Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 22, 2020

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 22, 2020

On September 22, 1862, Republican President Abraham Lincoln issued a preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, which stated,

“. . . on the first day of January [1863] . . . all persons held as slaves within any State, or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.”

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President Rutherford B. Hayes visited Atlanta on September 22, 1877. Click here to read the text of his speech in Atlanta.

White vigilantes seeking to assault African-Americans after reports of four white women being assaulted led to the Atlanta Race Riots on September 22-24, 1906, which would claim the lives of at least 25 African-Americans and one white person.

On September 22, 1918, the City of Atlanta gasoline administator prohibited non-emergency Sunday driving to conserve fuel for the war effort.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

A Special Election is being held September 29, 2020 to fill the remainder of the current term in office of the late Congressman John Lewis. From the Center Square:

The special general election for Georgia’s 5th Congressional District is on September 29, 2020. A runoff election is scheduled for December 1. If no candidate wins a majority of the vote in September, the top-two vote recipients will advance to the runoff.

Seven candidates are competing in the special election:

• Robert Franklin (D)
• Kwanza Hall (D)
• Barrington Martin II (D)
• Mable Thomas (D)
• Keisha Sean Waites (D)
• Chase Oliver (L)
• Steven Muhammad (Independent)

The winner of the special election will serve until January 3, 2021. The seat is also up in a regularly scheduled election on November 3.

Governor Brian Kemp issued Executive Order 09.21.20.01, renewing the order relating to unlawful assemblage, originally issued July 6, 2020. Under the latest order, the state of emergency ends on Monday, October 19, 2020 at 11:59 PM.

Both United States Senators from Georgia favor moving forward with the nomination of a new Supreme Court Justice, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Albany Herald.

“I am confident that President Trump will nominate another highly qualified candidate who will strictly uphold the Constitution,” Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., said during the weekend. “Once the president announces a nomination, the United States Senate should begin the process that moves this to a full Senate vote.”

Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., called for a Senate vote during an appearance Saturday on Fox News.

“We need to bring forward a conservative justice – someone who will be a strict constructionist, who will protect innocent life, who will bring those Second Amendment cases and make sure we’re protecting our right to bear arms in this country,” Loeffler said. “And we need to keep that process moving – regardless of it being an election year.”

Athens-Clarke Mayor Kelly Girtz is asking Governor Kemp to strengthen his executive order on some businesses, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

Clarke County’s new COVID-19 case rate (recorded as cases per 100K people) over the previous two weeks was 800 as of Sunday, higher than all but three small Georgia counties, Wheeler, Chattahoochee and Stewart.

In a Monday letter to Kemp, Girtz asked Kemp for more clarity in the state executive orders restricting how bars and restaurants operate “to ensure that seated environments and table service are the only manner of operation allowed.”

Girtz also asked Kemp to change the maximum number of people allowed in a gathering to 10 from its current 50.

“House gatherings continue to be problematic,” Girtz wrote. “The 50 person gathering limit simply allows much greater opportunity for spread.”

The Ledger-Enquirer looks at how the Columbus mask mandate is working.

While new cases were declining in the weeks before, city leaders and state health officials said the lack of a coronavirus surge following Labor Day weekend is a sign that Columbus’ mask mandate is doing its job.

Hospitalizations and test positivity rates are down as well, suggesting the virus is spreading at a lower level than it was earlier in the summer. However, fewer coronavirus tests are being performed in Columbus and across the state, bringing concerns that health officials won’t be able to detect or track potential outbreaks before they become bigger problems.

“I think the mask mandate obviously is having some effect but the masks are not a magic bullet,” Mayor Skip Henderson told the Ledger-Enquirer. “It’s a big part of the overall prescription to try to hold down the spread. But I do think I think it has contributed to our numbers continuing to decline a little bit.”

Republicans prefer in-person voting, while Democrats favor absentee ballots, according to the AJC.

How Georgians vote increasingly aligns with their political preferences, with Republicans more likely to show up in-person and Democrats preferring absentee ballots, according to a new poll by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The partisan divide in voting method could result in Republicans showing larger leads from initial counts of in-person votes on election night, with Democrats catching up as more mail-in ballots are tallied in the days afterward. Election outcomes might not be known for days in close races.

About 34% of Georgia voters surveyed said they plan to vote on Election Day, according to the AJC poll of 1,150 likely voters. The poll had a 4-point margin of error.

