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

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

Button Gwinnett, one of Georgia’s signers of the Declaration of Independence, was born on April 10, 1735 in Gloucester, England, though some authorities say it was his baptism that was recorded that day. Gwinnett also served in the Georgia legislature, where he wrote the first draft of the state Constitution and served as Speaker.

On April 11, 1768, Benjamin Franklin was named Georgia’s agent “to represent, solicit, and transact the affairs of this province in Great Britain.” Arguably, this makes Benjamin Franklin the first American lobbyist. This is what his lobbyist badge looked like:

Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor of France, was exiled to Elba Island in the Mediterranean, on April 11, 1814

On April 11, 1853, John Archibald Campbell was appointed Justice of the United States Supreme Court by President Franklin Pierce. After graduating from the University of Georgia at 14, he attended West Point, where his fellow cadets included Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee. After the beginning of the Civil War, Campbell resigned from the Court and was appointed Assistant Secretary of War for the Confederacy by Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

Confederate troops surrendered Fort Pulaski, on Cockspur Island off Savannah, on April 11, 1862. Part of the construction of Fort Pulaski was overseen by a young Second Lieutenant in the United States Army named Robert E. Lee.

General Robert E. Lee gave his last address to the Army of Northern Virginia on April 10, 1865.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was founded on April 10, 1866.

The American Third Army liberated Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany on April 11, 1945. Among the survivors of Buchenwald was Elie Wiesel; in 1986, Wiesel won the Nobel Peace Prize.

Apollo 13 was launched on April 11, 1970.

The craft was launched on April 11, 1970, at 13:13 CST from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, but the lunar landing was aborted after an oxygen tank exploded two days later, crippling the Service Module (SM) upon which the Command Module (CM) depended. Despite great hardship caused by limited power, loss of cabin heat, shortage of potable water, and the critical need tojury-rig the carbon dioxide removal system, the crew returned safely to Earth on April 17.

On April 11, 1977, President Jimmy Carter hosted the Easter Egg Roll on the lawn of the White House. In the finest tradition of Georgia Democrats, Carter added a circus to the event.

The Masters Tournament was won on April 9th by Gene Sarazen (1935), Jack Burke, Jr. (1956), Nick Faldo (2nd win – 1990), Tiger Woods (2nd win – 2001), and former University of Georgia player Bubba Watson in 2012. Winners of the Masters Tournament on April 10 include Sam Snead (1949), Gary Player (1961), Tom Watson (1977) and Tiger Woods (4th – 2005). Congratulations to the following winners of the Masters Tournament who donned the green jacket on April 11: Seve Ballesteros (2d – 1983), Jack Nicklaus (2d in 1965; 3d in 1966), Ray Floyd (1976), Nick Faldo (1996), Jose Maria Olazabal (2d – 1999), Phil Mickelson (1st -2004; 3d – 2010), and Claude Harmon (1948), the first Georgian to win the Masters.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Voters in House District 139 will return to the polls for a Special Runoff Election on May 7, 2024. From WTVM:

The seat covers North Columbus and a small portion of Harris County and comes in the wake of the loss of Georgia state representative Richard Smith back in January.

Today’s vote has resulted in a runoff between Sean Knox and Carmen Rice, neither candidate getting a majority of the more than 25 hundred votes cast today in both Muscogee and Harris counties.

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

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

Neither candidate got 50 percent of the vote plus one to win outright.

Both Rice and Knox received 42 percent of the total votes cast in both Muscogee and Harris Counties.

Again, the runoff is scheduled to be on May 7th, whoever wins will represent House District 139 until the end of the year.

From the Ledger-Enquirer:

With all 10 of the district’s precincts tallied Tuesday night, Republican Sean Knox has the most votes with 1,045, but he received 42.57% of the votes — not a majority — so he and the second-place candidate, fellow Republican Carmen Rice (1,033 votes, 42.08%), will compete in a runoff May 7, according to results posted online by the Georgia Secretary of State’s office.

Robert Mallard, an independent, and Donald Moeller, also a Republican, trailed the field with 237 and 140 votes, respectively.

Because this was a special election to fill a vacated seat, no primary election preceded it. So any district resident could have qualified for the ballot, regardless of party affiliation, but no Democrat qualified to run for this seat, which is in a predominantly Republican area.

The winner of this special election immediately becomes the Georgia House District 139 representative and fills the remaining portion of Smith’s two-year term, which expires at the end of this year.

Governor Brian Kemp issued Executive Order #04.08.24.01, appointing J. Grady Blanchard to the Columbia County Judicial Circuit Superior Court seat vacated by Gov. Kemp’s earlier appointment of J. Wade Padgett to the Georgia Court of Appeals.

