Category: Runoff

13
Aug

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 13, 2012

“26447” and “26456” are dogs whose lives are in peril; both are in the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter, their hold times are up, and they suffer from the dreaded “black dog syndrome,” in which black dogs appear to be adopted at a lower rate than others. Both are friendly, and 26447 is more playful, being a younger dog. 26447 is male and is described as a lab mix, while 26456 is female and called a border collie by the shelter, but I think she looks more like a flat-coated retriever.

Call the Shelter for more information 770-339-3200 or visit Gwinnett County Animal Control at 884 Winder Highway in Lawrenceville.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Early and advance voting starts today and runs through Friday for the August 21st runoff elections. Contact your county elections office if you have questions about the runoffs, or consult the SOS website for advance voting details for your county. To check your voter registration or see a sample runoff ballot, visit the SOS website and use the MVP tool.

Pro-tip: if you cast a provisional ballot for any reason, make sure to follow-up within the time limit to ensure your vote counts. In Floyd County, 10 of 52 provisional voters did not return with the required documents to have their votes counted.

Walker County elections officials will be working the August 21 primary election runoff because of a close Republican primary in the race for House District 1.

“We thought we were out of it,” Elections Supervisor Barbara Berry said. But [John] Deffenbaugh’s 2,501 votes weren’t enough to knock off [Alan] Painter, who trailed with 2,398.

Catoosa’s only contest is the Republican race for sheriff between Larry Black, who had 3,808 primary votes, and Gary Sisk, who came in second with 1,956 votes.

The Chattanooga Times Free Press write about runoffs elsewhere in northwest Georgia:

• Chattooga County: Incumbent Democratic Sheriff John Everett, who got 1,300 votes, will face Democratic challenger Mark Schrader, who received 2,039 votes.

• Dade County: Six races will be on runoff ballots: Judge of Probate Court nonpartisan candidates Kerri Carter and David Duvall Jr.; Republican sheriff candidates Patrick Cannon and Ray Cross; Republican Clerk of Superior Court candidates Carolyn Lane and Kathy Page; Republican District 3 Board of Education candidates Ronnie Page and John Warren; Republican District 5 Board of Education candidates Careyee Bell and David Powell; and Georgia House of Representatives District 1 Republicans Alan Painter and John Deffenbaugh.

• Walker County: Ballots will go to Republican and nonpartisan voters in precincts that belong to Georgia House of Representatives District 1, including all or portions of Center Post, Lookut Mountain, Chattanooga Valley, Fairyland, Fairview and Rossville.

• Whitfield County: Republican race for Clerk of Superior Court: Melica Kendrick and Susan Miller; nonpartisan race for Magistrate: Kay Cope vs. Jerry Leonard.

Early voting starts today and runs through Friday in every county except Dade, which hadn’t received its ballots Friday. Dade officials hoped to start early voting on Tuesday or Wednesday.

The Macon Telegraph has coverage of middle Georgia runoff elections.

Bibb County Elections Supervisor Elaine Carr said people who cast a vote July 31 can’t change parties in the Aug. 21 races.

“Whatever party they chose July 31, they can’t alter that in the runoff,” Carr said. People who did not vote July 31 can vote in either party Aug. 21.

Rick Allen and John House both hope to become the Republican challenger to U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop in the 2nd Congressional District, which includes much of Bibb County and all of Crawford, Peach, Macon and Dooly counties.

Republican voters in the 12th Congressional District also need to pick a nominee against U.S. Rep. John Barrow. The contenders are Lee Anderson and another candidate named Rick Allen.

Democratic voters also have to pick a Democratic nominee for state Senate District 26, where David Lucas is challenging incumbent Miriam Paris. The winner will face Republican Bobby Gale in a district that includes all or part of Bibb, Hancock, Jones, Twiggs, Washington and Wilcox counties.

Democrats in House District 139 will also have to pick a de facto winner from Patty Bentley and Thomas Coogle to represent an area that includes the southern part of Peach County as well as Dooly, Macon and Taylor counties.

Carroll County has two runoff elections:

the county commission chairman race, with incumbent Bill Chappell and challenger Marty Smith; and the County Board of Education, District 1, race with incumbent Bernice B. Brooks and Rob Cleveland.

Walter Jones writes that several Georgia families have multiple members appointed to boards by Governor Nathan Deal. The most interesting example, and one that disproves any conspiracy theory is this one:

• Joe Rogers is on the ports authority, while his wife, Frances, is on the lottery board.

And Joe Rogers’s only contribution in the last four years was $3,600 to Deal’s opponent, Karen Handel.

No one interviewed could point to an instance of any appointee making a direct profit financially from their service on a board. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t skepticism.

9
Aug

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 9, 2012

This good-looking puppy is on his way to becoming a tragic statistic unless someone steps up to adopt or foster him. A large, friendly, playful little guy, the volunteers with Gwinnett County Animal Shelter write that he’ll be the first to be put down if the puppy section fills up. If you want to adopt him, Call the shelter for more information 770-339-3200 and refer to his number 26296.

These little hound or lab puppies apparently get along pretty well and would make a nice pair of friends.They were found stray and are apparently littermates or at least very good buddies. 26437 is male, and 26436 is female, and both are available for adoption today from the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens will speak to the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa later this month. I suspect this is related to his role at the top elected supporter of Mitt Romney in Georgia. Congratulations to Sam.

Congressional candidate Wright McLeod has asked for a recount in the twelfth district Republican Primary, where he currently is narrowly out of the runoff.

But no one — apparently including McLeod — expects the recount, due to be finished by noon today, to change the result.

“He’s got basically two chances, slim and none,” said University of Georgia political science professor Charles Bullock. “Put the emphasis on none.”

The reason: All but about 2,400 of 60,000-plus ballots in the primary were cast on computerized touch-screen voting machines.

They’ll be retabulated by the district’s 19 counties, said Jared Thomas, spokesman for Secretary of State Brian Kemp, in charge of Georgia elections.

Thomas said he doubts that will change the total very much, if at all.

Experts compare the retabulation process to using a calculator to tally up — yet again — the sum of two plus two.

“It may not change at all unless they find some voting machines had totals that somehow got left out,” Bullock said.

That recount should be finished by noon today. I wonder if any recounts in Georgia have changed election results since the implementation of computerized voting. Email me if you know of any.

Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s spokeperson isn’t aware of any such cases, according to the Macon Telegraph.

Recounts are “overseen by us and done by the counties just like election night,” said Jared Thomas, a spokesman for the Secretary of State’s office.

“They will re-scan all the absentee ballots and re-tabulate results” from voting machines, he said.

In a written statement after Georgia verified the first count, Staton said the certification made his “campaign victory official.”

Thomas said he was not aware of any case of a recount changing an outcome.

Since 2002, all Georgia voters have used electronic voting machines.

Potentially more interesting are Senator Cecil Staton’s comments about his role in the Senate Republican Caucus.

But it’s not clear if the tepid endorsement from voters in the district will be followed by a struggle for Staton to remain Senate majority whip. The Senate GOP caucus will vote on leadership after the November general election.

“I have not decided about whether I will run for (majority whip), some other office or return to being a committee chair. You can’t be whip and a full committee chair at the same time,” Staton wrote in an e-mail.

Staton led the Senate Science and Technology Committee before being voted whip two years ago.

There likely will be 36 to 38 Republicans in the state Senate by late November and some of them, wrote Staton, are undecided about who they will support for leadership.

“Conversations at this point about caucus positions invite premature speculation,” he said.

This could lead to an extended conversation about the role of the Georgia Republican Senate Caucus Promotion PAC, which is thought to have funded incumbent protection mailpieces for several Senate Republicans.

One might wonder how efficient and effective an operation the Senate Caucus Promotion PAC was when the organization appears to have poured seven mailpieces into the lopsided victory by Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers while spending considerably less in the very close campaigns for Senators Murphy and Staton, who barely won, and Senator Johnny Grant, who was defeated.