Among voters who identified themselves as Republicans, nearly half said they’ll show up on Nov. 3. Just 19% of Democrats — amid concerns about the coronavirus — intend to vote on Election Day, with 44% saying they plan to cast absentee ballots and 33% during three weeks of early voting.

The Republican preference for Election Day voting comes after Trump has repeatedly cast suspicion on the potential for fraud with mail-in voting. In Georgia, absentee voting fraud has been rare in recent years, though Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger recently opened an investigation into about 1,000 people suspected of double-voting by casting both absentee and in-person votes.

On the other side of the political spectrum, Democrats have been pushing absentee voting as a way to get votes in and avoid the possibility that voters would stay home rather than stand in line.

Of voters who cast partisan ballots in this year’s primary and have requested an absentee ballot for the general election, 61% used Democratic Party ballots in the primary and 39% pulled Republican Party ballots, according to an AJC analysis of election data.

During the primary, each party’s voters cast absentee ballots at about the same rate, 49%.

Help is on the way! The Georgia Department of Revenue issued rules governing home delivery of alcohol, according to the Capitol Beat News Service.

The state Department of Revenue has issued rules governing home deliveries of alcohol based on legislation the General Assembly passed in June.

“The Department of Revenue has done an outstanding job putting together regulations that prioritize the safe sale, secure transportation and timely delivery of alcohol to residents who are over the age of 21 throughout the state,” said KC Honeyman, executive director of the Wine and Spirit Wholesalers of Georgia.

The bill, which Gov. Brian Kemp signed last month, gives local governments the ability to opt out of home deliveries if they choose.

The bill also expands the current state law allowing tastings of beer, wine and sprits from just wineries and distilleries to package stores.

The Trump Administration announced new funding for anti-human trafficking efforts, according to Fox5Atlanta.

Attorney General William Barr and Presidential Advisor Ivanka Trump took part in a round table discussion with Gov. Brian Kemp, First Lady Marty Kemp, Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Vic Reynolds, Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr, and others at the office of U.S. Attorney BJay Pak.

“I’m very proud that these resources are going to help law enforcement officers and victim service providers hold perpetrators accountable and give the victims of these crimes a place to turn for refuge and support,” Barr said.

Earlier in the day, Barr and Trump visited the Georgia Center for Child Advocacy, which helps child abuse victims from DeKalb and Fulton counties.

“Georgia has become a model in terms of how to approach the problem,” said Barr.

U.S. Senator Kelly Loeffler’s latest ad says she’s to the right of Atilla the Hun, according to the AJC.

In the ad, released Monday, a couple lounging on a couch compare notes about Loeffler’s conservative record backing President Donald Trump before a khaki-wearing actor remarks: “Yep, she’s more conservative than Attila the Hun.”

The screen darts to a re-imagining of the ruthless leader, who was ruler of the Hunnic Empire during a reign of terror that pushed back Roman expansion and conquered vast parts of Asia and eastern Europe.

Then comes a narrator: “More conservative than Attila the Hun. Kelly Loeffler, 100% Trump voting record.”

Once, Loeffler was promoted as a candidate who could help win over wavering moderates and independents in Atlanta’s suburbs, particularly on-the-fence women. Now her campaign is tongue-in-cheek comparing Loeffler, a wealthy former financial executive, to a murderous despot from the 400s.

Florida Man Congressman Matt Gaetz criticized Loeffler, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Athens Banner Herald.

Rallying with U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, the Gainesville Republican aiming to unseat Loeffler, Gaetz riled up a raucous crowd at the Cobb County GOP headquarters by calling Loeffler a “country club” Republican who owed her seat to a governor’s appointment and wealthy background.

“I understand that Kelly Loeffler has a lot of money,” Gaetz said at Friday’s rally. ”[But] a seat in the United States Senate should not be a reverse dowry paid in the greatest country in the world.”

Loeffler, who as a new senator voted against impeachment in February, has embraced the support of Georgia’s governor. Kemp joined her on the campaign trail earlier this month and was featured prominently in a new campaign ad released this week.

“She’s not a politician, not a political insider,” Kemp says in the ad. “She has earned my vote.”

Democrat Jon Ossoff said he will work on rural healthcare and funding for historically black colleges and universities, according to WALB.

“We have two crises here in this state,” Ossoff said. “First of all, an affordability crisis.”

Ossoff describes prescription medication and healthcare costs in one word: “It’s a scandal.”

