Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 11, 2018

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 11, 2018

Casimir Pulaski, a Polish aristocrat who fought with the colonists in the American Revolution, died in Savannah on October 11, 1779.

Former Georgia Governor and President of the United States Jimmy Carter was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on October 11, 2002.

Bobby Cox managed his last game in Game Four of the NLDS on October 11, 2010.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

At 5:22 AM, more than 350,000 homes were without power in Georgia. Click here for Georgia Power’s outage map. Click here for EMC outages.

President Donald Trump may visit Georgia next week to survey storm damage, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

President Donald Trump told reporters on Air Force One he planned to visit the areas affected by Hurricane Florence early next week, according to the White House.

The president spoke with Alabama Governor Kay Ivey and Georgia Governor Nathan Deal during the flight Wednesday, and pledged to offer any federal resources necessary to help the states in their response.

“We want to get down there as soon as possible,” the president said at a press briefing with FEMA administrator Brock Long. “At the same time, I don’t want to go down where we’re interfering with the people — first responders, the FEMA people. I want them to focus on the storm, not me. So we’ll probably look to Sunday or Monday to go down and meet with the governors, meet with everybody, and do what we have to do, like we did in North Carolina, South Carolina, where that worked out really well.”

“It’s a tough situation. We’re with them. We’re with Georgia. We’re with Florida. We’re with Alabama,” President Trump said, according to POLITICO. “Everybody that will be hit, we have covered. I just say God bless everyone because it’s going to be a rough one.”

Governor Nathan Deal announced yesterday that the Georgia State Patrol and National Guard were prepared to assist during Hurricane Michael, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

State troopers had loaded up their patrol cars with sleeping bags and pillows, 1,500 Georgia National Guardsmen stood ready and search-and-rescue teams were on standby as Hurricane Michael crashed ashore on the Florida Panhandle on Wednesday.

“We’re not accustomed to the magnitude of a hurricane such as this hitting in the direction that it is traveling and with the intensity with which it will hit our state,” Deal said during a media briefing Wednesday.

“It’s not going to be a simple walk-away-from-it-with-no-damage,” he added. “It’s going to be one with serious damage, and life should be the primary concern. Protect yourself, protect your family. Help those who need assistance.”

The governor and Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black said they are particularly concerned about the state’s pecan groves in south Georgia, where this year’s harvest has only just begun. The storm also poses a serious threat for cotton and peanut growers who are in the midst of their harvest.

“This storm, Michael, will strike deep into the heart of Georgia agriculture,” Black said Wednesday, referring to southwest Georgia.

Deal expanded his state-of-emergency declaration on Wednesday to include more than a dozen additional counties, broadening the designation to encompass a total of 108 counties and reaching as far north as Athens and Elberton.

Georgia’s congressional delegation has also requested that President Donald Trump sign off on an expedited emergency declaration to speed up the availability of federal aid in the counties affected.

“Georgians are great people. They have big hearts, and they reach out to help their neighbor in need. This is a time when that is going to be called upon without any doubt,” Deal said. “People on the ground doing what they can do in their own community — that’s going to be an important part of solving this problem successfully.”

Vice President Mike Pence will visit Georgia on Thursday to boost Republican Brian Kemp in the gubernatorial race, according to the AJC.

Vice President Mike Pence plans to visit on Atlanta on Thursday, where he will visit a Delta Air Lines maintenance facility and headline a fundraiser for the Georgia Republican Party and GOP gubernatorial hopeful Brian Kemp.

Air Force Two is scheduled to arrive at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport at 1:40 p.m., according to a White House official, where Pence will be greeted by Kemp, state House Speaker David Ralston and Attorney General Chris Carr.

Pence is then scheduled to visit Delta’s TechOps maintenance facility near the airport, which is home to a massive new engine repair shop. He’ll also huddle with company leadership and speak to company employees.

Later in the day he’ll head to the Georgia GOP’s “Victory Dinner” in Buckhead, which will also feature Gov. Nathan Deal, Ralston and U.S. Sens. Johnny Isakson and David Perdue.

Pecan and cotton crops might be affected by Michael, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

The state’s pecan growers, who suffered major losses last hurricane season, could stand to lose the most if Hurricane Michael – a category 2 storm that was expected Tuesday to strengthen to a category 3 – brings its devastating winds and rain to Georgia.

“If we lose trees like we did last year, it’s going to be a sad day,” Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black said, referring to pecan trees.

It’s unclear what the economic impact could be at this point, but farmers are only about one-fifth of their way into picking cotton and the pecan harvest has only just begun, Black said. The peanut harvest is halfway finished.

“I’m real concerned about southwest Georgia,” Black said. “If we take it on the chin again, it’s going to be tough.”

