Category: Georgia Politics

22
May

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 22, 2024

The War of the Roses began on May 22, 1455 at St. Albans, northwest of London.

In the opening battle of England’s War of the Roses, the Yorkists defeat King Henry VI’s Lancastrian forces at St. Albans, 20 miles northwest of London. Many Lancastrian nobles perished, including Edmund Beaufort, the duke of Somerset, and the king was forced to submit to the rule of his cousin, Richard of York. The dynastic struggle between the House of York, whose badge was a white rose, and the House of Lancaster, later associated with a red rose, would stretch on for 30 years.

First Lady Martha Dandridge Custis Washington died on May 22, 1802.

On May 22, 1819, the steamship Savannah left the port of Savannah for Liverpool, England. After 29 days, it became the first steamship to cross the Atlantic. On May 22, 1944, the United States Postal Service issued a stamp commemorating the voyage of the Savannah.

On May 22, 1856, Congressman Preston Brooks of South Carolina beat Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner with his cane. Brooks used the cane as the result of injury sustained in a previous duel, and found Sumner at his desk in the Senate Chamber. In the course of a two-day Senate speech on the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which would have nullified the Missouri Compromise on the expansion of slavery, Sumner had criticized three legislators, including a cousin of Rep. Brooks, Senator Andrew Butler of South Carolina.

On May 22, 1932, New York Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt gave the commencement address for Oglethorpe University at the Fox Theater in Atlanta.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Dougherty County voters turned out at low rates, according to WALB.Continue Reading..

21
May

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 21, 2024

Governor Brian Kemp issued a Proclamation recognizing May as ALS Awareness Month. I’m not sure where the proclamation currently sits, but I’d sure love to have it. It’d make a great birthday gift later this week.

Georgia Colonists signed the Treaty of Savannah with the Lower Creeks on May 21, 1733.

George Washington left Georgia on May 21, 1791, crossing a bridge over the Savannah River at Augusta.

American Charles Lindbergh landed at Paris on May 21, 1927 in The Spirit of St. Louis, completing both the first nonstop transatlantic flight and the first nonstop flight from New York to Paris.

On May 21, 1942, German authorities removed 4300 Polish Jews from Chelm to an extermination camp at Sobibor and killed them by poison gas. The Sobibor camp’s five gas chambers would kill 250,000 Jews during 1942 and 1943.

On May 21, 2011, Herman Cain announced his candidacy for President of the United States at Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Some Clarke County voters were incorrectly placed in County Commission District 5 instead of District 2, according to the Athens Banner Herald.Continue Reading..

20
May

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 20, 2024

Blue jeans with copper rivets were patented by Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis on May 20, 1873.

On May 20, 1916, more than 20,000 visited Stone Mountain for the dedication ceremony to mark the beginning of a Confederate memorial on the north face.

On May 20, 1995, the section of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House was closed to automotive traffic.

The 400th episode of The Simpsons aired on May 20, 2007.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp spoke about this year’s elections to 11Alive.Continue Reading..

17
May

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 16, 2024

Georgia’s trustees asked Britain to repeal the law against importing slaves to the colonies on May 17, 1749.

On May 17, 1769, George Washington introduced resolutions in the Virginia House of Burgesses, drafted by George Mason, criticizing Britain’s “taxation without representation” policies toward the colonies.

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

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

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

Button Gwinnett died on May 19, 1777 of a gunshot wound received in a duel with Lachlan McIntosh.

George Washington continued his tour of Georgia on May 17, 1791, staying overnight in Waynesboro; on May 18 he arrived in Augusta.

On May 19-20, 1791, George Washington spent his second and third days in Augusta, where he visited Richmond Academy. Washington left Georgia on May 21, 1791 to go to Columbia, South Carolina.

George Washington left Georgia on May 21, 1791, crossing a bridge over the Savannah River at Augusta.

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

Georgia ratified the Twelfth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which governs voting for President and Vice President on May 19, 1804.

General Winfield Scott issued an order on the removal of Cherokee people from Georgia on May 17, 1838.

Abraham Lincoln was nominated for President by the Republican National Convention on May 18, 1860.

On May 17, 1864, Sherman and Johnston engaged in the Battle of Adairsville, Georgia.

The Battle of Spotsylvania ended on May 19, 1864. In Georgia, the Affair at Cassville occurred on May 19, 1864.

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

The United States Supreme Court handed down its decision in Plessy v. Ferguson on May 18, 1896.

The U.S. Supreme Court rule[d] seven to one that a Louisiana law providing for “equal but separate accommodations for the white and colored races” on its railroad cars is constitutional. The high court held that as long as equal accommodations were provided, segregation was not discrimination and thus did not deprive African Americans of equal protection under the law as guaranteed by the 14th Amendment.

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

On May 19, 1933, the Atlanta City Council voted to allow beer sales in the city. Prohibition was still in effect at the federal level at that time, but the President had signed the Cullen-Harrison Act that allowed sale of 3.2% beer effective April 7, 1933.

The United States Supreme Court released its unanimous decision in Brown v. Board of Education on May 17, 1954, overturning Plessy v. Ferguson.

The historic decision, which brought an end to federal tolerance of racial segregation, specifically dealt with Linda Brown, a young African American girl who had been denied admission to her local elementary school in Topeka, Kansas, because of the color of her skin.

On May 19, 1977, “Smokey and the Bandit” was released.

President Barack Obama delivered the commencement address at Morehouse College on May 19, 2013.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The B-52s endorsed “Rock Lobsters” as the name for a new Athens-based hockey team, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

The ‘Rock Lobsters’ name chosen for Athens’ new pro hockey team received ringing endorsements across social media Wednesday after the team revealed the music-themed nickname.

The name comes from a 1978 song of the same title from Athens new wave band The B-52s, which lobbied for the team name on its social media platforms in April during a community vote.

The B-52s on Wednesday showed elation on X, formerly known as Twitter, and on its Instagram account after the announcement.

R.E.M. bassist Mike Mills also approved of the name although the city’s most recognizable band wasn’t in the mix for a team name like Classic City Panic, a nod toward jam band Widespread Panic.

Mills took to X to endorse the Rock Lobsters name.

The Rock Lobsters open their inaugural season in October and play in the Federal Prospects Hockey League, an 11-team alliance along the East Coast.

Athens mayor Kelly Girtz indicated Wednesday on X that his vote went toward the Rock Lobsters.

Today is the last day of early voting for the May 21, 2024 General Primary, according to the AJC.Continue Reading..

15
May

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 15, 2024

On May 15, 1791, George Washington left Augusta for Savannah.

On May 15, 1800, President John Adams ordered all 125 employees of the federal government to begin packing to move the capital from Philadelphia to Washington, DC.

On May 15, 1864, General William Tecumseh Sherman’s Military Division of the Mississippi remained engaged against Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston’s Army of Tennessee at Resaca, Georgia.

On May 15, 1864, at New Market, Virginia, in the Shenandoah Valley, Major General John C. Breckenridge commanded 4800 Confederate soldiers, including the entire Corps of Cadets from Virginia Military Institute. Breckenridge previously had served as United State Representative and Senator from Kentucky, and as the youngest Vice President of the United States under President James Buchanan. Breckenridge was the Democratic nominee for President in 1860, coming in third in the popular vote and second in the Electoral College to Abraham Lincoln.

Breckenridge attacked forces under Major General Franz Sigel and they skirmished through the morning until Union forces broke through the Confederate lines.

When a gap opened in the Confederate lines, Breckenridge realized that the only force available was the VMI cadets.

He turned toward an aide and issued the following command;

“Put the boys in, and may God forgive me for the order.”

The charge of the VMI cadets remains the most noticeable feature of the Battle of New Market. With rain pouring the cadets broke the charge of the 34th Massachusetts Regiment and then advanced themselves in attack.

When the day ended, 10 cadets had been killed and/or mortally wounded. Another 48 suffered wounds.

Ten cadets died or suffered mortal wounds that day. New Market hosts the oldest continuous historical battle reenactment in the United States that is still held on the original terrain, but this year’s is canceled because of COVID-19, as was last year’s.

On the anniversary of the Battle of New Market, the roll of those who died there is called.

On the same day, the Battle of Resaca was fully engaged in Northwest Georgia.

On Saturday, May 14, the fighting at Resaca escalated into a full-scale battle. Beginning at dawn, Union forces engaged the Confederates along the entire four-mile front. In the early afternoon Schofield’s Army of the Ohio attacked the sharply angled center of the Confederate line. The assault was badly managed and disorganized, in part because one of Schofield’s division commanders was drunk. As the Union attack unraveled and became a fiasco, Johnston launched a counterattack on Sherman’s left flank. The counterattack collapsed, however, in the face of a determined stand by a Union artillery battery. In the evening Union forces pushed forward and seized the high ground west of Resaca, which placed the bridges leading south from the town within artillery range and threatened Johnston’s line of retreat.The following day Sherman renewed his assault on the Confederate center.

Carl Sanders was born on May 15, 1925 in Augusta, Georgia. He served in the United States Air Force, Georgia House of Representatives and State Senate, where he was President Pro Tem. In 1962, Sanders won the Democratic Primary for Governor, defeating former Governor Marvin Griffin, and in November was the first Governor of Georgia elected by popular vote after the County Unit System was abolished.

American artist Jasper Johns was born May 15, 1930 in Augusta, Georgia.

Former Atlanta Braves pitcher John Smoltz was born on May 15, 1967 in Lansing, Michigan. Smoltz pitched a complete game shutout against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the seventh game of the National League Championship Series in 1991, sending the Braves to their first World Series since moving to Atlanta in 1966. Smoltz was chosen for the All Star team eight times and won the Cy Young award in 1996.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The Chatham County Board of Elections reports meager voting in the Advance Voting period, according to the Savannah Morning News.Continue Reading..

