Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 20, 2021

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 20, 2021

On July 20, 1864, the Battle of Peachtree Creek took place in Atlanta.

Sir Edmund Hillary was born on July 20, 1919 in Auckland, New Zealand. He and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay became the first to summit Mount Everest on May 29, 1953.

On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first people to set foot on the moon.

When the lunar module lands at 4:18 p.m EDT, only 30 seconds of fuel remain. Armstrong radios “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.” Mission control erupts in celebration as the tension breaks, and a controller tells the crew “You got a bunch of guys about to turn blue, we’re breathing again.”

At 10:56 p.m. EDT Armstrong is ready to plant the first human foot on another world. With more than half a billion people watching on television, he climbs down the ladder and proclaims: “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Aldrin joins him shortly, and offers a simple but powerful description of the lunar surface: “magnificent desolation.” They explore the surface for two and a half hours, collecting samples and taking photographs.

They leave behind an American flag, a patch honoring the fallen Apollo 1 crew, and a plaque on one of Eagle’s legs. It reads, “Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the moon. July 1969 A.D. We came in peace for all mankind.”

Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton gave the speech nominating Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis for President on July 20, 1988 at the Democratic National Convention in Atlanta. Dukakis accepted the nomination the next day.

Clinton’s performance was widely panned.

[Clinton] bombed so badly that there was speculation it might spoil his political future.

The prime-time speech would be a perfect opportunity for Clinton to regain some of the ground he’d lost to Gore and to reestablish himself as the one to watch from the party’s moderate/Southern wing.

But he blew it. The speech he delivered was long – 33 minutes, or twice the expected length – and mechanical. It only took a few minutes for convention delegates to tune him out, as the din of their conversations began drowning him out on television. Eventually, the broadcast networks began cutting away from his speech, with commentators noting the crowd’s complete lack of interest. The lowlight came when Clinton uttered the words “In closing,” prompting a spontaneous round of sarcastic cheers from the audience. His home state paper summed it up this way:

ATLANTA Gov. Bill Clinton’s big national moment his prime time speech Wednesday night in nomination of Michael Dukakis was an unmitigated disaster.

The Los Angeles Times has a great contemporaneous take on the speech.

Valdosta Daily Times wins a special 1980s Headline Writing Merit Award for “It’s a cruel summer at the gas pump.”

“It’s a cruel summer at the gas pump with prices showing little signs of relief,” said Jeanette McGee, AAA spokesperson. “However, the more expensive prices aren’t stopping motorists from filling-up based on strong gasoline demand numbers.”

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp will include crime fighting legislation in his call of a Special Session to redraw legislative districts, according to the Associated Press via the Statesboro Herald.

Gov. Brian Kemp told the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee on Monday that he would include anti-crime proposals for lawmakers to consider this fall when they return for a special session to redraw electoral districts.

“The dangerous criminals in these gangs aren’t letting up. In fact, because local leadership in our capital city has created an anti-police, soft-on-crime environment, the task force’s work, in my opinion, is needed now more than ever,” Kemp said, reiterating criticism of [Atlanta Mayor] Bottoms.

Ahead of 2022 state elections, many Republicans are trying to make the case that voters shouldn’t trust Democrats on crime, even though state government has traditionally had a limited role in fighting crime, with most of the responsibility falling to local sheriffs, police departments and district attorneys. Kemp has repeatedly touted state police efforts to cut down on street racing and stunt driving. Troopers have formed a six-person crime suppression unit to arrest fugitives, but troopers have little role in investigating local shootings, a key concern.

[Georgia Attorney General Chris] Carr said some district attorneys weren’t doing enough to prosecute cases, singling out District Attorney Deborah Gonzalez, who covers Athens-Clarke and Oconee counties. Gonzalez has said that more people who are arrested should be released before trial without requiring cash bail, that she won’t prosecute some low-level drug cases and that she won’t seek the death penalty. That’s prompted pushback, especially from officials in Republican-dominated Oconee County.

“If they don’t like it, they should run for the legislature and change the law that way,” Carr told committee members. “I think it is dangerous for a member of the executive branch or the judicial branch to say I’m just not going to enforce the law.”

