Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 10, 2020

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 10, 2020

On January 11, 1765, Francis Salvador of South Carolina became the first Jewish elected official in America when he took a seat in the South Carolina Provincial Congress. Salvador’s grandfather was one of 42 Jews who emigrated to Georgia in 1733. Salvador later became the first Jewish soldier to die in the American Revolution.

On January 12, 1775, St. Andrews Parish on the Georgia coast passed a series of resolutions that included approving the actions of patriots in Massachusetts, three resolutions critical of British government actions, and a renunciation of slavery. The resolutions also appointed delegates to a provincial legislature at Savannah and urging that Georgia send two delegates to the Continental Congress to be held in Philadelphia the next year.

On January 10, 1868, the Georgia Equal Rights Association was formed in Augusta.

On January 10, 1870, the Georgia General Assembly convened and seated African-American legislators who had been expelled in 1868.

On January 12, 1906, the American Intercollegiate Football Rules Committee legalized the forward pass. Some credit Georgia Tech coach John Heisman as having popularized the idea of making the forward pass legal after seeing it in a game between Georgia and North Carolina.

On January 11, 1908, President Theodore Roosevelt declared the Grand Canyon a national monument.

“Let this great wonder of nature remain as it now is,” he declared. “You cannot improve on it. But what you can do is keep it for your children, your children’s children, and all who come after you, as the one great sight which every American should see.”

Kenesaw Mountain Landis was elected the first Commissioner of Baseball on January 12, 1921. Judge Landis was named after the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain, where his father was wounded fighting for the Union.

Eugene Talmadge was sworn-in to his first term as Governor of Georgia on January 10, 1933.

Talmadge fired elected officials who resisted his authority. Others were thrown out of their offices. Literally.

Marvin Griffin of Bainbridge was inaugurated as Governor of Georgia on January 11, 1955.

Marvin Griffin Monument

After Julian Bond’s election to the Georgia House of Representatives in 1965, the chamber voted against seating him ostensibly because he had publicly state his opposition to the war in Vietnam. On January 10, 1967, after the United States Supreme Court held the legislature had denied Bond his right to free speech, he was seated as a member of the State House.

Jimmy Carter was inaugurated as Governor of Georgia on January 12, 1971.

The first inauguration of Governor Joe Frank Harris was held on January 11, 1983; his second inauguration was January 13, 1987.

Six years ago, on January 10, 2014, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution released a poll of the Georgia Governor’s race that showed Nathan Deal with 47 percent to 38 percent for Jason Carter. The nine-point Deal advantage was as close as the AJC polling firm would come all year to correctly predicting the point spread in the General Election.

Governor Nathan Deal was sworn-in as the 82d Governor of Georgia on January 10, 2011 while snow shut down the planned public Inaugural.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp may be challenged to fulfill the rest of his promise of a $5000 raise for teachers, according to the Statesboro Herald.

Gov. Brian Kemp has promised Georgia public school teachers another $2,000 in pay raises, after the legislature provided funding for $3,000 last year.

But even the strongest advocates of raises say they may not happen this year, in part because of flagging tax revenues that led the Republican to order budget cuts.

“It may not come this year,” said Charlotte Booker, president of the Georgia Association of Educators, an affiliate of the National Education Association. “It may come next year. But I’m hopeful he will live up to his word and give at least $1,000 or more this year.”

Kemp has said he stands by his promise, but won’t say whether he’ll push for any money this year. The remaining $2,000 could cost $325 million. Observers say that it’s possible that lawmakers could still give the $1,000 Booker referenced, in part because they are up for re-election.

Georgia House Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) discussed how the budget will affect the length of the session, according to WABE.

“People that haven’t been around for a budget-cutting session are going to be in for a real surprise,” he said.

Speaking to media Thursday, Ralston was cautious about promising too many new items in the state budget, given the governor’s request that most state agencies cut their budgets.

He had a similar answer related to a recent proposal to address the state’s high maternal mortality rate by extending Medicaid coverage to mothers up to one year postpartum.