14
May

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 14, 2023

Delegates to the Constitutional Convention began assembling in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on May 14, 1787, the designated starting day. Because a large number of delegates had not arrived the opening of the Convention was moved to May 25.

On May 14, 1791, George Washington addressed the Grand Lodge of Georgia Masons in Savannah.

On May 14, 1804, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark left St. Louis, Missouri to explore the Northwest United States from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean.

On May 14, 1864, the VMI Corps of Cadets marched 15 miles and camped overnight at Mt. Tabor, near New Market, Virginia. The next day they would march into history.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

They see me rollin’, they hatin’…. Bainbridge Police rolled out a new e-bike, according to WALB.Continue Reading..

13
May

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 13, 2024

On May 13, 1607, English settlers founded the first permanent English settlement in America, at Jamestown on the James River. This led to the first English-language politics in America:

Dispatched from England by the London Company, the colonists had sailed across the Atlantic aboard the Susan Constant,Godspeed, and Discovery. Upon landing at Jamestown, the first colonial council was held by seven settlers whose names had been chosen and placed in a sealed box by King James I. The council, which included Captain John Smith, an English adventurer, chose Edward Wingfield as its first president.

Lyman Hall arrived in Philadelphia as a delegate to the Second Continental Congress on May 13, 1775.

On May 13, 1798, a Constitutional Convention adopted the Georgia Constitution of 1798.

The United States declared war on Mexico on May 13, 1846.

Georgia Whigs, led by Governor George Crawford, Alexander Stephens, and Robert Toombs, criticized the war for raising divisive questions about slavery in the territories. Georgia Democrats, led by Howell Cobb and Herschel Johnson, staunchly supported the war and states’ rights afterward. Because Whigs, nationally, appeared to be antislavery, Georgia Whigs lost the governorship in 1847. The Compromise of 1850 temporarily settled the slavery question in the territories, but the moderating influence of Georgia’s Whigs dissolved in the heated rhetoric of states’ rights in the 1850s. The next war would find Americans fighting Americans.

The first fighting at Resaca, Georgia took place on May 13, 1864 and Union forces marched into Dalton. On May 13, 1864, 257 cadets from the Virginia Military Institute camped at Mt. Crawford near Harrisonburg.The next day they would continue their march to New Market, Virginia.

On May 13, 1981, Pope John Paul II was shot at St. Peter’s Square in Rome.

On May 13, 2005, the Pentagon Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) recommended the closing of Fort McPherson in Atlanta, Fort Gillem in Forest Park, the Naval Air Station in Marietta, and the Naval Supply Corps School in Athens.

The Bulloch County Historical Society unveiled a new historic marker commemorating Statesboro’s first railroad, according to the Statesboro Herald.

“The marker celebrates the coming of railroads to Bulloch County,” said Rodney Harville, a long-time advocate for the Dover-Statesboro Railroad marker. “This event was huge in the economic development of Bulloch County,” Harville added, “and much of the growth in Bulloch County agriculture was the direct result of this development.”

In 2013, the Historical Society dedicated a marker on Gentilly Road to highlight the Savannah & Statesboro Railway, which operated from 1894 to 1933.

“This is the 28th historic marker erected by the Bulloch County Historical Society,” said Joe McGlamery, president of the Society, “and the last marker currently on the erection schedule.”

Brunswick hosted the 86th annual Blessing of the Fleet, according to the Statesboro Herald.

During past blessings, Catholic priests have stood on the bows or decks of tow boats or other ships and showered fishing boats and pleasure craft with holy water and they pronounced blessings. On Saturday, Father Timothy McKeown of St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, rode a Brunswick Fire Department ladder to a spot over the East River and blessed the passing vessels from above.

“Apparently the Georgia Bulldog is down,’’ McKeown said of the UGa Marine Extension Service research vessel that was to have been the platform for the blessings. The new method proved a hit with the crowd, however, that lined the city dock at Mary Ross Park and watched the parade of 20 boats.

The ceremony concluded with Friar Esteban Mallar laying a wreath from on high in memory of those lost at sea.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The meltdown of the United States Postal Service’s new Palmetto processing center may threaten some absentee ballots, according to the Savannah Morning News.Continue Reading..

10
May

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 10, 2024

On May 12, 1740, Georgia forces under James Oglethorpe took Fort Diego in Florida from the Spanish and mocked the defenders’ jean shorts.

Savannah received news of the battle at Lexington on May 10, 1775, leading to a raid of British gunpowder for the colonial effort. On the same day in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the Second Continental Congress met.

The worst American defeat of the Revolutionary War occurred at Charleston, South Carolina on May 12, 1780. American Major General Benjamin Lincoln, who surrendered that day would later accept the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown, Virginia.

On May 12, 1789, the Society of St. Tammany was founded in New York and would grow to a dominant home for political bosses. Plunkitt of Tammany Hall: A Series of Very Plain Talks on Very Practical Politics remains one of the best historical versions of how political machines worked.

George Washington visited Georgia on May 12, 1791. From Purysburg, South Carolina, Georgia officials escorted Washington on a barge twenty-five miles down the Savannah River to Savannah, where he would stay four days.

On May 10, 1863, Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson died a week after being shot at by his own troops.

He died, as he had wished, on the Sabbath, May 10, 1863, with these last words: “Let us cross over the river and rest under the shade of the trees.”

Confederate General J.E.B. Stuart was mortally wounded on May 11, 1864 at the Battle of Yellow Tavern, near Richmond.

On May 12, 1864, Confederate General Joseph Johnston pulled his Army of Tennessee and Georgia back to Resaca, Georgia. In Virginia, Major General John B. Gordon saved the life, or prevented the capture of, General Robert E. Lee at Spotsylvania. After the war, Gordon would serve as Governor of Georgia and United States Senator.

On May 12, 1864, the Virginia Military Institute Corps of Cadets awoke in Staunton, where they had marched from Lexington 18 miles the previous day; after another 19 miles headed north up the Shenandoah Valley, the would make camp at Mt. Crawford, near Harrisonburg. The cadets ranged in age from fifteen to twenty-five years.

On May 10, 1865, Confederate President Jefferson Davis was captured by Union troops near Irwinville, Georgia.

On May 10, 1869, a ceremonial “Golden Spike” was driven in Promontory, Utah, symbolizing completion of a transcontinental railroad line joining the Union Pacific Railroad and the Central Pacific Railroad.

The first observance of Mother’s Day was May 10, 1908 at St Andrew’s Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia. On May 9, 1914, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the first official “Mother’s Day.”

On May 12, 1970, Georgia National Guard troops were mobilized to end race riots that had broken out the night before in Augusta. On that same day, Ernie Banks of the Chicago Cubs, my father’s favorite player as a youth, hit his 500th home run.

May 11, 1996 was the deadliest day on Mount Everest. “Into Thin Air” by Jon Krakauer is a fantastic chronicle of the deadliest season on Everest.

On May 10, 2006, Georgia State School Superintendent Linda Schrenko, a Republican, pled guilty to federal charges of fraud and money laundering, beginning a streak of Republican State School Supers to leave office under a cloud.

On May 11, 2011, Newt Gingrich announced via Twitter that he would run for President. Two days later, I caught up with Newt at Fincher’s Barbecue in Macon for a brief interview the day he was scheduled to speak to the Georgia Republican Party State Convention.

Happy Birthday to Minnesota, which became a state on May 11, 1858. Y’all talk funny.

WJBF looks at two Revolutionary War battles that occurred in Burke County, Georgia.

It took three or four years before the American Revolution made its way to the south. Twice during that time the Americans and the British fought in Burke County.

During the American Revolution a lot of fighting in the south was made up of skirmishes in the back-country with the more major battles happening in Savannah and Augusta.

In Burke County, patriots fought for independence at the Battle of Burke County Jail and the Battle of Brier Creek.

Judge Jesse Stone is a member of the Sons of the American Revolution. He said that Burke County was eventually named for Edmund Burke, a member of Parliament who was particularly vocal in his support of the American cause.

During that time, Burke County was much larger than it is now. Between 1793 and 1905, portions of it were incorporated into Screven, Jefferson, Richmond and Jenkins Counties.

Two battles took place in Burke County as it was at the turn of the 19th century, though only one of the sites is still located in modern day Burke County.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Advance Voting in Person racked up higher numbers this week, according to the AJC.

From Gov. Brian Kemp to former President Jimmy Carter, over 240,000 Georgia voters have already cast their ballots for this month’s primary.

Turnout steadily rose by roughly 25,000 voters each day across Georgia through nearly two weeks of early voting, according to state election data published Friday.

The deadline to request an absentee ballot is Friday, and absentee ballots must be received at county election offices before polls close on election day May 21.

So far, more voters are participating in the Republican primary than the Democratic primary. There were over 130,000 Republican voters, nearly 106,000 Democratic voters and 3,800 voters who cast nonpartisan ballots.

The primary includes races for Congress, the General Assembly, county offices and the Georgia Supreme Court.

The winners of partisan primaries will advance to the general election in November. In some cases, the primary will effectively decide the winner in races where no candidate from a different party is running.

Most early voters have cast ballots at in-person locations across the state, which are open statewide for at least 17 days leading up to election day. Early voting ends May 17.

Fewer than 20,000 people have cast absentee ballots so far, about 8% of the total. About 35,000 more voters requested absentee ballots that haven’t yet been returned.

Personally, I’m following Gwinnett County Advance voting as a bellwether. Here are the latest numbers:

Democratic Ballots Cast: 6238 (58.16%)

Republican Ballots Cast: 4258 (39.71%)

Non-Partisan Ballots Cast: 228 (2.12%)

The Georgia Supreme Court declined to hear a case involving competing redistricting plans in Cobb County, according to the Associated Press via WSAV.Continue Reading..

