Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 13, 2022

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 13, 2022

On May 13, 1607, English settlers founded the first permanent English settlement in America, at Jamestown on the James River. This led to the first English-language politics in America:

Dispatched from England by the London Company, the colonists had sailed across the Atlantic aboard the Susan Constant,Godspeed, and Discovery. Upon landing at Jamestown, the first colonial council was held by seven settlers whose names had been chosen and placed in a sealed box by King James I. The council, which included Captain John Smith, an English adventurer, chose Edward Wingfield as its first president.

Lyman Hall arrived in Philadelphia as a delegate to the Second Continental Congress on May 13, 1775.

Delegates to the Constitutional Convention began assembling in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on May 14, 1787, the designated starting day. Because a large number of delegates had not arrived the opening of the Convention was moved to May 25.

On May 14, 1791, George Washington addressed the Grand Lodge of Georgia Masons in Savannah.

On May 15, 1791, George Washington left Augusta for Savannah.

On May 13, 1798, a Constitutional Convention adopted the Georgia Constitution of 1798.

On May 15, 1800, President John Adams ordered all 125 employees of the federal government to begin packing to move the capital from Philadelphia to Washington, DC.

On May 14, 1804, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark left St. Louis, Missouri to explore the Northwest United States from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean.

The United States declared war on Mexico on May 13, 1846.

Georgia Whigs, led by Governor George Crawford, Alexander Stephens, and Robert Toombs, criticized the war for raising divisive questions about slavery in the territories. Georgia Democrats, led by Howell Cobb and Herschel Johnson, staunchly supported the war and states’ rights afterward. Because Whigs, nationally, appeared to be antislavery, Georgia Whigs lost the governorship in 1847. The Compromise of 1850 temporarily settled the slavery question in the territories, but the moderating influence of Georgia’s Whigs dissolved in the heated rhetoric of states’ rights in the 1850s. The next war would find Americans fighting Americans.

The first fighting at Resaca, Georgia took place on May 13, 1864 and Union forces marched into Dalton. On May 13, 1864, 257 cadets from the Virginia Military Institute camped at Mt. Crawford near Harrisonburg.The next day they would continue their march to New Market, Virginia.

On May 14, 1864, the VMI Corps of Cadets marched 15 miles and camped overnight at Mt. Tabor, near New Market, Virginia. The next day they would march into history.

On May 15, 1864, General William Tecumseh Sherman’s Military Division of the Mississippi remained engaged against Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston’s Army of Tennessee at Resaca, Georgia.

On May 15, 1864, at New Market, Virginia, in the Shenandoah Valley, Major General John C. Breckenridge commanded 4800 Confederate soldiers, including the entire Corps of Cadets from Virginia Military Institute. Breckenridge previously had served as United State Representative and Senator from Kentucky, and as the youngest Vice President of the United States under President James Buchanan. Breckenridge was the Democratic nominee for President in 1860, coming in third in the popular vote and second in the Electoral College to Abraham Lincoln.

Breckenridge attacked forces under Major General Franz Sigel and they skirmished through the morning until Union forces broke through the Confederate lines.

When a gap opened in the Confederate lines, Breckenridge realized that the only force available was the VMI cadets.

He turned toward an aide and issued the following command;

“Put the boys in, and may God forgive me for the order.”

The charge of the VMI cadets remains the most noticeable feature of the Battle of New Market. With rain pouring the cadets broke the charge of the 34th Massachusetts Regiment and then advanced themselves in attack.

When the day ended, 10 cadets had been killed and/or mortally wounded. Another 48 suffered wounds.

Ten cadets died or suffered mortal wounds that day. New Market hosts the oldest continuous historical battle reenactment in the United States that is still held on the original terrain, but this year’s is canceled because of COVID-19, as was last year’s.

On the anniversary of the Battle of New Market, the roll of those who died there is called.

On the same day, the Battle of Resaca was fully engaged in Northwest Georgia.

