Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 4, 2019

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 4, 2019

On December 4, 1783, General George Washington told his officers he would resign his commission and return to his life at Mount Vernon.

The Battle of Waynesboro, Georgia was fought between Wheeler’s Confederate cavalry and Kilpatrick’s federal troops on December 4, 1864.

Governor William Northen signed legislation placing on the statewide ballot a constitutional amendment to increase the number of Georgia Supreme Court Justices from 3 to 5 on December 4, 1893.

On December 4, 1932, a 12-foot tall statue of Tom Watson, former state legislator, Congressman, and United States Senator from Georgia, was placed on the State Capitol Grounds.

On December 4, 1945, the United States Senate voted to approve full U.S. participation in the United Nations. Georgia’s Senators voted in favor.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp is expected to name Kelly Loeffler as his appointee to the United States Senate. From the Associated Press:

Georgia’s governor is expected to appoint a wealthy business executive to replace an outgoing U.S. senator, according to a GOP political consultant, bypassing President Donald Trump’s preferred pick and betting instead that a moderate woman can garner enough support to hold onto the seat next year.

Brian Kemp’s choice of Kelly Loeffler, a political newcomer, defies fellow Republicans who had pushed him to choose Rep. Doug Collins, one of Trump’s staunchest defenders in Congress. Loeffler will fill the seat of retiring Sen. Johnny Isakson, who is stepping down because of health issues.

Trump made clear that he preferred Collins to Loeffler but he has resigned himself to the pick, according to a person familiar with his thinking who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The Senate seat will be up for grabs again in November 2020 in an open-to-all special election for the final two years of Isakson’s term. Also on the ballot will be Republican Sen. David Perdue, another vocal Trump defender. With both of Georgia’s GOP-held Senate seats on the ballot alongside Trump in 2020, the race is raising the state’s profile as a political battleground where Republicans still dominate but Democrats have made substantial inroads in recent elections.

From the AJC:

In prepared remarks obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the financial executive will introduce herself to Georgia voters as an outsider who will fight the “socialist gang” in Washington bent on defeating the president.

“I haven’t spent my life trying to get to Washington. But here’s what folks are going to find out about me: I’m a lifelong conservative. Pro-Second Amendment. Pro-military. Pro-wall. And pro-Trump,” she will say. “I make no apologies for my conservative values, and will proudly support President Trump’s conservative judges.”

Loeffler is set to be appointed Wednesday by Gov. Brian Kemp to succeed U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, who is retiring at year’s end due to health concerns. The event is to be attended by several high-ranking Republican officials, intended to be a show of support for Kemp’s pick.

In her remarks, Loeffler tries to temper the critiques. She will say she believes the “abortion-on-demand agenda is immoral” and that she would vote for legislation introduced by U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-SC, that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

“When it comes to protecting innocent life, I look to God because every life is a blessing,” according to her prepared remarks.

“Contrary to what you see in the media, not every strong woman in America is a liberal,” she will say. “Many of us are conservatives, and proud of it.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced that Senate Republicans will welcome and support Gov. Kemp’s appointee, according to Politico.

Kemp, a Republican, is expected to appoint Loeffler on Wednesday to replace retiring Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), a highly divisive move in the Republican Party. President Donald Trump was pushing for Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), and conservative groups lambasted Loeffler as wobbly on social issues. Collins has declined to rule out running in the primary for the seat in next year’s special election.

“It seems to me like the governor of Georgia made a terrific appointment,” McConnell said. “She will be an incumbent Republican senator. We will all be behind her. Sen. [Todd] Young has already made it clear the NRSC is going to be behind her. I’m going to be behind her, and I’m confident that someone we’re working with every day will enjoy total support from the Republican conference.”

Georgia has two Senate elections in 2020: one to replace Isakson, and the other in which Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) is running for reelection. Isakson gave his farewell speech on Tuesday and was feted at a bipartisan lunch for his long Senate career.

WALB has some more from the funeral for the late State Rep. Jay Powell.

Funeral services for Rep. Jay Powell were held Sunday at the First Baptist Church of Camilla.

Baconton Mayor Annett Morman said that she and Powell’s love for Mitchell County brought them closer as colleagues and as friends.

“I am so saddened with his death,” Morman said. “He was a dear friend of mine. As a matter of fact, he was at two events in the city of Baconton (on) Oct. 3 and Oct. 10.”

Mitchell County Sheriff W.E. Bozeman said that Powell represented the county well.

“He was our state representative for Mitchell, part of Decatur, part of Colquitt County. He was pretty strong and he was a really good representative to Mitchell County and the other two counties,” Bozeman said.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is still investigating the exact cause of Powell’s death.

Republican Bill Yearta was elected to the State House of Representatives for District 152, according to the AJC.

Bill Yearta, a jeweler and former mayor of Sylvester, received about 115 more votes than his opponent Jim Quinn, according to unofficial results from the Secretary of State’s office.

