Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 22, 2021

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 22, 2021

On April 22, 1891, Asa Candler bought the recipe for Coca-Cola for $2300 and eventually turned its marketing from a “brain tonic” into a plain old tasty beverage.

Adolf Hitler admitted defeat in World War II on April 22, 1945.

The Atlanta Braves won their first home game in Atlanta Stadium on April 22, 1966. The Braves beat the New York Mets 8-4. It’s interesting to look back at how the Braves landed in Atlanta.

During his 1961 campaign for mayor of Atlanta, Ivan Allen, Jr. promised to build a sports facility to attract a Major League Baseball team. After winning office, Allen chose a 47-acre plot in the Washington–Rawson neighborhood for the building site, citing its proximity to the Georgia State Capitol, downtown businesses and major highways. Allen, along with Atlanta Journal sports editor Furman Bisher, attempted to persuade Charlie Finley, owner of the Kansas City Athletics, to move his team to Atlanta. Finley was receptive and began discussing stadium design plans with Allen. The deal, however, ended in July 1963 when the American League did not approve the move.

In 1964, Mayor Allen announced that an unidentified team had given him a verbal commitment to move to Atlanta, provided a stadium was in place by 1966. Soon afterward, the prospective team was revealed to be the Milwaukee Braves, who announced in October that they intended to move to Atlanta for the 1965 season. However, court battles kept the Braves in Milwaukee for one last season.

A verbal commitment by an unnamed team brought the Braves here.

The Blues Brothers made their worldwide debut on Saturday Night Live on April 22, 1978. Two prominent Georgia musicians, Ray Charles (born Albany) and James Brown (died Atlanta) would co-star in The Blues Brothers movie.

Former President Richard Nixon died on April 22, 1994.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The University of Georgia School of Public and International Affairs released polling results on several part of the new Georgia election law. From a press release by the Governor’s office:

Today, the University of Georgia School of Public and International Affairs released new polling showing a majority of Georgia voters approve of key provisions of Georgia’s Election Integrity Act, which Governor Brian Kemp signed into law last month.

A majority of voters approved of the following:

▪ Voter ID requirements on absentee balloting (65% approve)
▪ Mandating two Saturdays of early voting (75% approve)
▪ Optional two Sundays of early voting (74% approve)
▪ Moving to a four-week runoff period (52% approve)
▪ Securing all drop boxes around the clock (55% approve)
▪ Changing absentee ballot request deadline from four days to eleven days prior to Election Day (60% approve)
▪ Prohibiting the sending of unsolicited absentee ballot applications (54% approve)
▪ Additional safeguards to prevent fraud (52% support)

From the AJC:

Georgia voters are split along party lines over the state’s new election law, with a divided majority supporting drop box limits, absentee ballot ID requirements and shorter deadlines to request absentee ballots, according to a University of Georgia poll released Wednesday.

But some parts of the law earned bipartisan support or condemnation.

Voters overwhelmingly back weekend early voting options, and both conservatives and liberals say the law — pushed through the General Assembly by the GOP majority — was motivated by Republican Donald Trump’s loss to Democrat Joe Biden.

Georgians oppose a ban on giving food and drinks to voters waiting in line, and they object to allowing the state to take over underperforming county election offices.

While 65% of those surveyed backed requiring a driver’s license number to verify absentee ballots, just 35% of Democrats supported the ID mandate. Meanwhile, 93% of Republicans endorsed the new ID provision, which replaces the previous method of checking voters by matching their signatures. Besides driver’s license numbers, the law also allows voters to provide a state ID number or other documentation.

A previous poll commissioned by the AJC in January found 74% support for additional absentee ID requirements.

If the goal of the law was to restore confidence among Republican voters, as many GOP legislators said, then it might have been successful.

Nearly 82% of Republican voters said the law either greatly or somewhat increased their confidence in the state’s election system, compared with just 17% of Democrats.

From the Capitol Beat News Service via the Rome News Tribune:

Georgians’ support or disapproval of the state’s controversial new voting law largely broke along political party lines in a survey the University of Georgia released Wednesday.

Republican voters in the survey supported it while Democratic voters opposed the more high-profile measures.

The party-line trend held true for Georgia Republican and Democratic voters when asked if they thought the new voting measures would strengthen the state’s election system or harm it, as well as whether the intent was to bolster election integrity or make it harder to vote for certain groups to cast ballots.

The vast majority of surveyed Republicans responded that the measures will help improve election integrity and voter access. Most Democrats responded in the opposite.

Similarly, a wide majority of Republicans responded that they lacked confidence in their 2020 votes being fairly counted and that President Joe Biden won Georgia’s presidential election due to fraud. Democratic respondents dismissed fraud claims and doubt in Biden’s win.

Republicans overwhelmingly favored shortening Georgia’s runoff period from nine weeks to four, requiring absentee drop boxes to be placed in county election offices and voting precincts, moving back the deadline to request absentee ballots from four days before an election to 11 days, and barring election officials from sending voters unsolicited absentee ballot applications.

Democrats mostly opposed those measures in the survey. Independent voters were generally divided half in favor, half opposed.

