Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 12, 2021


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 12, 2021

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 12, 1872, Benjamin Conley stepped down as Governor of Georgia, the first Republican to hold the office and the last until January 13, 2003, when Sonny Perdue was sworn in.

He joined the Republican Party and became president of the state Senate after the Civil War. That was the office he held in October 1871 when Gov. Rufus Bullock, also an Augusta Republican, left the state under pressure from state Democrats. According to the Georgia Constitution, Conley became governor, holding the job until a replacement could be elected and take office two months later.

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.

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.

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

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Welcome to the 2022 Election Cycle. Stacey Abrams has been on television last week and this week. What is the GAGOP doing to prevent a repeat of the Runoff Election Fiasco of 2021?

Governor Brian Kemp swore in Shawn Ellen LaGrua as a Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court, according to the Albany Herald.

Shawn Ellen LaGrua was officially sworn in to serve as justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia, beginning Jan. 19. Gov. Brian Kemp appointed the Fulton County Superior Court judge to the state’s highest court on Dec. 1, 2020 to the seat vacated by Justice Keith R. Blackwell, who retired in November.

The governor swore her in at his office in the state Capitol. Chief Justice Harold D. Melton was among those in attendance.

LaGrua has served on the Fulton County Superior Court since 2010. Prior to becoming a judge, she was inspector general for the Georgia Secretary of State’s office. She also served as solicitor general for DeKalb County and was a prosecutor in the Atlanta, Stone Mountain, and Tallapoosa judicial circuits. In May 2020, Chief Justice Melton appointed LaGrua to chair the Judicial COVID-19 Task Force, which was created to assist courts in conducting remote proceedings and prepare for the eventual restoration of in-person proceedings.

I believe that will open a seat on the Fulton County Superior Court for Gov. Kemp to fill by appointment. Perhaps he’ll appoint someone to the seat who is already serving in office and gain another appointment.

Governor Kemp also yesterday signed Executive Order, renewing the state of emergency relating to unlawful assemblage through February 8, 2021.

Gov. Kemp said he plans to run for reelection next year, according to the AJC.

Kemp said he was planning to run for a second term in 2022, a formal announcement that would likely come later this year. He said he was confident he would defeat a GOP primary challenger, but pointed to the Democratic upset victories in the runoffs as an example of the dangers of dividing the party.

He talked in detail about the strategy behind his selection of Loeffler, a wealthy financial executive, to the open seat – and how a formidable challenge from fellow Republican Doug Collins, a former four-term congressman backed by Trump, scrambled the campaign calculations by forcing Loeffler further to the party’s right flank.

He talked in detail about the strategy behind his selection of Loeffler, a wealthy financial executive, to the open seat – and how a formidable challenge from fellow Republican Doug Collins, a former four-term congressman backed by Trump, scrambled the campaign calculations by forcing Loeffler further to the party’s right flank.

“I plan on running in 2022. I’m not worried about any kind of primary fight. We’ll be victorious. I personally think it’s unnecessary. … I hope at the end of the day people come our way, but if they don’t, we’ll get them back after a potential primary.

“I think when people really start thinking about this and realize what’s at stake here, we’ve seen what a divisive primary does to our chances of winning. You see what we’ve got now in the Senate with (Raphael) Warnock and (Jon) Ossoff. And if you’re a Republican you’re not happy about that …

“Look, that’s not something I can control. What I can control is making sure we have a good session and continuing to do what we tell people we’re going to do. And if we get a primary we’ve got to deal with, we’ll deal with it.”

From the Statesboro Herald:

In a state long dominated by Republicans, Democrats won Georgia’s electoral votes for president in November and two U.S. Senate seats in runoff elections Tuesday, defeating Kemp’s hand-picked Senate appointee. President Donald Trump, furious at Kemp for resisting efforts to overturn Trump’s election loss, vowed to oppose the governor’s reelection next year.

“Gov. Kemp, you’re next. See you in 2022,” the Democratic Governors Association tweeted Wednesday as the upset victories of Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff in the Georgia Senate races came to light.

“Brian Kemp is the governor of the Titanic,” said Debbie Dooley, president of the Atlanta tea party and a Republican activist. “His governorship hit a big iceberg and it’s going down.”

Dooley said she and other Trump supporters are recruiting candidates to challenge Kemp and other Republican officials deemed disloyal to Trump. Among them: Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, who repeatedly refused to back baseless claims that Trump won the election, and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who rejected the president’s pleas to “find” more Trump votes in a recorded phone call that became public.

