Category: Georgia Politics

7
Dec

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 7, 2022

On December 7, 1787, Delaware became the first state to ratify the United States Constitution.

On December 7, 1801, Georgia’s United States Senator Abraham Baldwin was elected President Pro Tem of the Senate.

On December 7, 1864, federal troops under W.T. Sherman engaged Confederate forces at Jenks’ Bridge on the Ogeechee, and Buck Creek and Cypress Swamp, near Sister’s Ferry, Georgia Confederates burned the bridge over the Ogeechee.

Today is the 81st anniversary of the Japanese bombing attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

GeorgiaInfo has the reactions of Georgia leaders to the Pearl Harbor attack,

U.S. Sen. Walter F. George stated: “Japan’s deed is an act of desperation by a war-mad people. The attack on Hawaii is a deliberate act of the Japanese government. I am utterly amazed. It is unthinkable… . An open declaration of war will give us greater freedom of action.” Noting the vastness of the Pacific Ocean, George optimistically predicted that “it may take two or three years to fight this war to the end.”

U.S. Sen. Richard B. Russell responded to the attack by stating: “Japan has committed national hari-kari. I cannot conceive of any member of Congress voting against a declaration of war in view of the unpardonable, unprovoked attack on us. I am utterly astounded.”

U.S. Rep. Carl Vinson, chairman of the House Naval Affairs Committee, added: “Of course we will have to declare war. There is nothing else for Congress to do. This is a concerted action by the Axis Powers, but I am confident our Navy is ready and will render a glorious account of itself. It probably means we will be drawn into the world conflict on both oceans.”

On December 7, 1946, the Winecoff Hotel in downtown Atlanta, previously considered fireproof, burned in the worst hotel fire to date.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Today at 1 PM, Governor Brian Kemp and his family will light the Capitol Christmas Tree, according to WJBF in Augusta.

Governor Brian Kemp, First Lady Marty Kemp, Jarrett Porter, Lucy Porter, and Amy Porter will host the ceremony alongside special guests Clark Howard, the Atlanta Boys Choir, and others.

The ceremony will take place at 1 p.m. and will be livestreamed online at GPB.org.

Governor Kemp announced he will appoint William “Bill” Ray Oliver to a new judgeship on the Superior Court for the Mountain Judicial Circuit, according to AccessWDUN.

Oliver will fill the vacancy created with the passage of Senate Bill 395 that added a third judge in the circuit that covers Habersham, Rabun and Stephens counties.

Gov. Kemp spoke to legislators at the Carl Vinson Institute of Government’s Bienial Institute in Athens, GA, and discussed his priorities for the coming session, according to the AJC.

Kemp touted Georgia’s achievements during the last two years in economic development, education, and public safety.

On the economic front, the past year has marked the creation of 51,132 private-sector jobs and more than $21.2 billion in investment, Kemp said during a luncheon speech at the University of Georgia closing out the Biennial Institute, a three-day orientation session for newly elected legislators.

Kemp reiterated a pledge he made on the campaign trail to seek another $1 billion state income tax cut on top of the $1 billion reduction the General Assembly approved this year.

Kemp also said he would push during the 2023 legislative session beginning next month to increase benefits through the lottery-funded HOPE Scholarships program to 90% of tuition coverage. HOPE provided full tuition coverage until 2011, when growing demand for scholarships combined with the rising costs of tuition forced the General Assembly to reduce benefits.

In the public safety arena, Kemp said he plans to continue a crackdown on human trafficking and on criminal gangs recruiting children.

Last year, the governor formed a multi-agency Crime Suppression Unit that has made hundreds of arrests, while Kemp and Attorney General Chris Carr more recently created a Gang Prosecution Unit that has produced 11 indictments of 46 suspected gang members.
“We cannot rest on our laurels,” Kemp said. “This is an ongoing fight against criminals.”

Democratic United States Senator Raphael Warnock won the runoff election over Republican Herschel Walker. From the Associated Press via the Valdosta Daily Times:

Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock defeated Republican challenger Herschel Walker in a Georgia runoff election Tuesday, ensuring Democrats an outright majority in the Senate for the rest of President Joe Biden’s current term and capping an underwhelming midterm cycle for the GOP in the last major vote of the year.

With Warnock’s second runoff victory in as many years, Democrats will have a 51-49 Senate majority, gaining a seat from the current 50-50 split with John Fetterman’s victory in Pennsylvania. There will be divided government, however, with Republicans having narrowly flipped House control.

“After a hard-fought campaign — or, should I say, campaigns — it is my honor to utter the four most powerful words ever spoken in a democracy: The people have spoken,” Warnock, 53, told jubilant supporters who packed a downtown Atlanta hotel ballroom.

In last month’s election, Warnock led Walker by 37,000 votes out of almost 4 million cast, but fell short of the 50% threshold needed to avoid a runoff. The senator appeared to be headed for a wider final margin in Tuesday’s runoff, with Walker, a football legend at the University of Georgia and in the NFL, unable to overcome a bevy of damaging allegations, including claims that he paid for two former girlfriends’ abortions despite supporting a national ban on the procedure.

“The numbers look like they’re not going to add up,” Walker, an ally and friend of former President Donald Trump, told supporters late Tuesday at the College Football Hall of Fame in downtown Atlanta. “There’s no excuses in life, and I’m not going to make any excuses now because we put up one heck of a fight.”

Two Lowndes County poll workers were involved in a car wreck while delivering memory cards to the voting office, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Deb Cox, supervisor of elections, said in an interview with The Valdosta Daily Times that two poll workers were en route Tuesday evening to the Board of Elections from South Lowndes to deliver memory cards with the election results when they were involved in a vehicle accident near Gornto Road and Woodrow Wilson Drive.

The workers reported suffering no injuries and declined to go to the hospital.

An election board member went to the accident site to retrieve the memory cards and check on the workers.

“They seem to be OK to the best of my knowledge right now but we did get the results back. A board member went and picked up the results, brought them back up here for us to upload and then went back to take care of the poll workers,” she said.

Also involved in a car wreck: the entire Republican Party.

From WTOC in Savannah:

According to Billy Wooten, the Chatham County Board of Elections supervisor, three polling locations had scanners that went down. He says that under state law, the protocol in that situation is to place the ballots in an emergency bin – which is on the ballot box – to be counted later.

Voters do have the right to stick around and make sure their ballot is cast once the machine is fixed.

Some folks at a location on Wilmington Island, however, say that they were told otherwise.

“When I questioned whether or not that was the law or if that was true, the polling manager, again, said yes, we didn’t have a choice but to place the ballot in the emergency bin and to keep the line moving and move along,” Andrew Cannon said.

Cannon said he filed a complaint with the Election Authority, and Wooten says the issue was corrected and all votes were counted.

“We’re sorry somehow that information got out or someone said something they weren’t going to say, but that’s a very reliable poll, that Wilmington Island poll,” Wooten said.

The assistant manager at that polling location said around 1:00 p.m. that the machine was back-up and all the ballots from the emergency bin had been cast.

From WSAV in Savannah:

One Precinct manager said turnout was good seeing about 150 people per hour.

From the Macon Telegraph:

Almost 50,000 of the county’s 105,707 registered voters cast a ballot in today’s election. Of that total, 30,744 voted for Warnock and 18,318 for Walker.

Desmond Brown won runoff for Macon Water Authority District 2 over Lindsay Holliday. Brown reclaims a seat he gave up during a failed MWA chairman bid earlier this year.

The final vote tallies for Muscogee County are in. Almost 55,000 of the county’s 120,970 votes cast ballots in today’s election. Of those, 35,462 vote for Raphael Warnock and 19,432 voted for Herschel Walker.

From the Capitol Beat News Service via The Brunswick News:

Warnock was leading Walker 51.1% to 48.8% as of 11:50 p.m. Tuesday night, with 98% of precincts reporting. The Warnock victory in the final contest of the 2022 election cycle gave Democrats 51 seats in the Senate to 49 for Republicans.

The lengthy campaign that finally concluded Tuesday night was the most expensive race of the 2022 cycle, with outside groups and the candidates’ campaigns spending more than $401 million in the race, according to campaign-finance tracking group OpenSecrets.

“It is my honor to utter the four most powerful words ever spoken in a democracy: The people have spoken,” Warnock said to a jubilant crowd celebrating the victory at a downtown Atlanta hotel.

“The people once again rose up in a multi-racial, multi-religious coalition of conscience,” Warnock said.

“I’m not gonna make any excuses now because we put up one heck of a fight,” Walker told his supporters. “I want you to believe in America and continue to believe in the Constitution and believe in our elected officials.”

“The best thing I’ve ever done in my whole entire life is run for this Senate seat right here and the reason I’m gonna say that is I had a chance to meet all you and hear what you guys feel about this country,” Walker added.

Georgians turned out in droves to cast their ballots during the early voting period ahead of Tuesday’s runoff, with more than 1.7 million voting early during the newly shortened period. Total turnout as of Tuesday night was 3.5 million, a record for a midterm runoff in Georgia.

From the Statesboro Herald:

In Bulloch County, Walker received 13, 548 votes to Warnock’s 7,760 with a 47.2% of registered voters casting votes, approaching but not exceeding the Bulloch County turnout at the Nov. 8 general election, which was 52.6% of registered voters.

Many Bulloch precincts had higher Election Day turnout today than on Nov. 8.

Democrats’ Georgia victory solidifies the state’s place as a Deep South battleground two years after Warnock and fellow Georgia Democrat Jon Ossoff won 2021 runoffs that gave the party Senate control just months after Biden became the first Democratic presidential candidate in 30 years to win Georgia. Voters returned Warnock to the Senate in the same cycle they reelected Republican Gov. Brian Kemp by a comfortable margin and chose an all-GOP slate of statewide constitutional officers.

Walker’s defeat bookends the GOP’s struggles this year to win with flawed candidates cast from Trump’s mold, a blow to the former president as he builds his third White House bid.

Early and mail voting did not reach the same levels as years past, and it was likely the total number of votes cast would be less than the 2021 Senate runoff election. Voting rights groups point to changes made by state lawmakers after the 2020 election that shortened the period for runoffs, from nine weeks to four, as a major reason for the decline in early and mail voting.

Walker joins failed Senate nominees Dr. Mehmet Oz of Pennsylvania, Blake Masters of Arizona, Adam Laxalt of Nevada and Don Bolduc of New Hampshire as Trump loyalists who ultimately lost races that Republicans once thought they would — or at least could — win.

From the Savannah Morning News:

It is still early to know for sure what allowed Warnock to win a full term in the Senate. But there are a few factors that undoubtedly played a role.

1. Not much changed from election night

Georgia voters who overwhelmingly embraced other Republican candidates on election night balked at electing Walker, and nothing much changed in the runoff.

Walker was a historically weak candidate, with a string of scandals — from allegedly paying for multiple abortions to allegations of domestic violence. Gov. Brian Kemp soared to an easy re-election, but thousands of Kemp voters cast ballots for Warnock over Walker.

Warnock focused on these voters during the runoff, featuring them in advertisements. Kemp endorsed and campaigned with Walker, but it was not enough.

2. Turnout remained strong

Total turnout was about 3.4 million voters as of election night, lower than the 3.9 million in the general – and just under half of all registered Georgia voters.

This represented a turnout drop off of about 15%. The 2021 runoff that originally sent Warnock to D.C. alongside Sen. Jon Ossoff had a drop off of 10%. While demographic information will not be available for some time, according to an analysis by Emory University Professor Bernard Fraga, Black voters saw the lowest dropoff in early voting from the general to the runoff.

From CNN via the Albany Herald:

The recriminations arrived swiftly for the GOP late Tuesday night.

“The only way to explain this is candidate quality,” Georgia Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan said on CNN, noting the delta between Gov. Brian Kemp’s November victory and where it appears that Walker will end up when all the votes are counted.

He said he hoped Warnock’s victory would serve as a wake-up call for the GOP. “If we don’t take our medicine here, it’s our fault. … Every Republican in this country ought to hold Donald Trump accountable for this.”

Many Republicans attributed the closeness of the race on Tuesday night to the fact that Kemp came to Walker’s rescue in the runoff after keeping his distance during last month’s general election. He not only campaigned for him but put the muscle of his own turnout operation into efforts to help the GOP Senate nominee.

Morale among Walker’s campaign staff hit an all-time low in its final days as it became clear to them their candidate would likely lose his race to Warnock, according to multiple people familiar with his campaign.

Several of Walker’s staff members became frustrated as the runoff election progressed over the last month, sensing their advice for the embattled candidate wasn’t being heeded as outside voices with little political experience were empowered.

From WALB:

Poll workers at Lowndes County precincts told WALB News 10 that voters came in at a pretty steady pace. Some voters and poll workers said they feel early voter turnout was exceptional so election day hasn’t been as hectic as they thought.

“Right around 30 percent is (what we saw Tuesday morning.) We haven’t seen many voters today. It looks like it’s going to mirror the turnout from the election where two-thirds voted advanced and one-third on election day,” Deb Cox, Lowndes County elections supervisor, said. “It’s a good day to get out and make your voice heard. There’s no reason not to.”

Early voting started Monday, Nov. 28 and ended Dec. 2. Some Georgia counties opted for Saturday early voting.

Early voting records were broken as 1.8 million early votes were cast.

“Georgia has struck the perfect balance between accessibility and security,” said Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. “These historic turnout levels emphasize that any lawful voter who wants to cast a ballot can do so easily. Turnout and voter participation is excellent. Our elections division will continue working with county election directors to expand early voting opportunities in the future.”

From WJBF in Augusta:

“We were matching the numbers that we did over a longer period of time in a very short period of time,” said Travis Doss, the executive director of the Richmond County Board of Elections.

They won’t know the exact turn-out for Tuesday until later, but they’re optimistic.

“The numbers have been steady,” said Nancy Gay, the executive director of the Columbia County Board of Elections. “I mean they had 350 at some of the precincts by 11 o’clock this morning. I was going into this election looking for at least a 20 percent turnout on election day, and I’m hopeful that we’ll get at least that.”

“I think we probably will finish out the day somewhere between 40 to 50 percent, probably around the 45 percent mark,” said Doss.

From the Rome News Tribune:

Floyd County’s election results are in and, as expected, Republican Herschel Walker trounced U.S. Sen. Rev. Raphael Warnock with 70.5% of the vote.

Just under half of Floyd County’s 60,369 registered voters — 46.9% — cast ballots in the runoff. Walker netted 19,950 to Warnock’s 8,340, according to unofficial results from the secretary of state’s office.

Warnock was the favorite in East Rome, 914 to 892, and in South Rome, 442 to 113. Walker handily won the county’s other 23 precincts.

Three Fulton county municipalities elected city council members, according to the AJC.

Josette Bailey appeared to handily defeat challenger Barbara Neville by a nearly 3-to-1 margin for the East Point city council…. Bailey and Neville emerged from a field of five candidates in November general election to fill the council seat vacated by former Councilman Thomas Calloway.

The closest local race of the night was in Roswell, where Sarah Beeson was expected to defeat Allen Sells.

Beeson was leading Sells by 53% to 47%, and would take the council Post 1 seat formerly held by Marcelo Zapata.

Linda Becquer Pritchett seems to be the new council member in the city of South Fulton. Pritchett appeared to defeat Mario Clark by a nearly 2-to-1 margin and will take over the District 7 seat held by Mark Baker.

Richmond County Board of Education District 2 incumbent Charlie Hannah was reelected, according to WRDW in Augusta.

Hannah faced off against Rev. Larry Fryer on Tuesday. Hannah had 2,967, 54%, vs. 2,543, 46%, for Fryer.

Incumbent Venus Cain has represented the District 9 super-district for the past 15 years and now will represent it for another four.

She fought off a challenge by Christopher Mulliens.

With 99% of votes counted, Cain had 18,452 votes, 70%, vs. 7,887, 30%, for Mulliens.

Also keeping his post was District 7 incumbent Charlie Walker, who ran for a second term against newcomer Brittiany Broadwater.

With 99% of votes counted, he had 4,577 votes, 53%, compared to 4,122, 47%, for Broadwater.

From the Augusta Chronicle, explaining why in the world there were runoffs:

The initial [District 2] race that ended on Nov. 8 also included Yiet Knight, owner of Universal Child Care and Learning Center, who did not have enough votes to proceed into the runoff.