8
May

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 8, 2024

Congress passed the second part of the Militia Act on May 8, 1792, requiring all able-bodied white male citizens to be enrolled in the militia.

A Constitutional Convention convened on May 8, 1798 in Louisville, Georgia to rewrite the state Constitution after the Yazoo Land Fraud.

The Southern Baptist Convention was formed in Augusta, Georgia on May 8, 1845.

On May 9, 1862, a Union general, David Hunter, ordered the freedom of all slaves held in Georgia, Florida and South Carolina, but President Lincoln issued a counter-order.

On May 8, 1864, Union forces under Sherman continued to engage Confederates at the Battle of Rocky Face Ridge four miles west of Dalton, Georgia, seizing Blue Mountain.

In Georgia on May 9, 1864, Union troops under General Sherman took Snake Creek Gap. In Atlanta, a notice was published,

“ATTENTION MILITIA! All persons between the ages of 16 and 60, not in the service of the Confederate States, in the second ward, are hereby notified to be and appear at the City Hall today, at 2 o’clock P.M., for the purpose of being armed and equipped for local defense. Herein fail not under penalty.”

Elsewhere on the same day, the Army of the Potomac under Grant reached Spotsylvania Court House in Virginia and found that Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia had beaten them there from the Battle of the Wilderness.

Grant’s Army of the Potomac remained engaged against Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia in the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House through May 21, 1864.

On May 9, 1914, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the first official “Mother’s Day.”

On May 9, 1974, the United States House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary opened hearing on the impeachment of President Richard Nixon.

Governor Sonny Perdue signed legislation designating the current state flag on May 8, 2003.

On May 9, 2005, Governor Sonny Perdue signed legislation recognizing the Green Tree Frog as the official state amphibian.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

In-person Advance Voting continues through May 17 for the May 21, 2024 General Primary Election, according to WALB.

Congratulations to Republican Carmen Rice, who was elected State Representative from District 139. From WTVM:

The results are in for the District 139 special election runoff. The seat covers North Columbus and a small portion of Harris County.

Former Muscogee County Republican Chair Carmen Rice is the winner… beating out business owner Sean Knox.

2,075 votes were cast and Rice won 1,157 of those votes or about 56%… Knox got 918 votes or 44%.

In Muscogee County alone, 1,485 people voted and Rice took 841 votes and Knox won 644.

In Harris County, 590 people cast their ballots and Rice took the lead with 316 votes while Knox followed behind with 274.

Carmen Rice will finish out the term and would have to be re-elected in November to hold office come 2025.

 

 

Ms. Rice will also be on the May 21, 2024 Republican General Primary Ballot against Mr. Knox again, as well as Republican Donald Moeller, before the winner of that election faces Democrat Carl Sprayberry in November. Dr. Moeller also ran in the April 9, 2024 Special Runoff Election, finishing fourth.

 

Governor Brian Kemp signed the FY 2025 state budget, according to a Press Release.

Governor Brian P. Kemp, joined by First Lady Marty Kemp, Lieutenant Governor Burt Jones, Speaker Jon Burns, constitutional officers, members of the General Assembly, and state and local elected officials, signed the Fiscal Year 2025 Budget (HB 916) today at a signing ceremony in the North Wing of the Georgia State Capitol. This budget was carefully worked on by Senate and House Appropriations Chairmen Blake Tillery and Matt Hatchett, along with members of both legislative chambers and invests in public safety, education, healthcare, workforce development, and much more.

An excerpt from the governor’s remarks can be found below:

The yearly budget is the biggest demonstration of our priorities and the biggest tool we have to serve the people of our state.

This budget in particular will help us further promote economic prosperity in communities all across the state, provide Georgia students a quality education, care for the health and wellbeing of our families, and ensure the safety of our neighborhoods.

And because we’ve budgeted conservatively and refused to spend beyond our means, we’re able to invest in these core areas while cutting taxes at the same time.

The fiscal year 2025 budget will build on the investments we made in the amended budget and the budgets that came before as we meet the challenges facing our communities.

One of the greatest challenges we’ve faced even as we’ve enjoyed unprecedented economic development is the recruitment and retention of critical positions like law enforcement officers, teachers, caseworkers, and other public sector roles.

In recent years, we’ve raised pay to offer competitive salaries to these hardworking men and women, and this budget furthers those efforts by offering a four percent cost-of-living adjustment for state employees.

And while helping all of our workers fight the negative effects of inflation, we’re also targeting positions with the highest need and offering additional salary enhancements for roles like public safety officers.

This budget will also help us address another side effect of record job creation – the need for affordable workforce housing. HB 916 includes an additional 6 million dollars for the Rural Workforce Housing Program that is already producing quality results, because every Georgian should be able to live in the same community where they work.

We know that maintaining that growth will require a well-educated workforce.

That’s why, between this budget and the amended budget I signed in February, we are committing more to K-12 education than ever before: an additional 1.4 billion dollars, for a total of 13.2 billion dollars.

We know just how important teachers are to preparing the next generation for that success, which is why we’ve raised educator pay faster and by more than ever before in state history.

This year, we’ll do it again, with an increase of an additional 2,500 dollars. That’s a total pay raise of 9,500 dollars since I took office.

We’re also committing over 7 million dollars for literacy initiatives – an important priority for the state Senate – to ensure all Georgians have this foundational skill.

And in a time when far too many parents and loved ones worry about the safety of students and teachers in our classrooms, one of our most serious responsibilities is securing our classrooms.

That’s why one of our top priorities in this budget was enacting a school safety grant program that will be included annually to provide ongoing state support for school safety as a part of the K-12 budget.

After hearing from administrators across the state how impactful our school safety grants have been, we wanted to provide them certainty that these funds would be there when they were making planning decisions.

I’m grateful to the General Assembly for supporting that vision and including over 100 million dollars to establish this yearly program.

But our commitment to public safety does not end with our campuses… we’re also pouring resources into strengthening law enforcement statewide.

Frontline state public safety officers are receiving a 3,000-dollar salary enhancement – helping ensure these critical positions are filled with capable men and women.

We’ve also allocated over 1.5 million dollars to support an additional trooper school of 35 graduates.

Rest assured, we will continue investing in our law enforcement to ensure they have the training and resources necessary to protect hardworking Georgians.

That includes investing in our Department of Corrections, where Commissioner Oliver has made improving security and staffing levels a top priority.

We’ve allocated a record amount to help achieve that goal… including over 10 million dollars for safety, security, and technology enhancements to intercept contraband.

We know many of the criminals engaged in these activities are also gang members, which is why cracking down on these criminal enterprises has been one of our top priorities for years.

This year, the budget includes 4.8 million dollars to the GBI to establish a gang task force in Columbus and over 800,000 dollars to expand the Attorney General’s Gang Prosecution Unit across the state.

On top of that, we’re putting 1.4 million dollars to standing up the Organized Retail Crime and Cyber Prosecution Unit within the Attorney General’s Office – further building on our efforts to combat crime on a statewide level.

We also have made historic investments in the health and wellbeing of our people.

We’ve already made incredible strides in both increasing access and improving affordability for health insurance… and I’m proud this budget includes a further 20 million dollars for the state reinsurance program that has been critical to that success.

And as our population continues to grow, we’re also making sound investments in growing our healthcare workforce. This budget includes over 160 million dollars to implement provider rate study recommendations and provide parity for the Georgia Pediatric Program to support the men and women providing critical and direct care to Georgians in need.

We’ve also allocated 2 million dollars for 105 new primary care residency slots; 3.3 million dollars for the Board of Healthcare Workforce to address physician workforce needs through the support and development of medical education programs; 900,000 dollars for additional loan repayments for dentists who practice in rural areas.

We’re also expanding the maternal health pilot program in rural communities, with over 1.7 million additional dollars committed to this program that is helping mothers across Georgia.

Finally, Marty and I have made it a top priority, alongside many of the leaders here today, to ensure we are tackling the challenge of mental health directly.

We took the first steps two years ago when I signed the Mental Health Parity Act, a top priority of the late Speaker David Ralston.

Now, we’re building on that legacy by committing more funds to mental health than ever before.

That includes 16.5 million dollars for behavioral health crisis centers statewide; 1 million dollars for child advocacy centers to expand mental health services and forensic interviewing for children who have suffered abuse, neglect, exploitation, and trafficking; And 1 million dollars to expand the Veterans Mental Health Services Program.

We’re also allocating 1.5 million dollars to establish the David Ralston Center for Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities at UGA, ensuring we remain at the forefront of this issue, building the needed workforce and providing a valuable resource for research.

As we make record investments in the services our state needs, we have returned over 5 billion dollars to Georgia taxpayers – all while speeding up cuts to the state income tax.

When others, including Washington, D.C. politicians, want to spend like there is no tomorrow, here in Georgia, we continue to balance the budget and put our money where it will have the greatest impact while working together to ensure we are good stewards of the people’s money.

Because we know that is your money, not the government’s.

This year’s budget is in line with that philosophy, and I’m grateful to all the partners in the General Assembly who supported it.

So, with that, let’s sign this budget!

From the Savannah Morning News:

Kemp signed the $36.1 billion budget into law Tuesday at a ceremony at the state capitol building in Atlanta. The budget, dubbed House Bill 916, allocates funding for all state departments, programs and employees from July 1 to June 30, 2025. Including money from the federal government, the state is projected to spend a total of $66.8 billion.

At the signing ceremony, Kemp emphasized his focus on cutting taxes, as well as investing in key services for Georgia residents.

