Category: Georgia Politics

21
Dec

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 21, 2020

On December 21, 1829, Georgia Governor George Gilmer signed legislation outlawing the teaching of African-Americans to read or write. One year later to the day, he signed legislation claiming for the state all territory occupied by the Cherokee tribe.

On December 21, 1835, Oglethorpe University was incorporated near Macon, later moving to Atlanta.

On December 21, 1863, the Confederate government selected a site in Sumter County for construction of Camp Sumter, which would be better known by the name Andersonville Prison.

General William Tecumseh Sherman received the surrender of Savannah, Georgia on December 21, 1864.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Trump Tweet January 4

President Donald Trump will rally Republican voters right before the Runoff Elections. From the AJC:Continue Reading..

18
Dec

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 18, 2020

The British ship Mayflower landed at what is now Plymouth, Massachusetts on December 18, 1620.

MayflowerHarbor

Charles Wesley, brother of John Wesley who founded Methodism, and one of the great hymn-writers, was born on December 18, 1707. Wesley accompanied James Oglethorpe to Georgia in 1736.

France formally recognized the United States as an independent nation on December 17, 1777.

The first national day of thanksgiving was observed on December 18, 1777 commemorating the American victory over the British at Saratoga the previous month.

Congress wrote, “It is therefore recommended to the Legislative or executive Powers of these UNITED STATES, to set apart THURSDAY, the eighteenth Day of December next, for solemn THANKSGIVING and PRAISE; That at one Time and with one Voice the good People may express the grateful Feelings of their Hearts, and consecrate themselves to the Service of their Divine Benefactor.”

washington_and_lafayette_at_valley_forge

George Washington’s Continental Army entered winter quarters at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania on December 19, 1777.

During 1777, Patriot forces under General Washington suffered major defeats against the British at the battles of Brandywine and Germantown; Philadelphia, the capital of the United States, fell into British hands. The particularly severe winter of 1777-1778 proved to be a great trial for the American army, and of the 11,000 soldiers stationed at Valley Forge, hundreds died from disease. However, the suffering troops were held together by loyalty to the Patriot cause and to General Washington, who stayed with his men.

When Washington’s army marched out of Valley Forge on June 19, 1778, the men were better disciplined and stronger in spirit than when they had entered.

In her youth, Mrs. GaPundit continually reminded her parents that the area in which she grew up, literally down the street from Valley Forge National Historic Park, was well known for causing frostbite.

On December 18, 1834, Governor William Lumpkin signed legislation chartering the Georgia Methodists Conference Manual Labor School at Oxford, Georgia, which would later become Emory College in 1836 and Emory University in 1915.

On December 19, 1860, the Georgia General Assembly adopted Resolution 14, which read in part,

Resolved 4th. That, should any or all of the Southern States determine in the present emergency to withdraw from the Union and resume their sovereignty, it is the sense of this General Assembly that such seceding States should form a confederacy under a republican form of government; and to that end they should adopt the Constitution of the United States, so altered and amended as to suit the new state of affairs.

General Ulysses S. Grant expelled all Jews from his military district, which covered parts of Tennessee, Mississippi, and Kentucky on December 17, 1862. President Lincoln ordered Grant to rescind the order.

On December 20, 1864, Confederate forces in Savannah retreated ahead of Sherman’s army, crossing over into South Carolina, four years to the day after South Carolina’s secession.

On December 18, 1865, U.S. Secretary of State William Seward issued a statement verifying the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which outlawed slavery in the United States.

The office of Superintendent of Public Education and Georgia Schools was created on December 18, 1866 when Gov. Charles Jenkins signed legislation passed by the General Assembly; on December 18, 1894, Gov. William Atkinson approved a resolution for a Constitutional Amendment to make the State School Commissioner elected statewide.

On December 19, 1868, Congress opened hearings into barriers African-Americans faced to voting in Georgia, which included threats, violence, and death.

President William McKinley visited Savannah, Georgia on December 17, 1898. While there, McKinley attended church at Wesley Monumental Methodist Church and visited Georgia Agricultural and Medical College (now Savannah State University) and the Seventh Army.

On December 17, 1902, legislation changed Georgia’s state flag changed to include the coat of arms on the blue band.

Flag_of_the_State_of_Georgia_(1902-1906).svg copy

On December 17, 1944, Major General Henry C. Pratt ordered the end of the imprisonment of American citizens of Japanese descent in prison camps.

WTBS began broadcasting under new call letters on December 17, 1976 and uplinked its programming to satellite to become “America’s Super Station.”

On December 19, 1998, the United States House of Representatives voted to approve two of four Articles of Impeachment against President Bill Clinton.

Article I was approved 228-206. Voting in favor were 223 Republicans and 5 Democrats. Voting against were 200 Democrats, 5 Republicans, and one Independent.

Article II was defeated 229-205. Voting in favor were 200 Republicans and 5 Democrats. Voting against were 200 Democrats, 28 Republicans, and one Independent.

Article III was approved 221-212. Voting in favor were 216 Republicans and 5 Democrats. Voting against were 199 Democrats, 12 Republicans, and one Independent.

Article IV was defeated 285-148. Voting in favor were 147 Republicans and one Democrat. Voting against were 203 Democrats, 81 Republicans, and one Independent.

On all four impeachment articles, Georgia’s congressional delegation voted exclusively along party lines. Republican congressmen Jack Kingston (1st district), Mac Collins (3rd district), Newt Gingrich (6th district), Bob Barr (7th district), Saxby Chambliss (8th district), Nathan Deal (9th district), Charlie Norwood (10th district), and John Linder (11th district) voted in favor of all four articles. Democratic congressmen Sanford Bishop (2nd district) and John Lewis (5th district) and congresswoman Cynthia McKinney (4th district) voted against all four articles.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Two Special Elections have been scheduled for Tuesday, February 9, 2021, according to AccessWDUN.Continue Reading..

16
Dec

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 16, 2020

On December 16, 1773, the Sons of Liberty, led by Patriot Sam Adams, boarded three British ships in Boston harbor and threw tea worth $700,000 to $1 million in today’s money into the water in what came to be known as the Boston Tea Party.

Boston Tea Party

Governor George Towns signed legislation on December 16, 1847 to build a State School for the Deaf and Dumb. The institution now known as the Georgia School for the Deaf was begun with a log cabin, $5000 from the legislature and four students and is still in operation in Cave Spring, Georgia.

On December 16, 1897, Gov. William Atkinson signed legislation recognizing June 3, the birthday of Jefferson Davis, as a state holiday.

On December 16, 1944, a German counterattack in the Ardennes region of Belgium created a “bulge” in Allied lines with particularly difficult fighting near the town of Bastogne. During the Battle of the Bulge, 89,000 Americans were wounded and 19,000 killed in the bloodiest battle fought by the U.S. in World War II. National Geographic has an interesting article published for the 70th Anniversary of the Battle.