Richmond County Board of Elections Director Travis Doss reported that Tuesday’s runoff went “very well.” He reported a turnout of almost 48%, which he said was very impressive for a runoff.

Thank goodness you can now get a lap dance in Augusta, as the City Commission loosened t̶h̶e̶i̶r̶ ̶c̶l̶o̶t̶h̶e̶s̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶i̶r̶ ̶m̶o̶r̶a̶l̶s̶ rules governing strip clubs, according to WJBF.

“It’s a tough situation it’s a tough topic and were understanding that at the end of the day we have to make decisions for the city of Augusta,” said Commissioner Jordan Johnson.

Commissioners are making city codes regulating adult nightclubs less restrictive, as a way to help these businesses do better.

“We’ll let the customers that go to them be the judge of whether they want to continue to go to them or not,” says Commissioner John Clarke.

The changes allow dancers the freedom to touch themselves when performing as well as touching customers in public. So, the new rules legalize lap dances in Augusta.

“People want to see that, well, certain people want to see that, and I don’t see any problem in letting people enjoy themselves,” says Commissioner Dennis Williams.

“That’s not the only provision that’s in this ordinance, and I believe you know that as well, at the end of the day we just want to make sure we are a business-friendly city,” said Commissioner Johnson.

Some Gwinnett County residents told Commissioners their thoughts on the proposed 2023 county budget, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Gwinnett County leaders mostly heard positive feedback on the county’s proposed 2023 budget during a public hearing on Monday night, but they also heard calls for additional mental health services and more polling precincts.

The Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners will continue to accept written feedback from residents about the proposed budget until Dec. 31. The board will then vote on the final proposed version of the budget on Jan. 3.

“In focusing on our five priority sets, the foundation for critical decisions (in the budget) provides guide points for success,” Gwinnett County Commission Chairwoman Nicole Love Hendrickson told attendees at the public hearing.

Gwinnett County Commissioners approved a one-time cost of living payment to help county employees, according to AccessWDUN.

This approval means that on December 16, eligible full-time employees will receive a $1,500 payment and regular part-time employees will receive a $750 payment.

The county said in a press release that this payment will be used to help support the retention of employees within the county and mitigate the effects of inflation on the county workforce.

Board of Commissioners Chairwoman Nicole Hendrickson said the payments are necessary as the county struggles with retaining first responders, utility workers and hard-to-fill positions across the organization.

“Gwinnett residents deserve sustainable, high-quality county government services and those are made possible by a strong, reliable workforce,” Hendrickson said. “We intend to keep Gwinnett a preferred community where everyone can thrive by being the public sector employer of choice.

Statesboro City Council is considering whether to renew a rent-free lease of office space to their Congressional representative, according to the Statesboro Herald.

“City has traditionally provided office space in City Hall to our Congressional representative,” City Attorney Cain Smith summarized in his memo for the mayor and council.  “This lease would continue placement of the office in City Hall through Rep. Allen’s current two-year term in the U.S. House of Representatives.”

“I have a question. So, why is it free?” asked District 2 Councilwoman Paulette Chavers.

At first there was some laughter among the city officials.

“Well, no, that’s a reasonable question,” said District 1 Councilman Phil Boyum. “Is he getting free resources across the district?”

“But it’s not for Rick Allen. It’s for the seat,” said District 4 Councilman John Riggs.

“John Barrow actually started that,” noted Mayor Jonathan McCollar.

The Georgia Ports Authority Board approved a plan to renovate the Port of Savannah for greater capacity, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Albany Herald.

“For nearly 40 years, Ocean Terminal has been handling a mix of container ships and breakbulk vessels,” authority Executive Director Griff Lynch said. “The realignment is part of a broader effort to transform the terminal into an all-container operation, shifting most breakbulk cargo to the Port of Brunswick.”

The GPA plans to move breakbulk cargo, which doesn’t easily fit into shipping containers, to Colonel’s Island Terminal in Brunswick. Construction has started on 360,000 square feet of dockside warehousing that will serve auto processing there, as well as three additional buildings and 85 acres of auto storage space on the south side of the island.

The 200-acre Ocean Terminal facility will be modified in two phases.

The work will begin with rebuilding the docks to provide 2,800 linear feet of berth space capable of serving two big ships simultaneously. The docks will be served by new ship-to-shore cranes.

“As the dock construction progresses, GPA will continue to operate container ships at Ocean Terminal,” Ed McCarthy, the ports authority’s chief operating officer, said. “The work … will be conducted alongside container and breakbulk operations.”

Apart from new cranes and berth enhancements, the project will bring expanded gate facilities and paving to allow for 1.5 million twenty-foot equivalent container units (TEUs) of annual cargo capacity. Wharf renovations are scheduled to start in January, with completion of the entire terminal redevelopment expected in 2026.

6
Dec

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 6, 2022

On December 6, 1847, Dr. William White spoke to a group of Atlanta residents about a proposal to move the state capital to Atlanta and was met with cheers.

The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified on December 6, 1865, when Georgia ratified the Amendment outlawing slavery.

“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

The Washington Monument was completed on December 6, 1884.

On December 6, 1932, the legislation repealing Prohibition was introduced by Senator John Blaine of Wisconsin. It was ratified on December 5, 1933. Georgia never took action on the Amendment.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Today is Runoff Election Day. Call it Game Day. Check with the SOS MVP system for your voting location if you have any questions about your voting precinct location. From the Secretary of State’s Office:

ClaytonForsythRichmondGwinnettFultonDekalb, and Cobb are among the counties publishing wait times, and we encourage voters to check before going to the polls.

I’d take my photo ID, a water bottle, snack, comfortable shoes, rain coat or umbrella, and maybe a folding chair. Good luck out there, my friends.

From the Brunswick News:

More than 1.85 million voters turned out to the polls last week to early vote in the runoff featuring incumbent Democrat Raphael Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Walker.

Patrick Duncan, chair of the Glynn County Republican committee, said he is uncertain how busy the polling places will be today, but the busier they are, they more it favors his party and Walker’s chances for election.

Julie Jordan, chair of the Glynn County Democratic Party, said she expects the prediction of a close race will motivate many Democrats to go to the polls.

“This is trickier than usual,” she said. “I expect a big turnout. We haven’t haven’t had enough early voting days.”

Duncan predicted a close election that will be determined by the candidate’s supporters most motivated to show up at the polls.

“It’s a horse race,” he said. “It’s about the turnout.”

Duncan said a Walker win won’t give Republicans a majority in the senate, but it would lead to a 50-50 split, which would make a difference, even with the vice president as the tie breaker.

“We can get better representation on committees,” he said. “It would say a lot about the state of Georgia if we could win back a senate seat.”

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. for today’s runoff election.

From the Dalton Daily Citizen News:

Those in line at 7 p.m. will be allowed to vote. Voters should bring a photo ID.

Georgia voters continued “strong turnout during each day of early voting” last week, according to the Secretary of State’s Office.

As of Saturday morning, 1,712,651 voters cast ballots during early voting. Friday’s total of 352,953 broke the previous one-day record for early voting in the 2016 presidential election, where 252,715 voters cast their ballots. Monday and Tuesday both showed totals above 300,000 ballots cast, with the lowest total of 286,000 voters going to the polls on Wednesday. Thursday’s total of 298,000 nearly broke the 300,000 mark.

In-person turnout throughout the week reached 1,712,651 with total turnout reaching 1,852,593 including absentee and military voters. Turnout for the 2022 runoff has now reached 26.4% of active Georgia voters.

From the Valdosta Daily Times:

Nearly 18,000 Lowndes County voters have cast ballots during early voting for the high-profile Senate runoff race between incumbent Democrat Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Walker.

Some Valdosta voters in Lowndes County are also casting votes in a local runoff race between two candidates for the Valdosta City Council District 3 seat, Thomas McIntyre and Dr. Mattie Blake.

As of this past weekend, according to the Lowndes County Board of Elections 17,787 Lowndes County voters cast ballots during the week of Nov. 27 to Dec. 2.

Tuesday registered voters may vote in an assigned precinct from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. To find an assigned precinct, go to: https://mvp.sos.ga.gov.

Herschel Walker campaigned in Valdosta over the weekend, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Herschel Walker returned to Valdosta this past weekend to drum up support for Election Day.

Walker was joined by Republican supporters, voters and fans in a field across from Academy Sports in Valdosta, where he talked about military support, national security and what he called “strong, conservative family values”.

Rick Scott, U.S. senator from Florida, accompanied Walker.

“The grace of God had a place for me to go. The grace of God had a mission for me to do. And I thought that mission had something to do with athletics…But my mission is to be senator,” he said.

Walker also campaigned in Gainesville, according to the Gainesville Times.

Republican Herschel Walker was back in Hall County Monday – this time at Curt’s Restaurant in Oakwood.

It was Walker’s fourth campaign visit to Hall this election. He came just one day after Democratic U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock spoke to supporters at St. John Baptist Church in Gainesville – and a day before the Dec. 6 runoff election decides which candidate will occupy a seat in Georgia’s Senate for the next six years.

Retired Hall County resident Keith Hix, 61, said he believes Walker is the best person to fill Georgia’s contested Senate seat – which, even if Walker wins tomorrow’s runoff, still wouldn’t be enough to give Republicans control of the Senate after Democrats picked up a GOP-held seat in Pennsylvania and won races in Arizona and Nevada.

“I just don’t agree with anything the Biden administration has done,” Hix said. “I think there’s just too many rubber stamps out there that just go along with everything (Democrats) say, and I think Herschel will stand up and do things a little different.”

Hall County had more than 34,000 voters cast a ballot in-person in last week’s early voting period.

Polling precincts will be open from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 6 – which will be the last day to vote in the runoff election. Voters must go to their designated precincts to cast their ballot in-person. Absentee by mail ballots should be delivered to the ballot box located in the Elections Office on the lower level of the Hall County Government Center by 7 p.m. Tuesday.

From CNN via the Gwinnett Daily Post:

Former UN Ambassador Andrew Young rode his scooter alongside Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock, Martin Luther King III and a fervent crowd of marchers on a recent Sunday through a southwest Atlanta neighborhood. The group stopped at an early polling location to vote, forming a line with some waiting as long as one hour to cast their ballots.

Community leaders and political observers say the Black vote has consistently played a pivotal role in high-stakes races for Democrats, including in 2021, when Warnock defeated then-Sen. Kelly Loeffler in a runoff. Black voters likely to cast a ballot are near unanimous in their support for the Democrat (96% Warnock to 3% Walker), according to a CNN poll released last week that showed Warnock with a narrow lead.

A second runoff victory for Warnock could once again hinge on Black voter turnout in a consequential race. If Warnock wins, it would give Democrats a clean Senate majority — one that doesn’t rely on Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote and allows Majority Leader Chuck Schumer more control of key committees and some slack in potentially divisive judicial and administrative confirmation fights.

Billy Honor, director of organizing for the New Georgia Project Action Fund, said the Black turnout so far looks promising for Democrats.
“When we get Black voter turnout in any election statewide that’s between 31 and 33%, that’s usually good for Democrats,” Honor said. “If it’s between 27 and 30%, that’s usually good for Republicans.”

Honor added: “This has an impact on elections because we know that if you’re a Democratic candidate, the coalition you have to put together is a certain amount of college-educated White folks, a certain amount of women overall, as many young people as you can get to turn out — and Black voters. That’s the coalition. (Former president) Barack Obama was able to smash that coalition in 2008 in ways we hadn’t seen.”

Young said he believes that Black voters are more likely to show up for runoff elections, which historically have lower turnout than general elections, when the candidate is likeable and relatable.

Senator Warnock campaigned in Gainesville, according to the Gainesville Times.

Warnock first won the seat in a special election two years ago, which also went to a runoff, giving Democrats a razor-thin majority in the Senate. He is now seeking a full six-year term.

Warnock emphasized the importance of his race and urged everyone to get out and vote.

“It’s an emergency. We can’t just have anybody represent 11 million people for six years. It’s an emergency,” Warnock repeated several times, rallying the crowd to a crescendo of whoops and applause before exiting the podium.

When asked about the stakes of the election, [Sue Perkins from White County] said a Warnock win will provide some buffer against more conservative Democrats like Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema and West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, who have at times blocked President Joe Biden’s agenda.

“It’s just going to be a lot easier for us to do the work that we need to do in Washington,” she said. “That’s the bottom line. It means less red tape, more Democrats on committees.”

Making it easier in Washington is not an appeal that works for me.

From Greg Bluestein, writing for the AJC:

The runoff between Democratic U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker gives voters another chance to decide the coveted seat, and the outcome will shape whether Georgia has decisively swung back to GOP territory or retains its purplish hue.

A Warnock victory in the final election of 2022 would give Democrats the clear majority in the chamber, while Republicans are eager to narrow the Democratic advantage in the Senate to limit President Joe Biden’s agenda.

Unlike the November midterm, Walker won’t have Gov. Brian Kemp and other Republicans on the ballot to help as he appeals to swing voters. And Warnock, who has been on five ballots since November 2020, must persuade supporters to rally for him one more time.

Thanks to a turnout surge, Democrats are confident they’ve built a solid cushion during early voting that will pose a difficult, but not insurmountable, obstacle for Walker. An analysis by the left-leaning TargetSmart firm projects Warnock with at least 52% of the early vote.

Nearly one-third of the early-voting electorate is Black, the most reliable base of support for Democrats, and African Americans turned out in higher numbers than other demographics, Emory University political scientist Bernard Fraga said.

But Walker still retains a path to victory. The few polls of the runoff indicate he has the edge with older voters, who participated in early voting at high rates. And Walker is relying on heavy election day turnout, which has long favored Republicans.

The question is whether the GOP base will turn out in big numbers for Walker, whose history of erratic and violent behavior — as well as blunders on the campaign trail — have alienated many in the party.

“Your average Georgia Republican voter has already moved on,” said Jason Shepherd, a former Cobb County GOP chair. “Most Republicans knew Walker needed to win in November as he had too many missteps and too many negatives. He needed the rest of the ticket to pull him over the goal.”

5
Dec

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 5, 2022

On December 5, 1887, Georgia voters approved a new State Constitution and voted to keep the state capital in Atlanta instead of moving it back to Milledgeville.

On December 5, 1933, Utah became the 36th state to ratify the 21st Amendment, repealing the 18th Amendment and ending prohibition. Earlier that day, Pennsylvania and Ohio had ratified the Amendment.

On December 5, 2000, the soundtrack to O Brother, Where Art Thou was released.

On December 5, 2006, Republican Chuck Eaton won the General Election Runoff for Public Service Commission District 3, beating incumbent Democrat David Burgess. Total votes cast: 215,092.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Qualifying for the State House District 7 seat vacated by the death of Speaker David Ralston opens today and runs through 1 PM on Wednesday, according to a Press Release.

Notice is hereby given that a Special Election shall be held on January 3, 2023, in Fannin, Gilmer and a portion of Dawson Counties for Georgia House District 7 to fill a vacancy due to the passing of Representative David Ralston. A run-off, if needed, shall be held on January 31, 2023. Qualifying for the special election shall be held at the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office at 2 MLK Jr. Drive, Suite 802, Floyd West Tower, Atlanta, Georgia 30334.

The dates and hours of qualifying will be Monday, December 5, 2022, beginning at 9:00 a.m. and ending at 5:00 p.m., Tuesday, December 6, 2022, beginning at 8:00 a.m. and ending at 5:00 p.m., and Wednesday, December 7, 2022, beginning at 8:00 a.m. and ending at 1:00 p.m. The qualifying fee shall be $400.00. Monday, December 5, 2022, is the last day to register to vote for all persons who are not registered to vote and who desire to vote in the Special Election. Advance in-person absentee voting will begin on December 12, 2022.

Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie described the Georgia Senate runoff with a football metaphor. From The Hill:

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) on Sunday said that Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s (R) support for Republican Senate nominee and former NFL star Herschel Walker would contribute to a boost for Walker but difficulties remain when it comes to an outright win.

“He would be the first human being who ever dragged Herschel Walker over the goal line,” Christie, an ABC contributor, said on the network’s “This Week.”

“Brian Kemp, people wondered whether he would go all-in or not. He has. With his staff he has been out there personally campaigning for Walker,” Christie said.

“I think it’s going to be very close. These Georgia elections have been very close. I think it will be close,” Christie said.