Georgia’s Congressional Delegation wrote in support of Gov. Deal’s request that a state of emergency be declared for Georgia, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

U.S. Sens. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and David Perdue, R-Ga., along with the entire Georgia congressional delegation, wrote this week to President Donald Trump to request expedited emergency resources to aid counties in Georgia expected to be impacted by Hurricane Michael.

“We write in full support of Gov. Nathan Deal’s request for an emergency declaration for the state of Georgia in anticipation of Hurricane Michael,” wrote the Congressional members. “As the current projections indicate, this major hurricane will significantly impact Georgia communities, and we urge you to approve requests to ensure that full federal resources are made available for counties currently under the declaration and those that may be determined to be in need of emergency federal assistance in the coming days.”

The Statesboro Herald covers Georgia visits by Donald Trump, Jr., and Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

In Athens, Trump Jr. said that electing Republicans like Kemp to positions of power in states was key to the success of his father, President Donald Trump. He touted policies implemented by his father including recent federal tax cuts and negotiations with North Korea before complimenting Kemp’s leadership in Georgia.

“As successful as my father has been, he cannot do it alone. He needs all of your help. We can keep this going,” Trump Jr. said.

“For the first time in a long time we see actual progress,” he said. “And what do the Democrats want to do? They want to reverse all of that.”

Warren, meanwhile, made several campaign stops in Georgia for Abrams, and even made a few phone calls to rally support.

Warren told Abrams’ supporters that the race was about more than just the future of the Peach State.

“Every now and again you watch what’s going on in Washington, and as my daddy used to say, ‘a fish rots from the head,’” Warren said, portraying President Trump as a corrupt and inept leader.

“We’re gonna return power to the people and call out what’s going on in Washington. It’s corruption pure and simple and it’s going to stop,” Warren said

Senator Elizabeth Warren, (D-MA), in her Georgia trip, spoke about Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, according to ABC News.

“It’s time to turn our pain into power,” Warren said, in an example of how Democrats are hoping to capitalize on the anger over Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

The Massachusetts Democrat and potential 2020 presidential candidate called the FBI background investigation of Kavanaugh a “sham.”

“I believe Dr. Christine Blasey Ford,” Warren added, referring to the California professor who accused Kavanaugh of sexual assaulting her when they were both in high school.

“The system is rigged and Republicans are trying to keep it that way,” Warren said, adding, “You have the power to make Stacey Abrams the next governor of Georgia”

Republican candidate for Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan and his Democratic opponent have different views on healthcare, according to the Macon Telegraph.

Democrat Sarah Riggs Amico said that as Georgia lieutenant governor, she’d work to expand Medicaid — publicly subsidized health insurance — to more low-income Georgians.

“We’re in a health care crisis in Georgia,” Amico said, speaking at a Tuesday debate in Atlanta.

Dozens and dozens of Georgia counties lack medical specialists such as pediatricians. Rural hospitals are closing, in part due to the cost of caring for patients who have no insurance and no means to pay for care. Amico said that a Medicaid expansion would put insurance cards in more Georgians’ pockets, create jobs and help shore up the health care system.

As it happens, Republican Geoff Duncan’s most high-profile legislative initiative in his five sessions in the state House was a rural hospital tax credit: donate to a struggling rural hospital and get some discount off your state taxes. He said Medicaid is bad health care and that Georgia needs to leverage innovation and technology to help solve the health care problem.

“Expanding Medicaid doesn’t lure doctors into rural Georgia,” Duncan said.

“Georgia’s going to decide if we’re going continue to be recognized as a shining city … or we’re going to elect folks like my opponent who wants to import California’s values and their problems,” Duncan said. The “shining city” was a phrase often used by Ronald Reagan to describe a place that’s a light for the rest of the world.

South Georgia has significant numbers of school closures, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Savannah‘s Talmadge Bridge closed to traffic yesterday in advance of Michael, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The predicted strength of the wind at the bridge elevation will render vehicles susceptible to incidents. Motorists attempting to navigate vehicles across the bridge in conditions with the high wind levels anticipated from Hurricane Michael may not be able to properly control the vehicles. The bridge is being closed for the safety of the public.

An extensive inspection of the Talmadge Bridge must be performed after Hurricane Michael passes therefore the closure will remain in place until further notice.

Evacuees should allow themselves extra time to reroute due to bridge closure; remain patient; and exercise caution in their travels.

Savannah will also delay Thursday garbage pickup until Friday, according to the Savannah Morning News.

An Augusta Commission subcommittee discussed the municipality’s zero-tolerance drug abuse policy and “Ban the Box,” according to the Augusta Chronicle.

United States Postal Service employees protested at Congressman Drew Ferguson’s office, according to the Newnan Times-Herald.

