Category: Georgia History


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 11, 2014

911 memorial 2

I was in my car that morning, on the way to my job when I heard on the radio of the first plane hitting. The announcers thought at first that it must be a small plane and likely an accident. Seventeen minutes later all doubt vanished as the second hit. Over the next hour, a third plane hit the Pentagon and a fourth went down in a field in Pennsylvania. We watched on television as the towers burned, then collapsed.

Shortly afterwards, the Family Room opened in a nearby tower to provide a place for loved ones to grieve out of the public eye.

The Family Room opened in April 2002 in space donated by Brookfield Office Properties, the owners of 1 Liberty Plaza, across Church Street from the trade center site. By presenting what was known as a medical examiner’s family identification card, victims’ relatives were admitted during regular workdays and at night, on weekends and on holidays.

On the 20th floor, behind a door marked “The Family Room,” relatives could settle into ample leather couches or stand at windows 15 and 20 feet wide. The room was intended for “quiet contemplation,” said a 2002 notice from the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, which created and maintained the space, just a few doors down from its own headquarters and those of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum at the World Trade Center Foundation.

When the Family Room at 1 Liberty Plaza was replaced this summer by a new private gathering space in the National September 11 Memorial Museum pavilion, the [New York] State Museum and the memorial museum painstakingly documented the older room, and the State Museum acquired what contents family members themselves did not choose to reclaim.

There are materials in the Family Room collection related to about 1,000 victims, Mr. Schaming said, or roughly one-third of all casualties that day. “It is the most singular collection of the faces of people who were killed on 9/11,” he said.

One day after Perry’s victory in the Battle of Lake Erie, American Master Commandant Thomas Macdonough led American forces in the Battle of Plattsburg at Lake Champlain, New York on September 11, 1813.

The Union Army began evacuating civilians from Atlanta via Lovejoy’s Station on September 11, 1864.

Georgia-born Ty Cobb took his last at-bat on September 11, 1928.

After a week-long Presidential campaign swing through ten states, former Governor Jimmy Carter returned to Plains on September 11, 1976. At the time Republicans said he was too liberal; today they say that about his grandson, Democrat Jason Carter.

On September 11, 1985, Pete Rose broke Ty Cobb’s career hit record, notching number 4,192 against the San Diego Padres.

A New Show on GPB

GPB Political Rewind 09102014 600px

Last night, I was honored to appear in the inaugural episode of Georgia Public Broadcasting’s new TV show called Political Rewind with BIll Nigut, Jim Galloway of the AJC and Georgia State House Democratic Leader Stacey Abrams.

We’ll post a link to video if they get it online soon, but you can put it on your weekly schedule for 7 PM Wednesday evenings on your local GPB station.

New Poll from 11Alive Deceptive

Yesterday, 11Alive released a new poll in a story that is sloppy at best, deceptive at worst.

ATLANTA — A new exclusive scientific poll shows the race for Georgia’s governor is statistically tied. The poll was commissioned by 11Alive and conducted by Survey USA.

Over the past three weeks, since an identical poll was conducted by SurveyUSA on behalf of 11Alive, incumbent Republican Nathan Deal has watched a 9-point lead evaporate.

Forty-five percent of registered likely voters plan to vote for Jason Carter, 44% for Nathan Deal. The margin of error is +/- 4.2%, so they are statistically tied.

The part I want to discuss is where 11Alive says the polls were “identical.” That simply isn’t true. I’ve discussed at length the importance of weighting, and specifically the assumption about what percentage of voters will be African-American.Continue Reading..


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 19, 2014

USS Constitution earned the nickname “Old Ironsides” in battle against the British ship Guerriere off the coast of Nova Scotia on August 19, 1812. Launched in 1797, Constitution is today the oldest commissioned vessel in the United States Navy. Live oak from St. Simons Island were cut and milled for timber used in the constructions of Constitution. From a 1977 New York Times article:

The Constitution won her way into Americans’ hearts in 1812, when she defeated the British Guerriere off Nova Scotia in an exchange of broadsides. The spirit of the Constitution crew was noted by the Guerriere’s commander, James Dacres, who boarded the Constitution to present his sword in surrender.

”I will not take your sword, Sir,” the captain of the Constitution, Isaac Hull, replied. ”But I will trouble you for your hat.”

In the battle, a sailor — whether British or American is disputed by historians — is said to have cried out, ”Huzzah, her sides are made of iron!” as he watched an English cannonball bounce off the side of the Constitution. It was the birth of her nickname.

Part of the ship’s secret lay in the wood used in the design by Joshua Humphreys. He picked live oak, from St. Simons Island, Ga. The wood has proved so strong and resistant to rot that the original hull is intact, said Anne Grimes Rand, curator of the Constitution Museum in Charlestown, Mass.

The Georgia Department of Insurance was created on August 19, 1912 when Governor Joseph Brown signed legislation regulating companies selling policies in the states.

Governor Nathaniel Harris signed the first state law requiring school attendance for children 8-14 years of age on August 19, 1916; on the same day, Harris also signed legislation authorizing women to practice law in Georgia.

“Georgia” was designated the official state song on August 19, 1922 with Gov. Thomas Hardwick’s signature on a joint resolution passed by the General Assembly; in 1979, “Georgia On My Mind,” replaced it.

Adolf Hitler became President of Germany on August 19, 1934.

The United States Central Intelligence Agency supported a coup in Iran that restored the Shah of Iran on August 19, 1953.

On August 19, 1976, President Gerald R. Ford was nominated for President by the Republican National Convention in Kansas City, Missouri. Ford received 1,157 (52.6%) delegates to 1,087 for Ronald Reagan (47.4%). Georgia’s 48 delegates voted for Reagan on the first ballot.

Dr. Betty Siegel became the first female President of a state college or university in Georgia when she was named President of Kennesaw College on August 19, 1981; under her leadership, it became Kennesaw State University in 1996. Siegel served until 2006. Kennesaw State was recently named the 4th best college for food in the nation.

On August 19, 1984, President Ronald Reagan was nominated for reelection by the Republican National Convention in Dallas, Texas.

Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

I’ve been speaking to groups lately with a presentation called, “Seven things we learned from the 2014 Georgia Primary Elections,” and last night I added item number eight. The 2014 United States Senate election in Georgia is not about Michelle Nunn or even about control of the United States Senate: it’s about Hillary Clinton. On September 14, 2014, Hillary and Bill Clinton will return to Iowa for the annual Steak Fry, her first trip to the Hawkeye State since her 2008 campaign.

Georgia’s importance for 2016 is twofold. In 2008, Obama’s ability to shut her out of the Deep South Democratic Primary elections that were dominated by African-American voters was a key to his winning the nomination. I’d be willing to bet we’ll see her in Georgia this year in support of Michelle Nunn, unless Nunn’s political consultants tell her it would be a political liability.Continue Reading..


Georgia Politics, Campaign, and Elections for August 13, 2014

On August 13, 1909, Georgia Governor Joseph Brown signed legislation designating February 12 as Georgia Day to commemorate Oglethorpe’s landing near Savannah in 1733.

One year later, Brown signed the first legislation regulating automobiles in Georgia on August 13, 1910. The act included a minimum driving age of 16, prohibited driving while intoxicated, and required a car tag, headlight, and red taillight.

President Jimmy Carter was nominated for reelection as President by the Democratic National Convention in New York City on August 13, 1980.

President Ronald Reagan signed the Economic Recovery Tax Act on August 13, 1981.

The ERTA included a 25 percent reduction in marginal tax rates for individuals, phased in over three years, and indexed for inflation from that point on. The marginal tax rate, or the tax rate on the last dollar earned, was considered more important to economic activity than the average tax rate (total tax paid as a percentage of income earned), as it affected income earned through “extra” activities such as education, entrepreneurship or investment. Reducing marginal tax rates, the theory went, would help the economy grow faster through such extra efforts by individuals and businesses. The 1981 act, combined with another major tax reform act in 1986, cut marginal tax rates on high-income taxpayers from 70 percent to around 30 percent, and would be the defining economic legacy of Reagan’s presidency.

Reagan’s tax cuts were designed to put maximum emphasis on encouraging innovation and entrepreneurship and creating incentives for the development of venture capital and greater investment in human capital through training and education. The cuts particularly benefited “idea” industries such as software or financial services; fittingly, Reagan’s first term saw the advent of the information revolution, including IBM’s introduction of its first personal computer (PC) and the rise or launch of such tech companies as Intel, Microsoft, Dell, Sun Microsystems, Compaq and Cisco Systems.

Fast Times at Ridgemont High was released on August 13, 1982.

Brian Kemp – There’s an App for that!


The Republican National Committee doesn’t like the Common Core framework for teaching AP US History – Marietta Daily Journal.

The RNC passed a resolution Friday describing how an estimated 500,000 students take the College Board’s Advanced Placement U.S. History course each year, a course it says is traditionally designed to present a balanced view of American history to prepare students for college-level history courses.

Yet the College Board, the RNC resolution states, has released a new framework for the course “that reflects a radically revisionist view of American history that emphasizes negative aspects of our nation’s history while omitting or minimizing the positive aspects.”


“In Cobb, we’ve got this covered because we would not be satisfied with only this broad framework, without identifying the historical components that kids should have exposure to.”

For example, for students enrolled in the AP History course, in addition to taking the AP exam, they also take the state’s End of Course Test.

“That is much more closely focused on more of the facts and historical characters,” [Cobb County Schools’ chief academic officer] Davis said.

Georgia has seen the highest jump in Medicaid enrollment among states that rejected the expansion of eligibility under Obamacare – Athens Banner-Herald.

The Georgia State Ethics Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission has hired Bethany Whetzel and Robert Lane as staff lawyers – Fulton Daily Report.

Jeff Bridges unlikely to run for Senate from Montana – Washington Post. [Language alert on the following clip.]

Michelle Nunn and Sam Nunn visit Second Harvest of South Georgia warehouse in Albany on campaign stop – Albany Herald.

Robin Williams gave money primarily to Democrats while playing Republicans in movies, and was great-great-grandson of former Mississippi governor and senator Anselm J. McLaurin – Washington Post.

Tea Party failed to beat any incumbent Republican Senators, but still made mark, keeping a number under 50 percent in multi-candidate primaries and half of incumbents under 60 percent – normally only 5 percent of incumbents come in under 60 percent – Washington Post.

Georgia’s Republican National Committeewoman Linda Herren says it doesn’t make any sense to not require voter registration by party for primary voting, citing the specter of strategic crossover voting by Democrats – Washington Times.

A poll commissioned by the National Taxpayers Union found 57 percent of Georgia voters opposed to national legislation that would allow states to collect sales taxes for online purchases – Atlanta Business Chronicle.

As efficient as they normally are, the Clayton County Commission has been granted a 30-day extension to adopt a millage rate for Fiscal Year 2015 – Clayton News Daily.

Ringgold City Council will hold hearings on a proposed 3-percent increase in the property tax rate at Ringgold City Hall, 150 Tennessee St., on Monday, Aug. 25, at 11 AM and 6 PM and on Monday, Sept. 8, at 6 PM –

The Catoosa County Commission will hold hearings on an increase in the county property tax rate on Thursday, Aug. 21, at 9 AM and 6 PM and Tuesday, Sept. 2, at 9 AM the county administrative building meeting room, 800 LaFayette St., Ringgold –

In Macon-Bibb County, consolidation of city and county government makes property taxes complex, but here’s the bottom line – no net increase in the millage rate for property owners, but those with higher assessments will pay more –

Here’s an issue where the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and Tea Party activists probably agree – the Chamber is urging the federal government to allow the ban on offshore drilling to expire at the end of 2016 – Atlanta Business Chronicle.

A citizen has filed an ethics complaint against Kennesaw Mayor Mark Matthews over a nastygram sent by the City Attorney – Marietta Daily Journal.