While Trump and others have named Collins as a potential GOP challenger for Kemp, the former congressman could also run for the Senate seat that Loeffler lost. Warnock will be back on the ballot in 2022 after finishing the final year of Isakson’s term.

Among Democrats, Abrams is being closely watched to see if she will make a second run for governor after losing to Kemp by fewer than 55,000 votes in 2018. She spent the past two years working to register new voters and advocating for expanded access to the ballot in a state that Republicans have controlled for roughly two decades. Abrams has been credited with paving the way for the Democrats’ victories in November and on Tuesday.

Gwinnett County Superior Court Judge Warren Davis will allow the Georgia State Ethics Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission to subpoena records related to the 2018 Gubernatorial campaign of Democrat Stacey Abrams, according to the AJC.

A superior court judge ruled a voting registration group founded by Stacey Abrams should turn over bank records to state ethics investigators who say it advocated for her election as governor in 2018 without registering as a campaign committee or filing disclosures showing how much it raised or spent.

The New Georgia Project is no longer Abrams’ organization, but it is one of several targeted by David Emadi, executive secretary of the state ethics commission, who is looking into whether groups were part of an effort to help the Democratic nominee win the governor’s race in 2018.

Under Georgia law, organizations that collect and spend money to promote candidates and issues are required to register committees with the state and file regular reports disclosing what they raised and spent. They are also not allowed to coordinate their efforts with a candidate.

The ethics commission alleges the New Georgia Project and the New Georgia Project Action Fund solicited contributions and made expenditures to promote several candidates and causes in 2018, including Abrams.

“These expenditures included, but were not limited to, canvassing activities, literature expressly advocating for the election of candidates, and operating field offices where these electioneering activities were coordinated,” according to evidence cited in Gwinnett County Superior Court Judge Warren Davis’ order.

Emadi revealed that investigators intend to present evidence the Abrams campaign accepted donations from four groups that exceeded maximum contribution limits for a statewide campaign. Abrams’ attorney has denied the claim, and her campaign manager said the commission has failed to prove any wrongdoing.

The Georgia General Assembly gaveled in for the 2021 Session yesterday. From the Capitol Beat News Service via the Albany Herald:

Eleven new senators and 20 new House members took the oath of office, as the two chambers – still controlled by Republicans following the November elections – elected their leaders for the next two years.

The House overwhelmingly re-elected Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, to head that chamber for the next two years. In his acceptance speech, he condemned last week’s violet assault on the U.S. Capitol building by supporters of President Trump that killed five people, including a Capitol police officer.

“Last week was a dark day in the history of our nation … to see American citizens storming our revered Capitol,” Ralston said. “There is no possible justification for this loss of life, bloodshed and damage. America is better than this.”

Proposals to change Georgia election laws, including tighter voter ID requirements and limits on who can cast mail-in ballots, look to feature prominently in this year’s session after President-elect Biden became the first Democrat to carry Georgia since 1992 and Democrats flipped the state’s two Republican-held U.S. Senate seats last week.

“Our elections must be free, fair, free from fraud, secure and accessible,” Ralston said. “We must always tell our citizens the truth.”

Meanwhile, House members re-elected Rep. Jan Jones, R-Milton, speaker pro tempore, the chamber’s No.-2 leadership position. Like Ralston, she has served in House leadership since 2010.

Governor Kemp discussed his legislative priorities with the AJC.

Gov. Brian Kemp strongly endorsed adding photo ID requirements for absentee ballots on Monday at the start of a legislative session that’s sure to be shaped by a debate over voting laws after epic turnout helped Democrats flip Georgia in the race for president and sweep the Senate runoffs.

In an interview, the Republican said he is “reserving judgment” on a series of proposals that seek to end at-will absentee voting, ban ballot drop boxes and restrict state officials or outside groups from sending out absentee ballot applications.

“It’s a simple way to make sure that type of voting is further secured, and it’s a good first place to start,” Kemp said, adding: “It’s completely reasonable in this day and time, and in light of what’s going on, it would give all voters peace of mind and wouldn’t be restrictive.”

The governor also hinted he could back a push to repeal or adapt the state’s citizen’s arrest law, a more than 150-year-old statute that has come under intense scrutiny after the 2020 death of Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man who was shot and killed near Brunswick after three white men followed him.

Kemp said he has the same stance on a renewed push to allow sports betting and other gambling that he struck after taking office: He opposes legalized casino gambling but wouldn’t stand in the way of a constitutional amendment that would let voters decide whether to allow casinos in Georgia.

