Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 7, 2018


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 7, 2018

George Washington attended the first inaugural ball on May 7, 1789 on Broadway near Wall Street in New York.

Washington arrived at the ball in the company of other American statesmen and their wives. That evening he danced with many of New York’s society ladies. Vice President John Adams, members of Congress and visiting French and Spanish dignitaries, as well their wives and daughters, joined in the festivities. Eliza Hamilton, wife of Alexander Hamilton, recorded her impressions of the ball in her memoirs, noting that the president liked to dance the minuet, a dance she thought was suited to his dignity and gravity.

On May 7, 1864, General Ulysses S. Grant disengaged his Army of the Potomac from fighting against General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, ending the Battle of the Wilderness.

Although the Wilderness is usually described as a draw, it could be called a tactical Confederate victory, but a strategic victory for the Union army. Lee inflicted heavy numerical casualties (see estimates below) on Grant, but as a percentage of Grant’s forces they were smaller than the percentage of casualties suffered by Lee’s smaller army. And, unlike Grant, Lee had very little opportunity to replenish his losses. Understanding this disparity, part of Grant’s strategy was to grind down the Confederate army by waging a war of attrition. The only way that Lee could escape from the trap that Grant had set was to destroy the Army of the Potomac while he still had sufficient force to do so, but Grant was too skilled to allow that to happen. Thus, the Overland Campaign, initiated by the crossing of the Rappahannock, and opening with this battle, set in motion the eventual destruction of the Army of Northern Virginia.

Therefore, even though Grant withdrew at the end of the battle (which is usually the action of the defeated side), unlike his predecessors since 1861, Grant continued his campaign instead of retreating to the safety of Washington, D.C. The significance of Grant’s advance was noted by James M. McPherson:

[I]nstead of heading north, they turned south. A mental sunburst brightened their minds. It was not another “Chancellorsville … another skedaddle” after all. “Our spirits rose,” recalled one veteran who remembered this moment as a turning point in the war. Despite the terrors of the past three days and those to come, “we marched free. The men began to sing.” For the first time in a Virginia campaign the Army of the Potomac stayed on the offensive after its initial battle.

Georgia Public Broadcasting and the Atlanta History Center have produced a series called 37 Weeks, which chronicles serially Sherman’s March to the Sea through Georgia in 1864. This is week three of the series, with episodes clocking in at under two minutes. If you enjoy learning about Georgia’s history, it’s great watching.

May 7, 1864 saw some of the first fighting in the Atlanta campaign, northwest of Dalton, Georgia.

Keith Richards recorded the first version of the guitar riff that would become “Satisfaction” early in the morning of May 7, 1965 before passing out.

Jimmy Carter’s Presidential campaign received a boost on May 7, 1976 when he received the personal endorsement of the President of the United Auto Workers.

On May 7, 1996, Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell responded to the FBI Report that ranked Atlanta the most violent city in the nation. Campbell would succeed in replacing headlines about Atlanta’s violent crime by substituting headlines about official corruption.

Happy Birthday to Bill Kreutzman, one of the drummers for the Grateful Dead. On Kreutzman’s 31st birthday, the Dead played at Boston Garden. The next night was the legendary Cornell show.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal will sign Senate Bill 407, criminal justice reform related to bail, today at 1 PM in the North Wing of the Georgia State Capitol.

Deal faces a deadline tomorrow for signing or vetoing legislation, according to the Gainesville Times.

By law, Republican Gov. Nathan Deal has 40 days to veto a bill or sign it into law, a deadline that ends Tuesday. The governor can also decline to do either and let a bill automatically become law without his name attached.

The state budget, a transit expansion plan and a measure that bans drivers from holding a cellphone are major pieces of legislation Deal has already signed into law. But the governor has yet to weigh in on a number of controversial bills, including one that would carve a new city of Eagles Landing, in part from the existing city of Stockbridge, and another that would criminalize unauthorized computer access.

The term-limited Deal, who is likely considering his final round of legislation as governor, also has yet to make a determination on bills that expand access to medical marijuana oil, allow victims of domestic violence to break a housing lease and keep lottery winners anonymous.

That article is worth reading in its entirety.

Governor Deal‘s impact on the race to succeed him as Governor is discussed by Greg Bluestein of the AJC.

The most liked figure in Georgia politics right now is not Donald Trump, Mike Pence, David Perdue or Barack Obama. It’s Gov. Nathan Deal. And his popularity is shaping the crowded race to succeed him.

But as the two-term governor enters the final stretch of his political career, even the Democratic candidates are tying themselves to his policies. And Republicans who once bitterly clashed with Deal now talk of him in glowing terms.

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, the GOP front-runner in the May 22 primary, invokes his legacy so regularly he might as well bring a cardboard cutout of Deal to campaign stops. Secretary of State Brian Kemp has pledged to build on his economic policy and adapted Deal’s “No. 1 state in the nation for business” mantra.

