Category: Georgia Political News


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 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 25, 2014

On June 25, 1788, the Commonwealth of Virginia became the tenth states to vote for ratification of the United States Constitution by a vote of 89 to 79. A committee was appointed to be chaired by George Wythe to draft a proposed Bill of Rights.

On June 25, 1868, the United States Congress provisionally readmitted Georgia to the Union following the Civil War with the requirements that they ratify the Fourteenth Amendment and never deprive any citizens of voting rights.

On June 25, 1876, Indians under the leadership of Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse defeated the U.S. Army 7th Cavalry under Lt. Colonel George Custer at the Battle of Little Big Horn.

On June 25, 1888, the Republican National Convention nominated Benjamin Harrison for President of the United States; Harrison’s grandfather was WIlliam Henry Harrison, ninth President of the United States.

On June 25, 1990, the United States Supreme Court released its opinion in Georgia v. South Carolina, a boundary dispute. From Wikipedia:

A… 1922 Supreme Court decision, also called Georgia v. South Carolina, 257 U. S. 516, also held that all islands in the river belong to Georgia, but that the border should be in the middle of the river between the two shores, with the border half way between any island and the South Carolina shore.

Since the 1922 case, a number of new islands were created in the river between the city of Savannah and the ocean, due to the deposit of dredging spoilage or the natural deposit of sediments. In some cases, the new islands were on the South Carolina side of the previously drawn boundary, and Georgia claimed that once a new island emerged, the border should be moved to the midpoint between the new island and the South Carolina shore of the river. In some cases, the state of South Carolina had been collecting property tax from the land owners and policing the land in question for a number of years.

When an island causes the border to leave the middle of the river, it raises the question as to how the border line should return to the middle of the river at each end of the island. South Carolina advocated a right angle bend at each tip of the island, while Georgia advocated a “triequidistant” method which kept the border an equal distance between the two shores and the tip of the island (resulting in a smooth curve.

This Thursday through Sunday, Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield Park will commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain, which took place on June 27, 1864.

Click here for the schedule of events at Kennesaw Mountain.

Georgia and National Politics Today

Yesterday, CNBC declared Georgia is the number one state in which to do business.

The state scores a solid 1,659 points out of a possible 2,500, finishing at or near the top in three categories and in the top half in all but two. Since we began rating the states for competitiveness in 2007, Georgia has never finished outside the top 10 overall, with fourth-place finishes in 2007 and 2011, and a respectable eighth place in 2013.

Governor Nathan Deal responded from a trade trip to Israel.

“Since taking office, I have worked every day to make Georgia the No. 1 place in the nation in which to do business,” Deal said. “Last year, Site Selection magazine named Georgia No. 1 for business, and today CNBC followed suit. These rankings are a testament to the commitment from Georgia businesses, communities, our economic development partners and the people of Georgia. As more people see Georgia’s successes, more businesses will consider expanding or relocating here. I am confident that our state’s highly skilled workforce and seamlessly connected logistics infrastructure will enable these businesses to be successful and competitive. This is good news for Georgia, and my goal going forward is to maintain our status as a leader in the global marketplace.”

Greg Bluestein with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution got a reaction from Jason Carter’s Democratic campaign for Governor.

Carter’s campaign responded with a press release saying that the ranking that matters most show Deal’s administration is “leaving too many people behind.”

“Instead of crowing about arbitrary rankings, maybe Gov. Deal should focus a bit more on the rankings that actually mean something to Georgia families,” said Carter spokesman Bryan Thomas, citing some of the above statistics. “I bet we won’t see those facts in any of Gov. Deal’s campaign ads.”

Prepare for another round of pundits discussing what Mississippi Senator Thad Cochran’s narrow win in yesterday’s Primary Runoff means for the Tea Party and the Georgia Senate race. Politico discusses how Cochran and his allies pulled it off.

Within a week, a powerful operation had swung into motion to save the 76-year-old legislator. Rather than making peace with his firebrand challenger, state and national Republicans redoubled their efforts to tear down Chris McDaniel, whom they considered a political lightweight taking advantage of a virulently anti-Washington mood. In interviews on the day and night of the runoff vote, strategists and party leaders described the campaign as a near-perfect turnaround – considering the slimness of Cochran’s victory, it had to be.

By the time the second round of balloting rolled around on June 24, a collection of groups that might be dubbed the Emergency Committee for Mississippi had spent millions on new television ads, knocked on tens of thousands of doors and reached out to voters – including African-Americans and Democrats – who had likely never voted before in a GOP primary.

The hoped-for payoff came Tuesday night, when Cochran bested McDaniel by some 6,400 votes – a margin of less than 2 percentage points. In a gut punch to conservative activists, Cochran’s survival proved just how much swat national party leaders have when they compete to win by any means necessary.

