Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 16, 2022

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May

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 16, 2022

Button Gwinnett and Lachlan McIntosh met outside Savannah on May 16, 1777 and fought a duel; Gwinnett was mortally wounded.

Gwinnett returned to Georgia immediately after signing the [Declaration of Independence] to find city Whig Lachlan McIntosh commanding Georgia’s nascent military efforts. Determined to take control of Georgia politics, Gwinnett became speaker of the legislature, guided the Georgia Constitution of 1777 into existence and took over as governor when Archibald Bulloch died suddenly in office.

Gwinnett then wanted to lead an expedition to secure Georgia’s border with Florida. A dispute between McIntosh and Gwinnett over who would command the effort ultimately led to their duel and Gwinnett’s death.

A Constitutional Convention met on May 16, 1795 in the capital of Louisville to amend the Georgia Constitution of 1789

The United States Senate voted to acquit President Andrew Johnson of 11 Articles of Impeachment passed by the House of Representatives on May 16, 1868.

The North Georgia Electric Company was incorporated on May 16, 1901 to build a hydroelectric dam on the Chattahoochee River near Gainesville; in 1916, it would be bought by the company that today is known as Georgia Power.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Today is National Barbecue Day. What’s your favorite in Georgia?

Atlanta will bid for the largest circus in America 2024 Democratic National Convention, according to the Associated Press via AccessWDUN.

Atlanta is submitting a formal bid to host the 2024 Democratic National Convention, Mayor Andre Dickens announced Friday to Democrats holding their annual state party dinner.

“We’re going to do everything in our power to bring the 2024 Democratic National Convention to Atlanta, Georgia,” Dickens told the party, which gathered at a downtown hotel.

In addition, Georgia is one of more than a dozen states where state Democrats have asked to step to the front of the party’s presidential nominating calendar, displacing the traditional position held by the Iowa caucus.

Georgia’s swing-state status could aid its bid for the convention, with national parties sometimes hoping to use their gathering as a showcase to appeal to the voters of the host state.

Republicans are deciding between Milwaukee and Nashville, Tennessee, as their 2024 convention site.

Former State Rep. Jeff Lewis was removed from consideration for Senate District 52 after a challenge to his qualifications was upheld by a state Administrative Law Judge and affirmed by Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, according to the Rome News Tribune.

The issue is that Lewis didn’t file nearly 10 years worth of campaign finance disclosures from his time in the state House.

Several years after Lewis left office he placed approximately $75,000 of campaign funds in an investment account, and stopped filing reports on those funds, according to testimony presented in the Thursday hearing.

A representative for Lewis announced that he will appeal the ruling, which he stated was unconstitutional, and continue to campaign for the Senate 52 seat.

“The statute under which Senator Hufstetler seeks to disqualify Jeff Lewis is blatantly unconstitutional. However, only the Superior Courts and, ultimately, the Supreme Court of Georgia are able to rule that a statute violates the Georgia Constitution,” Lewis’ attorney Lester Tate said in a statement. “We look forward to presenting our arguments there and ensuring that Jeff remains on the ballot.”

In his announcement Friday, Lewis compared himself with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene stating that first “the establishment” went after the congresswoman and now “now they are coming after me.”

Georgia Secretary of State’s spokesperson Walter Jones said Lewis will remain on the ballot but Senate 52 precincts will post a sign informing voters that he’s been disqualified.

Early voting continues apace, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Through Friday, nearly 380,000 people have early voted in Georgia — a 222% increase from the same point in the early voting period in the 2018 primary election and a 181% increase in the same point in the early voting period in the 2020 primary election. Georgia has had record early voting turnout since the first day of early voting this year, surging to nearly three times the number on the first day of primary voting in 2018 and double that of 2020, and has continued on that path since.

“The record early voting turnout is a testament to the security of the voting system and the hard work of our county elections officials,” Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said in a news release. “As secretary of state, I promised to strike a strong balance between access and security in our elections, and these numbers demonstrate that I kept that promise and that voters have confidence in Georgia’s elections.”

While reports of lines have been minimal thus far, early voting turnout is expected to increase during this week. All counties will have mandatory Saturday voting on Saturday.

Turnout Numbers Through May 13, 2022

♦ Total Turnout: 378,981
♦ Early In-Person: 348,538
♦ Absentee: 30,433
♦ Republican: 220,122♦ Democrat: 156,218
♦ Nonpartisan: 2,641
♦ New Turnout Since Previous Day: 47,605
♦ Early In-Person Since Previous Day: 43,680

From WTVM published Friday before this weekend’s early voting days:

Officials say since it started, turnout has steadily increased.