“Obviously the budget kind of constrains what we can do in that regard,” he said of the idea. “The question becomes, is this the year we can do that, and I think that remains to be seen because, as I said earlier, we can’t do everything.”

“We always have to keep in mind the budget is about more than numbers and percentages. Those programs that are important to people,” he said.

Speaker Ralston favors an income tax cut, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Lawmakers voted two years ago to reduce Georgia’s income tax rate for the first time since the 1930s, from 6% to 5.75%. The 2018 legislation called for another vote in 2020 on cutting the tax rate further to 5.5%

“The income tax cut was a commitment we made to the people of Georgia,” House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, said Thursday. “I hope we do that.”

Ralston’s determination to follow through with the rest of the promised tax cut sets up a likely debate among majority Republicans during the session that starts next week.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jack Hill warned this week that 2020 may not be the right time to be making additional tax cuts. Hill, R-Reidsville, pointed to state tax revenues that are running well below projections, a trend likely to create a budget gap the legislature will have to fill.

While Ralston supported cutting state income taxes again, he was less enthusiastic over giving Georgia teachers the remaining $2,000 of a $5,000 pay raise the governor promised on the campaign trail in 2018. Lawmakers approved the first $3,000 of the raise last year.

“That was not my campaign promise, even though it’s a laudable goal,” Ralston said.

 From Maggie Lee’s story in the Saporta Report:

Georgia House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, is not joining any move to completely get rid of the state’s film tax credit or to take over the Atlanta airport.

“If we need to make some changes [in the tax credit program], I’m happy to have some discussion about that, but I think it’s important that we come into this process being very clear that we’re going to continue that” [tax credit] Ralston said.

As for Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Ralston said he still has yet to see any case for the state trying to take over the city-owned asset.

“A separate question is: ’Is there a proper role for legislative oversight of operations of the airport?’” Ralston said. “That’s something I think we can have a discussion about.”

The Dalton Daily Citizen News writes about local legislators on state budget issues.

“I think any bills that call for new spending are going to have a tough sell,” said state Rep. Jason Ridley, R-Chatsworth, in an interview.

Members of the Whitfield County delegation spoke at a breakfast hosted by the Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce on Thursday at the Dalton Convention Center. The General Assembly’s 2020 session starts on Monday.

Gov. Brian Kemp, who has been advised by state economists that a mild recession is likely later this year, has asked lawmakers to cut 4% from spending in the current fiscal year, which ends June 30, and 6% in fiscal 2021.

“The budget cuts will really only be to about 35% or 40% of the budget,” said state Rep. Kasey Carpenter, R-Dalton, in an interview.

Georgia Recorder looks at the candidates in the Special Election for State Senate District 17.

Carden Summers of Cordele and Jim Quinn of Leesburg will run as Republicans, and Mary Egler of Leesburg is the lone Democrat in the special contest set for Feb. 4, according to the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office website.

The trio will compete to replace the late state Sen. Greg Kirk, who died just days before Christmas after a six-month battle with bile duct cancer. The conservative district is expected to stay in Republican hands.

All the candidates will be familiar to voters after past campaigns for public office, with Quinn and Egler running in last year’s special election to replace former state Rep. Ed Rynders.

If needed, a runoff will be held March 3. Thursday, Jan. 9 is the last day to register to vote.

From the Albany Herald:

The district includes Crisp, Dodge, Dooly, Lee, Tift, Turner and Worth counties and parts of Sumter and Wilcox counties.

Quinn, the former Leesburg mayor, finished first in the special election to fill the House District 152 seat with nearly 42 percent of the vote, but lost in the Dec. 3 runoff to former Sylvester Mayor Bill Yearta.

Egler, a Democrat, said a big part of the reason she is running is to encourage citizen participation in the political process.

She has sought political office on several occasions. She finished third in the first round of the District 152 contest.

State Rep. Mark Newton (R-Augusta) will take the chair of the House Special Committee on Access to Quality Healthcare, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

“This committee is doing important work examining the state’s regulatory role in health care and exploring how we can increase access to health care while decreasing costs,” Ralston said.

“Lowering costs, empowering patients and improving outcomes are the overarching goals which this group has been tasked to achieve,” Newton said.

