Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 9, 2018


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 9, 2018

On March 10, 1734, a group of German immigrants reached the mouth of the Savannah River, from where they would proceed on to Savannah. Today, the Georgia Salzburgers Society works to preserve the Salzburger heritage and traditions in Georgia.

On March 11, 1779, Congress created the United States Army Corps of Engineers.

On March 11, 1861, the Confederate Congress, assembled in Montgomery, Alabama, adopted the Constitution of the Confederate States of America. Today the original signed manuscript of the Confederate Constitution is in the Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library at the University of Georgia Special Collections Libraries.

On March 9, 1862, CSS Virginia and USS Monitor, a Union ironclad, fought to a draw in the Chesapeake Bay.

On March 9, 1866, Governor Charles Jones Jenkins signed two pieces of legislation dealing with African-Americans, one recognized their marriages, the other legitimized children born to African-American couples prior to the act and required parents to maintain their children in the same way white were required.

On March 10, 1866, Governor Charles Jones Jenkins signed legislation allowing women to have bank accounts separate from their husbands as long as the balance was less than $2000; an earlier act set the limit at $1000.

On March 10, 1876, Alexander Graham Bell transmitted the first speech over his new invention, the telephone.

Thomas B. Murphy was born on March 10, 1924 in Bremen, Georgia and would first be elected to office in the 1950s, winning a seat on the Bremen Board of Education. In 1960, Murphy ran for the State House facing no opposition and was sworn in in 1961. In 1973, he became Speaker Murphy and would hold the post until Bill Heath, a Republican, beat him in the November 2002 General Election.

Murphy held the top House seat for longer than anyone in any American state legislature. He died on December 17, 2007.

On March 11, 1942, General Douglas MacArthur obeyed the President’s order dated February 20, 1942, and left the Philippines.

Bobby Fischer, the Eleventh World Champion of Chess, was born on March 9, 1943 and is considered by many the greatest player of all time.

Governor Ellis Arnall signed two important pieces of legislation on March 9, 1945. The first created the Georgia Ports Authority, with its first project being the expansion of the Port of Savannah. The second authorized the placement of a referendum to adopt a new state Constitution (in the form of a single Amendment to the Constitution of 1877) on the ballot in a Special Election to be held August 7, 1945.

On March 9, 1970, Governor Lester Maddox signed legislation setting the Georgia minimum wage at $1.25 per hour.

On March 11, 2005, Brian Nichols shot and killed Fulton County Superior Court Judge Rowland Barnes and court reporter Julie Brandau in the Fulton County Courthouse, leading to a lockdown of the state capitol and a number of nearby buildings. Nichols killed two more before taking a young woman hostage in Duluth; that woman, Ashley Smith, would talk Nichols into surrendering the next day. Nichols was eventually convicted for four murders and is serving consecutive life sentences.

R.E.M. was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on March 12, 2007.

Happy Birthday on Saturday to former Governor Roy Barnes, who served from 1999-2003, and lost to Republican Sonny Perdue in 2002, and to current Governor Nathan Deal in 2010.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal will sign the FY 2018 Amended Budget today at 9:30 AM at the Polk County Airport – Cornelius Moore Field in Cedartown.

Georgia’s legislative spouses raised $120,000 to endow a scholarship at Georgia College in honor of First Lady Sandra Deal.

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and House Speaker David Ralston also offered their appreciation and support to the state legislative spouses who raised more than $120,000 to establish the Sandra Dunagan Deal Scholarship, which will provide financial assistance to students from Georgia’s rural areas who pursue a degree in Early Childhood Education.

“Sandra has demonstrated a lifelong devotion to improving education for all children, and I am so proud of her passion,” said Deal. “As a mother, an educator and Georgia’s first lady, she has selflessly advocated for putting children on the path to success through the development of early language and literacy skills. This scholarship will continue her dedicated efforts by opening doors for students from rural communities to lead, teach and inspire tomorrow’s youngest learners. Sandra and I are humbled by the efforts of the legislative spouses, donors and especially the steering committee for their contributions in creating the Sandra Dunagan Deal Scholarship fund. This valuable resource will help lay the foundation for the next generation of early childhood educators at Sandra’s alma mater.”

Donations to the endowment will be invested and only earnings from the endowment will be expended to support the scholarship. The first scholarship will be awarded in fall 2018. The fund will be administered by Georgia College.

“Our state is blessed to have the leadership of First Lady Sandra Deal. She has inspired a generation of Georgians to harness the power of reading and education to achieve their dreams,” said Cagle. “This honor will continue to distinguish First Lady Deal’s dedication to education by developing Georgia’s next generation of exceptional educators.”

“Mrs. Deal has been and remains a lifelong champion for early childhood education,” said Ralston. “I can think of no more fitting tribute than to encourage and empower aspiring educators to follow in the footsteps of Georgia’s First Lady.”