On Saturday, May 14, the fighting at Resaca escalated into a full-scale battle. Beginning at dawn, Union forces engaged the Confederates along the entire four-mile front. In the early afternoon Schofield’s Army of the Ohio attacked the sharply angled center of the Confederate line. The assault was badly managed and disorganized, in part because one of Schofield’s division commanders was drunk. As the Union attack unraveled and became a fiasco, Johnston launched a counterattack on Sherman’s left flank. The counterattack collapsed, however, in the face of a determined stand by a Union artillery battery. In the evening Union forces pushed forward and seized the high ground west of Resaca, which placed the bridges leading south from the town within artillery range and threatened Johnston’s line of retreat.The following day Sherman renewed his assault on the Confederate center.

Carl Sanders was born on May 15, 1925 in Augusta, Georgia. He served in the United States Air Force, Georgia House of Representatives and State Senate, where he was President Pro Tem. In 1962, Sanders won the Democratic Primary for Governor, defeating former Governor Marvin Griffin, and in November was the first Governor of Georgia elected by popular vote after the County Unit System was abolished.

American artist Jasper Johns was born May 15, 1930 in Augusta, Georgia.

Former Atlanta Braves pitcher John Smoltz was born on May 15, 1967 in Lansing, Michigan. Smoltz pitched a complete game shutout against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the seventh game of the National League Championship Series in 1991, sending the Braves to their first World Series since moving to Atlanta in 1966. Smoltz was chosen for the All Star team eight times and won the Cy Young award in 1996.

On May 13, 1981, Pope John Paul II was shot at St. Peter’s Square in Rome.

On May 13, 2005, the Pentagon Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) recommended the closing of Fort McPherson in Atlanta, Fort Gillem in Forest Park, the Naval Air Station in Marietta, and the Naval Supply Corps School in Athens.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Savannah Board of Elections Chair Thomas Mahoney addressed a mistake that led to voters receiving incorrect ballots, according to WTOC.

Early last week a voter casting an early ballot noticed something off with the list of candidates. That voter knew they should’ve been voting for the 165th House of Representative race, but instead, had options from the 162nd House Race.

Thomas Mahoney, the chairman for the Chatham County board of elections said, ”a voter brought it to our attention because they were well educated. They went onto the My Voter Page and looked at their sample ballot ahead of time. And they knew that wasn’t their correct ballot. So that was tremendous to have voters educated that well.”

However, Mahoney says seven voters cast their votes using the ballot with the misprint. Three who voted absentee could be identified and tracked down to get new ballots. But four voters could not, and all the ballots with errors were cancelled.

“In that process of proofing the ballots that one error got through on us.” Mahoney says there are now notices at early voting locations letting voters know that the error occurred, and reiterated how important it is for voters to be prepared before going to the polls.

Former Vice President Mike Pence will campaign with Governor Brian Kemp, according to Fox News.

Former Vice President Mike Pence will join Kemp on the campaign trail on the eve of Georgia’s May 24 primary, the Kemp campaign will announce on Friday. Word of Pence’s trip to the Peach State to team up with the governor was shared first on Friday morning with Fox News and two other news organizations.

Pence, a former Indiana governor before serving as vice president under former President Donald Trump, has been crisscrossing the country the past 15 months, helping to support and raise money for fellow Republicans running in the 2021 and 2022 elections. Members of the former vice president’s political team have been assisting the Kemp re-election team in recent months and top Pence aide and adviser Marc Short came on board a week and a half ago as a senior adviser to the governor’s campaign.

“Brian Kemp is one of the most successful conservative governors in America,” Pence said in a statement. “He built a safer and stronger Georgia by cutting taxes, empowering parents and investing in teachers, funding law enforcement, and standing strong for the right to life.”

The former vice president also emphasized that “Brian Kemp is my friend, a man dedicated to faith, family and the people of Georgia. I am proud to offer my full support for four more years of Brian Kemp as governor of the great state of Georgia!”

