Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 23, 2021

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 23, 2021

On June 23, 903 AD, the Icelandic Parliament, the Althing or Althingi, was established and is the world’s oldest.

In honor of the Icelandic Parliament, here’s the greatest Icelandic band ever, the Sugarcubes, playing at Auburn in 1988.

Off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina, British Commodore Sir Peter Parker spent June 23, 1776 preparing to land the next day, charged with supporting loyalists to the British crown.

On June 23, 1819, Texas declared its independence from Spain.

On June 23, 1862, General Robert E. Lee met with his commanders in preparation for what would be known as the Seven Days’ Battles.

On June 23, 1865, Georgia-born Cherokee Stand Watie became the last Confederate general to surrender.

On June 23, 1888, Frederick Douglass became the first African-American nominated for President, receiving one vote from Kentucky at the Republican National Convention in Chicago, Illinois.

Former Atlanta mayor Maynard H. Jackson, Jr. died on June 23, 2003.

Happy birthday to Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas (1948) and the late Mrs. GaPundit.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Yesterday, Governor Brian Kemp issued what we all hope will be the final Executive Order extending the Public Health State of Emergency in the COVID pandemic. From a Press Release:

Governor Brian P. Kemp issued the final executive order extending the public health state of emergency, which will now expire on Thursday, July 1 at 12:00 AM.

“With the executive order I signed today, the public health state of emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic will end on Thursday, July 1 at 12:00 AM,” said Governor Kemp. “I appreciate the General Assembly granting my office this authority in order to swiftly and appropriately respond to the coronavirus pandemic. We worked together – along with the Department of Public Health, dozens of state agencies, local leaders, private sector partners, and countless others – to protect both lives and livelihoods.”

“Thanks to those efforts, more Georgians are getting vaccinated, our economic momentum is strong, and people are getting back to normal. We have emerged resilient, and I thank all Georgians for doing their part. Georgia’s best days are ahead as we continue our work to keep the Peach State the No. 1 place to live, work, and raise a family.”

Next week, the Governor will issue a state of emergency executive order that will continue aiding the state and Georgia job creators as they fully recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, which will include the suspension of various state rules and regulations.

Governor Kemp also named a new Commissioner of the Department of Community Health. From a Press Release:

Governor Brian P. Kemp announced his Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, Caylee Noggle, would begin serving as the Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Community Health (DCH) on July 1. Current DCH Commissioner Frank Berry is retiring following decades of service to the state of Georgia in various capacities.

“I would like to thank Frank Berry for his twenty-six years of outstanding service in many different roles across state government,” said Governor Kemp. “Frank’s leadership, passion, and knowledge have served Georgia well and were invaluable during our fight against COVID-19. The Department of Community Health (DCH) is a vital state agency, serving nearly three million Georgians’ healthcare needs and allocating a $17 billion dollar budget annually. Commissioner Berry guided DCH through unprecedented challenges during his tenure and has left the agency better prepared to meet challenges in the years to come. We wish Frank and his family the very best in the future!”

“Caylee Noggle has done a remarkable job throughout her service in state government – including in her integral role throughout the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic,”” said Governor Kemp. “Caylee brings years of in-depth knowledge and management expertise to a complex state agency that will greatly benefit from her diverse experience and leadership. Georgians will be well-served by having her at the helm of DCH as the agency continues to deliver critical services to the people of our state.”

Caylee Noggle is currently Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations in the Office of Governor Brian P. Kemp. Noggle most recently served as interim Chief of Staff to Governor Kemp, following her service as interim Chief of Staff at the Georgia Department of Public Health and Chief Management Officer for the Governor’s Office. Before joining the Kemp Administration in January 2020, Noggle served as President, Interim President, Chief Operating Officer, and Chief Financial Officer for the Georgia Student Finance Commission. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Millikin University and master’s degree in College Student Affairs from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock where she served as a financial aid officer before moving to Georgia.

Noggle has previously served as Director of the Physical and Economic Development Division in the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget where she handled budget and policy oversight for more than twenty state agencies. She also served as Coordinator of First Year and Academic Support Programs at the University of West Georgia. She is a past recipient of GASFAA’s Outstanding Service to Students Award and NASPA’s Graduate and Professional Student Award.

Deputy Chief Operating Officer for the Governor’s Office, Ryan Loke, will join Caylee Noggle at DCH as Deputy Commissioner and Chief Health Policy Officer, also effective July 1.

“As Healthcare Policy Advisor and later as Deputy Chief Operating Officer, Ryan Loke has served in several instrumental roles in the first two years of my administration,” said Governor Kemp. “At DCH, Ryan will continue to spearhead our implementation of Georgia Pathways and Access as we work to provide quality, affordable healthcare for more hardworking Georgians. His passion for healthcare and experience successfully coordinating various aspects of our fight against COVID-19 will greatly benefit DCH and our state.”

Ryan Loke is currently Deputy Chief Operating Officer in the Office of Governor Brian P. Kemp. Prior to this role, he served as the Governor’s Health Policy Advisor. Before joining the Governor’s Office, Loke worked in the private sector advising several Georgia-based companies on legislative strategy. He is a graduate of the University of Georgia with a degree in Political Science and is currently pursuing a graduate degree at the Emory University Rollins School of Public Health.

Effective July 1, Bert Brantley, currently serving as the Governor’s Deputy Chief of Staff for External Affairs, will continue serving in a new role as the Governor’s Deputy Chief of Staff.