Joe Sanderson, Cochran’s finance chair, said he always believed that Cochran would win once his legions of admirers realized what was truly at stake. “I think they came out en masse,” Sanderson said. “I’ll be honest with you, I think some African-Americans came out to support him – I don’t know that, I believe that – because they did not want Chris McDaniel and the tea party to win.”

Sanderson, with a confidence matched by few in the Cochran camp, added that he was “not surprised” by the result: “I believed all the time that Sen. McDaniel got all the votes he was going to get in the first primary.”

For the pro-Cochran alliance, the race came down to a huge strategic gamble: That the universe of Mississippians who wanted to see Cochran back in the Senate was substantially larger than the group that voted in the primary – and that rather than serving as a death knell for Cochran, the June 3 ballot would serve instead as a wake-up call for apathetic Mississippians.

Most controversially – and perhaps most importantly – the Mississippi super PAC formed to support Cochran’s reelection shifted its resources dramatically from television advertising to get-out-the-vote operations.

But this time, the Mississippi Conservative PAC didn’t spend a dime on television or radio. Instead, the group – headed by Republican National Committeeman Henry Barbour –spent untold sums identifying and turning out longer-shot voters, including non-Republicans and African-Americans who were unlikely to have participated in the first vote.

Fifty years ago, “Freedom Summer” brought a concerted effort to register African-Americans to vote in Mississippi and met local resistance. From PBS:

Over 10 weeks, 37 churches were bombed or burned. Four civil rights workers were killed. Many more were hurt.

The Freedom Summer volunteers took the baton from another group called the Freedom Riders, who risked their lives to challenge segregated travel centers in the South.

Ernest McMillan was one of the young civil rights workers who traveled to the heart of the South to help blacks register to vote in 1964.

A college student then at Morehouse College in Atlanta, he’d go on to run the Dallas chapter of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. He’d also lose a close friend to violence and spend time in prison for demonstrating at a neighborhood grocery store.

Before all that, he was just a kid at a protest.

Hank Thomas of Atlanta discusses his experience in the Freedom Rides and what they meant for the Freedom Summer.

TR: You said it would have been easier for you to travel in East Berlin before the destruction of the Berlin Wall than it was to ride on the front seat of a bus through the South. Did you have any idea of the impact that the Freedom Riders would have on interstate travel while you were involved?

HT: I knew what our goal was. It was indeed to get the law that had been affirmed by the Supreme Court: that racial discrimination in interstate transportation was unconstitutional. But the reason we did the ride, and the way we did it, was to virtually force the federal government to enforce those laws. None of the Southern states abided by the laws.

We knew that eventually we would force the federal government to act, and we did. But what I did not realize at the time was the reaching effect of what this would do. Little did we really realize that this was just one of the battles to what would be the ultimate victory—in President Lyndon Johnson signing the 1964 civil rights bill.

TR: This summer marks the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer. How much of an impact do you believe the Freedom Rides had on its inception?

HT: It was once again the escalation of the battle. We won the two battles in reference to the [sit-ins] and the Freedom Rides. So all of these are battles that are being won, and all culminating in the ultimate. At the time, we didn’t have the historical perspective for being able to see beyond what we were doing and the effect it was going to have. We were building the momentum, certainly in 1964 after the Freedom Rides and the rebellions of the summer.

And a group of Freedom Riders spoke at Atlanta’s National Center for Civil and Human Rights.

South Carolina saw a major dropoff in voter turnout in their Primary Runoff yesterday.

The June 10th primary had a voter turnout of 16 percent, but Tuesday saw a major drop as just six percent of the voters came to the polls to vote in this runoff.

Election experts believe this result is not unusual given the offices up for grabs.

Former South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster won the Palmetto State GOP Primary Runoff for Lt. Governor.

McMaster, 67, ran on his experience, saying he has the knowledge to get things done. McMaster was a U.S. attorney during President Ronald Reagan’s first term and state GOP chairman from 1993 to 2002 before being elected to two terms as the state’s attorney general.

McMaster also touted his ties to Gov. Nikki Haley, who had no primary opponent.

McMaster brought Boots, his white bulldog, to his campaign celebration, calling him a secret weapon. Boots had appeared in McMaster’s television ads.

I award +1 for having a secret weapon in a political campaign, and it being a dog. No doubt someone in South Carolina is docking McMaster a point for it being the same breed as the University of Georgia mascot.

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp says that the answer for Georgians who want to reduce regulation is at the ballot box.

Kemp, whose office oversees new corporate registrations in the state, toured the 1-year-old Macon Beer Company’s operations in a downtown converted warehouse Monday.
“I think you’ve seen it, you know, in breweries like Sweetwater [in Atlanta] and Terrapin [in Athens], where they’re fixtures in their communities now. I have no doubt that these guys will do the same thing in Macon,” he said.