Newton, R-123, was first elected in 2016 when Rep. Barbara Sims retired. Now chief deputy whip of the Majority Caucus, Newton replaces committee chair Rep. Richard Smith, who was named chairman of the House Rules Committee.

Angela Duncan was sworn in as a Gwinnett County Superior Court Judge, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Duncan’s seat on the bench is a newly created position that was established by the Georgia General Assembly last year, and she joins the bench as its 11th member.

It was a history-making moment because Duncan is Gwinnett County’s first openly gay Superior Court judge. Her wife, Michele Tainter, held the Bible that Duncan laid her hand upon as Kemp administered the oath of office.

The couple’s sons Brody and Alex Tainter watched from the audience, alongside other family members.

[T]he judge said a friend asked her what relevance her sexual orientation had to her qualifications.

“The reality is it doesn’t; however, it is extremely important that other people have an example to follow,” Duncan said. “I had examples like that. Ellen DeGeneres had the courage to come out. I have been open in Gwinnett County … for my entire practice there, and it is a stronghold for the Republican Party, and I am proud to be a part of that community, and I have been accepted with open arms.”

“So, why does it matter? It matters because there might be people similarly situated that don’t have the courage or maybe think ‘I can’t,’ so if I have an opportunity to be an example, then I am honored to have that opportunity.”

[Her] background includes service as an Army and Operation Desert Shield veteran, her work as a private practice attorney, her time as a municipal judge in multiple cities and her 20 years as a judge, including work as a municipal judge in multiple cities and her time as a Gwinnett County Magistrate Court judge.

“Judge Duncan clearly stood out (as a candidate for the position) because of her work ethic and her experience,” Kemp said during the swearing in ceremony. “She has some impeccable credentials and, quite honestly, the right expertise to serve the people of Gwinnett County.

State Court Judge Carla Brown, a longtime friend of Duncan, introduced her before the oath of office was administered.

“Judge Duncan has presided over numerous civil and criminal trials and shows true compassion to those who come before her,” Brown said. “She has a sharp wit, incredible insight and enjoys finding uniquely appropriate solutions to the cases that she encounters.

“Gov. Kemp, it is obvious from all of the accolades and qualifications that Judge Duncan was a solid and strong choice to be Gwinnett County’s 11th Superior Court judge. Thank you for your wisdom and for leading Gwinnett County, Georgia into 2020 by having the courage to appoint Gwinnett County’s first openly gay Superior Court judge.”

Some Bibb County schools are using yoga and meditation to encourage better student behavior, according to the Macon Telegraph.

[Guided breathing exercise] is part of a pilot program at two Bibb County schools that Andrade hopes to bring into more area classrooms. The program is relatively simple — four deep-breathing techniques that take about four minutes with an aim of doing it for at least 40 days.

“Forty days is what research has shown it takes to create a habit,” [breathing instructor Maria Andrade] said. “So we ask teachers to do it for 40 days to basically create a new habit.”

This Saturday, teachers, school officials, parents and students will gather at Georgia State University for an On the Same Breath Summit focused on teaching some of the breathing techniques. Andrade, who attended a similar program in August, was inspired to bring the training to Macon.

“The feedback I’m getting is that it really calms the students, that they are starting to ask for it because they enjoy taking that four minutes for themselves during the day,” Andrade said. “And some of the younger students, when they really start crying hysterically, the teachers have used that to calm them down.”

Schools in places like Baltimore and Chicago have seen positive results from implementing time for mindfulness exercises into their curriculum. A 2019 analysis of research published in the journal of “Aggression and Violent Behavior” suggested “mindfulness practices may offer low-cost intervention to reduce stress and violence in the community. … There is ample support that mindfulness can reduce stress and aggressive behavior.”

Chatham County kicked off its campaign in support of the 2020 Census, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Scott James Matheson was sworn in as Mayor of Valdosta, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Jennifer Gibbs announced she will run for Hall County Clerk of Courts, according to AccessWDUN.

The Rome News Tribune spoke to three Rome City Commissioners about their 2020 priorities.

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