Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 30, 2020


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 30, 2020

What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.

Ecclesiastes 1:9 (NIV)

Today’s historical moments below combine to show some of the major influences on Georgia politics and governance since her founding, and how the same conflicts have played out across the world, from Northern Ireland to India, to stages of rock and roll shows.

On January 30, 1788, the Georgia legislature passed a resolution calling for a state Constitutional Convention in Augusta to adopt a state Constitution that conformed to the new Constitution of the United States.

On January 30, 1862, the United States launced its first ironclad warship, USS Monitor.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was born on January 30, 1882 in Hyde Park, New York. In 1942, Roosevelt ordered Japanese-Americans on the west coast of the United States into concentration camps, leaving German and Italian Americans free.

On January 30, 1935, the Rev. Martin Luther King, Sr. protested segregated elevators at the Fulton County Courthouse.

On January 30, 1948, Mohandas K. Gandhi was assassinated.

1920 Georgia Flag

On January 30, 1956, six members of the Georgia State House of Representatives introduced House Bill 98 to replace the red and white stripes on Georgia’s flag (above) with a Confederate battle flag (below). That same day, a bomb was thrown at the Birmingham, AL home of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

1956 Georgia Flag

January 30, 1972 is remembered as Bloody Sunday in commemoration of the shooting of 26 civilians by British troops in Northern Ireland.

On January 30, 2001, the Georgia State Senate passed a house bill changing the state flag from the 1956 version to one that aggregated the State Seal and five former state flags, pictured below.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Congressman Doug Collins announced on Fox News that he will run for the United States Senate seat held by Kelly Loeffler. From FoxNews:

Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., confirmed on “Fox & Friends” Wednesday morning that he will run for U.S. Senate in a November special election, challenging incumbent GOP Sen. Kelly Loeffler — a move that drew a stunning rebuke from the organization tasked with defending the Republican Senate majority.

“We’re in for the Georgia Senate race down here. I’ve still got a lot of work left to do to help this president finish this impeachment out, and we’re going to make a bigger announcement down here in Georgia,” he told the “Fox & Friends” hosts.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee, however, slammed Collins for what it said was an ill-advised and self-centered bid for higher office.

“The shortsightedness in this decision is stunning,” NRSC Executive Director Kevin McLaughlin said in a statement. “Doug Collins’ selfishness will hurt David Perdue, Kelly Loeffler, and President Trump. Not to mention the people of Georgia who stand to bear the burden of it for years to come. All he has done is put two senate seats, multiple house seats, and Georgia’s 16 electoral votes in play. The NRSC stands firmly behind Sen. Kelly Loeffler and urges anyone who wants to re-elect President Trump, hold the GOP senate majority, and stop socialism to do the same.”

Collins’ entrance into the race makes a runoff far more likely, which could potentially decide the balance of the Senate in a vote held in January, a month when most people are not accustomed to going to the polls.

From Fox5Atlanta:

“Anyone is welcome to run for the United States Senate,” said [Loeffler] Press Secretary Caitlin O’Dea. “Kelly Loeffler grew up on a farm, worked her way through college, and built a successful career in business. She’s a conservative outsider, not a career politician, who is willing to challenge Washington’s wasteful ways to keep our state and country moving in the right direction [...] Kelly Loeffler remains unapologetically supportive of President Trump and his policies to Keep America Great. Already she’s delivering conservative results for hardworking families in the Peach State. And that’s exactly what she’s going to keep doing.”

Speaking at the Faith and Freedom Coalition of Georgia’s Legislative Luncheon Wednesday, Governor Kemp reaffirmed his support for Loeffler.

“We need somebody fighting for us every single day,” said Kemp. “I said, ‘you go up there and do that and I will be with you fighting to make sure that we keep you as our U.S. Senator.’ And Marty, the girls, and I look forward to being on the campaign trail with her over the next few months.”

From the AJC:

Now that U.S. Rep. Doug Collins has made his Senate run official, other Georgia GOP members in the House have a difficult decision to make.

U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter said Collins’ decision to challenge Loeffler for the seat creates an “awkward situation.”