And he said lawmakers stand ready to quickly pass an amended budget to keep the state government funded in case an outbreak of the coronavirus forces the General Assembly to quickly adjourn — an ever-present risk hanging over the start of the session.

“We’ve got to focus on our priorities. We’re still in the middle of a pandemic,” he said. “My focus is going to be on lives and livelihoods. Now we cannot get distracted from that.”

U.S. Representative Carolyn Bourdeaux (D-Gwinnett) signed on as a co-sponsor of Articles of Impeachment against President Trump, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

U.S. Rep. David Cicilline introduced the articles, which includes the charge of “Incitement of Insurrection,” on Monday. If the House votes to pass the Articles of Impeachment, it will make Trump the first president in U.S. history to be impeached twice.

“The outgoing President of the United States has incited an insurrection and attempted to overthrow the results of a free and fair election,” Bourdeaux said. “If these actions do not qualify as impeachable offenses in the eyes of my colleagues, then I don’t know what would.”

“At such a fragile moment for our country, where the very foundation of our democracy is at stake, political party must come second to doing what is right. I am cosponsoring articles of impeachment to uphold the Oath of Office I took eight days ago to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. I urge my colleagues to join me.”

Click here to read the current Articles of Impeachment the House is expected to vote on Wednesday.

Click here for a transcript of President Trump’s speech that is the subject of the Articles of Impeachment.

Click here for the New York Times discussion of why they think Trump incited violence.

Athens-Clarke County Commissioner Mariah Parker is considering a run against Republican Congressman Jody Hice, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

“I have been considering it for a while,” she said, citing issues like extension of rural broadband and a need for the Democrats “to reclaim our party as the party of family values.”

“I’m excited about what we are able to accomplish at the local level, but the resources at the federal level are the kind of things I can make the necessary policies a reality,” Parker said.

Another motivation for a possible run in 2022, she said, is “Congressman Hice’s behavior over the last several months.”

While the district is heavily Republican, Parker said a candidacy would require expanding the electoral base by reaching out to people and communities that don’t currently vote.

Braselton Mayor Bill Orr announced he will not seek reelection this year, according to AccessWDUN.

Former State Rep. Alex Atwood (R-Glynn County), now serving as Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Administrative Services, spoke to local Republicans, according to The Brunswick News.

His department is in charge of the back end of state government — human resources, vehicle and equipment management, statewide purchases and contracts, selling off surplus equipment, etc.

When the COVID-19 pandemic necessitated working from home, Atwood said administrative services helped other departments by going through the equipment surplus channels to refurbish hundreds of laptops and provide them to other departments so their employees could work from home.

With everyone working from home, the department started focusing on taking its small business development programs online, as well.

Going virtual turned out to be a great move, he said, because it opened up many seminars, courses and resources to small businesses that may not have had much access before. Putting educational material on getting government contracts online increased the number of businesses, particularly small Georgia businesses, bidding on state contracts.

Richmond County Superior Court is slowly working through a backlog of cases caused by COVID-19 measures, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

With jury trials suspended once again in Georgia, closing criminal cases in Richmond County Superior Court has returned to slow motion.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, said Superior Court Judge and former district attorney Daniel J. Craig. With a brand new district attorney on the job, Jared Williams, it will give his office time to work out the most efficient use of time once jury trials resume, Craig said.

At the end of 2020 in Richmond County Superior Court, a total of 2,052 individual felony cases were awaiting trial, according to an analysis by The Augusta Chronicle. Nearly half of those cases have been pending a year or more.

Chatham County Republicans need to appoint a new member to the county board of elections, according to the Savannah Morning News.

“They have to be chosen from inside the party,” [County GOP Chair Don] Hodges said. “We’re accepting resumes from people who have been active in the party to consider candidates. We’ll go through a process to qualify them and then we’ll make the determination who will take the remainder of Debbie’s term.”

Rome City Commissioners elected a Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem from amongst their members, according to the Rome News Tribune.

Craig McDaniel was chosen by his fellow city commissioners Monday night to serve as mayor of Rome for the coming year.

McDaniel’s name was placed into nomination by Commissioner Jamie Doss while Commissioner Sundai Stevenson nominated Commissioner Bill Collins, who held the position in 2019 and 2020.

The vote for McDaniel was 5-4 with Doss, McDaniel and Commissioners Jim Bojo, Mark Cochran and Randy Quick in support.

Stevenson was elected mayor pro-tem. Bojo was nominated for the post by Cochran, but that motion did not get a second.

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