Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 16, 2018

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 16, 2018

April is the national month set aside to recognize Autism Awareness, Sexual Assault Awareness, and National Pecan Month. We are in the middle of National Library Week. April 16th is National Healthcare Decisions Day.

George Washington, recently elected President, left his Mount Vernon home on April 16, 1789 for his inauguration in New York.

“I bade adieu to Mount Vernon, to private life, and to domestic felicity; and with a mind oppressed with more anxious and painful sensations than I have words to express.”

On April 16, 1865, Columbus, Georgia fell to Union forces. The Battle of Columbus is widely considered to be the last battle of the Civil War. Though it is not unanimously held to be, a 1935 Act of the Georgia General Assembly declared it the war’s last battle.
Hall of Famer Bob Feller of the Cleveland Indians threw his first no-hitter on April 16, 1940 against the Chicago White Sox in Comiskey Park.

Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote “Letter from the Birmingham Jail” on April 16, 1965. On April 16, 2006, a new, larger portrait of Dr. King was unveiled in the Georgia State Capitol.

President Lyndon Baines Johnson visited Augusta, Georgia on a campaign stop this week in 1964.

He came with Gov. Carl Sanders, an Augusta native, as well as U.S. Sen. Herman Talmadge, an influential state leader.

Johnson’s national election over Republican Barry Goldwater appeared certain, and a week later he would easily trounce the Arizona Republican.

Lyndon Johnson, however, would not carry Richmond County on Election Day 1964, and he probably got a hint of things to come during his speech before a crowd gathered in front of the Augusta-Richmond County Municipal Building.

He was heckled.

At least four times during a routine stump speech, calls from the crowd interrupted the former vice president who had taken office less than a year before with John Kennedy’s assassination.

“We want Barry!” people would shout.

Johnson didn’t carry The Peach State because he had become unpopular among whites in the Deep South for his civil rights initiatives, according to Merle Black, an Emory University professor who has spoken and written on Southern politics over the years.

Black recalled the Augusta incident in his 1992 book The Vital South: How Presidents Are Elected, which he wrote with Earl Black. He also described Johnson gaining the crowd’s support with the anecdote about his earlier abuse by hostile crowds.

“Earl Black and I wrote in The Vital South that, ‘There was no more booing from the young Goldwaterites after he finished his story,’” Merle Black wrote in an e-mail from Atlanta. “President Johnson’s leadership in passage of the civil rights bill was the main reason he lost Georgia that year.”

Twenty-nine years ago this month “Say Anything” was released, marking the directorial debut of Cameron Crowe, who wrote “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” and later directed “Singles.”

John Cusack, four years past playing a college freshman in The Sure Thing, plays graduating high school senior Lloyd Dobler. Ione Skye, three years after her debut in the very dark dramaRiver’s Edge, plays the brilliant and shy Diane Court. And John Mahoney, four years before he found sitcom immortality as Frasier Crane’s father Martin, plays Diane’s adoring and deeply flawed father, Jim. Writer and first-time director Cameron Crowe was best-known at the time for the screenplay for Fast Times at Ridgemont High — which is fondly remembered now as the launching pad for many respectable careers, but which Roger Ebert had called “a failure of taste, tone and nerve.”

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Two weeks into April, and Governor Deal has not signed any legislation yet this month.

Governor Nathan Deal meets today with officials from Piedmont Healthcare and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia, according to Becker’s Hospital Review.

Gov. Deal traveled to Bainbridge for the announcement of a new manufacturing plant for TaurusUSA, according to the Bainbridge Post-Searchlight.

“Taurus USA is one of the larger weapons manufactures in our country, and for them to decide to come here is a great compliment to our state and to your local community,” said Deal. “I want to say here on this occasion, welcome Taurus USA, welcome to South Georgia.”

[Taurus President and CEO David] Blenker said the Bainbridge-Decatur County Industrial Development Authority and other local leaders have welcomed the company with open arms and created a friendly business environment.

“The decision to move to Bainbridge, Georgia, is part of a long-term growth strategy,” said Blenker. “The ability to expand operations is critical for our U.S. business. This new facility will meet our demanding needs to increase production with the skilled workforce Georgia has to offer. We look forward to breaking ground in September 2018 to start the project.”

Voter registration for the Primary Elections closes on April 23d, one week from today, according to the Rome News-Tribune.

Floyd County residents have through April 23 — a week from today — to add their names to the roster of those eligible to vote in the May 22 primary and nonpartisan elections.

The Superior Court judge race between local attorneys Emily Matson and Kay Ann Wetherington will be decided, along with the party nominees for a host of statewide positions including governor.

Floyd County Elections Supervisor Willie Green said a national push to register appears to be making some inroads locally. The number is up by more than 1,300 from the 48,691 eligible to vote in the November 2017 general election.

Click here and sign in to the Secretary of State’s website to check your voter registration, and register if needed.

The Savannah Morning News Editorial Board wants some face time with the candidates for Lieutenant Governor.