Governor Kemp appointed Rev. Abraham Mosley as Chair of the Stone Mountain Memorial Association Board, according to the AJC.

[Mr. Mosley] becomes the first Black person to hold the position in the state authority’s more than six-decade history.

Gov. Brian Kemp appointed Mosley at a time when systemic racism and Civil War monuments are at the forefront of the national discourse, and when calls for change to Stone Mountain Park’s ubiquitous Confederate imagery are at a fever pitch.

Mosley, who has pastored Athens’ Mount Pleasant Baptist Church since 1974, said he plans to take a measured approach but will do all he can “to move the ball forward.”

“Certainly, there are mounting problems that have been brought before us. But we’ve got to handle them one at a time,” Mosley said. “We’ve got to be patient. I don’t want to be the man who prayed, ‘Lord, give me patience, but give it to me right now.’”

The Hill writes about President Trump’s affect on the Georgia Governor’s race in 2022.

“It’s very dangerous for him,” said Chuck Clay, a Kemp ally and former chairman of the Georgia GOP. “There is no doubt that Trump and the popularity of Trump and the level of people firmly believing that this election was somehow stolen or fraudulent runs deep. And at the grassroots level, those people are the majority.”

“When you’re talking about the governorship in this state, you’ve got to figure any incumbent has an uphill climb,” he added. “So you also just can’t drink the Kool Aid because you’re not going to bring over suburban voters or moderate voters that way.”

[Kemp’s] popularity among Georgia Republicans has, in fact, seen an upswing since he signed the elections bill into law. A Morning Consult poll released earlier this month found his approval among GOP voters at 74 percent — a 15-point improvement from where it stood in the days before he signed the measure.

“Look, what happened is the governor and others were afraid to be called racists,” Trump said. “So they gave a very weak bill, and they’re called racists anyway. They had a much stronger bill a few weeks before this one came out. The governor, what he did, is so sad.”

Governor Kemp signed legislation in Savannah, according to WJCL.

He signed nearly a dozen bills into law, all sponsored by the Chatham County Delegation.

One of the most notable is Senate bill 100, which could make things confusing if you cross the bridge into South Carolina.

SB 100 keeps the state in daylight saving time permanently.

“This positions our state to deal with the daylight saving time switch if the congress acts on that. I appreciate Ben for his leadership and believe it or not it’s an issue a lot of Georgians feel very strongly about,” Gov. Kemp said Wednesday as he was signing the bill sponsored by Senator Ben Watson (R.) of Savannah.

From WTOC:

Governor Kemp pointed out at the bill signing ceremony, fighting gangs has been a major initiative of his, and thanked the Chatham County delegation for taking up the new initiative.

“Really, keeping it at the forefront of trying to get our young people and many others to make better decisions in the future. And I certainly appreciate Carl’s leadership again,” said Governor Kemp.

Representative Gilliard has said it’s his goal for Chatham County’s Gang Prevention and Intervention Commission to become a model for other local governments around the state that are looking to tackle the issue of gang violence in their areas.

From WTOC’s coverage of Gov. Kemp’s speech in Savannah.

The governor started his day with a room full of Georgia school leaders and said he was impressed with the resiliency in the Peach State but said specifically he’s impressed with how Savannah has returned.

“It’s just awesome how good it’s doing. I was really surprised last night when a group of hotel owners I was with was talking about just how good it’s been recently and same for many of our restaurants around here and that’s good for our tax base, it’s good for education and it’s good for our state as a whole,” Gov. Kemp said.

“We are not taking our foot off the gas, but literally some of the hardest hit sectors of our economy were in hospitality, travel, tourism, our restaurateurs, hoteliers and others and we are starting to see that life come back right here in places like Savannah and really all throughout Coastal Georgia and slowly but surely it’s coming back to the capital city of Atlanta as well, so I feel good about where we are, we’ve got to stay after it,” Gov. Kemp said.

“We have seen the demand decline at our mass vaccination sites, we’re going to keep them up for a little while longer, but we’re also changing our strategy, we’re going to neighborhoods, we’re going to churches, we’re encouraging the local health departments to reach out and do those as well I’ve talked to the school superintendents today about that, so we’ve just got to keep our foot on the gas,” he said.

Politicians on the 2022 ballot are filling their campaign accounts, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Rome, raised nearly $5.9 million through the first three months of this year, a stunning first-quarter total for a House freshman.

On the other side of the aisle, U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., another newly elected member of Georgia’s congressional delegation, brought in more than $5.7 million during January, February and March.

Greene’s fund-raising prowess in the first quarter by comparison dwarfed the total progressive icon Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., hauled in during the same period two years ago as a freshman member of Congress.

“She has become a national figure, a celebrity on the far right,” said Kerwin Swint, a political science professor at Kennesaw State University. “I think she’ll continue to get attention and money from around the country.”

Rep. Lucy McBath of Roswell reported raising $918,550 during the first quarter, and the campaign of Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux of Suwanee brought in $743,066 in January, February and March.

Georgia Senate President Pro Tem Butch Miller (R-Gainesville) addressed rumors he might run for Lieutenant Governor, according to the Gainesville Times.

