Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 21, 2018


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 21, 2018

Georgia Colonists signed the Treaty of Savannah with the Lower Creeks on May 21, 1733.

George Washington left Georgia on May 21, 1791, crossing a bridge over the Savannah River at Augusta.

American Charles Lindbergh landed at Paris on May 21, 1927 in The Spirit of St. Louis, completing both the first nonstop transatlantic flight and the first nonstop flight from New York to Paris.

On May 21, 1942, German authorities removed 4300 Polish Jews from Chelm to an extermination camp at Sobibor and killed them by poison gas. The Sobibor camp’s five gas chambers would kill 250,000 Jews during 1942 and 1943.

On May 21, 2011, Herman Cain announced his candidacy for President of the United States at Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park, and I photographed it.

During the next eighteen months, when someone talks about whomever is leading the latest polls, remember that six months after announcing his Presidential campaign, Herman Cain was leading the polls. Less than one month later, Cain was out of the race.

In Candler County, Georgia, the SAR and DAR placed markers at the graves of two patriots.

In a remote, wooded area of what is now Candler County, between the Excelsior community and the Canoochee River, two Revolutionary War veterans influential in the early government of the state of Georgia and of Bulloch County are buried among their kin.

Members or the Georgia Society of the Sons of the American Revolution, or SAR, and several Daughters of the American Revolution, or DAR, chapters gathered there May 12. After posting of the colors, laying of wreaths, volleys of musket and cannon and the bugling of Taps, organizational leaders unveiled an SAR Patriot marker at the grave of Charles McCall, 1732-1814, and a DAR Patriot marker for John Everett, 1754-1820.

Candler County Commission Chairman Glyn Thrift and Candler County Historical Society President Steve Waller also welcomed the families, and Georgia SAR Senior Vice President Scott Collins brought greetings from the society’s 33 chapters and, he said, nearly 2,000 members.

Representatives of at least nine DAR chapters presented the wreaths.  Jane Durden, regent of the Gov. David Emanuel-Adam Brinson DAR Chapter, organized a reception held afterward at Excelsior Baptist Church for the 100 or so people who attended.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal ordered flags on state buildings and properties to be flown at half-staff on Tuesday, May 22, 2018 in honor of the victims of the Santa Fe High School shooting in Texas.

The New York Times profiles the race between Democrats Stacey Abrams and Stacey Evans for Governor of Georgia.

Ms. Abrams, a former minority leader of the Georgia House, is also testing a risky campaign strategy: that a Democrat can win a statewide election in the Deep South without relying on the conservative-leaning white voters long considered essential.

“The approach of trying to create a coalition that is centered around converting Republicans has failed Democrats in the state of Georgia for the last 15 years,” Ms. Abrams said after mingling with diners in this North Georgia town.

Her rival in Tuesday’s Democratic primary, former State Representative Stacey Evans, has scorned Ms. Abrams’ strategy as unrealistic and “unhealthy for democracy.”

Democratic candidates nationwide are wrestling with whether they should try to reclaim some of President Trump’s supporters or try to maximize support from their racially diverse, liberal base. At a time in the country’s politics when issues of race and gender are central, with women at the forefront of an uprising against the president, Ms. Abrams’ candidacy looms even larger.

It’s an excellent piece worth reading in its entirety.

National Public Radio also takes on the question of Democratic campaign strategies.

“Political analysts keep looking at not only what the structure of Georgia is, but they’re also looking at the playbook that was used in Georgia, and that’s an old playbook,” said Abrams. “It’s an old playbook that never invested in any of these communities of color in Georgia.”

Abrams is convinced the only way a Democrat can win is by engaging with untapped minority voters, particularly those in rural communities, who’ve often been overlooked.

But her opponent Stacey Evans has a different strategy. She, too, says the party needs to dig deep into its base and reach out more to rural voters, but she’s also committed to converting disaffected moderate Republicans.

“I want to go into the suburbs of Georgia and talk to moderate voters about why progressive policies like restoring tuition-free technical college … will not just help individual families, but will help our economy,” she said during a debate on Georgia Public Broadcasting. “And I know that when we do that we will get votes.”

The Atlantic asks whether the Democratic party has a coherent message.