Polk County voters will decide whether to create a fire district for unincorporated parts of the county on the November General Election ballot –

The City of Emerson will keep the same millage rate – The Daily Tribune News.

The Marietta Board of Education is considering paying $11 million to replace some of its aging bus fleet – Marietta Daily Journal.

University of Georgia researchers are studying the sand on Georgia beaches as part of a project to replenish the beaches at Tybee Island – Savannah Morning News.

Macon-Bibb County will study blighted properties and funding to clean them up – Macon Telegraph.

Singer-songwriter-attorney Allen Levi and retired game warden Randy Hackley qualified for an open seat on Harris County Probate Court and qualifying ends at noon today – Ledger-Enquirer.

A wrongful death lawsuit against General Motors over defective ignition switches that led to 54 recalls of 29 million cars and trucks will go to trial in April 2016 –

Tomorrow night in Marietta

Georgia Tea Party Inc Solar

On Thursday, I’ll be speaking to The Georgia Tea Party during their meeting from 7-9 PM at the Roswell Street Baptist Church office building, east of the church campus, west of the big chicken at 900 Roswell Street, Marietta, Ga.

I’ll be discussing “Five things I learned in the 2014 Primary Elections.”

Is Twitter ruining young press flaks?

An article in Campaigns & Elections suggests that Twitter is spoiling many young campaign press operatives.

Nothing has done more to ruin young press operatives than Twitter. The basic blocking and tackling of press has been lost to the instantaneous food fight of the social media site famous for its 140-character delivery.

Snark, substance-less witticisms, and gotcha moments on social media have replaced the hard spade work of pitching stories, developing relationships with reporters, and the basics of an efficient press operation.

Social media has become the hot commodity for campaigns and like the snake oil salesman of the past, people are saying it will cure every political ill. But in the rush to rightfully develop a strong social media presence, too many young campaign operatives have lost sight of what actually moves persuadable voters.

Here’s some hard, foul tasting medicine: As all encompassing as Twitter seems in the Beltway Bubble, many voters, especially older voters who are your most reliable voting demographic, don’t use it. Some have no idea what Twitter is. And those who do are probably tweeting about the score of the latest baseball game, not the negative attack ad on TV.

Campaign communication plans need to be balanced with both traditional and new media, which means we need operatives who are balanced, and most importantly, know how to filter out the noise. As operatives we have to remember that Twitter is not a representative sample. One or two Twitter loudmouths can make minor issues seem tremendously important when they are, in fact, completely irrelevant.

Join Georgia CRs and Governor Deal at Braves Game

Braves Gov

Join the Georgia Association of College Republicans,  Governor Nathan Deal, and Republican candidate for United States Senate David Perdue at the Braves game Saturday, starting at 4 PM, with a game start time of 7 PM.

You can click here to purchase tickets and parking.



Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 9, 2014

President Zachary Taylor died of cholera on July 9, 1850 and was succeeded in office by Millard Fillmore.

On July 9, 1864, Confederate troops retreated across the Chattahoochee River from Cobb County into Fulton County. Upriver, Sherman’s troops had already crossed and moved toward Atlanta.

Best line of the day

From the Marietta Daily Journal previewing last night’s debate for Cobb County Commission between Bob Weatherford and Bill Byrne.

“Our personalities are different. I have one and he doesn’t,” Weatherford declared.

Then at the debate, the moderator explained how to use the microphones:

moderator Pete Combs pointed to the microphones.
“They’re microphones, they’re not clubs,” Combs said, prompting laughter.

Debate two: Collins and Hice

I moderated the debate in Oconee County between Mike Collins and Jody Hice for the Republican nomination for Congress in the Tenth District. Hice is a fine candidate on the stump and outperformed Mike Collins, but one thing he said gave me pause.

The question was whether Christianity is under attack in America, the role of Christianity in government, and whether the federal government should play a role in the issue.

Jody Hice said,

“Government has every reason not to restrict and suppress religion and Christianity but to embrace it, and promote it, and allow it to flourish. For therein, and only therein, is an environment in which limited state government can exist in our lives.”

That’s a small snippet of a longer answer to the question, but that excerpt concerns me as a Chrisitan and a Conservative.

The concern I have is that as a Conservative, I believe that government is an inefficient tool for solving social and cultural problems. Looking at the war on drugs that began in the 1980s, after nearly thirty years, government intervention yielded stronger and more effective horrifying drugs like the rising popularity of methamphetamine, a jail system so overcrowded that many states, including Georgia, are rethinking and reducing drug sentences, and a culture that is more tolerant than ever of the recreational use of drugs and alcohol.

If that’s the kind of results we could expect from government embracing and promoting Christianity, as a Christian I’d say, “no, thank you.”

Kelsey Cochran of the Athen Banner-Herald covered the debate and writes about an exciting moment.

The most contested portion of a debate between the remaining Republican candidates vying for the 10th Congressional District came after Jody Hice took a jab at his opponent Mike Collins’ father, former U.S. Rep. Mac Collins.

“You’ve said a number of times that your political philosophy is closely identified with that of your dad. He was very good on some social issues, but he went along with the establishment. …This looks like a sequel that’s a nightmare,” Hice said after citing several votes by the elder Collins to raise the debt ceiling, his own salary and to approve the No Child Left Behind Act.

Collins defended his father’s conservative voting record before pointing his finger at Hice for statements in his 2012 book perceived by some as anti-Islamic.

“In order to be a good congressman, you’ve got to be effective. My opponent wants to limit First Amendment rights for certain American citizens,” Collins said.

Hice rebutted by saying Collins was “truth-challenged” and said his published statements were taken out of context and lain with liberal talking points in recent news reports.

Rather, he said, his statements “clearly made a distinction between peace-loving Muslims who want to worship and Islamic radical terrorists and jihadists.”

In the end, both men said they are in favor of protecting the First Amendment rights of U.S. citizens.

Former Congressman Mac Collins spoke to me after the debate and said, “If Jody Hice is going to attack my record, I should be given time to respond to it.”

I hadn’t realized that Mac Collins was in the audience, but if I were in charge of the next debate, I’d give serious consideration to allowing that opportunity.

There was a lot more to the debate, and I got home late last night, so I will discuss more of what happened in the next couple of days. I want to thank the Tenth District Georgia Republican Party, Tenth District GAGOP Chairman Brian Burdette, and Dennis Coxwell, chairman of the 10th Congressional District Republican Debate Planning Committee for allowing me to participate.

The hundred chairs set out by Dennis Coxwell and Oconee County GOP Chair Jay Hanley were filled with voters, many of whom were not the “usual suspects” who show up for GOP meetings, but instead ordinary voters looking for information. It was one of the best debates I’ve attended.

Barr and Loudermilk meet in CD-11

Last night, Bob Barr and Barry Loudermilk spoke at a candidate forum hosted by the Acworth Business Association and Barr questioned Loudermilk over an issue originally raised by WSB-TV.

Critics are questioning a local politician who now says he owns the copyright to a video that was produced with $10,000 of taxpayer money.
The video, called “It’s My Constitution,” features former state senator and current congressional candidate Barry Loudermilk and his three children talking about the importance of the U.S. Constitution. It also features an introduction from State Education Superintendent John Barge, and was sent to Georgia classrooms for use in studying Constitution Day.
“It’s paid for with taxpayer dollars; arguably the public owns that,” said Georgia Department of Education spokesman Matt Cardoza.
During the credits of the 15-minute video, a copyright in the name of “Firm Reliance” appears on the screen. Firm Reliance is a non-profit organization registered to Loudermilk. The video is prominently featured on the non-profit’s website.
“If it’s in the public domain and the public paid for it and it’s for the public, why have any copyright on it?” Fleischer asked Cardoza.
He replied, “Right. I can’t answer that question. I really don’t know why it says it’s copyrighted there.”

Loudermilk said because he and his children were not paid for their time writing and casting the video, they legally hold the copyright, not the Department of Education. He said they are going to use the copyright to protect the video.
“We didn’t want anyone to go in there and try to change what was in it, and also wanted to make sure no one went out and used it for profit,” Loudermilk said. “We want this available, we want it out there.”
Loudermilk added that his family and non-profit have never charged anyone to use the video and will continue to allow access to the video for educational purposes.

Here is the question from Barr last night and Loudermilk’s response, via the AJC:

Are you willing now to come forward tonight — with a degree of transparency that you seem to hold very high when you talk about these issues — and tell the voters what you are hiding with regard to your lack of transparency on these and other issues involving abuse of taxpayer money,” Barr said on the stage at NorthStar Church in Kennesaw.

Loudermilk said he has never made any money on the film and that it was copyrighted to protect its content.

“Well, Bob, you even surprise me with those accusations because there is absolutely no truth to any of those and I think you know the truth regarding those,” Loudermilk said. “The state owns the video. It is free for everyone. You can go to YouTube and see it.”


The “other issues involving abuse of taxpayer money” that the AJC saw fit to omit included a payment of $80,000 by the state (that means your taxpayer dollars) to settle an employment discrimination lawsuit by a woman who worked in the office that Barry Loudermilk shared with another state Senator.

From WSB-TV:

In a statement, [then-Senate President Pro Tem Tommie] Williams’ office told Geary the state Senate is not subject to the open records act and the matter related is a personnel matter.

At the time, Loudermilk claimed no knowledge of the lawsuit.

In a statement released Wednesday, Loudermilk named the employee as Ethel Blackmon.

“Though Ms. Blackmon did work in my senate office for a short time, I have never discriminated against her or anyone else, and this issue has never been raised to me. The media has also reported an alleged monetary settlement made to her, which they claim had something to do with me. I have never been consulted about a settlement, nor did I know anything about one before hearing of media reports [Tuesday],” Loudermilk said.

Barr also answered Loudermilk’s challenge about a letter Barr wrote before Eric Holder took office as Attorney General. Again from the AJC’s Jeremy Redmon:

Barr pointed out that he has since called for Holder’s resignation because he “has enabled this president through his inaction and through providing legal opinions to the White House… to continue violating the law.”

“So rather than focus on the letter, why don’t we focus on the things that Eric Holder has done in office that have led me to believe that he needs to resign and for which I have called for repeatedly,” Barr said. “Maybe you would like to join me.”

Marietta Daily Journal endorses Jack Kingston for U.S. Senate

From the MDJ Editorial Board:

Georgia has been represented on Capitol Hill in recent years by a pair of the steadiest and most-respected members of the U.S. Senate: Saxby Chambliss (R-Moultrie) and Johnny Isakson (R-east Cobb). Now, Chambliss is calling it a career and retiring at year’s end. Vying to take his place are two Republicans who will meet in a July 22 primary runoff election: Jack Kingston and David Perdue.

Perdue is one of the big surprises of this campaign season. The multi-millionaire former CEO of a string of well-known companies largely self-funded his campaign and came out of nowhere to be the leading vote-getter in the May 20 GOP primary. In the process he gathered more votes than a number of better-known candidates, including three incumbent congressmen — one of them Kingston.

Perdue trades on his “outsider” status as a non-politician and plays to those fed up by the constant bickering and gridlock on Capitol Hill. It’s a feeling with which we sympathize.

Yet Perdue has never crafted a bill, advocated for it and shepherded it to passage. He’s never had to rally his party’s faithful, line up votes or — as successful legislators must do — learn how to compromise on the occasional detail without selling out on his underlying principles.

In other words, Perdue has the luxury of having no record to run on. He is a blank slate on which voters can pin their hopes. He talks a good game about transforming Washington, but, as every president learns, even the most powerful man in the world can only change the culture there by so much. And as just one senator of 100, whoever is elected will find there is no magic wand awaiting him.

