Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Election for January 5, 2022

5
Jan

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Election for January 5, 2022

On January 5, 1734, the Trustees of Georgia ordered the return of 42 Jewish settlers who had come in 1733, primarily from Portugal, without the knowledge or approval of the Trustees. The Brits who sponsored the Jewish settlers refused and Georgia is home to one of the oldest Jewish settlements in the United States.

On January 5, 1781, traitor Benedict Arnold and 1600 British troops captured Richmond, Virginia.

On January 5, 1978, the British band the Sex Pistols started their American tour at the Great Southeast Music Hall in Atlanta, GA.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp announced that Georgia National Guard personnel will be deployed to assist healthcare facilities under the current COVID wave. From 13WMAZ:

The governor said about 96 troops will support Georgia’s Department of Public Health at testing sites and another 100 troops will serve at hospitals, including Atrium Health Navicent in Macon, Houston Medical Center in Warner Robins, and Phoebe Putney in Albany.

According to the governor’s Twitter account, 96 personnel will be assigned to support 16 Georgia DPH testing sites in the following health districts and needs at the DPH warehouse:

North
Cobb & Douglas
Fulton
Gwinnett, Newton, Rockdale (GNR)
DeKalb
East Central
West Central

102 personnel will be assigned to support these 11 hospitals:

Atrium Health Navicent
Phoebe Putney Albany
Houston Medical Center
University Health Care System
Tanner Health System
Grady Health System
Piedmont Atlanta
Wellstar
Piedmont Henry
Upson Regional Medical Center Thomaston
Northeast Georgia Medical Center

The governor said last week that he met with nine representatives from hospital systems in Georgia who said they’re are experiencing staffing shortages and are now feeling the strain of the omicron variant. That’s why Kemp said the state is also putting $100 million toward healthcare staff augmentation to help add 1,000 additional personnel.

From WRDW:

Gov. Brian Kemp said last week he is deploying more than 2,500 Georgia National Guard troops to help testing sites and hospitals statewide.

Former United States Senator David Perdue initially invited reporters to cover his speech in Warner Robins, according to 13WMAZ.

The former US Senator spoke to the group Middle Georgia Republican Women at a business in Warner Robins.

13WMAZ was invited by David Perdue’s campaign to cover the event. However, when our crew walked inside, they were told they were not allowed in or to hear what Perdue had to say to his supporters.

Frankie Ross, president of Middle Georgia Republican Women, claimed our crew was not allowed in because there was not enough room for press. Ross also said the event was now a private meeting, despite Perdue’s campaign inviting us to the event.

Before the event started, we asked the campaign to ask the women’s group to open the meeting. Perdue’s staff declined.

Perdue said, “Well, I’m not in charge here. I apologize for that. I appreciate you driving all the way out here. I’ll answer any question you like. These ladies are in charge. This is their event. They invited me to come as well.”

The campaign did apologize, calling it all “a misunderstanding.” However, they still would not allow us inside.

“I love my state, and I just can’t stand by and watch Stacey Abrams become Governor. I’m afraid our current governor cannot standup to the onslaught,” Perdue said. “We have a divided party right now. The conservatives are divided. I don’t think [Kemp] is going to bring them together. I think I have a better shot at doing that.”

Governor Kemp will support some pro-Second Amendment legislation, according to the AJC.

The Republican is set to announce his plan Wednesday to allow more Georgians to carry concealed weapons without a state permit, which he’s likely to frame as fulfilling a pledge he made during his 2018 run for governor.

“In the face of rising violent crime across the country, law-abiding citizens should have their constitutional rights protected — not undermined,” he said in draft remarks.

“And while this position has recently become popular for others as we enter campaign season, my position has remained the same. I believe the United States Constitution grants our citizens the right to carry a firearm – without state government approval.”

“We don’t believe Georgians should need a permit to exercise their Second Amendment rights,” said state Sen. Jason Anavitarte, a Paulding County Republican who last year sponsored similar legislation. “There’s no reason why we can’t get this done this year.”