“Warnock appears to have momentum. And let’s face it, he came into this with a lead from election night, right? So Walker has got ground to make up. … What hurts the Republicans the most is you can’t argue now that this is for control. If it was for control, some people who have some misgivings about Herschel Walker would probably be willing to abandon those in order to prevent Democrats from getting control. But now that control is not up, I think that may hurt Republican turnout a little bit,” Christie said.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: as long as Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema are United States Senators, 50 Democrats in that chamber does not constitute “control.”

From the New York Times:

Whatever happens with Mr. Walker, keep an eye on Mr. Kemp. The 59-year-old Georgia governor is positioning himself to be a major Republican player — one that, unlike so many in his party, is not a complete Trump chump.

If Mr. Kemp’s electoral victory over Stacey Abrams was decisive, besting her by more than seven percentage points, his psychological victory over Donald Trump was devastating, in ways you cannot measure in votes. Mr. Trump had targeted Mr. Kemp for defeat this year, after the governor refused to help him subvert the presidential election results in 2020. The former president put a lot of political capital on the line in his crusade against Mr. Kemp, only to get spanked once again in Georgia. The governor’s refusal to bow to Mr. Trump wound up burnishing his reputation across party lines, which served him well in the purplish state. In the general election last month, Mr. Kemp won 200,000 more votes than Mr. Walker did in his race.

It’s all upside for Mr. Kemp. No one will seriously blame him if he can’t rescue a candidate as lousy as Mr. Walker, and he wins friends and influence within the party simply by trying. He also gets to wallow in his status as a separate, non-Trumpian power center.

And if Mr. Kemp somehow manages to drag Mr. Walker to victory, clawing back one of the two Georgia Senate seats Mr. Trump helped cost the party last year, it will be an ostrich-size feather in his already heavily plumed cap — not to mention a fat thumb in Mr. Trump’s eye.

Herschel Walker has talked about his Georgia roots a lot, but nothing could be more peak-Georgia than campaigning in the parking lot of a Piggly Wiggly. From WTVM:

Hershel Walker greeted supporters at the Piggly Wiggly grocery store on 13th Avenue in Columbus. The purpose of the rally is to continue to promote support for Walker and encourage voters to head to the polls.

“What they want to do is make these other leaders that America is weak, I’m telling y’all we’re not weak – we are good people. I don’t know how many people have already voted, but get out and vote,” says Senate Candidate Herschel Walker.

His supporters say it’s how he stands on the issues that’s most important to them.

“The abortion, because I am a speaker for the voiceless, which is babies, and babies cannot speak for themselves,” says one Walker supporter. “We need a good candidate in the government representing us, and Herschel is the one,” says another Walker supporter. “He’s got integrity, he’s got character, he’s definitely got Georgia on his mind, and he is for the people,” says one supporter.

“Tell your friends to get out to vote, and if you don’t have no friends, make some friends and get them to get out and vote, we have to get this right, right now,” says Herschel Walker.

Senator Raphael Warnock rallied voters in Gainesville on Sunday, according to the Gainesville Times.

At a Walker campaign stop in Gainesville last month, South Carolina Sen. Linsdey Graham took the podium and spoke about the stakes of the race, saying a Walker win would alter the course of the country and shape the future of the Republican Party “forever.”

Walker announced late Friday that he will make a third stop in Gainesville on Monday.

From AccessWDUN:

Crowds gathered inside St. John Baptist Church on E. E. Butler Parkway and cheered as Democratic incumbent Reverend Raphael Warnock delivered his speech. He touched on many of the major issues his platform aims to address in the event he is reelected to the United States Senate. Herschel Walker is currently running against Warnock in the December 6 runoff election. Several other members of the Warnock campaign and a local pastor opened with emphatic remarks.

When asked how he plans to encourage voters to head to the polls again on Tuesday, Warnock said he enjoys speaking directly to citizens and hopes such interactions prove his worth.

“I’m heartened by the extraordinary early vote turnout that we saw during that period, but we can’t rest—not even for one moment,” Warnock said. “We cannot take our foot off the gas, which is why you see me moving all across the state, talking directly to voters, something I enjoy doing anyway. But we need everybody to make a plan to vote—go to iwillvote.com. And make sure that you know your voting precinct because during the early period, you can vote anywhere in your county. But on election day, you have to vote in your actual precinct.”

“I think we are seeing in a state, that’s not known to be a split ticket state, that people have voted for me on both sides of the aisle,” Warnock. “And I think there’s a reason for that. On the issue of competence and character, the differences are obvious. And they’re stark. And in addition to that people have seen the amazing amount of bipartisan work I’ve done—enough to have me listed as the 18th most bipartisan senator in the Senate, even though I’m the most junior senator in the Senate.”

A group of female motorcyclists is running a voter turnout drive, according to WTOC.

“We let our bikes do the talking for us,” said Latonya Maxwell, President of Ladies First Motorcycle Club.

They’re part of dozens of other bikers traversing the Peach State with voting groups this weekend urging others to head to the ballot box during Tuesday’s runoff election.

So far the group has traveled from Columbus, to Albany, and here to Savannah for the “On The Runoff Tour,” not telling people who to vote for, but making sure they have the info voters need for each candidate.

“If you see yourself represented in their platforms and the things that they are talking about and how they’re communicating and conveying their message to people, then you should vote for them,” said Britney Whaley, Southeast Regional Director for Working Families.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia hosted gatherings at each stop on the tour, hoping every voice will be heard by bringing in different groups.

I was cool with that right up until the part about the ACLU.

Geography will tell you a lot as you watch the election returns tomorrow night. From WSAV:

Warnock outperformed Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams in predominately Democratic counties like DeKalb, Fulton and Clayton. Meanwhile, Walker underperformed Gov. Brian Kemp (R) in predominately GOP counties like Forsyth, Cherokee and Hall. Experts say the key test will be how well both campaigns turn out those reliably blue and red counties.

“If there is anything to look at, I would be paying attention to if we see anemic turnout in traditionally Republican areas versus anemic turnout in traditionally Democratic areas, because whichever group has the most anemic turnout is probably going to be the side that loses,” said Andra Gillespie, a political science professor at Emory University.

Charles Bullock, a political science professor at the University of Georgia, said that Democrats’ focus on the large metro counties will be especially important.

“For a Democrat, that’s absolutely essential. Can’t make up the votes anyplace else,” he said.

“I think the question for Democrats or Republicans is how do you get back those people who voted for Brian Kemp but could not or would not vote for Herschel Walker? And I think the challenge for Republicans is you can’t make the argument that control of the Senate is up for grabs,” said Gillespie.

Indeed, it’s no accident that former President Obama was stumping for Warnock on Thursday in Atlanta in an effort to energize the Democratic base.

Among some of the key counties in which Republicans will need to rely on high voter turnout are Cherokee and Forsyth exurban counties, which sit next to each other and lie north of Atlanta.

Cherokee went for Walker by 38 points in November and Kemp by 49 points. Trump performed similarly to Walker in 2020, winning the county by 39 points while Loeffler won it by 40 points. And like Cherokee, Forsyth was another GOP county where Walker underperformed Kemp with margins of 33 points and 46 points respectively. Trump and Loeffler took the county by 33 and 35 points respectively during the November 2020 election and January 2021 runoff.

Hall County, which includes Gainesville and is represented by Rep. Andrew Clyde (R), will also prove critical for Republicans. The county, also majority white, has just more than 200,000 people, located northwest of Athens. Kemp boasted a margin of 55 points while Walker took the county by 45 points. Trump won the county 43 points in 2020, while Loeffler won it by 44 during the 2021 runoff.

From David Catanese via the Ledger-Enquirer:

Warnock, who largely matched his 2021 performance in the Atlanta metro area this November, saw his numbers lag in outstate counties compared to his last race. The Democratic incumbent finished 37,675 votes ahead of Herschel Walker last month, falling just seven-tenths of a point short of the 50% + 1 necessary to avoid the runoff.

Cyrus Garrett, a Democratic operative who is working with outside groups in the state and directed the South for Joe Biden’s 2020 campaign, said the dropoff was likely the result of two factors: Fewer candidate visits to downstate areas and an impression held by some Black voters that Walker couldn’t possibly win.

“There was a lack of presence of showing up and there was also a feeling that this is kind of metro Atlanta Warnock and metro Atlanta [Stacey] Abrams and our issues aren’t as front and center to some of those folks,” said Garrett. “The funny thing is that Herschel Walker is such a historically bad candidate that a lot of those people didn’t show up the first time around, because … there was some disbelief that he could win.”

In Muscogee County, Warnock performed just under 1 percentage point worse than in his 2021 runoff against Kelly Loeffler. But in rural Stewart County, he was 3.5 points off his 2021 finish, in Terrell County, he ended up 2.5 points behind that marker and in Talbot County, Warnock was 2 points off his pace.

In Bibb County, Warnock fell 1.6 points short of his victory percentage against Loeffler. And across the state to the eastern side, in Liberty County, Warnock’s finish this year was more than 2 points worse than last year.

Yet in Fulton County, Warnock actually exceeded his 2021 percentage by a point. And in DeKalb County, another Democratic Party bastion in the most populous region, the senator met his 2021 vote benchmark even while competing against a third party candidate.

“Warnock ran the numbers up in metro Atlanta,” noted Danny Glover, a Macon-based political organizer. “However in order to win this runoff he has to do the same in the places he’s ignored since the last runoff: Columbus, Macon, Augusta and Albany. Remember when I talked about those areas being fickle?”

Walker’s path to victory is to boost his margins in exurban counties north of Atlanta as well slightly lifting his support in the vast majority of Georgia’s rural red counties, where he marginally improved on former President Donald Trump’s 2020 totals.

“You may say, ‘that doesn’t matter, they’re rural.’ The problem is Georgia has 159 counties, so when you add up all of those margins, that makes a difference,” said Stephen Lawson, a Republican strategist working on behalf of Walker’s super PAC. “That’s the opportunity, I think, that’s in front of Herschel, is to really run up the score in those places.”

Georgia voters set another early voting record Friday, according to 13WMAZ.

The Georgia Secretary of State’s office says the state broke another early voting record Friday, and at Bibb County polls, it certainly looked that way.

At one point, the line wrapped all the way around the elections building, and almost onto Pio Nono Avenue. Even after the polls closed at 5:30, plenty of people were still in line trying to make their voices heard.

Bibb Elections Supervisor Tom Gillon …. [said] the lines should be shorter Tuesday with all 31 precincts open. To that, the Hatfields say: “Get out and vote! If not today, then Tuesday!”

Polls are open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, so there’s still time to cast your vote. Gillon says you can turn in absentee ballots up until 7 p.m. on election day. He says you must hand your absentee ballot to a staff member. That applies to any county.

Chatham County Commissioners approved a split of Local Option Sales Tax proceeds with its municipalities, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Chatham will accept a 31% county-69% cities split of the funds as suggested by city leaders earlier this week. In a letter dated Nov. 29, municipal officials listed the 69% rate as the lowest they would consider in negotiations. Chatham Chairman Chester Ellis clarified after that the share would not escalate as the commission previously proposed and remain at a 31%-69% split for the next 10 years.

The latest proposal comes just three days after the mayors sent a letter declining a county plan that established Chatham’s share at 31% but included an annual 2% escalation. Under that scenario, the county’s portion would climb to 49% over the 10-year length of the agreement.

 

 

2
Dec

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 2, 2022

John Wesley left Savannah on December 2, 1737.

John Wesley’s strict discipline as rector of Christ Church in Savannah irritated his parishioners. More trouble followed when he fell in love with Sophia Hopkey, the niece of Georgia’s chief magistrate. When she married another man, Wesley banned her from Holy Communion, damaging her reputation in the community.

His successful romantic rival sued him; but Wesley refused to recognize the authority of the court, and the man who would eventually found a major Protestant denomination in America left Georgia in disgrace on December 2, 1737.

Touro Synagogue, the oldest existing synagogue in the United States, was dedicated on December 2, 1763 in Newport, Rhode Island.

628px-Grand_Union_Flag.svg

On December 3, 1775, the Grand Union Flag, comprising the Union Jack with thirteen red-and-white stripes was raised for the first time by Lieutenant John Paul Jones over the USS Alfred, a colonial warship. The flag would be used by Continental forces thorugh 1776 and early 1777.

USS Alfred

On December 3, 1776, General George Washington wrote Congress that he had moved most of his army across the Delaware River from Trenton, New Jersey to Pennsylvania.

On December 4, 1783, General George Washington told his officers he would resign his commission and return to his life at Mount Vernon.

The Skirmish at Rocky Creek Church took place near Waynesboro, Georgia on December 2, 1864.

On December 3, 1864, Union forces under the command of Gen. William T. Sherman skirmished against Wheeler’s Confederate cavalry at Thomas’ Station in Burke County, Georgia.

The Battle of Waynesboro, Georgia was fought between Wheeler’s Confederate cavalry and Kilpatrick’s federal troops on December 4, 1864.

Governor William Northen signed legislation placing on the statewide ballot a constitutional amendment to increase the number of Georgia Supreme Court Justices from 3 to 5 on December 4, 1893.

On December 4, 1932, a 12-foot tall statue of Tom Watson, former state legislator, Congressman, and United States Senator from Georgia, was placed on the State Capitol Grounds.

On December 4, 1945, the United States Senate voted to approve full U.S. participation in the United Nations. Georgia’s Senators voted in favor.

On December 4, 2018, Brad Raffensperger won the General Election Runoff for Georgia Secretary of State.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp and the Technical College System of Georgia announced grants for two new career academies, according to a Press Release.Continue Reading..

30
Nov

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 30, 2022

General George Washington set up winter headquarters at Morristown, New Jersey on December 1, 1779.

On November 30, 1782, British and American signed a preliminary treaty in Paris to end the American Revolution, which included withdrawal of British troops and recognition of American independence.

On November 30, 1819, the SS Savannah returned to Savannah, GA from its trip as the first steamship to cross the Atlantic.

On December 1, 1824, the election for President of the United States, in which no candidate received a majority of electoral votes, went to the United States House of Representatives.

Andrew Jackson of Tennessee won 99 electoral and 153,544 popular votes; John Quincy Adams–the son of John Adams, the second president of the United States–received 84 electoral and 108,740 popular votes; Secretary of State William H. Crawford, who had suffered a stroke before the election, received 41 electoral votes; and Representative Henry Clay of Virginia won 37 electoral votes.

As dictated by the Constitution, the election was then turned over to the House of Representatives. The 12th Amendment states that if no electoral majority is won, only the three candidates who receive the most popular votes will be considered in the House. Representative Henry Clay, who was disqualified from the House vote as a fourth-place candidate, agreed to use his influence to have John Quincy Adams elected.

The City of Sandy Springs began operations at one second after midnight on December 1, 2005. Three years later, Dunwoody became a new city, on December 1, 2008.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

More than half-a-million Georgia voters have cast their ballots in the Runoff Election for United States Senate, according to Atlanta News First via WTVM.

As of Tuesday morning, 503,792 Georgians have cast ballots, either through absentee voting or early voting, which began in some counties over the weekend and launched statewide on Monday. The data comes from the Georgia Secretary of State’s data hub for the Dec. 6 runoff.

Early Tuesday afternoon, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said, “Voters broke the all-time daily turnout record for in-person early voting on Monday, November 28. As of Tuesday morning, 468,000 Georgians have cast their in-person ballot for the December 6 runoff, with an astounding 301,545 casting their vote on Monday.

“Monday’s total is well above previous records of 233,252 voters processed on the final day of early voting in the 2018 general election, and 252,715 voting on the highest day of early voting in 2016,” Raffensperger added.

In terms of early voting, the metro Atlanta counties of Fulton, DeKalb, Gwinnett and Cobb are leading all other Georgia counties.

Raffensperger acknowledged long voting lines have been reported in some metro areas.

“However, many metro area polling locations experienced little to no wait times,” Raffensperger said. “Richmond, Gwinnett, Fulton, and Cobb are among the counties publishing wait times, and we encourage voters to check before going to the polls.

The last day for early voting is Friday, December 2.

From the Savannah Morning News:

Earlier this month, Emory University Associate Professor Bernard L. Fraga tweeted out topline turnout numbers for those who cast ballots in the general. Just over half of Georgians who were eligible to vote turned out for the midterm, he calculated, down about 1% from last midterm in 2018.