Also present at the bill signing ceremony were state officials and lawmakers who played a key role in passing this year’s budget, including Lt. Gov. Burt Jones, House Speaker Jon Burns (R-Newington), House Appropriations Committee Chairman Matt Hatchett (R-Dublin) and Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Blake Tillery (R-Vidalia).

Among the most notable items included in this year’s budget are sweeping raises for state employees, including a $2,500 pay increase for public K-12 and pre-K teachers, a 4% salary increase for university employees, and a $3,000 pay increase for law enforcement officers.

From WSAV:

What the newly signed budget offers for the city of Savannah is $4.7M to expand the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Southern University (Armstrong Campus).

It will grant $2.3M to construct and equip a new State Patrol facility for Post 21 (Sylvania).

The budget also includes $500,000 for EV transit infrastructure in Chatham County.

Under the new budget state and university employees would also get a 4% pay increase, up to $70,000 in salary. The typical state employee makes $50,400.

Georgia has $5.4 billion set aside in its rainy-day fund, which is filled to its legal limit of 15% of state revenue. Beyond that, it had $10.7 billion in surplus cash collected over three years. Lawmakers approved Kemp’s plan to spend more than $2 billion of the surplus in changes to the current budget, which ends June 30. But that would leave more than $8 billion in reserve.

Kemp said it was important to hold on to that money to fulfill his promise to reduce the state income tax rate while maintaining higher spending levels.

Governor Kemp signed House Bill 409, “Addy’s Law,” according to WTOC via WTVM.

House Bill 409 is named after 8-year-old Adalynn Pierce, who was killed after being struck by a vehicle while trying to get on a school bus. That happened in Henry County back in February.

Under the new law, anyone convicted of passing a stopped school bus, could face a $1,000 fine or more than a year in prison.

Representative Jesse Petrea from our area voted in favor of this law, saying protecting our children is always a priority.

“Public safety is job one for government. It is the number one thing that government should always be dealing with, and now we’re talking about a subset of our society and of our community that are children,” said Rep. Jesse Petrea, (R) Ga. House. “So, we have to do everything we can as we learn what we can do to make it safer for children to attend school.”

The law also calls on school systems to look at their bus routes and consider getting rid of any stops where a child has to cross streets with a speed limit higher than 40 mph, something officials at the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System say they have already started doing.

From Fox5Atlanta:

“This bill directs school districts to consider not having bus stops where a student would have to cross the roadway with a speed limit equal to or greater than 40 miles an hour,” Gov. Kemp said.

The new law means the possibility of re-drawn bus routes for some metro Atlanta school districts—many of whom didn’t have answers when we reached out.

In Rockdale County, a school spokesperson said: “We are aware of Addy’s Law and will be evaluating our routes to see if any of them need to be adjusted based on this law.”

In response to questions on Wednesday, Clayton County school officials issued a statement saying in-part: “In anticipation of Governor Kemp’s signing of Addy’s Law, Clayton County Public Schools’ Department of Transportation has initiated an audit of the more than 200 bus routes that may be affected by the new law.”

From an earlier story by Fox5Atlanta:

“To me, it just felt like victory. It felt like everything I had been fighting for when this happened had finally been accomplished,” Alexa Wright said.

Wright and other family members were on hand as Gov. Brian Kemp signed HB 409 into law on Tuesday. The law is named for the 8-year-old.

In February, the little girl succumbed to injuries she suffered when she was struck by a passing motorist on Jackson Lake Road in McDonough, while boarding her school bus.

Family members started a petition, following the deadly accident, for the creation of a law that would require school buses to pick children up in their driveways so they wouldn’t have to cross the street to board a school bus.

In February, Addy’s mother joined lawmakers at the State Capitol to lobby for the bill’s passage.

“We do understand the logistics around a lot of things with buses and everything, but I think we can figure out some resources or find time to pour into this issue now,” Pierce told reporters.

“It hurts to lose somebody,” Wright said, “and if we can prevent other families from losing somebody, then that’s good.”

Gov. Kemp signed Senate Bill 494, the “Georgia Hemp Farming Act,” limiting hemp products sales to people 18 or over, according to 13WMAZ.

Under Senate Bill 494, you have to be 21 or older to purchase consumable hemp products.

Businesses that manufacture or sell the products will also need state licenses under the new bill. Additionally, labs that test hemp products will be required to test for a variety of hemp extracts besides Delta-9-THC. Delta-9-THC is the cannabinoid that gets users “high.”

It also gives regulatory power to the Department of Agriculture, allowing it to determine if businesses and farmers are complying with the law.

In Georgia, people with a medical marijuana card can have 20 ounces of low-THC oil at a time. Harrison said that doesn’t cut it for her pain, and that’s why she buys stronger products at the CBD Source.

Joseph Loadholt is the owner of the CBD Source, and said his small business opened last February. He said a lot of his products — like kief, wax and hemp flower, which is his top seller — couldn’t be sold anymore under the new bill because it redefines Delta-9 THC.

Under the new bill, products will have to have under 0.3% of both Delta-9-THC and Delta-9-THCA to be legal.

“It’s going to end my business. It’s going to end my family’s you know, life and everything. The ability to do anything for myself,” Loadholt said.

He said he already doesn’t sell to people under 21 and has no problem with applying for licenses. He also has no problem with it being regulated and held to safety standards.

State Sen. Sam Watson sponsored the bill, and said it’s all about consumer protection.

“Consumers know and understand when they purchase a product, what’s in that product. I mean we do that with food that we grow and produce,” Watson said.

He said they’re just trying to look out for everybody who uses hemp products.

“We want to make sure everybody is using safe products and they’re labeled properly and that we know, you know, who’s manufacturing it, selling it,” Watson said.

This new law takes effect July 1.

Governor Kemp also signed into law a changes to some voter registration procedures, according to USA Today via the Athens Banner Herald.

Gov. Brian Kemp signed the bill on Monday, his spokesperson, Garrison Douglas, confirmed to USA TODAY. Kemp did not issue a statement or comment on the bill.

Kemp’s decision was highly anticipated given his unique predicament in governing a state whose GOP lawmakers often follow former President Donald Trump. Trump rejects the results of the 2020 election, but Kemp refused to help Trump overturn his defeat in Georgia. Throughout the South, Republican legislatures have been making changes to election laws in response to unfounded allegations of a stolen 2020 election.

The new law, SB 189, creates a new process for how counties can remove people’s voter registrations from the rolls, provisions that empowered grassroots activists on the right who have challenged thousands of registrations as ineligible, but that the secretary of state’s office have said provide limitations.

It’s the second election overhaul bill Kemp has signed into law since 2020. The previous law, SB 202, made it more difficult to obtain an absentee ballot and banned bringing food or gifts to people waiting to vote. The law also moved control over the leading the state election board from the secretary of state to the legislature, and allowed average citizens to file unlimited numbers of challenges to people’s voter registrations.

The bill also makes it easier for third-party candidates to get on the ballot, a provision that can help independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr., nephew of the former president, who has challenged President Joe Biden to drop out of the race if he can’t beat Donald Trump.

Other provisions of the law, including removing QR codes from ballots, will go into effect in future years.

From WRDW:

Gov. Brian Kemp on Tuesday signed legislation that makes additional changes to Georgia’s election laws ahead of the 2024 presidential contest in the battleground state.

Among the most contested provisions in the election measure is a definition of probable causes for removing voters from the rolls when their eligibility is challenged.

Republican activists fueled by debunked theories of a stolen election have challenged more than 100,000 voters in recent years.

Opponents have said the probable cause list would enable more baseless attacks on voters and overwhelm election administrators. Republican lawmakers have said the measure would make the challenge process more difficult.

The bill Kemp signed into law — SB 189 — lists death, evidence of voting or registering in another jurisdiction, a tax exemption indicating a primary residence elsewhere, or a nonresidential address as probable causes for removing voters from the rolls. Most controversially, it says the National Change of Address list can be considered, though not exclusively.

The Georgia bill also allows challenges to be accepted and voters removed from the rolls up until 45 days before an election. That provision in part has prompted the threat of lawsuits from liberal groups because federal law says states and counties can’t make systematic changes to voting rolls within 90 days of a federal election.

The measure also says homeless people must use the county voter registration office as their address instead of where they live. Opponents have said that could make it harder for homeless citizens to cast ballots because their registered polling place might be far away.

Fair Fight Action, a voting rights group founded by former Democratic Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, slammed the signing of SB 189, calling the measure a “voter suppression bill that emboldens right-wing activists in their efforts to kick Black and brown voters off the rolls.”

“By signing SB 189 to become law, Brian Kemp delivered a gift to MAGA election deniers,” the group said in a statement.

From the Capitol Beat News Service:

Kemp signed the three bills on Tuesday, the deadline for the governor to either sign or veto legislation the General Assembly passed this year.

The three-bill package marked the latest bid by Georgia Republicans to overhaul state election laws in the wake of Democrat Joe Biden’s victory over incumbent Republican President Donald Trump in 2020. Biden narrowly carried the Peach State, the first Democratic presidential candidate to do so since Bill Clinton in 1992.

Passing mostly along party lines, the package included:

Senate Bill 189, which makes it easier to file mass voter challenges, eliminates QR codes from paper ballots, and eases requirements for third-party presidential candidates to get on Georgia’s ballot.

House Bill 1207, which allows fewer voting machines on election days, requires poll workers to be U.S. citizens, and allows closer access for poll watchers.

House Bill 974, which requires the secretary of state to set up a statewide system to scan and post paper ballots at a minimum resolution and requires more audits of statewide election results.

Republican supporters praised Kemp for signing into law legislation they said will promote the cause of election integrity.