And Fox News was first to report on Thursday that former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a past RGA chair, will join Kemp for campaign stops in Canton and Alpharetta, Georgia, next Tuesday, May 17.

From Politico:

Pence, who like Trump is weighing a 2024 presidential bid, hinted last November that he planned to back Kemp, when he said at a Republican Governors Association fundraiser that he would be supporting incumbent governors facing primary challenges. And Marc Short, Pence’s former chief of staff, recently signed on with the Kemp campaign as a senior adviser. Short’s role with Kemp was first reported by Axios.

The May 23 get-out-the vote rally has been in the works for several weeks, said one person familiar with the planning.

From the AJC:

In a statement, Kemp highlighted his long friendship with Pence and credited the vice president for steering conservative policies in the Trump administration.

“The vice president’s leadership was instrumental in creating the most prosperous economy in American history, including here in Georgia, and his commitment to building a safer, stronger America represents the highest ideals of our party,” Kemp said.

Early voting continues apace, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Early voting in Georgia ahead of the May 24 primaries is breaking records, defying the historical trend of lower turnouts in non-presidential election years.

Through Tuesday, 254,556 Georgians had taken advantage of the early voting period that began May 2 to cast their primary ballots, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger reported Wednesday. The vast majority — 234,893 — voted in person, while the rest submitted absentee ballots.

Early voting is running 239% ahead of the same point in the early voting period leading up to the 2018 primaries and 160% above the same point prior to the 2020 primaries.

From AccessWDUN:

“Turnout has been steady; we are ready for a rush,” said Latoya Castillo, poll manager at the Brenau Center in Downtown Gainesville. “I’m expecting election day and the last week of early voting to see a [larger] number, but I think we’re doing really good.”

From the Statesboro Herald:

Meanwhile, this Friday, May 13, is the last day to request that a paper absentee ballot be mailed to you. But after voters receive an absentee ballot and complete it, they can return it to the local elections office during its office hours all next week and until 7 p.m. on Election Day, May 24. On Election Day, Bulloch County’s 16 traditional voting precincts will be open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. for voters who haven’t already voted to do so.

Governor Brian Kemp signed the state budget, according to a press release.

Governor Brian P. Kemp, joined by First Lady Marty Kemp and Amy Porter Kemp, constitutional officers, Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan, Speaker David Ralston, leadership and members of the General Assembly, and state and local elected officials, today signed the Fiscal Year 2023 Budget (HB 911). In doing so, the governor continues to deliver on his promise to build a safer, stronger Georgia through significant investments in public safety, education, healthcare, Georgia’s no. 1 business environment, and more.

Governor Kemp signed HB 911 at the University of North Georgia’s Blue Ridge Campus. An excerpt from his remarks at today’s ceremony can be found below. A video of the ceremony can be found here.

Georgia continues to lead in the Great Recovery because we chose to protect both lives and livelihoods during the pandemic, because we withstood the criticisms and opened our economy, and because we made the tough decisions when it mattered most.

And because of those choices, our unemployment rate is at a remarkable 3.1 percent, we experienced record-breaking commerce, trade, and investment numbers this fiscal year while retaining our No. 1 ranking for business, and our state revenues are up without any tax increase on our people and businesses.

In fact, we put over 1 billion dollars of taxpayer dollars back where they belong… in the pockets of hardworking Georgians. On top of that, we temporarily halted the state gas tax and created the largest tax cut in state history.

The budget I will sign today will build on that good work in the fiscal year ahead.

HB 911 funds our priorities and sets our state on a strong footing for continued recovery and growth; not just over this next year, but for years to come.

A couple of months ago, we were able to give Georgia’s hardworking teachers a 2,000 dollar, one-time pay supplement and a classroom grant to spend as they saw fit to benefit their students.

Today, I’m proud to sign this budget that will put a 2,000 dollar pay raise on top of that and deliver on a promise I made when I first ran for governor.