Jack Kingston, on the other hand, has written and passed many a bill and cast thousands of thousands of votes during his time in Congress. He stands by what he’s done for his district, this state and this country. He’s a known quantity — and he’s not the kind of lawmaker who’s been corrupted by the Capitol Hill experience.

Perdue is eager and affable, but given how he’s spent recent decades rubbing elbows with upper-crust business types, we’re not sure he truly understands the economic challenges of the merchants on Marietta Square, or of those shopping at the Avenues in east and west Cobb, much less the grind of living from paycheck-to-paycheck like far too many do, even in a prosperous community such as ours.

And here’s the money quote:

Keep in mind a Nunn win would mean another vote for a continuation of an Obama-type/Reid/Pelosi agenda. That makes it incumbent on Republican voters to choose the candidate who will offer Nunn the strongest challenge. And Jack Kingston is that Republican.

Doug Collins endorses Jack Kingston

Ninth District Congressman Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) also endorsed Jack Kingston for United States Senate, saying,

“Jack Kingston is a proven leader for Georgia Republicans who has always stood up for the folks at home, not Washington insiders,” said Collins.  “In the short time I’ve been in Washington, I’ve made it my purpose to put people before politics, and I’ve seen Jack Kingston do the same. Jack has been a presence in North Georgia throughout the campaign, and his message of renewing America, cutting taxes, and reducing energy costs have resonated.”

“I trust Jack to go to the Senate, break the gridlock, and give life to the conservative solutions we’ve started in the House. I encourage my fellow Georgians to vote for Jack Kingston on July 22nd and ensure a Republican takeover of the Senate in November.”

More data on voter turnout

Yesterday, Secretary of State Brian Kemp released information on the number of votes cast so far in early voting.


Number of ballots cast: 44,342

Number of ballots voted in person:  28,000

Number of mail-in ballots returned:  16,342

Number of mail-in ballots outstanding:  18,345



Cobb: 2,439


Fulton: 1,706

Chatham: 1,705

Gwinnett: 1,687

Those numbers differ from those we wrote about yesterday because Kemp’s numbers were based on a later version of the Voter Absentee File that was not yet publicly available when we were writing yesterday.

Illegal immigrants shipped to Georgia?

The AJC was skeptical of claims that illegal immigrants were being brought to Georgia when Bob Barr raised the issue on Monday.

The AJC’s Jeremy Redmon queried the Barr campaign – specifically, campaign manager and son Derek Barr – for actual evidence of dangerous women and children from the outer reaches of Guatemala, dispatched to subvert the wisdom and justice, constitutionally dispensed in moderation, of our fair state.

Yesterday, the AJC’s partner in the Cox Media Group, WSB-TV reported that indeed, “unaccompanied minors” are being transported to Georgia.

“They’ve been flooding into Atlanta for the past probably month and a-half,” attorney Rebecca Salmon told Channel 2’s Kerry Kavanaugh.

Salmon runs the Access to Law Foundation. The nonprofit represents children who arrived in America alone. The federal government calls them unaccompanied minors. The Gwinnett County-based foundation represents kids who have reunified with family in Georgia, Alabama, parts of Tennessee and South Carolina.

“Our current caseload is well over a thousand kids,” Salmon said.

Salmon said she helps the children determine the best option for them, which she said is often voluntarily leaving the U.S.

The majority, she said, will ultimately be deported. A small percentage could stay under special circumstances, like if they meet criteria for political asylum.



Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 8, 2014

On July 8, 1776, the bell now known as the Liberty Bell rang in the tower of the Pennsylvania State House, now called Independence Hall, to announce the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence.

Rung to call the Pennsylvania Assembly together and to summon people for special announcements and events, it was also rung on important occasions, such as King George III’s 1761 ascension to the British throne and, in 1765, to call the people together to discuss Parliament’s controversial Stamp Act. With the outbreak of the American Revolution in April 1775, the bell was rung to announce the battles of Lexington and Concord. Its most famous tolling, however, was on July 8, 1776, when it summoned Philadelphia citizens for the first reading of the Declaration of Independence.

The Liberty Bell inscription includes a reference to Leviticus 25:10, “Proclaim Liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.”

The first of General William Tecumseh Sherman’s troops, under Major General Schofield, crossed the Chattahoochee River between Powers Ferry and Johnson Ferry on July 8, 1864.

Former United States Senator from Texas Phil Gramm (R) was born on July 8, 1942 in Columbus, Georgia, where his father was stationed at Fort Benning.

On July 8, 1975, President Gerald Ford announced his candidacy for President in the 1976 elections.

Barry Loudermilk: Not much of an Historian

Speaking of the Declaration of Independence, Congressional candidate Barry Loudermilk told the Marietta Daily Journal last week that:

“Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, the document that changed the entire world. He was the youngest, newest freshman in the Second Continental Congress, and so I think it’s a good idea to bring somebody new.”

Part of that statement is incorrect. Perhaps that’s surprising for a candidate who describes himself as an “historian and Constitutional scholar.”

The incorrect statement is that Thomas Jefferson was the “youngest, newest freshman in the Second Continental Congress.”

John Jay, who would serve as the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court was a delegate to both Continental Congresses was born in 1745 – two years after Jefferson was born in 1743. Also younger than Jefferson was Edward Rutledge of South Carolina. From Georgia, George Walton, born in 1749, was younger than Jefferson and was first elected as a delegate to the Continental Congress in 1776, the same year as Jefferson. Jefferson was elected a delegate to the Continental Congress on March 29, 1775, while Walton was elected from Georgia in February 1776, making him both younger and newer to Congress.

If Loudermilk made a single historical misstatement, it might just be an error – after all, I regularly have to correct myself here. But it appears to be part of a pattern of misstating history to serve his political ambition.

On April 27, 2013, Loudermilk spoke to the Bartow County Republican Party, and said,

“What the amazing thing was, when President Kennedy set out there and said, ‘we’re going to go to the moon in this decade,’ he didn’t create a government bureaucracy to do it, we created NASA to oversee it and turned it over to the private sector. We turned it over to the free market system and said ‘you guys figure out how to get there.,” said Loudermilk.

In fact, NASA was, and continues to be, a government agency. Also, it was not created by President Kennedy, but by President Eisenhower in 1958.

The folks from took exception to my pointing out Loudermilk’s errors, writing,

“An attack has been leveled that Sen. Loudermilk revised history in saying private companies helped get a man on the moon. In fact, IBM was one such private company that NASA turned to for help in this important project.”

These folks didn’t revise history, they just misstated what I wrote. Loudermilk didn’t say private companies help get a man on the moon – he said that President Kennedy turned the moon shot over to the private sector, which is untrue. Once again, we have the Loudermilk campaign distorting the truth to serve Barry Loudermilk’s desperate need to get himself elected to Congress.

Barr on immigration

Loudermilk’s opponent Bob Barr is raising the issue of whether the Obama Administration is shipping immigrants to Georgia.

Bob Barr, a former member of Congress locked in a tight Republican runoff with former Barry Loudermilk of Cassville for the 11th District congressional seat, has declared an immigration emergency in Georgia. From the press release:

“As tens of thousands of illegals continue streaming across our southern border, citizens of Georgia are increasingly concerned that the Obama Administration is planning to surreptitiously ship many to locations in our state; or that our government may already have begun doing so under cloak of secrecy.

“Questions from this campaign to federal agencies inquiring whether shipments of these illegals are planned for Georgia – or whether such shipments may already be underway – have been met with silence or refusals to provide meaningful answers. Our questions have been prompted by accounts stating that Georgia is in fact a recipient state for some of these illegals….”

The AJC’s Jeremy Redmon queried the Barr campaign – specifically, campaign manager and son Derek Barr – for actual evidence of dangerous women and children from the outer reaches of Guatemala, dispatched to subvert the wisdom and justice, constitutionally dispensed in moderation, of our fair state. Said Derek Barr:

“Additionally, the NBC Nightly News reported Saturday night that some illegals are on their way to Georgia. From Maryland, Indiana, Pennsylvania, to California communities have received unannounced shipments of these illegals. The state and local taxpayers are left paying the bills.”

Walter Jones interviews Kingston, Perdue

Walter Jones with Morris News is must-read for political junkies in Georgia, and has published profiles of both candidates for United States Senate in the Republican Primary Runoff on July 22d. First up is Congressman Jack Kingston.

Kingston’s hard work and connections led to winning a seat in the state House of Representatives for Savannah in 1984. Six years later he became the first Republican to hold the First District congressional seat since Reconstruction, and he’s been in Washington ever since, rising in seniority and power over those 22 years.

Although he never had serious opposition after his first legislative race, he says he still likes campaigning. These days, he frequently runs into questions about his years in Congress spawned by negative television ads from runoff opponent David Perdue attacking him primarily for his votes on spending.

“One of the constant concerns you have is that people are too polite when they come up to you. I’d rather have them ask me head on,” he said.

“People conveniently overlook the fact that I introduced the first earmarks reform back in 2007 and called on a moratorium that is in effect now,” he said.

And David Perdue:

“If I were out of touch, there is no way that I would have been successful in a competitive business career,” he said, adding that he could have never marketed to bargain-conscious consumers at Dollar General or motivated rank-and-file Reebok employees without an understanding of their needs.

The biggest misunderstanding of the campaign, according to Perdue, is that he genuinely cares about people.

What he has been out of touch with, undeniably, is the phraseology of conservative activists.

“The vocabulary of politics is just unbelievable,” he says. “You just have to be so careful, I believe, with the terminology.”

His imprecise rambles created many verbal snares that have repeatedly come back to trip him up. Various statements have been replayed to make him seem to be a snob, an advocate for tax increases, supporter of gun control and the Common Core school standards and an opponent of repealing the Dodd-Frank banking law that many Republicans loath.

Savannah Morning News endorses Kingston

Not surprisingly, the Savannah Morning News has endorsed hometown Rep. Jack Kingston for Senate.

JACK KINGSTON and David Perdue have been beating each other up as the July 22 runoff for the Republican Senate nomination gets closer.

If you didn’t know it, you might think they belonged to opposing parties.

Such is the sad nature of today’s politics. Don’t promote your own ideas and qualifications. Just rip the other guy.

That’s unfortunate, because Mr. Kingston and Mr. Perdue have solid resumés. They don’t need to be heaving mud balls.

That said, we believe Mr. Kingston deserves the GOP nomination for this statewide seat. He has shown what he can do in the U.S. House, representing Georgia’s First Congressional District. He’s ready to step up to the next level as the GOP nominee and face Democratic nominee Michelle Nunn in the November general election.

Mr. Kingston also has demonstrated a good combination of guts and brains. It’s not easy for someone from this part of Georgia to win statewide. South Georgia candidates are at a distinct disadvantage when they compete against those from the more populous northern region. But by earning a spot in the GOP runoff, Mr. Kingston has proven he can build coalitions — a skill that’s needed in the Democratic-controlled U.S. Senate more than ever.

During his 20-plus years in the House, Mr. Kingston has compiled a record that’s pro-job and pro-growth. He’s a fiscal conservative. He has worked for health-care reform that would benefit America, not break the bank. He knows the military (the Army’s Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield and the Navy’s Kings Bay Naval Base are in his backyard) and the ports — two key parts of Georgia’s economic engine.

GPB’s Adam Ragusea on Senate Race

Georgia Public Broadcasting’s Adam Ragusea has a piece on the Senate race, examining the avalanche of endorsements that has come out for Jack Kingston.

On the GOP side, losing candidates like Phil Gingrey and Karen Handel, establishment Republican figures like Newt Gingrich, and even Tea Partyers are backing Congressman Jack Kingston, even though he came in five points behind businessman David Perdue in the May 20 primary.

Widespread Republican support for Kingston is likely the result of familiarity with the 11-term U.S. House member, said Chris Grant, a political science professor at Mercer University.
“They know him, they have a trust level with him,” Grant said of the politicians who have served with Kingston in congress and before that in Georgia’s General Assembly. “I think a lot of these folks have seen Kingston as a reliable ally, someone they owe some favors to, and right now he’s cashing in on them.”