President Jimmy Carter announced on December 16, 1976, that he would name Andrew Young, then serving as Congressman from Georgia’s Fifth District, as the United States Ambassador to the United Nations.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Early voting has begun in the Runoff Elections for United States Senate and Georgia Public Service Commission, according to the Athens Banner Herald.Continue Reading..

15
Dec

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 15, 2020

On December 15, 1791, Virginia ratified the Bill of Rights, giving the first ten Amendments a three-quarter majority required to become law.

On December 15, 1859, Georgia Governor Joseph Brown signed legislation outlawing public execution of criminals. The previous day he signed legislation prohibiting slave owners from freeing their slaves on the owner’s death.

On December 15, 1939, Gone With the Wind held its world premiere at Loew’s Grand Theater in Atlanta.

President Jimmy Carter announced on December 15, 1978 that U.S. diplomatic recognition of the People’s Republic of China would begin on January 1, 1979.

The United States House of Representatives Judiciary Committee released a report on December 15, 1998 that recommended impeachment against President Bill Clinton and introduced H.Res. 611.

On December 15, 2016, Republican Tim Echols was sworn in by Gov. Nathan Deal to a second term on the Georgia Public Service Commission.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Santa Claus has become a COVID-19 Super Spreader, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.Continue Reading..

14
Dec

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 14, 2020

President George Washington died at Mount Vernon on December 14, 1799. Here’s an article about the nation’s mourning for our first President.

The Congress, in session at the capital of Philadelphia when Washington’s death was announced, immediately adjourned. The House of Representatives assembled the next day and resolved to shroud the Speaker’s chair in black and have members wear black during the remainder of the session. On December 23, John Marshall speaking for the joint committee of both houses, presented five points that became the foundation for the United States’ first “state” funeral. Resolutions structured mourning events around public commemorations that fostered unity and a sense of national identity among grieving Americans.

President William McKinley addressed the Georgia General Assembly on December 14, 1898.

McKinley_at_Atlanta2

McKinley Atlanta SM

On December 14, 1939, a parade was held through downtown Atlanta with stars from Gone With the Wind and the Junior League held a ball that night. The next day, December 15, 1939, Gone With the Wind held its world premiere at Loew’s Grand Theater in Atlanta.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Early Voting in the January runoff elections begins today, according to the Statesboro Herald.Continue Reading..

11
Dec

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 11, 2020

On December 13, 1636, the Massachusetts Bay Colony General Court organized three regiments of militia to guard against attacks by the Pequot Indians. That day is recognized as the birth of the National Guard.

On December 11, 1777, during their movement to Valley Forge for the winter, Washington’s colonial forces engaged British troops under General Cornwallis as the Americans were crossing the Schuylkill River.

Pennsylvania became the second state to ratify the Constitution on December 12, 1787.

Indiana became the 19th State on December 11, 1816.

Governor Charles McDonald signed legislation on December 11, 1841 to prevent a person from having his or her testimony excluded in court because of the individual’s religious beliefs.

The first use of nitrous oxide as a dental anesthetic took place on December 11, 1844.

Echols County, Georgia was created by the Georgia General Assembly on December 13, 1858.

On December 11, 1872, Pinckney Benton Stewart Pinchback took office in Louisiana as the first black Governor in the United States.

A memorial service for Jefferson Davis, former President of the Confederate States of America, was held in the Georgia State Capitol on December 11, 1889 while his funeral was that day in New Orleans.

Guglielmo Marconi completed the first transatlantic radio transmission from Cornwall, England to Newfoundland on December 12, 1901.

On December 11, 1941, Germany declared war on the United States.

Dickey Betts, guitarist for the Allman Brothers Band, was born on December 12, 1943.

On December 11, 1960, a civil rights demonstration including 8000 African-American citizens was held in Atlanta as part of the movement to boycott stores that remained segregated.

The Libertarian Party was founded on December 11, 1971 in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Jimmy Carter announced he would run for President of the United States on December 12, 1974.

Former Georgia Governor Ellis Arnall died on December 13, 1992. Arnall served in the State House, as Speaker, Attorney General, and in 1942 at the age of 35, was elected Governor.

Arnall also led the fight to outlaw the poll tax and the white primary, and is noted for making Georgia the first state to allow 18-year-olds to vote. He is further remembered for his role in obtaining a new state constitution for Georgia in 1945.

The United States Supreme Court released its decision in Bush v. Gore on December 12, 2000, stopping manual recounts of contested ballots in Florida.

Al Gore conceded the presidential election to George W. Bush on December 13, 2000.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

President Trump’s Press Secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, criticized Governor Brian Kemp, according to The Hill.Continue Reading..

10
Dec

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 10, 2020

Solomon’s Masonic Lodge, the first in Georgia, was organized on December 10, 1735. Upon his return to the colony, James Oglethorpe would join the group.

John Jay was elected President of the Continental Congress on December 10, 1778.

Emory College was incorporated on December 10, 1836, as Governor William Schley signed legislation chartering the school.

On December 10, 1850, a special convention met in Milledgeville to determine the state’s reaction to the Compromise of 1850, a series of five bills passed in Congress attempting to deal with issues between slave states and free states.

The [Georgia] platform established Georgia’s conditional acceptance of the Compromise of 1850. Much of the document followed a draft written by Charles Jones Jenkins and represented a collaboration between Georgia Whigs and moderate Democrats dedicated to preserving the Union. In effect, the proclamation accepted the measures of the compromise so long as the North complied with the Fugitive Slave Act and would no longer attempt to ban the expansion of slavery into new territories and states. Northern contempt for these conditions, the platform warned, would make secession inevitable.

This qualified endorsement of the Compromise of 1850 essentially undermined the movement for immediate secession throughout the South. Newspapers across the nation credited Georgia with saving the Union.

The Atlanta City Council appointed the first Board of Education on December 10, 1869.

The Spanish-American War was ended on December 10, 1898, with the signing of the Treaty of Paris.

The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on December 10, 1964 in Oslo, Norway, becoming the youngest recipient of the award.

Jimmy Carter was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on December 10, 2002.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Hollywood actors are joining Nancy Pelosi in raising money online for Georgia Democratic candidates. From The Wrap:

Will Ferrell, Zooey Deschanel and several other cast members from the classic Christmas movie “Elf” are reuniting to support Georgia Democrats in the upcoming Senate runoffs.

The live table read will take place this Sunday, Dec. 13, at 4 p.m. PT.

In addition to the film’s two main stars, Bob Newhart, Edward Asner, Mary Steenburgen, Amy Sedaris, Andy Richter, Kyle Gass, John Lithgow, Danny Woodburn, Ed Helms, Busy Phillips, and Matt Walsh will take part. The film’s director, Jon Favreau, is not taking part, but “Pod Save America” host Jon Favreau is.