Georgia law now requires Georgians to have a weapons carry license to wield a concealed weapon, though there are broad exceptions to the rule.

From the Associated Press via WABE:

Kemp and his wife are scheduled to join state lawmakers and gun rights advocates at a gun shop outside Atlanta on Wednesday to announce his support for legislation that would do away with the need for a license to carry a handgun in public — either openly or concealed on one’s body — according to draft remarks obtained by The Associated Press. The shop in Smyrna, Adventure Outdoors, bills itself as the “world’s largest gun store.”

“Building a safer, stronger Georgia starts with hardworking Georgians having the ability to protect themselves and their families,” Kemp’s draft remarks read. “In the face of rising violent crime across the country, law-abiding citizens should have their constitutional rights protected.”

More than 20 other states allow concealed weapons in public without a permit — or what supporters call “constitutional carry,” according to Stateline, an initiative of the Pew Charitable Trusts.

Georgia currently requires people to obtain a license to carry a loaded handgun outside their own home, business, or car, although people can carry rifles and shotguns in many places without a permit and carry unloaded guns in cases.

To obtain a weapons license, state residents must submit an application and fee and undergo fingerprinting and a background check. Convicted felons and people who have been hospitalized for mental health problems or received treatment for drugs or alcohol in the years preceding the application are not eligible.

UGA Political Science Professor Charles Bullock weighed in on the GOP Primary for Governor, according to 13WMAZ.

Bullock says it’s not clear yet whether the former President’s support will help or hurt Perdue’s chances.

“Particularly, if the Republican nominee is David Perdue, he’s not going to be able to keep an arms length distance from President Trump. It’s going to be a fallen brace there. But it may certainly help him in the primary in the spring. But it could hurt him in the general in November,” Bullock said.

Bullock says the race between Kemp and Perdue has already created a clear divide in Georgia’s Republican party and could potentially give Democrats the advantage in the general election in November.

“Internal warfare that’s going on is not going to be good for the Republican party. If it leaves the person who gets the Republican nomination so weakened that he then loses in November, the biggest lost that could happen to a party is losing control of the governorship,” he said.

The Georgia State Board of Education elected new leadership, according to Valdosta Today.

The State Board of Education, at its December meeting, selected a new slate of officers. Jason Downey (8th Congressional District) will serve as chair and Dr. Stan DeJarnett (10th Congressional District) will serve as vice chair.

“I look forward to working with Jason and Stan to continue expanding opportunities for every student in Georgia’s K-12 public schools,” State School Superintendent Richard Woods said. “I appreciate their dedication to student- and classroom-centered decision-making.”

Jason Downey was appointed by Governor Brian Kemp as the 8th Congressional District’s member of the State Board of Education in April 2019, and previously served on the Macon-Bibb County Board of Education from 2013 to 2017 where he held the positions of Vice-Chairman, Treasurer, and Legislative Liaison.

“It is an honor to serve on Georgia’s Board of Education and as the next Chairman,” Downey said. “I will continue to bring my passion for public education to this new role, and work with Superintendent Richard Woods, Governor Kemp, and my fellow board members to support our students, educators, and families in Georgia’s public schools.”

Meanwhile, Governor Kemp is under pressure to follow through with another pay raise for teachers, according to the AJC.

In his first year as governor, Brian Kemp secured a $3,000 teacher pay raise, but the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted his plans for the rest of the $5,000 he promised as a candidate in 2018.

Now Georgia has billions in surplus revenue, and Kemp has been signaling that teachers will get the rest of that raise.

“When I talked to Gov. Kemp, he said he was going to do everything that he could to make sure that the teachers get the money,” said Verdaillia Turner, president of the Georgia Federation of Teachers.

Lawmakers who handle the budget didn’t want to comment on what the governor might do. But Sen. Blake Tillery, R-Vidalia, said lawmakers must consider inflationary costs for things like fuel, steel and tires.

“I’m very cautious about rising expenses,” said Tillery, chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations.

State legislators may consider even more election legislation, according to the AJC.

In the aftermath of Georgia’s 2021 election changes, a fresh batch of Republican-backed bills could go even further in the upcoming legislative session.