Republican Senators may be in for extended discussion of the legality and independence of the Republican Caucus Promotion PAC:

some members of the Republican Caucus in the Senate are wondering exactly who made the decision to donate money that they helped raise to an brand-new independent committee that hired a previously unknown company to assist in the re-election efforts of six of their colleagues.
Publicly, they are saying nothing. Privately, they are furious. “None of us knew anything about” the donation or the mailings, said one Senator.
Another Senate veteran has also denied knowledge of the decision behind the donations, and said he was “surprised embarrassed, mortified and angry,” to learn of them.
Another Senator claimed the donations were “inherently illegal,” not for the lack of disclosure, but because the donation appears to have violated the campaign contribution limits.
And while Republican Senators may be ducking calls and avoiding questions from the press, they’re also getting calls from the people who wrote the big checks to the Republican Senatorial Trust. Those donors want to know why their money is being spent this way, and whether or not their donations were used illegally.

The Savannah Morning News headline, “John Barrow hits prospective foes Lee Anderson and Rick Allen; they hit back — and each other” makes the General Election sound like a Three Stooges move.

Why did U.S. Rep. John Barrow attack two prospective foes this week without knowing which one he’ll run against?

People wondered out loud about that when the Augusta Democrat teed off on Republicans Lee Anderson and Rick Allen.

One possible answer surfaced quickly: Anderson and Allen responded by blasting each other almost as much as Barrow.

“It’s probably what Barrow wanted,” said Kennesaw State University political science professor Kerwin Swint. “He drew them out and got them to beat each other up.

David R. Werner has been promoted by Governor Nathan Deal to Deputy Chief of Staff for Legislative and External Affairs. According to the press release,

Werner previously served as deputy executive counsel and the policy adviser on public safety. He also held staff positions in both the state House and state Senate. He is the co-chairman of the Governor’s Special Council on Criminal Justice Reform, co-chairman of the Legislative Affairs Committee of the Young Lawyers Division of the State Bar of Georgia and a member of the Federalist Society. He and his wife, Suzanne, reside in Atlanta and are members of Peachtree Road United Methodist Church.

Kathy Schrader for Judge Banner

Springfield will elect a new Mayor after the resignation of Mayor Joe Quimby Jeff Northway.

Qualifying will cost $35 and will be held from 8:30 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 27, through 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 29, at Springfield City Hall, 130 S. Laurel St.

City officials said they recently discovered that Northway was convicted of three felonies in Texas in the 1980s. They said he lied and said he was not a convicted felon when he applied to run for mayor.

Northway resigned July 12 and has declined to comment.

The city said Northway was convicted of two felonies — theft by receiving and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle in 1983 in Harris County, Texas. He received a three-year sentence on those charges.

After serving the sentence, he was convicted in 1989 of a third felony for unauthorized use of a vehicle.

Lesli Messinger won the Democratic Primary to take on Republican Congressman Jack Kingston. Apparently, her “Midwestern values” are one of the reasons Georgians will vote for her. Hmmm, blonde hair and midwestern values. Sounds like another candidate named “Leslie”.

Among the recounts that affirmed election night figures was the reelection of Senator Jack Murphy in Forsyth County and Geoff Duncan’s win over former State Rep. Tom Knox.

Incumbent Sen. Jack Murphy received 13,290 votes to challenger Steve Voshall’s 13,176. Murphy’s total was unchanged. Voshall’s final tally represents a loss of one vote.

There was no change in the election night totals in the House District 26 race. Former major league pitcher Geoff Duncan defeated former State Rep. Tom Knox by a count of 4,507 to 4,452.

More than 30 percent of Forsyth County’s registered voters voted in the election.

“I was very happy with that turnout,” [County elections supervisor Barbara] Luth said. “Usually we have a lower turnout in the primary elections.”

Fulton County is doing its usual efficient job of recounting votes in the Sheriff’s race; originally expected to take two days, they finished early by taking some shortcuts.

The law mandated a recount of the sheriff’s Democratic primary because the July 31 results had Jackson winning without a runoff by less than 1 percent. The counting took place in a drab warehouse in northwest Atlanta, where about 20 election workers re-fed absentee and qualified provisional ballots into the computer.

But instead of feeding precinct voting machine results directly from memory cards to the computer, Fulton reused master memory cards of the votes from each precinct created by election workers on election night, which may again cloud the result.

[Sheriff candidate Richard] Lankford asked officials to feed each voting machine’s card separately into the computer. At the very least, officials should have re-created new master memory cards rather than using the old ones, he said.

“Any manual process is not a tamper-proof system,” he said. “You’re almost at a point that it is not worth running for office in Fulton County because you can’t trust the vote counting.”

Serious policy proposal here: the legislature should consider giving the Secretary of State greater authority to supervise elections, including possibly replacing local officials,  where the locals have a record of fumbling procedures.

House District 66 runoff candidates Bob Snelling and Mike Miller answered some questions by the Douglasville Patch. Both candidates agree that Snelling previously served eight years in the State House, but they disagree on what it means.

Bob Snelling: “I have eight years of experience in the Georgia House of Representatives. I learned about the many intricacies of our legislative system. But, more importantly, I built relationships with community leaders throughout the state. That was my strong suit during my years of service, meeting and working with people. Many of those relationships remain to this day. These relationships will be invaluable a I seek to bring local legislative ideas to the process.”

Mike Miller: “My opponent has served in the Georgia Legislature before for some eight years in office. He seeks to return to office to reunite with friends at the State Capitol. We are running for very different reasons and have very different records in elected office. I am running to bring change and conservative principled leadership to the State Capitol.”

“I have been speaking up about the need to improve our ethics laws to include restrictions on lobbyist gifts for bureaucrats and to require candidates to disclose anonymous mailers and robocalls. My opponent has been silent on these matters.”

According to Democratic State Rep. Dar’shun Kendrick, who cruised to reelection, Snellville has the highest foreclosure rate in Gwinnett County.

One in every 300 homes in Georgia is in foreclosure, according to the AJC.  That’s double the national average.

In Snellville, (including unincorporated), it’s even worse: 1 in 127 homes are in foreclosure (as of June 2012).

Last month, around 40 percent of home sales in Snellville were foreclosures.

Foreclosure reform is something that is high on Kendrick’s list of priorities.  She has attempted to have bills passed, including HB 781, that would revolutionize the foreclosure process, according to Kendrick, but so far they have all been shut down.

“Next year,” she said, “I want to break down the bill into separate components.  If they won’t pass the whole thing, maybe parts of it will pass.”

One thing she wants to do is change Georgia from a non-judicial foreclosure state to a judicial one.  Every other legal procedure requires a person to hand you the papers, according to Kendrick, but that is not the case with foreclosures.

“Under our current system,” she said, “you get a certified letter and they sell your house on the courthouse step.  It doesn’t go through a judge.”

This one reminds me of a bawdy old rugby song: “Woman says she went to court for a warrant, left with proposition from the judge”.

The alleged incident occurred April 9 after Angela Garmley says she was assaulted by three people who once rented a trailer from her and her husband in Murray County. Garmley said when she went to take out the warrant, Chief Magistrate Judge Bryant Cochran propositioned her for sex when she was alone with him in his chambers.

“He asked me if I cheated on my husband,” Garmley, 36, of Chatsworth, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “He said he wanted to have a mistress he could trust.”

Cochran says that never happened.

“We’re denying all allegations,” Cochran, who was reelected last month, said Wednesday. “The truth will come out. Right now, I’m not exactly sure what’s going on.”

Cochran did not sign the warrant on April 9. Instead, Garmley said, he asked her to return to court a few days later and to wear a dress but no underwear.

“He said if I did that I would be very satisfied with the decision he’d make on my case,” she said.

8
Aug

New yardsigns for Kathy Schrader for Gwinnett County Superior Court Judge runoff election

640 Kathy Schrader Superior Court Gwinnett

7
Aug

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 7, 2012

Sophie is a Viszla/Lab mix who is heartworm negative, approximately 3 years old and weighs 65 pounds.

Wally is a “Bassador” or Basset Hound/Lab mix who is one-year old and weighs 40 pounds.

Finally, Junior is a 54-pound Shepherd mix, that around here we call a Roxboro Hound. He is an owner turn-in, and his former person says he is great with other dogs, smart, and walks well on a leash.

