Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 19, 2018


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 19, 2018

Griffin, Georgia native John Henry “Doc” Holliday killed Mike Gordon after Gordon shot up Holliday’s saloon in Las Vegas, New Mexico.

The 1996 Summer Olympics Opening Ceremony was held on July 19, 1996 and competition started the next day.

The Georgia State Quarter was released on July 19, 1999.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Trump Tweet Kemp

President Donald Trump yesterday tweeted his endorsement of Brian Kemp for Governor of Georgia.

From the New York Times:

Mr. Trump’s support could well decide a close nomination fight between Mr. Kemp and Casey Cagle, Georgia’s Republican lieutenant governor. The two men are competing in a July 24 runoff election after neither managed to win a majority in the first round of voting in May.

The eventual Republican nominee will compete in the general election in November against Stacey Abrams, a former Democratic leader in the Georgia House of Representatives who is vying to become the first black woman to serve as governor of a state.

From the AJC:

Cagle said in a tweet that he had “no hard feelings” about Trump’s endorsement and that he looked forward to receiving his endorsement in November “as I did for you.” He added that he wished Kemp “could say he did the same.”

Kemp, meanwhile, will look to leverage Trump’s support with a bus tour that launches later this week. At stops across the state, his campaign will aim to drive home the message that he’s the White House’s pick for Georgia’s top job.

“It’s huge for us, to have his endorsement,” Kemp said in an interview. “I appreciate the president standing with me – and I’ll be standing with him in 2020.”

Kemp said he was unclear what role Trump will play in his campaign but did not rule out a rally in the final days of the race to mobilize Republicans, who gave Trump an 80 percent approval rating in an AJC poll released in April. The White House said it has no plans for Trump to travel to Georgia to campaign anytime in the near future.

[Stacey] Abrams, meanwhile, sent out a fundraising email highlighting that Trump is “fully and totally” in the race now. Her allies predicted the president’s endorsement would help energize Democrats.

From the Augusta Chronicle:

Advance voting in Columbia County was the state’s fourth-highest, behind Fulton, Cobb and Gwinnett for the Republican primary runoff, thanks to a heated runoff for county commission chairperson. As of Tuesday some 4,656 had voted early, nearly all of them Republican voters.

Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich added his endorsement for Brian Kemp, also via Twitter:

Newt Gingrich Endorse Kemp

Governor Nathan Deal announced five appointments to vacant judicial seats.

The Honorable Victoria Darrisaw will fill the vacancy in the Dougherty Judicial Circuit created by the appointment of the Honorable Stephen S. Goss to the Court of Appeals of Georgia. The Honorable Joy R. Parks will fill the vacancy in the Enotah Judicial Circuit created by the resignation of the Honorable Murphy C. Miller. The Honorable Lauren A. Watson will fill the vacancy in the Northern Judicial Circuit created by the resignation of the Honorable Thomas L. Hodges, III. The Honorable Terry N. Massey will fill the vacancy in the Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit created by the appointment of the Honorable E. Trenton Brown, III to the Court of Appeals of Georgia. The Honorable Lovett Bennett, Jr. will fill the vacancy in the Ogeechee Judicial Circuit created by the resignation of the Honorable William E. Woodrum, Jr.

Governor Deal endorsed David Shafer in the Republican Primary Runoff Election for Lieutenant Governor, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Deal pegged Shafer as the candidate that he feels can carry on that legacy in the future.

“It’s of critical importance that we build upon our successes, achievements and reforms,” Deal said. “The only way to ensure that occurs is by electing leaders who understand what it will take to build upon those efforts. David Shafer is a strong and principled conservative.

“He has been a key legislative ally in my efforts to cut taxes and keep Georgia the No.1 place to do business, and I believe he will continue moving Georgia forward. For these reasons, I’m endorsing and voting for David Shafer for Lieutenant Governor.”

Two candidates qualified for a special election to the Flowery Branch City Council, according to the Gainesville Times.

Leslie Jarchow, a Sterling on the Lake resident, qualified Wednesday, July 18, the last day of qualifying.

She will face Gainesville Street resident Christine Worl, who qualified Tuesday, July 17.

The Nov. 6 special election will coincide with the county’s general election, so voters will be able to go to their county-designated polling place to cast their ballots, officials have said.

Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle will speak today at the dedication of the John K. Wilkinson Dining Hall at the FFA-FCCLA Camp, according to the Covington News.

United States Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas will travel to Covington this fall to dedicate an addition to the Newton County Judicial Center, according to the Covington News.

The Newton County Commission has advertised a property tax millage rate higher than the roll-back, according to the Covington News.

The Newton County Board of Commissioners announced Monday its intention to increase the 2018 property taxes it will levy this year by 12.43 percent above the rollback millage rate.

Each year, the board of tax assessors is required to review the assessed value for property tax purposes of taxable property tax within the county. When the trend of prices on properties that have recently sold in the county indicate there has been an increase in the fair market value of any specific property, the board of tax assessors is required by law to re-determine the value of such property and increase the assessment. This is called a reassessment.