The race for the Democratic nomination will culminate on Tuesday, when Georgians head to the polls for the state primary. But in the meantime, it has been an illuminating vignette, exposing the larger questions facing the Democrats ahead of the midterms—distinct from the tensions between the Bernie and Hillary wings of the party, and different, even, from the question of who can more fairly identify as progressive. Should Democrats focus more on capturing white working-class voters who feel let down by Trump? Or should they mobilize black voters and rally the base?

A local Democratic strategist summed up the state of things this way: “The Democratic Party …” He took a long pause before letting out a dispirited sigh. “If you ask people what the Democratic Party stands for, they can’t tell you,” he said. “As soon as you get beyond anti-Trump, nobody seems to know.” The choice in Georgia is between two different playbooks: an ambitious-but-risky plan of action, versus a careful, more traditional one. More broadly, the Georgia race illustrates the challenges facing the Democrats not just in November, but also in 2020. This primary could help define the party and give it an identity it desperately needs.

But what if Democrats didn’t focus so much on reclaiming Trump voters? What if they dedicated their resources, instead, to reaching the millions who didn’t vote—and reaching them early? This is the question Stacey Abrams is asking.

The Associated Press writes about the Republican debate among the candidates for Governor.

Never mind cutting taxes, creating jobs and other pocketbook mainstays of past Republican campaigns. Amid fierce competition in the GOP primary race for Georgia governor, the five remaining candidates are battling it out over who loves guns the most, who would prove toughest on people in the country illegally and who would best support President Donald Trump.

The major candidates, a cadre of statewide officeholders, former lawmakers and businessmen, have similar policy goals on those issues but are locked in an increasingly noisy battle over each other’s records as they try to win over conservative voters.

Curt Yeomans of the Gwinnett Daily Post looks at what the primary elections could mean for Georgia’s future.

The result of this week’s primary election, as well as the general election in the fall, might be a barometer of sorts, telling more than just who will lead the state for the next four years, according to a Georgia State University professor who studies Georgia politics.

“What the governor’s race will tell us is the degree to which the demographics of the state are making a difference,” Associate Professor of Political Science Daniel P. Franklin said. “All of the conditions right now are favorable to the Democrats, well almost all of the conditions — the economy is good — but take away the economy, and you’ve got a relatively unpopular president in a midterm election.

“This will be a good indicator to state Republican leaders, and also to state Democratic leaders, of where they stand.”

“The Republican side is pretty standard fare in the sense that the Republican electorate in this state is very conservative,” Franklin said. “Anybody who hopes to get the Republican party’s nomination has to move fairly far to the right so it’s a fairly standard practice that Republican candidates for statewide try to outflank each other on the right, but then move back to the center for the general election.”

“The conventional wisdom is that the rougher the primary, the harder the time the candidate has in the general election,” Franklin said. “I suspect that the Democrats will have an easier time uniting than the Republicans will because (there won’t be a runoff) so they’ll have to spend less.”

The Statesboro Herald looks at the amount of turnover in Georgia’s top elected statewide offices.

The Macon Telegraph lists reasons for local voters to turnout tomorrow, including,

Transportation sales tax: A regional transportation sales tax, known as the T-SPLOST, will be on the ballot for voters in 11 Middle Georgia counties, including Houston, Macon-Bibb, Monroe, Jones, Crawford, Putnam, Twiggs, Peach, Baldwin, Wilkinson and Pulaski. Voters are being asked to vote yes or no on a 1-percent transportation sales tax projected to bring in $637 million over the next 10 years. The revenue would be used to fund various road projects across the region.

New faces, new challengers: Two state House races are wide open after veteran politicians Allen Peake and Bubber Epps decided not to run for their respective districts. There are seven candidates in the primary for Epps’ former District 144 seat while four Republicans are vying for the House District 141 seat that had been held by Peake for the past 12 years.

Early voting was up in Glynn County over the 2014 Primary elections, according to The Brunswick News.

More voters turned out for early voting in advance of the May 22 primary than 2014’s gubernatorial primary, according to Glynn County Board of Elections officials, with more than 3,500 voters casting their ballots as of 5 p.m. Friday.

Of the total, around 2,430 early voters cast Republican ballots, while roughly 1,070 cast Democratic ballots, according to Monica Couch, elections and registration supervisor.

This year’s turnout is also up from the 3,270 people who voted early in the May 2016 primary.


