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

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

On July 7, 1742, General James Oglethorpe was victorious over the Spanish at the Battle of Bloody Marsh and the Battle of Gully Hole Creek; a week later Gov. Montiano would call off the invasion of Georgia from Florida, leaving Georgia to develop as a British colony.

On July 8, 1776, the bell now known as the Liberty Bell rang in the tower of the Pennsylvania State House, now called Independence Hall, to announce the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence.

Rung to call the Pennsylvania Assembly together and to summon people for special announcements and events, it was also rung on important occasions, such as King George III’s 1761 ascension to the British throne and, in 1765, to call the people together to discuss Parliament’s controversial Stamp Act. With the outbreak of the American Revolution in April 1775, the bell was rung to announce the battles of Lexington and Concord. Its most famous tolling, however, was on July 8, 1776, when it summoned Philadelphia citizens for the first reading of the Declaration of Independence.

The Liberty Bell inscription includes a reference to Leviticus 25:10, “Proclaim Liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.”

On July 9, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was read aloud to General George Washington’s troops at the parade grounds in Manhattan.

President Zachary Taylor died of cholera on July 9, 1850 and was succeeded in office by Millard Fillmore.

The first of General William Tecumseh Sherman’s troops, under Major General Schofield, crossed the Chattahoochee River between Powers Ferry and Johnson Ferry on July 8, 1864.

On July 9, 1864, Confederate troops retreated across the Chattahoochee River from Cobb County into Fulton County. Upriver, Sherman’s troops had already crossed and moved toward Atlanta.

Sliced bread was invented on July 7, 1928 at the Chillicothe Baking Company in Chillicothe, Missouri.

Former United States Senator from Texas Phil Gramm (R) was born on July 8, 1942 in Columbus, Georgia, where his father was stationed at Fort Benning.

On July 7, 1958, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the Alaska Statehood Act.

On July 8, 1975, President Gerald Ford announced his candidacy for President in the 1976 elections.

The first female cadets enrolled at West Point on July 7, 1976.

Sandra Day O’Connor was nominated to the United States Supreme Court by President Ronald Reagan on July 7, 1981.

Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay celebrated its 40th anniversary, according to WABE.

It’s home to the East Coast’s underwater nuclear defense system.

“What that means is that we put strategic weapons on board our submarines and they stand watch, they deploy out of Kings Bay,” said Scott Bassett, the base’s spokesman.

Kings Bay is also a big deal for Camden County. It’s the coastal’s county’s largest employer at 9,000 workers and sprawls more than 17,000 acres.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

President Trump‘s nominees to the 11th Circuit United States Court of Appeals may change the court, according to the AJC.

Trump’s imprint on the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals all but guarantees it will remain one of the nation’s more conservative courts for years to come. The 11th Circuit, which presides over Georgia, Alabama and Florida, often takes on some of the most hotly contested issues of the day: abortion, police brutality, gun control, immigration, the death penalty, gay rights, and discrimination and harassment in the workplace.

“But it’s often overlooked that 99-plus percent of all cases are decided by the lower courts,” said Carrie Severino, chief counsel and policy director of the conservative Judicial Crisis Network. “So it’s important that the president is nominating judges who are fair, who are interpreting the laws as they’re written and not substituting their own policy preferences. And, of course, judges who are faithful to the Constitution as it’s written. It’s been very encouraging.”

Trump has filled two vacancies on the 11th Circuit with former Georgia Court of Appeals Judge Elizabeth Branch and former Alabama solicitor general Kevin Newsom. Both are expected to cast reliably conservative votes on the court.

Trump’s third nominee, Georgia Supreme Court Justice Britt Grant, was expected to be a slam-dunk confirmation in the full Senate. But Arizona Republican Jeff Flake is holding up her confirmation in protest of the administration’s imposition of tariffs on U.S. allies. Both Grant and Newsom are on Trump’s short list for the U.S. Supreme Court.

ABC News writes that Georgia’s Republican Gubernatorial candidates are embracing President Trump.

