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

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

On November 23, 1864, General William Tecumseh Sherman himself entered Milledgeville, where used the Governor’s Mansion as his headquarters.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

New polling data shows former President Trump the GOP favorite, according to Politico.

As Donald Trump builds out a presidential-campaign-in-waiting, his team is focusing on an electoral strategy that relies on recapturing the five states that flipped to Joe Biden in 2020.

The five states — Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — delivered a total of 73 electoral votes in 2020, enough to produce a decisive Electoral College victory for Biden. Since then, Trump has held four rallies, endorsed dozens of candidates and played a key role in shaping contests that could put his allies in top offices in those states in 2024.

According to the poll, a memo of which was obtained by POLITICO, the former president led Biden in Arizona by 8 percentage points, Georgia by 3 points, Michigan by 12 points, Pennsylvania by 6 points and Wisconsin by 10 points.

“Poll after poll clearly demonstrates that former President Donald Trump is still the 800-pound gorilla in the GOP and would be its 2024 nominee should he run,” said Fabrizio, who confirmed the numbers for POLITICO but did not provide them. “This new data clearly shows that today the voters in these five key states would be happy to return Trump to the White House and send Biden packing.”

Of the five states surveyed, the poll shows that Georgia is consistently the tightest state between Trump and Biden, while Michigan and Wisconsin appear to be leaning the most heavily toward Trump or away from Biden.

Governor Brian Kemp joined with fourteen other Governors to address supply chain issues, according to a press release.

Governor Brian P. Kemp [] joined fellow governors in launching Operation Open Roads aimed at proposing common-sense solutions the Biden administration should consider to address global supply chain issues. As part of this multistate effort, Governor Kemp also convened public and private sector partners at the Georgia State Capitol for a round table discussion that highlighted Georgia’s record of leadership on supply chain, logistics, and workforce issues.

“Under the Biden administration, the American supply chain has come to a screeching halt,” said Governor Kemp. “Thanks to Georgia’s long record of leadership on innovative solutions to supply chain, logistics and infrastructure, and workforce challenges, public and private sector leaders here in the Peach State have rolled up their sleeves and got to work addressing this crisis. From expanding capacity at our Port in Savannah, to streamlining the process for CDL license holders, we are laser-focused on getting essential goods to market, cutting government red tape, and keeping hardworking Georgians employed. I call on the Biden administration to finally address this crisis by taking a page from Georgia’s successful playbook and quickly implementing similar reforms at the federal level.”

Governors from the following states joined Georgia in the Operation Open Roads initiative: Tennessee, Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Maryland, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas. A copy of the letter the group submitted to the Biden administration outlining measures the federal government could take is available upon request.

As part of these efforts, Governor Kemp also convened a round table discussion in Georgia with public and private sector experts from the following categories to discuss what can be done to move the needle and where the federal government can step in to help mitigate challenges: ports, transportation, driver services, economic development, rail, roadway, retail, food services, and small business. Video from the event can be found here.

After hearing from the experts, Governor Kemp outlined the following suggestions for the federal government:

▪ Prioritize the implementation of and work with states to execute an adjustment of federal guidelines to lower the eligibility age for Commercial Drivers Licenses from 21 to 18. This program should be put into motion on or before January 14, 2022. It could certify up to 25,000 18- to 20-year-old drivers as long-haul truckers per year.

▪ Eliminate or suspend unnecessary taxes that create financial disincentives – for example, the 12 percent excise tax imposed on new truck purchases in section 4051 of the Internal Revenue Code.

▪ Suspend the burdensome federal vaccine mandate which is only going to make workforce shortages even more pronounced.

▪ Follow the lead of states like Georgia and talk to experts in the private sector and identify ways these industry leaders can help partner with local, state, and federal governments to move the ball down the field.

To further underscore these efforts, Governor Kemp is marshalling state government resources and dedicating appropriate agencies to work closely with the private sector to address these issues. His executive order, Addressing Supply Chain Issues in Georgia, will be posted here.

Governor Kemp also issued Executive Order #11.19.21.01, renewing the State of Emergency for Continued COVID-19 Economic Recovery through December 27, 2021.

From WSB-TV:

The Georgia Ports Authority says it is taking a major step to ease delays at the Port of Savannah.

It has partnered with railroad giants Norfolk Southern and CSX to lease unused warehouse space on the coast and in metro Atlanta.

“In the next couple weeks, you are going to see us open three facilities and then by the end of the year we hope for eight facilities. What that does, it creates off-terminal capacity and clears up our yard, and helps us clean up those ships at anchor,” Griff Lynch, executive director of the Georgia Ports Authority said.

