list here.

This morning, Deal signed legislation on the opioid epidemic. From the press release:

Gov. Nathan Deal, joined by members of the General Assembly, today signed legislation to address issues of opioid abuse during a ceremony at the State Capitol. Deal signed SB 121, the Jeffrey Dallas Gay, Jr., Act, SB 88, the Narcotic Treatment Programs Enforcement Act, and HB 249.

“The three bills I signed into law today will enable us to more effectively fight the ongoing opioid epidemic that impacts individuals, families and communities across Georgia,” said Deal. “I would like to thank Attorney General Chris Carr and the legislators behind these bills for their hard work, compassion and service in the fight against this illness. I am confident that this legislation will help save lives and give hope to the victims ensnared by this epidemic as well as their loved ones.”

SB 121 exempts Naloxone, the emergency drug used to reverse opioid overdoses, from the dangerous drug list when it is used for drug overdose prevention and supplied by a dispenser for various types of rescue kits. This legislation also codifies the executive orders put in place by Deal in 2016. SB 88 requires the Department of Community Health to create minimum standards and quality of services for narcotic treatment programs seeking licensure in Georgia. Provisions of HB 249 include moving the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program from the Georgia Drugs and Narcotics Agency to the Department of Public Health.

You can watch the bill-signing here.

Fulton County has added extra early voting sites in the 6th Congressional District.

The county will have 16 days of early voting at six locations: the county’s North Fulton Service Center and the Ocee, Milton, East Roswell, Roswell and Alpharetta libraries. Early voting begins May 30 and will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Bob Ellis was also elected Vice Chair of the Fulton County Commission.

Cobb EMC added more solar to its power generation portfolio, via power purchase agreement with Green Power EMC.

Hall County and Gainesville school officials say rules changes by Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue will make it easier to comply.

Perdue, a former Georgia governor, signed the proclamation this week delaying an upcoming requirement to lower the amount of sodium in meals while continuing to allow waivers for regulations that all grains in school lunches must be 51 percent whole grain. It also allows school to serve 1 percent flavored milk instead of nonfat milk that was required under rules set during the Obama administration.

Cheryl Jones, Hall County School District nutrition director, called the decision “realistic.”

“We’re going to be able to have some flexibility,” she said. “We were very excited to hear his opinion on the milk — flavored milk — offering it at 1 percent instead of fat free. That was very unexpected.”

Penny Fowler, nutrition director in Gainesville City Schools, said she expects to meet the whole-grain requirements without a waiver, but officials are still working on the sodium level regulations.

“The Phase 2 sodium requirements, we were a little bit concerned with, so what (Perdue) is doing is going to allow us a little more time to get to the second limit,” she said.

First Lady Sandra Deal spoke at the dedication of a new “literacy garden” at the Hall County School District Office.

“You can develop your imagination because this is a place to love the outdoors and to have a great time learning and imagining and playing with your friends,” she told the students.

A crowd of school, city and county officials were joined by Master Gardeners and other residents to celebrate the dedication of the garden geared toward providing a place for younger children to play and have a chance to learn more about classic children’s stories. The garden is the seventh of the Gardens on Green. Among the many features are laminated children’s books for kids to read with family and friends, a Jack and Jill hill to play on, and a stage with a chair where Deal read the story about the caterpillar and spider who became friends.

Democrat John Ossoff managed to pick off some Republican votes in the first round of the 6th District Special Election, according to a GOP data firm.

The voter-file analysis of the special primary was conducted by Optimus Consulting, a Republican data-analytics firm that has been observing the Georgia race. The voter file allows Optimus and others to dig for details about who exactly turned out for the first round of the special election, and how they likely voted.

And the firm’s most conservative estimates say Ossoff captured at least 8 to 10 percent of the GOP’s votes in the primary, a critical slice given that Republicans comprised only a narrow majority of the electorate. While Ossoff’s campaign and motivated Democrats helped drive unusually high levels of voting in the primary, it’s clear that more than turnout propelled Ossoff’s campaign into his one-on-one runoff match-up with Republican Karen Handel in a longtime GOP district.

“Based on the final results of the jungle primary, most independents and a small but relatively sizable portion of Republicans voted for Jon Ossoff,” said Alex Alduncin, an analyst with Optimus.

Ossoff is working to draw more GOP votes into his column ahead of the Runoff Election.