In total, we will have raised teacher pay in Georgia by 5,000 dollars since I took office!

HB 911 also:

  • Fully restores austerity cuts made to QBE and related programs during the COVID pandemic through more than 388 million additional dollars for K-12 instruction;
  • It restores austerity cuts to the University System of Georgia and enables our public colleges and universities to eliminate the Special Institutional Fee that students and their families have had to pay since the Great Recession;
  • It provides a minimum factor rate of 90 percent for HOPE scholarships and grants to cover tuition costs; and
  • It expands instruction of in-demand career programs at our Technical Colleges, further addressing supply chain issues.

In short, this budget improves both the quality of and access to education across the board.

Between the amended budget I signed earlier and this one, we are investing more per K-12 student than ever before in our state.

But this budget doesn’t only make our classrooms and workforce better, it also makes our communities safer and puts resources where they need to be to take down criminals.

HB 911 provides for an additional trooper school of 75 cadets who will join the ranks of our elite State Troopers in the fiscal year ahead.

It also provides funding to the Office of the Attorney General to expand the very successful Human Trafficking Unit created last year and to create the Gang Prosecution Unit modeled after it.

As Attorney General Carr said a couple of weeks ago when I signed the bill establishing the Gang Prosecution Unit… “The Department of Law will serve as a force multiplier by working hand-in-hand with federal, state, and local law enforcement officials to ensure that violent criminals are aggressively prosecuted and put behind bars.”

They will not hesitate to prosecute those who pose a risk to Georgia’s people and businesses.

HB 911 also provides over 10.3 million dollars to expand the GBI Medical Examiner’s office and crime lab to address the backlog of cases so that justice can finally be served for victims and their loved ones.

It also provides resources to the GBI for elections investigators, so that all Georgians can be assured that their vote is secure.

We’re also not resting on our laurels when it comes to making Georgia a healthier place to call home.

With this budget, we’re further ensuring that Georgia remains a state that values life at all stages by putting over 28 million dollars toward extending Medicaid coverage of new mothers from six to twelve months following birth, and increasing the provider rate for foster parents, Child Caring Institutions, Child Placing Agencies, and relative caregivers by 10 percent.

We’re also investing in an autism recognition pilot program, so that we can further aid families with precious children who face such challenges.

And we’re further expanding the behavioral health and substance abuse crisis services offered to those struggling with addiction and mental health issues.

I’m also proud to say that, working with Commissioner John King, we’ve allocated over 124 million dollars in this budget for the state reinsurance program, which will reduce insurance premiums statewide.

When Georgians are facing tragedies or accidents, whether health or property related, the last thing they should have to worry about is even more costs piled on.

What I’ve shared are just a small handful of the benefits that will soon come to Georgians and our communities because of this historic budget.

So again, I want to thank everyone here and elsewhere who helped make this budget possible.

Georgia continues to be the best state to live, work, and raise a family because we have prioritized education, public safety, and healthcare – even in the face of truly unprecedented times.

This budget builds on those priorities to make us even stronger and more prosperous, and I’m honored to be in Fannin County to sign this historic budget.

From the Capitol Beat News Service:

Gov. Brian Kemp signed a $30.2 billion state budget Thursday that includes pay raises for teachers and state employees.

The fiscal 2023 spending plan, which takes effect July 1, is just shy of the record $30.3 billion fiscal 2022 mid-year budget covering state spending through June 30.

It includes the $2,000 final installment of a $5,000 pay hike for Georgia teachers Kemp promised on the campaign trail four years ago.

Most state workers also will get $5,000 raises, while larger increases will go to correctional officers in the adult and juvenile prison system plagued with high turnover rates. State retirees will receive their first cost-of-living adjustment in 14 years.

The budget also contains a $180 million increase in mental health spending, the largest in the state’s history, and $28 million to extend Medicaid coverage for new mothers from the current six months to a year.

