Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 6, 2020


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 6, 2020

Georgia began its love affair with the regulation of what can and cannot be sold on April 3, 1735, when James Oglethorpe, founder of the colony, helped gain passage of “An Act to prevent the Importation and Use of Rum and Brandies in the Province of Georgia.” The act provided that after June 24, 1735, “no Rum, Brandies, Spirits or Strong Waters” shall be imported into Georgia.” Permission was also required to sell beer, wine, and ale.

On April 3, 1776, the Continental Congress authorized “privateers” holding a letter of marque and reprisal to attack British ships. This essentially legalizes what would otherwise be considered piracy. Issuing letters of marque and reprisal is among the enumerated powers of Congress under Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, though they have seldom been used.

On April 4, 1776, General George Washington began marching his troops from Cambridge, Massachusetts to New York, in anticipation of an invasion by the British.

On April 6, 1776, the Continental Congress announced that all ports in America would be open to trade with other countries not ruled by the British. The action was taken several months after Britain passed the American Prohibitory Act which forbade trade with the colonies and was intended to punish colonists for the growing rebellion.

President George Washington exercised the veto power for the first time on April 5, 1792.

The bill introduced a new plan for dividing seats in the House of Representatives that would have increased the amount of seats for northern states. After consulting with his politically divided and contentious cabinet, Washington, who came from the southern state of Virginia, ultimately decided that the plan was unconstitutional because, in providing for additional representatives for some states, it would have introduced a number of representatives higher than that proscribed by the Constitution.

President William Henry Harrison died in office on April 4, 1841, a month after his inauguration.

At the inauguration of America’s first Whig president, on March 4, 1841, a bitterly cold day, Harrison declined to wear a jacket or hat, made a two-hour speech, and attended three inauguration balls. Soon afterward, he developed pneumonia. On April 4, President Harrison died in Washington, and Vice President John Tyler ascended to the presidency, becoming the first individual in U.S. history to reach the office through the death of a president.

John Tyler was sworn in as the tenth President of the United States on April 6, 1841.

Tyler was elected as William Harrison’s vice president earlier in 1841 and was suddenly thrust into the role of president when Harrison died one month into office. He was the first vice president to immediately assume the role of president after a sitting president’s untimely exit and set the precedent for succession thereafter.

On April 3, 1865, Richmond fell. On April 4, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln toured Richmond, Virginia the day after the Confederate Capitol fell to Union forces.

The first modern Olympic Games opened in Athens, Greece on April 6, 1896.

On April 3, 1898, President William McKinley called on Georgians to contribute 3000 volunteers for the Spanish-American War.

The United States entered World War I on April 6, 1917, when the US House of Representatives voted 373-50 on a declaration of war that passed the Senate two days earlier.

The Brown Thrasher was first recognized as the official state bird of Georgia on April 5, 1935 through an Executive Order signed by Governor Eugene Talmadge. Later the designation of official state symbols through executive fiat was challenged and the General Assembly would recognize the Brown Thrasher again as official state bird in 1970.

On April 5, 1962, Governor Ernest Vandiver called a Special Session of the Georgia General Assembly to revise the state’s election code following a decision by the United States Supreme Court in the case of Baker v. Carr.

The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., accompanied by Georgians Hosea Williams and Ralph D. Abernathy, was in Memphis, Tennessee, supporting a strike by sanitation workers on April 3, 1968. He delivered what is known as the “Mountaintop Speech.”

“[L]ike anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over, and I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you, but I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the promised land. So I’m happy tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”

On April 4, 1968 Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot in Memphis. James Earl Ray would later be arrested and plead guilty to the assassination.

On April 5, 1968, amid racial tension following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., musician James Brown helped keep the peace in Boston.

2001: A Space Odyssey was released on April 6, 1968.

On April 4, 1974, Hank Aaron hit home run 714, tying Babe Ruth’s record.

On April 5, 1977, Wyche Fowler won a runoff election over John Lewis for the Fifth Congressional District, following the appointment of Andrew Young as Ambassador to the United Nations. Fowler would win election to the United States Senate in 1986, and ironically, lose his seat in a 1992 runoff election to the Paul Coverdell.

On April 5, 1980, the band that would come to be known as R.E.M. played their first show as Twisted Kites in Athens, Georgia.

On April 4, 1988, the Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly was recognized as the official state butterfly of Georgia.

The Atlanta Braves played their first game in Turner Field on April 4, 1997, defeating the Chicago Cubs 5-4. Denny Neagle started on the mound for the Braves and Mark Wohlers earned a save. Atlanta’s Michael Tucker hit the first homerun in the new stadium.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp named members to a Coronavirus Task Force Community Outreach Committee, according to a press release.