“If I were any more excited to be in the #ElfForGeorgia reunion I might explode into a burst of snowflakes,” Deschanel tweeted. “Join me, Will Ferrell, and many other amazing people from the original cast along with some special guests for our live reading! All donations go to support GA dems.”

Star Trek actors will join Stacey Abrams for an online fundraiser for Georgia Democrats, according to Deadline.Continue Reading..

9
Dec

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 9, 2020

Patriots captured liberated Virginia on December 9, 1775 as militias from Virginia and North Carolina defeated the redcoats at Great Bridge.

On December 9, 1867, a Constitutional Convention to draft a new state document convened in Atlanta. Among the 166 to 169 delegates elected to the Constitutional Convention were 33 or 37 African-American members – accounts vary.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp and Georgia Commissioner of Public Health Dr. Kathleen Toomey held a press conference yesterday to announce plans for the COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

“Our first shipments will be anywhere near close enough for anyone in our state to stop following the same health guidance that we’ve had in place for many months,” Kemp said. “The limited number of vaccine doses we will receive in the coming days will be going to the most vulnerable and those on the front lines of fighting COVID-19. That means residents of nursing homes and our health care workers.

“The general public will not be able to be vaccinated for months. We must all continue to still wear a mask. We must still wash our hands. We must continue more than ever to watch our distance.”

The vaccine is expected to arrive in Georgia within the next week to 10 days, but how many doses will be coming to the state is unclear. Toomey said “likely over several hundred thousand doses” are expected to come to Georgia initially in weekly batches, but she declined to give a specific number.

Kemp and Toomey both said they plan to take the vaccine early on once it is available for them. The governor said he would have to talk to the public health commissioner to determine the best time to get vaccinated.

“I certainly don’t want to take the vaccine from one of our front line health care workers or one of our most vulnerable,” Kemp said. “However, if it helps give confidence to our most vulnerable and front line health care workers for me to take the vaccine early, I will definitely be willing to do that.”

From the Associated Press via AccessWDUN:

“We hope by certainly early January we would have all health care workers covered,” Toomey said.

Vaccinating 10 million Georgia residents will likely take until summer, Toomey said. She and the governor both plan to work to persuade people that the coronavirus shots are safe.

“I can say with great enthusiasm: I can’t wait to get vaccinated,” Toomey told reporters.

“I fully realize and appreciate how how tired everyone is,” the governor said. “Everyone wants to go back to the normal Georgia… But it is my belief we have lost too many loved ones, too many friends and neighbors, to give in to this virus.”

Georgia State Senate Republicans called for changes to absentee voting, according to AccessWDUN.

Republicans in Georgia’s state Senate are calling for an end to absentee voting without cause and want to ban ballot drop boxes, after an increase in mail voting helped propel Democrat Joe Biden to a narrow victory over President Donald Trump in the state.

The state Senate Republican Caucus said in a statement Tuesday that they would push for the changes the next time the legislature convenes, while also shooting down the idea of a special legislative session — which Trump has repeatedly called for in the hopes of subverting the election results. The 2021 legislative session is set to begin Jan. 11.

Senate Republicans are also calling for a photo ID requirement for absentee voters who have a specific reason to vote by mail.

The effort could backfire on Republicans once the COVID-19 pandemic subsides. In years prior to 2018, Republicans frequently benefited from absentee voting by mail in Georgia.

Georgians have been able to vote absentee without an excuse since a Republican-controlled legislature introduced it in 2005, though it hadn’t been widely used until this year after the pandemic struck.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger tweeted this:

GASOS Tweet Absentee

United States Senators David Perdue (R-Glynn County) and Kelly Loeffler (R-Atlanta) said they support the lawsuit by Texas over Georgia voting procedures, according to the AJC.

In the joint statement, the two senators say Trump has the right to ensure “full transparency and uniformity in the counting process.”

“This isn’t hard and it isn’t partisan. It’s American,” said the senators. “No one should ever have to question the integrity of our elections system and the credibility of its outcomes.”

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) helped with an online fundraiser for the Democratic candidates for Senate from Georgia, according to the Baltimore Sun.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who grew up in Baltimore, will headline a virtual Democratic fundraising event Monday night for Georgia’s pivotal Senate runoff, according to former Baltimore County Executive Ted Venetoulis.

Venetoulis, who served as the county executive between 1974 and 1978, is among the hosts of the 7:30 p.m. event to raise money for Georgia’s Jan. 5 U.S. Senate runoff, which will decide control of the Senate. Both of Georgia’s Senate seats are up for grabs, with Democrat Jon Ossoff running against Republican Sen. David Perdue and Democrat Raphael Warnock running against Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler.

With Democratic President-elect Joe Biden set to take office in January and Democrats maintaining control of the U.S. House of Representatives, these two seats would give Democrats control of Congress and the White House. If both Democrats win, the Senate would be split 50-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris as the tiebreaking vote.

Suggested giving levels start at $500 and go up to $15,600, according to a flyer for the event.

“Getting the vote out is the critical element there. You need financial resources to do that,” Venetoulis said. “The more money they can get from outside of the district, which is essentially what the Republicans are doing, the more they can invest in their ground game and in their own campaign. It is critical.”

Cobb County isn’t the only one cutting the number of early voting locations for the runoff elections, according to NBC News.

Chatham County, the fifth most populous county with nearly 300,000 residents, will have five early voting location, down from six earlier this fall, according to information posted on the county’s website. County results show that Biden won by more than 18 points in Chatham, while the Democratic Senate candidates had at least a 17-point lead over the Republican incumbents.

Forsyth County, the eighth most populous county with more than 244,000 residents, will have five early voting locations, down from 11 ahead of the November election. Trump won that county by 22 points, with the Republican Senate candidates enjoying double-digit margins, too.

Hall County, the tenth most populous county with just over 200,000 residents, will have four early voting sites, down from eight. Trump won Hall by 43 percentage points, with Senate Republican candidates dominating in the Senate races there, too.

Asked about the cuts, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s office said counties have control over their own election administration.

State tax collections were up in November over the same month in 2019, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Augusta Chronicle.

Georgia tax collections rose in November for the second consecutive month, the state Department of Revenue reported Tuesday.

The state brought in nearly $1.96 billion last month, an increase of $150.9 million – or 8.3% – over November of last year. That represented a much healthier bounce than the 1.8% increase in revenues in October.

The stronger numbers in November helped boost state tax receipts for the fiscal year thus far by $551.1 million, an increase of 5.7% over the first five months of fiscal 2020.

National Review says the Georgia lawsuit by the Trump Campaign is stronger than others.