Trucking companies told the governor their biggest issue is staffing. There are not enough drivers.

That’s why Kemp is pushing the Biden administration to allow 18- to 20-year-olds to obtain an interstate commercial driver’s license. Right now, you must be 21.

“Our point is let’s have a sense of urgency let’s implement it right now and get it going and try to start solving the problems we have,” Kemp said.

From WABE:

“A lot of these issues that they’re working on have been in the plans for a long time,” Kemp said at a supply-chain roundtable discussion Monday. “They’ve obviously accelerated some of those, cause you had a 20% increase in volume last year.”

Griff Lynch, executive director of the Georgia Ports Authority, says they’re also taking emergency measures like opening pop-up container yards and re-opening unused rail terminals. The U.S Department of Transportation recently released $8 million to help with efforts to ease congestion.

“What that’s going to do is help us flush cargo out of our facility, get it to where it needs to be or put it on the ground so that we can open up our yard to be a little more efficient and quicker with handling the ships,” said Lynch.

Spencer Moore, director of Georgia’s Department of Driver Services, says the average age of a commercial driver’s license holder in Georgia is 52. Mitch Sheppard with the Georgia-based trucking company Howard Sheppard says they’re facing a serious labor shortage.

“Getting young people into this industry is something that we’ve got to figure out how to do in a safe way,” said Sheppard. “The technology is there: there’s cameras, there’s speed restrictions; you can limit weight restrictions, limit their hours more than a normal driver.”

Gov. Kemp also said the mandate that requires federal contractors to require vaccinations of their employees will further exacerbate the truck driver shortage. Georgia is suing the federal government over the mandate.

From the Capitol Beat News Service via the Albany Herald:

“Disruptions due to supply shortage increased 638% during the first half of 2021 for essential products, including semiconductor chips, plastics and cardboard,” the letter stated. “The delay of shipping vessels arriving to North American ports from Asia has ballooned from 14 hours in June 2020 to 13 days in September 2021.

“Supermarkets are receiving approximately 40% of what they order compared to pre-pandemic fulfillments of 90%. Approximately 40% of U.S. shipping containers pass through West Coast ports that sit in a logjam, and yet our East Coast ports remain open for business.”

Dougherty County will likely exceed last year’s overdose totals for November and December, according to WALB.

In 2020, the county had 278 drug overdoses. Twenty-seven of those were fatal.

So far this year, Dougherty County EMS responded to 180 overdose calls where Narcan was administered. Of those calls, 17 were fatal.

“Last year, Dougherty County saw a surge of overdoses during the pandemic, including a record high in November and December, with 15 overdoses and two deaths in November, and 37 overdoses and eight deaths in December,” the health district said in a Monday release. “This year, we are on track to surpass those numbers, with 15 overdoses and two possible deaths due to overdose having already occurred in the month of November.”

The Southwest Health District said it offers anyone 18 and older a drug called Narcan. The drug is used to counteract the effects of an opioid overdose. The health district said it is available for free without a prescription on Wednesdays, 1-5 p.m., at the Dougherty County Health Department. During Thanksgiving week, Narcan will be available Monday-Wednesday, 1-5 p.m.

“We are asking that people be safe this holiday season, and not be alone if they’re using drugs that could potentially cause an overdose,” the health district said. “Have Narcan readily available in case of emergency. We also want to let individuals know not to be afraid to call 911 for help.”

Valdosta State University hosted a session on the Open Meetings Act and Open Records Act, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

The Valdosta State University Black Student League and the Valdosta Daily Times partnered to host a public forum at VSU’s Student Union.

The training at the VSU student union was designed to provide the public with a roadmap for how to request public documents and to help residents understand what records are available to them.

[Valdosta Daily Times Editor Jim] Zachary said the Times serves the community by reporting what is going on throughout the coverage area and part of that work is done through accessing public records and attending open, public meetings.

The Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office and volunteers gave out food to more than 3000 families, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office’s Thanksgiving food giveaway ended up serving about 3,000 families in need. That number is far above the original projections that 2,000 families would be served at the event, a number that raised to 2,400 last week and continued to climb as community partners donated more food to hand out.

Those partners included the Atlanta Community Food Bank, the Southeast Gwinnett Cooperative Ministry, Perdue and the Derrick Brown Foundation, with other organizations, such as Lettum Eat, helping out as well at the giveaway.