“Although there is always more work to be done, our new laws will ensure even more accuracy, safety and transparency,” said former U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., now serving as chairwoman of Greater Georgia, a nonpartisan nonprofit dedicated to mobilizing voters and protecting election integrity.

“On the eve of a presidential election, Georgians deserve to have confidence that – despite the best efforts of liberal activists in our courts, our media, and our federal government – their votes will count.”

From the Associated Press via AccessWDUN:

Raffensperger and some others had lobbied for Kemp, himself a former secretary of state, to veto the bill.

The bill, additionally, says that beginning July 1, 2026, the state can no longer use a kind of barcode called a QR code to count ballots created on the state ballot marking devices. That is how votes are counted now, but opponents say voters don’t trust QR codes because they can’t read them. Instead, the bill says ballots must be read using the text, or human-readable marks like filled-in bubbles, made by the machines.

The bill also requires counties to report the results of all absentee ballots by an hour after polls close. It also lets counties use paper ballots in elections in which fewer than 5,000 people are registered, though that change will not take effect until 2025.

Kemp on Tuesday vetoed a separate election bill that would ban political contributions by foreign nationals and impose additional registration requirements on agents of foreign principals. The governor noted that such donations are already prohibited by federal law, and he said some of the registration requirements were not intended by the bill’s sponsor.

Governor Kemp also vetoed 12 bills, according to the Savannah Morning News.

May 7, which marked exactly 40 days since the end of the 2024 legislative session, was the deadline this year for Gov. Brian Kemp to sign bills into laws. The legislation included the 2025 state budget, which Kemp signed Tuesday morning.

Vetoes usually come at the very end of the 40-day signing period. Any bills that are vetoed will be returned to the legislature at the beginning of the next session, and the bill must pass each chamber with a two-thirds majority.

House Bill 1019, a homestead exemption bill that has been one of the biggest priorities for Republican lawmakers throughout the legislative session, was vetoed due to what amounts to a legislative typo.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Matt Reeves (R- Duluth), would have posed a referendum question to voters in the November general election, letting them decide whether to raise the current homestead exemption from $2,000 to $4,000.

An earlier draft would have raised the exemption from $2,000 to $10,000, but that number was changed during a state Senate Finance Committee hearing. However, those changes were not reflected in the final referendum question.

“Voters would therefore be approving a different exemption which the legislature did not pass, while the statutory language would never receive the voter approval needed for it to take effect,” Kemp noted in a news release. “This conflict between the statutory language and the referendum language precludes implementation of House Bill 1019.”

Senate Bill 368, a measure that would ban non-U.S citizens from donating to Georgia state candidates or election campaigns, was also vetoed by Kemp at the request of Sen. Rick Williams (R-Milledgeville), the bill’s sponsor.

The legislation would also have required foreign nationals conducting business in Georgia to register with the State Ethics Commissioner. It passed unanimously in the Senate, and 161-2 in the House.

However, Kemp said late additions ultimately capsized the measure. The bill, he noted, “would prohibit foreign nationals from making political contributions, which is already prohibited by federal law, and impose additional state-level registration requirements on agents of foreign principals, some of which were unintended by the bill’s sponsor.”

A full list of bills that Kemp vetoed is available at gov.georgia.gov.

State Rep. Rick Tonwsend (R-St Simons Island) faces criticism over his legislation regulating kratom sales, according to The Brunswick News.

Mac Haddow, senior fellow with the American Kratom Association, claims legislation sponsored by state Rep. Rick Townsend, R-St. Simons Island, accomplished little other than requiring needed product standards and labeling.

“There is only one beneficiary of Rep. Townsend’s Kratom bill – other than his own political campaign account – and that is a group of trial attorneys who want to sue Kratom manufacturers and retailers for their own profit,” Haddow said. “The Georgia citizens who purchase Kratom for their health and well being are less protected today than they were before this legislation was passed.”

Townsend originally advocated for an outright ban of Kratom like it has been in several other states. He said a strong lobbying effort derailed that attempt.

“An out-of-state political special interest group continues misrepresenting the facts and engaging in a campaign of misinformation to protect their own interests,” Townsend said. “This legislation is a constituent-driven initiative aimed at safeguarding the health and well-being of Georgia citizens who consume Kratom products.”

The new law, which goes into effect Jan. 1, will raise the minimum age to 21 to buy Kratom.

Townsend said the legislation was necessary because of the ongoing harm to Georgians caused by unregulated Kratom.

“Too many families have been devastated by the loss of loved ones due to the lack of proper oversight in the Kratom industry,” he said. “As a representative of the people of Georgia, it is my duty to prioritize the safety and protection of my constituents above all else.”

“The continued claim by this out-of-state political special interest group that this bill only benefits trial attorneys is false and baseless.”
The product also has to remain behind the counter in stores once the new law goes into effect.

The Georgia Court of Appeals will hear an appeal of a lower court decision against disqualifying Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis (D) and her office from the Trump prosection, according to The Hill via WSAV.

On Wednesday, the Georgia Court of Appeals granted the request from Trump and several allies charged alongside him to take up their appeal now, before the case heads to trial. The district attorney’s office had opposed the move.

Willis was allowed to continue prosecuting the case after Judge Scott McAfee, who is overseeing the case in the Superior Court of Fulton County, ruled that she could stay if her lead prosecutor, Nathan Wade – with whom she had a romantic relationship – resigned.

McAfee has not yet set a trial date, and the higher court’s decision to hear the appeal is likely to cause further delays. McAfee has signaled he plans to continue addressing various pending motions in the meantime, though the defendants could attempt to pause the trial.

Steve Sadow, who represents Trump in the case, welcomed the development.

“President Trump looks forward to presenting interlocutory arguments to the Georgia Court of Appeals as to why the case should be dismissed and Fulton County DA Willis should be disqualified for her misconduct in this unjustified, unwarranted political persecution,” Trump attorney Steve Sadow said in a statement.

The NAACP Macon Branch is considering a lawsuit over ballots containing incorrect election districts, according to the Macon Telegraph.

With only nine days left until early voting closes, the NAACP is considering taking legal action after Macon-Bibb County voters in four districts were allegedly given wrong ballots.

Gwenette Westbrooks, head of the NAACP’s Macon-Bibb branch, said some voters in Districts 2, 4, 6 and 9, including at precincts Warrior 1, Howard, and Hazzard, were given ballots for the wrong districts. The county addressed the issue but initially only discussed issues involving two districts.

“For a person to cast their vote, and then a vote not even get counted for the correct district, it sends a message that we’re dealing with the same issues from 50 years ago, where voter suppression took place,” Westbrooks told The Telegraph.

A candidate from District 6 first informed the NAACP on Friday, May 3 about the discrepancy, Westbrooks said. They later found out three other districts had the same problem.

“Some people could not vote for a candidate because they were not on their ballot,” Westbrooks said.

Thomas Gillon, elections supervisor of the county, mentioned how the discrepancy impacted two districts when contacted by The Telegraph, but did not mention the others. Gillon did not respond to further request for comment about additional issues before publication.

Gillon told The Telegraph that some voters in District 6 noticed their electronic ballots were actually meant for District 9. He said recent redistricting of the county – updated in December due to the latest U.S. Census results – may have sent ballots to the wrong precincts.

Voters in District 6 brought the discrepancy to poll workers’ attention, Gillon said. The Elections Board then inspected the ballots, and discovered some precincts in the electronic “poll bed” system, which creates voter cards, hadn’t updated since the county commission’s redistricting.

“We started looking at each voter in our registration system, which was much more correct than the system that was making voter cards,” Gillon said.

In addition to flaws within the electronic system, some voters never received updated voter cards properly assigned to their designated districts.

“Anytime there was a discrepancy we’d make a proper voter card once there was an issue … while we were working to get the voter card system updated,” he added.

An Administrative Law Judge ruled in favor of disqualifying a candidate for State House District 151, currently held by State Rep. Gerald Greene (R-Cuthbert), according to the Albany Herald.

An administrative law judge ruled on Tuesday that Democrat Othellious Cato was disqualified after the candidate reportedly failed to appear for a Tuesday session of the Georgia Office of State Administrative Hearings.

The Georgia Secretary of State’s office received the initial decision on Tuesday, the office said in an email response. The office has not issued a final decision in the case and is reviewing the administrative law judge’s initial decision.

The complaint in the case was related to a challenge over the question of whether Cato lives within the district.

Bryan County Commission Chair Carter Infinger is being challenged by Republican Buck Holly, according to WTOC.

Infinger is hoping his experience will convince voters to re-elect him, saying he has unfinished business as the county prepares for Hyundai’s massive car plant and recovers from the April 2022 tornado.

“Obviously the Hyundai one. We’ve got a lot of big projects in the south end with the co-op project, a bunch of infrastructure projects and roads. I think it’s critical to have experience to know about those projects and be able to finish them up,” Infinger said.

Holly says his time owning a business and the variety of roles he’s held gives him a fresh perspective.

“Being able to focus on the little things, medium things, and big things will translate well into being a politician,” Holly said.

Both candidates note the race has ignited a social media firestorm…as they vie for a job that could change the course of Bryan County.

“If you can’t do the small things? How can we trust you to do the big things,” asked Holly.

“You cannot run the county like a business. It’s not a business, it’s not a family business. This is the government,” Infinger said.

Both candidates are running on the Republican ticket and no Democrats are on the ballot, meaning whoever wins the May 21 primary will run unopposed in November.

Incumbent Gwinnett County Tax Commissioner Denise Mitchell (D) and Democratic Primary challenger Phillip Bonton III face-off to determine who is in the November General Election with Republican Arefeen Chowdhury, and spoke to the Gwinnett Daily Post about modernizing the Tax Commissioner’s Office.

