Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 25, 2022


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 25, 2022

The Constitutional Convention of 1787 convened at Independence Hall in Philadelphia on May 25, 1787.

With George Washington presiding, the Constitutional Convention formally convenes on this day in 1787. The convention faced a daunting task: the peaceful overthrow of the new American government as it had been defined by the Article of Confederation.

The process began with the proposal of James Madison’s Virginia Plan. Madison had dedicated the winter of 1787 to the study of confederacies throughout history and arrived in Philadelphia with a wealth of knowledge and an idea for a new American government. It featured a bicameral legislature, with representation in both houses apportioned to states based upon population; this was seen immediately as giving more power to large states, like Virginia. The two houses would in turn elect the executive and the judiciary and would possess veto power over the state legislatures.

William Patterson soon countered with a plan more attractive to the new nation’s smaller states. It too bore the imprint of America’s British experience. Under the New Jersey Plan, as it became known, each state would have a single vote in Congress as it had been under the Articles of Confederation, to even out power between large and small states.

Alexander Hamilton then put forward to the delegates a third plan, a perfect copy of the British Constitution including an upper house and legislature that would serve on good behavior.

Confronted by three counter-revolutionary options, the representatives of Connecticut finally came up with a workable compromise: a government with an upper house made up of equal numbers of delegates from each state and a lower house with proportional representation based upon population. This idea formed the basis of the new U.S. Constitution, which became the law of the land in 1789.

The Battle of New Hope Church was fought near Dallas, Georgia May 25-26, 1864 between Confederates under General Joseph E. Johnston and Federal troops under General William T. Sherman.

On May 25, 1907, an equine statue of John B. Gordon was unveiled on the grounds of the Georgia State Capitol.

The United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia held on May 25, 1962 that the Georgia General Assembly was malapportioned and ordered the reapportionment of the State House and Senate.

Star Wars opened on May 25, 1977.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

CBS46 reports that Fulton County’s elections office was off to a “slow start” yesterday.

“It’s just the nature of the beast at this point,” said Nadine Williams, Fulton County’s Election’s Office’s interim director.

Elections officials have been under a microscope for at least the past four years, including the last presidential election, when votes in Fulton County were recounted three times.

Fulton County is the most populated county in the state and has 250 polling sites. But of those sites, only two had issues this morning due to opening late.

“They were opened approximately 7:20 to 7:30, they will stay open later per court order. We’re working on that as well,” said Williams.

In the past, Fulton County has seen long lines, been slow to count ballots, and has even lost absentee ballot requests. But for this primary, things are going well, according to the office’s interim director.

“Our workers are very strong. Our training has been enhanced…Fortunately, people are going to do more advanced voting, which we prefer, it gives more time to not have long lines on Election Day,” said Williams.

I’m here to tell you that Fulton County is still slow in counting yesterday’s ballots. As I write at 11:35 AM on Wednesday, approximately 90% of ballots are reported in a Fulton Count Superior Court race I’m watching.

Congratulations to Governor Brian Kemp on what is the earliest called contested primary I can remember. I received an email from the Savannah Morning News calling the race at 8:39 PM. From the Savannah Morning News:

Former Sen. David Perdue conceded around 8:30 p.m. Tuesday night, Kemp was dominant in early returns from Tuesday’s primary, outpacing Perdue by 50 percentage points with 13 of Georgia’s 159 counties reporting.

Perdue vowed to “fully” support Kemp in his general election race against Stacey Abrams, who was unopposed in Tuesday’s Democratic primary.

“Tomorrow morning you are going to hear me going to work to go to work to make damn sure Stacey Abrams is not the next governor of Georgia,” Perdue told supporters.

Kemp’s win sets up a rematch with Abrams, the candidate be bested for 55,000 votes in 2018.

Kemp hasn’t been shy about using his record as a talking point. During three debates in the eight-day span prior to the start of early voting, the governor held up his successes as a defense to Perdue’s criticisms.