Grant sees the political dynamic largely in terms of who owes favors to whom, continuing,

A counterintuitive advantage that Kingston has over Perdue, Grant said, is that Kingston’s use of favors to get endorsements and contributions means that he will owe supporters favors if he makes it to the Senate.

I would argue that much of Kingston’s advantage is ideological – voters supporting a candidate who understands their needs. The extraordinarily strong turnout for Kingston across South Georgia suggests to me that his understanding of the agricultural economy, which includes the Port of Savannah, through which Georgia products are exported, fueled his popularity there.

Then Grant ends with this, which I don’t see at all

“I think Kingston has the organizational ability to turnout votes,” Grant said, “but enthusiasm may be on Perdue’s side, so the run-off could go a different way.”

I would argue from my recent experiences in the field that enthusiasm is much more pronounced in the Kingston camp.

Runoff Turnout Strong?

As of yesterday’s Voter Absentee File from the Secretary of State, 37,097 Georgians completed advance voting ballots for the July 22d Primary Runoff Election. The true number of advance voters may be higher, as sometimes reporting lags.

In comparison, for the first week of early voting for the May 20th Primary Election, 46,376 advance voting ballots had been completed.

First week Primary Runoff turnout was about 80% of the first week Primary total, quite remarkable, given that last week had one fewer voting day due to the July 4th holiday, meaning there were 80% as many voting days that week versus the first week of Primary advance voting.

DeKalb Ethics: a full diaper house

If the DeKalb County Commission were a poker hand, it’d be a Full House, indictments over investigation.

Currently, CEO Burrell Ellis is under indictment and awaiting trial for alleged ethical misconduct. While no Georgia indictment have come yet, a South Carolina jury convicted Jonathan Pinson of 29 felony counts involving an alleged scheme to bribe DeKalb County Commissioner Stan Watson.

A witness, former construction company CEO Richard Zahn, had testified that the defendants told him Watson could help him get work on the county’s $1.7 billion water and sewer upgrade project if he paid Watson $50,000 or $60,000. Zahn also said the defendants wanted him to buy Atlanta Falcons box seats for Walton.

U.S. District Judge David Norton said there wasn’t enough evidence to support allegations that an illegal deal was struck or that any public official in DeKalb received anything improperly.

Watson has said the judge’s ruling clears his name, and he said he didn’t have anything to do with the case.

An FBI agent testified in court that Georgia-based agents are investigating corruption in DeKalb County. He didn’t say whether Watson was a target.

Commissioner Kathie Gannon was the subject of an ethics complaint, making a clean sweep of the Commission, with all members now facing ethics complaints.

An ethics complaint filed Monday against DeKalb County Commissioner Kathie Gannon accuses her and an assistant of spending government money on gift cards and lawyers.

There are now ethics complaints pending against all six DeKalb County commissioners and Interim DeKalb CEO Lee May.

Gannon said the allegations are unfounded, and she said she has legitimate explanations for every expenditure in her budget.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 3, 2014

General George Washington took command of the Continental Army at Cambridge Common in Massachusetts on July 3, 1775.

On July 3, 1863, General George Pickett led a charge against Union lines at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

A 15,000-man strong column under General George Pickett was organized, and Lee ordered a massive bombardment of the Union positions. The 10,000 Federals answered the Confederate artillery onslaught, and for more than an hour the guns raged in the heaviest cannonade of the Civil War. At 3 p.m., Pickett led his force into no-man’s-land and found that Lee’s bombardment had failed. As Pickett’s force attempted to cross the mile distance to Cemetery Ridge, Union artillery blew great holes in their lines. Meanwhile, Yankee infantry flanked the main body of “Pickett’s charge” and began cutting down the Confederates. Only a few hundred Virginians reached the Union line, and within minutes they all were dead, dying, or captured. In less than an hour, more than 7,000 Confederate troops had been killed or wounded.

The Battle of Gettysburg was the turning point in the Civil War, costing the Union 23,000 killed, wounded, or missing in action. The Confederates suffered some 25,000 casualties.

On July 3, 1889, the Georgia General Assembly held its last session at the Kimball Opera House, located at the corner of Marietta and Forsyth Streets in downtown Atlanta before moving into a new Georgia State Capitol.

Happy birthday to Idaho, which became a state on July 3, 1890.

On July 3, 1913, the Georgia state Senate tabled a motion to allow the Georgia Women’s Suffrage Association to address the chamber.

On July 3, 1970, the Atlanta Pop Festival was held in Byron, Georgia.

Among the artists playing at Byron were the Allman Brothers Band and Jimi Hendrix.

Back to the Future was released on July 3, 1985. The good news from its sequel is that we’ll all have hoverboards this time next year.

On July 3, 1986, President Ronald Reagan reopened the Statue of Liberty after a two-year restoration.

Here is a list of local fireworks in Metro Atlanta celebrating the Fourth of July.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Democrat Jason Carter’s campaign received a “pants on fire” rating from Politifact for its claim that Nathan Deal has been the worst Governor for education.

The war of words in the governor’s race has been escalating.

And it recently came to this: “Gov. Deal has the worst record on education in the history of this state,” Matt McGrath, the campaign manager for Carter for Governor, said in a press release June 18.

A fundraising email went out the next day, repeating that statement.

Charles Bullock, a political science professor at the University of Georgia and a longtime Capitol observer, said the statement by McGrath is “the kind of campaign rhetoric that is false on its face.”

“Obviously, someone like Gene Talmadge who did three terms as governor did less for education than Nathan Deal,” Bullock said. “It used to be that the state’s budget went disproportionately for transportation; now most of it goes for education.”

The Carter campaign’s charge was incendiary — that the sitting governor has the worst education record in Georgia’s history. And we smell smoke.

We award it our lowest rating, Pants On Fire.

Also problematic for Carter when making claims about Gov. Deal is the fact that Carter voted for Governor Deal’s budget, including the level of education spending, every year that Carter wasn’t running for Governor.

“Every single year I have been governor, we’ve increased the education funding, and the first three years Jason Carter has saw fit to vote for my budgets that included those increases in k-12 funding,” Deal told reporters. “Only in this year when he decided he wanted to be governor, which included the largest single restoration of k-12 funding, did he vote against it. I think the conclusion is pretty clear: That is a political statement on his part.”

The State Bar of Georgia’s investigation into allegations of professional misconduct by House Speaker David Ralston ironically highlights some of the same problems with crafting ethics legislation – governance of professional association, local, and state government is a very small world where most of the players are at least acquainted.

For example, the lawyer charged by the Georgia Supreme Court with the investigation has been a donor to the Speaker’s campaign.

The State Bar of Georgia asked the state Supreme Court to appoint an investigator, known as a special master.

The court chose Mark F. Dehler of Hiawassee. Dehler is a longtime attorney married to Cathy Cox, a former Democratic secretary of state and gubernatorial candidate who is now president of Young Harris College.

Records show Dehler contributed $500 to Ralston’s re-election campaign in 2010, and Cox contributed $250 in 2013.

Dehler told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he looked at his contribution records last week after being appointed and found that he’d given about $30,000 to political candidates over the past decade.

“If I thought I was biased (for contributing), I wouldn’t have accepted the assignment by the Supreme Court,” he said.

Common Cause of Georgia, one of the loudest proponents of ethics legislation has also decried Dehler’s appointment in the investigation.

Leaders of Georgia’s Common Cause watchdog group said it may be nothing more than perception, but no matter how qualified Dehler is, the fact he will act as a judge in the case and has also been a campaign contributor, doesn’t sit well for them.

“There’s definitely a public trust issue when you have an investigator giving money to the person he is supposed to be investigating,” Ryan Splitlog of Common Cause Georgia.

The Marietta Daily Journal editors have endorsed Tim Stultz for reelection to the Cobb County Board of Education.

Georgia Tech graduate Stultz, an engineer by profession, is an unabashed conservative who has fought to steer the system away from the excesses of Common Core.

Regardless of how it plays out, the fact remains Stultz has already proven his strengths and abilities as a board member. He was a strong supporter of hiring Chris Ragsdale as interim superintendent over the strong objections from those on the board who complained that he comes from the operations side rather than the classroom.

And Stultz promises to keep pushing for conservative approaches on both fiscal management and other measures, and is a strong supporter of charter schools as well. At this point, the board’s future direction would seem to be riding on the outcome of the Post 2 runoff and election. Will it continue down the path toward a stronger board with more accountability demanded not just of board members but of the superintendent and others in the system as well? Or does it revert back to the era in which the superintendent ran the show and the board jumped through his hoops?

A vote for Stultz is an important step to assure the board keeps going in the right direction.

I’m supporting Tim Stultz, and you can too.

Cobb County moves toward yet another SPLOST vote

In advance of November’s general election, when the latest version of a Cobb County Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax referendum goes to the voters, local elected officials are deciding how they would use the funds, if the SPLOST passes.

Cobb County Commissioner Lisa Cupid says that sidewalk construction is a priority for her district.

Cupid says spending $25 million on building more sidewalks is her top priority.

Cupid said she wants to place an emphasis on making her district as pedestrian-friendly as possible.

She listed sidewalks, streetscaping and making the area friendly to bicyclists as steps she would take toward realizing the goal. The amount of funds set aside for sidewalk projects in the last round of SPLOST was not enough to keep up with the area’s need for roadside walkways, Cupid said.

“What I’ve seen offered from DOT for sidewalks in the district is still not going to meet the already-stated demand,” she said, “let alone new demand that’s probably going to come up in the next six years.”

Cupid said the county had set aside $12 to 15 million for sidewalks across all districts, with just $5 million for her district.

Commissioner JoAnne Birrell would prioritize a new police precinct in her district.

There isn’t a police precinct in District 3, and Birrell hopes this will change with the coming SPLOST vote.

“My consideration is to put a police precinct at the Mountain View complex, where it’s surrounded by county facilities,” Birrell said.

“My preference is to put a police precinct where Mountain View Elementary is,” she said.

Birrell estimates the new precinct would cost $4.5 to $5 million. It would become Cobb’s sixth police precinct.

Birrell said police response time isn’t necessarily lacking now, but she thinks it will be more efficient to have a police precinct in the area, rather than having officers come from Lower Roswell Road, where the nearest precinct is located.

Under a SPLOST, municipal governments receive part of the sales tax proceeds. In Kennesaw, Mayor Mark Matthews has his eye on one specific road improvement.

Kennesaw Mayor Mark Mathews said the bulk of the $30.6 million his city would receive under a renewed sales tax program would go toward improving conditions along busy or dangerous streets.

Chief among the mayor’s concerns is the Sardis Street overpass, a juncture at which two roads and a railroad converge.

“For the city, No. 1 (priority) is probably going to be our Sardis Street overpass, which is over the railroad, and which will help the very dangerous intersection at Cherokee and Main,” Mathews said.

The proposed project would “create a new overpass and new access to Main Street, without being bogged down by the train and the very unsafe crossing.”

While the city has set aside $6 million in proposed SPLOST funds to complete the proposal, Mathews said CSX, the railroad company operating on the tracks, would coordinate with the city on the construction of the bridge.

CSX would pick up some of the project’s tab because such an effort would give the company “a pretty substantial stretch of uninterrupted track,” Mathews said.

The mayor said his next priority would be to tackle the county’s storm water problems. Kennesaw would pay $3 million to upgrade its citywide storm water infrastructure, which includes addressing drainage problems.

If the SPLOST passes, Austell Mayor Joe Jerkins will apply the city’s portion to smaller projects.

The Austell City Council is expected to finalize a $6.5 million project list during a July 7 meeting.