Cagle and Kemp now frequently invoke the president’s name in their bid to rally conservative voters during a contentious runoff that will be decided July 24. The winner will face Democrat Stacey Abrams, who is seeking to become the first black woman to become governor of any U.S. state.

Cagle, in social media posts and in stump speeches around the state, regularly touts the recent federal tax cuts backed by the president and praises his focus on American workers.

A recent television ad from Cagle’s campaign opens on a picture of Trump with the words “Trump gets things done,” scrawled across the bottom of the screen. The ad then fades to a shot of Cagle, with the words “Conservative Casey Cagle – Just like President Trump,” written below.

Kemp, meanwhile, has run a campaign with obvious similarities to Trump’s, positioning himself as a “politically incorrect” outsider with a business background who wants to cut through the bureaucracy of government.

Brian Kemp and Casey Cagle met last week in a forum in Columbus, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

“The choice is clear,” Cagle said. “If you want an individual who is just like President Trump, and also like Gov. (Nathan) Deal and says what he means and gets things done, then I am your candidate. … Like my opponent who does not have a record he can run on in November and be successful is a major issue.”

Kemp said voters continue to see “all the nonsense” from Cagle.

“He has been falsely attacking me on all these issues, that quite honestly are false,” Kemp said. “He knows better than that and it’s wrong. Certainly, the state deserves better.”

Kemp kept pounding Cagle for his establishment ties and said that Georgians are ready for a politically incorrect governor.

“I think people are ready for a politically incorrect person to say and talk about the issues we have before us — track and deport, stop and dismantle gangs, public safety reform, building off what Gov. Deal has done with criminal justice reform to keep our families safe,” Kemp said. “Sometimes leaders need to be politically incorrect to talk about what federal prosecutors are saying that Georgia has become a home to the Mexican drug cartel and a distribution hub.”

“One thing that is for certain, every poll that has been issued shows that I am the right candidate to win in November,” Cagle said. “And it’s important that we nominate someone who is electable, but can get the job done and does what he says he will do. I can tell you that doing a bad job as an insider does not make you an outsider.”

Lt. Governor Casey Cagle spoke at the Gwinnett County Republican Party on Saturday, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

[Cagle] took aim at Democrats from outside of Georgia as he talked about the campaign for governor.

“There’s going to be more resources coming to this state than we’ve ever seen before and there’s going to liberals flooding into this state than we’ve ever seen before,” Cagle said. “We’ve got to have someone who is true to our value system, someone who has a record that can back it up and someone who is going to fight for every single person.”

Cagle touched on several of his proposals for taxes and career education. He highlighted college and career academies, saying workforce training was needed to generate economic prosperity, particularly in areas with high poverty rates.

“You can go to parts of our state and sadly enough some of it looks like a third world country,” Cagle said. “That’s not acceptable. Economic prosperity in this state means no one gets left behind.

Another other item Cagle outlined as he addressed local Republicans was a goal to reduce the state income tax to less than 5 percent.

Governor Nathan Deal spoke to the Georgia Association of Educational Leaders last week, according to the Brunswick Times.

Deal, who is wrapping up his final year as governor, said much has changed across the education landscape since his last visit to the conference four years ago.

He said he has worked throughout his tenure to increase state funding for education. Over the last eight years, Deal said his administration has been able to include about $3.6 billion in additional funding for education in the budgets.

Most recently, he signed the first state budget to fully fund the QBE formula since the formula’s adoption in 1985.

“We tried a couple of times to look at the QBE formula, to try to reform it. Every time that we undertook that effort we were confronted from the education community, ‘Well we don’t need reform of the formula we just need you to fully fund it,’” Deal said. “Well, we have fully funded it.”

Democrat Stacey Abrams raised $2.75 million dollars in the last quarter for her campaign for Governor, according to the AJC.

The former House minority leader will report raising roughly $2.75 million for her bid for governor between April 1 and June 30. The campaign has about $1.6 million in cash on hand – nearly double the amount she had three months ago. Overall, she’s raised about $6 million since entering the race.

