Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 11, 2020

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 11, 2020

The first twenty-three cadets at Virginia Military Institute began their service on November 11, 1839.

On November 11, 1918, word reached Georgia that an armistice was signed between the Allies and Germany, ending World War One. Georgia Governor Hugh Dorsery declared a state holiday. Armistice Day, marking the end of World War I, was first celebrated on November 11, 1919 and is celebrated on November 11th every year.

In 1938, Congress recognized November 11th as Armistice Day, making it a legal holiday, and in 1954, at the urging of veterans, Congress renamed the holiday “Veterans Day.”

The Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery was dedicated on November 11, 1921.

On Armistice Day, in the presence of President Harding and other government, military, and international dignitaries, the unknown soldier was buried with highest honors beside the Memorial Amphitheater. As the soldier was lowered to his final resting place, a two-inch layer of soil brought from France was placed below his coffin so that he might rest forever atop the earth on which he died.

The Tomb of the Unknowns is considered the most hallowed grave at Arlington Cemetery, America’s most sacred military cemetery. The tombstone itself, designed by sculptor Thomas Hudson Jones, was not completed until 1932, when it was unveiled bearing the description “Here Rests in Honored Glory an American Soldier Known but to God.” The World War I unknown was later joined by the unidentified remains of soldiers from America’s other major 20th century wars and the tomb was put under permanent guard by special military sentinels.

On November 11, 1942, the draft age was lowered to 18 and raised to 37. At the time, African-Americans were excluded from the draft over concerns about a racially-diverse military.

In 1945, the idea was put forth to expand Armistice Day to honor all veterans and in 1954, Congress made the change to “Veterans Day” official.

The “General Lee” first left the ground, using a ramp to clear a police car, during filming of “The Dukes of Hazzard” on November 11, 1978.

Ronald Reagan became the first President of the United States to address the Japanese Diet in Tokyo on November 11, 1983.

On November 11, 1988, the Georgia Vietnam Memorial was dedicated in front of the Sloppy Floyd state government building across the street from the Georgia State Capitol.

On November 11, 1997, a monument to Georgia’s World War I veterans was dedicated, also in front of the Sloppy Floyd building.

Six years ago today, on November 11, 2013, the Atlanta Braves announced they would move from downtown Atlanta to Cobb County.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Vice President Mike Pence will return to Georgia to campaign for the GOP candidates in the Senate runoffs, according to the AJC.

Vice President Mike Pence will campaign in Georgia later this month on behalf of Republican U.S. Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler.

Pence announced a Nov. 20 campaign stop in Georgia during a closed-door luncheon with Senate Republicans on Tuesday, and the news quickly leaked. Afterward, a reporter asked Loeffler if she was looking forward to having Pence’s support in Georgia; the senator responded “yes” but did not elaborate.

Pence is among a host of political leaders from both parties who are expected to travel across Georgia to back candidates in the January runoff. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is campaigning with Loeffler on Wednesday.

“I expect a lot of us are going to be going to Georgia next week,” North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis said.

Governor Brian Kemp released new numbers on economic development and job growth.

Governor Brian P. Kemp, in conjunction with the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD), today announced that Georgia remains on a record pace for economic development investments and job creation in the state during fiscal year 2021. Between July 1 and October 31, Georgia has increased economic development investments by 56% and jobs by 45% compared to the same period last year.

Since the start of fiscal year 2021 on July 1, Georgia has secured $4.31 billion in expansions and new project investments, creating 11,833 jobs. Eighty-three percent of the investments came outside the 10-county metro Atlanta region. Additionally, the 32 new projects located during October 2020 constitute a 10% increase over October 2019.

“These incredible numbers are proof that our focus on protecting lives and livelihoods in Georgia is working,” said Governor Kemp. “Despite a global pandemic, we are laser-focused on creating new jobs and securing new investments across every area of our state, and I congratulate our public and private economic development teams in communities throughout the Peach State on maintaining this incredible momentum.”

Sixty percent of the jobs announced since July 1 were created from new project locations, and Georgia’s existing businesses accounted for 80% of investments in the state as they selected Georgia as the best location for continued growth.