Governor Brian Kemp also issued Executive Order #04.09.24.01, suspending Pineview Mayor Brandon Holt from office, after Holt was arrested and charged with stealing municipal funds.

From 13WMAZ:

Brandon Holt, the mayor of Pineview in Wilcox County, was arrested back in January after a GBI investigation accused Holt of stealing nearly $65,000 from the city of fewer than 500 residents. Holt was later released on bond.

in March, Holt was indicted by a grand jury on multiple felony counts of theft by taking. The governor’s office says they received Holt’s indictment on March 13, 2024, and then, 15 days later, a “Review Commission” was formed to “determine whether the indictment relates to and adversely affects the administration of the Office of the Mayor of Pineview such that rights and interests of the public are adversely affected,” the executive order reads.

On Thursday, the commission’s report was given to the governor’s office and they found just that: “the indictment of Mr. Brandon Holt does relate to and does adversely affect the administration of the Office of the Mayor of Pineview, and that the rights and interests of the public are adversely affected.”

The Commission recommended Holt be suspended from office, and Kemp issued the executive order Tuesday. You can read the full order here.

“Mr. Brandon Holt is hereby suspended from office immediately and without further action pending the final disposition of the case or until expiration of his term of office, which ever occurs first,” the executive order says.

The Macon Telegraph and (Columbus) Ledger-Enquirer both ask in headlines: Can you marry your cousin or sue your kid in Georgia? See what the state laws allow. Are Middle Georgia and Southwest Georgia okay?

Former President Donald Trump visits Georgia today for a fundraiser, according to the AJC.

When Donald Trump arrives in Atlanta for a high-dollar fundraiser on Wednesday, he’ll be surrounded by familiar allies. Former U.S. Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue will be on hand. So will Lt. Gov. Burt Jones and GOP mega-donor Bernie Marcus.

Gov. Brian Kemp hasn’t attended a Trump event since the former president tried to blame him for his 2020 election defeat and later tried to oust him from office. Attorney General Chris Carr and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger have also steered clear.

“I’m glad to be hosting the event,” said Jones, one of a handful of deep-pocketed Republicans listed as one of the fundraiser’s hosts. “I’m proud to support President Trump and will do whatever I can to get him elected and help turn this country around.”

Polls show Biden and Trump in a tight race in Georgia, and Republicans say they can’t just rely on the Democrat’s low approval ratings to recapture the state in November.

Democrats, meanwhile, are taking strides to build up the campaign’s political infrastructure, recently announcing a slate of offices and a contingent of new staffers in Georgia devoted to drive up turnout for Biden.

Athens-Clarke County Commission candidates addressed the “sanctuary city” issue, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

At a Monday forum, candidates for the upcoming May 21 election for three contested seats on the Athens-Clarke County Commission faced what is becoming a persistent question from some quarters of the community.

When the floor was opened to the audience of an estimated 100 people at a Federation of Neighborhoods forum, the first question was whether the candidates supported a 2019 resolution approved by the then-sitting commissioners and signed by Mayor Kelly Girtz.

Noting in part that the Athens-Clarke County government “… strives to foster a community where individuals and families of all statuses feel safe, are able to prosper, and can breathe free …,” the resolution became a lightning rod for government in the wake of this year’s slaying of Laken Riley. That criticism was heightened by the resolution’s references to “white nationalists,” “xenophobes” and “white supremacy.”

In the days after Riley’s slaying, the resolution, which also noted that the local government “unflinchingly defend(s) the human rights of all people, including citizens, noncitizens and those without documentation,” became a rallying cry for people insisting that Athens-Clarke County is, in effect, a “sanctuary city,” a fact that contributed to Riley’s death.

There is no specific legal definition of what constitutes a sanctuary city, and under state law, local governments are required to certify annually that they are not providing any sanctuary-type services.

None of the candidates for the three contested seats were serving on the commission when the resolution was approved, and responses to Monday’s question were generally muted.

The Glynn County Board of Elections heard from local election officials about process changes implemented in the recent General Assembly session, according to The Brunswick News.

“It was a very productive legislative session, as far as I’m concerned, for Glynn County,” Elections and Registration Director Chris Channell said.

Since 2021, the local elections office has advocated for an amendment to a new election law to allow the board to deduct the number of people who cast a ballot during early voting from the total number of voters when calculating how many polling machines must be placed at every precinct on election day.

State law requires counties to provide one voting machine for every 250 voters on Election Day. Without being able to subtract the number of people who’d already cast a vote during early voting — which they could do before the state passed an elections overhaul in 2021 — the county had to set up more machines at many of its precincts.

“It still doesn’t remove the requirement to make sure that your line goes through in an hour. (Other counties) may have to add machines. They may have to add polling locations to meet what they need for their people, but for us to take 23, 24 machines over to the island when 50-60% (early) vote is ridiculous,” said Channell. “And I think our Public Works (Department) appreciates that.”