“You’ve really got to say how much people out here really want to help,” Sheriff Keybo Taylor said. “There are people out here who are really willing to step up and help other people that are less fortunate. We couldn’t have done that without these sponsors, without the people stepping up and providing what we have here to give to these folks.”

“The pandemic has obviously affected everybody, and the need hasn’t declined significantly,” Atlanta Community Food Bank Director of Network Growth Michele Chivore said. “The need is still there. Pre-pandemic, we had a significant need that existed and so it’s just sort of been exacerbated by the pandemic.”

“So, families do still need that support. Even if folks are getting back into work, it’s more about ensuring that they have the necessary additional supports. Even if they just started going back to work, they’re not in a place they can say, ‘I’m completely financially stable and good to go.’”

“When you go back and look at the last year or so and how much the pandemic and everything else has effected people — we’ve got people out here who are struggling with jobs, we have a ton of food insecurity here in Gwinnett County, and across Georgia but more so here in Gwinnett County — so this was our chance and our opportunity for us to partner with some of our sponsors and volunteers and put this together and give back to the community,” Taylor said.

Chatham County Commissioners will consider a proposed ordinance requiring residents of unincorporated parts to maintain a subscription for fire services, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Most heavily impacted is Chatham Fire, which services more than 35,000 properties in unincorporated Chatham County. More than 20% of those aren’t opting in to the subscription for fire services, which has created budget shortfalls for the organization.

“The worst thing we could ever see is a reduction in service. That would be horrible, because the bottom line is this is about life safety and property and saving property,” said Chatham County Manager Lee Smith.

Along with Chatham Fire, which is a nonprofit, there are eight other departments that provide fire services to small areas of unincorporated Chatham County including seven that are operated by municipalities: Bloomingdale, Garden City, Pooler, Port Wentworth, Savannah, Tybee Island and Thunderbolt. The other is the Isle of Hope Volunteer Fire Department.

Each department’s subscription fee is structured differently, but under the ordinance owners who aren’t paying their subscription fee would be given three notices from the service provider before the county has the ability to take them to court with fines.

Democrat Lucy McBath (Tennessee) will give up her current seat to run for the Seventh District after the Georgia legislature passed redistricting maps that modified both districts, according to the Associated Press via AccessWDUN.

U.S. Rep Lucy McBath, a Democrat targeted by the map, announced Monday that she’s jumping to a more Democratic-friendly district where she will challenge another Democratic incumbent, U.S. Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux.

The 96-68 vote by the state House, largely along party lines, sends Senate Bill 2EX to Republican Gov. Brian Kemp for his signature.

“This map makes your intent obvious: to legislatively draw and quarter Congresswoman Lucy McBath and scatter to the four winds all the Black and brown voters that put her in office,” said Rep. Matthew Wilson, a Brookhaven Democrat. “For this map amounts to race-based sorting, pure and simple, all for political power. You want more seats in Congress and with this map, you’ll have them.”

“Simply put, I will not let Brian Kemp, the NRA, and the Republican party decide when my work in Congress on behalf of my son is done,” McBath said in a statement. “Black women are often expected to stand down and step aside, and those are two things I simply refuse to do.”

“I think Republicans played it conservatively, giving up some seats,” said University of Georgia political science Professor Charles Bullock. “They gave Democrats probably six seats in the House and one in the Senate immediately.”

From the Gwinnett Daily Post:

U.S. Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux, D-Ga., will have to face one of her colleagues in the Democratic Party’s primary next year if she wants to keep her seat in Congress.

U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath, D-Ga., announced on Monday that she will run for the newly redrawn 7th congressional District — putting her at odds with Bourdeaux, who is also moving ahead with running for re-election to the seat. McBath currently represents the neighboring 6th Congressional District, but that district was redrawn to be heavily Republican, making McBath’s chances of getting re-elected to that seat unlikely.

What McBath’s decision to run in the 7th District means is that the district, which is now primary made up of central and southern Gwinnett as well as Johns Creek, will be the epicenter of a big battle between two congresswomen that Democrats have worked hard since 2018 to put in office.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee alone put a lot of effort and energy into getting both women elected. Now, the DCCC has to choose sides in a primary battle between the women.

Bourdeaux’s office pointed out that the new 7th Congressional District contains 60% of the congresswoman’s current constituents. Bourdeaux also pointed out that, between primaries and general elections in 2018 and 2020, she has run to represent Gwinnettians five times.

“Georgia’s 7th district deserves a representative that understands their issues,” Bourdeaux said. “I am the Gwinnett representative in the race for a predominantly Gwinnett district.”