In the past two weeks, 6,000 people across Columbus have shown up to vote.

Yesterday, alone, 600 people voted.

The last week of early voting starts Monday, May 16, and ends Friday, May 20.

“We have one ballot collection dropbox, and it’s here at the City services center on the first floor as you enter from the parking garage. And of course, here at the elections office,” explained Boren.

From the Rome News Tribune:

The Rome City and Floyd County schools’ bid to extend the 1-cent education local option sales tax through March 31, 2029 — for a projected $130 million in revenue — also will be decided.

As of Friday, just 3.8% of the county’s registered voters had cast ballots and another 360 absentee ballots were still out.

From the AJC:

Overall, early voting turnout has shattered one record after another. Through Sunday, nearly 414,000 people have participated in the primary.

That includes about 57% who have cast GOP ballots, a higher proportion in part because of contested races at the top of the ticket. Another 43% have chosen Democratic ballots and less than 1% have voted nonpartisan.

From the AJC’s Mark Niesse on Twitter:

Twice as many Georgians cast ballots yesterday compared to the previous Saturday, with turnout reaching 28K. Through 13 days of early/absentee voting, 408,897 have voted. R: 234,731 D: 171,300 NP: 2,866

Some Gwinnett voters have filed fraud reports over Spanish words on precinct cards, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

“Hogar de” is just the Spanish translation for “household of.”

But, Gwinnett voters have seen the phrase in the address line on elections materials they have received from the county, gotten confused about it and filed complaints about illegal voting over it.

“The Gwinnett County Board of Elections and Registration sent out mailers to Gwinnett voters addressed to ‘Household of / Hogar de,’” said Ari Schaffer, chief of staff at the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office. “Apparently, a significant number of people are reading that and thinking someone by the name of Hogar De is fraudulently registered at their home, rather than realizing hogar de is just the Spanish translation of ‘household of.’ Because it’s Gwinnett, all election mailing has to be in Spanish as well.”

Gwinnett County is the only county in Georgia that is required, under the Voting Rights Act of 1965, to provide election materials in more than language. The act states that, if the number of people that speak a specific language other than English reaches a certain threshold in a county, all election materials in that county must be provided in that language as well as English.

To comply with the act, every document that is produced and sent out by the county’s elections office has to include Spanish translations of every word that is written in English.

President Joe Biden has nominated Georgia State Rep. Calvin Smyre as Ambassador to the Bahamas, instead of the previously announced appointment to the Dominican Republic, according to the AJC.

In Savannah, some marchers protested a Supreme Court decision that hasn’t been published or finalized, according to WTOC.

Demonstrators gathered outside the Chatham County Courthouse in an outcry of support for abortion rights.

The demonstrations in Savannah and across the nation come after a leaked draft opinion from the Supreme Court signaled those justices could soon overturn Roe versus Wade.

If Roe versus Wade is overturned, many are worried that Georgia could become one of several states likely to ban abortions.

But city leaders at the rally including Savannah mayor Van Johnson encouraged everyone to make their voices heard at the ballot box.

“Obviously, there’s an opportunity now called voting. In which people can ensure that they have representatives that represent them and represent their interests.”

Organizers vowing to continue their fight at the polls as election season ramps up.

It’s important to note, there weren’t any counter demonstrators at Saturday’s rally.

Gainesville also saw a pro-abortion march. From the Gainesville Times:

Democratic political candidates and a few dozen activists rallied Sunday, May 15, against a recently leaked Supreme Court draft decision that would overturn abortion protections from Roe v. Wade.

About 30 gathered behind the Sidney O. Smith Jr. federal courthouse along Spring Street with signs reading, “Protect Roe v. Wade,” “Productive rights are human rights” and “Hands off my uterus.” Some cars passing by to exit downtown honked in support as the crowd chanted “My body, my choice.”

Legislation passed by the Georgia General Assembly this year r will change how mental health issues are addressed, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Georgia ranks 48th in the country in access to mental health care, but state legislators hope to improve this defining issue with House Bill 1013, also known as the Georgia Mental Health Parity Act.

The bill, signed into law in April by Gov. Brian Kemp, requires insurers to cover mental health and substance abuse issues the same way they cover physical conditions such as a heart attack or diabetes.

To put that into perspective, patients would have to be suicidal before the insurance company has to pay for a visit. If that standard is applied to any other health condition like a heart attack, a person would have to prove they’re having a heart attack before the care could be paid for.

“It just snowballs from there,” said Sen. Ben Watson (R-Savannah), a co-sponsor of the bill. “And so Georgia, I think, will be a leader in this in that we have tried to do state regulations to require insurance companies to treat mental health on the same par as suitable.”