“It’s a bit easier to vote in 2022, relative to 2018, there’s been an expansion of early voting options and the like but overall turnout was relatively lower in 2022 to 2018,” said Zachary Peskowitz, associate professor of political science at Emory. “I suspect what is going on is, this was not a referendum on Trump, and was not an opportunity to voice your support of Trump or your displeasure of Trump, in the same way that the 2018 midterms were.”

Black and Hispanic turnout declined by a few percentage points, Asian turnout increased, and white turnout increased by just 0.4%, according to Fraga’s data. This was despite much higher early voting numbers this year than in 2018.

“I don’t know why we had this drop off, because I think it was unexpected. You know, we’ve set a record with midterm elections four years ago and for a presidential election two years ago and for a runoff election in January of 2021,” said Charles Bullock, a University of Georgia political science professor widely considered the foremost authority on state politics. “Looked like we had a very energized electorate that would show up in large numbers.”

“It looks like maybe young people were not as energized, and maybe the minority community not as energized,” Bullock said. “Why might that be? Well, again, just to speculate, maybe it was because they didn’t feel like the Biden administration had come through for them.”

Black voters also supported Abrams, with 90% of those polled voting for her, about 55% of Hispanic or Latino and Asian voters backed her as well. Three-quarters of white voters backed Kemp.

“I’m very interested in what Black turnout in the runoff is relative to the general election,” Peskowitz said. “I think that’s probably the critical variable and determining who wins the runoff.”

From 13WMAZ:

Herschel Walker stopped in Greensboro in Northeast Georgia Tuesday while Senator Raphael Warnock spoke in Fort Valley.

“Get out and vote. Tell 10 of your friends to get out to vote. If you don’t have friends, make friends and tell them to get out and vote,” Walker said at a rally in Greene County Tuesday.

“If you stand with me for the next seven days, I’ll stand up for you for the next 6 years. I think that’s a pretty good deal. Are you ready to get this thing done?” Warnock said to a room of students.

Raphael Warnock made his third college visit of the week Tuesday, speaking to a small group of students at Fort Valley State University.

Meanwhile, Herschel Walker has concentrated on campaigning in north Georgia for much of the runoff, including Tuesday, when he spoke to a crowd in Greene County.

He talked about energy independence, critical race theory, supporting police, and opposing abortion, but his most consistent theme has been making the incumbent the issue.

“He’s lying to you and telling you this is the new normal. He’s lying to you and telling you everything is OK. No, it’s not. Crime is the way it is because of him,” Walker said.

In the Atlanta area, Charles Bullock, University of Georgia political science professor, says Republicans try to run up vote totals in Hall, Cherokee and Forsyth counties. Those counties are population dense and Republican.

We’ve also seen Warnock campaigning a lot on college campuses. Bullock says the younger the voter, the more likely they’ll vote Democrat. However, those younger voters are also less likely to turn out. Bullock says that’s why Warnock is working to mobilize them.

From the Capitol Beat News Service via the Rome News Tribune:

More than 300,000 Georgians cast ballots Monday, the first day of statewide early voting in the runoff contest between Democratic U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Walker. That easily broke the daily record for early voting turnout in Georgia of 233,000.

And that latest record didn’t last long. As of late Tuesday, another 309,083 Georgians had voted.

Floyd County once again was a big contributor to the state record. On Tuesday, 1,885 people cast ballots at the election office off East 12th Street or the Anthony Recreation Center. In three days of advance voting, Floyd has recorded 4,559 ballots as well as accepted 599 absentee votes.

From the Macon Telegraph:

Statewide early voting in the Senate runoff began Monday, and a record number of Georgians cast their ballots early, including more than 4,000 in Bibb County.

In Bibb County, 4,115 votes have already been cast most of those at the election board’s main office on Pio Nono.

From the AJC Political Insider:

While Democrats are giddy about the record-breaking voter participation so far in the runoff — particularly the soaring turnout from Black voters in Georgia — Republicans also have reason to be optimistic.

Herschel Walker campaign manager Scott Paradise noted that on Monday, the first day of early voting in all of Georgia’s 159 counties, nine of the top 10 with highest turnout were counties Walker carried in the midterm — most of them by an overwhelming margin.

And turnout was particularly robust in Forsyth and Hall counties — two of the most important GOP strongholds.

Although they trail Democratic strongholds like Fulton and DeKalb in population, the turnout spike in red counties indicates the kind of enthusiasm GOP strategists are looking for.

“All this being said, only 2% of the General’s Election Day voters have cast a ballot so far in the runoff,” Paradise tweeted.

“Herschel Walker won Election Day voters in the General Election by 15 points, a nearly 220,000 vote margin. So, we’re just getting started!”

Early voting yesterday was even higher, with 309,083 ballots cast. Altogether, more than 833,000 Georgians have already voted in this year’s runoff.

United States Senate candidate Herschel Walker (R) called Texas “home” according to CNN via the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Georgia Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker, facing renewed and growing questions about his residency in the final week of the runoff campaign, described himself during a campaign speech in January as living in Texas and said he decided to run for Georgia’s Senate seat while at his Texas “home,” according to a CNN KFile review of his campaign speeches.

Georgia Democrats have called for an investigation by state officials into Walker’s residency after CNN’s KFile reported last week that Walker was getting a tax break in Texas intended for a primary residence, possibly running afoul of Texas tax law and some rules for establishing Georgia residency for voting and running for office.

“I live in Texas,” Walker said in January of this year, when speaking to University of Georgia College Republicans. Walker was criticizing Democrats for not visiting the border when he made the comments. “I went down to the border off and on sometimes,” he said.

“Everyone asks me, why did I decide to run for a Senate seat? Because to be honest with you, this is never something I ever, ever, ever thought in my life I’d ever do,” said Walker. “And that’s the honest truth. As I was sitting in my home in Texas, I was sitting in my home in Texas, and I was seeing what was going on in this country. I was seeing what was going on in this country with how they were trying to divide people.”

A CNN KFile review of some of Walker’s media appearances and events from 2021 and 2022 finds Walker appeared on Fox News and other conservative media from his Texas home at least four times after announcing his candidacy for Georgia’s Senate seat.
The interviews at his Texas home took place twice in September 2021 and in February and March of 2022.`

If I moved to Texas tomorrow and spent the rest of my life there, I would still describe things that happened pre-move at my current home Atlanta as “at home.” I don’t think this story makes a bit of difference to any voter.

The Athens-Clarke County Democratic Party headquarters was burglarized, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

The intruder flipped over tables and stole a laptop, police Lt. Shaun Barnett said on Tuesday.

The office had been locked the Saturday evening and a person who showed up for a meeting Sunday morning discovered the burglary, Barnett said.

29
Nov

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 29, 2022

Georgia ratified the Eleventh Amendment to the United States Constitution on November 29, 1794, which reads,

The judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by citizens of another state, or by citizens or subjects of any foreign state.

On November 29, 1942, coffee rationing began in the United States.

On November 29, 1947, the United Nations passed a resolution to partition Palestine and allow the creation of a Jewish state of Israel.

On November 29, 1963, President Lyndon Johnson appointed the President’s Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy, referred to as the Warren Commission. Senator Richard B. Russell, Jr. of Georgia was appointed to the Commission.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Early voting is now underway in every county in Georgia. From the Valdosta Daily Times:Continue Reading..

28
Nov

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 28, 2022

On November 28, 1520, Ferdinand Magellan became the first European to navigate from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific.

On November 28, 1777, Congress appointed John Adams as commissioner to France, replacing Silas Deane.

The Grand Ole Opry began live radio broadcasts from Nashville, Tennessee on November 28, 1925.

The Tawana Brawley case began on November 28, 1987; the greatest lasting impact would be the rise to celebrity of community activist the Rev. Al Sharpton.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Early voting begins today in Glynn County and many other counties for the December 6, 2022 Special Runoff Election for United States Senate. From The Brunswick News:

The only race on the ballot is the runoff between Democratic incumbent U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Warnock.

Glynn County’s three early voting polling places are at the main Glynn County Board of Elections Office, 1815 Gloucester St., Brunswick; St. Simons Fire Station No. 2, 1929 Demere Road.; and the Ballard Community Building, 30 Nimitz Drive, Brunswick. All three locations will be open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. today through Friday. Election Day is on Dec. 6.

From WALB in Albany:

A total of 27 counties in the Peach State have early voters taking advantage of the extra day to vote this weekend.

For other counties, early voting begins Monday, including Dougherty county.

Bennie Hand, a county elections board member, said this year’s turnout was much lower than he expected even in a midterm year.

On Nov. 8, 47% of people in Dougherty County who could vote did vote according to Hand.

“Dougherty had a lower turnout than surrounding counties. As a matter of fact, Dougherty County ranked in the bottom in the lower half of the counties in the state,” He said.

From WSAV in Savannah:

Early voting kicked off in Chatham County Saturday ahead of the runoff election between Democrat Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker on Dec. 6.

Individual counties had the option to offer voting this Saturday after a lawsuit by Warnock’s campaign and Democratic groups. They challenged guidance from the Secretary of State’s Office which cited a law that prohibited early voting within two days of a holiday.

A state Supreme Court judge ruled that the law doesn’t specifically apply to runoffs.

In Hinesville on Saturday, people showed up to vote only to be met by a locked door.

“I just think that it is crazy because most of us only have the weekend off from work, so today would be a great day,” said Liberty County voter, Marvin Beason.

Chatham County voters had the opportunity to cast their ballots Saturday at the Voter Registration’s Main Office at 1117 Eisenhower Dr., Suite E, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

From WTOC:

More than 1,000 voters already cast their ballot over the weekend during Saturday and Sunday voting in Chatham County.

Even though there were some lines, it moved quickly because there is just the one senate runoff on the ballot. This is the runoff for the highly contested Senate race between Herschel Walker and Raphael Warnock.

If you didn’t vote in the midterm you can still vote in this runoff, but only if you were registered to vote by the deadline for midterms. You can no longer register to vote just for this runoff.

From 13WMAZ:

Starting Monday November 28, all Georgia counties will offer early voting for the U.S Senate runoff race between Democratic Incumbent Senator Raphael Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker.

However, depending on the county you live in, some Georgians got a head start.

Folks in Bibb County had the opportunity to make their decisions Saturday, with people starting to line up an hour prior to the opening to ensure their vote counted.

As of 3:30 p.m., 1,117 people voted in Bibb County. Lines were wrapped around the building with eager voters like Izrael Dubois.

The county opened one polling location at their Board of Elections office on Pio Nono Avenue.

Baldwin, Crawford, Macon, and Hancock counties were the only others to offer the option in Central Georgia.

“With the polls closing at 5, you don’t get a chance to get here and get voting, we want everyone to come out here and vote,” [Brenda Little Carswell said].

Early Voting in all other counties is from Monday, November 28 until Friday, December 2.

If you plan to vote absentee, the last day to request a ballot is Monday.

From WJBF in Augusta headlined “Sunday 5,067 people voted early for the December runoff”:

Four locations in the Richmond County area opened up for early runoff voting including the Municipal Building, Henry Brigham, Warren Road and Robert Howard Community Centers.

From WRDW:

Early voting continues through Friday, but it started Sunday in Richmond County, bringing out more than 5,000 people to cast a ballot.

Although we didn’t have early voting on Saturday here, more than 70,000 people in Georgia took to the polls on Saturday.

Early voting ends across the state on Friday, then Dec. 6 is Election Day.

Richmond County Board of Elections Director Travis Doss explained the reason for the Sunday voting here.

“Because the time period for the runoff was so short, we wanted to try and give people as many opportunities as possible to come out and vote early,” he said.

Sunday’s total turnout of more than 5,000 beat previous single day turnout numbers from 2018, 2020 and 2022. The record was set back on the last day of advanced voting in 2016 at more than 5,400.

From the Gwinnett Daily Post:

Secretary of State’s Office Chief Operating Officer Gabriel Sterling said 15,053 Gwinnett voters cast ballots on the first day of advance in-person voting in the county this weekend. Another 15,633 voters cast ballots in Gwinnett on Sunday, according to Sterling.

Last week, Gwinnett County opted to offer seven days of early voting ahead of the Dec. 6 runoff between U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., and Republican candidate Herschel Walker. Friday will be the final day of advance in-person voting.

While some counties opted to only open some of their early voting locations on a limited schedule for Saturday and Sunday voting, Gwinnett’s elections board chose to operate all of the county’s 11 early voting sites on a 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. schedule for every day of advance in-person voting.

From the Gainesville Times:

[Elections Manager Paige Thompson] said the absentee by mail ballot box is located in the Elections Office on the lower level of the Hall County Government Center. Voters can deliver their ballots there between 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.

“All ballots must be received by our office by 7 p.m. on Tuesday, December 6,” Thompson said. “There is no early voting at the Hall County Government Center.”

From the Rome News Tribune:

Exactly 42 absentee ballots had been returned to the Floyd County elections office through late Saturday, just hours before the scheduled start of advance voting for the U.S. Senate runoff. The was impressive as the ballots were mailed a week ago.

[On Sunday], as the sites closed for the day, a total of 891 people had voted in the Senate runoff between Republican challenger Herschel Walker and U.S. Sen. Rev.  Raphael Warnock.

Most likely, that’s a record for Sunday advance voting in Floyd County and perhaps for a Saturday as well. Also, it was near what the election’s office recorded during a full day of early balloting for the Nov. 8 general election (between Oct. 17 and Nov. 4).

Governor Brian Kemp issued Executive Order #11.26.22.01, a writ of election calling a Special Election to fill the House District 7 seat vacated by the death of Speaker of the House David Ralston. The Special Election will be held Tuesday, January 3, 2023. The Secretary of State’s Office will set qualifying days and hours.

From the AJC:

The many sides of the late House Speaker David Ralston were honored in a funeral ceremony on Sunday that brought hundreds to his beloved hometown of Blue Ridge, nestled beneath the green-topped mountains that forged him.

“Politics were important. But people were more important,” said state Rep. Randy Nix, a Republican and close Ralston friend. “If you were hurting, the R and the D by your name didn’t really matter.”

And, perhaps the most fitting testament to Ralston’s memory, just about as many Democrats as Republicans assembled to bid the speaker farewell.

One of them, Democratic state Rep. Mack Jackson, recalled his stunned reaction when Ralston abruptly told him he planned to attend Sunday services at his tiny church in Tennille, a city of roughly 1,500 in east Georgia.

When Jackson asked why, Ralston answered simply: “Because you are my friend.”

“Those words resonated in my heart,” Jackson said in his eulogy. “This powerful man reached across the aisle to someone like me — and he came to a little rural Georgia church in Tennille. He truly cared about the whole state of Georgia.”

In an emotional eulogy, [former Governor Nathan] Deal fought tears as he praised Ralston’s steadying presence, knack for mediation and abiding sense of dignity amid turbulent political times. Though Ralston often appeared stern, Deal said lurking behind the veneer “was a sincere and caring smile.”

“He would help anyone if he could. He would use his power and influence to help anyone without power and influence,” said Deal, who praised Ralston’s uncanny understanding of policy and people that helped him lead his fractious GOP caucus.

“He was a student of history who could foresee where an issue was headed — even though opinion polls showed otherwise,” said Deal. “In political terms, he could see around corners.”

“None of the good things that happened in my administration could have happened, or would have happened, without David Ralston,” said Deal, who said he hoped his late wife, Sandra, was giving Ralston a tour of heaven beyond the pearly gates.

“Step aside, St. Peter,” the former governor said. “You have a new docent.”

As the funeral service neared an end, Nix uttered two words that Ralston took much pride in declaring each year to mark the end of another trying legislative session: “Sine Die.”

And then, with tears in his eyes, Nix added: “We look forward to that special session when we meet again.”

From GPB News:

“I’m told that Speaker Ralston always felt a sense of awe every time he entered the Capitol,” Gov. Brian Kemp said during a brief ceremony Tuesday. “Today, we all feel that sense of awe in the presence of this departed friend and servant of the people.”

State Rep. Calvin Smyre, a Democrat and the longest-serving member of the state House, considered Ralston a dear friend.

“We spent many, many conversations together talking about the things that relate itself to public policy in Georgia, and through it all we had a great relationship,” he said. “I worked with him on issues that were transformational and very weighty issues, and although we had some differences, but were never disagreeable.”