The race for Georgia governor is set to smash fundraising records. All told, the candidates have either raised or loaned themselves at least $25 million.

Cobb County residents may see higher property taxes, according to the AJC.

Commission Chairman Mike Boyce has proposed an increase in the amount of taxes collected on property for the general fund. He calls his proposal a “sustainable” millage rate that will set Cobb, a growing county, in the right direction for 2019 and beyond.

The threat of cuts if the county doesn’t raise taxes has galvanized support for such a move, particularly among those who fear austerity measures could affect libraries, parks and community groups like the Master Gardener Volunteers, a program of the UGA Cobb Extension.

Critics also say the board hasn’t planned well. For example, construction of the new Sewell Mill Library and Culture Center was funded by SPLOST, but the commissioners didn’t budget for the cost of operations.

Debbie Fisher, one of the organizers of the event, said Boyce was manufacturing outrage over the parks and libraries in order to push his tax hike through instead of looking for efficiencies.

The Georgia State Ethics Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission expects to see a record number of campaign complaints, according to the AJC.

The commission also doesn’t adjudicate such cases right before elections for fear of weaponizing political complaints: allowing candidates to get headlines if their opponents are fined for ethics violations….Stefan Ritter, the executive secretary of the commission, recently told the panel: “There will be a number of cases in the 2019 calendar year. I think next year will be a big year for us in terms of cases.”

“We are going to look at every single candidate’s filings,” Ritter told the commission at its June meeting. “It’s not partisan, it’s across the board, and we are finding violations and problems.”

“I would rather have us be proactive on the front end, tell them what we think are the red flags and address those,” Ritter said. “Our goal is to get them filing correctly rather than dinging them on the back end. We do not want to have a media swarm with people filing complaints but rather get things right upfront.”

Glynn County saw strong voter turnout in early voting last week, according to the Brunswick Times.

Elections and Registration Supervisor Monica Couch said 617 people had voted as of 9:15 a.m. Friday, 22 having voted between 8 and 9 a.m. She said she expected around 700 to 800 votes to be cast by the end of the day.

Between 700 and 800 votes is especially noteworthy considering the early voting polls were closed for the Fourth of July, Couch said. If voters continue to come in at the same rate, Couch said runoff voting number could surpass the 2,233 votes cast in the May primaries.

Statesboro is asking for the creation of a juvenile court judgeship for the four-county judicial circuit it anchors, according to the Statesboro Herald.

The Statesboro-based, four-county circuit is the only one of the state’s 49 superior court circuits that does not have a juvenile court. Instead, the three judges of the Superior Courts also handle juvenile cases.

The governor cannot create a juvenile court in the circuit. That would be a decision for the Superior Court judges, or their chief judge, working with the county governments. But with Chief Judge William E. Woodrum Jr. retiring from the Superior Court bench July 31, the city’s letter asks Deal to appoint a new Superior Court judge favorable to creating a juvenile court judgeship.

“Of the 159 counties in the State of Georgia, only four – Bulloch, Jenkins, Screven and Effingham – do not have a designated Juvenile Court Judge to adjudicate their juvenile law caseload,” states a revised draft of the city’s letter.

“Instead, in this Ogeechee Judicial Circuit, the three Superior Court Justices sit in judgment of juveniles, in addition to their normal civil and criminal lawsuits,” the letter  continues. “We are asking that with the pending retirement of Judge Woodrum on July 31, 2018, that you use this discretionary appointment to right this wrong and ensure the children of this district receive the special attention their cases deserve.”

The Gwinnett County Commission is considering whether to put transit on the ballot, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

To hold a vote on joining MARTA this year, or not to hold hold a vote on joining MARTA this year? That is the question Gwinnett County commissioners will have to answer in the next few months.

Though the regional transit bill offers a referendum on joining the metro system as one option available to the county, it also offers the option of a Gwinnett-specific transportation special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST). That would fall under the Atlanta-region Transit Link Authority, known as The ATL, that will come into existence in January.