“I am carefully looking at it and evaluating (whether to make a bid for the position),” Miller said in an April 21 interview following a virtual forum hosted by the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce where he was the keynote speaker. “And (we) will make a decision at the appropriate time.”

“Until Geoff Duncan makes a decision, I don’t have a decision to make,” Miller said during the conclusion of the chamber forum.

“I’d love to have that opportunity, but that door may not open,” Miller said. “But if it opens, I’d love to run through it like Herschel Walker. But that door is not open right now.”

Senator Miller also addressed recent changes to state election law, according to the Gainesville Times.

Miller said that punditry from national media outlets and political figures on SB 202 has created a false narrative for a state attempting to restore confidence in its election process.

“When I see and hear national figures making statements that are patently untrue and false, then that is not helpful in terms of building consensus (regarding our elections),” Miller said.

“Major companies that I know for a fact were literally at the table when we were discussing this legislation never expressed any concerns over this,” Miller said. “And then a few days after (SB 202) is passed, for them to express their horror and disbelief that we passed this bill when they said nothing about it when we were discussing it … it doesn’t help anyone.”

“There was a lot of pushback and concerns that we outlaw drop boxes. But there is no place in Georgia code that even mentions drop boxes, and they were put in effect because of the pandemic,” he said. “We did not eliminate drop boxes, we just asked for some control of drop boxes.”

“If you compare Georgia to surrounding states, I think we ranked 13th out of 50 states in terms of COVID recovery, meaning people going back to work, people paying their bills or going back to school,” he said. “So I think Georgia is in a really good spot … The fact of the matter is that we have survived COVID-19 far better than our neighbors.”

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr (R-Cobb County) resigned his Chairmanship of the Republican Attorneys General Association, according to the AJC.

His letter cited the departure of the group’s executive director, Adam Piper, who resigned shortly after it was revealed that RAGA’s policy arm paid for robocalls urging supporters of then-President Donald Trump to march on the Capitol to press for overturning the outcome the election the day of the riot.

“The fundamental difference of opinion began with vastly opposite views of the significance of the events of January 6 and the resistance by some to accepting the resignation of the executive director,” Carr wrote in the April 16 letter obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“The differences have continued as we have tried to restore RAGA’s reputation internally and externally and were reflected once again during the process of choosing the next executive director.”

Bulloch County Assistant County Manager Andy Welch is leaving after 21 years, according to the Statesboro Herald.

Baldwin County Commissioners adopted an ordinance on property maintenance standards, according to 13WMAZ.

Three years ago, the ordinance failed because people in Baldwin County didn’t want “government overreach,” says county manager Carlos Tobar.

However, this time, county commissioners passed it unanimously.

Some of the rules include:

People can’t pile waste in their yards that are in public view, or keep junk cars parked there.

In addition, property owners need to keep homes free of rodents, and vacant buildings must be maintained, locked, and kept safe.

Right now, the county will give you thirty days after receiving a complaint to clean up your property.

“That’s without a citation,” said Tobar. “If we come back within 30 days and you’re making progress, we say, ‘Great, keep it up.’ Then, we’ll come back in 30 days again, and if you stop making progress, you’re going to have to face fines and possibly jail time.”

The Jekyll Island Authority Board voted to reduce the number of hipsters e-bike riders on the island, according to The Brunswick News.

The JIA board heard a first reading Tuesday of a proposed amendment to the island’s ordinance regarding rental of certain vehicles. The amendment would prohibit e-bike rental licenses and e-bike tours.

The proposed amendment would also require authorization from JIA for all bike tours.

Jones Hooks, JIA executive director, said the board previously addressed a concern of a similar nature when it voted in 2019 to ban dockless scooters and bicycles from the island.

“This particular ordinance is also an attempt to address a situation that we feel is beginning to be more pervasive, and it’s just kind of evolving all over the country now,” Hooks said.

“They can go up to 25 miles an hour,” Hooks said. “And obviously, on Jekyll, with our bike paths that can become a very serious situation.”

JIA’s board did not take action Tuesday on the proposed amendment, which is available online for review and public comment at jekyllisland.com/input. Input must be received by 5 p.m. May 4.

I’m never going in the woods again. From the Ledger-Enquirer:

A Georgia rattlesnake is giving people the creeps on social media, after a photo posted on Facebook showcased the species’ astounding ability to blend into its surroundings.

“Can you find the snake?” Georgia’s Coastal Ecology Lab asked. “Did you know that Eastern diamondbacks are the longest and heaviest venomous snake in North America?”

Augusta has a finalist for its new fire chief, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Augusta officials sent a notice Wednesday stating that its sole finalist for fire chief is Antonio Burden, currently the deputy fire chief over professional services and community risk in DeKalb County.

The Augusta Commission hasn’t taken a vote in open session to select or hire Burden, and the notice of his selection – sent by the clerk of commission and mayor’s office – included no additional information.

Gainesville City Council member Sam Couvillon announced he will run for Mayor after incumbent Danny Dunagan announced he will not stand for reelection, according to AccessWDUN.

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