Last year, a Republican-led study committee of state legislators rejected a regulatory tweak that craft brewers have been asking for — they want to be able to sell packaged beer directly to consumers at their breweries, rather than going through third-party distributors and retailers as mandated by state law.
Responding to a question about that process, Kemp said: “I think people have to vote at the ballot box about how they want government regulations to be.”

The Georgia Senate has named four members to a joint legislative committee to study the legalization of CBD oil, derived from marijuana, for a limited set of medical conditions.

Sen. Butch Miller, R-Gainesville, Sen. Dean Burke, R-Bainbridge, and Sen. Curt Thompson, D-Tucker, will join Senate Health and Human Services Chairwoman Renee Unterman, R-Buford, on the panel.

Unterman and [a state Rep. from Macon], will lead the committee, which is charged with making recommendations by year’s end about allowing medical marijuana in Georgia. It comes after the state House and Senate failed to reach a compromise on legalization in the waning hours of this year’s legislative session.

Veterans question Loudermilk

A group of military veterans followed up on the letter one of them sent to the Marietta Daily Journal asking whether Congressional candidate Barry Loudermilk has embellished his record.

A group led by retired U.S. Army Col. Larry Mrozinski says 11th Congressional District hopeful Barry Loudermilk is exaggerating his military record on the campaign trail.
The group gathered in downtown Smyrna on Tuesday morning for a news conference. They say Loudermilk, a former state senator from Bartow County, has repeatedly implied he was a pilot during his time in the Air Force, when in fact he was a communications specialist.
“Serving one’s nation or representing those who serve is a sacred trust and honored tradition in America, not to be embellished or used to manipulate or mislead the public for personal gain,” Mrozinski said during the conference. “We cannot afford to send representatives to Washington D.C. with a cloud hanging over their heads.”

There is no question that Barry Loudermilk served. The question is how he has portrayed that in speeches.

But I say there are three completely different reasons to vote for Barry Loudermilk for Congress.

1. You believe that forced implantation of microchips in humans is a real threat.

That’s right. Barry Loudermilk wrote legislation to stop forced implantation of microchips in human beings.

“I have worked closely with other legislators over the past several years to pass legislation that would protect Georgians from mandatory microchip implants. There are many in the legislature that believe there are certain groups of citizens that should be chipped for security or identification purposes. We have not been successful in passing this legislation in the past. This amendment not only protects us from required implantation, but it puts in place a statewide ban on mandating the implantation of tracking chips.”

Todd Tinfoil Hat2

2. You think that discussing government-developed mind control techniques is a good use of the State Capitol and taxpayer money.

Lucky for you, Barry Loudermilk attended a session at the Georgia State Capitol to learn about government-developed mind control techniques. I bet we even paid him mileage and a per diem for it.

Linda Flory, a political activist from Ball Ground, said she does not think taxpayers should have paid to host the meeting or to have the senators attend.

“Any (senator) that attended received taxpayer money for being there,” Flory said, as senators can receive per diem reimbursement for their attendance at such meetings. “I don’t think that was a useful outlet for our tax dollars. I think its ludicrous that our senators are involved in listening to any kind of theory on that.”

3. You learned something about the Constitution from the $10,000 video he made using your taxpayer dollars that you didn’t already know from “Schoolhouse Rock.”

That’s right, Barry Loudermilk says he owns a video that $10,000 of your taxpayer dollars paid for.

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.”

LoudermilkCopyright1 Loudermilk Copyright2

DeKalb County Commission. Facepalm.

So here in DeKalb, we have an elected Chief Executive Officer and seven County Commissioners. Our elected CEO Burrell Ellis has been indicted and suspended from office and awaits trial. The County Ethics Board has opened investigations into three Commissioners over alleged misuse of county funds and the Feds are investigating.

The board voted to investigate thousands of dollars of charges by Commissioners Sharon Barnes Sutton and Commissioner Larry Johnson, as well as an aide to Barnes Sutton. Both commissioners say the purchases in question were for legitimate government business.

Commissioner Elaine Boyer and her chief of staff Bob Lundsten are already under investigation for similar allegations. Boyer denies the allegations.

Meanwhile, the FBI reportedly has begun issuing subpoenas over the alleged spending abuses by commissioners and their staffers.

A fourth Commissioner, Stan Watson, is caught up in a South Carolina corruption investigation.

DeKalb County Commissioner Stan Watson claimed to know nothing about a South Carolina case involving attempted bribery of an unnamed DeKalb official. But records obtained by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution show his phone repeatedly called the office of one of the businessmen on trial in the wide-ranging corruption scheme.

Now, he told the AJC that he is being subpoenaed in connection with the case, though he says he has done nothing wrong.