“It’s because the health insurance and drug companies have bought off Congress, and Congress lets them rip off our families,” Ossoff said.

If he’s elected in November, Ossoff promises to crack down on price-gouging, strengthen coverage for pre-existing conditions and expand Medicaid by adding a nonprofit public option.

“If you’re an hour or even two hours from a hospital or from a primary care physician, that’s not good enough,” he said, calling for more physicians in rural communities and federal assistance to fund new clinics.

“Georgia’s HBCUs are vital, they’re underappreciated, under served and they’re under resourced,” Ossoff said. “The Senate and Congress need to provide immediate relief to HBCUs as part of the next relief package.”

Ossoff said his plan promises “to deliver substantial federal resources to make tuition affordable and debt free for all H-B-C-U attendees. Think about how transformative that will be.”

Former State Senator and U.S. Attorney Ed Tarver (D) said he won’t drop out of the race for the U.S. Senate seat held by Senator Kelly Loeffler, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

“We must have a candidate in the runoff who can win based upon his or her demonstrated record and experience when compared to their opponent in the runoff,” Tarver said.

The announcement comes as other Democrats urge Tarver and Matt Lieberman to back out and support Atlanta pastor Raphael Warnock. Former Columbus mayor Teresa Tomlinson said it was time for Democrats to “coalesce” around Warnock.

“Convincing Democrats to withdraw from the Special Election does nothing to bolster another candidate’s lack of experience,” Tarver said.

State Rep. Richard Smith (R-Columbus) endorsed Congressman Doug Collins for the U.S. Senate seat held by Kelly Loeffler, according to WRBL.

Rep. Richard Smith had been on the sideline until recently. Smith — the chairman of the powerful House Rules Committee and a lieutenant to Speaker of the House David Ralston — is backing the challenger Collins.

“In my case, it was relatively simple,” Smith said “I have known Doug Collins since 2006. I think that’s when he got elected to the Georgia House of Representatives. Over the next four or five years I had the chance to work with him before he ran for Congress. He’s a very bright young man.”

Congressman Drew Ferguson, is also on team Collins. But two local General Assembly members — Senator Randy Robertson and Representative Vance Smith — are backing Loeffler.

“She’s doing a great job and she’s showed she’s willing to push back against forces,” Robertson said. “And she’s a strong female leader. And I am excited to support her for those reasons.”

The General Election is November 3rd. Advance voting starts Oct. 12th. If there is a runoff, it will be January 5th.

Congressman Sanford Bishop (D-Albany) hosted a farm tour with local leaders last week, according to WGXA.

The Dougherty County Commission will fund additional absentee ballot drop boxes, according to the Albany Herald.

Dougherty County voters will have three additional locations to drop off absentee ballots with the approval on Monday of the drop boxes and additional staffing for the Voter Registration and Elections Office.

The Dougherty County Commission approved the $158,000 package that includes two full-time employees, extra money for a busy election year and three drop ballot drop boxes by a 5-1 vote after lengthy discussion on the issue.

Elections Supervisor Ginger Nickerson requested that the two additional full-time staff members be included in the 2020-2021 county budget.

Fulton County Elections will spend a $6.3 million dollar grant to help with November elections, according to the Saporta Report.

[Elections Director Richard] Barron detailed Fulton County’s plan for a more efficient voting process, which includes increasing the number of precincts and poll workers, adding mobile voting buses and offering a voting app ahead of the Nov. 3 election. The increased measures are funded by a $6.3 million grant from the Center for Tech and Civic Life.

“One of the silver linings from June is we have been able to count on community partners to step forward and say ‘we want to be involved in this election,’” Barron said. “And that has enabled us to get a lot more facilities involved to be polling places for this election.”

This time around, the county has increased its number of polling places to 255 precincts, including State Farm Arena which will have about 300 polling stations and 60 check-in areas. The Georgia International Convention Center in College Park and the Dorothy C. Benson Senior Multipurpose Complex in Sandy Springs were also added as precincts and will hold 50 polling stations each.

As the number of precincts increased, the county is also adding more poll workers to staff the Nov. 3 election. More than 6,000 people applied to be poll workers, but Barron said the county only needs to train and assign about 2,900 poll workers. That number is an increase from the 2,100 who worked the polls in 2016.

Augusta is down to two finalists for the new city manager, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

John Elger resigned from the Habersham County Board of Education for District 5, according to AccessWDUN.

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