Ossoff held a press conference at the state Capitol outlining his plan to cut $16 billion in federal spending. He campaigned with Jason Kander, a moderate Missouri Democrat who won statewide office in a red state. And House Democrats launched an ad campaign aimed at turning conservative voters in the district against Republican Karen Handel.

“I’ve been reaching out to voters across the political spectrum from the beginning of this campaign,” Ossoff said. “Voters in the 6th District are interested in leadership and representation that’s focused less on political party and more on getting things done. And cutting waste is simply not a partisan issue.”

Handel’s campaign dismisses the efforts to win over Republicans, who have long dominated the suburban Atlanta district. She has worked to consolidate the GOP base and was feted Tuesday at a fundraiser with U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan — days after she appeared with President Donald Trump at a stop in Atlanta.

Ossoff has tried to expand the electorate by targeting left-leaning voters who rarely cast ballots in the special election. But his campaign has also aimed for Republicans who are uneasy with Trump.

The New York Times has a long piece on the Sixth District elections.

Today, 24 percent of people in Johns Creek are of Asian heritage. Indian-Americans shop for saris at the Medlock Crossing strip mall and flock to the latest Bollywood hits at the multiplex. Chinese-Americans and food lovers of all stripes head to the Sichuan House, near the Target and Home Depot stores, for sliced pork ears in chili sauce and “tearfully spicy” mung bean noodles.

At the same time, Republicans here reject the idea that demography is political destiny. Instead, they envision a future in which the charms of suburban life, and the conservative politics that made it possible, will rub off on everyone. Instead of the newcomers changing the suburbs, they say, the suburbs will change the newcomers.

“You move to Cobb, you’ve got a good job and cheaper property taxes, and you say, ‘Hey, maybe this is a better way,’ ” said Michael Altman, 58, a former vice chairman of the Cobb County Republican Party.

It is the kind of political reckoning that many American suburbs may soon confront, if they haven’t already. A report last year by the Urban Land Institute noted that the percentage of foreign-born Americans was at its highest in 90 years, and that millennials were now starting families and looking for good public schools. It estimated that 79 percent of the nation’s household growth would occur in the suburbs in the next decade, much of it in “affordable sunshine states” where the weather is warm, taxes are low and homes are relatively cheap.

In Johns Creek, the Asian-American residents came not for rail lines but for the schools, just as whites had before them, said Anjali Enjeti, who moved to the city 10 years ago from Pennsylvania. Many also work in the numerous tech companies stuffed in the surrounding office parks.

Gwinnett County officials joined state Senator Renee Unterman and the GBI in a press conference about a recent anti-sex trafficking operation.

Gwinnett County is ready to band together to fight child sexual exploitation.

“I have never been anywhere that I talked about this problem that people don’t want to do something about it,” said Sen. Renee Unterman. “Because they see the scourge in our society that we have reached the level that we literally are taking advantage of these small children.”

Unterman hosted a press conference at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center Wednesday to showcase a recent success story from the county’s efforts to address that scourge — Operation Spring Cleaning. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation-led operation lasted about three days and resulted in the arrest of 23 suspected child predators from all over the metro Atlanta area and beyond.

More than 15 local agencies — including the Gwinnett County Police Department and the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office — worked to track and arrest each offender. The Gwinnett County District Attorney’s Office was along the whole way to help with legal questions. Then, the office worked to indict each suspected offender in just two days.

Deputy Chief Assistant District Attorney Tracie Cason said that two-day indictment period would not have been possible without the full professional cooperation of each agency involved. She also said she believes the quickness with which the operation moved is key to preventing further predators from preying on kids in the county.

“What we hope to do is by indicting them quickly, by bringing them to justice swiftly, we will send a strong message to the citizens of Gwinnett County that we simply will not tolerate you coming to our county, you preying on our children, you victimizing our children,” Cason said. “And you’re not going to get away with it.”

2018 Campaigns

Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle continued his statewide tour yesterday with a stop at Nonami Plantation in Albany.

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle brought his campaign for governor to Southwest Georgia on Wednesday, and it was only fitting that he gave his stump speech at Nonami Plantation with three grain silos and a John Deere tractor in the background.

Not surprisingly, Cagle spent much of his time talking about his plans for education, helping south Georgia farmers, bringing broadband internet access to the rural parts of the state, and economic prosperity for all Georgians.

“The School Turnaround legislation is really all about giving struggling schools the tools that they need to accurately assess the problems that exist in their school,” Cagle said. “The legislation will give them the help they need to turn around that school. We cannot tolerate failing schools. We have to lift every student and every school up so they can reach their highest potential.”