The regional transit bill, House Bill 930, changed how soon Gwinnett leaders have to make a decision, dropping a deadline from the MARTA Act that would have required a decision to made at the beginning of July and tying the decision instead to the same time frame used for calling special elections.

That could, in theory, mean the county can make a decision as late as the beginning of October, though commissioners would need to consider when the county’s elections office needs a decision in order to get the referendum on early and absentee ballots.

“There are some practical considerations, so I think a decision to call for a referendum probably needs to happen in August,” Gwinnett County Commission Chairwoman Charlotte Nash said.

Lee County met with local municipalities to discuss adding a Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax to the November ballot, according to the Albany Herald.

“As you all know, we still have a lot of dirt roads we’d like to pave, and we always have roads to resurface,” Lee County Commissioner Billy Mathis said. “This money would free up the other SPLOST funds to really make the roads in Lee County very nice.”

The T-SPLOST, a 1 percent tax across all of the county for the sole purpose of improving transportation, if approved by the county’s citizens, would bring in a projected $17 million to the three municipalities. Lee County would receive an estimated $15 million (87.74 percent) followed by the city of Leesburg with $1.7 million (10.23 percent) and the city of Smithville receiving $348,000 (2.03 percent). The funds would be returned to the people through road and highway repairs, pavings and resurfacings.

“This is too much money to not try to get,” Leesburg Mayor Jim Quinn said as representatives of the three governments came together to discuss the T-SPLOST. If all parties come to an agreement, the tax would be for 1 percent up.

Floyd Medical Center will appeal a decision by the Georgia Department of Community Health declining to issue a certificate of need, according to the Rome News-Tribune.

The Cave Spring City Council will seek federal funding to repair its sewer system, according to the Rome News-Tribune.

State Rep. Eddie Lumsden (R-Armuchee) will co-chair a Joint Study Commitee on Georgia’s northern border, according to the Rome News-Tribune.

“This is an ongoing issue that dates back to the 1800s,” The Armuchee Republican said Thursday. “The original boundary line survey was in error. There have been several efforts throughout history to resolve it, but nothing’s been done.”

Once the senate members are appointed, Lumsden said they’ll start scheduling meetings with experts and — hopefully — lawmakers in the two states to the north.

“Water is at the heart of this,” he said. “The boundary was supposed to be at the Tennessee River … That would provide some additional sources for North Georgia, and it’s probably at the forefront of why we want to do this now.”

Other House appointees are Republicans Jason Ridley of Chatsworth, Terry Rogers of Clarkesville and non-voting member Marc Morris of Cumming.

The Joint Georgia-North Carolina and Georgia-Tennessee Boundary Line Commission was created by SR 794, sponsored by Senate President Pro Tem Butch Miller of Gainesville and backed by Northeast Georgia senators from Dahlonega, Toccoa, Danielsville and Buford.

Former Democratic Congressman John Barrow campaigned for Secretary of State in Moultrie, according to the Moultrie Observer.

John Barrow, a former U.S. congressman who campaigned in Moultrie last week, hopes his reputation as a centrist who can work with elected officials in both his party and Republicans will help him become Georgia’s next secretary of state.

His voting record, for example, includes joining 38 other Democrats who voted against passage of the Affordable Care for America Act (also known as “Obamacare”).

“I feel like most people want it down the middle,” Barrow said. “When I ran for Congress, I tried to strike a balance.”

“Most people think of it as nonpartisan,” Barrow said. “This is the most nonpartisan statewide job in state government. I think it’s what this office represents. This is largely an administrative job.”

Blythe, Georgia is holding a runoff election after a city council seat tied in the May Primary, according to the Georgia Sun.

Blythe is a town of about 700 residents and out of those 700 residents, about 425 are registered voters. In the city council race between John Daniel Martin and Judy Cordova, 150 people voted and each candidate received 75 votes.

That vote occurred May 22 and will be resolved in a runoff election between the two candidates July 24.

DeKalb County Schools Chief Operating Officer Joshua Williams will leave to join the City of Atlanta, according to the AJC.

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