Gwinnett County Commission candidates spoke to the Gwinnett Daily Post about housing affordability.

The Dalton Daily Citizen profiles the Republican candidates for Whitfield County Sheriff – Wallace “Wally” Johnson III and Scotty Martin.

The Savannah Morning News profiles the candidates for Savannah-Chatham County Board of Education District Three.

Funeral arrangements were announced for the late Muscogee County District Attorney Stacey Jackson, according to WTVM.

District Attorney Stacey Jackson passed away Sunday morning, May 5, after a long battle with illness, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

Jackson worked as an Assistant District Attorney from 2000 until 2008. He then went into private practice in 2008 and remained there until 2022. He returned to the office as District Attorney in May 2022 when Governor Brian Kemp appointed him to the office.

Mr. Jackson is a native of Harris County. He is survived by his two children.

Savannah Mayor Van Johnson continues to push back on opposition to gun storage legislation, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Two high-profile challenges to the city’s landmark ordinance, which was passed unanimously by city council in April, came in quick succession last week. A Wayne County man filed a civil suit against the city on May 1, dubbing the ordinance “void” by state law in what appears to be the ordinance’s first legal challenge. Attorney General Chris Carr followed up with the same assessment on May 3 in a courtesy review letter to Savannah’s city attorney Bates Lovett.

The ordinance requires firearms left in motor vehicles to be “securely stored” in compartments or in a locked trunk. Johnson, who led the creation of the ordinance, has continued to defend both the law’s legality and rationale despite the public pushback. Lawsuits were anticipated and even welcomed, Johnson said.

“It is Savannah’s legal opinion that this ordinance strikes the right balance,” Johnson said.

Included in Johnson’s remarks were the same emphasis used during his advocacy for its passage: the majority of guns stolen from cars in Savannah occurred when the vehicles were unlocked. The point of the law is to promote responsible gun ownership, not infringe on Second Amendment rights, said Johnson, who is gun owner and former police officer.

When asked during his press conference why the city did not consult the Georgia AG’s office for review, Johnson said they don’t send most ordinances in for review.

“I think we were pretty certain about what that reaction would be, so we chose not to do it, which was our prerogative,” Johnson said.

Forty military aircraft take to the skies of Coastal Georgia for exercises, according to the Savannah Morning News.

From now until May 18, 40 aircraft will be participating in Sentry Savannah, the Air National Guard’s “premier fighter exercise,” according to the Air Dominance Center (Savannah CRTC).

Nearly 800 participants will be part of the exercise. People in the coastal Georgia area and near the Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport are likely to notice noise from the jets.

During this event, “4th and 5th generation fighter jets and warfighters from across the Air National Guard come together to train,” according to the Air Dominance Center.

 

 

7
May

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 7, 2024

George Washington attended the first inaugural ball on May 7, 1789 on Broadway near Wall Street in New York.

Washington arrived at the ball in the company of other American statesmen and their wives. That evening he danced with many of New York’s society ladies. Vice President John Adams, members of Congress and visiting French and Spanish dignitaries, as well their wives and daughters, joined in the festivities. Eliza Hamilton, wife of Alexander Hamilton, recorded her impressions of the ball in her memoirs, noting that the president liked to dance the minuet, a dance she thought was suited to his dignity and gravity.

On May 7, 1864, General Ulysses S. Grant disengaged his Army of the Potomac from fighting against General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, ending the Battle of the Wilderness.

Although the Wilderness is usually described as a draw, it could be called a tactical Confederate victory, but a strategic victory for the Union army. Lee inflicted heavy numerical casualties (see estimates below) on Grant, but as a percentage of Grant’s forces they were smaller than the percentage of casualties suffered by Lee’s smaller army. And, unlike Grant, Lee had very little opportunity to replenish his losses. Understanding this disparity, part of Grant’s strategy was to grind down the Confederate army by waging a war of attrition. The only way that Lee could escape from the trap that Grant had set was to destroy the Army of the Potomac while he still had sufficient force to do so, but Grant was too skilled to allow that to happen. Thus, the Overland Campaign, initiated by the crossing of the Rappahannock, and opening with this battle, set in motion the eventual destruction of the Army of Northern Virginia.

Therefore, even though Grant withdrew at the end of the battle (which is usually the action of the defeated side), unlike his predecessors since 1861, Grant continued his campaign instead of retreating to the safety of Washington, D.C. The significance of Grant’s advance was noted by James M. McPherson:

[I]nstead of heading north, they turned south. A mental sunburst brightened their minds. It was not another “Chancellorsville … another skedaddle” after all. “Our spirits rose,” recalled one veteran who remembered this moment as a turning point in the war. Despite the terrors of the past three days and those to come, “we marched free. The men began to sing.” For the first time in a Virginia campaign the Army of the Potomac stayed on the offensive after its initial battle.

May 7, 1864 saw some of the first fighting in the Atlanta campaign, northwest of Dalton, Georgia.

Keith Richards recorded the first version of the guitar riff that would become “Satisfaction” early in the morning of May 7, 1965 before passing out.

Jimmy Carter’s Presidential campaign received a boost on May 7, 1976 when he received the personal endorsement of the President of the United Auto Workers.

On May 7, 1996, Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell responded to the FBI Report that ranked Atlanta the most violent city in the nation. Campbell would succeed in replacing headlines about Atlanta’s violent crime by substituting headlines about official corruption.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Voters in Muscogee and Harris counties go to the polls today in a Special Runoff Election for House District 139, according to WTVM.

The race is a runoff between Sean Knox and Carmen Rice.

April’s election resulted in a runoff between Knox and Rice as neither candidates reached a majority of the votes.

“I anticipated that it would end in a runoff,” Rice told News Leader 9 in April. “We have four people in the race, just statistically that’s what’s going to happen so we’re just going to get busy, and keep doing what we’re doing and connect with the people of 139 and just have a positive mindset moving forward.”

“People did come out and voted for me a lot of people gave a lot of effort to help get our campaign moving with great direction, so gratitude is my first thought,” Knox told us in April. “There’s more work to do and I’m excited about that.”

The winner of this race will represent House District 139 until the end of the year.

Whitfield County had 904 voters during the first week of advance in-person voting, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

Whitfield County Supervisor of Elections Shaynee Bryson said 904 people voted last week in the general primary and nonpartisan elections. That was the first week of early voting for the May 21 elections and included voting on Saturday.

For comparison, 850 voted in the first week of advance voting in the 2022 general primary and nonpartisan elections.

“We are expecting higher turnout in the coming weeks, the closer we get to Election Day on (May 21),” she said.

The 14th Congressional District Georgia Republican Party censured State Rep. Kasey Carpenter (R-Dalton), according to the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

The Georgia 14th Congressional District Republican Party at its annual convention in Rome recently censured state Rep. Kasey Carpenter, R-Dalton, for being the sole Republican in the state House of Representatives to vote against the Georgia Criminal Alien Track and Report Act.

That bill, which requires local law enforcement agencies to cooperate with federal immigration authorities, passed both the state House and Senate and was recently signed into law by Gov. Brian Kemp.

In March, Carpenter was censured by the Whitfield County GOP at its annual convention for his vote on that bill as well as speaking out in support last year for a 10-year intergovernmental agreement between Whitfield County, Whitfield County Schools and the city of Varnell that allows a tax allocation district to help fund high-end commercial development at Patterson Farms.

The resolution censuring Carpenter by the district Republican Party calls the Georgia Criminal Alien Track and Report Act “a modest bill” and notes that Carpenter was the only Republican in the state House to vote against it. It calls Carpenter “wildly out of touch on the illegal immigration issue with most voters in the 14th Congressional District.” That district includes Whitfield and Murray counties.

“I think we ought to support our sheriffs and police officers, not penalize them for not being immigration experts,” Carpenter said in March after being censured by the county GOP. “I’m also concerned as a person who represents a 52% minority district that Hispanics and other people of color could be profiled.”

Carpenter does not have an opponent in the May 21 Republican primary, and no Democrat qualified to run against him in November.

Governor Brian Kemp will sign the FY 2025 state budget today, according to the AJC.

As the annual Capitol bill-signing season winds down Tuesday, Gov. Brian Kemp is expected to ink a $36.1 billion state spending plan for the coming fiscal year that includes raises for 300,000 educators and state workers, plus more money for law enforcement, education and mental health programs.

The raises are included in the budget for fiscal 2025 — which begins July 1 and was approved by lawmakers on the final day of the 2024 legislative session in March.

State tax collections have been slow for the past year. But the state is sitting on $16 billion in “rainy day” and undesignated reserves, so Kemp and lawmakers have backed higher spending since the session began in January.

State spending has grown from about $26.6 billion in fiscal 2020, the last budget plan approved before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, as tax collections flowed in during the economic uptick that followed. Revenue stalled out in fiscal 2024, and it is not expected to gain much momentum next year.

Last year Kemp vetoed or told state agencies to disregard about $240 million in spending approved by lawmakers. It is unclear if this year will bring a repeat, although the governor’s office and General Assembly budget writers seemed to work together more smoothly during the 2024 session.

Former Congressman John Barrow (D) filed a federal lawsuit after the Georgia Judicial Qualifications Commission said he can’t continue to campaign on abortion rights, according to the AJC.

Former U.S. Rep. John Barrow filed a federal lawsuit Monday to block the state’s judicial watchdog agency from seeking misconduct charges against him for centering his campaign for a seat on the Georgia Supreme Court on a pledge to support abortion rights.

The lawsuit came days after the Judicial Qualifications Commission informed the former Democratic lawmaker he was facing a complaint for pledging to “protect” abortion rights against a 2019 Republican-backed state law that restricts the procedure.