In the criminal justice arena, the budget funds a new state trooper class of 75 cadets, an expansion of the attorney general’s human trafficking unit and a newly created gang prosecution unit.

From the AJC:

The budget for the upcoming year that Kemp signed Thursday turns the teacher bonus into a raise — meaning it will be built into their future years’ salary — and continues to fund the state employee increases. Some staffers in areas with hard-to-fill jobs, including corrections and mental health agencies, will receive bigger raises.

Private prison operators also will receive more money under the plan to give raises to their corrections officers, even though they are not state employees.

The plan includes $25.7 million to allow state employees to withdraw and be compensated for up to 40 hours of accrued leave annually and $119.8 million to increase the state 401(k) match up to 9% and prefund a cost-of-living pension raise for Georgians who retired from state employment. The state Employees Retirement System board last month approved the first cost-of-living increase for those former employees in more than a decade.

Lawmakers have pushed for a market study to look at what the government needs to pay to attract and retain employees. Some agencies have annual turnover rates over 25%, in part because of low pay. In the state Juvenile Justice Department, it’s closer to 90%.

The budget will spend big money on priority areas: improving mental health care by boosting salaries and staff sizes, increasing access and adding more facilities such as hospital and crisis beds; aiding crime fighting; and enhancing schools and public health care programs.’

“This budget is incredible, it’s like something we have never seen,” Kemp said before signing the measure.

The spending plan provides the biggest one-year increase in state funding for mental health programs ever. The mental health agency’s budget will see a $183 million increase.

Administrative Law Judge Charles Beaudrot has recommended removal of former State Rep. Jeff Lewis from the Republican Primary ballot for Senate District 52, according to the Rome News Tribune.

At issue are nearly 10 years worth of campaign finance disclosures Lewis failed to file from his time in the state House, plus a new law saying a candidate is not eligible unless his reports are up to date.

“The stipulated facts and testimony at the hearing establish that Lewis had not made the requisite filings as of the date of his qualification filing nor had he cured such delinquency by the time of the hearing in this matter and the closing of the record in this matter,” Judge Charles Beaudrot wrote in an opinion released Thursday afternoon.

“By the express language of the statute, Lewis was not, therefore ‘eligible to qualify to seek election’ when he qualified to run for State Senator District 52,” it reads.

The opinion now goes to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who will make a ruling. Raffensperger’s decision can be appealed to Fulton County Superior Court and Lewis’ attorney indicated it’s likely, during a supplemental hearing Thursday morning.

Lewis served in the Georgia House of Representatives for 16 years, until he was ousted in 2008. His campaign fund contained over $75,000 when he stopped filing the required twice-yearly reports in 2012.

From the AJC:

Beaudrot’s recommendation now goes to the secretary of state’s office for a final ruling.

Lewis is challenging state Sen. Chuck Hufstetler of Rome in the Republican primary for Senate District 52. Shortly after Lewis filed paperwork to run for the state Senate, Hufstetler challenged Lewis’ candidacy.

“He had not filed any campaign reports for the last 10 years and he had $75,0000 in his account at that time and has not done the reports that the law says you have to do,” Hufstetler said. “So I certainly believe you need to follow the law.”

Lewis’ attorney Lester Tate argued that the new law was unconstitutional because it puts additional qualifications on candidate eligibility than is outlined in the state Constitution. The administrative court does not rule on questions of constitutionality so Tate said Lewis plans request a review of the law by state superior court.

“We’re trying to get it in front of a judge and there’s a great chance the law will be ruled unconstitutional and (Lewis) will be placed back on the ballot,” Tate said.

Former Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine (R) will pay $128,000 to settle charges relating to his 2010 campaign for Governor, according to the Associated Press via WSAV.

The settlement approved Thursday by the state ethics commission ends a yearslong struggle over whether Oxendine broke state law by using campaign donations to buy a house, lease cars and join a private club.

Some ethics commissioners said they’re unhappy Oxendine didn’t admit fault. But lawyers say Oxendine could have used up all the remaining money paying legal fees to fight the case.