Bipartisan resolutions to prevent privatization have been proposed in both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Senate Resolution 633 has 41 co-sponsors and House resolution 993 has 219 co-sponsors.

“Congressman Ferguson is not on the list,” Pacci said.

The Trump Administration commissioned a task force to look into privatizing the post office a few months ago, according to Pacci. The president received the report in July but isn’t expected to release the findings until after the midterm elections.

“Hopefully we can send a message to Congressman Ferguson and the Senate as a whole. U.S. Mail is not for sale, and privatization is not the answer,” said Eric Sloan, president of the National Association of Letter Carriers branch 73.

The AJC looks at the election for State House district 80, currently held by Republican Meagan Hanson.

Incumbent state Rep. Meagan Hanson, R-Brookhaven, is facing a challenge from Democratic newcomer Matthew Wilson in a district that has see-sawed between the two parties over the past three years.

Hanson unseated Rep. Taylor Bennett, a Democrat, winning by 1 percentage point in 2016. Bennett had flipped the seat blue in a 2015 special election when he defeated Republican J. Max Davis with 55 percent of the vote.

Voter turnout for the gubernatorial race is expected to have some impact on the House District 80 race in the Nov. 6 election. If Brian Kemp’s supporters in that district show up in greater numbers than Stacey Abrams’ supporters, Hanson will likely be a beneficiary.

More than half of voters in the district supported Hillary Clinton for president in 2016. She earned 54 percent of voters compared to 40.6 percent for Donald Trump and 5.4 percent for Gary Johnson.

“I trust that the voters of House District 80 will evaluate me based on my record, what I have done, and what I am doing to improve their quality of life,” she said. “People I talk to in Brookhaven, Sandy Springs, Chamblee and Atlanta want a state representative who can deliver real results, not partisan bickering.”

Two Athens-area Republicans are attempting to win back seats surrendered to the Democrats last year, according to the AJC.

As soon as the votes were counted on election night in November, Republicans began readying the troops to reclaim two Athens-area state House seats the Democrats just won for the first time since lines were drawn creating the districts in 2011.

And Democratic state Reps. Deborah Gonzalez and Jonathan Wallace, who won special elections last year after incumbent Republicans left when they were appointed to other positions in the state, said they are ready for the fight.

“I was canvassing after I won last year to get to the neighborhoods I didn’t have a chance to visit during the (short) special election window,” Wallace said.

“Our House Republican Caucus and Georgia GOP are already working to reclaim those seats lost last night in next year’s elections when a greater percentage of Georgians will go to the polls,” the [Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge)] said.

Wallace, 40, is facing off against Republican Marcus Wiedower, who placed third in the four-man special election last year. Gonzalez will again face her opponent from last year’s head-to-head matchup, Republican Houston Gaines.

Voting Statistics

Absentee ballot requests are at higher than usual levels, according to WSB.

Numbers show requests from African-American voters for absentee ballots are coming in to county elections offices at a rate not seen since Barack Obama was elected president in 2008.

According to the GeorgiaVotes.com website, which compiles data made available by the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office, 41.9% of all absentee ballot requests are coming from African-American voters, while 44.7% are coming from white voters.

African-Americans make up roughly 30% of the electorate in Georgia. In all, requests for absentee ballots are running 131% higher than they did for the 2014 election.

Glynn County posted a new all-time high for registered voters, according to The Brunswick News.

A little more than 60,000 people are currently registered to vote in Glynn County, according to Elections and Registration Supervisor Monica Couch.

Couch said the election office is also likely to hit a record number of absentee ballots for a midterm election.

During the 2014 midterm election, the board sent out 1,076 absentee ballots and got 830 back. Couch said she didn’t know how many absentee ballots the board sent out for the 2010 midterms, but the number they got back indicated it was close to 1,200.

As of Tuesday, it had sent out 1,200 and had gotten 230 back. Both numbers will likely grow as the 2018 midterm election is still two weeks away, Couch said.

Meanwhile, 53,000 voter registration applications are on hold because information did not exactly match state records, according to the AJC.

The Associated Press reported Tuesday that voter registrations were flagged because of Georgia’s “exact match” law, which requires voter registration information to match a driver’s license, state ID card or Social Security records. The AP obtained the list of pending voters through Georgia’s Open Records Act.

Voter registration applications can be put on hold because of a missing hyphen in a last name or data entry errors. Mismatched voter registrations remain pending unless applicants correct discrepancies within 26 months.

Voters whose registrations are placed on hold can still participate in elections if they verify their information.

The “exact match” law has drawn criticism from voting rights groups that say it could suppress voters in the upcoming election for Georgia governor between Republican Brian Kemp and Democrat Stacey Abrams. Kemp is Georgia’s secretary of state, responsible for oversight of elections and voter registration.

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