The latest Atlanta Journal-Constitution/Channel 2 Action News polls suggest why they are taking the velvet glove approach. One showed roughly half of Democrats approve of the way he’s handled his job as governor. In a separate poll of Republicans, a whopping 85 percent gave him positive reviews.

“Republicans have incentive to attach themselves to him,” Emory University political scientist Andra Gillespie said. “And given the Republican advantage in the state, Democrats have to reach out to people who are happy with his performance because they don’t want to alienate that constituency.”

Early voting so far shows Republican Primary voters outpacing Democrats, according to the AJC.

Statewide, 41,657 people voted through Thursday for candidates running for governor, Congress, the state Legislature and several statewide offices, according to the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office.

During the first four days of early voting, 21,365 voters pulled Republican Party ballots compared to 19,389 Democratic Party voters. Another 903 voters cast non-partisan ballots.

Georgia has open primaries, which means voters can choose either party’s ballot without having to register with that party.

Turnout is down from 2016, when 70,810 people had voted at the same point in the early voting period. More voters usually participate in elections during presidential election years.

The Glynn County Board of Elections said first-week early voting turnout was weak, according to The Brunswick News.

Glynn County Board of Elections staff say early voting turnout for the primary election, which started Monday, is on its way to matching the turnout for the 2014 midterm primary elections, which was weak.

As of Thursday, Elections and Registration Supervisor Monica Couch said 590 people had voted in person.

So far, the board of elections has issued 250 Democratic ballots and 356 Republican ballots, Couch said. Nonpartisan ballots, which include races, straw polls and other items not exclusive to a political party, account for the remaining 84 ballots.

Out of 44,138 registered voters, 10,883 votes were cast in the 2014 midterm elections. Early voting accounted for 2,821 of them, Couch said. Lowndes and Camden counties, on the other hand, saw larger than usual turnout.

Augusta is seeing higher Democratic voter turnout than Republican so far, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

The blue wave has swamped Augusta in early voting at the main office of the Board of Elections, with 652 Democrats voting to 216 Republicans and 33 nonpartisans!

Democratic hopefuls are riding the tide in hopes the trend continues through the May 22 election. Of course, Republicans aren’t too upset because there aren’t too many left in Augusta anyway.

Early voting at Brigham Center, Warren Road and Diamond Lakes will open at 9 a.m. Saturday, May 12.

Gordon County reported lower voter turnout, according to the Cahoun Times.

According to Shea Hicks, Chairperson of the Gordon County Board of Elections and Voter Registration Office, voter turnout has been low during the first week of early voting, which began Monday.

“We have had 125 voters cast their ballot early as of Thursday morning,” said Hicks.

Hicks reminds the public that early voting will continue until May 18; Monday – Friday from 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m.

“We will have one day of Saturday voting on May 12 from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.,” said Hicks.

Bulloch County early voting turnout is reported by The Statesboro Herald.

The first five days of in-person early voting for the May 22 elections ended 5 p.m. Friday with just 411 ballots cast in Bulloch County, which has 38,639 active voters, reported Elections Supervisor Patricia Lanier Jones.

Meanwhile, 25 people have voted early in Statesboro’s District 5 special election for a City Council member.

“It has been slow this week,” Jones said.

Bulloch County’s referendum on a proposed new 1 percent sales tax for transportation projects, called T-SPLOST, is on the nonpartisan ballot, which is included with both the Democratic and the Republican ballots.

Coweta County voters will weigh in on some non-binding ballot questions, according to the Newnan Times-Herald.

The Coweta County Republican Party has placed two questions on the Republican ballot, and the Georgia Democratic Party has included four questions. The Democratic Party questions will be on every primary ballot in the state.

The questions are non-binding and are purely a way for the parties to gain public opinion on issues.

The Republican questions are as follows:

1. Should public school teachers be permitted to carry their personal handgun on school grounds if they hold a weapons license?

2. Should Georgia offer Amazon more than $5 billion dollars in incentives to locate its second headquarters in Georgia?

The Georgia Judicial Qualifications Commission threw a brushback pitch at a candidate for Georgia Court of Appeals. From the Daily Report:

Georgia’s judicial watchdog agency issued a directive Friday chiding state Court of Appeals candidates against making partisan comments or seeking endorsements that might conflict with a judge’s nonpartisan duties.

The Judicial Qualifications Commission said it issued the warning because it was made aware of recent statements involving a judicial candidate implying that another candidate “is so affiliated with a particular political party that voters should consider the candidate to be running as a candidate of that party or endorse that party.”

While the commission news release did not identify the race or candidate, JQC executive director Ben Easterlin confirmed it was in response to the race between Ken Shigley and Ken Hodges.

Easterlin described the commission statement as “cautionary.” He said it did not stem from any official complaint, and should be considered proactive on the agency’s part. Easterlin said the Daily Report’s story on Shigley’s release is what brought the matter to its attention.