U.S. Rep. Drew Ferguson, R-West Point, described Collins and Loeffler as “two absolutely great candidates” who each would reliably support conservative causes in Washington.

State Senator John Wilkinson (R-Toccoa) announced yesterday that he will run for the Ninth Congressional District seat being vacated by Collins. From WGAU:

“This is a critical time for our country, and we need an experienced, conservative voice willing to stand up for the values that residents of North Georgia hold dear”, said Wilkinson. “For the past eight years in Atlanta, I have fought to eliminate useless red tape and regulation of business, defended the sanctity of all life, and fought for our constitutional rights guaranteed by the 2nd Amendment. I look forward to continuing that fight in Washington.”

A native of Toccoa and graduate of Stephens County High School, Wilkinson earned degrees in agriculture and education from the University of Georgia. He has experience as a classroom teacher and served on the State Agricultural Education staff for 26 years. He has served as State Advisor to the Georgia FFA Association, as well as the Georgia Young Farmer Association. He was recognized as the Outstanding Member of the National Association of Supervisors of Agricultural Education in 2006. He and his wife Debbie have two children and five grandchildren. John and Debbie are active members of Tates Creek Baptist Church.

Senator Wilkinson has served as Chair of the Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee in the Senate for the past eight years. He also serves as Vice Chairman of the Education and Youth Committee, as well as a member of the Natural Resources and the Environment, Appropriations and Rules Committees. He has served as Secretary of the Senate Majority Caucus for the past 6 years.

The Ninth Congressional District includes all of Banks, Dawson, Elbert, Fannin, Franklin, Gilmer, Habersham, Hall, Hart, Jackson, Lumpkin, Madison, Rabun, Stephens, Towns, Union, White and parts of Clarke, Forsyth and Pickens counties. To learn more about Senator John Wilkinson, please visit

Habersham County Commission Chair Stacy Hall announced via Facebook that he will run for the State Senate seat being vacated by Wilkinson.

I am truly grateful and humbled by the overwhelming support and encouragement throughout the district to run for the State Senate seat currently held by John K. Wilkinson. After much prayer and speaking with many individuals across the district, along with the encouragement of my wife Ivy Copeland Hall and our children, I have decided to run for Georgia Senate District 50. If elected, I plan to represent you in fighting for our North Georgia values and Constitutional Rights.

I am asking for your prayers and support as we start this campaign.

State Rep. Kevin Tanner (R-Dawsonville) is also mulling a run for Congress, according to the Gainesville Times.

State Rep. Kevin Tanner (R-Dawsonville) says he is weighing a run for Georgia’s 9th Congressional district seat.

The 9th District, which includes a large swath of northeast Georgia, including Dawson, Hall, Lumpkin and many other counties, has been held by Collins since 2013.

In a statement to the Dawson County News on Wednesday, Tanner said that he has received a tremendous amount of support from constituents and colleagues, who have urged him to consider running for the seat.

“Well it’s unexpected and not something I was ever really planning,” he said. “But I’m definitely considering it.”

After much prayer and time spent talking with people in the 9th District, Tanner says he will likely make a decision one way or another in the next few days.

Under the Gold Dome Today – LD7




10:00 AM HOUSE FLOOR SESSION (LD8) House Chamber



1:00 PM SENATE JOINT House Education and Senate Education and Youth 606 CLOB





1:00 PM HOUSE Powell Public Safety and Homeland Security Subcommittee CANCELLED 415 CLOB












The State Senate Transportation Committee will not regulate electric scooters, but laid the groundwork for local governments to do so, according to AccessWDUN.

The Senate Transportation Committee on Tuesday unanimously approved a new version of Senate Bill 159, which would define electric scooters in state law. But it would do nothing else, leaving other regulations up to local governments.

State Sen. Steve Gooch, a Dahlonega Republican, told committee members Tuesday that’s how the scooter companies and local governments both want it.

“Local governments should be doing backflips and cartwheels,” Gooch said. “They’re getting everything they asked for.’”