Florida Man Matt Gaetz is trashing Governor Brian Kemp again, according to Newsweek.

Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz placed the blame for President Donald Trump’s projected loss in the state of Georgia at the feet of Georgia Republican Governor Brian Kemp during a Tuesday appearance on Fox News.

Speaking with Sean Hannity on Fox News, Gaetz said that Kemp was more interested in the Senate race than the presidential election. “I think that for Brian Kemp,” Gaetz said, “it was more important that Kelly Loeffler beat Doug Collins than that Donald Trump beat Joe Biden. He could’ve set that Collins-Loeffler primary earlier. We would’ve had a more united Republican party if that were the case, but in a close election that stuff really matters. And [Kemp] did not put us in the best position to win.”

Gaetz alleged that as a chief elections officer in Georgia, Kemp should have acted earlier to preserve election integrity. In Florida, mail-in ballots are able to be tabulated as early as September. Gaetz said that Florida’s policies ensure that there isn’t an “unknown universe of ballots” which would allow a Democratic candidate to “catch up with some 4:00 a.m. dump of ballots into the back of the room in the middle of the night.”

Trump’s recount team, under the direction of Doug Collins, has asked for the ballots cast in the state to be recounted by hand before the state releases certified tabulation results. In a Tuesday letter to Raffensperger, Collins said that the hand recount would serve to “restore the transparency that did not exist previously” in the ballot counting process.

In response to the Trump campaign’s request, Raffensperger told WXIA on Tuesday that the manual recounting of the approximately 5 million ballots cast could take upwards of two weeks.

Governor Kemp said he will not heed calls to hold a special legislative session to tighten residency and voter registration requirement before the runoff elections, according to the AJC.

He and Georgia’s two top legislative leaders – Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan and House Speaker David Ralston – released a joint statement that threw cold water on the idea that lawmakers could overhaul voting rules this close to the twin runoffs that could determine control of the Senate.

“Any changes to Georgia’s election laws made in a special session will not have any impact on an ongoing election and would only result in endless litigation,” the three Republicans said.

State Rep. David Clark, who was crushed this week in a bid to oust Ralston as new speaker, is among several Republicans who urged the governor to call lawmakers back to Atlanta. He said legislators should make it harder for newly-arrived Georgians to cast their ballots in the runoffs to prevent outsiders from “interfering in our elections.”

Kemp had earlier announced a special session to fix a legal problem in a Hurricane Michael relief measure, though he also pointedly added at the time that he could direct lawmakers to also tackle “budgetary and oversight issues.” The timing of that session is still uncertain.

There’s still a chance that rank-and-file lawmakers could force a ballot access debate this year: State officials note that legislators can bring themselves in for a special session with a three-fifths vote. But it’s seen as highly unlikely since it requires a significant number of Democratic support.

From the Macon Telegraph:

“Most importantly, the Secretary of State should announce a full hand-count of every ballot cast in each and every county due to widespread allegations of voter irregularities, issues with voting machines, and poll watcher access,” Collins wrote in a statement released Tuesday. “We can – and we will – petition for this in court after statewide certification is completed if the Secretary of State fails.”

The Trump campaign, Collins said, is also asking for a “full comparison” of absentee ballots and in-person and provisional ballots cast in Georgia. It also wants Raffensperger’s office to “check for felons and other ineligible persons who may have cast a ballot.”

“We are hopeful he (Raffensperger) will preemptively take this action today to ensure every Georgian has confidence in our electoral process,” Collins said.

Columbus State Rep. Calvin Smyre (D) will serve as a Presidential elector if Georgia’s votes are certified in favor of Joe Biden, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

State Rep. Calvin Smyre, the longest-serving member of the Georgia legislature, will cast one of the state’s 16 electoral votes for Democrat Joe Biden if the president-elect’s growing lead stands.

Smyre, 73, served through the shift of Georgia from blue to red. The Columbus lawmaker was a presidential elector when Bill Clinton won the state in 1992 — the last time a Democrat was victorious.

