Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 13, 2019


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 13, 2019

On December 13, 1636, the Massachusetts Bay Colony General Court organized three regiments of militia to guard against attacks by the Pequot Indians. That day is recognized as the birth of the National Guard.

Solomon’s Masonic Lodge, the first in Georgia, was organized on December 10, 1735. Upon his return to the colony, James Oglethorpe would join the group.

Patriots captured liberated Virginia on December 9, 1775 as militias from Virginia and North Carolina defeated the redcoats at Great Bridge.

On December 11, 1777, during their movement to Valley Forge for the winter, Washington’s colonial forces engaged British troops under General Cornwallis as the Americans were crossing the Schuylkill River.

John Jay was elected President of the Continental Congress on December 10, 1778.

Pennsylvania became the second state to ratify the Constitution on December 12, 1787.

On December 15, 1791, Virginia ratified the Bill of Rights, giving the first ten Amendments a three-quarter majority required to become law.

President George Washington died at Mount Vernon on December 14, 1799. Here’s an article about the nation’s mourning for our first President.

The Congress, in session at the capital of Philadelphia when Washington’s death was announced, immediately adjourned. The House of Representatives assembled the next day and resolved to shroud the Speaker’s chair in black and have members wear black during the remainder of the session. On December 23, John Marshall speaking for the joint committee of both houses, presented five points that became the foundation for the United States’ first “state” funeral. Resolutions structured mourning events around public commemorations that fostered unity and a sense of national identity among grieving Americans.

Indiana became the 19th State on December 11, 1816.

Emory College was incorporated on December 10, 1836, as Governor William Schley signed legislation chartering the school.

Governor Charles McDonald signed legislation on December 11, 1841 to prevent a person from having his or her testimony excluded in court because of the individual’s religious beliefs.

The first use of nitrous oxide as a dental anesthetic took place on December 11, 1844.

On December 10, 1850, a special convention met in Milledgeville to determine the state’s reaction to the Compromise of 1850, a series of five bills passed in Congress attempting to deal with issues between slave states and free states.

The [Georgia] platform established Georgia’s conditional acceptance of the Compromise of 1850. Much of the document followed a draft written by Charles Jones Jenkins and represented a collaboration between Georgia Whigs and moderate Democrats dedicated to preserving the Union. In effect, the proclamation accepted the measures of the compromise so long as the North complied with the Fugitive Slave Act and would no longer attempt to ban the expansion of slavery into new territories and states. Northern contempt for these conditions, the platform warned, would make secession inevitable.

This qualified endorsement of the Compromise of 1850 essentially undermined the movement for immediate secession throughout the South. Newspapers across the nation credited Georgia with saving the Union.

Echols County, Georgia was created by the Georgia General Assembly on December 13, 1858.

On December 15, 1859, Georgia Governor Joseph Brown signed legislation outlawing public execution of criminals. The previous day he signed legislation prohibiting slave owners from freeing their slaves on the owner’s death.

On December 9, 1867, a Constitutional Convention to draft a new state document convened in Atlanta. Among the 166 to 169 delegates elected to the Constitutional Convention were 33 or 37 African-American members – accounts vary.

The Atlanta City Council appointed the first Board of Education on December 10, 1869.

On December 11, 1872, Pinckney Benton Stewart Pinchback took office in Louisiana as the first black Governor in the United States.

A memorial service for Jefferson Davis, former President of the Confederate States of America, was held in the Georgia State Capitol on December 11, 1889 while his funeral was that day in New Orleans.

The Spanish-American War was ended on December 10, 1898, with the signing of the Treaty of Paris.

President William McKinley addressed the Georgia General Assembly on December 14, 1898.


McKinley Atlanta SM

Guglielmo Marconi completed the first transatlantic radio transmission from Cornwall, England to Newfoundland on December 12, 1901.

On December 14, 1939, a parade was held through downtown Atlanta with stars from Gone With the Wind and the Junior League held a ball that night. The next day, December 15, 1939, Gone With the Wind held its world premiere at Loew’s Grand Theater in Atlanta.

On December 11, 1941, Germany declared war on the United States.

Dickey Betts, guitarist for the Allman Brothers Band, was born on December 12, 1943.

On December 11, 1960, a civil rights demonstration including 8000 African-American citizens was held in Atlanta as part of the movement to boycott stores that remained segregated.

The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on December 10, 1964 in Oslo, Norway, becoming the youngest recipient of the award.

The Libertarian Party was founded on December 11, 1971 in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Jimmy Carter announced he would run for President of the United States on December 12, 1974.