“To continue to serve the needs of all Georgians during this challenging time, we have formed the Community Outreach Committee,” said Governor Kemp. “Comprised of talented individuals from the public and private sectors, I am confident this committee will ensure that our state remains prepared in the fight against COVID-19.”

The full list of this committee can be found below:

Community Outreach Committee

Dr. Bernice A. King, CEO, The King Center – Co-Chair
Leo Smith, President, Engaged Futures Group, LLC – Co-Chair
Santiago Marquez, President and CEO, Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
Representative Calvin Smyre, Dean of the Georgia House of Representatives
Leona Barr-Davenport, President and CEO, Atlanta Business League
Nancy Flake Johnson, President and CEO, Urban League of Greater Atlanta
Reverend Tim McDonald III, Pastor, First Iconium Baptist Church – Moreland Avenue
Pastor Reggie Joiner, CEO and Founder, Orange
Tres Hamilton, CEO, Coastal Georgia Area Community Action Authority
Natalie Keng, Founder and CEO, Chinese Southern Belle, LLC
Jasmine Crowe, Founder and CEO, Goodr, Inc.
Dr. Wayne S. Morris, MD – Internal Medicine/Geriatrics
Laura Mathis, Executive Director, Middle GeorgiaRegional Commission
Rodney D. Bullard, Executive Director, Chick-fil-A Foundation
Jacob Vallo, Senior Director of Transit Oriented Development and Real Estate, MARTA
Sunny Patel, Operations Manager, Office of the Governor

Governor Kemp also announced that CVS Health will open a drive-through testing facility, according to a press release.

Governor Brian P. Kemp announced that the State of Georgia has joined forces with CVS Health to increase access to rapid COVID-19 testing. Starting today, CVS will be operating drive-thru rapid COVID-19 testing, offered by Abbott Laboratories, at a site on Georgia Tech’s campus. At full capacity, the site will be able to conduct up to 1,000 tests per day.

“Increased access to rapid testing remains one of our top priorities in order to identify more cases, get Georgians the care they need, and prevent further infection in our communities,” said Governor Kemp. “This unique, public-private partnership will strengthen our testing capability as we continue to take the fight to COVID-19 in Georgia, and we are grateful for CVS Health’s support to stop the spread of the virus.”

“CVS Health is uniquely positioned to play a vital role in helping support both local communities and the overall health care system in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Troyen A. Brennan, M.D., M.P.H, Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, CVS Health. “Our ability to help coordinate the availability of rapid COVID-19 testing for Georgia citizens will bolster the state’s efforts to manage the spread of the virus and provide people with on-the-spot test results.”

Testing will take place at a parking deck on Georgia Tech’s campus, where officials will be able to accommodate multiple lanes of cars at one time. Health care providers, including nurse practitioners and physician assistants from MinuteClinic, the company’s retail medical clinic, will be onsite to oversee testing. The process will take approximately 30 minutes from specimen collection to delivery of results, and patients will need to pre-register in advance for a same-day appointment online at

For more information on the CVS Health Rapid COVID-19 Testing Site, see below:


People will need to be pre-screened online and register for a test in advance at

Address & Hours of Operation:

Address: 352 Peachtree Place, Atlanta, GA, 30332

Hours of Operation: Drive-through testing, by appointment, will be open seven days a week.

Monday-Friday: 9 AM – 6 PM

Saturday: 10 AM – 5 PM

Sunday: 10 AM – 4 PM

Commonly Asked Questions:

What is the registration process?

Rapid COVID-19 testing will be available to eligible individuals who meet criteria established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in addition to state residency and age guidelines. Patients will need to pre-register in advance on-line at in order to schedule a same-day time slot to be tested.

When patients arrive at the test site, they are required stay in their vehicle. Team members on site will check their registration and direct them through the testing process.

For more information about test site locations, hours of operations, and how to register for a test, please visit

How much will the tests cost for individuals?

Testing is currently available at no charge to the public.

How long will the process take per patient? How long will it take to get the results?

The process will take approximately 30 minutes from the swab to the results.

Will walk-up testing be allowed for those who don’t have cars?

No, for the safety of patients and health care providers on site, testing is limited to drive-through testing only.

Can anyone drive up and get a test?

No, patients will need to register and verify their eligibility for testing. Once they have done so, the patient will be provided with an appointment window online.

To learn more about test site locations, hours and registration requirements, please visit

Gov. Kemp also extended authority to Georgia’s sheriffs to enforce emergency orders, according to Valdosta Today.

Governor Kemp is being criticized for the portion of the statewide shelter in place order that reopened beaches previously closed by local authorities. From the Savannah Morning News:

Tybee Island Mayor Shirley Sessions released a statement on the morning of Saturday, April 4, regarding the local impacts of Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s statewide shelter-in-place directive issued April 2, which nullified more restrictive measures that Tybee officials put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“As the Pentagon ordered 100,000 body bags to store the corpses of Americans killed by the Coronavirus, Governor Brian Kemp dictated that Georgia beaches must reopen, and declared any decision makers who refused to follow these orders would face prison and/or fines.”