In the Peach State, the campaign is represented by different counsel than it has been elsewhere. The 64-page complaint is a linear, cogently presented description of numerous election-law violations, apparently based on hard data. If true, the allegations would potentially disqualify nearly 150,000 illegal votes in a state that Biden won by only 12,000.

To be sure, we have not yet heard a response to the specific claims from the state respondents, led by Georgia secretary of state Brad Raffensperger. I should further note that I have seen only the complaint, not the underlying exhibits; I am in no position to evaluate the credibility of the sources or the accuracy of the lawyers’ number-crunching. That said, if the campaign had taken the exacting approach of this lawsuit from the beginning, rather than swinging wildly on farfetched fraud claims, it would have gotten more traction.

Bottom Line: 143,986 Allegedly Illegal Votes in a Race Biden Won by 12,000

In light of that history, it is no surprise that media coverage has peremptorily dismissed the Georgia claims as just the latest in a string of desperate, baseless allegations. Yet, they are more thoughtfully posited and worth pausing over. According to the complaint, the following were illegally permitted to vote:

•  More than 66,247 people who were underage.
• At least 40,279 people who had moved across county lines at least 30 days before the election and failed to re-register in their new county, as state law requires.
• At least 15,700 people who had filed a national change of address form with the U.S. post office before Election Day.
• As many as 10,315 people who were deceased by the time of Election Day, including 8,718 who perished before the date the state accepted their vote.
• At least 4,926 people who registered to vote in another state after their Georgia registration date (indicating they were no longer citizens of Georgia).
• As many as 2,560 disqualified felons.
• At least 2,423 people who were not registered in state records.
• At least 1,043 voters who gave only a post-office box as their residential address, in violation of state law.
• At least 395 people who also cast ballots in a state other than Georgia (the campaign says this is a low-ball number, but it lacks access to the state data that would conclusively show a higher number, perhaps much higher).
• At least 98 people who registered after the state deadline for doing so.

Even assuming that there is some overlap among these categories, they total up to 143,986 illegal votes.

Outgoing State Rep. Tom McCall (R-Elberton) was elected President of the Georgia Farm Bureau, according to the Albany Herald.

McCall served in the Georgia House of Representatives for 26 years from Jan. 9, 1995, when he was sworn into office, until he retired from the legislature at the end of his 2020 term. As a state representative, McCall represented Georgia’s House District 33, which includes Elbert and Lincoln counties and portions of Madison, Wilkes and Columbia counties. McCall chaired the Georgia House Agriculture & Consumer Affairs Committee from January 2005-2020. He also served on the House Game, Fish & Parks Committee, Natural Resources & Environment Committee and the Transportation Committee.

Incoming Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit District Attorney Mark Jones (D-Columbus) is firing a number of Assistant DAs in the office, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Incoming Gwinnett County Sheriff Keybo Taylor announced he was diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

“Currently, I am in quarantine and have decided, in a preponderance of caution, to postpone my swearing-in ceremony and all subsequent engagements,” Taylor said in a statement posted on his Facebook page. “In the words of Dr. (Anthony) Fauci, we must allow the virus to establish the timeline.”

“Our collective goal is the safety of our neighbors, friends and families. Together, we can minimize the spread of the virus and have a much better 2021.”

Outgoing State Rep. Kevin Tanner (R-Dawsonville) is the sole finalist for the job of Forsyth County Administrator, according to AccessWDUN.

The Board of Commissioners took action at a work session on Tuesday, however they have not made their final vote or action. That is expected as early as December 22.

Tanner was previously a Georgia House Representative, leaving the post in 2020 to pursue an unsuccessful bid for Congress. Tanner previously served as the county manager for Dawnson County.

Sonny Deriso, past president of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, predicted a quick economic recovery for Georgia, according to The Brunswick News.

“We just shut down the economy because of pandemic reasons,” he said. “We are able to come back.”

Deriso began his presentation with a history of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, leading up to his explanation of what is happening nowadays and the future outlook.

The initiative to create a state chamber began in 1911 when officials drove throughout Georgia to promote interest. Four years later, a manufacturers alliance joined the effort to create the state’s chamber of commerce.

Deriso said chamber officials are working to improve the business climate in rural Georgia.

“Rural Georgia, we felt for many years, was neglected,” he said.

Broadband coverage and employee training in rural areas is among the organization’s priorities.

With the focus on job creation, Deriso said a priority is to make it easy for companies to do business in the state.

Floyd County Commissioners elected members Wright Bagby as Chair and Allison Watters as Vice Chair for 2021, according to the Rome News Tribune. Commissioners also voted to name Melanie Conrad as Chair of the Elections Board and for Vanessa Waddell to continue serving as interim chief elections clerk, according to the Rome News Tribune.

Rome City Commission adopted a new mask ordinance, according to the Rome News Tribune.

Because businesses can opt out of the ordinance, a provision included in Gov. Brian Kemp’s emergency order, commissioners urged local businesses to cooperate.

“It’s in their best interest,” City Commissioner Craig McDaniel said. “We’re trying to keep businesses open. It can’t just be the City Commission — we have to have our merchants support this.”

The ordinance — which goes into effect today — is similar to the city’s previous ordinance passed in September in that people are essentially required to wear a mask in public.

The ordinance will include a civil penalty. A person who does not comply with the order will get a warning and a chance to comply. If they refuse, they will be issued a $25 fine. A second offense would be a $50 fine, the maximum the governor’s emergency order allows.

Hall County public schools is temproarily closing four schools due to high numbers of absences due to COVID-19, according to the Gainesville Times.

East Hall High’s at-home instruction, which was originally scheduled for three days and was announced Dec. 4. East Hall will now continue online learning for the remainder of the week.

Those taking in-person classes at CW Davis, Cherokee Bluff High and Cherokee Bluff Middle will move to “blended” learning for three days from Wednesday, Dec. 9 through Friday, Dec. 11, meaning they will be required to complete assignments from home with the intent of coming back to school at a later time.

The district looks at two factors when determining when to shift from in-person to blended learning.

“No. 1, do we have enough adults in the building to continue with school?” [Director of Community Relations Stan Lewis] said. “And No. 2, is there any kind of evidence that we’ve got transmission occurring on campus?”

8
Dec

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 8, 2020

President Abraham Lincoln issued his Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction on December 8, 1863.

First, it allowed for a full pardon for and restoration of property to all engaged in the rebellion with the exception of the highest Confederate officials and military leaders.

Second, it allowed for a new state government to be formed when 10 percent of the eligible voters had taken an oath of allegiance to the United States.

Third, the Southern states admitted in this fashion were encouraged to enact plans to deal with the freed slaves so long as their freedom was not compromised.

On December 8, 1899, Georgia Governor Allen Candler signed legislation to levy a tax on all dogs older than four months.

The United States declared war on Japan on December 8, 1941. Montana Congresswoman Jeanette Rankin, the first female elected to the United States House of Representatives, cast the sole dissenting vote.