From the Capitol Beat News Service:

Meanwhile, Georgia House Speaker David Ralston said House budget writers will allocate $3 million in additional law enforcement resources aimed specifically at fighting crime in Atlanta.

Kemp, who gave an update last week on the Gang Task Force he formed two years ago, told lawmakers Monday the state’s multi-agency Crime Suppression Unit has arrested 109 criminal suspects, impounded hundreds of vehicles involved in street racing, seized hundreds of stolen firearms and made thousands of vehicle stops.

The governor also thanked the General Assembly for passing laws aimed at human traffickers and street gangs since he took office in 2019.

From the AJC:

“It is my intention to include the work of this committee and solutions from other concerned stakeholders in my call for a special session of the General Assembly this fall,” Kemp said.

Atlanta had a historically deadly 2020, when authorities investigated 157 homicide cases — the most in more than two decades. This year, as of June, homicides had increased in Atlanta by more than 50% and shootings had increased by 40% compared to the same time period in 2020.

On Friday, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced that she wants to create an office of violence reduction and invest $70 million to develop and implement strategies to address crime. In March, Bottoms said she wants the city to hire 250 more police officers, expand the city’s camera network and license plate reader systems; and add 10,000 more streetlights in the city by Dec. 31, 2022.

Rising COVID case numbers could cause economic issues, according to an Emory professor quoted in the Savannah Morning News.

“Just you wait,” said Dr. Carlos del Rio, distinguished professor of medicine, epidemiology and global health and executive associate dean of Emory University School of Medicine at Grady Health System. “We are seeing it already. It’s just behind some of the other states.”

In the past week, Georgia has seen a 60% increase in cases but is lagging behind other states such as Florida, with a 109% increase compared to the previous seven days, and Arkansas with a 93% jump, according to the weekly Community Profile Report from the White House COVID-19 Team.

The rise in hospitalizations in Georgia is mainly those ages 29-40, and almost all of those patients are unvaccinated, del Rio said.

“The rise in cases is strongly correlated with low vaccination rates,” he said. In Georgia, while 44% of the population has received at least one dose of vaccine, more than 93% of those ages 65 and older have gotten a shot while 34.7% of the 20-24, and 37.9% of those 25-34 have received any vaccine, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health.

“If you are not vaccinated, you are really in trouble,” del Rio said.

From the New York Times:

Fear jolted the financial markets on Monday as investors realized that the path to global economic recovery after the pandemic would be anything but straightforward.

For months, investors had been behaving as if they expected a full, smooth rebound from the Covid crisis. From January through June, stocks rose 14 percent, one of the best first-half performances since the late 1990s.

But the virus’s potential to upend life all over again caught up with investors, as a spate of worrying news — in particular, new outbreaks involving the highly contagious Delta variant among unvaccinated people — led to a big sell-off on Monday. The S&P 500 stock-market index had its worst decline since May, sliding more than 2 percent during the day before closing down 1.6 percent. The Dow fell 2.1 percent, its biggest one-day loss this year. Europe’s Stoxx 600 fell 2.3 percent.

On Monday, investors behaved as they had during the pandemic’s early days, pouring money into so-called stay-at-home stocks, whose business models appear almost tailor-made to thrive despite lockdowns. Shares of Peloton climbed more than 7 percent. Stock in Etsy, which soared last year as consumers sought out homemade masks, jumped 3.2 percent.

Investors also bought shares of Clorox, the grocery chain Kroger, Campbell Soup and the toilet tissue maker Kimberly-Clark. Such consumer staples companies fared extraordinarily well during the worst period of last year’s pandemic panic, as consumers stockpiled essentials.

The pain was especially pronounced in areas such as airlines, pleasure cruise companies and casual restaurant chains — all of which had begun to recover this year as the pandemic first came under control. Norwegian Cruise Line and United Airlines each fell about 5.4 percent.

From the Wall Street Journal:

Stocks, bond yields and oil prices declined Monday in the most acute sign yet that investors are second-guessing the strength of the global economic recovery that sent markets soaring this year.