Though Jerkins said the city has no major projects, the revenue brought in from local sales taxes is a huge benefit to Austell.

“It’s very important to us,” said Jerkins, who was first elected in 1989. “We’ll be getting a million dollars a year altogether. Our property taxes aren’t much more than a half a million dollars a year.”

The largest line item overall is $1.1 million for road repaving. Jerkins said it’s not always exciting to talk about repaving projects, but citizens are very concerned with the condition of roads.

“This gives us a chance to pave a lot of roads that wouldn’t be paved for a long time otherwise,” he said. “I get a good many comments about the roads that we are resurfacing.”

In a letter to the editor of the MDJ, a fellow named Joe O’Connor makes several points in opposition to the SPLOST.

At my house, a special purpose is when the pipes break, the electricity goes out or the phones go dead. Meanwhile, like many homeowners, I have needs such as repainting the house, putting in new carpet or buying a new car someday. Clearly, there are meaningful and major differences between needs, wants and Special Purposes.

[SPLOST] was originally created for Special Purposes and has since lost its way. Sadly, the SPLOST has slowly evolved into a sort of fixed or permanent tax that the voters can’t seem to stop. It looks like our county has no intention to let it end and view it as a continual tax base for revenue.

Also, why does Cobb County Chairman Tim Lee keep trying to shove a BRT down everyone’s throat and put it on the SPLOST list when it’s pretty obvious that the only people interested in the BRT are his friends and supporters at the Cobb Chamber of Commerce and him. They keep putting lipstick on the BRT but regardless, it’s still a pig.

I agree with Mr. O’Connor’s point that SPLOST has become a permanent part of local government budgeting, but I’m okay with that. At least voters have a chance to decide periodically, which beats the alternative of a permanent tax put on by elected officials.

Congratulations to our newest citizens

Congratulations to Laura Cathy Williams, long-suffering spouse of Buckhead Young Republicans Chair Greg Williams, who joined our nation as a naturalized citizen after years of work to pass the test and wend her way through the bureaucracy.

Michael, Cathy, & Ron SM

GAGOP First Vice Chair Michael McNeely and Second Vice Chair Ron Johnson were among the friends and supporters who joined the festivities as our newest crop of citizens took the oath at Turner Field.

Taking the Oath SM

Laura Cathy Williams, who took the Oath of Citizenship at Turner Field, said, “I am so happy and proud to become an American citizen today. My heart now has two countries I love!!! Thanks to all my friends and family who came to share this moment with me!  The American Dream is alive and well and I am grateful to have the opportunity to call the United States my home!”

Laura Cathy’s husband, Greg Williams, said “Its symbolic that the Legal Way, the Right Way, the Honorable Way to achieve the American Dream is celebrated the same week of America’s Birthday.  I was excited to see so many new Americans waving the Flag today and chanting USA, USA, USA.  It was truly an unforgettable moment.”


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 2, 2014

On July 2, 1776, the Second Continental Congress adopted a resolution by Richard Henry Lee (father of Robert E. Lee) calling for independence from Britain. The delegations of twelve colonies voted in favor, while New York’s abstained, not knowing how their constituents would wish them to vote.

On July 2, 1826, representatives from Georgia and Alabama met to begin surveying the border between the two.

On July 2, 1861, Georgia voters approved a new state Constitution, which had been adopted by the state’s Secession Convention.

July 2, 1863 saw day 2 of the Battle of Gettysburg, with Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia attacking Meade’s Army of the Potomac.

On July 2, 1898, the first pot of delicious Brunswick Stew was made in Brunswick, Georgia. I think I’ll celebrate with a bowl for lunch today.

President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 on July 2, 1864. Major provisions included outlawing discriminatory application of voting laws, prohibiting racial discrimination in public accomodations, allowing the Attorney General to join lawsuits against states operating segregated public schools, and prohibiting discrimination by state and local governments or agencies receiving federal funds.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was a witness to Johnson’s signature, standing behind the President in the Oval Office. Johnson presented King with one of the 72 pens used in signing the legislation.

Occasionally, pens from the Civil Rights Act signing come onto the collectors’ market. A collection of 50 pens used to sign legislation by Presidents Kennedy and Johnson went across the block in November 2013. This pen went unsold.

As a student of Dr. Merle Black in the political science department at Emory, we began our study of Southern politics from the premise that race relations and the legacy of racial discrimination shaped Southern politics. One book we read every year was The Longest Debate: A Legislative History of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which belongs on the bookshelf of any serious student of American politics, political history, and legislative process.

Modern Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Incumbent Cobb County Board of Educations member Tim Stultz came in second on May 20th and will defend his seat in the runoff election July 22d.

“As you know, the district has been running deficits up until this past year,” said the Georgia Tech graduate and engineer. “I’ve been one of the board members trying to get the district past that using some good fiscal sense. Now that money’s coming in, I think it’s an even more important time to make sure that what we’re spending is in line with what the taxpayers expect.”
Stultz commands the respect of such Cobb County conservatives as state Rep. Ed Setzler (R-Acworth).
“I admire Tim,” Setzler said. “I think he’s the kind of thoughtful, independent-minded person that the school board needs. He’s a detailed person, and he’s got the independence that the 700,000 people of Cobb County expect from school board members. I think it’s important that there be a healthy distinction between board members and staff of the district, and I think Tim’s done a very good job of striking that balance.”

Asked if he’d consider a millage rate hike if re-elected this year, Stultz replied, “Absolutely not.”

His opponent, Susan Thayer, thinks things are looking up for her campaign.

“I’m not critiquing his performance. I’m just saying I think I could give our system good representation for our area,” Thayer said.

“Stultz took 33 percent of the vote, which means 67 percent of the voters wanted a change on the board,” Thayer said.
Abel has officially endorsed Thayer.

A major difference between Thayer and her primary opponent is the controversial Common Core education standards. Stultz has long been against the standards, but Thayer sees them as merely a framework for education that will have little effect on the day-to-day learning environment.
“I don’t know whether Mr. Stultz has reviewed all of the Common Core standards,” she said. “I have not. I doubt very seriously that he has either. It would be hard to give an analysis of Common Core. What I do know is that I totally dislike the fact it has caused controversy for our schools.”

Thayer feels the standards, which some conservative critics have denounced as “Obamacore,” have been politicized unfairly.
“I think there is some confusion on terms,” she said. “There is a difference between standards, curriculum and instruction. Standards are simply a framework upon which you build your curriculum.”

Thayer was asked if there were any circumstances in which she would vote for a tax increase if elected. She responded by pointing out the district’s millage rate, capped at 20 mills, was already at 18.9 mills. Raising it to 20 mills would be enough to hire 240 teachers.

“Spread that over 115 schools,” Thayer said. “That’s not the solution for our school system, so I don’t see it as a solution. We’re going to have to find other ways to deal with it. So I would need some real convincing before I would be willing to do that. I’m not saying it can’t happen. You know, never say never. And you certainly get more information when you’re in a situation to look at it more clearly.”

Convincing lawmakers to kill Cobb’s senior exemption, which waives the school portion of a senior’s property tax bill, is not something she believes will happen either. But she wouldn’t say the option is off the table, either.

“I’m not saying that. I don’t have the information to say what I’d really do, but I can’t imagine our legislators doing that, so it’s not going to be my consideration.”

If I lived in Cobb County, I would cast my ballot for Tim Stultz on July 22d, not because of his opposition to Common Core, but because of his opposition to raising property taxes.

Georgia Public Broadcasting has a story on how two churches are handling the new gun bill that went into effect this week differently.

A new law goes into effect July 1 that allows places of worship to “opt-in” to church carry. And it’s been a tough decision for people on both sides of the issue.

Inside his office at Berean Baptist Church in Social Circle, Pastor Tom Rush has met with a church deacon about everything from the church’s community cookout, to how the new gun law will impact their small congregation. Rush says the church has about 90 members, and it averages about 70 on a Sunday morning.

Church leadership has already decided they want to “opt-in”, but Rush knows that might not sit well with everyone.

“Quite frankly, we may have some people in our church that are uncomfortable with the idea. I’m uncomfortable with it,” said Rush. “You know, I grew up in a day when we left the sanctuary doors open so people could come in at any time and pray. Unfortunately, we don’t live in those days anymore.”

Bishop Robert Wright of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta announced that the 109 parishes he leads would not welcome firearms.

“I saw this as a wonderful opportunity to talk about what it means to be a follower of Jesus in the 21st Century,” says Wright. “Even though permission has been given to have guns everywhere, that stops for us at the sanctuary. This is a gun-free zone.”

Bishop Wright says even though he was active in lobbying against the gun bill this spring, this was not a political decision, but one based on faith. The Bishop calls this a “respectful disagreement” with state lawmakers and even other Christians.

“We know that there are people who this has been a tough conversation for them and some people are choosing to leave, though these have been very isolated incidents. I can tell you what I have heard. I’ve heard that more people are wanting to come to the Episcopal Church now, because of the stance.”

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed has decided that city property will be gun-free. Except for law enforcement and criminals.

“As Mayor, I have made public safety the top priority of my administration. Accordingly, in response to a new statewide gun law that took effect today, the City has taken extra security measures to keep employees and citizens safe at our facilities.

“Effective today, City recreation centers with extensive summer programming will be staffed with security officers to screen entrants and prevent firearms from entering the buildings.

With the exception of certain public safety officials and employees, there is no place for firearms in a city facility. Every City of Atlanta government facility that screens the entrance into the facility with security personnel will continue to prohibit firearms.

One beneficiary, likely unintended, of the new law: sign printers and manufacturers.

Melvin La Pan with Fast Signs says orders for signs started coming in the last few weeks. “We’ve definitely seen a lot more signs that say please don’t bring weapons in here,” he said.

But he doesn’t think they’ll do much good. “People who break the law all the time they’re not gonna listen to a sign,” La Pan said.

But Williamson says, these signs, could make a world of difference. “Because they’re a reminder. They’re something more visible to remind people,” he said.

Already, Richmond County Schools also have signs up around the schools. There are some leading up from the streets and on the doors to make sure visitors know, no weapons are allowed.

Hobby Lobby fallout coming to Georgia?

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) was at the center of the Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case. The Court’s decision was that the contraceptive coverage mandate in Obamacare violated the RFRA.

The high court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case refocused attention on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act that passed Congress overwhelmingly in 1993, with the support of some lawmakers still serving in both the House and Senate. The statute requires federal laws to accommodate individuals’ religious beliefs unless there is a compelling interest at stake that can’t be attained through other means.

Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, the lead Republican sponsor of the religious-freedom law when it passed the Senate in a 97-3 vote, said Monday’s decision affirmed Congress’ decision to pass the law in the first place.

“As the Supreme Court rightfully said today, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act could not have been clearer in saying religious liberty of all Americans must be equally protected and not unnecessarily burdened,” Mr. Hatch said in a statement. “That’s why RFRA passed Congress overwhelmingly more than 20 years ago.”

Georgia state Senator Josh McKoon wrote on Facebook:

The Federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) passed in 1993 is what allowed today’s historic decision. Did you know there is no Georgia RFRA protecting you from intrusion into your religious liberties by state and local government? Help us pass a Georgia RFRA next year!

This year, McKoon worked to pass Senate Bill 377, the “Preservation of Religious Freedom Act”, co-sponsored by Senate President Pro Tem David Shafer. In the House, State Rep. Sam Teasley and Majority Whip Matt Ramsey introduced a version of the bill.

Liberal columnist Tom Crawford wrote that a state act mirroring the RFRA was not necessary.

We don’t need religious protection laws because we already have one of the strongest measures in the world protecting the right to worship: the First Amendment. It has been part of the U.S. Constitution for more than 220 years and the last time I checked, it had not been repealed.