In the five-page letter, the agency said Barrow had the right to state his views on partisan or disputed issues. But it said he violated the Judicial Code of Conduct by making “misleading” pledges to protect selected rights and promises about “highly sensitive cases” likely to come before the state’s top court. It urged him to immediately change his campaign message.

Barrow’s lawsuit challenging the code said he is “suffering irreparable harm” from the complaint ahead of the May 21 vote. It asked a federal judge to block the judicial agency from sanctioning him on grounds that it violates his free speech rights.

It’s the latest development in one of the most unusual — and closely watched — Georgia judicial races in a generation as Barrow challenges Justice Andrew Pinson, who was Gov. Brian Kemp’s surprise 2022 pick to fill a vacant seat.

He is bucking convention by treating the nonpartisan contest like a political campaign, telling audiences he supports abortion rights because, as he said at a North Fulton County Democrats forum, “politicians shouldn’t be making your personal health care decisions.”

“I’m a judge, not a politician,” said Pinson, who was appointed to the bench by Kemp after serving as the state solicitor general. “Folks understand that what makes a good judge doesn’t really have to do with partisanship or politics.”

Barrow’s legal challenge takes aim at the complex code that governs judicial candidates and bars them from making false or misleading statements, or accusations with “reckless disregard.”

Under the code, a three-person committee of the judicial agency is set up each election year to review allegations of misconduct. It can then refer complaints about judicial candidates to a full investigative panel, which has the power to reprimand, censure, suspend or remove a judge. The committee’s May 1 letter to Barrow pressed him to revise his messages, ads, website and other materials or face penalties.

Other judicial leaders have raised sharp concerns about Barrow’s approach. A letter signed by five former Georgia Supreme Court justices and 10 past presidents of the State Bar of Georgia encouraged voters to “demand that our judges be nonpartisan and refrain from making public commitments about how they will decide cases and issues.”

Elected officials are weighing-in on student protests, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Gov. Brian Kemp – Georgia’s governor was quick to condemn the protests, denouncing demonstrators as “radicals,” and claiming protestors have been “terrorizing” fellow Jewish students.

“College campuses are designed to be places of learning and often civil discourse, but in Georgia, they will never be a safe haven for those who promote terrorism and extremism that threatens the safety of students,” he wrote in an official statement.

“We will respect the right to peacefully protest, but those who choose to make the unwise decision to use our college campuses to intimidate, make threats, promote violence, or in any other way break the law will be met with the full force of the law and brought to justice.”

Lt. Gov. Burt Jones – The state’s lieutenant governor also strongly condemned the student protests, labelling them “antisemitic and illegal.”

“We will not allow pro-terrorist radicals and liberal anarchists to invade Georgia’s campuses,” he wrote on X, formerly Twitter. “These criminals have only one goal: disruption.”

Jones also used the protests to slam Vice President Kamala Harris, denouncing her silence on the issue and urging Georgians to re-elect Donald Trump.

“It is imperative that we put President Trump back in the White House and combat this antisemitic hatred,” he said in a statement.

Attorney General Chris Carr – Georgia’s attorney general thanked police for arresting protestors, and condemned leaders at other universities for their response to student demonstrations.

“We’re not New York or California,” Carr posted on X. “We won’t stand by while people illegally occupy our schools and threaten and intimidate our students.”

Georgia Senate Special Committee on Investigations Chair Sen. Bill Cowsert (R-Athens) said they may subpoena Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis to compel her testimony before them, according to Atlanta News First via WALB.

“She’s a key part of the investigation that her viewpoints are valued by us,” said state Sen. Bill Cowsert (R-Athens). “We need to hear what she has to say and her explanation of what she thinks are the appropriate rules ought to be going forward so we don’t have this kind of scandal give Georgia a black eye.”

On Friday, the committee reconvened after state lawmakers earlier this year charged it to determine if Willis engaged in any financial misconduct in her investigation and subsequent historic indictment of former President Donald Trump.

Before the committee meeting, Willis herself was defiant. Appearing at a community event with Fulton County Superior Court Clerk Ché Alexander at K&K Soul Food, Willis condemned the committee.

“Isn’t it interesting when we got a bunch of African-American DAs, now we need daddy to tell us what to do,” Willis said . “So y’all can go put that in your sound bite for today, but today I am here so I can reach my community, and this is really messing up my business.”

From 11Alive:

Willis hired a special prosecutor, Nathan Wade, for the election interference case pending against former President Donald Trump and his co-defendants. She later admitted to having a romantic relationship with Wade — who has since stepped down from the case.

The special committee is investigating accusations of misuse of funds for the hiring of Wade.

Among those who testified Friday was Fulton County Chairman Robb Pitts, who said he would support a potential law change as it relates to oversight of the district attorney expenses.

“There’s times when you just disagree with what’s on the books and that’s where I find myself in,” said Pitts.

The panel is expected to produce a report at the end of its investigation that could feature proposed changes to state law or budgeting to the DA’s Office. The panel’s chairman, State Sen. Bill Cowsert (R-Athens), revealed they have invited Willis to their hearings and if forced, they plan to subpoena her.

“She’s a key part of the investigation and her viewpoints are valued by us. We need to hear what she has to say and her explanation and what she thinks the appropriate rules ought to be going forward so that we don’t have this kind of scandal giving Georgia a black eye in the future,” said Cowsert.

From Fox5Atlanta:

After the committee chairman threatened to subpoena Willis, she told FOX 5’s Rob DiRienzo at a news conference on Monday he couldn’t.

“First of all, I don’t think they even have the authority to subpoena me, but they need to learn the law,” she said.

“First of all, I don’t think they even have the authority to subpoena me, but they need to learn the law,” she said.

The committee chairman, State Sen. Bill Cowsert, told FOX 5 in a phone interview following Willis’ news conference that he maintains that the committee has the legal power to compel her testimony.

He said she could be held in contempt if she refuses to cooperate.

“I sure hope it doesn’t get to that,” Cowsert said.

Later in the day, Lt. Gov. Burt Jones all but dared Willis not to show.

“If subpoenaed by the Committee, she will be required to appear, or she will be in violation of Georgia law,” Jones said in an email. “This is what treating everybody evenly looks like, even if DA Willis doesn’t like being held accountable.”

Cowsert said the committee, which held its third meeting last week, could issue the subpoena in a matter of months.

From Georgia Recorder:

Willis cannot be sanctioned by the Senate committee, but it can issue subpoenas for her to turn over evidence and to testify under oath. Former Gov. Roy Barnes, who declined Willis’ offer to serve as special prosecutor in 2021 in the case against Trump,,

On Monday, Willis questioned whether the special committee had the legal authority to compel her to testify.

Willis cannot be sanctioned by the Senate committee, but it can subpoena her to turn over evidence and to testify under oath. Former Gov. Roy Barnes, who declined Willis’ offer to serve as special prosecutor in 2021 in the case against Trump, attended Friday’s hearing with plans to serve as legal counsel for Willis if she is subpoenaed.

Cowsert asked Fulton County Attorney Soo Jo if she agreed with his interpretation of the state law, which would seem to imply that Willis would need permission from the County Commission in order to hire an independent contractor such as Wade.

According to Jo, previous court rulings have interpreted the law as allowing district attorneys to appoint and determine compensation for special assistant district attorneys without the county board’s consent.

She also said disputes over finances and control usually turn into a tug-of-war between constitutional offices and local elected officials, who set the budget but must also cover shortfalls and legal ramifications.

“I do believe there are some practical and legal challenges for all counties and elected officials who are in and in between state where you have independence, but you depend on the county for finances,” Jo said.

Cowsert on Friday recommended state legislators consider implementing a statewide policy that addresses tensions between county commissioners and constitutional officers over how much discretion and autonomy they should have.

“We need to have a state law that provides ethical guidelines for prosecutors, for sheriffs, for clerks of court, for tax commissioners,” Cowsert said. “They are not county officers, but they need to have accepted norms of conduct and ethical guidelines. It’s our job in the state government to come up with that from the state level.”

Pitts said that the Fulton commission should be able to have more control since the board sets the multimillion dollar budgets.

A Georgia Court of Appeals is expected to render a ruling by May 13 whether to grant a motion by Trump and several of his co-defendants asking the court to review Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee’s decision to allow Willis to remain on the case following Wade’s resignation. In the March 3 ruling, McAfee wrote that Willis actions showed a tremendous lapse in judgment but that the defense was unable to prove there was conflict of interest that warranted dismissing the case.

Savannah released a statement in response to Attorney General Chris Carr’s assertion that the city’s new gun law is void, according to WTOC.

You may remember last month, City Council passed an ordinance requiring that gun owners in Savannah lock their firearms in compartments and are out of sight when in parked cars.

The City released this statement in response to A.G. Carr’s letter saying, ”In order to address the increasing amount of unsecured firearms stolen from unlocked vehicles the City of Savannah unanimously enacted this new ordinance. We certainly encourage our citizens to exercise their Second Amendment rights, but this ordinance remains in effect and will continue to be enforced.”

The new ordinances are also facing legal challenges here locally.

Last week gun carrier Clarence Belt of Jesup filed a lawsuit against the City of Savannah over the new gun ordinances, also claiming they are preempted by state law.

Savannah Mayor Van Johnson is pushing back against critics, claiming the new rules aim to lower the number of stolen guns.

He says 83 percent of firearm thefts came from unlocked vehicles last year.

“Sue us. We’ll go to the Supreme Court and let the United States Supreme Court say,” said Mayor Johnson. “The gun ordinance doesn’t go anywhere. So, sorry.”

A city spokesperson says they encourage citizens to exercise their Second Amendment rights, but the ordinance will continue to be enforced.