These three dogs are all available for adoption from Walton County Animal Services. Forty bucks gets you a new best friend who is up-to-date on his or her shots, heartworm-tested, flea-treated, and comes with a voucher for discount spay/neuter and a sack of kibble. Adopt one of these dogs, and I’ll pay half the adoption fee. Seriously.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

We are now two weeks away from the 2012 Primary Runoff and Judicial Runoff elections. Things are going to continue getting crazy out there. As far as we know, in most jurisdictions, early voting for the August 21st runoff elections will start Monday and continue through Augus 17th.

Crazy as in someone photoshopping a photo of Congressional candidate Lee Anderson’s head onto another man’s body engaged in sexual activity. And then posting it anonymously on Facebook and Anderson’s website before it was deleted.

Crazy as in photoshopping a Hitler mustache on incumbent Gwinnett County Commissioner Mike Beaudreau and dedicating a website to calling him “Mike the Sleaze.” To be fair, the owner of that site posts his name and phone number on the front page and makes himself available to talk about it. Just like a crazy person might do.

Crazy as in accusing another candidate of paying $50,000 for the endorsement of a candidate who didn’t make the runoff.

Crazy as in switching the website for a DeKalb County Commissioner you used to work for into an endorsement of her opponent.

If you clicked on a link to DeKalb County Commissioner Elaine Boyer’s website on election night last week and found yourself staring at an endorsement for her challenger, your computer wasn’t malfunctioning.

former website for the District 1 commissionercarried an endorement of her primary challenger Larry Danese – who she trounced in the July 31 primary – with the line: “Replace Elaine Boyer” and “It’s Time for Better Representation.”

Danese posted a note on his website on election night, saying the endorsement was the work of a web designer, Dave Carlson, who has worked for Boyer and owns the old website domain. Danese said he played no role in the site change.

“A website designer who formerly worked for Elaine Boyer has revised one of her campaign website [sic] that he owns to include information taken from my campaign. Based on how my information has been changed, the designer and I appear to agree that Boyer is not the best choice for DeKalb’s District 1,” Danese wrote on his homepage.

Boyer’s website is now hosted at www.commissionerboyer.com. The Carlson-owned site is hosted at www.commissionerelaineboyer.com.

Pro-tip #1 for politicos: it’s a good idea to own the website domain registration for your own campaign website. For the low price of registering a site, you should probably register the .com, .net, and .org versions if they’re available.

Speaking of crazy, the Green Party candidate for President of the United States, Dr. Beth Stein, was in Atlanta last week, visiting the Capitol for a press conference and prison visits. For the time being, those are separate activities.

“This week’s defeat of the one-percenters’ transit plan at our expense shows that Georgia’s political life is neither people-proof or democracy-proof,” said Bruce Dixon, Co-Chair of the Georgia Green Party, which is hosting this tour. “We hope voters will continue to critically weigh their options and will come out to meet a candidate ready to address real issues and work in their interests. Greens offer an option to those sick of puppets financed by the banksters who tanked our economy and and fund a billion-dollar ad-fest passing for a presidential campaign.”

Dr. Stein expects to visit with families of some of Georgia’s nearly 60,000 prisoners. With one in thirteen (more than any other state) Georgia adults in prison, on bail, probation, work release or other forms of correctional or court supervision, the state has yet to shake its founding reputation as a penal colony.

Pro-tip #2: prisoners can’t vote, so you might think about more vote-rich environments for your next trip.

Georgia Greens hope to introduce their candidate to members of Georgia’s immigrant and undocumented communities who are struggling against HB-187, 287(g) agreements between local law enforcement and Federal immigration officials, the nation’s largest immigrant detention center in Stewart County and an ongoing wave of family-shattering deportations.

Pro-tip #3: also, undocumented immigrants can’t vote. That’s strike two.

In fact, before boarding her on her Atlanta bound flight, the Stein campaign is working this morning to bond the Presidential candidate and her running mate out of a Philadelphia jail following their arrest yesterday at the Fannie-Mae officeswhere they participated in a peaceful sit-in intent on preventing the eviction of home-owners in that city.

Pro-tip #4: being in jail in a jurisdiction other than the one in which you are registered to vote probably makes voting for yourself difficult.

Dr. Stein will also visit House District 57 stretching from Atlanta’s West End through to the Morningside community on the DeKalb border, where the Georgia Green Party’s candidate Kwabena Nkromo is winding up a petition drive to get on the ballot for state representative in the November 2012 election.

“Nkromo, Stein and Georgia Greens face the nation’s most anti-democratic and unfair ballot access laws explicitly crafted to restrict the choices of Georgia voters to limited options provided by the corporate parties,” said Dixon. Candidates of the corporate parties access the ballot by paying a filing fee, while those of emerging political parties labor under onerous signature collection requirements, twenty thousand and more for congressional candidates, and nearly sixty thousand for candidates who would appear on statewide ballots.

So, how successful was Dr. Stein’s visit to Georgia? Prospective State House District 57 candidate Kwabena “Cubby” Nkromo waited until she was gone to announce his failure to secure a ballot slot, even with the assistance of the top candidate on the Green Party ticker.

“I have decided to officially cease my race for State Representative due to our campaign’s unlikelihood of meeting the requirements by the August 6th deadline. Georgia continues to have the most restrictive ballot access laws in the country for both legislative district races like mine, as well as higher offices,” [said Nkromo].

According to the AJC, Georgia has been labeled as having the most restrictive ballot access laws in the country by Ballot Access News, an independent chronicler of election law in the states.

The Green Party, continues to make strides within the SW Atlanta community and received a number of signatures from the community who agreed with the Party, that the electorate deserves a choice and that they have a right to be on the ballot.

“We will continue to fight for the issues our campaign sought to include in the debate about the future of District 57 and the neighborhoods of Atlanta. The victory of the 99% in the defeat of the TSPLOST referendum demands that we stay vigilant and engaged in the struggle for affordable and equitable public transit as a priority for transportation investment in our region,” [said Nkromo].

Muscogee County Coroner Bill Thrower, whose wife inadvertantly wrote his qualifying check on the wrong account, leading it to bounce, has given up on gathering enough signatures to qualify as an Independent to keep his check.

Thrower needed to turn in close to 6,000 signatures from registered voters in Columbus by noon Monday to qualify to run as an independent in the November elections.

Thrower spent most of his Sunday in Lakebottom Park getting signatures on his petition.

He was disqualified from the coroner’s race after his $1800 check to pay his qualifying fee bounced.

Thrower will likely run as a write-in candidate on the November ballot against Buddy Bryan.

Pro-tip #5 – even where it’s not required for qualifying, a bank or cashier’s check for your qualifying fee is always a good idea.

Following its tradition of being one of the last counties to report election results, Fulton County this year went dead last.

Fulton County has finally certified its election results from the July 31 primary, but it still missed the state’s deadline to avoid potential fines.

“It’s certainly troubling to us. We have deadlines for the count to be completed,” said Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who is launching an investigation into the delay.

Fulton was the last county in Georgia to declare its results official, almost a week after voters went to the polls.

Fulton election officials were still counting votes this past weekend and were slow to input some of the early ballots.

The state says they reached out to the county several times, but never heard back from anyone.

“We don’t know exactly what the problem is. That’s one of the frustrating things for me. It would be nice if we did know. We don’t, but we’re going to find out,” Kemp told Channel 2 Action News.

Pro-tip #6 – for Brian Kemp, try turning off your Caller ID on your iPhone the next time Fulton County screws up and you need to talk to them. They may have been screening calls and avoiding you.

Fulton County is currently recounting votes in the Democratic Primary for Sheriff and predicts they will finish by Wednesday. I predict they’ll miss that deadline too.

Whomever writes headlines for the Marietta Daily Journal must be pleased with this one: Elections board leader decries tardy vote tallies.

Cobb’s elections board certified the results of Tuesday’s primary vote and acknowledged the need to get results made public sooner.

Board vice chairman Rob Garcia, who was acting as chairman during the Monday morning meeting because Beverly Smith was out sick, said he heard from some of those people who couldn’t understand why the Secretary of State’s website didn’t have results from Cobb sooner.

The ballot included such major votes as the proposed TSPLOST transportation sales tax referendum; and in partisan races, GOP candidates for county chairman and Democratic contests for the southwest Cobb commission seat.