What I think Crawford doesn’t understand was that sometimes legislation is required to make the promises of the Bill of Rights more than mere words on paper. Absent a cause of action, provided in the Hobby Lobby case by the RFRA, the Bill of Rights on its own is not always sufficient. I would argue that was the case as well with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Senate race continues heating up

Yesterday, Karen Handel released, via the Kingston campaign, a scathing criticism of David Perdue’s remarks on foreign relations.

Former Secretary of State Karen Handel today called on David Perdue to apologize for his disparaging comments about Americans made during an interview the Macon Telegraph editorial board.  In the interview, Perdue says, “We see the world through the ugly American’s eyes.”

When a questioner declared that Americans are the “arrogant teenagers” of the world, Perdue responded with an unequivocal, “Absolutely.”  He added, “The rest of the world gets it.”

“David Perdue just can’t seem to keep his arrogance in check,” said Handel.  “First, he belittles Georgians who don’t have a four-year college degree and haven’t lived overseas.  Then, he patronizes the grassroots core of the GOP.  Now, he’s insulting Americans in general.”

That led me to remember that in French, perdu means lost. More to the point, “il est perdu,” means “he has lost,” or “there is no hope for him.”

If you added up the people of whom David Perdue said something like “he/she/they don’t get it,” I suspect you’d have a majority of Georgians included.

Yesterday, state Senator and former Senate President Pro Tem Tommie Williams endorsed David Perdue for United States Senate.

Leadership is absent in Washington. We have people who I believe are well intentioned, but they simply don’t have the ability to make a difference. This year in Georgia we have a chance to elect a proven leader to shake up Washington and actually get results. I believe that leader is David Perdue. I’m proud to endorse him in this runoff election for U.S. Senate.

This was not an easy public endorsement for me to make – I’ve known Congressman Kingston for years, and I’m from his area here in southeast Georgia – but it’s the right thing to do. My endorsement is nothing personal against Congressman Kingston. He’s a fine man who has done some good things for Georgia. I just believe David is better qualified to make a difference in Washington and address the crisis of the day. I meet with candidates routinely who want to run for office and I always ask myself could they lead the body in which they seek to serve. I have no doubt David can and will be a natural leader in the Senate and help save our country.

A fellow called Don Cole wrote about Tommie Williams’s endorsement and added what is to me an even better endorsement.

I know a side of David that I have shared with a few people on an individual basis. Several months ago, I woke up early on a Sunday morning and felt a strong sense to pray for David and Bonnie. Some of the first hits of the campaign were starting to come out that portrayed him as arrogant and conceited.  You know how it feels to be misrepresented and have your name smeared. I knew that it was probably hitting Bonnie harder than David.

As I prayed I wrote a quick e-mail to say, “I’m praying for you right now.”  I did not expect a reply and hoped that the e-mail would offer some encouragement. Later that afternoon Bonnie wrote me back with words of sincere thanks. David also wrote back with words of thanks and he also added a passage of Scripture that he had been studying.  He went on to add how he was applying that Scripture in this particular situation.

I was not expecting any reply.  When I saw that David replied, I anticipated seeing, “thank you for your prayers” and maybe something like, “they mean a lot to me.”  I did not expect his in depth response sharing what Scripture he had been studying and how he was applying it.

Since that time, I have spent more time in prayer, study of Scripture, and reflections on his spiritual walk than with any other person that I have prayed for in public life. He has also prayed for me.  David is in this race because he has no other option. He is answering a call to run. Like anyone of us, he doesn’t know what tomorrow holds, but he knows what he must do today, be obedient to a calling. That is why he is in this race.

Pat Gartland endorses Bob Barr

Former Georgia Christian Coalition Chair Pat Gartland has endorsed Bob Barr in the 11th Congressional District runoff election.

“Bob Barr understands that serving in Congress is serious business.  I trust Bob Barr to represent the 11th District because I know Bob to be a consistent champion for conservative Georgia values, and I am honored to support him. Bob Barr has always fought for our community, our small businesses, our veterans, and our values.

“When I served Georgia as state Chairman of the Christian Coalition, I had the opportunity to work with Bob Barr on many issues impacting our families and our community. Bob Barr was always willing to stand for those values that are important to our families, and I trust Bob Barr to continue that leadership in Congress.

“When I served in the Small Business Administration for President George W. Bush, I had the opportunity to work with Bob Barr on many issues important to the small business community. Bob Barr never hesitated to go to work on behalf of our business owners and their employees, as well as fight the bureaucrats in Washington. I know that Bob Barr will continue his leadership for our small business leaders in Congress.

“As a veteran, I know Bob Barr stands with us. From his leadership in Congress on the Veterans Affairs Committee, to his leadership in the creation of the Georgia National Cemetery in Canton and the Veterans out-patient clinic in Marietta, I know Bob Barr will continue to fight for our veterans because he has a proven track record with veterans.”

Just in case you haven’t read it a dozen times, I have worked for Bob Barr’s campaign.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 19, 2014

The Georgia Whig Party held its first convention on June 19, 1843 in Milledgeville and elected ten delegates to the 1844 National Convention.

The first Republican National Convention, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, ended on June 19, 1856.

The Republicans, who called for the abolition of slavery in all U.S. territories, rapidly gained supporters in the North, and in 1856 their first presidential candidate, John Fremont, won 11 of the 16 Northern states. By 1860, the majority of Southern states were publicly threatening secession if a Republican won the presidency.

The Civil War firmly identified the Republican Party as the official party of the victorious North. After the war, the Republican-dominated Congress forced a radical Reconstruction policy on the South, which saw the passage of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the Constitution, abolishing slavery and granting voting rights to African American men in the South. By 1876, the Republican Party had lost control of the South, but it continued to dominate the presidency, with a few intermissions, until the ascendance of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933.

On June 19, 1864, Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston retreated from Pine Mountain and Lost Mountain toward Marietta. Click here to watch a two-minute video by Georgia Public Broadcasting and the Atlanta History Center about this week in Georgia in 1864.

On the same day, USS Kearsarge sank CSS Alabama off the coast of Cherbourg, France in one of the most-celebrated naval battles of the Civil War.

Under its captain, Raphael Semmes, the Alabama prowled the world for three years, capturing U.S. commercial ships. It sailed around the globe, usually working out of the West Indies, but taking prizes and bungling Union shipping in the Caribbean, off Newfoundland, and around the coast of South America. In January 1863, Semmes sunk a Union warship, the Hatteras, after luring it out of Galveston, Texas.

During its career, the Alabama captured 66 ships and was hunted by more than 20 Federal warships.

Jazz giant Horace Silver died yesterday. Here are two of my favorite performances.

Obama unpopular, no one shocked

In the discussions that precede taping of GPB’s “On the Story,” top Republican strategist Eric Tanenblatt brought to our attention a Wall Street Journal poll that showed President Obama with approval ratings in the cellar, tying his all-time low.

President Obama’s overall approval rating in the poll is at 41 percent, down three points from April. That’s tied for his all-time low in the survey.

And his favorable-unfavorable rating is upside down (41 percent-45 percent) after being right-side up two months ago (44 percent-41 percent).

Perhaps most troubling for the president, 54 percent think he is unable to lead the country and get the job done, compared with 42 percent who believe he can.

The issue for discussion was how this will affect the Senate race in Georgia, and I think that one look at the Republican Primary should sufficiently prepare Michelle Nunn for the reality that she will be portrayed as Obama’s biggest supporter. This presents a challenge for the first-time candidate who must distance herself sufficiently from his unpopular policies without alienating her own base in the Democratic party. Here’s the NBC take on how it affects the GOP nationally:

These numbers put the Democratic Party at a clear disadvantage heading into November’s midterm elections, when a president’s job rating can often be predictive of the general outcome.

But, the pollsters say, Republicans also have perception problems that could limit their potential gains.

According to the survey, 45 percent of registered voters prefer a Democratic-controlled Congress, versus 43 percent who want a GOP-held one.

Thirty-four percent say their vote will be a signal of opposition to Obama, and 24 percent say it will be a signal of support; 41 percent say it won’t signal anything about the president.

Yet while Obama is unpopular in the poll, he looks like the homecoming king compared with the Republican Party.

Just 29 percent of respondents have a favorable view of the GOP, versus 45 percent who have an unfavorable view. (By comparison, the Democratic Party’s fav/unfav rating is 38 percent positive, 40 percent negative.)

This morning, I heard a story on National Public Radio that links low approval ratings for President Obama to the elections in twelve competitive Senate races.

In the 12 states with competitive Senate races this fall, only 38 percent of likely voters said they approved of the way the president is handling his job. An index of all national polls shows the president’s approval rating about four percentage points higher nationwide.

But as NPR’s National Political Correspondent Mara Liasson notes, the slightly lower approval is not surprising, considering that eight of the 12 states voted for Mitt Romney over Obama in 2012.

Likely voters in these states strongly disapprove of how Democrats are running the Senate and Republicans are running the House.

As a side-note, the Republican on the bipartisan team that performed the poll for NPR is Whit Ayres, whose company was formerly headquartered in Georgia.

TV ad wars heat up

Yesterday saw the release of new TV ads in the Senate Primary Runoff. First, David Perdue.

Then Jack Kingston rolled out a new ad with the Obama impersonator, attempting to connect Perdue to Obama’s failed and unpopular policies.

Kingston’s campaign also offered a point-by-point refutation of Perdue’s attacks. Here’s an excerpt:

CHARGE: “Jack Kingston voted to raise the debt ceiling repeatedly….”
RESPONSE: Jack Kingston is the only candidate in this race who has actually cut the federal budget and has repeatedly voted against raising the debt ceiling.  The limited times he voted to raise it were to ensure Social Security and Medicare payments during the government shutdowns of the mid-1990s, to clear the way for the reforms that led to the first balanced budgets in a generation, and to ensure troops were cared for while in harm’s way.

CHARGE: “He spent our tax dollars on thousands of wasteful earmarks…”
RESPONSE: Jack Kingston led the charge to curtail earmarks.  He wrote the first earmark moratorium bill that was eventually adopted by the full Republican Conference and later all of Congress.

And on it goes. Give it a read if you’re interested in a healthy dose of truthiness.

I spoke to Georgia Public Broadcasting’s Jeanne Bonner about the Perdue ad yesterday.

Republican political strategist Todd Rehm says the spot’s softer tone reflects criticism that Perdue has been too negative.
“David Perdue learned a lesson from the primary that going unrelenting negative can have some downsides.”
However, Rehm says it’s difficult to make the case that Kingston is liberal.
“To call Jack Kingston not as conservative [as some might wish]  is one thing,” said Rehm. “But to call him a liberal when he had the highest rating from the American Conservative Union is bending the truth to the point of breaking.”

I actually have a story about Jack Kingston and his leadership to do away with earmarking in the federal budget. I’m writing it up for tomorrow’s InsiderAdvantage, but I’ll share it with y’all as well.

Governor Nathan Deal released later in the day a pair of 15-second ads that will presumably run as bookends.

Carter released a response ad:

And this one isn’t an ad (yet), but I wouldn’t be surprised if part of it doesn’t become one: Newt Gingrich offers an endorsement of Mike Collins in the Tenth Congressional District.

Ride the Lighting: Death penalty opposition no longer third rail for GOP

Yesterday, Jim Galloway wrote in his column at the AJC about conservative opposition to the death penalty, and one Georgian’s quest.

Marc Hyden, a 30-year-old confirmed conservative Republican from Marietta, hopped a plane for Washington D.C. Today, he will open a booth at the fifth annual gathering of Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition.
Hyden is a national coordinator for Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty, a two-year-old, GOP-based group that carries tea party suspicion of government into a new but highly logical arena:
If you don’t trust your government to deliver a piece of mail to your doorstep, how can you trust it to competently decide who lives and who dies?
“This is the same government a lot of Republicans don’t trust with health care,” Hyden said.