“While the beaches have to reopen under the Governor’s order, Tybee will not have beach access and parking lots will remain closed until further notice. It should also be noted that Tybee currently is not properly staffed with Emergency Medical Services and there are no life guards in place. At no time has the state designated a single point of contact to orchestrate the implementation of the Governor’s plan.”

“Additionally in spite of the serious health situation facing our community and the world, Governor Kemp has rescinded all restrictions put in place by local municipalities since March 1st.”

“Tybee City Council and I are devastated by the sudden directives and do not support his decisions. The health of our residents, staff and visitors are being put at risk and we will pursue legal avenues to overturn his reckless mandate.”

Savannah Mayor Van Johnson purports to extend the city’s emergency orders through April 30, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Following the release of Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s statewide shelter-in-place order on Thursday, April 2, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Savannah Mayor Van Johnson expressed deep frustration that Kemp’s announcement nullifies many measures taken locally over the past two weeks to counter the coronavirus threat. He is seeking legal remedies to maintain Savannah’s more comprehensive emergency ordinances.

On Friday, April 3, Johnson extended Savannah’s state-of-emergency measures through April 30, regardless of what impacts Kemp’s less-restrictive Thursday order may have on the city’s COVID-19 response. The statewide shelter-in-place declaration is set to expire on April 13.

“I’m beyond disappointed and confused,” Johnson said of Kemp’s actions when reached by phone on Friday afternoon. “I’m really more disappointed for our residents, who are absolutely confused.”

Allies of the Governor responded to the criticism, according to the AJC.

Public Service Commissioner Tim Echols sent his supporters a lengthy newsletter assailing the “fake news media” and those he accused of trying to “score cheap political points” during the crisis.

“Now is not the time for pandemic politics,” he wrote. “It’s time for Georgians to unite together and support Governor Kemp and his team who are using data, science, and experts to chart a measured path forward.”

Several of Kemp’s defenders pointed to the pressure-cooker of a crisis that forces public officials to balance public safety, economic vitality and personal health. State Rep. Terry Rogers said it’s easy to “sit at home and try to make decisions without all the facts.”

“But anyone who knows the governor and his team knows how hard they’re working,” said Rogers, a Clarkesville Republican who is one of Kemp’s top deputies in the Georgia House.

“Are there things they wish they could do differently? I’m sure. But he’s always had the best interest of the people of this state at heart. And with the situation constantly changing, he’s making the best decisions he can based on the most current information provided to him.”

Georgia is spending $72 million to expand healthcare facilities to respond to Covid-19, according to the AJC.

Gov. Brian Kemp and the state’s coronavirus task force said Saturday four new mobile medical units and expansions at two hospitals will add nearly 300 hospital beds to Georgia’s inventory as the state prepares for the coming peak in patient demand from COVID-19.

Kemp said in a news release that 20-bed mobile medical units will be deployed to Albany and Rome, and a 24-bed unit will be located in Atlanta. A second unit with 24 beds is on standby.

The state also announced the planned addition of 208 hospital beds in Albany and Snellville. The state has worked with Phoebe Putney Health System to reopen Phoebe North Campus in Albany, where the release said the system will open 12 new intensive care beds with in a week and 15 general hospital beds by mid-April. Another 15 ICU beds will follow in mid-April and 59 general beds will come online in May.

In Snellville, the reopened HCA Eastside Medical Center will have 24 ICU beds and 36 general beds will be opened up starting within a week, with 30 ICU beds and an additional 17 general beds to be added by late April.

Kemp said the state has committed $72 million to the additional beds, including $12 million for additional staff at the main Phoebe Putney hospital in Albany.

RIP Babe Atkins-Byrne, late wife of former Cobb County Commission Chair Bill Byrne. From the AJC:

Ralene “Babe” Atkins-Byrne died Friday morning, friends and family have confirmed. Atkins-Byrne is the wife of Bill Byrne, who served as Cobb County Commission chairman from 1992 to 2002.

Atkins-Byrne was an administrative assistant for Cobb County Superior Court Judge George Kreeger, membership committee chairwoman for the Cobb County Republican Women’s Club and a member of the Cobb County Legal Professionals Association (a branch of the former National Association of Legal Secretaries).

Dougherty County Probate Judge Nancy Smith Stephenson died from Covid-19, according to WGXA.

The judge died late Wednesday night according to a Facebook post from the Council of Probate Court Judges of Georgia.

The post reveals that she had tested positive for COVID-19 and succumbed to complications from the virus.

Judge Stephenson served as the probate judge in Dougherty County for 27 years and she was an active member of the Probate Court Judges of Georgia.