Bourdeaux was expected to likely face a challenge within the progressive wing of the Democratic party if the 7th district was drawn to be solidly blue. Talk of possibly facing McBath had existed earlier in the year, but under the guise that the congressional district lines could be redrawn to create a solidly Democratic district that both women lived in.

From the Georgia Recorder:

“I refuse to stand down,” McBath said in a statement. “We must fight Republicans every step of the way, and now is not the time to lose a mother on a mission in Congress.”

“I made a promise to Jordan after he died,” McBath’s statement continues. “I promised that I would do everything in my power to prevent the tragedy that happened to my family from reaching any other. Today, I intend to keep that promise. I am announcing my run for the newly created Democratic district in Georgia. I need you to stand with me because I cannot do this alone.”

Republicans largely painted statements like Wilson’s as political posturing.

Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones said changes to McBath’s district were necessary to keep districts even because population numbers increased greatly in metro areas while shrinking elsewhere in the state.

“The map you have before you is a fair, legal map, and one that clearly reflects changes in population,” she said. “I’m also willing to call it out as it is on the minority party for plucking out one congressional district, whether it’s the 6th, the 7th, 14th, what have you, as though it represents a complete puzzle. It’s misleading and disingenuous.”

Bourdeaux would enter the race with an incumbency advantage, said University of Georgia political science professor Charles Bulloch.

“It does go a little bit into Fulton County, but in terms of who has represented them, a large chunk of that has been represented by Bourdeaux over the last 9, 10 months, while McBath really hasn’t represented much of it, so she needs to get over there, introduce herself, take speaking engagements, do whatever she can to be present there in the district that is largely the southern half of Gwinnett County,” he said.

But McBath is far from a political nobody, and a battle between the two would bring in copious amounts of attention, not to mention cash. McBath’s campaign has brought in more than $2.4 million this year, and Bourdeaux is not far behind with more than $1.9 million raised.

“You have three quarters of a million people living in the district, so there’s no way you can go knock on everybody’s door,” Bullock said. “So this will be the kind of campaign that’s going to be spending a lot of money on Atlanta area television, which is expensive, so they’ll be doing that. (McBath) has an advantage, I think, in the sense that she is a leading spokesperson for gun regulations, and that will help her raise money, not just in Georgia, but nationwide.”

From the AJC:

While McBath plans to relocate to Gwinnett County from Marietta, Bourdeaux’s home in Suwanee is just outside the new boundaries for the 7th. She doesn’t plan to move.

Also on Monday, Democratic state Rep. Donna McLeod of Lawrenceville said she is running, too.

Gwinnett County school board member Everton Blair is considering it.

But McBath will be Bourdeaux’s main competition. And McBath is already previewing a campaign message: focusing on her gun control and health care advocacy and describing herself as a staunch supporter of President Joe Biden.

“I have never wavered on President Biden’s agenda. People are counting on me to get things done in Washington, and they tell me they need me there to stand up for them,” McBath told the AJC on Monday.

From the Capitol Beat News Service:

The other specific complaint Democrats raised Monday was over Republicans adding voters from heavily Black South Cobb County to the largely white, rural Northwest Georgia district represented by conservative firebrand Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Rome.

But House Minority Leader David Wilkerson, D-Powder Springs, said there’s more to the issue than Greene, including the map splitting Cobb between four congressional districts, and dividing South Cobb alone three ways.

“This is not about Marjorie Taylor Greene or whoever else represents the district,” he said. “It’s about fairness.”

But House Speaker David Ralston said the decision to extend the 14th District to the south was not politically motivated.

“That district needed to pick up about 36,000 people,” said Ralston, R-Blue Ridge. “We had to go somewhere and find them. … That’s a challenge.”

From the AJC:

Greene bashed the new lines as a “fool’s errand that was led by power obsessed state legislators.” And Cobb County Democrats fumed at Republican mapmakers who crammed their slice of Black-majority suburbia in with Greene’s rural district.

Until this week, when state lawmakers approved a final version of the maps, Greene’s 14th district spanned across a dozen sparsely populated counties in the northwest corner of Georgia. It was overwhelmingly white, rural and Republican. President Donald Trump – who lost Georgia and nationally in 2020 – captured the district by nearly 50 percentage points last year.

The new boundaries make it slightly less conservative, yet still a safe haven for Republicans. But instead of snatching parts of rural Haralson and Pickens counties, the new boundaries curl around exurban Paulding County to pick up portions of southwest Cobb that include Austell and Powder Springs.