“We will have a chief Turnaround Officer in place who will hire assessment experts and also put a turnaround plan in place. All of those things are not interfering with local control but will allow local communities to be a part of the overall solution.”

One of Cagle’s biggest supporters, Sen. Greg Kirk, R-13, said he has no qualms about throwing his support behind the state’s lieutenant governor in his gubernatorial quest.

“As the leader of the Georgia Senate, Lt. Gov. Cagle has helped get my bills through the senate and into law,” Kirk said. “His help has been invaluable to me, and that is why I am supporting his bid for governor.”

Cagle also spoke to a Rotary club in Valdosta.

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle told Rotary Club members at a luncheon Wednesday the state’s schools must meet the needs of industry while lawmakers must address transportation, healthcare and broadband needs.

“Georgia is always best when we stretch just a little bit further than our reach,” Cagle said. “Today, commerce is no longer bound by brick and mortar. You can do business all across the world through the Internet. We need a strong sector to build out the fiber and broadband.”

An expansion of the Internet into more areas would allow students access for schoolwork and would help improve industry, as Georgia processes 70 percent of America’s credit cards, Cagle said.

“We have to align graduation with industry needs,” Cagle said. “All work is honest work — is good work. We have to get back to a society that celebrates all work. Everybody adds value. No one is more important than the other.”

State House Democratic Leader Stacey Abrams is profiled for her race to become the first African-American female Governor of Georgia.

Abrams is hoping to harness some of the anti-Trump backlash that boosted her fellow Democrat Jon Ossoff in the first round of a special election for the US House of Representatives last month, though in a recent interview with the Guardian, she framed her mission differently. A former bureaucrat, district attorney and businesswoman, Abrams is hoping her diverse political background will be a selling point.

“We need good politicians who actually respect government and understand how all the different pieces work to run,” she said. “And you need former bureaucrats because we understand what these laws look like in practice.”

There isn’t a sitting African American governor in the country. And in Georgia, no African American has won statewide office in since 2006.

But that doesn’t faze Abrams, who says demography is not destiny. “I am a bullish cheerleader in the reality that demography is a roadmap but not a treasure map,” she says.

Georgia Conservatives Fund, which is not affiliated with Casey Cagle’s gubernatorial campaign, has raised a ton of money, according to the AJC.

In the six months leading up to the 2017 legislative session, a fund created by Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle’s campaign staffers collected $2.2 million in high-dollar contributions, many coming from lobbyists, businesses and associations with a keen interest in the Georgia Senate he leads.

Georgia Conservatives Fund, long run by Cagle’s political consultant and started more than seven years ago by his then-re-election campaign manager, raised money intermittently in the past and donated to GOP Senate candidates.

Cagle announced plans to run for governor on Sunday, and his campaign said it is not affiliated with the fund.

Rick Thompson, a former state ethics commission director and expert on campaign finance laws, says that’s an important distinction.

“The question is, does the candidate control it or direct it?” Thompson said. “If the candidate is not specifically in charge of it, they can do whatever they want with the money in the state of Georgia.”
[Cagle campaign attorney Josh] Belinfante said Georgia Conservatives Fund “is not there to support one person over another.”

“The group is set up to support policy,” he said. “It is not connected to a campaign.”

Shawn Wright will run for Roswell City Council in November 2017.

Shawn Wright has announced his plans to run for one of the three Council seats up for re-election in November. Along with Mayor Jere Wood, the seats held by Jerry Orlans, Nancy Diamond and Lori Henry are up for re-election.

“It’s time for leaders to bridge the gap of our history with the future that lies before us,” Wright said. “Roswell has roots that run deep, steeped in charm and history. Honoring that history and bridging it with the future demands the willingness to push past the single issue divides resulting in gridlock to find creative and common sense solutions. As city councilman, I will seek input and collaborate with anyone and any group willing to come together and find common ground.”

Wright was one of four candidates who ran in the March 20 special election to fill the Post 4 seat vacated with the resignation of Kent Igleheart following his arrest on child sex charges. Wright did not advance to the runoff, which was subsequently won by Henry. Henry fills Igleheart’s unexpired term, which ends Dec. 31.

Wright has already garnered support from local residents. One community leader, Claire Bartlett, said she’s supporting Wright because she believes in the saying that past performance is the best predictor for future behavior.

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