Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 7, 2021


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 7, 2021

The Battle of Bloody Marsh was fought between Spanish forces and colonists under James Oglethorpe on St Simons Island, Georgia in 1742 on a date that is variously cited as June 9 or June 7, 1742. Thus began the rivalry between Georgia and Florida.


On June 7, 1776, Richard Henry Lee of Virginia introduced a resolution before the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia calling for American independence from Great Britain.

Lee’s resolution declared: “That these United Colonies are, and of right out to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved; that measures should be immediately taken for procuring the assistance of foreign powers, and a Confederation be formed to bind the colonies more closely together.”

Four weeks later, Georgia’s members of the Continental Congress – Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, and George Walton — voted for a version written by Thomas Jefferson of Virginia and called the Declaration of Independence.

The first successful ascent of Mt. McKinley, also called Denali, in Alaska, the highest mountain in North America, was completed on June 7, 1913.

On June 7, 1942, Japanese troops occupied American territory in the Aleutian Islands off Alaska.

Ronald Reagan became the Republican nominee for Governor of California on June 7, 1966.

June 7, 2016 was declared “Prince Day” in Minnesota under a proclamation issued by Governor Mark Dayton. Prince was born on this day in 1958. Governor Dayton missed his chance to begin a proclamation with “Dearly beloved, we are gathered together today….” The next year, Dayton proclaimed Prince Day on April 21, 2017.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp continued the tradition of Republican Governors being booed at the Georgia Republican State Convention. From the Associated Press via AccessWDUN:

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp drew jeers and boos at his state party’s annual convention Saturday, laying bare the bitterness that remains among Republicans over his role in certifying Democrat Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential race.

Kemp’s supporters tried to drown out the taunts and he pleaded for party harmony. Heading into his 2022 reelection campaign, the governor emphasized his accomplishments, especially an election overhaul that GOP state lawmakers pushed in reaction to Donald Trump’s false assertions that he lost in November because of voter fraud.

“We must be strong and courageous,” Kemp said. He said of Democrats: “They’ve got Hollywood. They’ve got billionaires in New York and California. … That is why we have to be united as well and move forward together.”

Kemp maintained enough strength to easily beat back a resolution condemning his handling of the election. At least 15 local party conventions out of 159 counties and two congressional district conventions out of 14 adopted such resolutions. But the state party’s resolutions committee shelved the matter, and Kemp opponents were unable Saturday to force a full convention vote.

But delegates censured Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, another Republican, for his more direct part in administering the 2020 elections. Raffensperger, like Kemp, is seeking re-election. Unlike Kemp, he did not attend his own party’s convention.

“I’m scared to death of these anti-Kemp Republicans,” said James Hall, a 37-year-old delegate from Savannah.

Hall predicted such divisiveness would ensure a repeat of the Senate runoffs, when Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff defeated Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue. The Republicans lost votes from hardcore conservatives angry over Trump’s defeat; and they lost votes among moderates turned off by the false claims that Biden’s November victory was illegitimate. State elections officials of both parties and across the country have vouched for the results, and multiple courts have rejected Trump’s election challenges.

“If we keep playing these stupid games saying Kemp is not pure enough, we’re going to hand it over to the Democrats again,” Hall said. “It’s just so counterproductive. He’s the only Republican that can win in November.”

[Long-time Democrat Vernon] Jones tagged Kemp, a lifelong Republican, with the “Republican in Name Only” moniker. “The RINO leadership of this state sat on the sidelines” as Trump lost, Jones said.

“He has delivered time and time again on what Republican voters want, whether it’s pro-life issues, fiscal issues, whatever,” said Kevin Gough, a delegate from Glynn County, where the convention was being held.

From the AJC:

The uneasy environment at a GOP convention is nothing new for elected Republican officials.

Then-Gov. Nathan Deal was scolded for vetoing a “religious liberty” measure and objecting to campus gun legislation; he wound up skipping the 2016 convention. Before that, then-U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss was booed for his stance on immigration. Others have seen their fortunes rise or recede in front of the activists.