And Greene is now one of the state’s best-known elected officials, much to the chagrin of some GOP leaders embarrassed by her antics. She has amassed a vast following on social media and has become one of the U.S. House’s most prolific fundraisers, netting $4.8 million during the first six months of 2021.

From the AJC:

But the real action in 2022 will be on the Republican side. The newly drawn territory will stretch from Sandy Springs to Dawson County and has been configured by GOP leaders to remain red through the rest of the decade.

That also returns the district to its former status as the crown jewel of the GOP opportunities, where Newt Gingrich once plotted the Republican Revolution and Johnny Isakson rose to become a U.S. Senate contender.

Expect Rich McCormick, who narrowly lost to Bourdeaux in the 7th District in 2020, to abandon his rematch attempt there and instead jump to the 6th. An announcement could come as soon as next week.

He might have company. State Sen. Brandon Beach of Alpharetta is considering a run in the 6th. And we hear state Sen. Greg Dolezal of Cumming is kicking the tires. Another potential contender, freshman state Rep. Will Wade of Dawsonville, told us he’s not interested.

Whoever enters joins a crowded field that already includes former state Rep. Meagan Hanson, attorney Jake Evans, and several other contenders.

Gwinnett County Board of Education Chair Everton Blair (D) will not run for reelection next year, according to the AJC.

Blair, whom many Democrats view as a rising political star, is considering a run for State School Superintendent.

“I haven’t made any other decisions right now besides this one,” Blair told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Tuesday.

Blair, 29, was elected in 2018 as the Gwinnett school board’s first Black, first openly gay and youngest-ever member. Since then, two other Democratic members of color have joined him on the five-member board, creating a majority that he has led through a tumultuous year.

The school board unanimously picked Blair as chairman in January.

Atlanta Public Schools will pay a $1000 bonus to many employees, according to the AJC.

For the second December in a row, Atlanta Public Schools’ employees are in line to receive an extra $1,000 payment.

The district, which employs roughly 6,000 people, said all staff members will be eligible for the stipend, which the school board is expected to approve at its Dec. 6 meeting. Recipients include part-time and hourly workers as well as substitute teachers, according to APS.

APS also gave out $1,000 payments in December 2020, one of several financial boosts the district paid out in an attempt to retain workers and show appreciation for their efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Democratic State Rep. Beth Moore (Peachtree Corners) will run for State Senate District 7 next year after redistricting takes effect, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Moore, who has served in the House since she was first elected in 2018, announced that she will run for one of Gwinnett’s new seats in the Senate. The veteran legislator will run for the new Senate District 7, which encompasses western Gwinnett.

“There’s no better experience for serving in the State Senate than to have already dutifully served our community in the State House,” Moore said in a statement. “My constituents, no matter their political leanings, know my door is always open and that they can always count on me to listen, to care and to respond to their needs.”

“As a Democrat who successfully passed both general and local legislation in a Republican-controlled legislature, the residents of Senate District 7 will benefit from my extensive knowledge of the legislative process and bipartisan approach to public service.”

Gwinnett’s Senate delegation will expand from seven senators to nine senators. Meanwhile, the Gwinnett House delegation will expand from 18 members to 21 members, meaning Gwinnett County will be represented by a total of 30 legislators between the two chambers.

“I look forward to continuing to serve the people of Gwinnett under the Gold Dome, this time across the hallway in the Senate chamber, promoting common-sense legislation, like expanding access to Medicaid, making health insurance more affordable for entrepreneurs and gig workers, raising educator pay to be more competitive, expanding 911 services to include mental health response teams, fiercely defending women’s reproductive rights, and fighting for my signature legislation to end the death penalty in Georgia,” Moore said.

Rome City Commission approved a plan to spend more than $10 million dollars in COVID relief funds, according to the Rome News Tribune.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced new protections for five species of map turtles, including two found in Georgia, according to WSAV.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Monday that it is proposing threatened status for the Pearl River map turtle, seeking to grant added federal protections to an at-risk species found only in Louisiana and Mississippi.

The agency said it also would seek protection for the closely related Pascagoula map turtle, found only in Mississippi, and three other species found in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Tennessee because they look like the Pearl River turtle.

The “threatened due to similarity” status would make it illegal to take the turtles out of the wild but wouldn’t require a recovery plan or other protections the Pearl River turtles will get if it is listed as threatened.

In addition to the Pascagoula species, the others protected as similar species are the Alabama map turtle, also found in Georgia, Mississippi, and Tennessee; Barbour’s map turtle living in Alabama, Florida, and Georgia; and the Escambia map turtle in Alabama and Florida.

Publication in the Federal Register will start a 60-day public comment period.

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