With a little more than five weeks remaining before the Georgia primary election, state office candidates remain content to limit their engagement with Savannah voters to TV ads, social media, yard signs and underpublicized or invitation-only drive-bys.

The time has come to check our congeniality and demand meaningful face time with the candidates.

Token interest by those vying to be our future governor is maddening, but at least we know most of their backgrounds and could pick many of their faces out of a lineup. That’s not the case with the candidates for Georgia’s other top office, lieutenant governor.

The lieutenant governor candidates are missing opportunities with their apathy toward Georgia’s coast. They’re sure to divide votes in Atlanta, making support elsewhere in the state invaluable.

Current Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle was endorsed in his race for Governor by the NRA and the Georgia Realtors Political Action Committee.

“Cagle has an “A+” rating based on his more than two decades spent advancing self-defense rights and the interests of gun owners and sportsmen across Georgia,” said NRA chairman Chris Cox. “At a time when the five million members of the NRA are under attack like never before, Casey Cagle has very publicly chosen to stand with us.”

“Our endorsement reflects Cagle’s unwavering support to advance self-defense rights and the interests of gun owners and sportsmen across Georgia,” Cox said.

The Georgia Realtors represent more than 37,000 small business men and women across Georgia.

The association said Cagle’s “unwavering support for job creation, background in real estate and small business, and strong emphasis on the importance of home ownership and lower taxes were all factors in the Georgia Realtors decision to support his campaign.”

California billionaire and major Democratic donor Tom Steyer will appear in Atlanta this evening. From the AJC:

Could the left’s biggest campaign donor be eyeing a major investment in Georgia?

That’s a major question as California billionaire Tom Steyer visits Atlanta [today] for a town hall event aimed at building public support for impeaching President Trump. The former hedge fund manager spent upwards of $90 million supporting Democratic candidates in 2016, making him the party’s largest donor, and he’s already pledged to spend tens of millions more ahead of the November midterms.

Steyer hinted he would likely stay out of the primary battle, but he also wouldn’t rule out getting involved.

“We have tried to avoid D-on-D races,” he said. “We have broken that intention very, very, very rarely because we’re basically a grassroots organization trying to get as broad participation as possible.”

Both [Democratic candidates] Abrams and Evans said they plan to skip his town hall.

The Georgia Senate Ethics Committee dismissed a complaint against State Senator David Shafer, who is currently running for Lieutenant Governor. From the Gwinnett Daily Post:

Shafer’s office released a copy of a letter he received from the committee about its decision Friday. Senate Ethics Committee Chairman Dean Burke told Shafer there was a “lack of credible evidence” that the Duluth-based senator, who is running for lieutenant governor, sexually harassed the lobbyist who filed a complaint against him.

“The investigation failed to find credible evidence of sexual harassment or a violation of the Senate Rules,” Burke said in his letter to Shafer. “Thus, pursuant to the Senate Rules, the committee found that there was not reasonable cause to believe that a violation has occurred.”

Shafer and his attorney, Jennifer Little, said the complaint had been politically motivated, using the fact that it was filed with Senate officials during the week of qualifying for this year’s elections. They did not call out anyone in particular as being behind the complaint.

“Make no mistake, politics has hit yet another low today because this complaint was nothing more than a pure smear campaign,” Little said. “It is simply not a coincidence that these decades-old lies were perfectly timed on the heels of Sen. Shafer’s qualification to run for lieutenant governor.”

Shafer and his legal team turned over 68,000 phone calls, 700 pages related to his legislative voting history and emails going back seven years to investigators, according to Little. They also produced 15 witnesses who testified on his behalf, and Shafer sat down for two interviews with an investigator.

One reason why the committee ruled in Shafer’s favor after the investigation was finished was that “the evidence contradicted the essential elements of the complaint,” Burke wrote in his letter to Shafer.

WALB in Albany has results of an online survey on Georgia politics. Among the findings:

Do you approve or disapprove of the way Nathan Deal is handling his job as governor of Georgia?

Strongly Approve             15
Somewhat Approve         53
Somewhat Disapprove   21
Strongly Disapprove         7
No Answer                          4

Do you approve or disapprove of the way the Georgia State Legislature its handling its job?

Strongly Approve              7
Somewhat Approve         50
Somewhat Disapprove    27
Strongly Disapprove        11
No Answer                          5

Do you approve or disapprove of the way Johnny Isakson is handling his job as senator of Georgia?

Strongly Approve             14
Somewhat Approve         45
Somewhat Disapprove   22
Strongly Disapprove        13
No Answer                          7

Do you approve or disapprove of the way David Perdue is handling his job as senator of Georgia?

Strongly Approve             16
Somewhat Approve         44
Somewhat Disapprove    20
Strongly Disapprove        14
No Answer                          6

Congressman Austin Scott (R-Tifton) released a statement on the 2018 Farm Bill, according to the Albany Herald.