Gregg Allman was born December 8, 1947 in Nashville, Tennessee.

John Lennon was shot and killed outside his apartment building in New York City on December 8, 1980.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Georgia State Senators who attended a committee meeting last week are urged to quarantine after former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani tested positive for COVID-19, according to the AJC.

Senate President Pro Tem Butch Miller, a Gainesville Republican who did not attend the hearing, said senators who participated in the Senate Judiciary subcommittee meeting who have not previously contracted COVID-19 were encouraged to quarantine for two weeks. Giuliani, a former mayor of New York City, did not wear a mask while in the Capitol.

“We are clearly disappointed that Mayor Giuliani disregarded the health and well-being of others by not wearing a mask when it clearly would have been appropriate,” Miller said.

State Sen. William Ligon, a Brunswick Republican and chairman of the subcommittee that held the hearing, said in a statement that Giuliani was in “close proximity to senators, Senate staff, members of the media and the general public,” and he encouraged them to follow health recommendations.

Senate staff members who came in contact with Giuliani have been asked to get COVID-19 tests and work remotely until they receive negative test results, said Steve Tippins, Miller’s chief of staff.

Governor Brian Kemp issued Executive Order #12.07.20.01, appointing a panel to investigate charges against Spalding County Commissioner (District 5) Donald F. Hawbaker and recommend whether Hawbaker should be suspended.

Commissioner Hawbaker was indicted earlier this year after a SWAT standoff, according to the AJC.

Donald Hawbaker, 65, was arrested Feb. 4 after deputies went to the Sun City Peachtree community in Griffin to serve an arrest warrant for simple assault and disorderly conduct, the sheriff’s office said.

The District 5 commissioner was accused of pointing a gun at his wife and telling her to leave the house, Sheriff Darrell Dix said previously.

When deputies arrived at the 55-and-older community about 2:30 p.m., they were met with gunfire from the home, authorities said. No one was hit.

Concerned that Hawbaker may be been struck, Dix called in the SWAT team and ordered his department’s armored personnel carrier to drive through the front of the house.

Hawbaker was eventually taken into custody, ending the standoff that lasted more than two hours. A grand jury indicted him Thursday on one count of aggravated assault under the Family Violence Act, two counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony and five counts of aggravated assault on law enforcement officers.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger re-certified the results of the Presidential election after the recount, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

“We have now counted legally cast ballots three times and the results remain unchanged,” Raffensperger, a Republican, said.

“I know there are people that are convinced the election was fraught with problems. But the evidence — the actual evidence — the facts, tell us a different story,” he added.

Biden defeated President Donald Trump in Georgia by 12,670 votes.

“All this talk of a stolen election, whether it’s Stacey Abrams or the president of the United States, is hurting our state. … Continuing to make debunked claims of a stolen election is hurting our state,” Raffensperger said, likening Trump’s refusal to concede the presidential election to Abrams’ actions following the 2018 gubernatorial race.

Raffensperger said he will push “major reform” of election processes in the upcoming legislative session, an effort supported by Gov. Brian Kemp and Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan.

As of Monday, 1,076,431 Georgians had already requested absentee ballots for the runoff elections. More than 43,000 ballots had already been cast and accepted.

From the Ledger-Enquirer:

The Georgia Bureau of Investigations will assist the secretary of state’s office with 250 active cases tied to voting irregularities in 2020, but state election officials have denied that widespread fraud occurred.

Raffensperger again spoke out against election disinformation, saying the “truth matters.” In a Wall Street Journal opinion article published Sunday evening, Raffensperger said Trump was using a “playbook” established by former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams. The state’s top election official drew parallels between Trump’s actions in 2020 to Abrams’ “refusal to concede” to Kemp in the closely fought 2018 election.

“All of this talk about a stolen election, whether it’s Stacey Abrams or the president of the United States, is hurting our state,” Raffensperger said during Monday’s news conference. “It is now time to direct our energies towards the Jan. 5 runoff election.”

Governor Kemp closed the door on holding a Special Session to choose Presidential electors, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Speaking to lawmakers at the Biennial Institute for Georgia Legislators, a legislative session primer held every two years at Athens’ The Classic Center, Kemp reiterated a statement issued late Sunday regarding election challenges.

President Donald Trump, who lost the Nov. 3 election in Georgia by approximately 12,000 votes to Joe Biden, recently appealed to Gov. Kemp to convene a special session in hopes the Republican-controlled Legislature would designate Trump loyalists to award the state’s 16 Electoral College votes on Dec. 14. When Kemp refused, Sens. Brandon Beach, Greg Dolezal, Burt Jones and William Ligon and House Reps. Colton Moore and Vernon Jones called for the special session.

Kemp told lawmakers Monday doing so “is not an option” under Georgia law. A statute enacted in 1960 prohibits the Georgia General Assembly from choosing delegates to the Electoral College except in cases where an election cannot be held.

“You all will be taking an oath to uphold the laws and constitution of our state, and now more than ever, it is important to remember that thousands of brave men and women have paid the ultimate sacrifice for those laws, that constitution and all that they protect,” Kemp said.

“I’m confident that each of you will live up to the words and greater calling regardless of political consequences. That’s what I’ve been doing.”

From The Hill:

Georgia Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan (R) said Sunday that a special session of the legislature almost certainly would not take place.

“Calling the General Assembly back in at this point would almost be along the lines of a solution trying to find a problem. And we’re certainly not going to move the goalposts at this point in the election,” Duncan said in an appearance on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday.

“We are going to continue to follow the letter of the law, which gives us a very clear-cut direction as to how to execute an election. And we’re going to continue to take that on. … I absolutely believe … that the governor is not going to call us into a special session,” he added.

The State of Texas has sued Georgia and three other swing states over the Presidential election, according to The Hill.

Texas announced on Tuesday that it would be filing a lawsuit in the Supreme Court against four battleground states in an effort to halt presidential electors from finalizing President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.

Texas argued that electors from Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin should not be allowed to cast their votes in part because those states unconstitutionally changed their voting procedures during the coronavirus pandemic to allow for increased mail-in ballots. Biden won all four states.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) alleges that the new voting processes in the battleground states skewed the presidential election results and asked the Supreme Court to delay Monday’s deadline for the Electoral College to make Biden’s victory official.

The lawsuit was filed directly with the Supreme Court because it has exclusive jurisdiction over legal disputes between states. Paxton also argued that the high court is the only one equipped to handle such a case over the Electoral College.

Click here to view the complaint filed by Texas.

From Newsweek:

The suit charged executive and judicial officials in the four states with making “significant changes” to election rules, a move that the plaintiffs argue “did away” with security measures for absentee and mail-in ballots. Among the measures that the plaintiffs say were removed were signature verification, witness requirements, poll observers and authorized secure ballot drop-off locations.