The study committee, which Gooch chaired, recommended regulating impounds and encouraging safer scooter designs and docks to alleviate the problem of scooters being strewn on sidewalks. However, it also said the state “should be careful not to overregulate the micromobility industry.” Gooch says he hopes cities don’t ban scooters.

“We believe scooters are a good solution to the first- and last-mile transit problem,” Gooch said, saying they help people reach buses and trains.

The State Senate Agriculture Committee heard a proposed new version of House Bill 545, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The Georgia Right to Farm Act of 2020, now before the state Senate, would make it more difficult for property owners living in areas zoned for agriculture to sue nearby agricultural operations such as poultry houses or cattle ranches for offensive smells or runoff from sludge lagoons.

In order to sue, property owners would have to be located within five miles of the source of the alleged nuisance. The bill also would require lawsuits to be brought within two years after a nuisance occurs, compared to four years in the current law.

Supporters told members of the Senate Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee Tuesday farmers need more protection against nuisance lawsuits as Georgia’s growing population brings more people who don’t farm for a living into closer proximity to agricultural operations.

“Agribusiness often comes with smells, sights, and dust,” said Will Bentley, president of the Georgia Agribusiness Council. “We have to decide whether to protect the state’s No.-1 industry.”

Sen. Zahra Karinshak, D-Duluth, said the proposed changes to the law would make existing owners of farm properties more vulnerable to large agricultural polluters that move into their neighborhoods. She questioned the need to change the law when there’s no data showing whether there has been an outbreak of nuisance lawsuits in Georgia.

From the Georgia Recorder:

The so-called “Right to Farm” bill would add new limitations for when nuisance complaints can be filed against farmers. A new iteration unveiled Tuesday afternoon softened some of the proposed changes from last year, but environmentalists and Democrats still argue the current law is working just fine.

There may not be widespread nuisance complaints being filed against farmers statewide, but successful lawsuits against the hog industry in North Carolina were enough to send chills across the country in recent years. The bill is considered a top priority for the agricultural industry this session.

The current law grants a four-year window for someone to pursue a nuisance complaint. The new proposal would allow for two years, which is a year longer than last year’s bill. It also requires the aggrieved to be a property owner who lives within five miles of their gripe’s target. The Senate Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee did not vote on the measure Tuesday.

Opponents, like Damon Mullis with the Ogeechee Riverkeeper, argued that these changes and others disrupt the balance that the current law provides and hurt long-time residents of rural Georgia. He noted that the proposal now appears to nix protections against urban sprawl – one of the concerns driving the original law.

“For over 30 years, the ‘Right to Farm’ law has worked to protect farmers and rural property owners and now for some reason we’re trying to fix a problem that I don’t think really exists,” Mullis said.

Former Governor Nathan Deal toured the judicial building that now bears his name, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Deal, Georgia Supreme Court Justices and several others visited the building Wednesday morning for a tour. They also heard from a former prison inmate, William Rutledge, and saw some of the furniture in the building made by inmates from three Georgia Department of Corrections facilities.

At $130 million, the building is intended to last 100 years, which was Deal’s vision when he secured the funding and won the legislature’s support for it. The building is now owned and managed by the Georgia Building Authority, though different courts lease it.

The building came in $1 million under budget, but what helps it stand out is that a number of pieces of furniture were designed and constructed by Georgia prison inmates through Georgia Correctional Industries.

“I think this is emblematic of all of those reforms that we worked for while I was governor,” Deal said. “I have so many people to thank and certainly Justice Michael Boggs is one of those because he was the consistent co-chair of the Criminal Justice Reform Commission from its very inception. He and many other have worked really hard to get those reforms passed … and I can’t think of a better illustration of all of that coming together than in this facility.”

A federal judge has drawn new districts and ordered elections in Sumter County, according to the AJC.

U.S. District Judge W. Louis Sands created four districts in Sumter County where more than 60% of the voting population is made up of African Americans, giving them a better chance to win a majority on the seven-member school board.

Sands also eliminated two at-large districts that were elected countywide and are held by white school board members.