“Cherokee County was at 67 percent reported before we had the first votes uploaded,” Garcia said. “I got a lot of smart-alecky emails saying, ‘Are you counting those by hand?’”

Elections director Janine Eveler said the first results were uploaded at 8:52 p.m. but couldn’t be seen online until after 9:30 p.m., nearly three hours after the polls were to close.

Eveler defended the delay in releasing early-voting results. She said that even though early voting ended July 27, the county can’t close those machines out until after polls close, because they can’t have results ahead of time. That meant that the early-voting results weren’t released until nearly 10 p.m.

Eveler said that several other unexpected factors added to the delay. Sixty-five percent of Election Day voters cast their ballots after 3 p.m., includes a number of people who were in line at 7 p.m. and thus were allowed to vote.

“You’re looking at two-thirds of the voters in one-third of the time,” she said.

Eveler also said that while workers had tested the new statewide reporting system with the Secretary of State’s office, they had not done a test using partial results.

Eveler said results of all votes, except for some of the nearly 6,000 mailed-in ballots, were online by midnight, but the mail-in ballots weren’t fully counted until 4:27 a.m., which is normal for a large county-wide election. Those paper ballots were hand-inserted into an optical scan machine.

She said the number of races on the ballot also contributed to the delay, with Cobb’s paper ballot being 18-inches long, compared to a 14-inch ballot for Gwinnett County.

That’s what she said!

Opponents of Brookhaven cityhood are asking Governor Deal for two of five slots on the  Commission that will oversee the pre-incorporation preparation.

The organization’s request appeared in the August 1 edition of “a:Times News,” which was distributed in several Brookhaven communities this past weekend.

“Recognizing the closeness of this election requires oversight by the No side to make sure all citizens in the new city are represented,” the [Ashford Neighbors] organization said. “Since this vote was so close, we want two No-City group people to be appointed by you to give us equal representation on the five-member commission to form the city.”

The legislation creating the Brookhaven cityhood vote stipulates that Deal’s commission is to review candidates for city manager, attorney, clerk and accountant, as well as finding the best locations for municipal offices. Those recommendations will be passed onto the mayor and city council, who will be elected on Nov. 6.

Deal spokesperson Stephanie Mayfield said the governor has until Sept. 1 to appoint the commission, and has not made the appointments yet. She added she was unsure of when the governor would announce the appointments.

In case you don’t live in Brookhaven and follow our local politics obsessively, the newspaper referenced above isn’t a real newspaper. It’s a thinly-disguised liberal rag that is run by the person who ran the Democratic campaign against State Rep. Mike Jacobs two years ago and appears to exist solely for the purpose of pushing the agenda of local liberals.

I generally refrain from offering Governor Deal unsolicited advice, but will make an exception here. The hippies who opposed Brookhaven’s incorporation are just crazy enough to try to make the new city fail with the hope that we’ll run back to the sheltering arms and confiscatory tax regime of DeKalb County. There might be people who opposed incorporation who will make a great contribution to our city: members of Ashford Neighbors do not fit that description.

The Governor said in a private event earlier this year that one challenge of being Governor is knowing enough people for all the appointments he has to make. If anyone in the Governor’s office is struggling to compile a list of potential appointees, I might have some suggestions. Email me. I won’t hold my breath waiting, however.

State Rep. Calvin Smyre demurred when asked to record a robocall for his Democratic colleague, Debbie Buckner, who faced a primary challenge to her reelection. At least according to Buckner:

After the qualifier, Buckner did answer the question: Did you ask Calvin to endorse you in a campaign flier?

“Yes,” she said.

Smyre’s response to Buckner at the time: “He said he is running his own race in November, and it is customary to run your own race and stay out of other people’s campaigns. He had his own race to run, and I understand that.”

Ask Smyre if Buckner asked him and Hugley for help.

“She didn’t ask us to do anything,” Smyre said.

Then Smyre calls the question a fishing expedition, trying to deflect the question by saying “the campaign is over.”

There was a rumor — and it was just that, a rumor — that in the wake of the election Buckner might jump to the Republican Party. She would not be the first rural white Georgia Democrat to make such a leap.

“I am a Democrat, and I have always been a Democrat,” Buckner said. “It allows me to focus on the issues I care about — health care, education and the environment.” [without the burden of actually passing legislation - Ed.]

So this little fishing expedition is now over.

Patrick Burns of Arc 3 Communications has written an insightful analysis of the social media aspects of the T-SPLOST vote, and found significant cultural differences in the preferences of pro- and anti- T-SPLOST voters. Among the findings:

  • Supporters and opponents of the T-SPLOST relied on very different news sources. T-SPLOST supporters’ favorite news source was National Public Radio, while opponents preferred Fox News.
  •  T-SPLOST supporters’ favorite program was The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, while opponents program of choice was House on the Fox Network.
  • Supporters of T-SPLOST were NFL fans, while opponents were NASCAR fans- both groups agreed that theAtlanta Braves was their favorite sports team.
  • Both sides tended to agree in the area of prominent consumer choices, with both groups most favorite food and beverage product being Chick-Fil-a.
6
Aug

Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections for August 6, 2012

26200 is a young labrador mix who is said by volunteers to be very sweet and friendly and she is available for adoption today from the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter at 884 Winder Highway in Lawrenceville. Call the Shelter for more information 770-339-3200.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

As of Saturday, Fulton County was not finished counting votes in last Tuesday’s elections and Secretary of State Brian Kemp is not amused.

Brian Kemp said he is concerned about “numerous and substantial issues” surrounding Tuesday’s primary election in Fulton County and more concerned with a lack of communication with local voting officials.

WSB-TV reports that Fulton County was scheduled to certify the results of Tuesday’s primary by noon Saturday. That deadline came and went. Now county election officials plan to meet tonight.

“This process does not usually take this long and every time that we’ve worked a deadline out with them that deadline has been moved,” Kemp told the TV station in an interview.

Maybe the General Assembly should consider a mechanism for the Secretary of State’s office to remove or supervise elections officials whose departments aren’t performing well enough.

Kennesaw State University hosts the Center for Election Systems, which provides support for the state’s voting system.

“They provide an invaluable service to the state of Georgia,” Secretary of State Brian Kemp said. “This investment of taxpayer dollars provides a safe, secure and uniform election system that Georgia can be proud of.”

In late 2003, the center began preparing the election databases, also known as ballot building.

An election database maps precincts, races and candidates and provides for the storage of votes and eventual reporting for that election. The ballot is derived from the election database. Months before Election Day, the center begins preparing databases that produce the electronic printed and audio ballots used during an election.

There are specific election board rules that outline such things as how large a candidate’s name can appear on the ballot, the font size and the placement of a candidate’s name.

“By having a centralized building component, you have one spot where you can control that to make sure what’s seen by a voter in Fulton County in display, in receptiveness, in feel, looks the same as it does in Camden County,” [center director Michael] Barnes said.

The center builds ballots for 157 of the 159 counties to date, with only Cobb and Richmond counties doing it themselves.

“When we’re doing this in some cases it’s in a time window that’s extremely small,” Barnes said. “The election ended (Tuesday). Voters are anticipating to be voting on a ballot a week from Monday. You have no idea who’s in the runoff. You can’t guess. You have recounts going on. I calculated this morning that out of 159 counties we have 124 counties that have some form of a runoff, so that means we have to prepare 124 databases. Not only do we have to prepare them, they have to be built, they have to be viewed, they have to be checked, and then when we’re finished saying it’s good, they’re only given at that point to the counties for them to proof, because it’s the responsibility of the county to make sure that it’s correct.”

Some candidates in Cobb County complained that election results took too long to be released:

The first results from Cobb were not posted online until 9:39 p.m., more than two and a half hours after most polling places had closed. The nearly complete results were not available until 10 minutes before midnight. And it was 4:27 a.m. Wednesday before all the results were reported.

“You couldn’t get any results, and you had to go to the state level to do it,” said former county Commissioner Butch Thompson. “In somebody’s wisdom they decided that they didn’t want Cobb County to have the election results so normal people could see where we’re at. I don’t know why it now has to come under state control. It just doesn’t make sense to me. I found it real frustrating.”