“A judicial candidate that points to a partisan association is effectively accusing the other judicial candidate of bias,” Easterlin said.  “Likewise, a judicial candidate who clothes himself or herself in the tenets of partisanship is promoting an election based on a partisan agenda.”

State Senator David Shafer rolled out two new endorsements this week, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Shafer announced he was endorsed by former U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm, and Rayna Casey, who was the Georgia finance chairwoman for President Donald Trump’s campaign in 2016.

“David Shafer was the executive director of the Georgia Republican Party in 1992 when I chaired the National Republican Senatorial Committee and my dear friend Paul Coverdell was elected to the United States Senate,” Gramm said in a statement released by the Shafer campaign.

“David worked ceaselessly to build the Republican Party in Georgia, and as a leader in Georgia’s State Senate, he has fought courageously to protect our God-given liberties. I am proud to endorse him for lieutenant governor. I believe that David Shafer will make a great lieutenant governor for Georgia.”

The Statesboro Herald spoke to Shafer about his campaign for Lieutenant Governor.

“I’m running as a conservative reformer,” said state Sen. David Shafer, now in the late stages of a Republican primary campaign for lieutenant governor.

“You know, I authored the constitutional amendment that the voters approved in 2014 that put a cap on the state income tax,” Shafer said when asked about taxation. “We’re the only state in the union that constitutionally guarantees that the income tax will not be increased above the 2014 level.”

The 2014 amendment capped the state’s tax on the top bracket of income at 6 percent.

For rural Georgia, Shafer supports certain legislative efforts to bolster the health care system. Many rural hospitals are struggling, and some areas have a shortage of health care professionals.

“Businesses will not come to or expand in an area that doesn’t have ready access to both routine and emergency medical care,” he said. “That’s a challenge for some parts of rural Georgia, and we’re trying to rethink how we deliver health care.”

“Telemedicine can play a larger role, but telemedicine doesn’t work without a broadband connection to the internet, and you know, there are many areas of rural Georgia that don’t have reliable internet service,” Shafer said. “That’s another area we’ve got to address. Young people are not going to remain in an area that’s not connected to the rest of the world through the internet.”

James Salzer of the AJC looks at the Insurance Commissioner election.

Three Republicans and two Democrats are facing off in primaries to replace Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens, a Republican who once vowed to be an Obamacare obstructionist and told reporters that a state law he supported kept him from doing anything much about escalating auto insurance rates.

While Hudgens has endorsed a former top aide — Republican Jay Florence — to be his successor, most of the others are running away from the agency’s record, which includes financial problems and Georgia ranking either first or second for auto insurance rate increases the past few years.

“I have not been endorsed by the incumbent, and I am grateful for that,” said Tracy Jordan, a pharmacist, Realtor and former Hoschton city councilwoman running as a Republican. “I am proud to tell the people of this state I am not funded by large insurance companies.”

Jim Beck, a Republican and Carrollton native who has worked for Hudgens, as an insurance lobbyist and for the Georgia Underwriters Association, said receiving an endorsement from the incumbent “is like the captain of the Titanic recommending the first mate and saying, ‘He knows what it takes to run a good ship.’”

The Newnan Times-Herald reviews local races on the primary election ballot.

Coweta County Commissioner Tim Lassetter is being challenged by Eddie Wilson.

State Rep. David Stover, R-Palmetto is being challenged for his District 71 seat in the Georgia House of Representatives by Sam Anders. There is also a Democratic candidate, Tom Thomason.

State Rep. Josh Bonner, R-Peachtree City, is being challenged for his District 72 seat by Mary Kay Bacallao.

And U.S. Rep. Drew Ferguson is being challenged in the Republican Primary for his Ga. District 3 seat by Phillip Singleton. There are also two candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for Congress: Chuck Enderlin and Rusty

The article goes into some depth on those local races and is worth reading if you’re interested.

Marshall Wendell Talley, a candidate for the Macon Water Authority, was arrested for DUI last week, according to the Macon Telegraph.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources predicts we may see more-crowded waterways this summer, according to AccessWDUN.

Major Stephen Adams with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources said it could be a higher traffic boating season than normal for 2018 on Lake Lanier.

“We had a pretty rough winter, and now we’re having these 80 degree days. I was out on Lake Lanier yesterday, there’s already a good amount of boat traffic. What you would see in June is already on the lake now in May,” Adams said.

He said that the most important safety tip for boating in high traffic times is for drivers to be aware of all sides of the boat.

“As opposed to looking in the front of you in a car, where a car may come out from the right or the left or you’re in a lane of traffic, with a vessel you’ve got 360 degrees that you have to be aware of,” Adams said. “Because there are no, per se, lanes, especially on inland waterways like Lanier.”

Chatham Area Transit has approved a new strategic plan, according to the Savannah Morning News.

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