“I’ve been asked to come testify, and that’s it,” Watson said before referring further questions to his attorney. “When I get served, I will go and figure out what’s going on and try and make it work.”

He would not answer questions about the phone calls, which he tried to hide from the newspaper.

Watson turned over 586 pages from his personal cell phone bills, from November 2012 through April 2014. The records were subject to the Open Records Act because he paid the bills with his county Visa card.

Without any legal justification, Watson used a black marker to try to obscure 16 calls between his phone and defendant Eric Robinson’s business line. But phone numbers and other information could still be read through the ink, and Watson apparently missed striking out two other calls to Robinson’s office, The Bridge Corporation Group.

And former CEO Vernon Jones has a good shot at being elected our next Sheriff in the Primary Runoff on July 22d. (Any eligbile voters in DeKalb can return to the polls and vote in the runoff, regardless of whether they voted on May 20th.)

Having devoted my career to the proposition that the best government is obtained by citizens voting, I’m now faced with the ultimate repudiation of that idea.


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 13, 2014

A “Liberty Tree” was planted in Savannah on June 13, 1775 to symbolize support for independence. The first liberty tree was an elm in Boston that became a meeting spot for patriots, but Savannah’s was actually a Liberty Pole. In 2006, a seedling grown from the last of the original Liberty Trees on the campus of St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland was planted in Dalton, Georgia. This year, the Dalton Liberty Tree BBQ and Music Festival is held on October 25th.

The Marquis de Lafayette arrived in South Carolina to assist General George Washington on June 13, 1775.

On June 13, 1966, the United States Supreme Court released its decision in Miranda v. Arizona. In Miranda, the Court held that a confession obtained by police without informing the suspect of his rights against self-incrimination (Fifth Amendment) and to the service of a lawyer (Sixth Amendment) was inadmissible.

Thurgood Marshall was appointed to the Supreme Court by President Lyndon B. Johnson on June 13, 1967.

As the NAACP’s chief counsel from 1938 to 1961, he argued 32 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, successfully challenging racial segregation, most notably in public education. He won 29 of these cases, including a groundbreaking victory in 1954’s Brown v. Board of Education, in which the Supreme Court ruled that segregation violated the 14th Amendment to the Constitution and was thus illegal. The decision served as a great impetus for the African American civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s and ultimately led to the abolishment of segregation in all public facilities and accommodations.

In 1961, President John F. Kennedy appointed Marshall to the U.S. Court of Appeals, but his nomination was opposed by many Southern senators, and he was not confirmed until the next year. In June 1967, President Johnson nominated him to the Supreme Court, and in late August he was confirmed. During his 24 years on the high court, Associate Justice Marshall consistently challenged discrimination based on race or sex, opposed the death penalty, and supported the rights of criminal defendants. He also defended affirmative action and women’s right to abortion. As appointments by a largely Republican White House changed the politics of the Court, Marshall found his liberal opinions increasingly in the minority. He retired in 1991, and two years later passed away.

The New York Times began publishing excerpts from the “Pentagon Papers” on June 13, 1971.

After failing to persuade the Times to voluntarily cease publication on June 14, Attorney General John N. Mitchell and Nixon obtained a federal court injunction forcing the Times to cease publication after three articles.Times publisher Arthur Ochs Sulzberger said:

Newspapers, as our editorial said this morning, we’re really a part of history that should have been made available, considerably longer ago. I just didn’t feel there was any breach of national security, in the sense that we were giving secrets to the enemy.[23]

The newspaper appealed the injunction, and the case New York Times Co. v. United States (403 U.S. 713) quickly rose through the U.S. legal system to the Supreme Court.

On June 18, 1971, The Washington Post began publishing its own series of articles based upon the Pentagon Papers;[8] Ellsberg gave portions to editor Ben Bradlee. That day, Assistant U.S. Attorney General William Rehnquist asked the Post to cease publication. After the paper refused, Rehnquist sought an injunction in U.S. district court. Judge Murray Gurfein declined to issue such an injunction, writing that “[t]he security of the Nation is not at the ramparts alone. Security also lies in the value of our free institutions. A cantankerous press, an obstinate press, a ubiquitous press must be suffered by those in authority in order to preserve the even greater values of freedom of expression and the right of the people to know.” The government appealed that decision, and on June 26 the Supreme Court agreed to hear it jointly with the New York Times case.Fifteen other newspapers received copies of the study and began publishing it.

On June 30, 1971, the Supreme Court decided, 6–3, that the government failed to meet the heavy burden of proof required for prior restraint injunction. The nine justices wrote nine opinions disagreeing on significant, substantive matters.

Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government. And paramount among the responsibilities of a free press is the duty to prevent any part of the government from deceiving the people and sending them off to distant lands to die of foreign fevers and foreign shot and shell.