House Bill 217, signed by Gov. Deal, will increase the amount of tax credits available for some scholarship donations, according to The Brunswick News.

A new Georgia law will allow private schools like St. Simons Christians School to provide more scholarships to students.

House Bill 217, recently signed by Gov. Nathan Deal, has expanded a tax credit program for scholarships.

The law raised the cap on donations from $58 million to $100 million.

Through the program, taxpayers can pledge money — up to $1,000 for individuals, $2,500 for married couples and $10,000 for shareholders or owners of businesses — to designated private schools. The donors receive tax credits for the amount.

Savannah may consider using tolls to pay for maintenance on the Truman Parkway, which was built with SPLOST funds, according to the Savannah Morning News.

After construction began 20 years earlier, all five phases of the Truman Parkway were completed in 2013 using Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax funds approved by voters. Now city and county officials are contemplating new funding methods to cover the costs of maintaining the popular link between Savannah’s Southside and downtown.

City Manager Rob Hernandez has even suggested making the parkway a toll-funded roadway in recent correspondence to County Manager Lee Smith, although city spokesman Michelle Gavin said the idea was just “big picture brainstorming.”

Zeph Baker claims that his failure to file required campaign contribution disclosure reports is due to donors’ fears of retribution, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Columbus mayoral candidate Zeph Baker is the only contender out of six who has not filed a campaign disclosure report this year.

According to the Muscogee County Board of Elections and Registrations, he is now facing up to $1,375 in fines this year for missing deadlines to file either a disclosure of his contributions and expenditures, or an affidavit swearing his campaign does not intend to receive or spend at least $2,500 this year.

Baker said he won’t reveal his contributions because his supporters could be “bullied” were he to identify them in a public record.

“My disclosure is simple, and rather uneventful by most standards, but it does reveal the identity of my supporters, and while not a single one of my financial contributors asked me to remove them or conceal their identity, I felt a sense of responsibility to protect them from the senseless attacks as much as possible. The fine, which is assessed to candidates who fail to file timely, is not at all unusual.”

Gwinnett County Superior Court candidate Jason Park is leaving the District Attorney’s office, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

On Friday, Jason Park, one of five candidates vying for retiring Judge Tom Davis’ seat, confirmed to the Daily Post that his last day with the DA’s office would be June 8, though did not specify a reason for his departure.

But, earlier on Friday, Park’s opponent, John Burdges, called for Park to withdraw from the race, saying “allegations of abuse of power” had been made against his opponent. Burdges did not specify what the allegations were.

When asked about Park’s resignation, Gwinnett District Attorney Danny Porter confirmed that Park is still employed at the DA’s office — for now — but is on administrative leave for an “internal personnel matter” and will resign in three weeks. The county’s top prosecutor disputed Burdges’ allegations.

“I don’t know where the allegations of abuse of power are coming from,” Porter said. “I can definitively say that those allegations were not part of the (resignation) discussion, and while I can’t discuss details given it’s an ongoing matter, the statement ‘candidate for Gwinnett Superior Court judge Jason Park abruptly resigned last week … allegations of Park’s abuse of power are surfacing’ is not technically correct.”

Here’s the CBS 46 story that apparently kicked off the kerfuffle.

The Rome News-Tribune writes about the election for Floyd County Superior Court.

Early voting ended Friday with 2,574 ballots cast, according to Elections Supervisor Willie Green. All 25 precincts will be open Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Rome attorneys Emily Matson and Kay Ann Wetherington are vying for the seat being vacated by Superior Court Chief Judge Tami Colston. Matson, in private practice, specializes in family and civil law. Wetherington is an assistant district attorney in Colston’s courtroom.

Ninety-six Floyd County voters asked for the nonpartisan ballot, according to Green, compared to 718 opting to vote in the Democratic primary and 1,760 picking the Republican ballot. Georgia is an open primary state, which means voters may choose either ballot without registering with a party.

While the GOP maintains a clear advantage locally, there’s been a shift since the last midterm primary that included statewide races.

In the 2014 primary, 81.6 percent of eligible Floyd Countians voted on the Republican ballot and 18.4 percent voted in the Democratic elections. This year’s early voting period saw 68.4 percent pick up a Republican ballot and 27.9 percent choose Democratic.

The RN-T also profiles Floyd County Superior Court candidates Emily Matson and Kay Ann Wetherington.

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