Signature verification and the ability for people to observe the election process are two issues the Trump campaign and the president have stressed in their election fight. Poll observers being kept too far from where ballots were being opened was one of the first problems the campaign had with the election, and Trump has pushed Georgia Governor Brian Kemp to demand signature verification in the election.

From the AJC:

“With all due respect, the Texas attorney general is constitutionally, legally and factually wrong about Georgia,” said Katie Byrd, spokeswoman for Republican Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr.

The court filing takes issue with Georgia’s absentee ballot signature verification process, arguing that a court settlement early this year violated state law. The settlement between Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and the Democratic Party required election workers to consult with two co-workers before rejecting absentee ballots because of potentially mismatched signatures.

The lawsuit also objects to a State Election Board rule that allowed absentee ballots to be opened and scanned two weeks before Election Day. No votes were allowed to be tabulated until polls closed.

Democrats are complaining about Cobb County’s early voting arrangments for the runoff elections, according to the AJC.

Democratic Senate Candidates Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff have joined advocacy groups including the NAACP and the ACLU in criticizing Cobb County elections officials over their plan to open fewer early voting locations for the January runoffs than they did for the general election.

The number of early voting locations will be reduced from 11 ahead of the Nov. 3 election to just five leading into the January 5 runoff. Cobb is the only major metro county planning to significantly cut the number of early voting locations.

Cobb Elections Director Janine Eveler has said it was not her desire to have fewer locations, but that a staffing shortage forced her hand.

“We lost several of our advance voting managers and assistant managers due to the holidays, the work load and the pandemic,” she wrote in an email. “In addition, the remaining team members who agreed to work would do so only if the hours were less onerous. For November, we stretched our staff to the limit to offer eleven locations.”

UGA Political Scientist Charles Bullock says Georgia will remain a swing state for the rest of the decade, according to the Savannah Morning News.

“We will be a competitive state certainly for the rest of this decade,” University of Georgia Professor Charles Bullock said. “The trends indicate that the substantial Republican margins of a couple of years ago have evaporated. Upon close examination, it’s clear that what Republicans need to do is pick up voters in urban areas — they can’t just write them off.”

Bullock delivered an election analysis to lawmakers at the Biennial Institute for Georgia Legislators, a pre-legislative primer held every two years at Athens’ The Classic Center. Bullock is considered the foremost authority on Georgia politics, having spent more than five decades observing the state’s elections and political figures.

Long-term demographic trends help explain the Democratic gains. The state has become more ethnically diverse over the last quarter-century, with white voters making up a significantly smaller percentage of the electorate — from 70%-plus in 1994 to less than 60% in 2020.

Metro Atlanta has seen the state’s most rapid political evolution, Bullock said. Democrat Barack Obama won three Atlanta-area counties in 2012; Biden won nine in 2020.

Biden also increased the Democrats’ advantage in the four biggest metro Atlanta counties: Fulton, DeKalb, Cobb and Gwinnett. He attracted 225,000 more votes in those counties alone than Hillary Clinton received in 2016, erasing the statewide 211,000-vote advantage Trump posted four years ago.

Biden also grew “surprising” support among Georgia retirees and college-educated whites, Bullock said. Biden attracted 12% more of the vote from Georgians age 65 and older than Clinton did and enjoyed a 10% pickup among college-educated white women and 19% among college-educated white men.

“Voters blew up that status quo in the general election.”

The Republicans’ path to winning in two years — as well as in the 2024 presidential election — is to make gains in the state’s urban and suburban areas and to limit the recent divisiveness among the state’s GOP members that could weaken party candidates, Bullock said.

“At the same time, it’s hard to beat an incumbent,” Bullock said. “Right now, I give the Republicans the advantage for the statewide constitutional office in 2022.”

 

Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler (R-Carrollton) spoke in Gainesville, according to the Gainesville Times.

The October jobless rate was 2.9%, compared to 2.8% in February, or pre-pandemic levels. The area hit a record high of 10.7% in April.

“And there are help wanted signs everywhere,” an audience member said.

“Yeah, the same in my hometown (of Carrollton) and we’re not doing near as good as y’all,” Butler said. “… You guys are doing fantastic, unless you’re trying to hire.”

Georgia, overall, has an improving economic picture as well.

“I personally feel there’s a quarter of a million job openings out there,” Butler said. “I’m 100% confident that I’m dead-on there.”

“Georgia actually has done a very good job getting our economy back on track,” he said. “The thing is we don’t know what (Congress) is going to pass next. Is it something that actually helps or is it going to be a hindrance?”

Butler said he has spent a lot of time on Zoom video calls “with congressional staff in the last 6-8 months and begged and pleaded with them not to do X, Y and Z because of what it’s going to do … and I don’t really know if I’ve made any headway.”

Democratic Senate candidate Jon Ossoff (D-DeKalb) rallied in Gwinnett County with former Obama Administration Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro in Gwinnett County, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Jackson County schools are converting to online learning, according to AccessWDUN.

All schools in the Jackson County School System are switching to a remote learning format Wednesday due to concerns about COVID-19, according to a Monday evening press release.

The release says recent high numbers of staff absences in the district have made them unable to provide enough substitutes and transportation support, which risks the overall safety of students and staff.

Therefore, all students in the district will participate in remote learning until the start of winter break on Thursday, Dec. 17.

However, the release does advise parents to have a plan should the remote learning period need to be extended into early January.

Right whale calves have been spotted off the Georgia coast, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Researchers spotted the first live right whale calf of the season off the coast of Cumberland Island Friday while surveying for them by plane. Then on Sunday researchers saw the second right whale baby just off the beach in north Florida.

The whale moms are nicknamed Chiminea and Millipede, the latter for the series of boat propeller scars down her back, said Georgia Department of Natural Resources Senior Biologist Clay George.

Along with the mother/calf pairs, a fishing boat captain sighted two other whales off Tybee over the weekend.

“They’re scattered across the entire calving habitat at this point,” George said. “So people need to keep their eyes open when they’re boating.

But since 2017, scientists have documented the deaths of 32 North Atlantic right whales, outpacing the known births. Entanglement in fishing gear and boat strikes are the leading causes of known right whale deaths in recent years.

Only about 360 North Atlantic right whales remain.

The Southeast waters off Georgia and Florida are the whales’ only known calving grounds. Pregnant females come here in winter from the feeding grounds off New England and Canada to give birth.

7
Dec

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 7, 2020

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

Today is the 79th anniversary of the Japanese bombing attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

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

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

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

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

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

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Today is the deadline to register to vote in the January 5, 2021 United States Senate and Public Service Commission runoff elections, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Dec. 7 is the deadline for Georgians to register to vote, including military or overseas absentee voters.