—Justice Black

Pole Position

After earning the first and second slots at Le Mans in early qualifying, Porsche lost the top spot to Toyota, and holds the 2d and 4th positions in the starting grid. Porsche also took the third starting slot in both GTE-Pro and GTE-Am with the 911 RSR.

P14_0408_a4_rgb P14_0409_a4_rgb

A special edition 911 will be available with the historic Martini livery, under which Porsche has won Le Mans.

The Martini Racing Edition 911s will come in black or white, and will be powered by a 400-horsepower 3.8-liter flat 6 that can produce a 4.1-second zero-to-62-mile-per-hour time.

Poll Position

A poll by SurveyUSA for 11Alive showed Jack Kingston with an 11-point lead over David Perdue in the Republican Primary Runoff Election for United States Senate.

The SurveyUSA poll of 419 likely GOP runoff voters has Kingston with 52 percent of the vote. Perdue has 41 percent. 7 percent are undecided. The poll was conducted by phone June 3-5. The poll has a margin of error of 3.2 percent.

The same poll shows Republican Gov. Nathan Deal leading Democratic Sen. Jason Carter 44-38 percent. Libertarian Andrew Hunt got 7 percent. 11 percent of respondents said they were undecided.

The poll shows either Republican, Perdue or Kingston, would beat Democrat Michelle Nunn in November. Kingston would win 43-37; Perdue would win 43-38.

An automated poll by Magellan Strategies for the National Mining Association shows a generic matchup in which “the Republican nominee” takes 47% against Michelle Nunn, the Democrat, with 44%. The NMA poll also showed 53% of Georgia voters are likely to oppose a candidate who supports the Obama Administration’s new carbon emission regulations. Note that the survey included several questions criticizing the carbon emission regs before asking that question.

Yesterday, InsiderAdvantage (for whom I work part-time on their website) released a poll showing Kingston with an 11-point lead over Perdue headed toward a runoff that’s still weeks away.

InsiderAdvantage/Fox5 Political Analyst Matt Towery says: “Kingston has a comfortable lead at present but it has the potential to become a precarious lead. Key demographic groups such as female voters and voters age 65 and over are much more evenly split. Also, contrary to some earlier surveys, our poll suggests that there is a larger undecided vote.

“We conducted this survey before and after the defeat of Rep. Eric Cantor in Virginia– and the undecided vote started to increase after Cantor suffered his loss. Whether the Cantor loss will somehow impact the Georgia race remains to be seen. The July 22 primary race has many more weeks to go, so the numbers could change substantially as we get closer to the actual vote.”

Walter Jones of Morris News, writes about the InsiderAdvantage poll in the Savannah Morning News:

The poll represents a big swing in support since the primary when Perdue’s total was about 4 percentage points more than Kingston’s. Perdue, the former CEO of Dollar General and Reebok, benefited then from an expensive television ad campaign with crying babies that was so effective that even his opponents copied it. A new volley of ads from him could swing the support back in his favor.

The poll shows 19 percent of the likely runoff voters questioned still haven’t made up their minds.

After being weighted for age, race and gender to reflect the turnout in past runoffs, the poll shows Kingston with 46 percent and Perdue with 35, given a 4.9 percent margin of error.


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.



Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 5, 2014

According to “This Day in Georgia History, on June 5, 1775, the first Liberty Pole in Georgia was raised in Augusta, Georgia. Another account holds that the first Liberty Pole in Georgia was raised June 4, 1775 at Tondee’s Tavern in Savannah. Those who fly the “Appeal to Heaven” flag should know that it has some common history with Liberty Poles.

Light Horse Harry Lee, later the father of Robert E. Lee, led a group of Continental soldiers, South Carolina and Georgia militia as the British surrendered Augusta on June 5, 1781. The capture of Augusta led to Georgia’s inclusion in the United States, though it had previously been so divided between Patriots and Loyalists that Georgia was the only American colony to not participate in the First Continental Congress.

The Republican National Convention met in Philadelphia on June 5, 1872, nominating Ulysses S. Grant for President the next day. Twelve years later, on June 5, 1884, William T. Sherman refused the Republican nomination for President, saying, “I will not accept if nominated and will not serve if elected.”

Republican candidate for Governor A. Ed Smith died in a car accident on June 5, 1962.

Senator Robert F. Kennedy was shot after winning the California Primary on June 5, 1968 and died the next day.

President Ronald Reagan died on June 5, 2004. USA Today has ten memorable Reagan quotes along with videos.

Governor Deal suspends gas tax

Earlier this week, Governor Nathan Deal suspended an increase in the state tax on gasoline.

“We’re seeing a steady rebound in Georgia’s economy, with our unemployment rate going down and state revenues heading up, but Georgians are still paying gas prices that are high by historical standards,” Deal said. “To remove this financial burden on Georgia taxpayers and businesses, I signed an executive order suspending the motor fuel tax increase set for next month. This will help cut costs for families and keep us the No. 1 place in the nation for business.”