Hyden is no ACLU member dressed in woolly conservatism. He comes with a pedigree.
He was a staffer for Tommie Williams, R-Lyons, when the latter was president pro tem of the state Senate. Hyden’s aunt is Julianne Thompson of Atlanta Tea Party Patriots. His uncle, Jason Thompson, is chairman of the 7th District GOP. And Hyden’s last job was as a grassroots organizer in Florida – for the National Rifle Association.

I wrote about my own opposition to the Death Penalty nearly three years ago, first publishing it on another website.

I oppose [the death penalty] because I believe in limited government and a government that can put its citizens to death is the antithesis of limited government.

On January 31, 2000, Illinois Governor George Ryan, a Republican who supported the death penalty, suspended all executions by the state government. At that time, the State of Illinois had executed 12 people following the state’s 1977 reinstatement of the death penalty. During the same period, 13 men who were duly convicted and sentenced to death were exonerated and released. The exoneration and release of Anthony Porter within 50 hours of scheduled execution prompted Ryan’s move.

Could Georgia shed 21,000 jobs?

Yesterday, the Georgia Restaurant Association released a study showing that increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 would eliminate 21,460 jobs in Georgia. Additionally, it would undoubtedly cause the rolls to swell for unemployment and other government benefits.

“As our state’s economy begins stabilizing and adding jobs, now is not the time to prevent hiring and squeeze business owners already razor-thin bottom lines,” said Karen Bremer, executive director of the Georgia Restaurant Association. “We should focus on commonsense solutions that create jobs and promote opportunities for workers of all experience levels. Across the board wage increases will hurt those who need help the most.”
The study, authored by Dr. David Macpherson of Trinity University, outlined the negative impact on employment and local budgets due to an increase in the minimum wage – specifically the high loss of employment and the unwanted cost to taxpayers.



Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 12, 2014

The first Georgia-Florida war game weekend began on June 12, 1740, as Georgia founder James Oglethorpe led 400 soldiers landing opposite the Spanish fort at St. Augustine.

The Virginia Convention adopted George Mason’s “Declaration of Rights” on June 12, 1776. From Wikipedia:

The Declaration was adopted unanimously by the Fifth Virginia Convention at Williamsburg, Virginia on June 12, 1776 as a separate document from theConstitution of Virginia which was later adopted on June 29, 1776.[2] In 1830, the Declaration of Rights was incorporated within the Virginia State Constitution as Article I, but even before that Virginia’s Declaration of Rights stated that it was ‘”the basis and foundation of government” in Virginia.[3] A slightly updated version may still be seen in Virginia’s Constitution, making it legally in effect to this day.

It was initially drafted by George Mason circa May 20, 1776; James Madison assisted him with the section on religious freedom.

The Virginia Declaration of Rights heavily influenced later documents. Thomas Jefferson is thought to have drawn on it when he drafted the United States Declaration of Independence in the same month (June 1776). James Madison was also influenced by the Declaration while drafting the Bill of Rights (introduced September 1789, ratified 1791), as was the Marquis de Lafayette in voting the French Revolution‘s Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (1789).

The importance of the Virginia Declaration of Rights is that it was the first constitutional protection of individual rights, rather than protecting only members of Parliament or consisting of simple laws that can be changed as easily as passed.

That means Liberty, y’all.

Delta Airlines began passenger service from Monroe, Louisiana to Atlanta on June 12, 1930.

On June 12, 1961, Ben E. King hit #1 on the R&B chart and #4 on the pop chart with “Standy By Me.”

On June 12, 1987, President Ronald Reagan spoke in then-divided Berlin and challenged Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall.”

[If that excerpt is not enough for you, here’s a link to the entire speech.]

Kennesaw State College became Kennesaw State University on June 12, 1996.

Carol Hunstein, appointed by Governor Zell Miller to the Georgia Supreme Court, was elected Chief Justice by her peers on June 12, 2009.

Happy Birthday to former President George H.W. Bush, who turns 90 today.

#TBT to 1995


Today, Jack Kingston is locked in a Runoff for the Senate seat currently held by then-Rep. Saxby Chambliss. John Linder has retired to Mississippi, though he made several endorsements in this year’s GOP Primaries. Newt Gingrich is on the new “Crossfire” after an unsuccessful run for President in 2012; Gingrich has endorsed Kingston for the Senate. Bob Barr is making a comeback bid in the 11th District. Mac Collins is frequently seen on the campaign trail supporting his son Mike Collins, in the Primary Runoff for CD-10. Paul Coverdell and Charlie Norwood passed away.

More on the Cantor loss and Georgia

InsiderAdvantage CEO (and sometimes my boss) Matt Towery writes for Creators Syndicate that the real culprits in Eric Cantor’s Primary loss were the out-of-touch consultants, pollsters, and political staffers who led his campaign and his Congressional office.

The Washington D.C. political class of arrogant aides, out-of-touch consultants and dim-witted pollsters has been slowly destroying the Republican Party in America for years. This cottage industry of self-important slicksters is finally being stripped bare and left without its blue smoke and mirrors. And inside their small echo chamber, where the slicksters talk only to one another and believe citizens in “the rest of the country” are easily understood — and easily fooled — the money and the high-five compliments are endless.

Maybe the embarrassing butt-kicking that Cantor received will trigger a second thought in the minds of those politicians who treat the words of their own advisors, consultants and pollsters as divine dispensation.

This collection of political “experts” and high-and-mighty staffers needs to consider the consequences of their gross underestimation of the mood of their constituents, and of the manner in which they have been trying to reach out to them.

The real problem was that Cantor and what is described by many as a very haughty staff (imagine that in D.C.) began to believe that they truly were “national.” You know, big deals that really did folks back home a favor by letting them be graced with the Majority Leader’s (occasional) presence in their district.

The truth be known, Cantor and his advisers were caught up in their obsession game of cat-and-mouse in whether or not to stage a coup to topple Speaker John Boehner. Alternatively, they wrestled with how to help preserve Boehner’s position, lest another member leapfrog over Cantor and become Speaker. As a result of all this, they really couldn’t be too bothered with the folks back home and some local college professor opponent.

Yes the “tea party” movement is not dead in the GOP. But even with half the national tea party leaders taking credit for an upset defeat in which they played no part whatsoever, the real message from Eric Cantor’s defeat can be found in how the candidate and his advisors lost touch with their voters.

Business Insider has a story questioning whether the Cantor loss provides a model for David Perdue in the Georgia Senate runoff.

One race where a similar dynamic could play out is Georgia’s hotly-contested U.S. Senate primary runoff between Republican Rep. Jack Kingston and businessman David Perdue.  Like [Dave] Brat, Perdue has run a campaign branding himself as an “outsider” and attempting to appeal to the conservative grassroots while running against an incumbent congressman.

Perdue is clearly eager to capture some of Brat’s mojo for himself. In an email to supporters Wednesday, he referenced Cantor’s shocking loss.

“As we saw last night in Virginia, our outsider message is powerful. The Majority Leader of the House of Representatives was defeated in the primary by a conservative outsider who won with the simple message that 14 years in Washington was enough,” said Perdue. “I believe the improbable victory was a clear rejection on the establishment and career politicians. The same anti-establishment sentiment is being felt all across the country, and on July 22nd we have an opportunity in Georgia to say 22 years in Washington is enough for my opponent Congressman Kingston.”

Tharon Johnson, a Democratic strategist who was National Southern Regional Director for the campaign of President Barack Obama in 2012, told Business Insider Wednesday Perdue could be the next Brat.

“Perdue is appealing to people who voted against Cantor, who are just tired of career politicians in Congress. If I’m Perdue, I look at the results last night, and I see that there’s hope there for me to emulate what happened in Cantor’s district here in Georgia, label Jack Kingston as the establishment candidate,” Johnson said.

My opinion differs:

Georgia-based Republican political consultant Todd Rehm disagrees. Rehm told Business Insider he sees little to no potential in Perdue’s future even after Cantor’s loss.

“One lesson from Cantor’s loss is that politicians who lose touch with the voters are more susceptible to attack. Perdue is running, I would argue, the most-detached campaign I’ve ever seen. It’s all TV with little actual voter contact,” Rehm said. “Contrast that with Kingston, who has quickly developed a reputation as being at all the party events, and whose CD-1 constituents thought highly enough of his time in office that they voted for him for Senate at a level of roughly 75%.”

Rehm also pointed out many voters in last month’s Republican primary voted for candidate’s who previously held elected office.

“Perdue’s ‘outsider’ schtick was obviously enough to get him into the runoff, but more than 66% of GOP Primary voters chose one of the ‘typical political insider’ candidates,” Rehm explained.

Maybe Lindsey Graham’s cruise to victory in the South Carolina Primary last night is a better model for the Peach State runoff. Graham, first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1994 and elevated to the Senate in 2002 was targeted by Tea Party activists for being too moderate.

Back to Matt Towery’s column for a word on Lindsey Graham:

Graham never swallowed the story that he is bigger than the people who elect him. He has remained approachable to his constituents and has never come to believe that people from his state were simply “the masses” to somehow be placated on his road to power.

That sounds more like Jack Kingston’s approach to the voters than Perdue’s. Kingston has earned the reputation as an indefatigable campaigner, and some days, I’ve seen him at more local GOP events than I’ve seen Perdue at all year.

Kyle Wingfield on the Shafer Amendment

AJC conservative columnist Kyle Wingfield writes about the “Shafer Amendment,” which will prohibit the Georgia legislature from raising the top income tax rate.

A number of people, particularly those who want to see tax rates fall, have questioned whether the amendment is worthwhile or just a fig leaf for legislative inaction. I agree it would be better if we not only capped the rate constitutionally but lowered it. So did the economists, representing 10 of of our state’s colleges and universities in all, who signed Shafer’s statement.

But they also agreed that, in the meantime, the amendment “provides a large and important measure of long-run certainty in Georgia’s business environment.” Why?

“I think we know for sure that … increased risk assessment really holds down investment activity, especially when you’re going state to state,” says Christine Ries, professor of economics at Georgia Tech. “One of the risk assessment problems is political risk.

“Companies do this all the time, (judging) whether a particular political climate is inherent in a state or is going to change over time. Right now, Georgia is seen as a fiscally conservative state, and I don’t think most analysts are looking at it and saying Georgia might turn around and change tomorrow. … But anything that makes the public policy more reliable is going to lower the risk assessment and increase investment in the state or country.”

“Interestingly,” says Jeffrey Dorfman, professor of agricultural and applied economics at UGA, “I had done some research on how communities can attract jobs. And we found that sticking to your plans is pretty much the best thing you can do.

“It’s the credibility thing: If businesses feel like they can trust you, then they’re more likely to create jobs in your community. So this cap signals to businesses, we promise we’re not going to become New York or California or Illinois. We’re going to stay a good place to do business.”

Dodge County: where the voters, like the past, are never dead

William Faulkner wrote in Requiem for a Nun, that The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” I mentioned earlier this week that Dodge County might be the most-haunted county in Georgia, if the number of votes cast by dead people is any indication.

Five years ago, a number of Dodge County locals pled guilty to vote fraud that included zombie votes.

More than two dozen people including several county officials either were convicted or pleaded guilty to charges that included vote buying and that people voted under the names of the dead.

This is just the 2004 election,” said Greg Harvey, agent in charge of the GBI office in Eastman. “We’’re still investigating the 2008 election.”

Earlier this week, the State Elections Board heard allegations about 2008.

The Georgia State Election board wants state prosecutors to look at seven names in 2008 Dodge County voter fraud allegations, despite a plea deal that may have closed the case when it sent two of the people to prison.

State allegations vary among the seven people, including unlawful possession of ballots and vote buying in the 2008 general primary.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 9, 2014

Georgia’s colonial charter, signed by King George II was witnessed on June 9, 1732.