From the Capitol Beat News Service via the Albany Herald:

The Republican Governors Association (RGA) released a statement Tuesday night congratulating Kemp on his primary victory.

“Tonight, voters proved that Governor Brian Kemp is a results-driven leader who has always put Georgia first,” said Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey and Pete Ricketts, the governor of Nebraska, co-chairmen of the RGA.

“As we were in the primary, the RGA is all-in and we will be there to ensure Governor Kemp is re-elected this fall.”

Congratulations and condolences to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who won his primary without a runoff. From the Associated Press via the Savannah Morning News:

Raffensperger beat three challengers, including Trump-endorsed U.S. Rep. Jody Hice, who had criticized his handling of the 2020 election. It was not immediately clear which Democrat he would face in November.

“What I have found is that every Georgian wants safe and secure elections with the right balance of accessibility with security. That’s where Georgia voting is today,” Raffensperger told reporters late Tuesday after declaring victory.

“If you don’t understand what happened in the election of 2020, here’s what happened — 28,000 Georgians skipped the presidential race and yet voted down ballot in other races,” Raffensperger said.

Raffensperger punched back, staunchly defending his record and insisting that Georgia’s elections are fair and secure. He also made prohibiting noncitizens from voting — a platform popular with conservative Republicans that is already enshrined in Georgia law — a centerpiece of his reelection campaign.

Asked by a reporter if his victory was a direct rebuke of Trump, Raffensperger said, “No, I think it’s a direct compliment to the goodness of my fellow Georgians.”

On the Democratic side, State Rep. Bee Nguyen, who occupies the seat formerly held by Democratic gubernatorial candidate and voting rights activist Stacey Abrams, advanced to a runoff.

It was too early to tell which of the other four Democratic candidates she will face in the June 21 contest.

From 11Alive via 13WMAZ:

“I’ve been pushing back on these stolen election claims since 2018, when Stacey Abrams lost,” the secretary of state told 11Alive the morning after his primary win. “In 2020 we had the flip side of the coin, just different parties. At the end of the day, my job is to follow the law, follow the constitution.”

He also added “This election was really about the truth and the truth matters, and the truth won out.”

“Photo I.D. is an objective measure that restores confidence,” Raffensperger told 11Alive. “When you restore confidence, you’re going to have bigger turnout.” He noted that this most recent election set a record for turnout during a primary.

“If we can’t do citizenship verification when people go to register, then you’ll end up with non-citizens on the rolls,” Raffesnperger said, before adding that 80% of Georgians agree with him that only American citizens should be on the voter rolls. “It’s a pivotal issue not just for Georgia, but the entire country.”

State Representatives who appear to have beaten back primary challenges:

John LaHood (R-Valdosta)

Ron Stephens (R-Savannah)

Carl Gilliard (D-Savannah)

Steve Tarvin (R-Chickamauga)

Kasey Carpenter (R-Dalton)

Jason Ridley (R-Chatsworth)

In Dougherty County, Lorenzo Heard unseated incumbent Commission Chair Chris Cohilas without a runoff, according to the Albany Herald.

Lorenzo Heard, whose only other foray into local politics ended with a stunning Dougherty County School Board defeat, pulled off a stunner himself Tuesday, wresting the County Commission chairman’s seat from two-term incumbent Chris Cohilas. Heard’s victory was so complete, he notched the win without having to face Cphilas in a runoff, as many had expected.

The chairman-elect tallied 5,449 votes to Cohilas’ 3,667, while the third entrant in the race, businessman Harry James, received 1,205 votes. Heard’s total was 52.8% of the 10,321 votes cast, while Cohilas’ total left him a distant second with 35.53%. James tallied 11.68% of the votes.

Since there was no Republican candidate who qualified to run for the chairman’s seat, Heard will — barring the emergence of a write-in candidate — become chairman of the county board at the start of 2023 without having to run in the November general election. Cohilas will serve the final seven months of his eighth year on the board as a lame-duck chairman.