“Judge Stevenson’s death brings many of the people in our community to the next phase of this battle because now we know someone who has been a victim to COVID-19,” said Mayor of Albany Bo Dorough.

From the Fulton County Daily Report:

“In the majority of those counties, it’s not uncommon for you to just walk into a probate court, and the judge is right there and the staff is right there,” [Council of Probate Court Judges of Georgia executive director Kevin D. Holder] said Thursday as he processed the shock of learning that the council’s friend and member, Dougherty County Probate Judge Nancy Stephenson, 63, had died the night before of COVID-19.

As of Thursday, Holder said he knew of three other probate judges from different parts of the state who were sick with the virus, as well as some of their clerks, staff and family members.

“We’ve sent our judges an advisory that you need a permanent succession plan, because you’re fine today, but it could be you tomorrow,” Holder said. “I think that’s where this story is about to head.”

House Bill 879, which passed the State House before the session was suspended, and would allow home delivery of alcohol, may have new life when the legislature eventually returns, according to the AJC.

“It’s obviously a tragic situation we’re in with COVID-19, but it’s obviously demonstrating the desire for the bill,” said Harrell, a Snellville Republican. “It’s a terrible way to demonstrate that, but perhaps when we come back, the Senate will have heard from their constituents and realized there’s a demand not just in a situation like we’re in now, but year-round.”

The bill would allow beer and wine to be delivered from grocery stores and convenience stores directly to customers. Third-party apps that let customers pick what they want purchased and delivered would also be allowed. Liquor is not included in the bill, so Georgians would still be unable to get a bottle of vodka or bourbon sent to their home.

Wifi availability across Georgia is another issue highlighted by the Covid-19 response, according to the AJC.

Morgan County is about an hour’s drive from downtown Atlanta, but many of its residents have spotty at best Wi-Fi access. Now with students having to get their class work from home, the divide between the haves and the have-nots has become wider.

State leaders are working to address the lack of Wi-Fi service by utilizing libraries and other public buildings as hot spots.

Gov. Brian P. Kemp and the Georgia Department of Community Affairs recently launched a website to inform Georgians about ways to connect to high-speed internet throughout the state.

“The fight against COVID-19 is impacting Georgians’ ability to access health care, receive educational instruction, and serve customers in traditional ways,” said Kemp. “High-speed internet is important for Georgians to continue receiving care, learning, and teleworking while they follow guidelines for social distancing. We’re grateful so many internet and mobile phone providers have stepped up to meet Georgians’ connectivity needs in this critical time.”

$448 million dollars in federal transit aid is headed to Georgia, according to the Saporta Report.

Metro Atlanta transit agencies are to receive $371 million from the federal coronavirus aid package. It’s part of a total package of $448 million in federal transit assistance headed to Georgia to help offset the economic losses related to response to the cornoavirus, according to the legislation.

The money is included in the $25 billion aid package signed into law by President Trump on March 27. Details of funding for local transit entities were made available through documents released April 2 by the Federal Transit Administration.

The money is eligible to cover expenses incurred, or to be incurred, to respond to COVID-19 beginning Jan. 20. According to APTA’s report, the money is intended to reimburse transit agencies for operating costs to continue operations, and to compensate for revenue lost for causes related to the coronavirus.

Republican candidates for the open Congressional seat for the 14th District replied to a question about the Covid-19 response, according to the Rome News Tribune.

Nine Republican candidates are vying for their party’s nomination to replace U.S. Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ranger, in the Northwest Georgia 14th Congressional District seat.

The winner will face Democrat Kevin Van Ausdal in the Nov. 3 general election.

The district covers the counties of Floyd, Chattooga, Polk, Gordon, Catoosa, Dade, Haralson, Murray, Paulding, Walker and Whitfield, and part of Pickens County.

The Rome News Tribune looks at how candidates for sheriff are campaigning under the emergency orders.

The three Republican Floyd County Sheriff candidates would normally be getting ready to do some canvassing and preparation for the May primary, but they’ve had to change up some of their campaign tactics.

All of the candidates — Tom Caldwell, Ronnie Kilgo and Dave Roberson — have canceled or postponed upcoming events, but have found creative ways to adapt their respective primary campaign strategies.

At this point the primary is still scheduled for May 19, however, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said he won’t stand in the way if the state legislature decides to move the primary. He already has pushed back Georgia’s originally scheduled March 24 presidential primary to May 19, coinciding with the state and local primaries.

But Georgia House Speaker David Ralston and all 11 Republican members of the state’s congressional delegation are pushing to delay all of the primaries until mid-June.

State lawmakers would also need to reconvene and pass legislation to push back the state and local primaries from their May 19 date, as well as the presidential primary by another 45 days.

Gwinnett County Democratic candidates for District Attorney and Sheriff will hold a Facebook forum, according to the AJC.

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