Cream was formed on June 9, 1966 by Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker, and Jack Bruce.

On June 9, 1973, Secretariat won the Belmont Stakes and the Triple Crown, the first to win all three of the Triple Crown races since 1948. Secretariat was bred by Christopher Chenery, a graduate of Washington & Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, whose jockeys wore blue-and-white silks in honor of Chenery’s alma mater.

On June 9, 1976, Jimmy Carter’s opponents in the Democratic Primary for President, George Wallace, Henry Jackson, and Chicago mayor Richard Daley, released their delegates and endorsed Carter, assuring the Georgian of the nomination.

Last week, Bill Nigut at Georgia Public Broadcasting wrote about the 70th Anniversary of D-Day and he began with the headlines from the Atlanta Journal and Constitution.

Reading the reports of the invasion as journalism rather than history makes even clearer the extraordinary courage and dedication of the soldiers who stormed the beaches, fighting for freedom and the preservation of Western democracies. Nothing can ever diminish the sacrifices made by young men – many of them no doubt Georgians – far from home on the beaches of Normandy on that historic day.

How ironic then, that the front page of the June 7, 1944, Atlanta Journal also carries another important story just under news of the invasion: “State Group Bans Negros in Primary. Subcommittee Holds Only White Electors Eligible to Vote.” The story reports that a subcommittee of the Georgia Democratic Party had adopted a resolution reaffirming the rule of the party that only whites could participate in the July 4 primary election. (Yes, another irony – the election would be held on Independence Day.) Georgia Democratic officials had found it necessary to reaffirm the rule in response to a U.S. Supreme Court decision handed down in April, 1944, which declared that Texas could not block black voters from casting ballots in primary elections. Georgia Democrats insisted the ruling had no impact here.

The history that we share as Georgians is so complex, so difficult to try to reconcile. It’s soul-piercing and almost unfathomable in today’s world to acknowledge that the heroism of Georgia soldiers liberating Europe stood in such stark contrast to the disenfranchisement of blacks at home. Freedom for the French began on that June day in 1944. It would be two decades later before blacks here won the right to the vote with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

From reader feedback, I know that the short history segments are very popular and entertaining. I hope they’re educational, because many of the historic struggles of Georgia from the colonial period, when Georgia was reticent about joining the Independence movement and considered particularly unfriendly to taxes, through the civil rights movement, still resonate today.

The structure of our elections, which include runoffs, originate in the days in which African-Americans were being forcibly excluded from civic life under the one-party rule of white Democrats. Recently, the issue of reparations for African-Americans has been resurrected as a topic of national conversation.

The better we understand our history, the better-prepared we are for the future.

Georgia Campaigns and Elections

Jack Kingston, in his bid for United States Senate, received the endorsement of Congressman Rob Woodall (R-7) last week.

U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall on Friday morning announced that he would pledge support for Kingston, the Savannah congressman running against businessman David Perdue for the U.S. Senate seat to replace the retiring Saxby Chambliss. The Senate GOP primary runoff will be July 22. In-person early voting begins on June 30.

“In my three years in Congress, I have come to know Jack Kingston as one of the most conservative members in the House,” Woodall said in a statement released by the organization “Friends of Jack Kingston.” “But more importantly, I have come to know him as one of the most effective members of the House.”

In the May primary election, Perdue received nearly 31 percent of the vote, while Kingston collected nearly 26 percent.<

“Jack has been an outspoken supporter of the FairTax, a committed advocate for our men and women in uniform, and a tireless budget hawk, serving on a committee that has reduced federal spending by more than a trillion dollars in just the three years that I have served in Congress,” Woodall said. “Jack Kingston is a family man of character who never forgets that he works for the people. He will make Georgia very proud in the United States Senate. Jack Kingston has my enthusiastic vote and full support.”

Jack Kingston was also recently endorsed by Congressman Tom Price,

“Jack Kingston has always been a steadfast leader in the fight for conservative principles,” said Price.  “On a broad range of issues, he’s built a proven record of cutting wasteful spending and holding Washington accountable. He doesn’t shy away from making the tough but important decisions.”

“He’s tested, proven and won’t wilt in the face of pressure. The folks of Atlanta will be able to count on Jack Kingston when it comes to the issues we care the most about – expanding economic growth, reining in the power and reach of government, and replacing ObamaCare with patient-centered solutions. Simply put, he’ll be there for us. Jack’s a trusted ally and friend, and has a quality of character that will make him a strong voice in the U.S. Senate on behalf of Georgia families.”

Tom Crawford writes that endorsements from primary opponents might not be that helpful.

If you look at voter turnout figures in recent election cycles, it’s clear a large percentage of primary voters don’t bother to return for the runoff. The number of ballots cast in a primary election usually declines by 40 percent or more in the runoff – sometimes by more than 60 percent.

It’s a matter of human nature. Voters whose candidate was eliminated in the primary have much less incentive to turn out for a runoff election than those who voted for a successful candidate. They simply stay home on the day of the runoff. Setting aside the question of how many supporters will bother to vote in the runoff, there is the issue of how credible an endorsement can be when the candidate was so harshly critical of the person she is endorsing.

Most of the ink used in analyzing the results of the May 20 Republican Primary has been devoted to the question of Tea Party influence versus the Establishment, but it’s worth noting that some 66% of Georgia Republican Primary voters cast their ballots for an incumbent Congressman to take Saxby Chambliss’ seat in the Senate.

Cheryl Hill, widow of the late State Rep. Calvin Hill, has endorsed Wes Cantrell in the runoff election for the seat formerly occupied by her husband.

“I am honored that Wes looks to my husband as a guiding light for his actions while serving us. I know Calvin always had the best interests of this district at heart, and I feel confident in supporting Wes because I know he will lead the same way.”

“The main reason I decided to run for this office is because of the legacy of Calvin Hill. I became very concerned after the special election that Representative Hill’s legacy was not being fulfilled,” said Cantrell. “I want to lead in the same way that Calvin Hill led – as a representative that people respect and enjoy working with to find solutions to the issues facing Georgia. That’s why it is extremely gratifying and humbling to have the endorsement of Calvin’s widow Cheryl, and of his children Matt and Amanda.”

The endorsement from the Hill family comes on the heels of Cantrell garnering the most votes in the primary on May 20, despite campaigning for a quarter of the time his two opponents did. Hill’s support follows the endorsements of Representatives Michael Caldwell and Scot Turner, and State Senator Bruce Thompson – all representatives of Cherokee County in the state legislature.

Some of the best endorsements are when your campaign finance staff stamp “For Deposit Only” on the backs of checks, but what level of scrutiny should candidates give their donors before depositing their money?

Luckily, we have enterprising reporters who are ready to check out the history of political donors. Chris Joyner of the AJC writes about a small number of Kingston donors.

In late 2013, Kingston, an 11-term Republican congressman from Savannah, took in $80,052 in contributions from employees, their family members, consultants and contractors of two virtually unknown Gwinnett County companies: Confirmatrix Laboratories, a 2-year-old firm that performs urine and drug testing, and Nue Medical Consulting, a medical billing company founded last September.

Both companies are linked to Khalid A. Satary, a Palestinian also known as DJ Rock, who served more than three years in federal prison for running a large-scale counterfeit CD operation in the metro Atlanta area. Satary was released from prison in 2008 and federal officials have been trying to send him to out of the country ever since.

The AJC asked Kingston about the donations, a related fundraising event, and Satary’s criminal past on Wednesday. On Friday, the campaign announced Kingston would return the contributions.

“After reviewing this matter, we believe we are in full compliance with the law and federal elections regulations,” Kingston spokesman Chris Crawford said. “Out of an abundance of caution, however, we are returning contributions associated with this event due to external factors brought to our attention by members of the media.”

My thoughts? I think that crooks and criminals are likely to be sneaky when they make contributions to politicians, and it’s hard to expect politicians to run a full criminal background search on donor. But a quick Google search on major donors or bundlers is not too much to expect today. And, as in the case of the NBA forcing Donald Sterling to sell the LA Clippers for $2 billion dollars, are we better served when people whose actions we disapprove of have more money?

Returning the questionable donations is a good move, and about all you can expect.

Governor Deal appointed former State Senator Greg Goggans to the Georgia Board of Dentistry, a good choice in my humble opinion. As both a practicing hand-in-mouth professional, and a former state legislator, there are few better qualified to help the state agency move forward.

That said, service in the General Assembly does appear to have some career advancement rewards:

Of 34 Republican state senators in 2009, about 60 percent — 20 — have left the chamber (and at least three more are leaving at the end of this year). About two-thirds of those are back involved in state government, according to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution analysis.

Recently, the University System hired state Sen. Cecil Staton, R-Macon, to a newly created $165,000 a year administrative job. Also recently, former Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers was fired from his $150,000 a year job with Georgia Public Broadcasting, a hiring that brought Deal political grief when it was announced in late 2012.

The Senate Republican class of 2009-10 now gone from the chamber includes several other highly paid Deal appointees, a judge appointed by the governor, the state’s insurance commissioner, a couple of state House members, a Department of Transportation board member and some lobbyists.

Cam McWhirter profiles Jason Carter’s campaign for Governor in the Wall Street Journal:

[T]he contest between the 38-year-old Mr. Carter and Mr. Deal, 71, could be surprisingly competitive. A poll released May 26 by Rasmussen Reports showed Mr. Carter with a 48% to 41% lead. But other polls have found Mr. Deal ahead by several percentage points. RealClearPolitics, a news and polling aggregator, calls the race a tossup.

“For a long time you know, a lot of folks have not found a Democrat that they could vote for,” Mr. Carter said at a recent Kiwanis Club lunch here a city of 17,000 in rural South Georgia. “But we are now in a place that is changing.”

Recently Mr. Deal spoke at a state film industry meeting held at Manuel’s Tavern, a bar on Atlanta’s east side that was owned for years by a Democratic politician and where Jimmy Carter announced his plans to run for governor in 1970. Mr. Deal plans to lead a business mission this month to Israel, a not-so-subtle effort to highlight Jimmy Carter’s criticism of Israeli government policies toward Palestinians. That criticism angered many Jewish Americans.

The Deal campaign has raised more than $8 million so far, while the Carter campaign has raised $1.9 million, according to recent campaign filings.

Chip Lake, a Republican strategist, is heading the Georgia Victory Fund, a super PAC with a goal of raising $1.5 million to $2 million from national donors to criticize Mr. Carter in commercials. “He’s now walking on the stage that he has never been on before, and it’s our job to turn the lights on and make them very bright,” Mr. Lake said.

To win, Mr. Carter, a state senator who has never run for statewide office, would need blacks and Hispanic voters, whose numbers have been growing rapidly in the state, as well as liberals and independents. He also has to win more rural white voters—who for years have voted mainly for Republicans.

Scott Buchanan, a Southern politics expert at the Citadel in Charleston, S.C., said shifting demographics will make Georgia a political battleground “in the next election cycle or two,” but it is unclear if changes will lead to Democratic wins this fall.

“Shafer Amendment” boosted

While it hasn’t yet received much attention from the press, Senate Resolution 415 by Senate President Pro Tem David Shafer is receiving positive attention by grassroots Republican activists.

SR 415 places on the November ballot a Constitutional Amendment for the voters.

( ) YES
( ) NO

Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to prohibit the General Assembly from increasing the maximum state income tax rate?”</blockquote>

Upon the passage of  SR 415, Shafer discussed the rationale for the Amendment.

“If approved by voters this November, Georgia will be the only Southeastern state that constitutionally prohibits income tax increases,” said Sen. Shafer.  “This measure will help Georgia compete, attracting business and encouraging job formation.”

This weekend, the Jackson County Republican Party and the Teen Republicans State Convention both endorsed the Shafer Tax Cap Amendment.