Charges against Dougherty County Probate Judge Leisa Blount were dropped, according to the Albany Herald.

Blount was charged in March 2020 with one count each of terroristic threats and violation of office.

She was arrested after Dougherty County Sheriff Kevin Sproul asked the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to launch an investigation. The agency alleged that Blount made threats against a county employee who works in the Facilities Maintenance Department.

Specifically, Blount made a remark during a meeting with officials with the county and sheriff’s office that as a judge she had the right to carry a firearm into her office building to protect herself. The alleged victim was not present at that meeting.

In late April, a special prosecutor chosen to investigate the case decided to dismiss the charges. The prosecutor, Southern Judicial Circuit District Attorney Brad Shealy, formally dismissed the case at that time.

Suspended Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill will face a jury over charges he violated the rights of seven prisoners, according to the AJC.

The Clayton Sheriff’s Office announced the trial date — Sept. 26 — early Friday morning in a post on social media site Nixle, a favorite tool of the department to share its news.

“We are pleased to announce that we have received a trial date of September 26, 2022 to exonerate Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill and get him back to work,” the post said.

Federal authorities in April 2021 indicted Hill on charges he violated the civil rights of four detainees by strapping them to restraint chairs as a form of punishment. Charges involving three more detainees have been added in subsequent superseding indictments filed near the end of last year and earlier this year.

Hill, who has remained free on bail while he awaits trial, has pleaded not guilty to the charges. He was suspended from duty by Gov. Brian Kemp last June.

Columbus will celebrate State Rep. Calvin Smyre’s (D) career in the General Assembly, according to WTVM.

Smyre served tirelessly for nearly half a century in the Georgia legislature. And tonight, his friends, coworkers and family members honored who they consider a phenomenal man.

As the longest-serving member in the Georgia State House, Ed Harbison says he has enjoyed working alongside Smyre for more than 30 years.

“He’s a great role model. He is really the kind of person to emulate because he carries himself in a statesmanlike manner, and I think that is good then and now,” said Harbison.

Smyre has helped enact some of Georgia’s most monumental legislation during his legislative career, from removing the Confederate flag as the Peach State’s symbol to expanding MARTA, Atlanta’s public transit.

President Biden appointed Smyre as the Ambassador to the Dominican Republic.

“Columbus has supported me or from my entire 48 years of public life and in Georgia House of Representatives and deeply honored to be appointed by president Biden, and I’m looking forward to serving my country,” said Smyre.

WTVM profiles the candidates for Harry County Commission District 3 and Troup County Commission Chair.

Jekyll Island notched its first sea turtle nests of the season, according to The Brunswick News.

As of Thursday, 45 sea turtle nests had been recorded in Georgia.

Jekyll Island recorded the second nest in the state this year. No nests were recorded on St. Simons at the end of the day Thursday.

The team at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center on Jekyll saw its first patrol activity about two weeks ago when responding to what was a false crawl, when a turtle comes up on the beach but doesn’t nest.

“That’s when we decided to start our morning dawn patrols, which start at 6 a.m. every single day throughout the summer,” said Will Hicks, a research technician on Jekyll.

The team found its first nest May 5 south of the Days Inn.

Six nests have been documented so far on Jekyll, two of which were discovered Thursday morning.

The turtles are right on schedule, Hicks said.

“On average, they usually nest between May and then they’ll start to trickle out towards August,” he said. “But between May and August is when we see primarily these females coming up and nesting, and then we’ll have hatchling season.”

Tybee Island City Council approved a ban of smoking on beaches, according to WTOC.

The ban applies to all tobacco and related products including vapes.

It also prohibits them on the beach, the ocean and on all crosswalks to the beach – including the pier.

“Many many people including this council have been frustrated at the litter especially the cigarette butts. It is unfortunate the people who do the right thing often have to [bear] the consequences of people who don’t,” said Tybee Island Mayor Shirley Sessions.

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