Markets rallied in the first half of 2021, thanks to investors’ bets that economies would bounce back, as countries rolled out Covid-19 vaccinations and lifted restrictions on businesses. Reports on everything from retail sales and housing prices to employment have shown swaths of the U.S. economy healing, helping send the S&P 500 to 39 record closes this year and almost double from its March 2020 trough.

Monday’s pullback put a dent in that narrative. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 725.81 points, or 2.1%, to 33962.04, logging its steepest decline since October. Meanwhile, the yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note, which falls as bond prices rise, sank to its lowest level since February. And U.S. crude oil prices slid 7.5%—marking their worst session since September.

Behind the rout, investors say, is a growing list of concerns about the recovery. The Delta coronavirus variant has spread rapidly, reigniting the debate in several countries about whether governments should resume lockdowns and curb activity. Meanwhile, inflation has accelerated faster than many anticipated, and strained U.S.-China relations have put pressure on trillions of dollars’ worth of U.S.-listed Chinese companies.

From Bill Dawers in the Savannah Morning News:

Only 41% of Chatham County residents had been fully vaccinated by late last week, according to state data, with Bryan County not far behind at 38%. Those modest numbers are much higher than most counties in the region, including Effingham (29%), Liberty (21%) and Bulloch (26%).

Businesses with unvaccinated employees face significant risks. Some companies might reinstate health protocols and push harder for employees to be vaccinated. We should also be prepared for outbreaks among religious congregations and other groups with low vaccination rates.

If current trends continue, the real tests will likely come in August. School system administrators will face tough choices if they start seeing severe illness among unvaccinated employees. Colleges and college towns should expect surges when students return for the fall semester.

If face-to-face education is disrupted in any significant way, the economic fallout will be felt throughout the region.

From the AJC:

The highly contagious delta variant now accounts for about 70% of all new cases, most of which are among those who haven’t been vaccinated, including children too young for the shots. Of the 480 Georgia patients hospitalized with COVID-19 so far this month, 416 were not fully vaccinated, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health.

“There is a clear message that is coming through: This is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in a press briefing last week.

The two-week average of new infections in Gordon County has gone from 16 two weeks ago, to 38 a week ago, to 88 as of Monday, according to DPH.

“I’ve heard things like, ‘Well, now that the pandemic is over,’ or, ‘now we need to talk about post-COVID,’” del Rio said. “Well…more (COVID-19 patients) have died in the first six months of 2021, than in the entire year of 2020. The pandemic is not over.”

Clarke County schools announced they will require masks for students in K-6 and all students when on a bus, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

United States Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Extreme Northwest Georgia) was suspended again from Twitter for 12 hours, according to CNN via the Albany Herald.

The Georgia Republican, who has a track record of incendiary rhetoric, will not be able to tweet for 12 hours due to Twitter’s policy against people who repeatedly share misinformation.

The social media platform had labeled two tweets from Greene as “misleading” in recent days. If she continues to share misinformation about Covid-19 through her Twitter account, Greene could be suspended from the platform permanently.

The Georgia Republican has tried to make a name for herself being an outsider and a rabble-rouser and routinely uses parliamentary procedures to slow down House floor business, much to the dismay of her colleagues.

But the tactics have helped her win support on the far right. In April, her campaign announced she had raised $3.2 million in the first three months in office — an astonishing amount for a freshman member.

In May, the Wall Street Journal looked at social media companies’ track record on policing the truth.

Question: When does “misinformation” stop being misinformation on social media? Answer: When Democratic government authorities give permission.

Witness Facebook’s decision to stop censoring some claims about the origin of Covid-19 the same day President Biden said his Administration will investigate whether a Chinese lab may have been involved.

It’s been clear for more than a year that the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which collects and tests coronaviruses, deserved scrutiny over the emergence of the pandemic in Wuhan. Yet Facebook announced in February that it would expand its content moderation on Covid-19 to include “false” and “debunked” claims such as that “COVID-19 is man-made or manufactured.” Facebook deployed fact-check warnings against an influential Medium post this month on the origins of the virus by science journalist Nicholas Wade.

As long as Democratic opinion sneered at the lab-leak theory, Facebook dutifully controlled it. But ideological bubbles have a way of bursting, and the circumstantial evidence—most of which has been available for months—finally permeated the insular world of progressive public health. This prompted officials like Anthony Fauci to say more investigation is needed, while the White House issued new intelligence directives reflecting lower certainty of a natural emergence.