“I don’t think we’re a blue state yet,” he said. “But it’s a battleground state.”

“It’s an honor to be involved in the electoral process,” Smyre said. “Everything is predicated on the recount.”

“All the political roads now lead to Georgia,” he said. “You gotta get people back to the polls.”

United States Senator David Perdue (R-Glynn County) and his Senate staff may have a couple days off the first week of January, according to the AJC.

The state’s unique runoff system is creating an unprecedented situation as Senate officials scramble to determine what exactly will happen to the office of Republican incumbent David Perdue during the first week of January.

Perdue’s Senate term officially ends at noon on Jan. 3, the first day of the new Congress. But his seat will not be filled until after Jan. 5, when Perdue faces Democrat Jon Ossoff in a runoff.

State officials and legal observers are expecting Perdue’s office to be vacant for a number of days, until the secretary of state certifies the election results and a winner is declared. That process could take several additional days, and the vacancy would occur even if Perdue wins reelection, they said.

Kelly Loeffler, the state’s other Republican senator, who’s in a runoff of her own, will not be in the same boat. That’s because she was appointed to fill former U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson’s term, which doesn’t expire until January 2023. Loeffler will remain seated until her contest against Democrat Raphael Warnock is decided, according to the secretary of state’s office.

From the Washington Post:

“These runoffs have become the political equivalent of ‘Braveheart’ where everyone paints their face blue and just charges across the field,” said Ralph Reed, a Georgia-based Republican and founder of the Faith and Freedom Coalition. “If we can get the Trump vote back out in the suburbs, we should be able to get this done. But it will be very hard and extremely competitive.”

Biden has the advantage as he pursues Georgia’s 16 electoral votes, with a lead of 14,000 votes over Trump. The contest is expected to head to a recount, but counties have until later this week to certify their results with the state.

Vice President Pence announced to senators at a Tuesday lunch that he would campaign in Georgia on Nov. 20. At the White House, there are discussions about Trump heading there, too, officials said. The NRSC has dispatched several of its top aides to work out of the state GOP headquarters in Atlanta, where they are working in the same offices as Trump’s attorneys.

Democrats remain optimistic. “It’s not over, at all. Georgia is close,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Tuesday. “There is this conventional wisdom that Democrats don’t win runoffs in Georgia. That’s not true. There were two runoffs in 2018 — not much Democratic money or effort behind them, and each was within 4 percent. So we are working very hard to win Georgia. And we believe that we have a very good chance of winning.”

“These will probably be the most expensive Senate races in history. It’s really for control of the government,” said former House speaker Newt Gingrich (R), who represented Georgia. “You have to give Stacey Abrams credit. She has been the architect of the new Democratic coalition in Georgia. . . . But my hunch is that suburban women will vote for the Republicans when Trump is not on the ballot.”

From the Gwinnett Daily Post:

Democrats performed better in Georgia congressional races than in other states President Donald Trump won in 2016. President-elect Joe Biden leads Trump in the state, the best showing for a Democrat since 1992. Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux flipped a House seat northeast of Atlanta, while Georgia Democratic Rep. Lucy McBath won reelection for her suburban seat by a greater margin than two years ago. And Republican Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler are both expected to miss the 50% threshold to avoid a runoff, pitting them against Ossoff and Warnock in runoff elections on January 5.

While Republicans historically have fared better in Georgia runoff races, Democrats hope that GOP turnout will suffer without Trump at the top of the ticket. Trump’s refusal to concede the race has put Perdue and Loeffler in a tight spot, forcing them to defend the President’s efforts to wage a losing battle while also trying to run as a check on the Democratic control of Washington.

Howard Franklin, a Georgia Democratic strategist, told CNN that his party needs to expand its in-person campaigning, saying that “a large contingent” of Democrats are not going to show up for a Zoom call, respond to a text from “strangers and volunteers” or join a candidate’s telephone town hall.

“They have to be met exactly where they are,” said Franklin.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee announced on Monday that it would spend millions to register Georgians and get them to vote, including organizers, direct mail, phone, text messaging and digital efforts. The state’s registration deadline — December 7 — is in less than a month, and Georgia will start to send out absentee ballots next week. Ossoff announced Monday a weeklong tour hitting all of the top media markets in the state, and challenged Perdue to three debates.