In recent years, Ralston helped shepherd bipartisan legislation to reform mental health care in Georgia, enact a hate crimes law and repeal the state’s citizens arrest law after the murder of Black jogger Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick as well as Georgia’s strict abortion law, sweeping election rules changes and other conservative-minded policies.

Kemp called the former speaker a “commanding authority” and “determined fighter” who would always show you respect, “and when the fighting is done, shake your hand.”

Smyre recalled a time when he originally planned to retire from being a lawmaker several years back and Ralston encouraged him to stay and work together on legislation, despite party differences and an increasingly rancorous national political environment.

“And two things that we talked about: one was civility, and one was tolerance of one’s opinion,” he said. “So those two items were what come to mind when it deals with Speaker Ralston. And although there were major differences under the Gold Dome, there was a sense of civility that you could disagree without being disagreeable.”

Axios reports that Governor Kemp has created a new federal PAC.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission to create Hardworking Americans Inc., a federal PAC that will allow the Republican to boost his national profile, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Kemp’s unique success defeating a Trump-backed opponent in a primary and a Democrat in a key battleground has made him something of a case study for Republicans. It’s also paved the way for speculation about his future national ambitions.

• The new PAC could set Kemp up for a federal run, including for U.S. Senate.

• Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) will be defending his seat in 2026, the same year Kemp’s gubernatorial term will end.

Be smart: A federal PAC allows Kemp to influence races across the country and donate money to other candidates, including in Republican primaries.

• In the near term, it could allow him to boost support for Republican Senate hopeful Herschel Walker, who’s locked in a Dec. 6 runoff against Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.).

• The PAC hasn’t yet reported any contributions, and no fundraiser for Walker has been announced.

What they’re saying: “We’re all in to help get Herschel over the goal line and keep Georgia red for years to come!” senior Kemp adviser Cody Hall told Axios.

Georgia’s unemployment rate ticked up in October, according to AccessWDUN.

State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said the rate in Gainesville rose from 2.0% to 2.5% in that span. That rate is also two-tenths of a percentage higher than October of 2021.

“Job seekers have continued to experience a favorable hiring environment across multiple job sectors, despite a slight uptick in unemployment rates,” Butler said. “As we prepare for peak holiday hiring, we encourage job seekers to take advantage of the many employment opportunities, both full-time and part-time, available across Georgia.”

While the unemployment rate is higher, Butler said the Gainesville area did add to its workforce, with about 700 people entering jobs last month. Job numbers are on the rise as well, with Gainesville ending October with a record 100,000 jobs.

Metro Atlanta has seen a rising number of anti-Semitic incidents, according to the AJC.

According to researchers with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), through October there have been 17 reported incidents in the metro area in 2022. That’s nearly double the 2021 total and does not include incidents in the farther-flung suburbs and the rest of the state.

Much of the rise is linked to the coordinated distribution of antisemitic leaflets. And those behind the campaign have seen their message boosted by the controversies of high-profile celebrities, such as rapper Ye (formerly Kanye West), whose social media messages and conspiracy theories about Jews resulted his suspension from Twitter and Instagram last month.

“In regards to Kayne West, his influence on Twitter opened a big door for us as white nationalists,” said Michael Weaver, a Cartersville resident who has conducted most of the leafleting campaigns in northern suburbs by himself. “His 30-plus million followers was the equivalent of distributing millions of flyers therefore red pilling tens of millions of Americans.”

Shortly after the Ye controversy, Carrollton police cited a couple for littering after a resident complained about a car driving through the city tossing baggies with antisemitic flyers weighted down with dried corn into yards. A man in the car estimated he had tossed 600 baggies that night, according to a police report.

Hearshen said such distributions of hate literature are not victimless acts, and they often lead to violence.

“Graffiti hurts, slander hurts, leafleting hurts,” he said. “But they don’t end with slander. They end with dead people.”

The Western Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office will create a new Juvenile Restorative Justice Diversion Program, according to the Athens Banner Herald:

The program was created in a partnership with the Georgia Conflict Center in Athens, according to its executive director Danny Malec.

The conflict center works with schools and criminal justice organizations. The nonprofit was created in 2010.

Restorative justice is an “evidence-backed philosophy” that focuses on the rehabilitation of offenders through reconciliation with the victims and community in which the offender takes accountability for their actions, according to a news release from the DA’s office.

“This method has shown high satisfaction rates for offenders, victims, and the overall communities in which restorative justice is practiced,” according to the DA.

Those eligible for the program are 16 and under and will be identified through the DA’s office. If the juvenile agrees to participate, he or she will be referred to the Georgia Conflict Center.

The Western Judicial Circuit serves Athens-Clarke County and Oconee County.

Bryan County will use a $37.1 million dollar loan to build out infrastructure associated with the new Hyundai manufacturing plant, according to the Savannah Morning News.

“The plan, in conjunction with the Savannah Harbor-Interstate 16 Corridor Joint Development Authority, is to pull water from strategically located wells to create a pipeline to the mega-site, while also providing services to select other sites along the way,” said Carter Infinger, chairman for the Bryan County Board of Commissioners.

“The sewer infrastructure is also planned for installation along key sites that have the most efficient impact. These projects are done with the assistance of the three other members of the JDA – Bulloch, Chatham and Effingham Counties.”

“Ultimately, the goal is to minimize the dollars Bryan County taxpayers spend on this water and sewer infrastructure,” said Infinger. “You can’t ask for a better interest rate than that. We don’t have to start paying it back for four years.”

He referred to the loan as “free money,” because future developments will contribute greatly in paying it off.

“It’s really not going to cost our citizens any money or much money to have these upgrades done when everybody pays their impact fees,” said Infinger. “We do a traffic impact analysis to look and see how it impacts, so we get money from those folks. It will basically pay this loan off. It’s free money for the county to do infrastructure projects to improve the roads for citizens in the way they get around, as well as sewer infrastructure projects.”

“The roadways to get to the site also need to be upgraded and we can do this with T-SPLOST funds and other funding mechanisms,” said Infinger.

Bulloch County Commissioners will meet jointly with Statesboro City Council members to discuss building out infrastructure in the southern part of the county, according to the Statesboro Herald.

A main topic will be the provision of water, sewer and other public infrastructure in the southeastern part of the county and for new industries in the region.

A related second topic for discussion will be transportation needs and planning after voters in the Nov. 8 referendum approved a five-year extension of the Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, or T-SPLOST.

In September, [Bulloch County Manager Tom] Couch suggested the county would be seeking more than $12 million from “outside” sources towards an estimated $22.6 million in infrastructure spending for supplying water and sewer service to future homes in southeastern Bulloch as well as the planned Hyundai Motor Group electric vehicle factory in northern Bryan County. At least some of the remaining “local” funding would be from federal American Rescue Plan Act, or ARPA, money already appropriated.

He also suggested that the city might extend its water and sewer systems to serve some of the growth area.

LaGrange City Council member Willie Edmonson will serve as Mayor Pro Tem after the resignation of Mayor Jim Thornton, according to WTVM.

Wednesday was the final day for Jim Thornton, who served the city for the past nine years.

Monday, Thornton will be beginning his new job as Director of Governmental Relations for the Georgia Municipal Association.

While he takes on a new role, Willie Edmonson, District 2 councilman, will temporarily fill the seat.

“I’ve had this position before, But naturally, that was when the mayor was in office, and I just acted only when he was not there. Now I’ll be acting on a regular basis,” said Edmonson.

The opportunity makes Edmonson the first Black person in the position.

“I look at it as a public servant Job. Not anything that so above anyone else,” said Edmonson.

For the past seven years, he’s served as a member of LaGrange’s City Council.

Edmonson says his primary focus while serving as the city’s mayor for a few months will be the economy.

The Port of Savannah recorded its second-busiest month on record for October, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Albany Herald.

The port handled 552,800 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) of containerized cargo last month, an increase of 9.8% over October of last year. That put Savannah’s total for October below only the 575,500 TEUs the port moved in August.

“There has been downward pressure on the total U.S. container trade related to inflation and a shift in consumer spending toward services such as restaurants and travel,” Joel Wooten, the authority’s board chairman, said. “However, the Port of Savannah continues to outperform relative to the national market, driving new business for Georgia.”

“Greater availability of computer chips has allowed carmakers to increase production,” Cliff Pyron, chief commercial officer for the ports authority, said. “This, combined with manufacturers’ traditional end-of-year push, yielded strong results for our October auto volumes.”

Authority Executive Director Griff Lynch said the Port of Savannah is continuing to make progress reducing the backlog of ships at anchor waiting to enter the port.

23
Nov

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 23, 2022

President George Washington declared November 26, 1789 the first “public day of thanksgiving and prayer.”

By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and—Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:”

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favor, able interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other trangressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally, to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.
Go. Washington

The only major battle on Sherman’s March to the Sea occurred at Griswoldsville on November 22, 1864; on the same day, federal troops marched into Milledgeville. On November 23, 1864, General William Tecumseh Sherman himself entered Milledgeville, where he used the Governor’s Mansion as his headquarters.

Milledgeville-Old-Governor-Mansion-3

On November 25, 1864, Sherman’s 14th and 20th Corps moved toward Sandersville while the 17th Corps fought briefly against a mix of Kentucky Militia, Georgia Military Institute cadets, and Georgia convicts.

On November 27, 1864, Sherman ordered the courthouse in Sandersville, Georgia burned.

On November 25, 1867, Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel filed a patent for dynamite. On November 25, 1895, Nobel wrote his will, leaving the equivalent of roughly $186 million (2008 dollars) to endow the Nobel prizes.

On November 26, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt established the Fourth Thursday in November as the modern Thanksgiving celebration.

[I]t was not until 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving to fall on the last Thursday of November, that the modern holiday was celebrated nationally.

With a few deviations, Lincoln’s precedent was followed annually by every subsequent president–until 1939. In 1939, Franklin D. Roosevelt departed from tradition by declaring November 23, the next to last Thursday that year, as Thanksgiving Day. Considerable controversy surrounded this deviation, and some Americans refused to honor Roosevelt’s declaration. For the next two years, Roosevelt repeated the unpopular proclamation, but on November 26, 1941, he admitted his mistake and signed a bill into law officially making the fourth Thursday in November the national holiday of Thanksgiving Day.

On the same day, a Japanese navy fleet left port headed toward Pearl Harbor.

President John F. Kennedy became the fourth President of the United States to be assassinated in office on November 22, 1963. The next day, Jack Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald, who had been arrested for shooting Kennedy.

President John F. Kennedy was buried at Arlington National Cemetery on November 25, 1963.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience played its first show at the Bag O’Nails Club in London on November 25, 1966.

On November 22, 1988, the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber was first unveiled publicly at Palmdale, California.

The Tawana Brawley case began on November 28, 1987; the greatest lasting impact would be the rise to celebrity of community activist the Rev. Al Sharpton.

Back to the Future II was released on November 22, 1989.

Construction on the Georgia Dome began on November 24, 1989.

On November 24, 1992, Republican Paul D. Coverdell defeated Democratic incumbent Wyche Fowler in the runoff election for United States Senate. We are thankful that Georgia has runoff elections, not something silly like drawing straws or instant runoff voting.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The Late Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives David Ralston lies in state in the Capitol, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Gwinnett Daily Post.

“He was a loyal friend through times of victory and loss,” Gov. Brian Kemp told the assembled mourners, who included Ralston’s family members as well as many state lawmakers.

“At times, he governed the House with an iron fist but also a big soft heart. That is why he was so respected and admired.”

“Those who frequently disagree with each other can still come together to achieve extraordinary things,” Kemp said of Ralston’s approach to politics.

Kemp listed some of Ralston’s key accomplishments: A mental health reform bill passed earlier this year, a 2020 hate crimes bill, and a 2015 transportation funding package.

“Of all those friends I’ve had the privilege of knowing, David Ralston was unique,” said Len Walker, who was Ralston’s pastor and, prior to that, served with Ralston in the Georgia House of Representatives. “He was one of a kind and I treasure his memory.”

“I treasured the conversations we had,” Walker said. “He was a friend who would build you up …. [and] make you feel better about what you were trying to do in this state Capitol.”

Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver, D-Decatur, credited Ralston for the passage of a major mental health bill earlier this year.
“We passed a very significant mental health reform bill because of David Ralston’s leadership. It would never have happened without him,” Oliver said. “He was committed from the beginning. I think his cause for reform will go on beyond today.”

“Speaker Ralston and I had a unique relationship,” said former Democratic Rep. Calvin Smyre, D-Columbus.

“He loved those heavy lifters,” Smyre said. “Politically, he had a two-way street and not a one-way alley. You could go back and forth with him, reason with him.”

Ralston’s body will lie in state in the Rotunda of the state Capitol until Wednesday morning. A funeral service at Fannin County High School Performing Arts Center in Blue Ridge is planned for 1 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 27.

Governor Kemp also cut a TV ad supporting Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker, according to The Hill.

The ad is part of a $14.2 million television, radio and digital advertising campaign funded by the Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC linked to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), seeking to boost Walker after his race against Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) went to a Dec. 6 runoff.

The ad titled, “Partner,” opens with a clip of reporters asking President Biden whether he will do anything differently over the next two years, to which Biden replies: “Nothing, I’m not going to change anything in any fundamental way.”

The spot then cuts to Kemp wearing a gray pullover with a small red outline of his state on the breast pocket telling the viewer: “Families are struggling because of Biden’s inflation, and Washington won’t change unless we make them.”

Kemp then claims that Georgia is doing better than the rest of the country “because we stood up for hard-working families.”

“Herschel Walker will vote for Georgia, not be another rubber stamp for Joe Biden,” he says as the ad flashes an image of incumbent Warnock standing on stage with the president.

“That’s why I’m backing Herschel, and I hope you’ll join me in voting for him too,” Kemp says, wrapping up his pitch.

The New York Times reports that Herschel Walker retains a homestead exemption on his home in Texas.

Public tax records first reported by CNN show that this year Mr. Walker will receive a homestead tax exemption of roughly $1,500 for his home in the Dallas area, which he listed as his primary residence. He has received the tax relief for his home since 2012, according to an official in the tax appraisal office of Tarrant County, where Mr. Walker’s home is located.

Under the Constitution, Senate candidates are required to reside in the state they will represent only once they are elected. In Georgia, candidates must meet a handful of stipulations to establish residency in the state before filing their bids for office. Mr. Walker’s tax exemption in Texas suggests that his primary residence remains outside Georgia.

According to the Texas comptroller, Mr. Walker’s use of the tax exemption while running in Georgia is legal. The comptroller’s website states that you may still receive the tax break after moving away from home temporarily, if “you do not establish a principal residence elsewhere, you intend to return to the home, and you are away less than two years.”

Andra Gillespie, an associate professor of political science at Emory University, said that Mr. Walker’s tax exemption was unlikely to endanger his qualification for office or turn off the Republicans who supported him in the general election. But she added that in the final weeks of his runoff campaign against Mr. Warnock, the information could add more fodder to Democrats’ argument that Mr. Walker moved back to the state solely for his political career.

The Georgia Supreme Court stayed enforcement of a Fulton County Superior Court ruling that had suspended the “Heartbeat bill” abortion restriction, according to the AJC.

Georgia’s 2019 abortion law that restricts the procedure once a doctor can detect fetal cardiac activity will be back in effect during the legal process, the state Supreme Court ordered Wednesday.

Attorneys representing Gov. Brian Kemp had asked the Georgia Supreme Court to reverse a Superior Court ruling last week that blocked enforcement of the law, which typically bars the procedure in most cases about six weeks into a pregnancy and before many know they are pregnant.

Fulton Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney last week ordered the state to no longer enforce the 2019 law. The law had been in effect in Georgia since July.

Attorneys for the state had told the Supreme Court that it is in the public interest not only to overturn McBurney’s ruling, but to block it while the court considers the case.

A ruling by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in July allowed Georgia’s 2019 abortion law to be enforced. The U.S. Supreme Court’s June decision to overturn Roe v. Wade in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization paved the way for Georgia’s law to take effect.

McBurney said that just because the Dobbs decision overturned the nearly 50-year-old Roe decision, it did not retroactively make the 2019 passage of Georgia’s abortion law legal.

In their appeal, attorneys for the state said it doesn’t matter whether the law was not constitutional when it passed the General Assembly in 2019, it is now in line with the law as established by the Dobbs decision.

The Georgia Supreme Court also allowed Saturday voting to proceed in the Runoff Election, according to the AJC.