The shift is better late than never, but note the apparent implication: While a political or scientific claim is disfavored by government authorities, Facebook will limit its reach. When government reduces its hostility toward an idea, so will Facebook.

YouTube’s Covid-19 policy similarly forbids contradicting “health authorities.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is run by a political appointee and its evolving guidance is clearly influenced by political considerations. YouTube, owned by Google, used this policy to remove a roundtable on virus response with scientists and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Democrats on the U.S. Senate Rules Committee held an extended press conference in the form of a committee meeting. From the Capitol Beat News Service via the Albany Herald.

“Some people don’t want some people to vote, so they’re trying to deny access to the ballot,” Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., said during a rare Senate committee field hearing in downtown Atlanta.

“Today’s hearing is the latest attempt to change the narrative that they couldn’t get a federal takeover of elections,” Gov. Brian Kemp said. “They’ve brought the political fight here.”

Georgia Rep. Barry Fleming defended Senate Bill 202 as a measure that will expand the days and hours for early voting, impose a ‘reasonable’ ID requirement on voters casting absentee ballots, codify ballot drop boxes in state law for the first time and impose election-night reporting requirements that will lead to quicker results.

“Georgia passed a law that strengthened security, expanded access and increased security,” said Fleming, R-Harlem, who carried the bill in the House.

“These restrictions are not meant to solve any real problem,” Ossoff said. “The only real problem for Georgia’s GOP is that they lost.”

“States have a constitutional right to run their own elections,” Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr said Monday. “We are going to vigorously defend Georgia’s law, and we’re going to win in court.”

From WABE:

No Republican Senators attended the hearing, nor did they send any witnesses to testify or defend the voting law. And given Senate Democrats’ slim majority, they need Republican support to pass the proposed legislation.

One of the bill’s authors, Republican state Rep. Barry Fleming said Monday that SB 202 is “a great bill. We are proud of it. Whatever the opposition is saying about the law needs to be taken with a grain of salt.”

“But don’t take it from Democrats. Don’t take it for me. Take it from them,” Ossoff said, citing three Republican officials who stood by the integrity and security of the state’s election system, Lieutenant Gov. Geoff Duncan, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and top elections official Gabriel Sterling.

From the AJC:

Gov. Brian Kemp accused Democrats of “weaponizing and politicizing” voting measures by comparing the state’s overhaul to Jim Crow-era laws.

“We aren’t backing down. We’re going to continue to fight for the truth,” Kemp said. “And we’re going to stand up to secure, fair and accessible elections.”

From Governor Kemp’s twitter:

As I have for months, I encourage Sen. Klobuchar and Senate Democrats to actually read the bill. But I know they won’t, because they’ve come too far now to start telling the truth.

Former U.S. Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich has issued some endorsements in Georgia elections, according to the AJC.

Republican Jake Evans, who is challenging Democratic incumbent Rep. Lucy McBath in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District, has received Newt Gingrich’s endorsement. Gingrich held the seat from 1979 to 1999, and Evans’ father Randy was the former speaker’s attorney.

Gingrich has also endorsed Mike Collins in his bid for Georgia’s 10th District.

Henry County Superior Court Judge Brian Amero dismissed the lawsuit challenging voting in the 2021 runoff elections, according to the AJC.

The lawsuit aimed to void the election of Georgia’s Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff to the U.S. Senate. But Superior Court Judge Brian Amero rejected the effort at a hearing Monday.

It’s the latest failure in a series of unsuccessful lawsuits that challenged Democratic victories in Georgia, including President Joe Biden’s narrow victory over former President Donald Trump.

The defendants in the lawsuit included Warnock and Ossoff, as well as Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, the State Election Board, and election boards in Fulton, DeKalb and Coffee counties.

In court briefs and arguments, they said Daugherty’s arguments have already been rejected by judges in other lawsuits. They said the problems he cited occurred in November, not during the January runoff. They argued the election challenge was filed too late and that the lawsuit was not properly served on Warnock and Ossoff.

On Monday, Amero agreed the challenge was not filed in time and that the senators were not properly served.