The Mental Health Parity Act also aims to expand access to care by increasing the number of mental health professionals in the state through loan forgiveness, improving data and transparency in the sector; providing for a grant program to establish assisted outpatient treatment programs, and relaxing Georgia’s standard for involuntary commitment by giving police officers and crisis workers help when they’re called into a mental health crisis.

Dalton City Council has revised a measure to allow municipal retirees to return to work without losing their retirement benefits, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

Council members held a first reading of the measure at their May 2 meeting.

“We found that we had to reword it,” said Mayor David Pennington. “Since we reworded it, we are going to have to hold the first reading again. We’ll vote on it in two weeks (from Monday).”

Under the city’s current pension plan rules, if retirees come back to work for the city their pension benefits have to be suspended until they leave city employ again.

Batts said retirees would be limited to 16 hours each week. If they go above that, their pension would be frozen.

Brunswick City Commissioners discussed a pair of local option sales taxes at a retreat, according to The Brunswick News.

There were no formal votes taken, but there was apparent consensus on expectations for upcoming negotiations with Glynn County officials for the Local Option Sales Tax and the Special Purpose Local Option Tax.

City Manager Regina McDuffie said negotiations with the county will begin in June for the LOST tax. The city and county still have to decide the format, including when and where to meet and who will be involved in the negotiations.

McDuffie said if both sides don’t reach an agreement within 60 days after negotiations begin, the city and county will be required to enter mediation, a process she said both sides should want to avoid.

Discussions are planned with the county about the list of projects proposed for the SPLOST referendum in the November general election. [Mayor Cosby] Johnson asked commissioners to consider holding individual town hall meetings to gauge the wants and needs of their constituents. He suggested a town hall meeting at the College of Coastal Georgia as a good location to attract a large crowd.

The Rome News-Tribune published Q&As with the three candidates for State House District, currently held by Republican State Rep. Katie Dempsey.

Rep. Katie Dempsey (incumbent)

Brad Barnes

Luke Martin

And a Q&A with Republican Robert Watson, who is running for House District 12, currently held by State Rep. Eddie Lumsden (R).

It is endorsement season in Augusta, with former Mayors giving candidates the nod, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Mayor Deke Copenhaver has endorsed Augusta businessman Garnett Johnson for mayor. He announced his endorsement at a news conference Thursday.

Mayor Hardie Davis, who ends his eight-year tenure in December, hasn’t openly endorsed a candidate, but another former mayor and several local groups have.

Former Mayor Bob Young is endorsing former Commissioner Marion Williams. Young said the four-term commissioner understood how the local government works.

The Committee for Good Government on Tuesday endorsed Alvin Mason, Jeremy Johnson and John Clarke in their commission elections. It backed newcomer Katrell Nash for civil and magistrate judge but favored incumbents Ashley Wright and Jesse Stone for superior court judge.

Rep. Brian Prince, D-Augusta, revealed Wednesday he’s been endorsed by the labor council as well as the Georgia Chamber of Commerce.

13WMAZ profiles the candidates for Peach County Commission District Two.

The Savannah Morning News profiles the Democratic candidates for the First Congressional District seat held by Republican Buddy Carter.

Wade Herring, Joyce Griggs and Michelle Munroe push many of the same policy positions on the campaign trail, from the protection and expansion of voter rights to making health care more affordable. All three also agree the incumbent, Republican Rep. Buddy Carter, went against the will of the people when he voted against the certification of the 2020 presidential election on Jan. 6.

The Statesboro Herald profiles the candidates for Bulloch County Board of Education District 5, according to the Statesboro Herald.

Lowndes County Board of Education District Five voters will elect a new member, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Lowndes County Board of Education announced a vacancy of its District 5 seat during the board meeting this month. [The late DAve] Clark held the District 5 seat. Clark passed away in April after being on leave from the board since early in the year. He was 78.

The board announced plans to hold a special election to fill the vacancy. The unexpired term ends Dec. 31, 2024.

“Under the guidance of Mr. Turner, we have notified the Lowndes County Board of Elections of the vacancy and will make plans to hold a special election,” Lowndes County School Superintendent Wes Taylor said, referring to Warren Turner, the school board attorney.

The District 5 election will be separate from the ongoing early voting in the primary election which culminates with the May 24 election.

Former State Rep. Ed Rynders (R- Albany) has died, according to WALB.

Sea turtles continue nesting on Georgia beaches, according to WSAV.

So far, Georgia wildlife officials have reported more than 50 nests, with more than half found on federally protected Cumberland Island. But according to Tybee Sea Turtle Project, the island hasn’t seen any nests yet this season.

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