The two Republicans — both former mayors — faced off Tuesday to replace former state Rep. Ed Rynders, R-Albany, who resigned earlier this year. They were the top two vote-getters in a four-way special election last month.

Yearta, served as mayor of Sylvester for 17 years and resigned earlier this year for his House run, pulled ahead after a second-place finish in November to win Tuesday’s election.

Quinn, a journalist and former mayor of Leesburg, had secured the most votes in the four-way November race, receiving about 41.6% of the nearly 9,300 ballots cast. Yearta secured 34.3% of votes cast last month.

Yearta will represent voters in House District 152 in Lee, Sumter and Worth counties.

Van Johnson was elected Mayor of Savannah in the runoff, according to WSAV.

Alderman Van Johnson defeated incumbent Mayor Eddie DeLoach in Tuesday’s runoff. Unofficial results from the Chatham County Board of Elections are as follows:

Johnson – 62% or 14,884 votes
DeLoach – 38% or 9,291 votes

Back on Election Day, Nov. 5, Johnson got 46 percent to DeLoach’s 40 percent.

Just over a week ago, former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams endorsed him. On Monday, she visited Savannah to attend Johnson’s final rally.

That’s also when New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, Democratic candidate for president, showed his support.

“Good mayors don’t just have big ideas, they have big hearts. [Johnson] has both,” Booker tweeted, adding, “Savannah you know what to do.”

From the Savannah Morning News:

Johnson received 14,884 votes to incumbent Eddie DeLoach’s 9,291 votes.

Johnson has served as the First District Alderman for four terms.

Johnson said the win means Savannah has smart voters.

“It means our citizens were smart enough to look beyond negative campaigning,” Johnson said. “Negative campaigning does not work — people don’t like that kind of stuff. Because at the end of the day we all have to live here as neighbors.”

Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams campaigned in Savannah with Johnson on Dec. 2. U.S. Senator Corey Booker also endorsed Johnson. Johnson has known both Abrams and Booker for a number of years.

Bo Dorough beat incumbent Albany Mayor Dorothy Hubbard in yesterday’s runoff, according to the Albany Herald.

In a stunning upset, attorney and former Albany City Commissioner Bo Dorough edged incumbent two-term Mayor Dorothy Hubbard 4,656 votes to 4,366 in Tuesday’s mayoral runoff election to unseat Hubbard.

Completing a sweeping change that will see the Albany city government with three new members, Demetrius Young edged John Hawthorne 662 votes to 609 to claim the Ward VI seat currently held by Tommie Postell, who chose not to run for health reasons.

With Chad Warbington’s victory over incumbent Ward IV Commissioner Roger Marietta during the Nov. 5 municipal election, the commission will take on a new tenor come January.

Scott James Matheson has a 123-vote lead in the race for Mayor of Valdosta, with enough provisional ballots to change the result, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Matheson, with 2,861 votes, currently leads Rice, with 2,738 votes, by 123 votes.

The winner will be determined by provisional ballots.

Precincts delivered provisional ballots to the board of elections late Tuesday. The 130 provisional ballots and three mail-in ballots will be counted at 4 p.m. Friday at the board of elections office. The process will be open to the public.

Incumbent Ben Norton appears to have defeated challenger Adrian Rivers in the Valdosta City Council at-large race.

Norton received 3,045 votes (55.50%) and defeated challenger Adrian Rivers, who received 2,441 votes (44.50%).

The five-person race for mayor narrowed to Rice and Matheson after Election Day Nov. 5. Rice received the largest share of votes at 34.84%, while Matheson edged out David Sumner by three points to finish second with 24.65%.

For the at-large seat, Norton’s opponent remained unknown in the Nov. 5 election until more than 100 provisional ballots were counted Nov. 8. Rivers ended up defeating Edgar “Nicky” Tooley by merely 18 votes with 22.26% of the total ballots cast.

The Democratic Party of Georgia coordinated canvassing in the Valdosta runoffs, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

The Democratic Party of Georgia strolled down Interstate 75 to help coordinate a Get Out The Vote effort for the nonpartisan runoff races for Valdosta mayor and the Valdosta City Council at-large seat.

Volunteers walked house to house with literature about why J.D. Rice and Adrian Rivers should receive residents’ votes. The mayoral race pit J.D. Rice against Scott James Matheson, while Adrian Rivers challenged incumbent at-large Councilman Ben Norton. The effort is part of a statewide effort to focus on municipal runoffs in Valdosta, Savannah and metro Atlanta, said Scott Hogan, executive director of the DPG.

With shifts from 10 a.m.-2 p.m and 3-7 p.m. Tuesday, 20 Democratic Party of Georgia volunteers knocked on doors in hopes of convincing residents to head to the polls in favor of Rice and Rivers.

The DPG is not coordinating with the Rice or Rivers campaigns because state party efforts are independent expenditures to comply with campaign finance law, said Justin Pitts, director of organizing and outreach of the DPG.