The judge found that the school districts had disempowered black voters and violated the Voting Rights Act, the landmark 1965 law that prohibits racial discrimination in elections.

“This ruling is a victory for the parents and children of Sumter County who want an equal say in their education,” said Sean Young, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia. “At-large districts have traditionally been a racist tool for preventing black voters from electing candidates of their choice. The court today has eliminated those at-large seats.”

An attorney defending the Sumter County elections board said he plans to appeal Sands’ ruling.

The Special Election for State House in southwest Georgia exposed some growing pains with the new voting system, according to the AJC.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said Georgia’s new voting system performed well during a special election Tuesday, saying voters experienced “just two minor issues.”

But poll watchers said they observed more problems, including scanners that wouldn’t initially accept ballots and a lack of voter privacy when they made their choices on touchscreens.

Raffensperger said several voter access cards, used to activate ballots on the touchscreens, weren’t working because a poll worker had been inserting them the wrong way in the computer that encodes them.

In addition, 13 ballots had to placed in an emergency ballot box when a ballot scanner lost power. A technician found that the scanner wasn’t plugged in.

“The transition to any new system will inevitably trigger some human error, and we experienced some minor ones Tuesday,” Raffensperger said in a statement Wednesday. “Our challenge is to scale up this success to more than 2,000 polling places in March for the presidential preference primary.”

The problems didn’t prevent anyone from voting or delay precincts from opening on time, he said.

The election for DeKalb Commission Super District 6 is gaining candidates after incumbent Kathie Gannon announced she will not seek reelection. From the Champion:

Gannon made her announcement Jan. 24 stating: “It is time for the next generation to move on up, to provide the energy, initiative and new ideas to build upon what we have started to continue progressive movement forward in DeKalb County.”

Clarkston Mayor Ted Terry announced Jan. 27 that he will soon resign his role as mayor to run for the District 6 DeKalb County commission seat and realtor Robert Murphy also started his campaign for the seat. Digital media executive Emily Halevy announced her intent one day prior to Gannon’s announcement.

Gannon, whose term is set to expire Dec. 31, has endorsed Halevy to take over as the District 6 representative upon her departure.

“Please take the time to get to know any candidates for District 6 to make sure they are sincere about public service and serving you; that they are accessible and that they can work with the board of commissioners,” Gannon stated. “I am thrilled to present to you for your consideration the person I will support as my District 6 County Commissioner, Emily Halevy.”

DeKalb County Super District 6 includes portions of the city of Atlanta, Avondale Estates, Brookhaven, Chamblee, Clarkston, Decatur, and Dunwoody.

Candidates may officially qualify for the seat March 2, ahead of the May 19 General Election Primary.

The Macon-Bibb County Mayoral race has lost candidates, according to 41 NBC.

harles Olson announced he’s dropping out of the Macon-Bibb mayoral race Tuesday.

Now, a second candidate has decided to drop out of the race as well. Michael McKeever announced that he’s ending his campaign Wednesday at the Board of Elections Office. McKeever thanked everyone who contributed to his campaign and, and says he will endorse Stanley Stewart.

A proposed mining facility near the Okefenokee Swamp is drawing more opposition, according to The Brunswick News.

Opposition is mounting against the proposed titanium mine by Twin Pines Minerals near the south end of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge.

State Sen. William Ligon, R-White Oak, has joined more than 25 regional, state and national organizations to express concerns about the proposed mining project.

In a letter written to Col. Daniel Hibner, with the Army Corps of Engineers office in Savannah, Ligon said the 12,000-acre heavy mineral sands mine could impact many of his constituents.

“The Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge was designated in 1937 and enjoys over 600,000 visitors annually,” Ligon said in his letter. “I join more than 20,000 citizens, businesses and organizations, along with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and Georgia Environmental Protection Division to express my concern for the long-term impacts that may result from the proposed mine.”

Jill Biden, wife of former Vice President Joe Biden, will speak in Columbus, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

She will be the keynote speaker at the 35th annual Black History Month Observance Breakfast in the Columbus Convention and Trade Center on Feb. 17, starting at 7 a.m.

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