Former Georgia Governor Ellis Arnall died on December 13, 1992. Arnall served in the State House, as Speaker, Attorney General, and in 1942 at the age of 35, was elected Governor.

Arnall also led the fight to outlaw the poll tax and the white primary, and is noted for making Georgia the first state to allow 18-year-olds to vote. He is further remembered for his role in obtaining a new state constitution for Georgia in 1945.

The United States House of Representatives Judiciary Committee released a report on December 15, 1998 that recommended impeachment against President Bill Clinton and introduced H.Res. 611.

The United States Supreme Court released its decision in Bush v. Gore on December 12, 2000, stopping manual recounts of contested ballots in Florida.

Al Gore conceded the presidential election to George W. Bush on December 13, 2000.

Jimmy Carter was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on December 10, 2002.

On December 15, 2016, Republican Tim Echols was sworn in by Gov. Nathan Deal to a second term on the Georgia Public Service Commission.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp declared a state of emergency for Fulton County due to flooding at Grady.  Click here to read the Executive Order.

The AJC reports this morning that Grady will start accepting some emergency patients today after having gone on diversion because of the flooding.

Grady will admit trauma, stroke and burn patients starting at 7 a.m., hospital spokeswoman Denise Simpson said in a statement.

Emergency patients have been diverted to other hospitals since a 2-foot water pipe burst Saturday afternoon, flooding several floors of the building.

“By phasing off diversion and opening our doors to trauma, stroke and burn patients, Grady will again be able to provide the critical services other hospitals and the community rely on Grady for,” Simpson said. “We hope to relieve some of the burden experienced by other metro Atlanta hospitals during our current facility crisis.”

Grady advertises itself as the busiest trauma center on the East Coast, and the influx of emergency patients to other hospitals has put a strain on the resources of such facilities as Emory and Piedmont.

Emory Healthcare said Tuesday that its Midtown location went into diversion mode because of the high volume of patients from Grady.

Governor Kemp also issued a Writ of Election ordering a January 28, 2020 Special Election for House District 171, which was vacated by the death of State Rep. Jay Powell (R-Camilla). From the Dalton Daily Citizen News:

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced the special election will be held on Jan. 28 for the district. If needed, a runoff will be held on Feb. 25. House District 171 includes parts of Colquitt, Decatur and Mitchell counties.

To qualify for the special election, candidates must pay a $400 fee to the Elections Division of the Secretary of State’s Office in Atlanta. Qualifying is from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Dec. 16 and 17 and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Dec. 18.

Dec. 30 is the last day to register to vote in the special election, according to the Secretary of State’s Office.

Gov. Kemp will be deposed by Stacey Abrams-backed Fair Fight Action over the 2018 elections, according to 11Alive.

Gov. Brian Kemp will face questioning under oath by lawyers linked to his 2018 Democratic opponent, Stacey Abrams. A federal judge issued the ruling as part of a lawsuit filed by a voting rights group.

The lawsuit claimed Kemp, as Secretary of State, violated the constitution by purging the names of inactive voters, making them ineligible to vote.

The court quotes Kemp in 2014 saying “you know the Democrats are working hard, and all these stories about them, you know, registering all these minority voters that are out there and others that are sitting on the sidelines, if they can do that they can win these elections in November. But we’ve got to do the exact same thing.”

The ruling allows Fair Fight’s attorneys to question Kemp about what he meant by saying that, and whether he intended to suppress minority voters as the suit alleges.

Former Democratic candidate for Governor Stacey Evans will run to return to the State House, this time in a different district than she previously represented. From Facebook:

Stacey Evans State House

From the AJC:

Democrat Stacey Evans will run for an open seat in the Georgia Legislature a year after she waged an unsuccessful campaign for governor, saying the Republican push for anti-abortion restrictions helped convince her to return to elected politics.

Evans told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution she’ll seek the seat held by retiring state Rep. Pat Gardner, a heavily Democratic-district in Atlanta. Evans moved from Smyrna to Atlanta shortly after Stacey Abrams defeated her in the 2018 gubernatorial primary.

“I have been watching what’s going on in the state and around the country and I have too much experience to sit on the sidelines during this critical time,” said Evans, an attorney. “And the heartbeat bill was the No. 1 factor. That was the worst thing that’s happened under the Gold Dome since I left.”

She has no known primary opponent for the seat held since 2001 by Gardner, who told supporters last week that “after the 2018 campaign and especially after the contentious 2019 session, I knew it was time to move on to new endeavors.”

Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene might switch her Congressional campaign to the 14th Congressional District, according to the AJC:

Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene appears on the verge of dropping out of the race for Georgia’s 6th Congressional District – and competing instead for the soon-to-be-vacated seat two districts over.