The races will determine which party controls the Senate: a win by either Republican candidate would give the GOP a slim majority, while a Democrat sweep in Georgia would split the chamber right down the middle, meaning Vice President-elect Kamala Harris could cast a tie-breaking vote, should senators vote along party lines.

More than a hundred parents rallied calling for the reopening in-school learning for Atlanta and DeKalb County schools, according to the AJC.

More than 100 parents and students rallied at Piedmont Park on Sunday and urged Atlanta and DeKalb County to reopen schools and resume in-person classes.

Lining 10th Street and holding signs with messages like “Virtual school is depressing” and “School not screens,” the families said they were frustrated with Atlanta Public Schools’ and DeKalb County Public Schools’ decisions to continue holding virtual classes. They said their children’s education has suffered in the virtual format, while making life difficult for working parents.

As cases continue to rise in metro Atlanta, APS and DeKalb have both said they will offer in-person classes when coronavirus rates drop below 100 infections per 100,000 people for 14 straight days. Both Fulton and DeKalb reported more than 300 confirmed cases per 100,000 people in the past two weeks, according to the state Department of Public Health.

Parents at the rally said those metrics are unrealistic and pointed to some studies showing schools are not major drivers of community transmission of the coronavirus.

Governor Kemp has ordered flags on state buildings to half-staff today for National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.

President Trump rallied with voters in Valdosta this weekend, according to the Albany Herald.

“This election was rigged,” Trump said. “They found a lot of ballots and they got rid of some, too.”

Trump gave Loeffler and Perdue strong endorsements. He said he didn’t know Loeffler before the Atlanta businesswoman was appointed to the Senate late last year to succeed retiring Sen. Johnny Isakson, but has come to admire her.

“David’s been my friend for a long time,” the president said. “Nobody in Washington is more respected.”

The president called Kemp earlier Saturday and reportedly asked the governor to call a special session of the General Assembly to address his concerns about how the election played out in Georgia. The president also asked for an audit of absentee ballot signatures.

“Your governor could stop it very easily if he knew what the hell he was doing,” Trump said during the Valdosta rally.

“We want you to vote on Jan. 5,” Loeffler told the crowd. “If you’re our voice on Jan. 5, we’ll be your voice for years.”

“We’re going to fight and win those two [Senate] seats and make sure you get a fair and square deal in the state of Georgia,” Perdue added, addressing the president.

From the AJC:

[Trump] called Perdue’s opponent, Jon Ossoff, “a radical left-wing zealot,” and Loeffler’s rival, the Rev. Raphael Warnock, “a dangerous extremist who is radically opposes your values.”

“This election was rigged, and we can’t let it happen to two of the most respected people in Washington,” Trump said. “Your governor could stop it easily if he knew what the hell he was doing.”

Trump urged the crowd to vote in January, even though that election, he said, is likely to be corrupt, too.

In a barbed message to the governor, Trump called out to U.S. Rep. Doug Collins at one point, who made it known in 2019 that he hoped to be appointed to the Senate by Kemp, only for Kemp to appoint Loeffler instead.

“Doug, you want to run for governor in two years?” Trump asked.

“Your governor,” the president said later, “should be ashamed of himself.”

Vice President Mike Pence spoke in Savannah on Friday, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

Vice President Mike Pence on Friday said the presidential election is still undecided as he urged Georgia Republicans to put aside shared “doubts” about how fairly that race was conducted and show up for the state’s Senate runoff elections.

“We’re on ‘em this time,” Pence said. “We’re watching. We’re gonna secure our polls. We’re gonna secure our drop boxes. So get an absentee ballot and vote and vote today.”

“As our election contests continue, here in Georgia and in courts across the country, I’ll make you a promise,” Pence said at a rally for the Senate races. “We’re going to keep fighting until every legal vote is counted. We’re going to keep fighting until every illegal vote is thrown out.”

Pence said Georgians need to re-elect Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler in the Jan. 5 election because a Republican-controlled Senate “could be” the party’s last line of defense against a Democrat-controlled House and White House.

Gov. Kemp and Lt. Governor Duncan released a letter addressing calling a Special Session of the Georgia General Assembly, according to AccessWDUN.

Republican Brian Kemp issued a joint statement Sunday with Republican Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, saying it would violate state law for the General Assembly to name electors instead of following the current state law that calls for the governor to certify electors after results are certified.

“Any attempt by the legislature to retroactively change that process for the Nov. 3rd election would be unconstitutional and immediately enjoined by the courts, resulting in a long legal dispute and no short-term resolution,” the two said in their statement.

Trump and Kemp spoke by phone hours before Trump held a rally on Saturday in Valdosta. The president asked Kemp to order the legislative session and the governor refused. According to a tweet from the governor, Trump also asked him to order an audit of absentee ballots from the presidential race in his state. Kemp has said he can’t do that because he has no authority to interfere in the electoral process on Trump’s behalf.

State lawmakers could call a special session on their own, but only if 60% of members in both houses of the General Assembly demanded a session in writing. That’s unlikely, especially because more than 40% of the current members of the state House are Democrats.

On Saturday, four Republican state senators including William Ligon of Brunswick, Greg Dolezal of Cumming, Brandon Beach of Alpharetta and Burt Jones of Jackson launched a written petition trying to collect the signatures to force a special session. All four attended Trump’s rally Saturday in Valdosta.

Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan (R-Forsyth County) discussed claims about Georgia’s voting system, according to the Albany Herald.

“I worry that this continuous you know fanning of the flames around misinformation puts us in a negative position with regards to the January 5 runoff,” Duncan told CNN’s Jake Tapper on State of the Union. “The mountains of misinformation are not helping the process, they’re only hurting it. And Jake, I worry we are handing off a playbook to the Democrats for January 5 and certainly I can’t think of a worse playbook to hand off over the last four or five weeks to the Democrats.”

Duncan told Tapper on Sunday that Trump’s attacks on Kemp and Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger “disgusts” him and spoke about the threats elected officials in the Peach State have received.

“All of us in this position have got increased security around us and our families and it’s not American, it’s not what democracy is all about but it’s reality right now. So we are going to continue to do our jobs. Gov. Kemp, Brad Raffensperger and myself all three voted and campaigned for the President but, unfortunately, he didn’t win the state of Georgia but it doesn’t change our job descriptions,” Duncan said.

“As the lieutenant governor and as a Georgian, I’m proud that we’re able to look up after three recounts and watch and be able to see that this election was fair. Was it perfect? Absolutely not. I don’t know if any election was perfect in the history of this country but certainly it’s only been nominal changes since we have had three recount (s),” Duncan said.

“I voted for President Trump, I campaigned for him and unfortunately he did not win the state of Georgia,” Duncan said. “So, yeah, you know, on January 20, Joe Biden is going to be sworn in as the 46th President. The Constitution is still in place. This is still America.”

Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani tested positive for COVID-19 days after speaking to Georgia legislators, according to the Albany Herald.

He was most recently at the Georgia Capitol in Atlanta on Thursday to attend a Georgia state Senate hearing on the November election. During a break in the hearing, Giuliani removed the mask he was wearing to greet and take pictures with supporters.

The Trump campaign said in a statement late Sunday night that Giuliani tested negative twice “immediately preceding his trip to Arizona, Michigan, and Georgia” last week. The campaign added that Giuliani did not experience any symptoms or test positive for Covid-19 until more than 48 hours after his return.

Georgia Democratic state senator Elena Parent, who attended the hearing at the Georgia Capitol on Thursday with Giuliani, told CNN that Giuliani and his team “willingly endangered all of us to pander to Trump.”

“It was reckless and irresponsible for the Georgia Senate Republicans to hold an in-person hearing without requiring masks and social distancing during a pandemic. Clearly the COVID risk from (Giuliani) and team, who have been attending hearings maskless all around the country, was high and they willingly endangered all of us to pander to Trump,” Parent said in a statement emailed to CNN Sunday.

She added, “Mayor Giuliani’s blatant disregard for public safety measures in this pandemic is irresponsible and puts Georgians in danger.”

Georgia State House Majority Leader Jon Burns (R-Newington) sent a letter suggesting changes in absentee ballot handling, according to the Albany Herald.

In a letter addressed to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and Vice Chairwoman of the State Election Board Rebecca N. Sullivan, the group suggested additional oversight was needed in the process of verifying signatures on absentee ballots and ballot applications.

[The letter read:]

As I am sure you have seen over the past month, many Georgians, including my colleagues who have signed this correspondence, have serious concerns about Georgia’s elections. As we approach a critical election on Jan. 5, it is clear that Georgia voters must have confidence in the election process going forward. To that end, below you will find two common-sense suggestions: a rule that should be promulgated by the State Election Board and additional resources of which the Office of the Secretary of State or the SEB could take advantage.

I. Absentee Ballot Application and Mail-In Absentee Ballot Signature Review Process. As the process currently stands, when a voter wishes to vote early by mail, they submit an Absentee Ballot Application either through the mail or online. When a local Board of Registrars receives a paper application, typically, a single employee of the BOR is responsible for the initial review of a signature on a paper application. If that paper application is accepted, the BOR mails an absentee ballot to the voter. The process for reviewing signatures on the external envelope of a returned Absentee Ballot is the same – a single employee of the BOR is allowed to “approve” a signature without oversight by other employees or independent observers. Additional BOR staff members are only involved in reviewing signatures when the initial reviewer seeks to reject the ballot.

Even with the massive increase in absentee ballot participation this year, in many counties a single solitary person is responsible for accepting voter signatures on applications and absentee ballots themselves. This fact is alarming to me, my colleagues who have co-signed this correspondence, and Georgians across the state.

To increase confidence in our election process, it is imperative that signatures be appropriately scrutinized and that the signature review process is above reproach. With that goal in mind, I propose the SEB promulgate a rule requiring that the signature review process on absentee ballot applications and absentee ballots include an independent observer from each political party represented in the races on the reviewed ballots. (In Georgia, this would typically be a Republican and a Democratic observer, but it may also include a Libertarian or another third party observer where the race warrants it.)

Some absentee ballots were mailed later than planned, according to the Gainesville Times.

Rollover ballots, which elderly or disabled voters can request to receive automatically, were scheduled to be issued by the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office on Nov. 18. However, the county was notified on Dec. 1 that those ballots were mailed on Nov. 30, according to the county website.

Voters are asked to allow seven to 10 business days for their ballots to arrive. They can check the status of their absentee ballot on the My Voter Page section of the Secretary of State’s Office website.

Former Democratic Presidential candidate Andrew Yang spoke in Columbus this weekend, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Yang, a former Democratic presidential candidate, was in Columbus to kick off the Muscogee County Democratic party’s canvassing efforts ahead of the Jan. 5 election.

Joined by former Columbus mayor Teresa Tomlinson, state Rep. Carolyn Hugley and other local public officials, Yang stressed the importance of what the election means for President-elect Joe Biden’s administration.

If Democratic challengers Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock defeat Republican incumbents David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, the Democrats will gain control of the U.S. Senate. Atlanta will play a key factor, Tomlinson said, but Democratic voters in Georgia’s other large cities like Columbus must turn out.

“The rest of the country doubted Georgia could turn blue,” Yang said. “There are still a lot people around the county who aren’t so sure about our prospects on Jan. 5.

Statesboro City Council will consider final passage of legislation to allow drive-through alcohol sales, according to the Statesboro Herald.

After tentative approval Tuesday, a provision allowing drive-thru and delivery sales of beer and wine in Statesboro is one of several city law changes the mayor and council could enact when they meet again Dec. 15.

One of the other ordinance changes pending final approval is also related to alcoholic beverages. It will allow the package sale of beer and wine from stores to begin at 11 a.m. on Sundays, instead of the current start time 90 minutes later. The change was authorized by a new state law enacted this summer.

House Bill 879, approved by the Georgia General Assembly when its previously suspended 2020 session resumed in June, made several changes in the state’s regulatory control of alcohol. Gov. Brian Kemp signed it into law Aug. 3.

Floyd County Commissioners will elect a Chair from among their members, according to the Rome News Tribune.

The Floyd County Commission is scheduled to vote Tuesday on who will chair the board in the coming year.

Commissioner Scotty Hancock is finishing his second year in the position and Commissioner Wright Bagby Jr. has served two years as vice chair. Bagby and Commissioner Allison Watters were both reelected to new four-year terms on the board in November.

A vote on who will chair the County Elections and Registration Board also is scheduled.

Harrison Deal, a UGA student and GOP campaign worker, died in a car accident Friday, according to the Savannah Morning News.

A University of Georgia student who was working as a field staffer on Sen. Kelly Loeffler’s election campaign was killed in a car wreck Friday.

Harrison Deal, who expected to graduate from UGA in 2022, worked in the Athens office for the Loeffler campaign.

Vice President Mike Pence informed a gathering in Savannah about the fatal crash, which caused Loeffler to cancel her plans to join Pence at the rally, according to a report in the Washington Times.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp also canceled his plans to attend the Savannah rally.

The Kemp family said in a statement: “Today we lost a member of our ‘Kemp Strong’ family and words cannot express how much Harrison Deal’s life, love and support meant to us. He was a person of deep faith, unmatched in integrity and incredible kindness. Harris was the Kemp son and brother we never had.”

Loeffler tweeted: “It is with an extremely heavy heart that we mourn the loss of Harrison Deal. My heart aches for his family and Jeff and I will continue to surround them in love and prayer in the days ahead. Harrison was a beloved member of our campaign team.”