State Rep. David Wilkerson (D-Austell), added: “Something needs to be done. Cobb used to be one of the counties that always had the earliest results coming in. At some point, people will start to question the process when you have that long of a delay.”

Cobb Elections Director Janine Eveler was doing things by the book and ensuring that the numbers posted were accurate, and she deserves credit for that.

“Everything went according to plan,” Eveler told the MDJ the next day. “We felt very good about the whole process. Our processes worked great.”

Coweta County election officials were disappointed with 27% turnout:

Turnout, however, was low, with only 27.17 percent of registered voters casting ballots.

“I was thinking we would have between 30 and 40 percent turnout,” Scoggins said.

And even so, “I think we were a little bit higher than the state,” she said.

While Chatham County’s 26% was higher than predicted.

About 26 percent of Chatham’s 141,282 registered voters cast ballots in the primary election, according to unofficial results.

Elections Supervisor Russell Bridges said there were no major problems.

“Everything went pretty well,” Bridges said.

The turnout was slightly higher than Bridge’s expectation of 20 percent. During the last primary before a presidential election in 2008, almost 23,000, or about 19 percent, of registered voters cast ballots.

The takeaway here: election turnout predictions by the people charged with administering elections are wild guesses.

Candidates for Augusta Commission and Richmond County Board of Education begin qualifying today.

Qualifying for five commission posts and five school board seats begins at 9 a.m. today in the office of Board of Elections Executive Director Lynn Bailey. It was moved from May by a federal judge while a lawsuit over district lines was contested.

Qualifying will be held during business hours today and Tuesday but ends at noon Wednesday. The qualifying fee for a school board seat is $100. The qualifying fee for a commission seat is $360, and candidates must live in the district they want to represent.

At least 13 candidates have expressed an interest in the Dis­tricts 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9 commission posts, but only one person has announced plans to seek a seat on the school board.

School board incumbents are not term-limited and have a combined 43 years of experience. Two of the longest-serving, District 1’s Marion Barnes and at-large member Helen Minchew, first took office in 2000.

Richmond County Repub­li­can voters overwhelmingly approved term limits for school board members in a primary straw poll, but implementing them would take an act of the Georgia Legislature.

According to the Savannah Morning News, the challenge of runoff elections is turning out your voters.

Primary leader usually wins

If history’s any guide, Anderson and Hoskins have a leg up, said University of Georgia political scientist Charles Bullock.

The leader in the primary wins runoffs about 70 percent of the time, said Bullock, who’s written extensively about them.

He and other experts say runoffs demand a different approach than primaries.

Bullock cited two key factors — lower turnout and a campaign that lasts less than three weeks.

“Your first objective,” Bullock said, “is to make sure the people who voted for you in the primary get back to the polls. There is usually a drop off.”

Savannah College of Art and Design political science professor Robert Eisinger agreed.

“Every campaign ought to know who their supporters are and let them know it’s not over,” Eisinger said.

But, especially in local campaigns, said Savannah political consultant David Simons, that’s not always easy.

It’s smarter, he said, to make “extremely targeted” appeals to people most likely to vote.

Voting history and demographic data such as age and race — all public record — can locate such people, Simons said.

Simons recommended that candidates use mostly phones and mailings.

“I wouldn’t spend a dime on TV or radio in a local race,” he said. “You’ll pay too much to reach people who won’t vote.”

Because there’s so little time, he and Bullock agreed, it makes little sense to try of drum up new support.

Center Forward has reserved $357,000 worth of television airtime in the 12th Congressional District to support the reelection of Democrat John Barrow.

A complaint has been filed with the Judicial Qualifications Commission accusing Gwinnett County State Court candidate Pam Britt of stealing signs from other candidates.

Britt said she has run an honest campaign and strongly denied stealing any signs. She said she did remove two signs from a campaign supporter’s property at their request about five weeks ago, because other candidates did not have permission to place signs there.

Britt said one of the signs was broken, laying in the street and had been run over by cars. She said she threw the sign, which was for Richard T. Winegarden, in the trash. Britt said she returned the other sign, which looked reusable, to its owner, Greg Lundy.

“The timing on this being the week of the election is suspicious,” Britt said. “I think it’s an attack on my character, and obviously I’m upset by it.”

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution attempted to contact the other four primary candidates for State Court Thursday — Brantley, Winegarden, Lundy and Norman Cuadra — but only Winegarden returned calls seeking comment.

When informed of the investigation, Winegarden declined to discuss the situation. “The JQC investigation is confidential, so I don’t think I should be talking about it,” he said.

Sign-stealing is a common complaint during election season, but it’s difficult to prove without witnesses or photographs, Gwinnett County Sheriff Butch Conway said.

“It’s just not something you expect in a judicial race — it’s more often city councils, county commission, state House,” Conway said.

Winegarden’s campaign manager called Duluth police Tuesday to report someone stole his campaign signs, spray-painted them with a black skull and crossbones and re-posted them at the intersection of Old Peachtree Road and Sugarloaf Parkway, according to an incident report.

At Saturday’s Gwinnett County Republican Party breakfast, State Court candidate Emily Brantley accused Britt of something arguably worse in a Gwinnett County runoff. Brantley said that Britt voted in the 2008 Democratic Presidential Preference Primary for either Barack Obama or Hilary Clinton. Maybe she voted for Bill Richardson?

In the Cobb County Commission Chair Runoff between incumbent Tim Lee and former Chair Bill Byrne, the challenger has picked up support from Larry Savage, who ran fourth in the primary election, while third-place finisher Mike Boyce will not endorse anyone.

Former county chairman candidate Larry Savage said he would campaign for Bill Byrne in the Aug. 21 runoff that will decide the next chairman if asked, while former candidate Mike Boyce said he would not be making an endorsement.

Voters sent Byrne and incumbent Tim Lee into the runoff in the Tuesday Republican primary race for county chairman. Lee led the pack with 29,024 votes, followed by Byrne, who received 19,388 votes, Boyce, who received 17,025 votes, and Savage, who received 7,662 votes.  About 60 percent of all voters cast a ballot against Chairman Lee.

Savage said he would work to help Byrne get elected if Byrne wanted.

“Bill sees the same thing that I saw starting more than two years ago — that we have lost our direction, we have gone adrift to the left, we’ve become decidedly more liberal in our approach to local government, and we just can’t continue that unless we want to turn out like everybody else that’s ever tried it,” Savage said Thursday. “That’s a natural thing that governments do over time is tilt to the left. They provide more and more services to more and more people and ever smaller groups, and it never works in the long run, and the only way it seems that people get over that is they go all the way to the end and to failure, and then they get to reset and start over, and I think we ought to be smart enough to be able not to do that.”

Were it to come down to picking a next-door neighbor, Savage said he might choose Lee because, on a personal level, Lee is likable.

“But Tim, I don’t know if Tim even has a personal view about government or if he has any philosophy about government,” Savage said. “He gets his direction from other people, and those other people, they may be upstanding citizens and successful business people and all that sort of thing, but they are not tuned in or obligated or committed in any way to the best interests of the county at large. They’ve got other interests that are a lot more parochial, and that’s the direction that the county follows.”

However, Savage said this is not about electing a next-door neighbor.

“We’re not electing a homecoming queen,” Savage said. “We’re not electing someone to be nice. We’re electing someone to deal with issues.

That Cobb Commission Chair runoff is likely to come down to voter turnout, according to even more politicos.

Marietta attorney Chuck Clay said it’s hard to say who could win the runoff because there should be a slight advantage to the incumbent, but with both Lee and Byrne being “known entities” in Cobb, it will all depend on who can get the most people back to the ballots in three weeks.

“The traditional rule is that if you’re an incumbent and you’re down, then you’re in trouble, but this is a little different scenario with the (TSPLOST) on and off, and both of these people have records that are known,” he said. “You don’t have an incumbent challenging a fresh face. It kind of throws that traditional view off.”

For Lee, Clay said he’s has the advantage in fundraising and seems to be well-liked, but Byrne is a hardworking candidate and within “striking distance.”