Gingrey endorses Jack Kingston for Senate

Jack Kingston Phil Gingrey

Fourth-place finisher in the U.S. Senate Primary Phil Gingrey released a statement endorsing Jack Kingston and appeared with Kingston at an event in Marietta:

Through the years Jack Kingston and I have been colleagues – and more importantly friends – he has been a relentless advocate for our shared conservative principles. Today I am proud to announce my support for Jack to be our next United States Senator from the great State of Georgia.

With the needs and values of Georgians serving as his barometer, Jack has always put Georgians first. He is a hard working and proven leader who has stood strong fighting for the expansion of the Port of Savannah and has been a tireless champion for our national defense and our veterans. We can count on Jack to continue fighting to cut spending, restore order to our nation’s fiscal house, and spur private sector job creation.

I have every confidence that Jack will serve us well in the United States Senate and am pleased to back his campaign.

From Walter Jones at Morris News:

“These folks have let me know they want me to support Jack Kingston,” Gingrey said. “I’ve not heard from one of my former supporters telling me they are supporting Perdue.”

“In addition to being friends, Phil and I have a great philosophical affinity,” Kingston said.

From the Macon Telegraph:

Kingston said his campaign is trying to “unite the conservative family” and pointed to the support of two former opponents and from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as evidence he’s making progress.

“We believe that united, the conservative family will prevail not just in this race in November but also in taking back the Senate and taking back the White House in 2016,” he said.

The race is among a dozen or so nationally that will decide congressional control. Republicans are looking to gain six seats to claim a majority in the Senate and can’t afford to lose the Georgia seat.

Gingrey said he expects his backing to help in Georgia’s 11th congressional district, where he’s held the seat since 2003. The district includes Bartow and Cherokee and parts of Cobb and Fulton counties northwest of metro Atlanta. He brushed off barbs traded during an often contentious GOP primary as politics and said he was urged by supporters to back his fellow congressman.

“During a campaign, you look for little differences,” Gingrey said. “That’s basically what we were doing: ‘Well you voted for this, you voted for that.’ That back and forth occurs as you try to struggle to get in the runoff and hopefully ultimately be the next senator.”

Another bad life decision

A Gwinnett County teenager threatened to kidnap District Attorney Danny Porter if the DA did not drop charges.

In an original email sent on May 25, Collins allegedly contacted Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter regarding his case. He demanded the case against him be dropped, asked for $1 million and said that “if he does not get the money, he is going to kidnap Mr. Porter and hold him hostage,” warrants said.

The next day, authorities said, Collins emailed Porter’s office manager, making the same demands and threats but asking only for $100,000.

On the same day, the suspect reportedly wrote a letter to his own defense attorney, demanding again that the case against him be dropped, threatening to kidnap and hold her hostage and requesting $100,000.

Danny Porter is on any sensible person’s list of people NOT to threaten. It would be like trying to kidnap Chuck Norris or Jack Bauer – the only thing scarier than threatening to kidnap him would be actually succeeding.

Minnesota Marijuana Bill to debut in Georgia?

Georgia Regents University recently announced a deal to begin cannabidiol (CBD) oil trials for intractable seizures. State Rep. Allen Peake will renew his push to legalize use of CBD oil for children with specific medical diagnoses.

But after the CBD bill, “then I hope we will have a broader, more comprehensive approach to establishing a medical cannabis infrastructure,” he said. “The big question will be, ‘Are we ready to start growing in Georgia?’”

That where-to-grow question has stymied medical marijuana research in Georgia for decades. A dusty state law allows medical cannabis trials for glaucoma and cancer, but the only source it allows is federal research marijuana. Right now, there’s only one farm nationwide growing the stuff.

Peake will push for an in-state grow. One of his models is a new Minnesota law that will authorize two companies with a total of eight distribution centers to grow cannabis and manufacture pills, liquid and oil medications for treatment of ailments, including epilepsy, glaucoma, cancer and multiple sclerosis.

Lets hope for the sake of the families Peake is trying to help that he abandons the scorched earth politics he practiced as it became clear in the last session that the lack of a well-though out bill would doom the legislation. It was either a simple lapse of judgment or the most cynical political move I’ve seen in more than twenty years.

The runoff will eventually begin and end

Mark your calendars for June 30, 2014, when early voting begins for the Primary Runoff Election.

Voters who selected a Republican or Democratic primary ballot May 20 must vote on the same party runoff ballot, but those who chose a nonpartisan ballot May 20 can select either party in the runoff, Bailey said.

The late summer runoff is unlikely to attract many voters….