In an attempt to show GOP unity, former U.S. Sen. David Perdue — who was one of Trump’s most loyal allies in the Senate — introduced the governor. He called on Republicans to unite and pointed to nearly two decades of GOP leadership in the state dating to his first-cousin Sonny Perdue’s 2002 victory.

“I (warn) you to focus right now on what we have to do to win in November 2022,” Perdue said.

And at the convention on Saturday, Kemp also reminded GOP voters of his track record at the ballot box against the state GOP’s arch-nemesis.

“There is only one person who’s beaten Stacey Abrams,” he told the crowd, “and you’re looking at him.”

From Politico:

Kemp’s standing with the rank-and-file has, improbably, improved, according to interviews with more than 30 party officials, strategists and activists here. And in his partial rehabilitation — the product of a relentless focus on so-called election integrity issues and culture war staples to excite the base — Kemp may serve as a model for dozens of Republicans elsewhere who have incurred Trump’s public wrath and are seeking to regain their standing with Republicans at home.

Clint Day, a former state senator who just months ago was far more pessimistic about Kemp’s prospects, said, “I think he could be reelected.”

By April, Kemp’s approval rating among Georgia Republicans had climbed 15 percentage points from its post-election low, according to Morning Consult, settling at 74 percent. Internal campaign polling showed improvement from earlier this year, as well.

“I’m in a lot better standing than what the media wants to tell people I am,” Kemp said on Saturday, while otherwise declining to comment.

“If his opponent’s Vernon Jones, I think Brian Kemp’s going to be the nominee,” said Jay Williams, a Georgia-based Republican strategist. “He’s a former Democrat, man … Vernon Jones is the crazy uncle we’ve known for a long time.”

Bruce Thompson, a Georgia state senator who had called for additional reviews of the November election, said Raffensperger is “done.” But he said the calculation surrounding Kemp has changed.

Though “the base is still pissed off,” he said, Kemp “has managed this as well as he could, as far as the pandemic and getting us open, being a governor … Brian has done a good job since the election with the economy and signing SB 202. And he’s traveling the state.”

Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black will seek the Republican nomination for United States Senate against Sen. Raphael Warnock, according to the Albany Herald.

“Warnock and Biden promised to ‘fundamentally change America,’” Black said. “They’re five months into it, and job growth and opportunity are down, inflation, debt and gas prices are up, the Middle East is back at war. Satisfied? Or sickened? I fundamentally object. I’ll stand in the gap and say the wave comes this far, and no farther.”

Under Black’s leadership, the Georgia Department of Agriculture’s divisions for information technology, animal health, homeland security and food safety have garnered national acclaim. He has led innovation in domestic and international promotion through the renowned Georgia Grown branding program, helping Georgians start businesses and expand markets. Since taking office in 2011, Black has also improved the department’s fiscal responsibility and performance, as well as strengthened career paths for employees.

From the Capitol Beat News Service via the Gwinnett Daily Post:

Other than Black, Warnock hasn’t drawn any Republican challengers with name recognition. Two who have entered the contest are Latham Saddler, an Atlanta banking executive, and Kelvin King, a small business owner and Air Force veteran from Atlanta.

However, one of the most powerful politicians in Georgia, Republican state House Speaker David Ralston, is considering a run for the Senate.

Other Republicans weighing a challenge to Warnock include U.S. Reps. Buddy Carter of Savannah and Drew Ferguson of West Point. Trump has urged University of Georgia football great Herschel Walker to give it a go.

Former Sen. Kelly Loeffler, and former Rep. Doug Collins, who clashed in a Senate race last year eventually won by Warnock, have decided not to run in 2022.

State Senator Bruce Thompson (R-White) announced he will run for Commissioner of Labor, according to the Capitol Beat News Service.

State Sen. Bruce Thompson launched a campaign for Georgia commissioner of labor Friday with an attack on the leadership of incumbent Commissioner Mark Butler.

“The Department of Labor has been completely mismanaged and has failed the citizens of Georgia,” said Thompson, R-Cartersville, who will challenge Butler for the Republican nomination next spring.