The brief ruling by the state’s highest court Wednesday clears the way for the weekend voting opportunity in 22 counties that plan to open polling places two days after the Thanksgiving holiday. Early voting will be required statewide from Monday through Friday next week.

The decision is a victory in a lawsuit filed by Democratic U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock’s campaign as he’s trying to increase turnout ahead of a runoff against Republican Herschel Walker.

The debate over Saturday voting began when [Georgia’s Secretary of State] initially said it would be allowed but then his office reversed course and issued guidance that said it was prohibited.

The General Assembly removed the word “runoff” from the holiday scheduling law in 2017, which plaintiffs said was an indication that legislators wanted voting to be permitted on that Saturday.

Optional early voting days included four days this week: Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. Then early voting is available statewide five days next week until Friday, Dec. 2. State law requires early voting to end the Friday before election day on Dec. 6.

Andy McClure gave a lengthy account of what it was like as a constituent of the late Speaker David Ralston seeking a change in state gun laws, and Mark Millican wrote it up for publication. From the Dalton Daily Citizen:

After David Ralston passed away last week at age 68 — just days after announcing he was relinquishing the speaker’s gavel to address his lingering illness — McClure agreed to talk about his relationship with him and how it impacted what is called “2A” type legislation.

“In 2013, Rick Jasperse (the state representative for District 11 covering Gordon, Murray and Pickens counties) had the Safe Carry Protection Act, also known as House Bill 60,” McClure began. “The press had dubbed it the ‘Carry Guns Everywhere’ bill. You’ll remember when (Gov.) Nathan Deal signed it in Ellijay several years ago. A year or so before that there was a gun bill that had a lot of the same stuff and dealt with ‘church carry’ — changing the law to allow churches the option to legalize firearms in their sanctuaries if they wanted to.”

Because of recent deadly shootings in American churches by those outside the parish, McClure said he was “really, really pushing” that option in churches. According to a 2014 FBI report developed with help from Texas State University, 3.8% of the 160 active shooter incidents between 2000 and 2013 occurred in houses of worship.

Ralston told McClure HB 60 “just wasn’t in the cards” for Georgia in 2013.

“He said the way things were lining up, we just weren’t going to be able to do it,” McClure recalled. “But he said, ‘Keep talking to me, keep working with me, keep the dialogue going and change my mind.’ So the next year the bill came up again in a more comprehensive (form) that contained more — but (church carry) was one of the sticking points. The House had already passed a version that totally removed churches from the prohibited locations list. It was a done deal, and they sent it over to the Senate.”

But as McClure said, “The Senate had a little bit of heartburn about it, and Gov. Deal had a little bit of heartburn about it.”

“The governor wanted to basically do what we ended up with, which was the ‘opt-in’ language — it’s still on the books as being illegal, but if each individual church takes action it’s legal at that church,” McClure explained of the hybrid package.

On the last day of the legislative session in 2014, McClure took a call.

“It was from a Georgia Carry (organization) friend that was down at the Capitol. He said, ‘Look, Andy, Speaker Ralston said that he is holding up this bill until he hears from you — that you can live with the final version,’” McClure remembered. “And I knew the final version was not what I wanted, but I knew it had a lot of good stuff in it that we could deal with and work with later on. I called and told the assistant there in his office, ‘I know David’s out on the floor on the podium, but I need you to get a message to him. Tell him that Andy McClure said this final version is OK with him, that I can live with it.’ A few hours later it was brought to the floor for a vote, and it passed.”

“(Ralston) talked to me afterwards and said, ‘Are you ready for tomorrow?’” McClure relayed. “I said, ‘Yeah, I’m ready.’ He said, ‘You remember that conversation we had a year ago in my office about keep working with me, don’t shut me out, don’t shut me down, keep the dialogue going? Tomorrow has a lot to do with you, because you kept it going and kept me tuned in to what was really going on. I hear from the lobbyists and all these other people, but I know you’ll tell me straight.’ And I really appreciated that. That was a very big gun bill back then in 2014.”

McClure serves as a deacon at Turniptown Baptist Church and remains involved in the North Georgia School of Gospel Music, currently as president. He became what he calls a “local gun rights activist” after being mugged several years ago, and believes all Georgians should be able to carry a firearm for personal protection. In a 2017 op-ed column that was published in the Ellijay Times-Courier and the Dalton Daily Citizen, McClure stated he is a “huge supporter of getting all of the voluntary (firearm) training one can get/afford.”

He knows heeding David Ralston’s advice to hang in there and not give up was invaluable in the passage of the Safe Carry Protection Act.

Governor Brian Kemp announced the appointment of former State Rep. Kevin Tanner as the new Commissioner for the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD), according to a press release.

Monica Johnson will serve as Interim Commissioner until Mr. Tanner’s start date on December 16.

“Marty and I are thankful for Commissioner Fitzgerald’s service and wish her all the best as she takes well-earned time to spend with her family,” said Governor Brian Kemp. “I am also grateful for Ms. Johnson’s willingness to step up and ensure that those living with disabilities in Georgia continue to receive quality services until the new commissioner comes on board. Kevin Tanner is a capable and dedicated leader who has made significant contributions to both the state and his community over more than three decades of public service. It is thanks to his forward thinking approach as head of the Behavioral Health Reform and Innovation Commission that Georgia is now implementing meaningful improvements in how we address mental health. The Department will be in good hands under his leadership.”

Governor Kemp also announced that Commissioner Robyn Crittenden has accepted a position in the private sector and will be resigning as head of the Department of Revenue, effective November 25. Deputy State Revenue Commissioner and General Counsel Frank O’Connell will serve as Interim Commissioner until a new head of the Department is appointed.

“Over the past two decades, Robyn has ably led three state agencies and served as the 28th Secretary of State. As the first African-American woman to serve as a statewide constitutional officer in Georgia — along with her many other achievements — Robyn has both made history and made our state better,” said Governor Brian Kemp. “Marty and I are very proud of her contributions and congratulate her on this exciting new chapter in an already distinguished career. We also appreciate Frank O’Connell’s service and leadership as he steps into the interim commissioner role.”

Kevin Tanner currently serves as the County Manager of Forsyth. Governor Kemp also appointed him as chair of the Behavioral Health Reform and Innovation Commission in 2019, helping to secure meaningful improvements in this field. Previously, he served four terms as a State Representative for District 9 and has a total of thirty-two years in public service.

Prior to his time in the General Assembly, Tanner served as the Dawson County Manager where he oversaw day-to-day operations as the county’s chief operating officer. He was recognized in 2011 as the Appointed Official of the Year by the Georgia Association of County Commissioners and in 2007 as one of Georgia Trend Magazine’s 40 under 40.

Tanner received his undergraduate degree from North Georgia College and State University and earned a master’s of public administration from Columbus State University. He and his wife, Stacie, are the proud parents of three daughters, and he serves as a Deacon and adult Sunday school teacher at Bethel Baptist Church.

State House Democrats elected their leadership, according to the AJC.

[State Rep. James] Beverly, a Democrat from Macon, will be the party’s leader in the House, joining incoming Speaker Jon Burns, a Republican from Newington who will lead the chamber.

Beverly thanked his fellow Democrats for their support after he overcame a challenge from state Rep. Carolyn Hugley, a Democrat from Columbus who was Stacey Abrams’ top deputy when she was minority leader.

Several other Democrats also won reelection to their leadership posts, including Minority Whip Sam Park of Lawrenceville, Minority Caucus Chairman Billy Mitchell of Stone Mountain and Minority Caucus Vice Chairwoman Karen Bennett of Stone Mountain.

Does that article mean that Democrats won’t nominate one of their members for Speaker?

Glynn County will not hold an extra day of early voting after a Fulton County judge overruled Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s interpretation of state law, according to The Brunswick News.

During the public comment period, the arguments were along party lines, with Republicans saying the polls should not open until Monday and Democrats wanting Saturday voting.

Republican Patrick Duncan said poll workers should not have to work during the holiday weekend, and pointed out five days of early voting for the runoff is what the state requires.

“This is not about voter suppression, it’s the law,” he said. “There should be plenty of time.”

Bulloch County also will not add another day of early voting, according to the Statesboro Herald.

Bulloch County officials aren’t adding Saturday voting in the current runoff between Democratic incumbent U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Walker, after a judge’s ruling allows counties — at least for now — to add voting next Saturday by local decision.

Adding Saturday now would become practicably impossible, especially since Bulloch County’s election office as of late Monday morning had not received its “project,” the software package needed to load the ballots onto the voting machines, said county Election Supervisor Shontay Jones.

The judge’s ruling meant “that the Secretary of State’s Office couldn’t prohibit us from having Saturday voting after Thanksgiving, but it wasn’t requiring us to do so,” Jones noted.

“Our biggest thing is, we still don’t have our project yet to be able to upload and reprogram and test equipment, so our Saturday may be spent doing (logic and accuracy) testing, after Thanksgiving, just to be ready for early voting that Monday (Nov. 28),” she said.

“We did get the (absentee) ballots in, and we have started mailing those out,” Jones said. “I think we may have about a thousand requests to process, so hopefully people should start getting those ballots in the mailboxes soon, be able to vote those and I would say return them as quickly as possible.”

Early voting starts November 27th, according to WALB.

With the race between incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock and Herschel Walker at the forefront. In Lowndes County, early voting starts Nov. 27 and goes until Dec. 2.

“That’s why we’ll start Sunday. That’s the maximum we can possibly squeeze in here for our county. And we hope to have six good days of advanced voting and then election day on the 6th.” Lowndes County Supervisor of Elections, Deb Cox said.

While they are prepared for early voting, Cox says the short amount of time did pose a few challenges.

“We have less time to test all our equipment, test the ballots, get the mailed ballots out, get the poll worker training done. So that naturally shorts the advanced polling time too,” Cox said.

Early voting starts in Lowndes County on November 27, from 9 a.m. through 5 p.m. It will continue on November 28 through December 2 from 7 a.m. through 7 p.m.x

From the Albany Herald:

Dougherty County voters will have two days of extended voting hours for advance in-person voting at the Albany Civic Center. The polling location will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Monday and Dec. 2, and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Dec. 1.

[Editor’s note: that last sentence doesn’t make any sense.]

“The (elections) board stated that, of course, we wanted to keep the location the same” as for the general election, Dougherty County Elections Supervisor Ginger Nickerson said. “The biggest thing is the people really like the location, and that was a factor as well.”

The Dougherty County Commission on Monday approved the $94,000 expenditure to rent the conference room space used for the first round of early voting as well as the cost of staffing the facility.

Muscogee County added a day of early voting, according to WTVM.

Director of Election and Voter Registration Nacey Boren confirmed that voting in Muscogee County would begin on Sunday, Nov. 27.

The election board voted to approve the added day in a meeting this afternoon after about 50 local community leaders and voting advocates showed up.

Now, only the Citizens Service Center in Columbus will be open to voters on that Sunday.

The hours will remain the same, open from 7 a.m to 7 p.m. EST.

From Nov. 28 to Dec. 2, there will be early voting at that location, Columbus Technical College and Shirley B. Winston Recreation Center.

From 13WMAZ:

Several [Middle] Georgia counties have already confirmed they will offer early voting, while others have stated that they will not.

WILL HAVE EARLY VOTING THIS SATURDAY
Bibb
Baldwin
Crawford
Macon

WON’T HAVE EARLY VOTING SATURDAY
Houston
Jones
Laurens
Monroe
Twiggs
Washington
Crisp

From the Augusta Chronicle:

In a special called meeting Monday, the Richmond County Board of Elections unanimously approved adding Sunday, Nov. 27, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., at all polling locations. This will give voters a chance to vote during the weekend, something that was formally requested by Augusta Commissioners Jordan Johnson and Francine Scott as well as state Rep. Gloria Frazier and state Sen. Harold Jones.

From the Gwinnett Daily Post:

The Gwinnett County Board of Registrations and Elections voted Monday night to move the first day of advance in-person voting, also known as early voting, up one day so it will now begin this Saturday. The move came on the heels of court rulings which allow Georgia counties to begin early voting on Saturday, rather than Sunday.

“Saturday is a go, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., (at) all 11 early voting locations,” said county spokeswoman Deborah Tuff on Monday night.

Gwinnett Elections Supervisor Zach Manifold said he does not have any projections for what voter turnout might look like for the runoff. He does not believe absentee ballot requests will offer any clue as to turnout, however, since he believes the timing of the election — between Thanksgiving and Christmas — could be a factor in why people request an absentee ballot for the runoff.

“We’ve had a decent amount of people call already that are interested in ordering an absentee ballot, but I think that uptick has to do with a lot of people are traveling over the holidays so they may not be in town,” Manifold said.

Due to the short turnaround this year between the general election and the runoff election, there will only be seven days of early voting ahead of the runoff. In previous election cycles, there were nine weeks between the general election and the runoff election.

The Georgia General Assembly shortened the window to four weeks last year, however, as part of an overhaul to state election rules. That put the runoff for this year on Dec. 6, less than two weeks from now.

Manifold said each early voting location will maintain election day hours — meaning they will open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. — every day of the early voting period.

From WJBF:

In Columbia County, the Board of Elections decided against weekend voting.

“The board of elections met and they are not going to be doing weekend voting for the runoff and I understand why it would be very short noticed and most of their staffing for that for the two early voting precincts already made plans for the Thanksgiving weekend” said Debbie McCord, Chair of Columbia County Republican Party.

“I also feel like it kind of unbalance the playing field for metro Atlanta, because you know they’re going to this and other areas may not be able to generate enough staff to do it” said McCord.

“I’m not opposed to Saturday voting but I think this is kind of a last minute effort and I would be much happier if everybody in the state had the same days and opportunities to do early voting” said McCord.

From the Rome News Tribune:

According to Floyd County Elections Supervisor Akyn Bailey, there will be Sunday voting for the U.S. Senate runoff on Nov. 27 from 1-5 p.m. at the Floyd County elections office on East 12th Street and at the Anthony Recreation Center in Garden Lakes.

The original plan in Floyd County was to have no weekend voting at all, but the decision was made to open the polls this Sunday since it is a shortened runoff period.

Several “Republican” groups are appealing the Fulton County Superior Court decision to allow Saturday early voting in the Runoff Election, according to the Savannah Morning News.

On Monday evening, the Court of Appeals for Georgia refused to block an order from a Fulton County judge allowing Saturday voting in the Senate runoff between Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Walker.

After that ruling, the Georgia Secretary of State’s office, which oversees voting, declined to continue the legal battle. The Georgia Republican Party, National Republican Senatorial Committee, and Republican National Committee filed the appeal asking the Supreme Court to block the Fulton County ruling.

Hassinger confirmed that the Secretary of State’s office does not plan to join the lawsuit continued by the Republican groups. But Republicans claim the Fulton County ruling, issued on Friday, is a last-minute change.

“Our Republican coalition has appealed with the Georgia Supreme Court because Georgians deserve better than Democrats scheming to change election laws in the eleventh hour,” RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel wrote in a statement.

The Georgia Secretary of State’s Office certified the results of November’s General Elections, according to the Albany Herald.

“Our 2022 General Election was a tremendous success,” [the SOS] said in a news release. “Early certification reflects that success. Georgia has struck the balance between accessibility and security, and Georgia’s election administrators worked tirelessly to get the job done. We are so thankful for their work.”

Post-election procedures added additional confidence in the accuracy of the results. Last Thursday and Friday, all 159 counties took part in a statewide Risk Limiting Audit of the Secretary of State’s contest. The results of the audit confirmed the accuracy of the results at a 95% risk limit, 5% higher than required by state law.
Candidates seeking a recount must request one within two business days after certification. Under O.C.G.A. § 21-2-495, a recount can be requested by the second-place candidate if the difference in votes between the winning candidate and second-place candidate is not more than 0.5% of the total votes cast in the race.

Public Service Commissioner Tim Echols has been sued over blocking a Georgia resident on Twitter, according to the AJC.

A candidate who sought to unseat Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) Vice Chairman Tim Echols has filed a federal lawsuit alleging Echols blocked her and others from his social media accounts over criticism of his performance.

Patty Durand, who was the Democratic nominee this year for the PSC District 2 seat, alleges Echols blocked her from social media accounts that identify him as a commissioner and where he regularly communicates official business to thousands of followers, according to a suit filed last week in U.S. District Court.