Under the Gold Dome






1:00 PM SENATE FINANCE – Ad Valorem Sub 125 CAP

1:00 PM SENATE FINANCE – Tax Reform Sub 123 CAP


HB 135 – Employees’ Retirement System of Georgia; creditable service for certain law enforcement officers; expand (Substitute) (RET-7th) Hitchens-161st
HB 257 – Local government authorities; register with Department of Community Affairs; require (SLGO(G)-7th) Tankersley-160th
HB 432 – Tuition grants; certain institutions that lack accreditation be approved for tuition equalization purposes; provide (H ED-55th) Dubnik-29th
HB 777 – Historic Chattahoochee Compact; repeal (I COOP-15th) Greene-151st


Open Rule
HR 1017 – State and local educational agencies and schools; dyslexia has a profound educational impact that must be addressed; recognize (Ed-Corbett-174th)

Modified Structured Rule
HR 1162 – House Study Committee on the Establishment of a State Accreditation Process; create (Ed-Coleman-97th)

Ms. Merri M. Brantley is the subject of an obituary by Bill Banks at the AJC. For her friends, it is required reading.

Merri Brantley spent the better part of 30 years working the third floor of the Georgia Capitol.

Whether as a lobbyist or her six memorable years as Senate press director, she was stylishly impeccable, rigorously impartial (though personally conservative politically) and linguistically concise.

Most recently she was a “lobbyist” for Georgia Gwinnett College, where she had gone to work after leaving state government. College President Stanley Preczewski remembers Brantley escorting him inside the Gold Dome and saying, “Just follow me and don’t say a damn thing.”

Brantley was a personification of classic Southern manners and intellect. She was a voracious reader of fiction — even wrote a novel herself — and practiced consummate fashion. As her friend Amanda Seals recalled, “Her shoes matched her purse, which were coordinated with her earrings.”

Brantley went to work for Georgia Gwinnett College in 2008, and Preczewski credits her for securing much of the bond money for campus construction during years of high growth.

Today is the last day of qualifying for the 2018 elections and qualifying closes at Noon. Click here for the Secretary of State’s page of qualified candidates.

State Senator Josh McKoon (R-Columbus) qualified for Secretary of State yesterday. From WTVM:

Republican State Senator Josh McKoon formally qualifies for Georgia Secretary of State and celebrated his entry into the race at the Georgia State Capitol Thursday.

Supporters met at the south steps of the Capitol at noon. Mckoon was introduced to attendees by his wife.

He explained how his background and experience has prepared him for office.  McKoon assured guests that he is ready to walk in and perform the jobs of secretary of state.

The AJC Political Insider tracks what they call a “wave of women” running for elected office this year.

In 2016, after five days of qualifying, 90 candidates qualified in 56 state Senate races. Nineteen were women, and 13 of those were Democrats.

As of Wednesday afternoon, according to the secretary of state’s website, a total of 75 candidates had signed up for state Senate races. Of those 75, 27 are women – already a 40 percent increase over 2016. Of those 27 women, 22 are Democrats – a 70 percent increase over 2016.

Qualifying stretches to noon Friday, but at this rate, the number of GOP women running for the state Senate has dropped from six in 2016 to five this year.

Congressman Drew Ferguson (R-LaGrange) has a Democratic challenger for the November general election, according to the Newnan Times-Herald.

State Rep. John LaHood (R-Valdosta) faces opponents to retain the seat he won just last month in a Special Election. From the Valdosta Daily Times:

Coy Reaves has qualified to run for state representative of District 175. He joins incumbent John LaHood and Treva Gear, who have both already qualified.

In Lowndes County, three county commissioner seats are in contention, as well as three board of education seats.

So far, only incumbent county commissioners have filed to qualify. Commissioners Scott Orenstein, Mark Wisenbaker and Demarcus Marshall are all up for reelection. They have all qualified.

For District 1 of Lowndes County Board of Education, incumbent Michael Davis and Willie Harris have filed to qualify. For District 2, incumbent Eric Johnson has filed. For District 3, incumbent Brian Browning and Erin Price have filed.

The May 22 ballot will also include the transportation special purpose local option sales tax vote and a Hahira referendum to allow Sunday alcohol sales.

Two Hall County Republican legislators face Democratic opponents in the General Election, according to the Gainesville Times.

[State Reps.] Dunahoo of District 30 and Dubnik of District 29 have attracted Democratic challengers.

In District 30, Democrats Patrick Anderson and Alana Watkins have signed up to run in their primary. Anderson works as a CPA in Oakwood and Watkins listed her occupation a consultant. In the past she has taught language arts for the Hall County adult learning center.

The Gwinnett County Republican Party will host the GOP candidates for Governor Saturday night. From the Gwinnett Daily Post:

The Gwinnett County Republican Party will host the forum from 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday at the Norcross High School theater. All of the announced candidates were invited to participate weeks ago, with the caveat that they could only participate if they qualified to run this week.

“Don’t always believe what you hear in media, TV ads, radio ads, things of that nature,” Gwinnett GOP Chairman Mike Seigle said. “There are good people and bad people in politics. Sometimes what you need is to just look them in the eye and shake their hand to get a read on whether you like them or not.