He also said that traditionally, around 15 to 20 percent of registered voters turn out for the primaries, and somewhere around half of that will make a showing for runoffs.

“At this time, it’s purely a turnout issue — who can get folks to come back to the poll?” he said.

First-time Cobb Commission candidate Lisa Cupid forced incumbent Woody Thompson into a runoff as well.

Lisa Cupid … said she’s been endorsed by former candidates Monica DeLancy and Ruth Negron

Cupid said she is confident about the race, given that more than 70 percent of voters opposed Thompson.

“We were pretty successful knocking door to door and calling people directly,” she said. “That may have to continue.”

Thompson said he talked with Connie Taylor, whom he appointed to the SPLOST Oversight Committee and Board of Tax Assessors, about an endorsement.

While nothing is official, he feels confident about the endorsement from Taylor, who finished fourth in the race, just behind Dr. Michael Rhett.

“I think she’s on board to help,” Thompson said.

Muscogee County Sheriff John Darr holds a 76-vote lead over challenger Pam Brown in the Democratic primary.

Elections supervisor, Nancy Boren, says more than 260 military ballots were mailed out 45 days ago, some going as far as Iraq and Afghanistan.

Based upon previous elections, only 6 to 8 percent are normally returned to the office before the deadline. Soldiers have until Friday to submit their mail-in ballots.

“I am not expecting those ballots to make a big difference in the outcome,” explained Boren.

[Pam] Brown… stated she will request a recount if Darr is declared the nominee.

Henry County Commissioner Warren Holder has requested a recount in his narrow loss to challenger Bo Moss, which will be conducted today by the county elections office.

For now, unofficial and incomplete returns have businessman William J. “Bo” Moss defeating long-time incumbent District I Commissioner Warren Emory Holder. Moss received 50.2 percent of the vote, or 1,898 votes, while Holder secured 49.8 percent, or 1,883 votes.

“Unofficially, there is a 15-vote difference between ‘Bo’ Moss and Warren Holder for the District I Commissioner seat,” said election clerk Brook Schreiner. “Our office is still waiting on military absentees; they have until Friday at 3 p.m. to get their absentee votes to us. After 3 p.m., we will certify the election.”

Schreiner said although the Henry election office has completed the count for provisional ballots, the number of votes for Moss and Holder remains the same as election night.

“As of [Wednesday], we had not received any military votes in the mail,” said Shellnutt. “There will be an official and complete report on Friday, when will do a final count after the mail runs.”

Muscogee County coroner Bill Thrower, who was bounced from the ballot for paying with a bad check, is trying to collect nearly 6000 signatures by Thursday to qualify for the ballot.

Thrower says he has at least 4,000 signatures so far. Officials say by August 3 at noon, he must pay a $1800 qualifying fee and turn in a declaration of intent to run as an independent candidate.

Pro-tip: collect at least 50% more signatures than you need, so that you still have enough after a bunch of them are challenged and thrown out.

Clayton County voters will get a second bite at the apple in runoff elections for County Commission Chair, Sheriff, Commission District 3, and Senate district 44. In each of those races, the incumbent was forced into a runoff.

In the District 44 senate race, challenger Gail Buckner and incumbent Gail Davenport ran neck-and-neck throughout the evening. The results show Buckner finishing with 45.8 percent of the vote to Davenport’s 45.2.

In the race for sheriff of Clayton County, incumbent Kem Kimbrough led throughout the evening but challenger and former sheriff Victor Hill remained on his coattails. Kimbrough garnered 42.4 percent of the vote to Hill’s 37.5 percent.

The only remaining candidate in that race to finish with more than one percent of the vote was Clayton County Police Lt. Tina Daniel, who finished third with 12.9 percent.

The commission chairman’s race saw challenger Jeff Turner and incumbent Eldrin Bell neck-and-neck throughout the evening on Tuesday and, when the final votes were tallied, the two were separated by four tenths of a percentage point with Bell garnering 41.95 percent of the vote to Turner’s 41.91 percent.

The third candidate, Roberta Abdul-Salaam, finished with 16.1 percent.

In the Clayton County Commission District Three race, incumbent Wole Ralph and challenger Shana Rooks ran a close race throughout the evening with Ralph finishing on top with 44.07 percent of the vote to Rooks 42.7.

New District Attorney for the Northern Judicial Circuit (comprising  Hart, Elbert, Franklin, Madison, and Oglethorpe counties) Parks White is preparing to take over from incumbent Bob Lavender, whom he defeated in the Republican primary. Awkward.

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3
Aug

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 3, 2012

First up in our Friday Puppy Parade is a little guy called “Fat Boy,” a 9-week old, 10-pound retriever mix with no black on his tongue.

“Benjamin” above and “Bethany” below are tiny 4.8 pound Dachshund/Chihuahua mix puppies.

All three of these, and several other equally-cute puppies are available for adoption from Walton County Animal Services. This is truly the best deal out there in dog adoptions. $40 for your new best friend for life is less than the vaccinations alone would cost from a private vet, and they also come with microchips (optional), discount on spay/neuter, and a free sack of kibble. Take two, they’re small!

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Baker County Sheriff Dana Meade was forced into a runoff, as he took 35% of the vote to 17% for top challenger Tim Williamson.

Former Fort Oglethorpe police chief Larry Black earned 43% of the vote for Catoosa County Sheriff and heads to a runoff against the county’s Chief Deputy Gary Sisk.

Black’s supporters said they voted for him because of his tough stance on drug enforcement and his long time commitment in the community.

“He’s good to everybody; he’s very fair,” said supporter Ronny Land.

Roger and Linda Farley said they appreciate how Black cares about teenagers and wants to focus on fighting drugs from inside the schools.

Sisk supporters said he has gathered a lot of experience during his more than 20 years in the Catoosa sheriff’s office and has been dependable over the years.

“The way things are, I want somebody who you know who they are,” said Stephanie Harvey, a Sisk supporter and Ringgold resident.

Paulding County Chief Magistrate Judge Martin Valbuena was denied a clean win, taking 47.1% and is headed for a runoff against Dan Collins who received 24.7%.

The runoff election for State House District 66 between former State Rep. Bob Snelling and Douglas County School Board member Mike Miller might not be as interesting since eliminated candidate Mickey Thompson was producing all the hijinks.

The tone of the campaign should be different now. In the weeks leading up to the primary, Miller and Thompson engaged in a battle through mailers, YouTube videos and “robocalls” with each calling the other into question.

Thompson attacked Miller’s character, ethics and use of a Teenage Republican in his campaign through a mailer, and later questioned trips he took during his time on the Douglas County school board and his commitment to the Republican party.

Miller later sent his own mailers defending himself and firing back at Thompson. Both Snelling and Miller acknowledged the spat likely hurt each campaign.

“I have had my close friends tell me it did, yes,” Snelling said. “They said it affected the thinking of some voters.”

Miller said the battle hurt him in early voting but he bounced back afterward.

“We tried not to respond in kind, but his continual personal attacks hurt us,” he said.

As the runoff looms, the question of whose campaign Thompson’s voters will support comes into play as well. But for now, Miller is glad the spat with Thompson is behind him.

“We are glad we got the votes from the community,” he said. “We look forward to running a race where we can focus on the issues this time.”

Douglas County Commission Chair Tom Worthan held off a challenge from former Chair Rita Rainwater, whom he sent into political retirement eight years ago. Worthan faces Democrat Romona Jones in November’s General Election.

Columbus, GA Municipal Court and Magistrate Judge Steven Smith faces a Democratic primary runoff election to retain his seat against Cynthia Maisano.

Smith led with 7,060 votes, or 43.21 percent, of the 16,338 votes cast in the race, according to vote totals of the city’s 27 precincts and the absentee votes tallied Tuesday evening by the Columbus Elections & Registration office.

He was trailed by Maisano, who garnered 4,920 votes, or just over 30 percent.Robert Wilson received 4,358 votes, or just under 27 percent.

“As I understand it, the only people who can vote three weeks from today are indeed the people who voted today,” said Smith, who expressed appreciation to his campaign staff and those who cast votes for him.

Smith has incorrectly stated the law and I would vote against him on that basis alone. You can vote in a party runoff unless you voted in the other party’s general primary, so people who cast no vote on Tuesday can vote against Smith in the runoff.