Some folks are having trouble figuring out where the blame lies for Juneteenth not becoming a paid state holiday literally overnight, according to WSB-TV:

After President Joe Biden signed federal legislation to make Juneteenth a federal holiday, Gov. Brian Kemp followed suit to make Juneteenth a state holiday. The governor, however, has refused to make it a paid holiday for state employees.

The governor’s office says in a statement that the decision to make Juneteenth a paid state holiday is not one he can make on his own.

Cody Hall, Gov. Kemp’s Communications Director, told Channel 2′s Tyisha Fernandes that state law requires there to be 12 paid state holidays, and the governor announces those holidays a year in advance.

“2021 state holidays were set in August of 2020. The two days available for the Governor to choose – other than the 10 mandated federal holidays – have already been assigned for this year to Good Friday and the day after Thanksgiving,” Hall said in a statement.

Hall said that in order for there to be more paid state holidays than the 12 that were already announced, the state legislature would have to change the law before Gov. Kemp could even make that decision.

Here’s a hint. If you are ever President and want states to follow the federal government’s lead in giving employees, maybe give them more than one day lead time.

New York Democratic Primary and the Federal Elections Bill

Republicans in the United States Senate defeated the federal elections bill yesterday, according to the Associated Press.

The Democrats’ sweeping attempt to rewrite U.S. election and voting law suffered a major setback in the Senate Tuesday, blocked by a filibuster wall of Republican opposition to what would be the largest overhaul of the electoral system in a generation.

The vote leaves the Democrats with no clear path forward, though President Joe Biden declared, “This fight is far from over.”

The bill, known as the For the People Act, would touch on virtually every aspect of how elections are conducted, striking down hurdles to voting that advocates view as the Civil Rights fight of the era, while also curbing the influence of money in politics and limiting partisan influence over the drawing of congressional districts.

But many in the GOP say the measure represents instead a breathtaking federal infringement on states’ authority to conduct their own elections without fraud — and is meant to ultimately benefit Democrats.

It failed on a 50-50 vote after Republicans, some of whom derided the bill as the “Screw the People Act,” denied Democrats the 60 votes needed to begin debate under Senate rules. Vice President Kamala Harris, the first Black woman to hold her office, presided over the chamber as the bill failed to break past that filibuster barrier.

Democratic Senators intend to focus on Georgia voting laws moving forward, according to CNN.

The Democratic-led Senate Rules Committee plans to move ahead with a series of hearings, including in Georgia, calling for passage of new legislation — as well as to spotlight Republican-led efforts at the state level to enact restrictive measures in the wake of the growth of mail-in voting during the 2020 election season.

At the center of the list: Georgia, the state that President Joe Biden narrowly won and that elected two Democratic senators, effectively giving their party control of the Senate — and prompting former President Donald Trump’s outrage and conspiracy theories that the election was somehow stolen. Since then, Republicans in Georgia have pushed through new voting restrictions in a state that could again determine the Senate majority in the 2022 midterm elections.

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who chairs the Senate Rules Committee, plans to hold a field hearing in Georgia, along with a series of other hearings that she says will draw attention to GOP efforts at the state level and renew calls for the Democratic push for a broader bill at the federal level.

“This fight has just begun,” Klobuchar said in a statement to CNN. “That’s why, as chairwoman of the Rules Committee, I am announcing a series of hearings on the urgent need to pass critical voting, campaign finance, and ethics reforms, including a field hearing in Georgia to hear testimony on the recently enacted legislation to restrict voting in the state.”

Which, of course, begs the question of what an election looks like under the most-Democratic possible set of rules. I can’t think of a more Democratic election than that of New York City’s Mayor. Which is now an epic cluster.

The New York Times reports that results in the Mayor’s race and a number of other local elections may not be known for weeks. Weeks, my friends.

The New York City primary election was on Tuesday, but it could be weeks before we find out the official winner of the top contest — the Democratic primary for mayor.

Given the electoral makeup of the city, the winner of that contest is highly likely to be elected mayor in November. On Tuesday night, we found out that Eric Adams, the Brooklyn borough president, was leading among the ballots cast in-person on Primary Day and during nine days of early voting.

But election officials must then wait for tens of thousands of absentee ballots to arrive, and those will need to be counted as well.

And there is a new wrinkle this year that makes the timeline more complicated: The city is using ranked-choice voting for the first time in a mayoral race. Only New Yorkers’ first-choice votes were counted right away, but their other choices could potentially be decisive.

We might not have an official winner until the week of July 12. But we will find out more information before then.

The city’s Board of Elections plans to reveal the first round of ranked-choice results on June 29, and it will release updated results once a week after that as absentee ballots are counted.

The results posted on July 6 are expected to include some absentee ballots, according to the Board of Elections, but more complete results should arrive the week of July 12.

The city’s Board of Elections has received about 220,600 requests for absentee ballots, and in a closely fought race like this one, those votes could make a difference. More than 82,000 people have filled out and returned their absentee ballots so far.

And perhaps more significantly, we cannot assume that Mr. Adams will end up victorious. Another candidate could win more second- and third-choice votes and overtake that candidate.

You can win more votes for First Place in the New York Democratic Primary and still lose. Seriously.

I’ve heard it’s possible for the candidate in first place to lose. How does that make sense?

This is a case in which a candidate receives a plurality of votes in the first round but not the majority of them.

Say Sarah receives 40 percent of first-choice votes, Eden gets 35 percent and Jazmine gets 25 percent. Even though Sarah is in first place, she hasn’t secured a majority.

In the next round, Jazmine is eliminated, and the votes for her are transferred to whichever candidate her voters listed second. Then the votes are recounted.

If most of the voters who ranked Jazmine first list Eden as their second choice, then Eden may end up overtaking Sarah and winning the election.

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