The event is expected to be the biggest event in which the county Republican party has been involved in more than a decade, according to Seigle. More than 400 people registered for free tickets to the forum as of Thursday afternoon and local party officials expect that number to continue to rise.

“We expect a full house,” Seigle said. “This will be the largest Republican event since we hosted the state convention more than 10 years ago.”

Click here for your free tickets.

Education Brain Drain: much has been made of five Gwinnett County legislative seats being opened by retirements, but the larger issue in my mind is the combined years of service to the Gwinnett County Schools being lost due to retirements. In addition to State Rep. Brooks Coleman (R-Duluth), a career Gwinnet educator who leaves the State House after 26 years including serving as Chairman of the House Education Committee, the Gwinnett Board of Education is losing another veteran member to retirement. From the Gwinnett Daily Post:

The Gwinnett County Public Schools Board of Education will have a different look to it next year after District IV representative Robert McClure announced he would not run for re-election for a seventh consecutive term.

McClure is the second member of the board that announced he would not run for re-election this week, following District II representative Dan Seckinger’s announcement Monday. Both are the second-longest-serving board members, having spent the past 24 years representing their districts.

The final decision to not run for re-election is one that McClure said came right down to the end of the candidate qualifying period.

“Every aspect of Gwinnett County Public Schools is performing well,” McClure said. “I’m confident that whoever the voters elect in District IV will inherit a sound school system both financially and academically.”

Gwinnett County Democrats will contest at least two Commission seats this year, according to the AJC.

Officials confirmed that Democrats Ben Ku and Desmond Nembhard both submitted paperwork Monday in the race for Gwinnett Commission District 2, a diverse district that covers much of western Gwinnett, including the Norcross, Peachtree Corners and Lilburn areas.

Ku, Nembhard and any other qualifying Democrats would compete in a May primary. The winner would face Republican incumbent Lynette Howard in November’s election.

Officials confirmed Wednesday morning that Democrat Marlene Fosque had qualified to run for Gwinnett Commission District 4, the other county commission seat up for grabs this fall.

Incumbent Republican John Heard has qualified to run as well.

Muscogee County School Board member Frank Myers just couldn’t help himself and qualified for reelection despite having earlier announced his retirement. From the Ledger-Enquirer:

“I’ve had a change of heart,” he says in a video posted on his Facebook page. “I’ve had a lot of encouragement about people wanting me to run again for the District 8 seat.”

The Muscogee County Elections and Registration Office confirmed Myers qualified Thursday.

Republican candidates for Columbia County Commission Chair spoke yesterday at a forum sponsored by the Columbia County Republican Women.

Three candidates have qualified for Columbia County Commission District Four.

Five Candidates for Smyrna City Council Ward 6 qualified for a Special Election on May 22d.

The Georgia Environmental Protection Division lifted drought restrictions for twelve counties, according to the Gainesville Times.

The Georgia Environmental Protection Division is lifting its level 1 drought response in 12 North Georgia counties, the division announced on Thursday, March 8. The counties include Hall, Cobb, Coweta, Dekalb, Douglas, Forsyth, Fulton, Gwinnett, Habersham, Lumpkin, Paulding and White counties.

The only water use restrictions left in place that apply to the public require landscape watering to be done before 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m. daily.

Lake Lanier’s water level rose four feet in February after a days and days of heavy rain. The lake has dropped several inches since its March 1 peak of 1,070.8 feet above sea level but remained above 1,070 feet as of late Thursday.

Pooler City Council member Ashley Brown will serve as the city’s next Chief of Police, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The 51st Claxton Rattlesnake & Wildlife Festival will be held this weekend. The Statesboro Herald has some history of the event:

The annual festival began as the Rattlesnake Roundup in 1968, after a local boy was bitten by a rattler. The roundup was to help reduce the number of venomous rattlesnakes in the area as well as milk them for venom to make antivenin.

The Southeast Tourism Society voted the Rattlesnake and Wildlife Festival as one of the “Top 20 Events in the Southeast.” The annual festival brings more than 15,000 tourists and an economic boost to the community.

Don’t pucker up, says Savannah St. Patrick’s Day Parade officials, asking parade-goers to refrain from the tradition of kissing members of the Third Infantry Division as they parade past. From the Savannah Morning News:

Military and Savannah St. Patrick’s Day parade officials are asking parade-goers to put away their lipstick this year and refrain from the tradition of planting kisses on members of the 3rd Infantry Division as they march during the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade.

“This is mainly about professionalism for us,” said Fort Stewart spokesman Kevin Larson.

“We understand the parade traditions, but our soldiers are on duty and in uniform and, frankly, red lipstick is not part of our uniform.”

[Parade Committee Chair Brian] Counihan said having random spectators dash up to the moving parade raises safety and security concerns. Organizers also want to avoid any appearance of sexual misconduct at a time when the #MeToo movement has heightened awareness.

“People can take it the wrong way,” Counihan said.“Somebody could run up and grab an individual and it could be considered sexual harassment if it’s done improperly


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