From the Associated Press via the Moultrie Observer:

Carr’s letter foreshadows a likely court battle over whether city governments like Savannah’s can impose gun safety measures that have received little support in a state legislature dominated by Republicans. A lawsuit filed in Chatham Count Superior Court last week by a man described as frequent visitor to Savannah asks a judge to halt enforcement of the city’s gun ordinance.

Mayor Van Johnson, a Democrat and a former police officer, has previously said the ordinance aims to make gun owners act responsibly without infringing on their Second Amendment rights. He did not immediately respond Monday to a request for comment made to a City Hall spokesperson.

According to Savannah police, there were 244 guns reported stolen from vehicles last year and 203 of them were taken from unlocked cars. Police have reported a similar number so far this year, with 56 of 69 thefts coming from unlocked cars.

In his letter, Carr noted that Georgia courts have struck down prior gun restrictions imposed by local governments. He cited a 2007 ruling by the Georgia Court of Appeals that overturned a Coweta County ordinance prohibiting firearms at sports fields and other recreational facilities operated by the county.

Carr’s letter warned city officials they could face civil liability for enforcing it.

“Given this concern alone, it appears that the City should give immediate consideration to rescinding its approval” of the gun ordinance, Carr said.

The United States Department of Transportation awarded a $15 million dollar grant to electrify part of the truck fleet at Georgia’s ports, according to the Savannah Morning News.

A California-based clean-energy infrastructure company will put a $7.8 million grant from the Federal Highway Administration toward development of a 23-megawatt truck-charging center in Garden City. The facility will accommodate up to 120 electric versions of the trucks that move freight between the terminals and an ever-expanding array of adjacent warehouses and distribution centers.

Meanwhile, a $7.5 million grant to the GPA will support a four-year pilot project to replace more than 600 jockey trucks at the Port of Savannah with models using “renewable” diesel.

Renewable fuel, which can be mixed with traditional diesel, still pollutes when burned but has a smaller carbon footprint over its lifecycle because it is produced from raw materials such as used cooking oil and animal fat waste rather than refined from extracted oil.

The truck purchase is the next step in the port’s decade-long effort to reduce the use of “dirty” diesel. That transition has focused primarily on electrifying major equipment once powered by fossil fuels, said Joanne Caldwell, GPA’s director of Risk Management and Sustainability.

“The current fleet of 34 electric-powered ship-to-shore cranes are equipped with integrated generators to capture power while lowering boxes,” Caldwell noted. “In this way, the cranes produce enough energy to power themselves for 18 minutes of each operating hour.”

GPA now is installing 15 all-electric rubber-tired gantry cranes at its Garden City Terminal West facility. Another nine are already in use at the Savannah Transload Facility, just upriver of the main Garden City Terminal.

Athens-Clarke County Commissioners are moving their meetings to address security concerns, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

Meetings of Athens-Clarke County’s mayor and commission are being moved from City Hall, 301 College Ave. in downtown Athens, to the nearby Clarke County School District headquarters, 595 Prince Ave., as plans for increasing security at City Hall are being developed and put in place.

The venue change will remain in effect through this month and June. Commissioners will, as has become their practice, take a break from meetings in July.

The venue change for commission meetings, along with the adjustments to public comment procedures, come a little more than a month after a local ersatz rabbi, 54-year-old Richard Camden Pace, had to be subdued and tased by an Athens-Clarke County police officer during a public comment period at the commission’s April 2 meeting.

Pace was arrested and charged with felony obstruction of a law enforcement officer and disorderly conduct in the incident, during which he loudly addressed the commission and refused to sit down after his allotted 3 minutes of public comment had ended.

The incident with Pace, along with other recent disruptive incidents during commission meetings in City Hall, including loud calls for the resignation or recall of Girtz, Sheriff John Q. Williams, and District Attorney Deborah Gonzalez, prompted the mayor to introduce the subject of controls over public comment at the county commission’s day-long retreat on Friday. The discussion did not appear on the agenda issued in advance of the retreat.

The City of Tifton lost $50,000 dollars to a cyberscam, according to WALB.

“Electronic activity has been great and made a lot of our life more convenient, but it has added a layer of things you have to watch out for. This happens to be one of those,” Tifton’s Director of Communications Stacey Green, said.

The city of Tifton was a recent victim of cyber theft. The city was scammed out of nearly $50,000 after a business they normally work with was impersonated by cybercriminals.

“They contacted us and said ‘Hey, can y’all change this to an electronic payment instead of a check?’ We were like yeah sure because it was in reference to a legitimate invoice,” Tifton’s Director of Communications Stacey Green said.

Green says that after they canceled the original check and sent the electronic payment they were contacted by the legitimate company and realized they had been scammed.

Four Republicans are running the the Primary Election for the Second Congressional District, according to the Albany Herald.

Michael Nixon, Wayne Johnson, Regina Liparoto and Chuck Hand are vying to face Democratic Rep. Sanford Bishop Jr. in the November general election.

Two Republican candidates are running for Floyd County Sheriff, according to the Rome News Tribune.

Robbie Whitfield, a veteran local law enforcement officer, is challenging incumbent sheriff Dave Roberson in the Republican primary, and Roberson has the financial edge. There is no Democratic candidate so the winner of the May 21 primary will appear alone on the November general election ballot.

Whitfield reported $5,402 cash on hand compared to $71,306 for Roberson as early voting is continuing through May 17 at the Floyd County Election Center in Rome, Thornton Recreation Center in Armuchee and Anthony Recreation Center in Garden Lakes.

Georgia State House District 140 will choose between two Democratic candidates with no GOP opposition in November, according to WTVM.

On May 21, residents who live in Georgia’s District 140 will have the opportunity to choose between two democrats vying for the state representative seat. Incumbent Teddy Reese is running against Nia Williams, who are both Democrats. There is no Republican challenger.

If Reese wins, he said he will focus on Medicaid expansion and keeping his promises.

‘’The next two years I plan to keep my focus on our veterans,” he said. “We have so much that our veterans need here, and ours in our city, and our state and I believe we can do more. I’m also going to keep my focus on education. I have been a strong component for education for our children making sure that they have the resources that they need to be successful within the classroom, so that they when they leave the classroom they’re just as successful.’’

Early voting is already underway, while election day is Tuesday, May 21.

Former Rincon City Council member Damon Rahn is running for Chair of the Effingham County Commission, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Effingham County was once a bedroom community of Savannah but with a population of more than 70,000, the county is growing at rapid speed. Damon Rahn, an IT infrastructure analyst for Georgia Power, says he is the “right man” to lead the county as it anticipates continued growth. On March 4, Rahn announced his bid for chairman of the Effingham County Board of Commissioners.

“With our strategic location to I-95, I-16, dual rail access and excellent school systems, we are a prime target for development,” said Rahn. “As a county, we need to know our worth and really look at whom we decide to partner with in our community.”

Rahn said his experience in the political realm, having served on the Rincon City Council and the Effingham Industrial Development Authority, is what sets him apart from running mate Alex Long, owner of Lawrence Alexander Homes among other construction-related businesses.

Former Georgia Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan (R-Forsyth County) writes he is voting for Joe Biden for President, according to CNN via the Albany Herald.

ormer Georgia Republican Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan on Monday said he will vote for President Joe Biden in November, arguing former President Donald Trump “has disqualified himself through his conduct and his character.”

“Unlike Trump, I’ve belonged to the GOP my entire life. This November, I am voting for a decent person I disagree with on policy over a criminal defendant without a moral compass,” Duncan, a CNN contributor, wrote in an opinion piece published in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Duncan criticized fellow members of his party, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, calling it “disappointing to watch an increasing number of Republicans fall in line behind former president Donald Trump.” “This mentality is dead wrong,” he added.

One of the year’s first sea turtle nests was located on Jekyll Island, according to The Brunswick News.

“Out of the islands that receive nests, Jekyll Island is the only semi-developed barrier island to receive a nest,” said Davide Zailo, research program manager at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center.

Data gathered by the Georgia Sea Turtle Cooperative indicate the nesting loggerhead population has been increasing by around 4% each year since the 1990s, Zailo said.

While nesting rates are now relatively high, a predictive model developed by the University of Georgia suggests a leveling off at current nesting rates for the next 20 years or so. Female loggerheads only begin nesting at around 30 years old, and the slowdown is predicted based on low nesting rates in the early 2000s.

Zailo linked nesting today to the innovation of the turtle excluder device, or TED, which was certified by the National Marine Fisheries Service in 1989 and is now required on all shrimping vessels. It allows for shrimpers to continue their work while redirecting turtles outside their nets.

“These devices are made of metal bars and mesh that fit inside the neck of a trawl net,” according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association. “While shrimp pass between the bars to the back of the net, turtles and other larger animals bump against the metal grid and escape through a flap in the mesh.”

In 2023, a total of 217 sea turtle nests were laid on Jekyll Island and 3,479 statewide, Zailo said. It was below the record-breaking numbers in 2022 but better than expected, coming in as Jekyll’s second-busiest nesting season since 1990, when consistent recording of nesting data began.

“Jekyll Island had the most nests for a semi-developed barrier island in Georgia (in 2023),” Zailo said. “This is likely due to a combination of Jekyll Island’s sea turtle education programs, conservation messaging, strong lighting ordinance — one of the most stringent in the United States pertaining to sea turtle nesting — and areas of undeveloped beachfront.

“Our commitment to protecting sea turtles includes reducing light disturbances from hotels and residential areas along the beach, using red lights at night to avoid turtle disturbance and the protection of nests from predators.”

Another fact Zailo found interesting is that the Georgia coast is seeing more unique turtle visits as opposed to the same turtles returning every year, a phenomenon he largely attributes to ongoing protection and conservation by agencies like the Georgia Sea Turtle Center and the Jekyll Island Authority.