Wayne County State Court features a runoff between Vi Bennett (40%) and Tracy Alan Brown (25%).

Glynn County voters will head back to the polls to finish the job in choosing a Republican nominee for County Commission District 5 between Robbie Tucker (48%) and Tashawnta Wells (29%). School Board district 1 will see incumbent Republican Ray Snow (43%) against Ingrid Metz (35.5%). The field for Glynn County State Court narrowed from six candidates to Bart Gary Altman (45%) and Alan David Tucker (16%), the only three-name candidates in the race.

In Brantley County, Jack Whisenant (48.8%) faces former Sheriff Robert W. Johns in a Republican primary runoff to advance to the general election against Democratic Sheriff Robert Thomas. School Board post 1 will see a GOP runoff between Cindy Jones Morgan (33%) and Van Herrin (28%).

Camden County Sheriff Tommy Gregory won over former Sheriff Bill Smith, whom he beat in 2008. Smith served as Sheriff for 24 years, and before that his father was Sheriff for 34 years. The backstory is fascinating:

Smith said he didn’t get a fair shake in 2008, that his race was hurt by an 18-month federal and Georgia Bureau of Investigation probe into his office and he was getting hammered by the media.

“I didn’t do anything wrong. That investigation cleared me of wrongdoing,’’ he said.

Not exactly.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Northern District declined to file charges and sent the investigative file to Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney Jackie Johnson.

Johnson reviewed the file — which is enormous — and sent word to Micah Ward, special agent in charge of the GBI’s Statesboro office that there wasn’t much she could do.

Some charges that would have been felonies under federal law are only misdemeanors in Georgia, especially using inmates to work on private property, Johnson told the Times-Union.

Then there was the problem with the statute of limitations, she said.

“The U.S. attorney kept this so long, the [state] statute of limitations had expired on a lot of the charges,’’ she said.

Ends & Pieces

If you’re not on Facebook, or don’t ever drive past Chick-fil-A, you might not know this, but Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day was apparently a pretty big deal.

Hipsters and barbecue aficionados were horrified to learn that Atlanta’s Fox Bros. was wrecked by a falling tree, and it’s unclear when they’ll reopen.

I’ve got my tickets to the October 20th Willie Nelson show at the Southeastern Railway Museum in Duluth. Let me know if I’ll see you there with Willie and the boys.

Speaking of the Southeastern Railway Museum, they’ll be having a “Trains, Trucks & Tractors” event this weekend featuring vintage vehicles, an electric car (probably not a Tesla Roadster or Fisker Karma), hayrides and other activities for kids.

Porsche 918 in Martini livery

Speaking of electric cars, the Porsche 918 pictured above has both a 563 hp conventional engine, and two electric motors that drive the front wheels and contribute an additional 204 hp from electricity generated during braking.

Lenox Square Mall celebrates the 59th anniversary of its opening today.

2
Aug

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 2, 2012

Lilly and Libby are 5-month old mixed breed puppies who are available for adoption from the Cobb County Animal Shelter. They weigh about 16 pounds and are up-to-date on their shots and will be spayed, chipped, and tested for heartworms before they are adopted. They are in cage 315 in the puppy room and their ID numbers are 546760 (Lilly) and 546761 (Libby).

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan  Deal announced that he will work on prioritizing transportation projects in the wake of the defeat of T-SPLOST in all but three regions of the state:

“The voters of Georgia have spoken, and I will continue to do what I have done since I became governor: Work in consultation with state transportation leaders, legislators and local officials to establish our priority projects.

There will be belt-tightening. It’s certainly disappointing that we won’t have the resources to accomplish all the projects needed to get Georgians moving quicker, but it does force state officials, including myself, to focus all our attention on our most pressing needs.

For example, TSPLOST contained $600 million to rebuild the Ga. 400/I-285 interchange. We will face significant challenges in that corridor if that doesn’t get fixed, particularly after the tolls come down and volume increases. We’ll have a ‘need to do’ Transportation Improvement Program list, but not a ‘want to do’ list. In addition to tight state budgets, we’re also facing a significant reduction in federal funds so tough choices await.

On public transportation, yesterday’s vote slams the door on further expansion of our rail network any time soon. Neither I nor the Legislature has much of an appetite for new investments until there are significant reforms in how MARTA operates.

The referendum passed in three regions, and I think those regions will see great returns on their investment. Under the law, these regions will also receive a 90 percent match for local transportation projects, meaning they will only have to put up 10 percent from local funds. The law requires a 70-30 split in the regions that didn’t pass it.

As governor, I aim to make Georgia the No. 1 place in the nation to do business and improving our transportation infrastructure is a major part of that effort. Yesterday’s vote wasn’t an end of the discussion; it’s a transition point. We have much to do, and I’ll work with state and local officials to direct our limited resources to the most important projects.”

This is a positive development. Gov. Deal has shown a great facility for working with legislators and listening to and incorporating the ideas of people not named Nathan Deal. This is not a quality always found in Governors.

In the Ninth Congressional District, third-place finisher Roger Fitzpatrick said he will not endorse either Doug Collins or Martha Zoller.

Hall County Commissioner Ashley D. Bell, well-known for switching to the Republican Party, was defeated by Jeff Stowe in the Republican Primary.

Incumbent Hall County Chairman Tom Oliver came in second to Dick Mecum and is headed to a runoff..

Mecum, the former Hall County sheriff, earned 46 percent of the vote, while Oliver, the two-term incumbent, took in 34 percent.

Former North Hall Commissioner Steve Gailey earned enough votes to force the runoff.

Mecum finished just a few percentage points shy of winning the race outright.

Judicial, District Attorney, and Sheriff elections

We noted yesterday that Kathy Schrader took first place in the race for Gwinnett County Superior Court, receiving more than twice as many votes as the runner-up. Emily Brantley and Pam Britt go another round in the runoff election for Gwinnett State Court.

Superior Court Judge Art Smith, who was supported by Sen. Josh McKoon among others, combined a 150 vote margin in Muscogee County, his circuit’s most populous, with nearly 70% in Harris and took every other county except Talbot County in earning re-election to the six-county Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit.

Smith was the only one of five judges in the Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit who had opposition. He will serve a four-year term, as will the four judges who ran unopposed — John Allen, Gil McBride, Bobby Peters and Bill Rumer.

Smith was appointed to the bench in 2011 by Gov. Nathan Deal. He was appointed to complete the unfinished term for former Judge Doug Pullen, who stepped down last year amid a judicial misconduct investigation.

In DeKalb County, Judge Gail Flake was re-elected over Michael Rothenberg, who has been indicted for felony theft; apparently 28% of DeKalb County voters thought a (alleged) felon is better than a Flake. State Court Judge Dax Lopez also earned reelection.

In Fulton County, Judge Todd Markle won reelection with 54 percent over Clarence Johnson.

Fulton County Sheriff Ted Jackson appeared to hold a slim margin with 50.01 percent, to avoid a runoff. We’ll see if that holds.

Jackson won 34,648 votes, while Lankford received 22,483.

The Fulton County Board of Elections plans to have all the ballots counted and certified by Saturday, according to a spokeswoman.

“We’ve still got some absentee ballots and two more precincts,” Jackson said Wednesday morning. “We figure we’re about 50 percent plus 10 votes away from a runoff. I kept telling everybody, ‘every vote counts in this election.’”

Jackson said he was surprised by his narrow win — if it survives — particularly given that his top opponent only avoided being retried on criminal charges of extortion and income tax evasion by agreeing to never seek a law enforcement job again.

Jane Morrison won the election for Fulton State Court, beating Melynee Leftridge by 61-39.

In Cobb County, Judge Reuben Green was re-elected to the Superior Court and Greg Poole won 51% in the race for an open seat in Superior Court.

Poole, who has been a juvenile court judge for nine years, has regularly filled in on Cobb’s superior court bench.

“I’ve been doing this for one week a month for nine and a half years,” Poole said. “I’m going to continue to do it that way. … There won’t be any change in basic policy. I want to be efficient. I want to move cases efficiently.”

Rebecca Keaton and John Skelton advance to a runoff for Cobb County Superior Court on August 21st.