Columbus Mayor Skip Henderson appears to have won his election, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

With every precinct reporting, Teddy Reese has likely defeated Zeph Baker to replace Calvin Smyre in the newly redrawn State House District 140.

Reese received 1,566 votes (57.57%) to Baker’s 1,154 (42.43%). Vote totals are unofficial and some early votes need to be rescanned.

With more than 20,000 ballots cast, Skip Henderson saw his lead shrink slightly, but he maintains a 58.61% to 41.39% over John Anker.

From the Ledger-Enquirer:

With all the ballots counted, Henderson defeated Columbus businessman John Anker, 18,947 votes to 11,291. Final tallies were sent to the Ledger-Enquirer around 2:30 a.m.

Henderson, who was elected in 2018 after two decades on the Columbus Council, held off Anker, who hoped that frustrations with the current administration and record-breaking homicide numbers in 2021 would lead Columbus voters to make a change.

“It’s a testament to so many people that we’ve had relationships with that have helped us accomplish some things during some of the most difficult circumstances in the history of our city,” Henderson told the Ledger-Enquirer.

Also in Columbus, it appears that incumbents won the elections for Muscogee County Board of Education seats 2, 4, 6, and an at-large seat, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

District 8 representative Philip Schley, a retired urologist, didn’t seek re-election in his third stint on the board. That’s because, he told the Ledger-Enquirer, he accomplished what he set out to do in 2018: defeat lawyer Frank Myers.

Including two previous stints (1972-81 and 1998-2010), Schley will have served on the board for 25 years when he departs after this year.

But a Schley still won on this ballot in the form of his daughter, Margot Schley, a yoga instructor and former director of newcomer services in the community development department at Synovus.

Some Bryan County voters faced long wait times, according to WTOC.

The final ballot was cast at one Bryan County voting location nearly two and a half hours after polls were set to close.

One voter told WTOC she was in line for nearly three hours.

“I thought we had a good plan but obviously it didn’t turn out as we had hoped,” Tom Hand, Chairman, Bryan County Board of Elections said.

The frustration comes as the Secretary of State’s office decided to put a mobile voting unit in place after the normal voting location was damaged in last month’s tornado.

“We didn’t perform well today. The staff has been fantastic. The state was great in helping us. But I think as a leadership team, primarily on me, I don’t think we prepared as well as we should have,” Hand said.

“It certainly was an oversight on my part and the rest of my team. It isn’t very accessible; I agree with that. We have to do a better job next time,” Hand said.

As night fell officials handed out water to those waiting in the heat, as voters had to use flashlights in the dark to review ballots.

A Bibb County precinct stayed open past 7 PM, according to the Macon Telegraph.

The Howard 1 polling place, located inside Northway Church at 5915 Zebulon Road, experienced a delay from 7-7:45 a.m. when the location first opened. The Superior Court issued a ruling to extend the time to 8 p.m. to allow for a full 12-hour voting period.

Republicans Travis Chance and Toby Conner head to a runoff election for Bulloch County Commission District 2B, according to the Statesboro Herald.

Chance and Conner will advance to a runoff June 21. Even that won’t decide who will become the next county commissioner, since the winner will face Democratic candidate Jake Hallman in the Nov. 8 general election.

In the unofficial final vote count Tuesday night, Chance had garnered 2,842 votes, or 37.58% of the total, to Conner’s 2,386 votes, or 31.55%, and Mock’s 2,334 votes, or 30.86%.

In the one purely local race voted on countywide, incumbent Bulloch County State Court Judge Joseph L. Cushner held on to the judgeship to which he was appointed in March 2020. Cushner received 7,436 votes, or 68.1% of the total, to challenger Michael J. Classens’ 3,484 votes, or 31.9%.

For the District 4 seat on the Bulloch County Board of Education, retired principal Donna Clifton captured 1,197 votes, or 61% of the district’s total. The incumbent board member, April Newkirk, garnered 627 votes, or 32%, and another challenger, Kathy C. Sherrod, received 138 votes, or 7%. Clifton will replace Newkirk on the board for the new four-year term beginning in January.