Slow your roll before you’re invited to an impromptu roadside prayer meeting with the fine men and women of the Georgia State Patrol. From the Gwinnett Daily Post:

The Georgia Office of Highway Safety is reminding local drivers to watch their speed as “Operation Southern Shield” returns this week.

The speeding crackdown is an annual summer initiative involving Georgia law enforcement agencies, including the Georgia State Patrol, as well as agencies in neighboring states.

“This is an annual speed enforcement and awareness campaign that aims to reduce Georgia’s speed-related crashes, injuries and fatalities by preventing the crashes to begin with,” the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety said in a recent Facebook post. “This year will be even more important as both Georgia and the nation have seen an increase in reckless speeding and overall fatalities.”

The Chatham County District Attorney’s Office discussed policies for police-involved shootings, according to WTOC.

The message we’re getting from the Chatham County District Attorneys Office is these investigations and reports take time to put together, and for good reason. Once they do get the GBI report, the D.A.’s Office goal is to reach a determination within three months on whether or not they’ll present the case to a grand jury. If they decide to, details of the case, including body cam video, wouldn’t be released to the public until after a grand jury sees the evidence. If the case isn’t presented to a grand jury, we could see case details released sooner.

“Nothing is more important to our community than public safety and the job of law enforcement. And with that comes a great deal of responsibility, obviously, and a great deal of expectation from the community. These investigations shouldn’t and can’t be rushed, because they are involving the very individuals that are in the community providing the level of protections are required for us to have safe communities,” said Chief Assistant District Attorney Michael Edwards.

An Augusta Commission subcommittee set standards for EMS service by a private provider, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Recommendations from Deputy Fire Chief Shaw Williams, who was serving as interim chief until last week, included the minimum level of ambulances kept in service that includes Augusta’s three, which were taken out of service last year.

The subcommittee approved a minimum skill level on board the ambulances of advanced medical technician, with a paramedic preferred; developing a system to track the number and location of available units, and to perform periodic quality control reviews.

The Chatham County Legislative Gang Prevention and Intervention Commission held a third public meeting yesterday, according to WTOC.

The Commission is led by State Representative Carl Gilliard, who explained what sets the group apart from other similar initiatives in years past.

“Commitment, commitment, commitment, being relentless, we’re not going away. I feel that our mission now is to move the Chatham County Gang Prevention and Intervention Commission to be that body to bring everybody together. We’re not going anywhere, it’s part of law, long after this meeting. We’re going to get together and we’re going to be that commission in action. So I feel we’re on our way, but we got some time ahead of us,” said Rep. Gilliard.

Milledgeville Mayor Mary Parham-Copelan is running for reelection, according to 13WMAZ.

“When I think about, ‘Wow, I am the first female to be the mayor of the City of Milledgeville, but also the first female to ever be the mayor of a once-capital city,’ that is awesome,” said Parham-Copelan.

She says she’s always been drawn to politics with a passion to serve her hometown of Milledgeville.

“I kind of put it on the backburner when I went into the workplace, but I never let it leave my heart,” said Parham-Copelan, except in 2017, she decided to run for office and she won!

“I know I played a great part in being able to reach across the aisle and say, ‘Let’s get this done, because it’s about the constituents,’” said Parham-Copelan.

Former Macon Mayor David Carter has died, according to the Macon Telegraph.

He served as an Army commando in the Korean War, led the largest single JROTC unit in the nation and served as a Macon city councilman and mayor.

David Carter, 90, died Saturday.

His political career began in 1973 when he won an election to fill an unexpired term on the Macon City Council.

Two years later, he ran for mayor, but he lost the election to Buck Melton.

In 1977, Carter won another seat on the city council. He served for 17 years on city council, and seven of those years he served as city council president. He was also the chairman of the appropriations committee during Mayor George Israel’s tenure.

In February 1994, Carter said he was considering running against Mayor Tommy Olmstead in the 1995 city elections, but 11 months later, he was given the opportunity to serve as mayor without an election.

Olmstead announced he would resign in mid-January 1995 to head the state Department of Human Resources, and Carter, as city council president, would take over the rest of Olmstead’s term.

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