Charlie Bibb took the runoff election for Warner Robins City Council, according to Fox24.

Charlie Bibb earned 59 percent of the vote with Eric Langston earning 41 percent of the vote.

On Election Day in November, Langston beat Bibb. After his arrest for forgery and false statements on Monday, Langston now says he believes that contributed to the runoff’s final results, but thanked those who have supported him.

“I’m sure it did. There is nothing we can do about it now. Move forward and handle these issues later on down the road,” he says.

From the Macon Telegraph:

Langston is accused of forging a document that indicated that he didn’t owe any back taxes. He said he’s not guilty.

Bibb was not unscathed during the runoff.

He came under scrutiny during the runoff when WMAZ-TV aired a story about a decades-old arrest for burglary in which he received probation and first offender status, which means he doesn’t have a record because he successfully completed his probation.

Bibb, who noted that he surrendered his life to Jesus, said he’s always been open about his past.

“If the Lord can change me, he could change anybody,” Bibb said. “That’s how I live my life.”

Kurtis Purtee won the runoff for Savannah Board of Aldermen District 6 over 20-year incumbent Tony Thomas, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Purtee triumphed over incumbent Tony Thomas — who held this aldermanic post since 1999 — by garnering 2,529 out of 4,747 ballots cast in Tuesday’s District 6 runoff with all nine precincts counted, giving him 53.28% of the total turnout.

“I’m so grateful and humbled by the support,” said Purtee. “For those that didn’t support me … I’m still going to be a voice for them.”

Purtee’s victory continues the trend of this year’s Savannah elections favoring fresh faces, as every other aldermanic seat but one — the District 5 post held by Estella Shabazz, who ran for reelection unopposed — will also be held by first-time city-council members in the new administration. Despite his lack of experience in municipal politics, Purtee believes that his public service with police agencies helped give him the edge in Tuesday’s runoff.

Purtee’s campaign received a boost with the endorsement of Antonio Hunter, a former substitute teacher who also ran for the seat held by Thomas in the main election on Nov. 5. Hunter finished third with over 14% of the total 4,550 ballots cast in District 6 during the first round, leaving both Purtee and Thomas with less than 50% of the vote share to force Tuesday’s runoff.

Congratulations and condolences to Derek Norton, who was elected Mayor of Smyrna, according to Patch.com.

The runoff mayoral election in Smyrna took place on Dec. 3 with Derek Norton winning with his 3,764 votes. Ryan Campbell followed behind with 3,605.

In Ward 2 race, Austin Wagner won the most votes with 391 against incumbent Andrea Blustein, who tallied 284.

Brunswick City Commissioner Johnny Cason won reelection in yesterday’s runoff, according to The Brunswick News.

Cason defeated challenger John Davis Perry II by 12 votes in Tuesday’s runoff to determine the winner of the North Ward seat.

The runoff was necessary after none of the four candidates was able to garner more than 50 percent of the vote. The top two vote recipients were Cason with 46 percent of the vote and Perry with 24 percent of the vote in the Nov. 5 general election.

Cason earned 304 votes or 51 percent to Perry’s 292 votes or 49 percent. Only 6.1 percent of the city’s 9,761 registered voters showed up to cast their votes in the runoff.

Braselton, Norcross, and Snellville elected municipal leaders in runoff elections, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

In the only runoff that featured an incumbent, Braselton Councilwoman Becky Richardson cruised to a victory over Richard Mayberry by capturing 61.6% of the 159 votes cast in the Council District 1 race. Richardson received 98 votes, compared to 61 votes for Mayberry.

In Snellville, Solange Destang cruised to a 557-401 victory over Brittany Marmol in the open Post 2 City Council runoff.

In Norcross, Bruce Gaynor narrowly defeated Tyler Hannel by a margin of 274-232, in the open city council runoff to replace Councilman Dan Hatch.

The Gwinnett County Transit Plan review committee is asking for extra time to finish its work, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

When the committee tasked with coming up with recommendations for revisions to the Connect Gwinnett Transit Plan was created, it had a mandate from county commissioners to finish that work by Dec. 31. The head of the committee, Laurie McClain, and Gwinnett Transportation Director Alan Chapman told commissioners that the review panel would like to get the deadline pushed back to the end of January.

The Georgia State Ethics Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission issued subpoenas to two Atlanta mayoral candidates, according to the AJC.

The commission on Monday notified Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ campaign of allegations that it accepted $382,773 in contributions that exceeded maximum limits established by law.

The commission is also alleging that Mary Norwood, Bottoms’ opponent in the runoff, accepted $168,975 in contributions that exceeded the limits.

The documents outlining the violations do not name the donors whose contributions allegedly exceeded the limits — which in 2017 were $2,600 for a general election and $1,400 for a runoff.

In total, Bottoms raised $2.7 million for her campaign compared to Norwood’s $2.1 million.

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