Georgia Republican strategist Jay Williams told CNN that Georgians are going to be motivated by the GOP message that “we need to have the Senate or else they’re going to have carte blanche to do whatever they want.”

But he warned that a “really acrimonious” recount for the presidential race could benefit the Democrats and “weigh down the messaging of the Republicans.”

Congressman Buddy Carter (R-Pooler) joined the chorus of election result doubters, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Rep. Buddy Carter, newly elected congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene and other members of the Georgia Republican Congressional Delegation joined in a “demand for answers” from the head elections official in the state.

“As Members and Members-Elect of the Georgia Congressional Delegation, we are deeply concerned by continued, serious allegations of voting irregularities in our state. The Georgia Republican Party and the Donald J. Trump for President Campaign have received reports of deceased or ineligible voters casting ballots, eligible voters being denied the opportunity to vote, and Republican poll watchers and observers being denied access to activities and meetings critical to ensuring a fair, accurate, and transparent vote tabulation,” the statement read.

Georgia Republican Party chairman David Shafer and former Rep. Doug Collins, who is now leading the Georgia recount effort for the Trump campaign, also issued a letter to Raffensperger on Tuesday, citing “hundreds of reports of voting discrepancies and errors statewide.”

They add that there are “tens of thousands of ballots being unlawfully counted.”

From the Gainesville Times:

A total of 91,035 people voted in Hall in the election. Trump took the majority of the votes for the presidential election in Hall, with 64,170 votes compared to Biden’s 25,031 and 1,322 votes going to Libertarian Jo Jorgensen. Not every voter in Hall made a choice for president.

The Floyd County Board of Elections certified its results, according to the Rome News Tribune.

As the Floyd County Elections Board certified the results of the Nov. 3 election Tuesday, the main topic was two upcoming runoff elections — one of which could determine the balance of power in the U.S. Senate.

Early voting in the Senate races will begin on Dec. 14 and go through Jan. 1, 2021. Locally, county offices will be closed Dec. 24-24 and Dec. 31-Jan. 1.

The early voting locations as well as any weekend voting dates have not yet been determined.

Floyd County Elections Board Chair Tom Rees said during the meeting Tuesday they expect to at least have one weekend of early voting.

At their meeting Tuesday, the Floyd County elections board certified the results of the Nov. 3 election.

Brady said they’re expecting a recount because the margin of votes separating Republican President Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden fall below a statutory 1% margin.

Democrat Jon Ossoff rallied voters in support of Obamacare, according to the Albany Herald.

Ossoff and Georgia Democrats including Rev. Raphael Warnock, who is competing for the state’s other Senate seat against Sen. Kelly Loeffler, have framed Republicans’ support for the lawsuit as an attempt to strip health care from millions of Georgians in the middle of a viral pandemic.

At a rally outside the Georgia Capitol building in Atlanta Tuesday, Ossoff called Perdue’s stance on the health-care bill “a travesty” and signaled he plans to continue hammering the senator on health-care issues ahead of the closely-watched Jan. 5 runoff.

“This is not a matter of partisan politics,” Ossoff said. “This is a matter of the public interest.”

The Augusta Commission discussed lowering licensing fees for some business affected by the pandemic, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Commission members discussed a proposed 25% cut at a budget work session Tuesday but are not including the reductions in the current 2021 budget proposal.

The fees to do business in Augusta vary widely, from a $502 occupation tax for a small business with $1 million or less in gross receipts to more than $5,000 for an alcohol license with Sunday sales and dancing. Adult entertainment might add an additional $3,479.

The diversity of fees makes an across-the-board cut a complicated proposal, Finance Director Donna Williams said.

“You’ve got to figure out how to structure it,” she said. “I would suggest that you not take a machete approach for the use of this money for business licenses.”

Businesses, especially bars and restaurants, have pressed the commission for a break on the fees after some had to close for several months during the pandemic.

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