When the total digest of taxable property is prepared, Georgia law requires that a rollback millage rate must be computed that will produce the same total revenue on the current year’s digest that last year’s millage rate would have produced had no reassessments occurred.

The White Dam over the Middle Oconee River will be removed, according to the Athens Banner-Herald.

It’s the first such dam in the state to be dismantled under a Corps of Engineers nationwide permit that allows for dam removals to improve aquatic habitat, [UGA Professor Jay Shelton] explained. That means in part that small fish will be able to move upstream for an additional 11 miles beyond where they’ve been blocked. It also means that kayakers and canoeists can now move past the dam without a difficult portage.

The actual work is being carried out by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Aquatic Habitat Restoration Team, which specializes in removing small dams and replacing culverts to improve life for creatures in rivers. It’s the only team of its kind in the country, Greene said.

11Alive looks at why Georgia skipped the sales tax holiday this year.

A study by Georgia State University says the state lost between $36 and $50-million each year shoppers enjoyed the brief tax-free period that typically lasted two days.

The Georgia Budget and Policy Institute adds that, despite a break from the sales tax, shoppers don’t really save. The institute reports that there is evidence retailers raise prices during the tax-free holiday.

That same report says businesses don’t really see much benefit since most shoppers just shift the timing of when they buy rather than buying more.

Two candidates are vying in a runoff election for an at-large seat on the Columbus City Council, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Political newcomer and Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce executive Amy Bryan and retired Army Col. John House have been trying to get those who voted for them in the May election back to the polls.

This race could easily come down to turnout, and both candidates are working to get people who have supported them to the polls.

“We have been making phone calls daily; we have been texting people daily; we have almost been hounding people to encourage them to get out and vote,” Bryan said. “We are doing this with people we know are supporting us.”

Bryan, 32, is pushing people to cast ballots in the early voting period, which ends Friday. Early voting is being held at the City Services Center on Macon Road between 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The early voting, which started July 2, has been light in Muscogee County, with an average of about 112 voters per day.

“We are trying to encourage our people to go early, knock it out and they won’t have to go on Tuesday,” Bryan said.

Bryan was the frontrunner in the May election, collecting nearly 41 percent of the nearly 22,000 ballots cast in the citywide race. House was not far behind, collecting 34.7 percent of the vote. Bryan had a nearly 1,600 vote advantage.

Chatham County Health Department is seeing more postive tests for West Nile virus in local mosquitoes, according to the Savannah Morning News.

“We’ve pretty much got some positive pools from one end of the county to the other at this point,” said Chatham County Mosquito Control Director Jeff Heusel.

No human cases of West Nile have been confirmed this year in Georgia, though six other states have reported a total of 14 cases as of July 10. About 80 percent of people who get the virus are unaware they have it because they don’t develop symptoms. The remaining 20 percent of those infected will develop a fever with other symptoms such as headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash.

Officials are reluctant to pinpoint exactly where the Chatham mosquitoes tested positive, for fear that residents elsewhere will be overly complacent.

“If we put out one location, others may not think the precautions apply to them,” said Sally Silbermann, spokeswoman for the Coastal Health District. “But once it’s in the mosquitoes, it’s going to be in the mosquitoes.”

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Craig Schwall upheld a decision by Secretary of State Brian Kemp in keeping Democrat Maria Palacios off the November ballot, according to AccessWDUN.

Maria Palacios had filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s decision before the primary election in May to remove her from the ballot.

Palacios was the only Democrat running in the primary for the Gainesville-area seat. Born in Mexico, she has lived in Georgia since 2009 and became a U.S. citizen in 2017, her lawsuit says.

Kemp said Palacios didn’t meet a requirement in the Georgia Constitution that candidates be “citizens of this state for two years.”

“We applaud Judge Schwall’s ruling in this case, and we thank Attorney General Chris Carr for his office’s effective defense of the Georgia Constitution and state law,” secretary of state spokeswoman Candice Broce said in an email.

Columbia County Commissioners intend to adopt a lower property tax millage rate, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

“The commission has not yet decided what the rollback will be, but we can say beyond the shadow of a doubt the millage rate or the tax rate in Columbia County for the Board of Commissioners will be less than it was last year,” [County Administrator Scott Johnson] said.

Eagles Landing proponents will be allowed to intervene in a lawsuit challenging the November vote on cityhood, according to the Henry Herald.

The lawsuit was filed by the city [of Stockbridge] in an attempt to stop a referendum regarding Eagles Landing cityhood. Stockbridge supporters argue the legislation surrounding the referendum was unconstitutional.

Eagles Landing supporters, however, argued on Tuesday that Stockbridge’s move would deprive them of their right to vote on the matter.

Tim Tanner, representing three supporters, Vikki Consiglio, Judy Smith and Kathryn Gilbert, also argued that the legislation passed by the General Assembly and signed by Gov. Nathan Deal earlier this year was constitutional and said he would be able to argue why if granted the intervention.

Those arguments will be heard by Judge Arch McGarity on Wednesday at 1 p.m. in Henry County Superior Court. The court has granted an accelerated schedule as all parties agreed that time is of the essence for determining the constitutionality of the matter in court.