“For the last three years, members of the Agriculture Committee have been working around the clock to craft a farm bill that meets the unique needs of our agriculture sector and rural America,” Scott said. “Through the 114 hearings, six listening sessions, and testimony from hundreds of stakeholders, we today deliver a piece of legislation that gives our farmers, ranchers and producers the tools they need to provide food, not only for America, but also for the rest of the world. This legislation also strengthens our nation’s nutrition programs to assist those who struggle to put food on the table, while helping people gain the skills necessary to secure well-paying jobs and achieve the American Dream.

“The farm bill is a monumental piece of legislation, and I am proud to stand with my colleagues today in introducing this optimistic outlook for the farm economy, our rural communities, America’s producers and nutrition assistance recipients for the next several years.”

Through negotiations, Scott was able to help maintain the current commodity policy provisions for peanut producers, maintain the commodity policy for seed cotton, reauthorize the Rural Utility Service Loans and Broadband grants, and prioritize research and development of additional risk management policies for specialty crops like peaches and pecans.

Former Macon-Bibb County Industrial Authority Chairman Cliffard Whitby allegedly pocketed nearly $2 million from fraudulent billing, according to WMAZ TV.

Chatham County District Attorney Meg Heap (R) has created a new position to help victims of domestic violence, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Veteran prosecutor Jenny Parker is preparing to take over a newly funded position designed to assist domestic violence victims more immediately after the acts occur.

Parker, an assistant Chatham County district attorney who now specializes in child crime victims, will move to a domestic violence notification prosecution in the DA’s Early Intervention Program in Recorder’s Court.

“We hope to strengthen the cases, reduce recantations from victims and reduce witness intimidation,” said Chatham County District Attorney Meg Heap.

The new position will train police and first responders on such issue as “What evidence is needed?” And “What red flags should we be looking for?” Heap said.

Polk County Board of Education District One candidate Robert Furr is the target of an election complaint, according to The Polk County Standard Journal.

Elections Director Karen Garmon said that a hearing is being held to determine whether District 1 candidate Robert Furr violated policies by allegedly working as a substitute teacher following his qualification for election.

That hearing will be coming up Wednesday, April 18 at 2 p.m. at the Board of Elections office within the Polk County Administration office at 144 West Ave., Cedartown.

“An anonymous caller called in and questioned him working as a substitute teacher during the qualification period and after, and per the school’s governance, you can’t do that,” Garmon said.

Simply put, she said the rules were clear: “you can’t be employed by the Board of Education and run for office.”

The Bibb County School District said a threat against a local middle school was not credible, according to the Macon Telegraph.

The Glynn County Commission is considering construction of a solar farm on an existing SuperFund site, according to The Brunswick News.

Women’s Voices of Glynn County hosted liberal women running for office this past weekend, according to The Brunswick News.

Women’s Voices of Glynn County is a local group that aims to lift up the collective voice of women in the area. The group has worked with Glynn County’s Democratic Party to encourage more local women to run in this year’s election.

Local candidates at the forum Sunday included Glynn County Board of Education candidates Sharon Robinson, Markisha Butler and Regina Johnson, Joint Water and Sewer Commission candidate Audrey Gibbons and State House District 179 candidate Julie Jordan.

State election candidates included Congressional District 1 candidate Lisa Ring, Georgia Secretary of State candidate Dee Dawkins-Haigler and Georgia lieutenant governor candidate Triana Arnold James.

Columbus State University will host a forum for the Democratic candidates for Governor on April 24 at 7 PM.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams campaigned in Brunswick, according to The Brunswick News.

In regard to moves to lure an Amazon facility to Georgia and its 50,000 jobs, Abrams said she would like to put that sort of effort into the state’s small businesses.

“We could put money in 5,000 businesses to create 10 jobs and that’s 50,000 jobs,” Abrams said. “Those are Main Street jobs. Those are jobs that don’t disappear when the economy changes. Those are jobs that can’t be stolen away by another county or another city or another state.”

On health care, Abrams drew her largest applause line with the statement that her first act in office would be to expand Medicaid throughout the state.

Statesboro Mayor Jonathan McCollar urged Board of Education members to support a Tax Allocation District, according to the Statesboro Herald.

The Henry County Board of Education voted to adopt a tentative FY 2019 budget, according to the Henry Herald.

[Acting Assistant Superintendent for Financal Services Jeff] Allie said the district faced several challenges this year to balance the budget. Among them is an increase of $9.2 million to be paid into the Teacher Retirement System. In addition to facing a decrease in state funding and an increase in health insurance costs, the school district is receiving minimal state funding for transportation and no state funding for technology or safety and security.

However, despite the challenges, the tentative budget includes a 3 percent step increase for all eligible teachers. During the March study session, BOE members asked Superintendent Mary Elizabeth Davis to find a way to give all employees either an increase in salary or a one-time bonus.

At Monday’s meeting, Davis proposed a one-time bonus of $400 using the district’s reserves, meaning every employee even if they received a step increase, would get the bonus.

Piedmont Columbus Regional Hospital will open a new emergency department on its Northside Campus, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

In North Fulton, five political forums will feature local candidates for Mayor and City Council.

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