Durand alleges that by blocking her, Echols denied her and others the ability to view or comment on matters of public interest, a violation of her right to free speech under the First Amendment.

Durand, who has said she intends to challenge Echols again, details in her complaint a number of online interactions in which she questioned Echols’ relationships with Georgia Power and his support for Plant Vogtle, among other criticisms. The Vogtle nuclear power project is years behind schedule and billions over budget.

The suit says Echols blocked Durand sometime after July 21. Durand contends none of her comments were threatening, obscene or defamatory. The complaint also claims other critics have been blocked.

The Georgia State Ethics Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission filed a complaint against Hall County Solicitor General Stephanie Woodard, according to the Gainesville Times.

The complaint was initiated by the commission and filed Nov. 14 against Woodard, who was appointed in 2008 as Solicitor General and re-elected multiple times.

The complaint alleged that Woodard did not file her personal financial disclosure statements in 2018-2020 and then failed to file the 2021 and 2022 disclosure statements in a timely manner.

The commission has also subpoenaed Woodard for bank records related to her campaign account to be received by Dec. 14. It includes bank statements, deposit/withdrawal slips, checks, wire transfers and any other banking transactions from November 2017 to now.

20
Nov

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 21, 2022

On November 21, 1620 (November 11 under the calendar used then), the first governing document of the English colony at Plymouth, Massachusetts, the Mayflower Compact, was signed by most of the male passengers of the Mayflower.

Having undertaken, for the Glory of God, and advancements of the Christian faith and honor of our King and Country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the Northern parts of Virginia, do by these presents, solemnly and mutually, in the presence of God, and one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic; for our better ordering, and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame, such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions, and offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the colony; unto which we promise all due submission and obedience.

The Georgia Trustees outlawed rum in the colony on November 21, 1733 after James Oglethorpe wrote them that it was responsible for sickness and death in Georgia. Two-hundred eighty-six years later, Richland Rum is being distilled with Georgia-grown sugar cane in Richland, Georgia.

North Carolina ratified the Constitution on November 21, 1789, becoming the twelfth state to do so.

On November 21, 1860 Governor Joseph Brown called a Secession Convention following the election of Abraham Lincoln as President.

Abraham Lincoln traveled to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on November 18, 1863.

Lincolnatgettysburg

President Abraham Lincoln delivered an 87-word speech at the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on November 19, 1863.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

On November 19, 1864, as Sherman marched toward Savannah, the Georgia delegation to the Confederate Congress in Richmond, Virginia, sent a message to the state,

“Let every man fly to arms! Remove your negroes, horses, cattle, and provisions from Sherman’s army, and burn what you cannot carry. Burn all bridges and block up the roads in his route. Assail the invader in front, flank, and rear, by night and by day. Let him have no rest.”

Carl Vinson was born on November 18, 1883 in Baldwin County, Georgia. At noon on that day, U.S. and Canadian railroads implemented four time zones for the first time.

Efficient rail transportation demanded a more uniform time-keeping system. Rather than turning to the federal governments of the United States and Canada to create a North American system of time zones, the powerful railroad companies took it upon themselves to create a new time code system. The companies agreed to divide the continent into four time zones; the dividing lines adopted were very close to the ones we still use today.

Most Americans and Canadians quickly embraced their new time zones, since railroads were often their lifeblood and main link with the rest of the world. However, it was not until 1918 that Congress officially adopted the railroad time zones and put them under the supervision of the Interstate Commerce Commission.

November 21, 1922 was the first day of Rebecca Latimer Fulton’s service in the United States Senate from Georgia as the first woman to serve in that chamber.

Mickey Mouse debuted in a black-and-white film called “Steamboat Willie” on November 18, 1928.

On November 18, 1933, Franklin D. Roosevelt traveled from Washington, DC to Savannah, Georgia by train for Georgia’s Bicentennial and delivered a speech at Municipal Stadium.

Duane Allman was born in Nashville, Tennessee on November 20, 1946.

The first issue of National Review magazine was published on November 19, 1955.

President John F. Kennedy lifted the naval blockade of Cuba on November 20, 1962, ending the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Carl Vinson was honored on his 81st birthday in Milledgeville, Georgia on November 18, 1964; Vinson did not run for reelection in 1964 and retired after 50 years in office.

Apollo 12 landed on the moon on November 19, 1969.

President Richard M. Nixon flew into Robins Air Force Base for Carl Vinson’s 90th birthday on November 18, 1973; on the trip he announced the next American nuclear supercarrier would be named USS Carl Vinson.

Nixon Vinson 1973

President Richard Nixon, Secretary of the Navy John Warner, Carl Vinson, Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird on November 18, 1973. John Warner would later be the namesake of USS John Warner, a Virginia-class nuclear submarine.

On November 20, 1975, Ronald Reagan announced he would run for President of the United States against incumbent Republican Gerald Ford. On May 4, 1976, Reagan won Georgia’s Presidential Primary with 68% over Ford.

Reagan Gorbachev 11191985

President Ronald Reagan met for the first time with Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev on November 19, 1985.

On November 18, 1989, Pennsylvania Governor Bob Casey signed the Abortion Control Act, the first abortion restrictions enacted after Roe v. Wade.

Newt Gingrich was reelected Speaker of the House on November 20, 1996.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Georgia Speaker David Ralston died last week. From Fox5Atlanta:

Ralston was elected by members of the Georgia House to serve as the 73rd speaker in 2010. He was the longest-tenured house speaker in the country before his death. He was the second-longest-serving speaker in the state’s history.

Ralston was elected by members of the Georgia House to serve as the 73rd speaker in 2010. He was the longest-tenured house speaker in the country before his death. He was the second-longest-serving speaker in the state’s history.

Speaker Pro Tempore Jan Jones, a Milton Republican, will take over the remainder of the term as House Speaker.

From the Georgia State House of Representatives:

Speaker David Ralston, 73rd Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives, passed away on Wednesday, Nov. 16. Public memorial services for Speaker Ralston are as follows:

Tuesday, Nov. 22, at 11:00 a.m. until Wednesday, Nov. 23, at 11:00 a.m. Speaker Ralston lies in state in the Rotunda of the State Capitol Georgia State Capitol, 206 Washington Street SW, Atlanta

Friday, Nov. 25, from 2:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. Visitation at Logan Funeral Home Logan Funeral Home, 357 Dalton Street, Ellijay

Saturday, Nov. 26, from 2:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. Visitation at Akins-Cobb Funeral Home Akins-Cobb Funeral Home, 7871 Blue Ridge Drive, Blue Ridge

Sunday, Nov. 27, at 1:00 p.m. Funeral Service at Fannin County High School Performing Arts Center Fannin County High School Performing Arts Center, 1 Rebel Circle in Blue Ridge

Speaker Ralston’s full obituary may be found here.

Letters of condolence may be sent to the Office of the Speaker, 332 State Capitol, Atlanta, Georgia 30334.

From WGAU:

Upon news that he was stepping down, Gov. Brian Kemp said Ralston was a great leader for Georgia.

“David Ralston has been a steadfast leader for Georgia throughout his time as Speaker, and our state is better off thanks to his wisdom and commitment to all Georgians while guiding the House through challenging times,” Kemp said.

Former Gov. Nathan Deal called Ralston a personal friend.

“David has been a good, personal friend of mine for more than 40 years,” Deal said. “He’s been an outstanding leader. His steady hand and guidance helped bring order and efficiency to the General Assembly, which can be an unwieldy and unpredictable body at times. I could have asked for no better partner during my tenure as governor.”

Born in Ellijay, Ralston was a graduate of Gilmer County High School. He went on to attend Young Harris College and North Georgia College (now the University of North Georgia), where he earned his bachelor’s degree with honors. He later received his law degree from the University of Georgia.

Ralston leaves behind his wife Sheree and two children.

From the AJC:

Charles S. Bullock III, a political science professor at the University of Georgia and a longtime Capitol observer, said Ralston took control of the House “at kind of a troubled time” and gained “respect on both sides of the aisle.”

He had a calmer demeanor than the often mercurial Richardson and was thought to hold the House in good order, Bullock said. Though that became harder to do as the fragmented politics of the Trump era impinged on state legislatures and pulled segments further right or left.

Ralston began his legislative career in the state Senate, where he represented a North Georgia district as a Republican at a time when Democrats ran the Statehouse. He grew up in the region and hung his lawyer’s shingle there after getting a professional start in Athens. He served in the Senate from 1992 to 1998 before making an unsuccessful bid to become Georgia’s attorney general.

Ralston returned to the Capitol in 2003 after winning election to House District 7, which includes Fannin and Gilmer counties and part of Dawson County.

Veteran state Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver, D-Decatur, said Ralston enjoyed a “good reputation for moderate leadership” and for not creating any additional tension in the House.

“He is a gentleman and professional, and I count him as a friend,” Oliver said before his death.

Oliver said Ralston, as a speaker, will be remembered for his advocacy for rural Georgia and his House district.

In early 2017, Ralston came out in support of a resolution, calling for creation of a rural caucus of 15 lawmakers that would be tasked with figuring out how to economically boost rural Georgia.

“Rural Georgia has not seen the positive results of growth and faces challenges, very real challenges to its future,” he said. “We have talked about this for too long. It is time now to make a priority of rural economic development in Georgia.”

Rural Georgia, like much of the nation, has seen hospitals close and its number of medical professionals shrink. When he made the statement, six rural hospitals had closed in Georgia in the previous four years.

University System Chancellor Sonny Perdue, who served as governor from 2003 to 2011, said, “Speaker David Ralston was a steadfast friend of the University System of Georgia and someone who epitomized the spirit of a great citizen legislator and leader. His vision helped create the University of North Georgia’s new Blue Ridge campus while his guidance helped set the tone for accountability and affordability on behalf of our students.”

Governor Kemp issued Executive Order #11.16.22.01, lowering flags on state properties to half-staff in honor of the late Speaker Ralston through sunset on the day of his interment.

From the Tifton Gazette:

“He cherished the idea of his beloved House being a body that truly represented all of Georgia’s people, and he respected each of the elected members that comprised it, regardless of partisan differences,” said Georgia Senate Majority Leader Steve Gooch, a Republican. “It takes a genuinely good and decent person to lead that way. That is how Speaker Ralston will be remembered in our hearts and our history, as a genuinely good and decent man.”

“Speaker Ralston cared about institutions in a way that is rare,” Democrat State Rep. Josh McLaurin said. “He showed respect where it was due and asked the same in return. Politics and disagreements are inevitable, but his statesmanship was a choice.”

Ralston, 68, also worked with leaders in both parties to move Georgia forward through bipartisan legislation like Georgia’s comprehensive adoption reform in 2018 and the state’s first-ever paid parental leave policy for state employees and teachers in 2021, according to his office.

In 2022, Ralston led the fight for historic reform of mental health care in Georgia, Georgia’s Mental Health Parity Act, and accompanying funding to transform both access to and delivery of mental health services and treatment options throughout the state.

“He possessed a formidable mind, served as a thoughtful leader and was a dear, true friend,” said former Democrat House representative and gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams. “Our politics differed but David never allowed them to permanently divide. God’s peace to a great Georgian who will be missed.”

Georgia voters will have a Saturday early voting option in the U.S. Senate runoff, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Thomas A. Cox Jr. ruled Friday in favor of a lawsuit challenging the Georgia Secretary of State’s barring of the Saturday early voting date for the much-anticipated Herschel Walker vs. Raphael Warnock U.S. Senate runoff. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger had instructed county elections officials to disallow Saturday voting based on his interpretation of state voting law.

Cox sided with Warnock and other plaintiffs in the lawsuit. The ruling means early voting locations across the state can be open for as many as seven days starting Saturday, Nov. 26. In some counties, including Chatham, polls will be open on Sunday, Nov. 27 as well.

The Secretary of State’s Office initially disallowed voting on Nov. 26 because of the dates proximity to two holidays.

Democratic plaintiffs argued that the exception for early voting was intended for primary and general elections, not runoffs.

From WTOC:

Chatham County will now offer early voting on a Saturday for the December runoff election in the U.S. Senate race between Senator Raphael Warnock and Herschel Walker.

According to the Chatham County Voter Registration Office, they county will host early in-person voting on Saturday, November 26th from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the main office at 1117 Eisenhower Drive.

This comes after a Fulton County judge ruled in favor of allowing Saturday voting in a hearing Friday.

Georgia is appealing to the Georgia Court of Appeals a lower court decision on the state’s “Heartbeat Bill” abortion legislation, according to the AJC.

Fulton Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney on Tuesday ordered the state to no longer enforce the 2019 law, which banned most abortions once fetal cardiac activity could be detected, typically at about six weeks into a pregnancy and before many know they are pregnant. The law had been in effect in Georgia since July.

McBurney’s order said abortions must be regulated as they were before Georgia’s 2019 law took effect — meaning the procedure is again allowed up until about 22 weeks of pregnancy.

Attorneys for the state told the Supreme Court that it is in the public interest not only to overturn McBurney’s ruling, but to block it while the court considers the case.

“The harm to the state is significant and irreparable,” attorneys wrote in the appeal filed with the court. “Unborn children are at risk every day that the injunction continues.”

In their appeal, attorneys for the state said it doesn’t matter whether the law was not constitutional when it passed the General Assembly in 2019, it is now in line with the law as established by the Dobbs decision.

“The Superior Court fundamentally misunderstood the role of courts, which merely interpret law in the course of issuing judgments in individual cases,” attorneys wrote in the appeal. “Courts do not amend the constitution, and the constitution does not change simply because a court’s view of it changes.”

The Atlanta Press Club will not host a debate after neither candidate accepted their invitation, according to WTVM.

“The Atlanta Press Club believes debating is an important part of any election as a way to help voters contrast where the candidates stand on issues important to them,” said Ken Foskett, Atlanta Press Club board chair. “We are disappointed neither candidate confirmed participation in the debate.”

Apparently neither the candidates nor the voters agree with Mr. Foskett’s statement.

Governor Brian Kemp campaigned with GOP Senate nominee Herschel Walker, according to the AJC.

Gov. Brian Kemp on Saturday campaigned for the first time with Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Herschel Walker, the most significant effort yet to persuade voters who backed both the governor and Democratic U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock to return to the GOP fold for the runoff.

“We cannot rest on our laurels here, everyone,” Kemp said to a crowd of hundreds outside a Smyrna gun store that plays hosts to many GOP rallies. “We have got more wood to chop.”

About 200,000 Georgians voted for Kemp but not Walker, whose campaign has been plagued by controversy. While Kemp and other statewide Republicans easily prevailed, Walker trailed Warnock by 35,000 votes. A four-week runoff was required when neither won a majority of the vote.

Now both candidates are taking steps to woo those swing voters. Warnock launched TV ads that highlight a Republican who said she was “proud” to back both Kemp and Warnock. And Democrats held a nearby event Saturday featuring other wavering Republicans.

Republicans hope Kemp is a powerful closing messenger for Walker now that he can no longer make a case that Senate control is on the line, depriving the GOP of one of its most potent arguments to skeptical voters.

Kemp steered the conversation back to the issue that helped him win his November rematch against Democrat Stacey Abrams: an effort to cast the GOP as the party working to blunt the effect of decades-high inflation on President Joe Biden’s watch.

“He will go fight for those values that we believe in here in our state. And that’s why it’s time to retire Raphael Warnock,“ Kemp said, adding: “I know that Herschel Walker will do like we’ve done in Georgia and be fiscally conservative and cut runaway spending.”

United States Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Extreme Northwest Georgia) was the first to endorse Donald Trump’s 2024 campaign, according to Atlanta News First via WTVM.

U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene endorsed Donald Trump Thursday, becoming Georgia’s first congressional representative to endorse the nation’s 45th president in his latest quest for the White House.

Greene, a longtime Trump supporter, easily won re-election on Nov. 8 to a second term from Georgia’s 14 district.

Trump announced he was again running for president earlier this week. Greene made the endorsement on the Truth. social website.

Greene had been stripped of [Committee] assignments when Democrats controlled the House.

Presumptive new House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has indicated Greene will resume some of her old assignments.

During Trump’s Tuesday night announcement, he again reiterated his support for Herschel Walker, who is seeking to unseat Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock in a Dec. 6 runoff.

Albany and Dougherty County remain in a standoff over Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) proceeds, according to the Albany Herald.