Not everything that came out of the recent session was good for Glynn County, though, Channell told the board. One bill pushed back elections for multiple Georgia Public Service Commission seats to June 2025 while a lawsuit continues working its way through the courts regarding the legality of the body’s election framework.

Under current law, each of the five members of the PSC represents a different district, but every member is elected by the entire state. Plaintiffs in the lawsuit claim this method of electing commissioners “illegally diluted Black votes.”

In November, an appeals court overturned a lower court ruling that favored the plaintiffs.

Regardless of the legal issue, Channell said it’s not great news for the local board of elections, as it had only one county-wide election scheduled for that timeframe, and if this does indeed occur, it’s going to exceed the board’s budget. It’s also very likely, in Channell’s experience, that it will go to a runoff and create yet another added expense for the elections office.

Another bill added the requirement that all ballot printing paper include a proprietary watermark, which he said the state claimed would not cost more than what the board already spends. Dominion Voting Systems will buy back any full reams of paper the board currently has, Redden added.

Ballot counting could be slowed down by another rule the legislature passed that requires all ballots to be image-scanned at 600 dpi, much higher quality than the 200 dpi that was required before. Scanning the ballots at a higher quality will take longer, Redden said, and anyone will be able to look at them online. While that’s on the surface a good thing, she worried that having such high-quality scans available to the public would make it easier for bad actors to make more convincing forgeries.

United States Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Extreme NW GA) spoke about her moves against House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA), according to the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

She said she thinks Johnson’s leadership has been disastrous for Republicans.

Greene last month filed a motion to vacate the speakership, following House approval of a $1.2 trillion spending package.

“A Republican speaker of the House, Mike Johnson, brought that very bill to the floor, passed with the Democrats,” she said. “He did not have a majority of Republicans.”

Greene said Johnson broke a House Republicans policy to give members 72 hours to read a bill before voting on it.

“The most egregious thing he did is that he tied our hands and would not allow amendments,” she said.

“Currently, the Democrats control the White House, with President Joe Biden,” Greene said. “The Democrats control the Senate. and Republicans control the House of Representatives with a razor-thin majority.”

“That is a majority that I fought for,” Greene said. “That is a majority that I campaigned all over the country for.”

“We have had bitter battles with one another,” she said. “But I want you to know that anyone who serves in leadership in America should be prepared to battle for what is right. We should be prepared to fight it out with one another. We should be prepared to find common ground. We should be prepared to hold the line and do what’s right, to do what our voters want us to do. But that has not happened in this Congress. As a matter of fact, our Republican majority has failed completely.”

“They are giving everything over to the Democrats, and that’s the leadership we have in Washington, D.C.,” she said. “And I will not tolerate it.”

Greene also criticized Johnson for saying aid to Ukraine is a top priority for him when he opposed it several months ago.

Joe Brannen is retiring as CEO of the Georgia Bankers Association, according to the AJC.

Joe Brannen, a familiar face in business circles and who has served as a voice for the state’s banking industry at the State Capitol as GBA’s president and CEO, will retire July 15, according to a news release. Brannen will be succeeded by Tripp Cofield.

“It’s been the honor and privilege to work with bankers throughout Georgia, helping them make dreams come true for their communities’ individuals, families, and businesses,” Brannen said in the release. “We have a great team of professionals at the association, and our goal has always been to be a resource that empowers our members’ efforts. I hope I added value along the way.”

Brannen has served in a number of civic and philanthropic roles in Georgia. Prior to joining the bankers association, he served eight years as a staffer for former U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn.

“Tripp has been a friend and trusted advisor for a dozen years,” Brannen said. “Working directly with him for the last 15 months, seeing how he interacts with people, listens and learns, makes sometimes tough decisions, and uses his incredible intellect for good, proved to the search committee and me that he’s the right person to lead the association in the future.”

The City of Brooklet called a May 21, 2024 Special Election for the City Council Post 5 seat vacated by former City Council member Jonathan Graham, according to the Georgia Virtue.

The election will take place separately from the primary election slated for that date, however.

All persons desiring to qualify as a candidate in the said election must do so by filing a notice of the candidacy at Brooklet City Hall and paying the qualifying fee at that time.

The dates for qualifying to fill said seat are set for Monday, April 22, 2024, through Wednesday, April 24, 2024, beginning at 8:30 A.M. and ending at 4:30 P.M.

The Special Election will be held “separate and apart” from the county election, on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. The polling location will be Bulloch County Recreation Department, Brooklet Community Center, 416 N. Cromley Road, Brooklet, Georgia 30415, and the poll shall open at 7:00 A.M. and close at 7:00 P.M. on the date set for the election.

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