The political newcomer told grassroots activists at a GOP breakfast over the weekend that her “phone started ringing off the hook” after U.S. Rep. Tom Graves abruptly announced last week that he wouldn’t stand for another term.

“Then I started getting phone calls from the most conservative members in the House Freedom Caucus. Debbie Meadows – Mark Meadows’ wife — Jim Jordan, Andy Biggs,” she said, invoking members of that conservative group.

Greene, an executive with a construction company who lives in north Fulton, was a longshot contender to challenge Democrat Lucy McBath in the 6th District, which stretches from east Cobb to north DeKalb counties.

From the Rome News Tribune:

Local Republicans are not ready to jump on the bandwagon just yet.

“We think Ms. Greene is a good candidate. We just prefer someone from Floyd County, or at least the 14th District,” said Luke Martin, who chairs the Floyd County Republican Party.

Martin said Monday he’s talked to several other party chairs in the counties that make up the heavily Republican district and they’ve expressed the same reservations.

“We like her as a candidate. We just like her in the district where she lives,” Martin said.

Democrat Sara Tindall Ghazal will run for House District 45, currently held by Republican Matt Dollar, according to the AJC.

The head of the state Democratic Party’s voter protection initiative is seeking elected office for the first time, running for a Marietta-based Georgia House seat long held by a Republican lawmaker.

Sara Tindall Ghazal said Thursday she’ll put voting rights at the center of her campaign against state Rep. Matt Dollar, arguing that “we need to fix our elections so we can fix our government.”

But she’ll also emphasize support for new school funding, a call to expand Medicaid and opposition to a stalled push by Dollar to create a city of East Cobb, which she casts as an unpopular effort plugged by local developers.

The state Democratic party was the only in the nation to hire a full-time “voter protection” director when it hired Ghazal in 2018. She was deeply involved in the party’s voting rights initiatives last year, including litigation challenging then-Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s policies.

Henry County Commissioner Johnny Wilson announced he will run for reelection in 2020, according to

Commissioner Wilson was first elected in 2016 after retiring as a Henry County firefighter. Johnny described first deciding to run when some of his colleagues from the fire department knocked on his front door encouraging him to do so.

The commissioner’s platform in 2016 included improving public safety, addressing what he calls priority spending, and relieving traffic congestion through roadway improvements. If re-elected, he looks to continue many of the same initiatives.

Commissioner Wilson spoke about the class and compensation study, raising salaries of county employees to remain competitive with surrounding communities, and equipment investments. “We have bought in the neighborhood of ten to fifteen million dollars in equipment,” said Johnny, “a couple months back, we purchased seventy police cars.”

Wilson continued, “we have done this without raising the millage rate. The millage rate remains 12.733.” Henry County was recently named one of six counties in the state with a AAA bond rating, a testament to the county’s stability and healthy financial position.

Columbus area businessman Bob Wright still wants to build a $200 million dollar casino, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Bob Wright told a state committee he still intends to develop an “upscale destination resort” along the Chattahoochee River in south Columbus.

In 2016, Wright told the Ledger-Enquirer he wanted to bring a $200 million resort casino to the city should gambling be legalized. Legislation that would have started that process did not make it through the Georgia General Assembly in 2017, and efforts to revive the bill are likely to continue into 2020.

His announcement came as the Georgia House Special Committee on Economic Growth held a public hearing Wednesday at the City Services Center on Macon Road as part of a statewide listening tour to gather input from constituents.

Wright said he wants to bring the casino to south Columbus because it is an area that “needs a lot of help” in terms of housing and jobs.

“It really needs an economic catalyst to really turn that part of our city around,” Wright said. “We think the economic impact of a destination resort will have a tremendous effect on Columbus and our city as well as contribute to the HOPE Scholarship and other needs…”

The Center Square writes more about the Georgia House Special Committee on Economic Growth hearings.

The members of the Special Committee on Economic Growth have been deliberating over the financial benefits if gambling is legalized in Georgia.

About 21 states have taken legislative action since the U.S. Supreme Court in May 2018 lifted a federal ban on sports betting outside of Nevada. The 11-member committee was created in the 2019 legislative session to offer recommendations during the next session, which starts in January 2020.

A constitutional amendment would have to be approved by voters before any plans could be initiated.

Some residents want to make sure that their communities would not be left out of the economic benefits. Those opposed to gambling called the plans “immoral.” Other residents fear gentrification.

From WABE:

The promise of increased revenue has led state lawmakers to consider again making gambling legal in the state of Georgia.