The Bulloch County Board of Education is considering a partial rollback of the property tax millage rate, according to the Statesboro Herald.

To avoid holding tax increase hearings, the Bulloch County Board of Education is considering a 1/4-mill rollback in the school system’s share of the property tax millage rate.

But the rollback would mean giving up between $400,000 and $500,000 in potential revenue, so board members are also thinking about that in relation to the ongoing discussion of school safety measures and how to fund them.

Under a Georgia law called the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, actively increasing the millage rate is not the only thing that can trigger the hearing requirement. If boards with taxing authority take advantage of inflationary growth in property assessments to boost their funding, a tax increase notice must be published and three hearings held where taxpayers can ask questions.

Statesboro City Council heard a proposal to further revise a change to the alcohol ordinance, according to the Statesboro Herald.

City Councilman Phil Boyum’s suggestion of an alternative led to a 3-2 vote Tuesday evening rejecting one amendment to Statesboro’s city alcoholic beverages law and also to verbal fireworks in which Mayor Jonathan McCollar briefly called for Boyum to be ejected from the meeting.

The amendment on the agenda, for a second reading and motion to adopt, would have mirrored the state’s minimum definition of a bar and, with some added limitations, the state requirement for letting youth under the legal drinking age of 21 into bars for live music and art performances. This was “Option A.” An “Option B” that would have restricted customers age 18-20 to a separate area, partitioned from areas where alcohol is served, at bars serving as temporary “music halls,” had been abandoned during earlier discussion.

[Boyum's] proposal would divide places licensed to serve alcohol into five distinct categories: bars, pubs, restaurants, event venues and low-volume.

No kitchen would be required for bars, limited to patrons 21 and over at all times. Pubs, required to derive at least 40 percent of their income from food, would operate as restaurants during the day and as bars after 10 p.m. Youth under 18 couldn’t stay at a pub past 10 p.m. without a parent or guardian, but young adults 18-20 could remain for concerts if the kitchen stayed open serving food. Restaurants would need to get 70 percent or more of their income from food, with no restriction except that patrons under 21 couldn’t sit in the bar area except with a parent or guardian.

The Georgia Court of Appeals rejected a “mullet doctrine” covering police searches in some instances, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

The appeal centered on whether police can walk into a backyard party where there is an obvious gathering of people or if they first must go through the formality of knocking on the door of a house, presumably knowing the person they wish to talk to are not inside. The three judge panel of Justices Charlie Bethel, John Ellington and Elizabeth Gobeil split 2-1, with Bethel writing the dissent.

Bethel argued that there is no reason to first go to the door of an empty house when the people the police wish to talk to are clearly in the backyard. Or, to quote him directly, “I see no Constitutional or logical reason to require officers to conduct futile business in the front, when the party is clearly in the back.”

Judge Gobeil, writing for the majority, noted that the police had not observed any illegal activity prior to entering the yard, nor was there a sign directing partygoers to enter the backyard directly. The police instead ordered all partygoers to “stay there” as they entered, without having established probable cause that a crime had been committed.

As such, she wrote, “Under these facts, the dissent’s ‘mullet doctrine’ does not get the officers into the party out back.” The judgment was reversed, and the Court of Appeals newest Judge has forever enshrined the “Mullet Doctrine” into Georgia’s legal lexicon.

Voters in the Pataula Judicial Circuit, comprising Clay, Early, Miller, Quitman, Randolph, Seminole and Terrell Counties, will choose a new Superior Court Judge in a Runoff Election next Tuesday, according to the Donalsonville News.

Advance in person early voting is now underway and as of 11 a.m. on Wednesday, July 18, 384 ballots had been cast in Seminole County. According to Election Superintendent Michael Jon Rogerson, in addition to the 384 in person ballots cast, 43 absentee ballots had been requested and mailed out.

Major local and statewide races are on the ballot and the stakes remain high, particularly in the non partisan race for Superior Court Judge of the Pataula Judicial Circuit between Southwest Georgia attorneys Henry Balkcom and Chip Stewart, as well as on the Republican ticket where the party’s nominees for Governor, Lt. Governor and Secretary of State are up for grabs.

Nerd prom: I’ve advocated for an Atlanta version of DC’s annual nerd prom, and here’s where I found the perfect event:

The Georgia Archives was founded in 1918 in a small room in the State Capitol. On August 18, its centennial will be celebrated at a special dinner.

The event begins at 4:30 p.m. at the Georgia Archives — now at 5800 Jonesboro Road in Morrow — with a reception, tours and an exhibit on Georgia’s earliest land records. Next, those attending will move across the plaza to the National Archives at Atlanta for the rest of the program, featuring a dinner and special speakers. The celebration is sponsored by the Friends of Georgia Archives and History.

Governor Nathan Deal will speak, as will David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States. Also speaking will be Steve Engerrand, deputy state archivist, about the history of the Georgia Archives; Senator Valencia Seay; and Steve Wrigley, chancellor of the University System of Georgia.

The cost is $60 per person, with a August 8 deadline for purchasing a ticket. To purchase online, go to, or purchase by mail, FOGAH, P.O. Box 711, Morrow, Ga., 30260.

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