The election-year proposals would eliminate all remaining ballot drop boxes, discard the state’s recently purchased voting touchscreen machines, give the GBI authority to investigate voting fraud and create a constitutional amendment to prevent any future possibility that noncitizens could be allowed to vote.

The tide of voting bills arrives as GOP legislators push beyond last year’s election overhaul following incumbent Republican Donald Trump’s narrow loss to Democrat Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential race. The sweeping law limited absentee voting drop boxes to early voting sites, required additional ID for absentee voting, allowed state takeovers of county elections and made many other changes.

House Speaker David Ralston said legislators should move beyond the presidential election, though he’s promoting a bill in response to it. Ralston’s proposal would allow GBI agents to investigate election cases. Currently, the secretary of state’s office handles election inquiries.

“My goal is to never have a repeat of an election where 13 months after it’s over, you still have this degree of questioning the validity of an election, rightly or wrongly,” said Ralston, a Republican from Blue Ridge. “It’s time we look through the windshield rather than the rearview mirror.”

Chatham County is considering placing a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for Transporation (T-SPLOST) on the May 2022 ballot, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Voters said no to a penny sales tax for transportation projects – known as a TSPLOST – in 2012. Now a decade later, government officials are asking again.

As outlined in a news story published Tuesday, Chatham County officials intend to put a TSPLOST referendum on the May primary election ballot. The project list is still being finalized, and months of public comment is to follow.

Hall County Courts will receive a $1 million dollar grant to address case backlogs, according to the Gainesville Times.

Hall County’s Court Administrator Jason Stephenson said court officials are hoping to set a “fast pace” for 2022 to fix its backlog of cases, especially with an additional $1 million in funding from the American Rescue Plan Act.

The Judicial Council of Georgia announced the awards Dec. 22 as part of the $110 million allocated by Gov. Brian Kemp to address the court backlog created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The council said 26 judicial circuits, including Hall and Dawson counties’ Northeastern Judicial Circuit, received nearly $25 million in total funding.

In its application, the judicial circuit said there were more than 1,000 unindicted cases in Hall County as of Oct. 1.

Stephenson said the funds are immediately available. Once the funds are spent, the county can submit for reimbursement.

Gwinnett County Commissioners voted to approve a redistricting plan that keeps the same number of Commissioners as current, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The maps were drawn up following a series of public input meetings where residents were able to offer their feedback on how the district lines should be redrawn. The lines have to be revisited every 10 years after the census is performed to adjust districts for population changes.

The shapes of the four existing commission districts would be somewhat similar to what they currently are, but some areas would see themselves shifted form one district to another.

The map largely avoids splitting Gwinnett’s cities between multiple commission districts. The only exception would be Suwanee, which would mostly be in District 1 while parts of its southeastern edge would be in District 4.

If approved by the Georgia General Assembly, the maps would go into effect for this year’s elections, when Ku and Fosque are up for re-election.

The question now will be whether is passes muster with Gwinnett’s legislative delegation.

Gwinnett’s legislative delegations rules stipulate a majority of legislators have to back it, but there have been rumblings that some Republicans and Democrats in the delegation are interested in expanding the commission to six districts.

Sam Couvillon was sworn in as Mayor of Gainesville, according to AccessWDUN.

Couvillon, who won the mayor election in November, has previously served two terms as the Ward 1 council member. He was joined for his swearing in by his wife, Margie, and two daughters.

“I don’t so much feel any different today as mayor as I did a council member,” said Couvillon. “I feel like I gave a lot of effort to being a council member, I look to do the same thing as a mayor.”

“I would say first and foremost is trying to get some of this downtown development buttoned up,” said Couvillon. “[Then] Always be mindful that while we do bring development into downtown, we are going to have issues like traffic that we’re going to need to address from time to time.”

Couvillon succeeded longtime Gainesville Mayor Danny Dunagan, who announced in April 2021 that he would not run for another mayoral term. Instead, Dunagan opted to run for Couvillon’s Ward 1 seat and won the election in November.

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