We mentioned yesterday that Mississippi’s “Ranked Choice” runoff ballot for overseas voters allowed them to keep the runoff election to three weeks this year, unlike Georgia, which had to go to a never-ending nine-week runoff. We questioned why Georgia can’t do something similar and were pointed to legislation by Senator Josh McKoon that would have done exactly that. Let’s hope the General Assembly takes a long look at the primary schedule next year.

An article in the Washington Post yesterday about the genesis of runoff elections reminded me of a fact I often take for granted that other politicos understand: runoff elections were instituted by the Democratic party as a means of controlling their primary elections and preventing African-Americans from winning elections.

The runoff system is a vestige of a time when white Democrats controlled Southern politics, and manipulated election rules to make sure they stayed in power.

“They trace their lineage back to an era when there was only one party in politics,” said Charles Bullock, a political scientist at the University of Georgia who wrote a definitive history of runoff elections in 1992. “Back in the day when the South was one-party Democratic, the runoff was often the determinative election. So you often had more people participating in the runoff than in the original primary.”

Southern states started implementing runoff systems in the late 19th and early 20th Century, when state parties used to run primary elections. Democrats controlled the South then; when a constitutional amendment allowed for the direct election of senators in 1914, Democrats held every Senate seat in the South. So the runoff system, first adopted by South Carolina in the late 1800s in order to exert more control over gubernatorial primaries, allowed party bosses to select nominees.

And because the Republican Party was such a small percentage of the overall electorate in the South, general elections mattered far less than primaries; the winner of a primary was virtually guaranteed to win the general election.

“The Democratic Party had a monopoly on politics in the region,” said Merle Black, a political scientist at Emory University. “After blacks were eliminated as voters in the South, that ended the Republican Party.”

Votes that will make heads explode

The Fulton County Commission is expected to vote again on moving forward with a property tax hike. Homeowners and their advocates are not impressed.

Fulton County commissioners will try again in two weeks to take the first step toward a 17 percent tax increase after failing Wednesday to get the number of votes necessary to start the process.

Fulton’s first countywide tax hike in 23 years would cost the owner of a $275,000 home an extra $140 a year. But it failed to clear its first hurdle at the Fulton Board of Commissioners on Wednesday. With several commissioner absent, a proposal to advertise the tax increase and schedule public hearings failed on a 3-1 vote. It needed four votes to pass.

The proposal will be back on the commission’s agenda June 18. Critics say the tax hike is illegal and unnecessary.

“It’s reckless because Fulton County residents are still recovering from the worst recession in modern history,” said state Rep. Jan Jones, R-Milton. “The last thing they need is the county reaching further into their wallets.”

Supporters say the tax increase is needed to protect vital services and stabilize a budget still reeling from the Great Recession. Commissioner Joan Garner said Wednesday she supports the tax hike, but also wants to make sure Fulton is spending its money wisely.

I don’t know if any vote occurred or if it was an administrative decision by State School Superintendent John Barge, but a $107 million contract to develop testing for Georgia students has been awarded. Common Core opponents will not be amused.

The Georgia Department of Education on Wednesday announced a new testing system, called the Georgia Milestones Assessment System, which will arrive during the upcoming school year. In late May, the DOE awarded a five-year, $107.58 million contract to CTB/McGraw-Hill to develop the new system

DOE officials said the test will be aligned to the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards and will require more from students than the CRCT and EOCT it replaces, in order to better prepare students for college and career and to provide a more realistic picture of academic progress.

State School Superintendent John Barge touted the new system as being consistent from third grade through high school, which is different than the previous series of individual tests.

Education officials also warned that the new test may mean initially lower scores than the previous years’ CRCT or EOCT scores. That is to be expected and should bring Georgia’s tests in line with other indicators of how our students are performing, Barge said.

“We need to know that students are being prepared, not at a minimum-competency level but with rigorous, relevant education, to enter college, the workforce or the military at a level that makes them competitive with students from other states,” Barge said.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 4, 2014

On June 4, 1785, James Oglethorpe, founder of Georgia, met with John Adams, the first ambassador from the new United States to Great Britain.

On June 4, 1919, Congress passed the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, granting women the right to vote. In August 1920, enough states had ratified the 19th Amendment that it took effect.

The Battle of Midway began on June 4, 1942. During the battle, four Japanese aircraft carriers that had participated in the attack on Pearl Harbor and one cruiser were sunk at the cost of one American carrier and one destroyer.

Today is the 25th Anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre in Beijing, China.

Jim Galloway was in Beijing during the protests and crackdown and writes about it at the AJC Political Insider Blog.

Mississippi Runoff

In Mississippi, Tea Party favorite Chris McDaniel forced 36-year incumbent Senator Thad Cochran into a runoff election three weeks from yesterday.

Mr. McDaniel held 49.6 percent of the vote after a stupendous hometown turnout, which surged far ahead of the turnout for the 2012 Republican presidential primary and gave him a lead over Mr. Cochran, who is at 48.9 percent with 99 percent of precincts reporting.