BOE incumbents for District 5 (Glennera Martin) and 6 (Jay Cook) were reelected.

Gary Bechtel and Desmond Brown face a runoff election for Macon Water Authority Board Chair, according to the Macon Telegraph.

Anissa Jones retained her position against challenger Eleanor Welch.

Shane Gottwals and Tal Talton have won their Houston County Commission races, while incumbent Lori Johnson defeated Yolanda Franklin in the District 2 school board race. In the District 6 at-large school board position, Mark Ivory and Tim Baggerly appear headed for a runoff.

From the Brunswick News:

Thomas “Bo” Clark handily defeated Jane Fraser in Tuesday’s Republican primary for the at-large Post 1 seat held by Glynn County Commission Chairman David O’Quinn, who is not seeking another term.

Clark will face Democrat Richard Ingalls in the November general election.

David Sweat got 730 votes or 62 percent of the vote to defeat Robert Elijah Tucker, who got 450 votes or 38 percent of the ballots cast in the District 4 race for the Republican nomination. Incumbent Bill Brunson is not seeking another term.

The winner will face former Brunswick Mayor Cornell Harvey, unopposed for the Democratic nomination, in November.

Whitfield County Board of Education District 4 will see a runoff, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

The top two vote-getters, Joe Barnett and Greg Williams, in a three-way battle for the Republican Party nomination for the District 4 seat on the Whitfield County Board of Education will head to a June 21 runoff after neither candidate received more than 50% of the vote in Tuesday’s primary.

Barnett, a retired teacher, assistant principal and principal, received 3,537 votes, while Williams, who was in sales at Expert Die for two decades before moving to inventory control three years ago, received 2,611, and Amber McMahan, a nurse practitioner, received 2,205.

Incumbent Murray County Board of Education members Conrad Puryear and Kelli Reed fended off intraparty challengers, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

There was no contested primary for the District 6 (Spring Place) school board seat, as Republican Dewayne Powers was the only qualifier and received 4,969 votes Tuesday. Republican Heath Jones opted not to seek another term.

No Democrats qualified for any of the seats. The deadline for someone seeking to run as a write-in candidate to file and publish a notice of intent is Sept. 6, and Sept. 11 is the deadline to file an affidavit.

From the Valdosta Daily Times:

Incumbent Michael Davis and newcomer Erin Price led their respective races for Lowndes County Board of Education Tuesday night.

In county school board District 1, Davis garnered 551 votes, 58.49%, over his opponents Sheila R. Thomas who received 321 votes or 34.08% and Marilyn Griffith-Creavy who received 70 votes or 7.43%, according to Lowndes County election results.

In county school board District 3, Price received 753 votes, 58.06%, over her opponent, Darrell Presley, who received 41.94% or 544 votes.

Chatham County Board of Elections members are elected during the Primaries. From the Savannah Morning News:

Three incumbents, including one facing a challenge from two Trump-embracing candidates, won election in the primary. Republicans Marianne Heimes and James Hall won as did Democrat Malinda Hodge.

The one upset came from challenger Trish Brown, who bested the incumbent, Alldrein Murray, for one of the Democratic posts.

Anne Allen Westbrook won an open seat in House District 163 Democratic primary and takes office without a General Election opponent, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Her win comes two years after losing the runoff against Derek Mallow by 19 votes. This cycle, Mallow is running for the Senate District 2 seat left vacant by Lester Jackson instead. The District 163 race was the only house seat without an incumbent vying to secure their post.

Westbrook ran on a platform of gun violence prevention, expanding access to health care, ending Georgia’s maternal mortality crisis and expanding quality public education. The Savannah native served as a legislative aid to Georgia House 165 Rep. Edna Jackson (D-Savannah) and has been an attorney at Johnson Kraeuter, LLC since 2013.

Westbrook is also known for her on-the-ground work regarding gun safety, having worked as the legislative point person for the Georgia chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.

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