With the state-mandated deadline looming for Dougherty County and the city of Albany to agree on a plan to renew the Local Option Sales Tax, Albany is seeking to increase its share of the revenue over the 10-year period to align the distribution more closely with the level of services each government provides.

The city proposes incrementally increasing its share of LOST dollars to 70% from the current 60% over the next decade.

With the state-mandated deadline looming for Dougherty County and the city of Albany to agree on a plan to renew the Local Option Sales Tax, Albany is seeking to increase its share of the revenue over the 10-year period to align the distribution more closely with the level of services each government provides.

The city proposes incrementally increasing its share of LOST dollars to 70% from the current 60% over the next decade.

“It’s essential for both the city of Albany and Dougherty County to come to an agreement that preserves this important source of revenue that provides for services our constituents depend on while providing property tax relief for homeowners and businesses alike,” Mayor Bo Dorough said. “The city and county work as partners and will continue to do so, but the current split doesn’t add up when you consider that the city provides 75% of intergovernmental services for the entire county.

16
Nov

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

The Georgia Trustees visited the first group of settlers on November 16, 1732, the day before they were scheduled to depart England for the New World.

On November 17, 1732, the first English headed to colonize Georgia set off from Gravesend, England, down the Thames. Their supplies included ten tons of beer.

On November 16, 1737, the Georgia Trustees learned that England’s King George II would send 300 soldiers, along with 150 wives and 130 children to the settlement in Georgia.

On November 17, 1777, Congress submitted the Articles of Confederation to the states for ratification.

Abraham Lincoln began the first draft of the Gettysburg Address on November 17, 1863.

On November 16, 1864, Sherman left Atlanta in smoking ruins.

Herman Talmadge was sworn in as Governor of Georgia on November 17, 1948, ending the “Three Governors” controversy. Click here for a review of the “Three Governors” episode by Ron Daniels.

Richard Nixon declared before a television audience, “I’m not a crook,” on November 17, 1973.

Today is the 21st Anniversary of the release of the first Harry Potter film, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney ruled that two sections of Georgia’s “Heartbeat Bill” abortion legislation are unconstitutioanl and unenforceable, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney, in his Nov. 15 ruling, said two sections of the LIFE Act (or HB 481) are unconstitutional.

The law had been in limbo since shortly after its passage in 2019 due to court challenges; however, shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court’s July vote to overturn Roe. v. Wade — ruling that abortion was not a federally protected right— a Georgia judge allowed the state’s law to take effect.

At the time of the bill’s passage in 2019 before, McBurney said restricting abortion was unconstitutional.

“In other words, per controlling Georgia precedent, the proper legal milieu in which to assess the LIFE Act’s constitutionality is not our current post-Roe Dobbsian era but rather the legal environment that existed when H.B. 481 was enacted,” McBurney stated in the ruling. “At that time, the spring of 2019, everywhere in America, including Georgia, it was unequivocally unconstitutional for governments — federal, state, or local — to ban abortions before viability.”

McBurney also ruled that a section mandating that any physician who performs an abortion after detecting a fetal heartbeat must report to the Department of Public Health the exception to the ban imposed was also unconstitutional at the time HB 481 was signed into law. HB 481 included exceptions for rape or incest if a police report is filed and for medical emergencies when the mother’s life is at risk.

“Because, in the spring of 2019, criminalizing post-heartbeat but pre-viability abortions was unconstitutional, so too, was any requirement that medical providers somehow publicly justify their decision to comply with their patients’ wishes for a pre-viability procedure,” he said in the ruling.

He ultimately ruled that the Georgia law, approved along party lines by Republicans, is void and “must be re-enacted in our post-Roe world if they are to become the law of Georgia.”

The ruling means for now, abortions are still legal after six weeks.

From the Savannah Morning News:

Coco Papy said that with the recent ruling, she hopes the Georgia General Assembly is taking notes on the changing demographics and realizing that “this is a bipartisan issue.”

“If anything, the midterm election showed us that Americans support abortion access and that the decision by SCOTUS a few months ago really is not in line with the fact that over 80% of Americans support abortion care and believe that abortion is health care,” Papy said.

“We’re seeing it backfire on elected officials who have decided to go after it with full force. I hope our general assembly … makes the right decision this session and decides to not create restrictive legislation.”

“Everyone deserves the right to bodily autonomy and HB 481 is an attack on our basic freedoms. I don’t know what Georgia has in store for us now, but for today, I feel like we had a victory.” [said Morgan Pikaard, President of Savannah Federation of Democratic Women]

In a statement released after the decision, Amy Kennedy, vice president of external affairs at Planned Parenthood Southeast, said:

“Thankfully, today’s ruling offers relief from our state’s devastating abortion ban, but make no mistake: the threat to Georgians’ health and rights will remain so long as politicians try to interfere with our personal decisions.”

“We already know that abortion opponents will stop at nothing until abortion has been completely outlawed. This is a critical step in the long fight for reproductive freedom. We are prepared to do everything we can to ensure abortion care is available and accessible to everyone in Georgia.”

From the Associated Press via the Statesboro Herald:

The American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia, which represented doctors and advocacy groups that had asked McBurney to throw out the law, said it expects abortions past six weeks of pregnancy to resume Wednesday at some clinics.

Their lawsuit, filed in July, sought to strike down the ban on multiple grounds, including that it violates the Georgia Constitution’s right to privacy and liberty by forcing pregnancy and childbirth on women in the state. McBurney did not rule on that claim.

Kara Richardson, a spokesperson for Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr, said in an email that the office filed a notice of appeal and “will continue to fulfill our duty to defend the laws of our state in court.”

Andrew Isenhour, a spokesperson for Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, said McBurney’s ruling placed “the personal beliefs of a judge over the will of the legislature and people of Georgia.”

“The state has already filed a notice of appeal, and we will continue to fight for the lives of Georgia’s unborn children,” he said in a statement.

Georgia’s law was passed by state lawmakers and signed by Kemp in 2019 but had been blocked from taking effect until the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, which had protected the right to an abortion for nearly 50 years.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals allowed Georgia to begin enforcing its abortion law just over three weeks after the high court’s decision in June.

McBurney wrote in his ruling that when the law was enacted, “everywhere in America, including Georgia, it was unequivocally unconstitutional for governments — federal, state, or local — to ban abortions before viability.”

Now that the Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade, the prohibition on abortions provided for in the 2019 law “may someday become the law of Georgia,” he wrote.

But, he wrote, that can happen only after the General Assembly “determines in the sharp glare of public attention that will undoubtedly and properly attend such an important and consequential debate whether the rights of unborn children justify such a restriction on women’s right to bodily autonomy and privacy.”

Therefore, the state’s law “did not become the law of Georgia when it was enacted and it is not the law of Georgia now,” he wrote.

Elsewhere in the Fulton County courts, Governor Brian Kemp testified before Democratic District Attorney Fani Willis’s witchhunt “Grand Jury” investigating former President Donald Trump, according to CNN via the Albany Herald.

Georgia Republican Gov. Brian Kemp testified for roughly three hours on Tuesday before an Atlanta-area special grand jury probing efforts by former President Donald Trump and his allies to overturn the 2020 election in Georgia.

Among the topics prosecutors were eager to ask Kemp about was a December 2020 phone call in which Trump allegedly tried to push Kemp to convince state legislators to overturn Joe Biden’s win in the Peach State.

On Wednesday, Cassidy Hutchinson, former aide to Trump’s White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, is scheduled to testify in Fulton County, and on Thursday, Sen. Lindsey Graham is slated to appear as a witness before the special grand jury.

U.S. Senator Raphael Warnock (D-Atlanta) and the Democratic Senate Congressional Committee filed suit over voting rights allegations, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The campaign of Raphael Warnock, the Democratic Party of Georgia and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee are suing over the recent announcement that state law prohibits Saturday voting for Georgia’s U.S. Senate runoff.

“Illegal attempts to block Saturday voting are another desperate attempt by career politicians to squeeze the people out of their own democracy and to silence the voices of Georgians,” said Quentin Fulks, Warnock for Georgia campaign manager, in a press release.

Raffensperger sent out a statement denouncing the lawsuit.

“If recent elections prove one thing, it’s that voters expect candidates to focus on winning at the ballot box – not at the courthouse,” he wrote. “Senator Warnock and his Democratic Party allies are seeking to change Georgia law right before an election based on their political preferences. Instead of muddying the water and pressuring counties to ignore Georgia law, Senator Warnock should be allowing county election officials to continue preparations for the upcoming runoff.”

The key argument in the lawsuit is that the legislation applies only to primary and general elections, not runoffs. They argue that elsewhere in the law, runoffs are specifically mentioned, so the omission should be considered intentional.

Georgia State House Republicans elected new leadership for their Caucus Monday.

Speaker-nominee (and presumptive Speaker) Jon Burns

Jan Jones was re-elected Speaker Pro Tem without opposition.

State Rep. Chuck Efstration was elected Majority Leader.

State Rep. James Burchett was elected Majority Whip.

State Rep. Bruce Williamson was elected Majority Caucus Chair.

State Rep. Houston Gaines was elected Caucus Vice Chair.

State Rep. Ginny Ehrhart was elected Caucus Secretary.

Runoff In-person Early Voting for the United States Senate race will begin November 28, according to The Brunswick News.

Early voting in the U.S. Senate runoff election will start the Monday after Thanksgiving.

At a Tuesday meeting, the five-member Glynn County Board of Elections voted unanimously to open early voting polls from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. from Nov. 28 through Dec. 2.

Election Day is Dec. 6.

Julie Jordan, chair of the Glynn County Democratic Party, said the normal early voting poll hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. would not work for a large number of voters who work during those hours. She also asked the board to open early voting polls on Sunday, Nov. 27.

State law prevents the board from opening the polls on Thanksgiving Day or the Friday and Saturday afterward, said Elections and Registration Supervisor Chris Channell.

Sunday was still too close to the holiday, said board member Sandy Dean, and it would be unfair to ask county personnel to set up the polling places on Saturday and for the poll workers to staff the polls on Sunday.

The board will likely begin sending out absentee ballots in a week or so, said Assistant Elections and Registration Supervisor Christina Redden.

Channell also recapped the Nov. 8 general election on Tuesday.

Turnout was 57.24%, he said, with 20,721 casting a ballot during early voting, 10,505 on Election Day and 2,104 by mail. The elections office also received a few dozen provisional ballots, he said.

Governor Brian Kemp and the Technical College System of Georgia announced a $1 million dollar investment in Apprenticeship programs, according to a Press Release.

Governor Brian P. Kemp and the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) today announced $1 million in awards for the inaugural Registered Apprenticeships program as part of the High Demand Career Initiative (HDCI). These investments will create 120 new apprenticeships throughout the state across multiple industries in need of workers following generational investment and job creation in the Peach State, including healthcare, manufacturing, and construction.

“Providing opportunity for hardworking Georgians to thrive has always been and will remain a top priority for my administration,” said Governor Brian Kemp. “Apprenticeships open doors both for our students to gain quality, on-the-job experience and for employers to fill their workforce needs. This innovative approach will ensure the next generation has the skills they need to succeed in the best state to live, work, and raise a family.”

During the 2022 legislative session, Governor Kemp and lawmakers partnered to pass SB 379, representing a historic investment in apprenticeships in Georgia through the HDCI Program. The HDCI Program awards up to $50,000 in funding to Georgia businesses to upskill workers through registered apprenticeships and increase skilled talent within Georgia’s high-demand industries.

“The HDCI Program and the apprenticeships it creates will pay dividends for Georgia workers and businesses for years to come,” said TCSG Commissioner Greg Dozier. “This year’s awards alone will eventually bring more than $6.2 million in added income into Georgia’s economy each year. This is a statewide impact that will be felt in communities across Georgia.”

Governor Kemp has proclaimed that November 14 through 20, 2022, as Apprenticeship Week in Georgia. Interested parties can click here to see the 2022 HDCI Program Award List.

About the High Demand Career Initiatives (HDCI) Program
In 2022, Georgia Senate Bill 379 was signed into law by Governor Brian Kemp, authorizing new funding for the the High Demand Career Initiatives (HDCI) Program that would create Georgia’s first-ever state-funded apprenticeship initiative. This represents a historic investment by the State of Georgia in registered apprenticeships. The HDCI Program provides funding to Georgia employers to incentivize the creation and expansion of registered apprenticeship programs throughout the state. This program aimed to both upskill Georgians and increase skilled talent within Georgia’s high-demand industries. For more information about Georgia’s HDCI Program visit www.tcsg.edu/HDCI.

About the Technical College System of Georgia
The 22 colleges of the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) are Georgia’s top resource for skilled workers. TCSG offers world-class training in more than 600 associate degree, diploma and certificate programs to students who are trained on state-of-the-art equipment by instructors who are experts in their fields. The system also houses Georgia’s Office of Adult Education, which promotes and provides adult literacy and education programs, including the GED® testing program, throughout the state. In addition, TCSG partners with companies through Quick Start, the nation’s top customized workforce training program, and through its individual colleges, who work with local industry to provide workforce and training solutions. For more information, visit TCSG.edu.

The Southern Environmental Law Center filed a lawsuit contesting the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ decision on the proposed mine near the Okefenokee Swamp, according to The Brunswick News.

The Southern Environmental Law Center is suing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers over its summer decision to remove Clean Water Act protections from almost 600 acres of wetlands next to the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge.

Those acres are the proposed site for Alabama-based Twin Pines Minerals’ titanium dioxide mine that environmental groups and experts argue will devastate the black water swamp.

The four organizations represented by the SELC in the suit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia are the National Wildlife Refuge Association, National Parks Conservation Association, Defenders of Wildlife and the Center for Biological Diversity.

The SELC’s lawsuit alleges that the Army Corps unlawfully revoked the jurisdictional determination, which removed federal protections.

The rocky legal waters can be traced back to an upheaval in recent years of federal water protections. According to the a news release, the suit is challenging the Corps’ decision made under the Trump administration’s now-vacated “Navigable Waters Protection Rule,” which scaled back federal authority to protect waterways and wetlands.

From the AJC Political Insider:

TODAY ON THE TRAIL:

Herschel Walker will hold a rally in McDonough with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock has no public events. His bus tour resumes Thursday.

I received a text message yesterday about the Herschel Walker event, and here’s what they said:

Team Herschel here with a Reminder:

Georgia, we’re in overtime and we need your help!

Join Herschel Walker and special guests Mike Huckabee and others for the Evict Warnock Bus Tour stop in your area TOMORROW.

If we want to stop Biden’s disastrous agenda, we must stop Warnock. We will be at Bennett Trucking located at 1001 Industrial Pkwy. in McDonough at 12pm.

Herschel looks forward to seeing you tomorrow!
Secure your free tickets here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/466591717387

Gwinnett County Commission Chair Nicole Love Hendrickson introduced a propsed $2.26 billion dollar budget for FY 2023, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Commission Chairwoman Nicole Love Hendrickson and county finance staff unveiled the proposed $2.26 billion 2023 Gwinnett County government budget on Tuesday. It includes a $1.77 billion operating budget as well as a $488 million capital improvement budget.

“While the County is not immune to global economic uncertainty, we have taken steps in the creation of this budget to ensure that Gwinnett’s financial foundation remains strong,” Hendrickson said. “With this budget, we will be able to maintain the excellent services that our residents have come to expect and build on them with initiatives that support safety, mobility, environmental sustainability and more.”

Residents who want to see the budget document can read the budget resolution on the county’s website, or visit the county’s financial Services Office from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. onMondays through Fridays at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center in Lawrenceville.

Among the items in the proposed budget is a new equity officer position and a new environmental sustainability officer position. Additional firefighter positions and a transit system expansion are also included in the budget.

Floyd County reached agreement with Rome and Cave Spring on the allocation of Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) revenue, according to the Rome News Tribune.

The LOST agreement is a tax revenue sharing agreement that must be renewed every 10 years. Under the new agreement, Rome’s percentage increases from 41.7% to 45.2% and Floyd County’s goes from 56.5% to 53%. Cave Spring’s share stays the same at 1.8% of the proceeds.

“I appreciate that all local governments would take the time to hash this out,” said Rome City Commissioner Jamie Doss.

Richmond County Board of Education member-elect Tyrique Robinson was found dead at his home, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Robinson recently ran unopposed and won a seat on the school board representing District 6. He would have replaced A.K. Hasan in the new year.

My condolences to his friends and family.