Keaton, who earned her law degree at John Marshall, said: “We’ll run hard and do what we need to do to win the campaign.”

She is a wife and mother of three who lives in Kennesaw and said she wants to serve the people by using her skills to provide great customer service. She plans to implement one computer operating system and an “e-filing” system similar to the other candidates.

Skelton, who ran at the behest of incumbent Stephenson, said late Tuesday: “The best person for the job will get it.” He added that he hopes his opponent will keep the run off clean.

Skelton earned his law degree at the University of Georgia. He and his wife have two children.

Marsha Lake (39%) and Larry Burke (26%) earned slots in the runoff for State Court Judge.

Three incumbents District Attorneys were defeated in primary elections Tuesday.

Cathy Helms in the Alapaha Circuit in South Georgia, Robert Lavender in the state’s Northern Circuit which includes Hartwell and Elberton, and Robert Brooks of the Tallapoosa Circuit, which includes Bremen and Cedar­town, lost their re-election bids.

Lavender lost to Parks White, a Richmond County assistant district attorney and Iraqi war veteran who, as a lieutenant in the Navy Judge Advocate General Corps, worked with Iraqis to prosecute insurgents.

A child molestation case also figured in the Alapaha Circuit race and may have played a role in incumbent DA Cathy Helms’ defeat by Dick Perryman in the Republican primary. Perryman beat Helms by 202 votes, winning 51.16 percent to Helms’ 48.84 percent. There were no Democratic candidates.

A child molestation case also played a role in Tallapoosa Circuit chief assistant public defender Jack Browning’s campaign — and subsequent defeat — of one-term DA Robert Brooks. Browning formerly practiced law at Murphy, Murphy & Garner — the former firm of U.S. District Judge Harold Murphy of the Northern District of Georgia. The Tallapoosa Circuit includes Haralson and Polk counties.

On his campaign website, Browning highlighted the dismissal of some charges in a child molestation case and a plea deal with minimal jail time.

So we now know a winning formula for defeating an incumbent District Attorney. File that away for later.

Appalachian Circuit incumbent Joe Hendricks came in second and will face a runoff against Blue Ridge attorney B. Alison Sosebee, who received the support of third-place finisher Harry Doss.

Incumbent Herbert “Buzz” Franklin in the Lookout Mountain circuit holds a 44-vote margin over challenger Doug Woodruff and may face a recount.

Woodruff said Wednesday he doesn’t know whether all the absentee ballots have been counted and if he will seek a recount. “If the votes haven’t all been counted yet, the margin could either grow or be reduced,” he said. “It could go the other way. At this point, a 44-vote margin is not much.”

In the election for Hall County Sheriff, Jeff Strickland and Gerald Couch both earned a spot in the runoff.

As the race narrows to two men, Strickland, who was the agency’s highest ranking officer when he retired in October, said he will focus on what sets him apart from Couch, who led the agency’s criminal investigations division.

“I worked in a higher level than he did,” Strickland said. “I was in charge of an entire department with over 450 employees and a $29 million budget.”

Couch, too, said he will focus on his qualifications versus Strickland’s.

“I’ve worked in every single area of the sheriff’s office,” Couch said. “I think I have a huge advantage in that area.”

Patty Walters Laine (31%) and Brook Davidson (26%) made it into a runoff for Hall County Probate Court, beating out two other candidates.

Scott Peebles and Richard Roundtree are headed for a runoff for Richmond County Sheriff.

Recounts

In the Twelfth Congressional District Republican Primary, candidate Wright McLeod, who appears to have come in third, has not decided whether to seek a recount.

Preliminary results Wednesday showed McLeod trailing Augusta businessman Rick Allen by 584 votes, with all counties reporting but provisional ballots not yet counted.

In an afternoon e-mail, McLeod left his options open.

“We are now considering our next steps,” he said. “I must consider whether or not a recount would be in the best interest of voters of the 12th District. Our campaign recognizes that requesting such would provide a ‘trust but verify’ approach to the election results and allow us all to move forward.”

Meanwhile, Allen resumed campaigning as though his place in the runoff weren’t in question.

Spencer Price has asked for a recount in his narrow defeat by Senator Cecil Staton.

“I appreciate the tremendous support from the voters of the 18th” District, said Price, reached via phone during a break from work Wednesday.

And “if I’m not successful, I will be back,” he added.

Station finished with 10,518 votes to Price’s 10,311. The final vote tally did not include 35 military ballots yet to be added.

Considering Staton’s 10-to-1 advantage in fundraising in the second quarter of 2012 — he collected about $115,000 — and his endorsements from party heavyweights such as Gov. Nathan Deal, it was an unusually close outcome.

Harris County Commission Chair Harry Lange has a slim 9-vote margin over Greg Allen who will seek a recount.

Allen defeated Lange at the polls, but fell behind when absentees were tallied; Lange, a three-term incumbent, collected 451 votes compared to Allen’s 442 with about three military and two provisional ballots uncounted, said Sherrail Jarrett, the county elections supervisor.

“I never really expected to garner the votes that I did to be honest with you, but just staying out and being in the community for so long, I knew I had a lot of support,” Allen said.

Both candidates voiced disappointment over voter turnout.

“I’m afraid a lot of my supporters figured they didn’t need to vote,” said Lange, 71, who estimated about 20 percent of registered voters in his district participated.

The race pitted a seasoned commission chairman against a youthful challenger, and the close finish seemed to reflect a string of controversies that have disquieted portions of the community in recent months.

“I’d heard so many people say they were dissatisfied,” said Commissioner Charles Wyatt, who isn’t up for re-election this year. “I hope it straightens Harry up. I hope it sends him a message.”

Lange attributed the dead heat in part to a long-running dispute over the use of the baseball fields in Mulberry Grove. County commissioners denied a rezoning request last year to prevent the fields from being used for travel ball.

Also in Muscogee County, Pam Brown, who challenged incumbent Sheriff John Darr, said she will request a recount.

“I’ll be asking for one, I’m certain I will,” Brown said. “I felt it would be close, but I thought that I would have the edge on him a little bit.”

The sheriff led Brown by a margin of about 0.448 percent — or 8,604 votes to 8,528 votes. Some 59 provisional ballots — votes not yet counted because of eligibility questions — remained out, and elections officials had received 22 military ballots as of Wednesday, said Nancy Boren, the county’s elections director.

About 200 military ballots were requested, but only a portion of those were expected to be returned.

The Muscogee County Board of Elections and Registrations plans to meet 3 p.m. Friday at the Government Center to certify election results. Georgia law allows for a recount when the margin of victory is within 1 percent.

If Darr prevails, Brown would have until Tuesday afternoon to request a recount in writing.

State Rep. Doug McKillip will not ask for a recount in his narrow loss to fellow Republican Regina Quick.

Runoffs

Carroll County Commission Chair Bill Chappell has been forced into a runoff with Marty Smith.

When the ballots were counted Tuesday night, Chappell has received the most votes, but the split was close to a three-way tie, a situation not usually found in incumbency races, one local political analyst observed.

The unofficial totals were Chappell with 4,594 votes, 34.9 percent; Smith with 4,356 votes, 33.1 percent; and third-place finisher Walt Hollingsworth, 4,217 votes, 32.0 percent.

Dr. Robert Sanders, a University of West Georgia political science professor, said he found the results “rather surprising” and was amazed at the closeness of the vote split and how no candidate was close to a majority.

“It goes to show that the Carroll County electorate is not thrilled with how things are going in county government,” Sanders said Wednesday. “There seems to be a number of issues, such as spending and services, but it may be reflective of general disappointment in government around the nation.”

Sanders said the vote seemed to be a question of, “Do you want the incumbency or not?” and it appears the Tuesday results showed nearly a two-to-one vote of dissatisfaction.

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Ends & Pieces

Seventy-three percent of Cobb County voters approved Sunday Sales in unincorporated parts of the county. This was a re-do of an earlier election in which only voters in unincorporated Cobb were allowed to vote; a court challenge overturned that election because all Cobb voters should have been polled.

A voting machine malfunctioned in Floyd County, trapping 85 uncounted votes; it is being sent to its manufacture to attempt to read those votes.