“It’s time for fresh ideas, new leadership, and a solution-oriented approach to cut through the bureaucratic red tape, empower small businesses in our state and get hardworking Georgians the benefits they deserve.”

Thompson was elected to the Georgia Senate in 2012 in a district that includes Bartow and Cherokee counties and parts of Cobb County.

Two Democrats also have entered the 2022 race for labor commissioner: state Sen. Lester Jackson of Savannah and Georgia Rep. William Boddie of East Point.

Democratic former Fulton County Commission Chair John Eaves is preparing to run for Secretary of State, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Former Fulton County Commission Chairman John Eaves has announced he’ll be running for Secretary of State in 2022, and if elected, would be the first Black man to hold the title in the state’s history.

Eaves served as the Fulton County Commission chairman until he stepped down to run for Atlanta’s mayoral seat in 2017. In 2020, he ran to represent Georgia’s 7th Congressional District, but lost in the primary to Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux, who currently holds the seat.

“Georgia has been a battleground for partisan bickering surrounding voter access and claims of fraud. I am prepared to fight to make our state a model of democracy, where we honor everyone’s right to vote, and we have systems in place to encourage greater voter access and election integrity. We have come too far to go back now,” Eaves said in a press release announcing his candidacy.

Eaves is one of a few candidates to mount a challenge to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. Back in March, 10th Congressional District Rep. Jody Hice of Greensboro, a Republican endorsed by former President Donald Trump, announced his campaign.  Former Alpharetta Mayor David Belle Isle’s hat is in the ring as well.

Eaves will also face at least one Democratic candidate: State Rep. Bee Nguyen, of Atlanta.

Rome Democrat Wendy Davis has volunteered as tribute announced she will run against Republican United States Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, according to the Rome News Tribune.

Wendy Davis, a Rome city commissioner and member of the Democratic National Committee, has filed paperwork to run for Congress in Northwest Georgia’s 14th District.

“We need a true Northwest Georgia voice for our communities in Washington,” Davis said in a campaign release Sunday. “I’ll focus on getting results for our families, not chasing national attention with embarrassing, erratic conspiracy theories.”

The district covers the counties of Floyd, Gordon, Polk, Chattooga, Walker, Catoosa, Dade, Whitfield, Haralson, Murray and Paulding, and part of Pickens. It is one of the most heavily Republican districts in the state, although the Georgia General Assembly is slated to redraw the voting maps this fall when 2020 census numbers are released.

Three other Democrats have also filed to run and Greene has at least one GOP challenger in the primary, which is just over a year away.

The Hall County Board of Elections will hear allegations that three people voted in both Georgia and Florida in 2020, according to the Gainesville Times.

Elections Director Lori Wurtz presented the cases to the board Thursday, saying that three counties in Florida contacted her about unusual activity from three voters, who are suspected of having voted in both Georgia and Florida last year. She confirmed that the voters all voted in Hall County, but she does not have full access to Florida voter registration information, she said.

She could not investigate further on her own, Wurtz said, and she recommended that the board hire a professional investigator to examine these cases. All three voted via mail-in ballots, Wurtz said.

“(One of the three suspects) registered in 2016 in Florida and July 27, 2020, in Georgia and then voted absentee by mail on Oct. 17, 2020. in Florida and Oct. 22 in Georgia,” Wurtz said.

Because this suspect allegedly voted second in Hall County, they must be investigated by Hall County officials to determine any wrongdoing, Wurtz said. The second vote would be the crime, she said.

State level “Leadership Committees” could change Georgia elections, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Athens Banner Herald.

The new law, which takes effect July 1, authorizes the creation of “leadership committees” that can raise and spend unlimited contributions on behalf of top statewide and legislative candidates. Recipients also will be able to accept committee donations at any time of the year, including while the General Assembly is in session.

“These leadership committees take away all the restrictions that have been put in place over the years to control big money,” said state Sen. Jen Jordan, D-Atlanta.

The leadership committees also will not be subject to the law prohibiting statewide officeholders and legislators from soliciting or accepting campaign contributions during General Assembly sessions.

“If you’re a Republican challenging [Gov. Brian] Kemp in a primary, he can raise money during the [legislative] session,” Jordan said.