Casino owners and even Atlanta’s pro sports teams are among those in support. Gaming that includes resort casinos, horse tracks and sports betting could, by some studies, bring in billions of dollars in revenue for the state.

Mike Griffin is with Georgia Baptist Mission Board. He says supporters of gambling are using “smoke and mirrors” to make it more palatable.

“We’ve got to call it, you know, some kind of rural development economic plan, we’ve got to call it ‘destination resort,’” Griffin said, referring to casinos that have hotels and entertainment venues connected to them.

The State House Health & Human Services Committee heard information about vaping, according to the Center Square.

After a string of vaping-related deaths and illnesses, the Trump Administration announced a plan in September to ban flavored vaping products because of their appeal to teenagers. The White House later rolled back the proposal after health officials determined most of the deaths were caused by tainted vapes with THC obtained on the black market.

But Georgia lawmakers have considered implementing a statewide ban.

Many presenters in Wednesday’s meeting said that tougher vaping regulations could reverse the positive impacts of the alternative to cigarette smoking.

At least 48 vaping-related or e-cigarette deaths have been reported in the U.S. this year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s December report. Three of those deaths occurred in Georgia. In addition, 16 percent of vaping-related illnesses nationwide have been found in patients between 13 and 17 years old.

A State House Study Committee is looking at statewide preemption of local building requirements, according to the Georgia Recorder.

The workforce housing committee’s final report essentially revives a controversial bill that earlier this year pitted many cities and county governments against home builders, realtors and the construction industry.

The committee approved a report Thursday that says developers are more likely to build homes that attract people who might be priced out of most houses in that area if local governments prohibit the use of lower cost materials.

At play is whether a local government can regulate everything from a home’s exterior color, the amount of square footage, the amount of vinyl siding, or whether a home can be built on a concrete slab.

While this year’s legislation had bipartisan support, it also drew strong opposition from legislators. Opponents are again expected to try to fend off House Bill 302, which remains alive for the 2020 legislative session.

Jim Cleveland resigned his seat on Hoschton City Council while facing a recall election, according to the AJC.

Embattled Hoschton City Councilman Jim Cleveland resigned Tuesday, telling The Atlanta Journal-Constitution he‘d rather leave office on his own terms than face voters in a recall election next month.

“I’m not going to give them the pleasure of saying they recalled Mr. Cleveland,” he said in an exclusive interview.

Cleveland repeated his racial beliefs as one resident recorded the exchange on her phone.

“I’m not racist, but I do not believe in interracial marriage,” he said.

Oil removal from the capsized M/V Golden Ray has been finished, according to The Brunswick News.

Two and half months and some 320,000 gallons later, officials on Thursday expressed confidence that they have removed every drop possible of oil and gas pollutants from the shipwrecked Golden Ray in the St. Simons Sound.

After pumping all oil from the tanks, workers went inside the tanks and steam-cleaned the interiors. Residual fuel from this process was collected and removed as well. The process addressed 26 tanks, containing heavy bunker oil, marine diesel gas and marine gas oil.

Two tanks, one containing heavy bunker oil and another containing diesel fuel, could not be completely cleaned because they lay under water on the ship’s submerged port side, said Coast Guard Lt. Commander Matt Waller. Workers used skimmers to remove the fuel that floated atop the water in those tanks, he said.

Unified Command is still working to complete plans to build an environmental protection barrier around the ship, in preparation of cutting it into pieces for removal. Those plans will be made public as soon as they are finalized, Unified Command said. Thursday marked the 96th day the gargantuan ship has sat half-submerged in the sound, just south of the federal shipping channel that serves the Port of Brunswick.

Right whales have been spotted off the coast of Georgia again this year, according to The Brunswick News.

[R]esearchers saw Naevus off Georgia. She’s nearly 30 years old, first spotted as a calf back up north in Cape Cod Bay in May 1990. She’s also been photographed with her own calves at least four times — once in December 2004, then in January 2011 and December 2013 and again with that same third calf in June 2014.

Her last sighting in the southern calving waters was in the 2013-14 season, as she arrived off Georgia around Dec. 17, 2013, and last seen off Florida on Feb. 16, 2014. The whales’ arrivals come during a critical series of years for the species.

Researchers found three of the whales spotted recently — Arpeggio, Harmony and Slalom — off South Carolina, so they could be nearby at any time.

Arpeggio is 22 years old, first seen off Georgia in February 1997. Harmony is 18, seen first around Florida in January 2001, and Slalom is the oldest right whale spotted so far, as she’s 37 years old and first recorded as a calf in the Bay of Fundy in August 1982.

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