The contest is expected to be decided in a runoff election on June 24, assuming that the final votes, mainly in Rankin County, a suburb of Jackson, don’t break decidedly and unexpected toward Mr. McDaniel.

My question is why Mississippi wasn’t forced into a 45-day or more runoff like Georgia was as the result of a federal lawsuit.

Mississippi is currently in talks with the federal government about remedying the issue, but it’s beyond me why the United States Department of Justice sued Georgia more than two years before taking action in Mississippi. Did they fail to use Google to find out which states have runoffs? In an article dated March 18, 2014:

The [Mississippi] Secretary of State’s Office has been notified by the U.S. Department of Justice that current state law conflicts with federal military and overseas voting laws.

Recent changes to the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) require states to send absentee ballots to military and overseas voters who request them at least 45 days before an election for federal office. State law provides only 21 days between a primary election and a primary run-off election.

“Rather than be sued by the federal government for failing to comply with federal law, the State Board of Election Commissioners have decided to provide military voters with both their primary and primary run-off ballot when electronically transmitting overseas absentee ballots,” said Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann. “Mississippi is a leading state in allowing electronic voting for the military, and I intend to keep it that way.”

Military and overseas voters will rank the candidates of their choice for the primary run-off ballot, in a so-called “ranked choice” ballot. When the primary run-off ballot is returned to the Circuit Clerk’s Office with the primary election ballot, it will be placed in a separate absentee ballot envelope in the event there is a primary run-off election.

Mississippi has a number of electronic methods for overseas military and civilian voters, including via email on election day.

Mississippi also uses ranked choice ballots for the Primary election to allow voters to cast one ballot that covers both primary and primary runoff choices. Four other states, including neighboring Alabama, use this type of ballot for overseas voters.

I hope the Georgia General Assembly will consider other options like this during the next Session.

Campaigns and Elections

When Jeff Northway signed up to run for Mayor of Springfield, Georgia, he had to indicate on the form that he’d never been convicted and sentenced for a felony involving moral turpitude. The problem is that Northway had two 1983 convictions in Texas on felonies involving moral turpitude. In July 2012, Northway resigned, and now he’s been indicted for false swearing and perjury. That’ll ratchet the felony count up to four if he’s convicted or pleads guilty.

Jack Kingston will be endorsed by Congressman Phil Gingrey, who finished out of the money in the Senate race last month.

Kingston’s campaign is trying to parlay a unique accord between establishment forces, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and outsider elements on the GOP’s right flank. He has picked up the blessing of former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel, who finished in third place with the help of tea party support, as well as the backing of most of Georgia’s congressional delegation.

Kingston’s campaign declined to comment but said it would hold a “major political announcement” on Wednesday morning. Gingrey, who has represented a northwest Atlanta district for more than a decade, could help Kingston make inroads to vote-rich metro Atlanta. Gingrey won four counties in northwest Georgia, and he and Handel helped dampen Perdue’s lead across the northern part of the state.

For Perdue’s camp, getting spurned by elected officials could play into his message of being an outsider set on shaking up the Washington status quo. He’s long run on his business credentials and his campaign has argued that rank-and-file Republicans will make up their minds on who to support on their own.

In addition to former Secretary of State Karen Handel, Congressman Lynn Westmoreland has endorsed Jack Kingston in the runoff.

“Jack Kingston and I have been friends for 20 years, during which I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know him and his wonderful family,” Westmoreland said according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “For the last ten of those years, we’ve been colleagues and I have seen firsthand how Jack commits whole-heartedly to his work. Jack is one of the most gracious, humble, and hard-working men I know. His honesty and dedication to serving Georgians can¹t be matched.”

Westmoreland mentioned Kingston’s work on the Savannah port, commitment to conservative values, and attention to issues facing the military, veterans and farmers as some of the values that make him the right pick for the U.S. Senate. Kingston represents Georgia’s first congressional district.

In State House District 112, outgoing State Rep. Doug Holt has endorsed Dave Belton in the runoff election.

Holt announced his endorsement of Belton Tuesday after several people asked who he believed would do the best job.
“I believe it is time for me to state openly and publicly that ‘Dave Belton is that person,’” Holt said in a press release. “Over the last 10 years, I have come to know Dave very well on both a personal and professional level. His commitment to our country and to public service is without equal.”
Holt said Belton’s military career includes 23 years of service as a pilot in the Navy and Air Force, involving countless missions flown during the Persian Gulf War and in four other conflicts around the world.
“Just weeks ago, he donated his time once again as a volunteer pilot to bring more than 100 of our service men and women from Kyrgyzstan back home. As always, he responded to the call of service,” Holt said. “It is this call to service that I believe has led him to run for the House District 112 seat.”