Going further, Jordan suggested incumbent protection may have been what Republican leaders had in mind in crafting the bill.

“Since the GOP is very fractured, there’s more likelihood of a primary challenge,” she said. “That’s a real problem for them. This is how they think they can solve it.”

Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Harold Melton expects to life the judicial emergency order governing the courts at the end of this month, according to the Associated Press via AccessWDUN.

Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Harold Melton said Friday that he plans to issue an order Monday extending the statewide judicial emergency but that he does not expect it to last beyond June 30. Melton first declared the statewide judicial emergency on March 14, 2020.

Melton said he’s been watching the trends in Gov. Brian Kemp’s public health emergency orders based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the decline in COVID-19 rates across the state. He said he doubts the governor will extend the public health emergency beyond the end of the month.

“It will take hard work, creativity, and cooperation to get our courts back to full operations and to resolve the large backlogs of cases that have accumulated due to the restrictions the pandemic required,” Melton said in a news release.

The chief judges in the state’s 49 judicial circuits have the authority to issue local judicial emergency orders, and that will be discussed further in a notice of expected termination of the statewide judicial emergency that Melton plans to issue along with the last extension order.

Dougherty County will resume jury trials this month, according to the Albany Herald.

On June 15, Dougherty County Superior Court is scheduled to kick off with four days of drug trials. Jury trials in other cases are set for the weeks of July 12 and Aug. 2.

While the county has gone mask-optional in its other buildings, going maskless is not an option in the Judicial Building due to an order from the Georgia Supreme Court, Howell said.

The Rome City Board of Education will meet tomorrow to adopt an FY 2022 budget, according to the Rome News Tribune.

Financially, the school system is expecting increased state and local revenues to the tune of $2.75 million and $2.57 million respectively.
The board is scheduled to caucus at 4 p.m. in Room A211 at the College and Career Academy, 990 Veterans Memorial Highway. The regular meeting will start at 5:45 p.m. in Room A201.

The school board will also continue its discussion concerning board policies on public participation in board meetings.

As part of the proposed policy, members of the public who wish to speak at the board meeting would be required to submit a request in writing to the board 24 hours in advance of the meeting alongside any materials they wish the board to consider.

The board is also expected to limit the speakers to 15 minutes and require them to be citizens of Rome or current employees, current students, or a parent or guardian of a current Rome City Schools student.

Georgia’s coast is attracting more out-of-state tourists, according to The Brunswick News.

“Historically Georgia has always been our top market and continues to be today, but we are definitely noticing a shift in the last six years,” said Scott McQuade, president and CEO of the visitors bureau.

“With the shift in our marketing strategy to broaden our visitor base, we are now attracting a greater concentration of visitors across the entire East Coast. We strategically place advertising in these distant markets to create awareness and motivate visitors to come to the Golden Isles as they generally stay longer and create a larger economic impact.”

“Prior to COVID we were actually gaining traction across the entire country and growing our fly market with our national advertising campaign, and we will reinvigorate that effort this coming year,” McQuade said.

“Certainly Georgia visitors will be our bread-and-butter for what we call the weekend warriors, but we are now attracting a more broad visitor market that helps diversify our visitor economy,” McQuade said.

“According to our most recent data, Georgia visitors to the Golden Isles are down 10% over this 6-year time period. Atlanta continues to be our top market and will continue to be with our concerted efforts to compete for one of our critical feeder cities. What has changed most over this time is that we are bringing visitors from all over the Southeast, Northeast and Midwest now.”

Shrimp season opens in Georgia tomorrow, according to the Statesboro Herald.

The commercial and recreational shrimp season opens at 8 a.m. Tuesday, according to the state Department of Natural Resources.

Data collected by the agency’s coastal resources division shows strong numbers of shrimp in coastal waters, said Eddie Leonard, a marine biologist with the division who monitors shrimp populations.

“Data also indicate that spawning is occurring and will likely be winding down by the time the season opens, and that average individual shrimp sizes are sufficient to satisfy the requirements of Georgia law,” Leonard said in a news release.

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