Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 13, 2017


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 13, 2017

Thomas Jefferson was born on April 13, 1743 in what is now Albemarle County, Virginia. Jefferson served as Governor of Virginia, United States Secretary of State, delegate to the Second Continental Congress, and Third President of the United States. Jefferson is credited with writing the first draft of the Declaration of Independence.

On April 13, 1861, Union forces surrendered Fort Sumter after 33 hours of bombardment by Confederates.

At the Museum of Aviation in Warner Robins, a restored F-100D Super Sabre was unveiled yesterday.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections


President Trump will host an Oval Office meeting and commend first responders to the I-85 bridge collapse today.

The White House said the president will host a group of 15 officers from the Atlanta Police, the city Fire Rescue Department and the Georgia State Patrol for a 30-minute Oval Office meeting beginning at 2 p.m. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao will also be there.

Trump plans to praise the group for ensuring there were no deaths from the March 30 collapse, which occurred during rush hour.

The Georgia Department of Transportation is offering a $3.1 million dollar bonus for early completion of the I-85 bridge rebuild.

David Perdue I85

Senator David Perdue toured the construction sight where the I-85 bridge is being repaired yesterday.

“I am grateful that no Georgians were injured during the I-85 bridge collapse,” said Senator Perdue. “A special thank you goes out to our first responders for their swift action to protect everyone in the vicinity of the incident. After surveying the damage first hand on the ground, I am confident we will continue to work closely to coordinate our state and federal entities to get I-85 up and running again as soon as humanly possible.”

“It’s really great to have you here today, Senator, pledging your federal support, and all the help that you’ve afforded Georgia is just outstanding,” said [Georgia DOT] Commissioner [Russell] McMurry. “From President Trump to Secretary Chao to you and our whole delegation, everyone has been so helpful throughout this process. It’s been really important since we are all hands on deck to get this interstate open as soon as possible.”


Fourteen million dollars is the current running total for ad spending in the Sixth District.

An analysis of the advertising obtained by the AJC shows the biggest spender by far is Democrat Jon Ossoff, a former Congressional aide who is eyeing a historic upset in next week’s vote.

His campaign has spent more than $5.3 million on radio, TV and cable ads since late February. He can afford it: He’s raised more than $8.3 million and spent the bulk of it on advertisements introducing himself, vowing he’ll stand up to Donald Trump and countering attack ads.

No Republican candidate can match his financial firepower, though Dan Moody came the closest. One of 11 GOP contenders in the race, the former state senator pumped about $2 million into campaign ads, including spots with an endorsement from Sen. David Perdue and an attack on GOP rival Karen Handel.

Other GOP contenders trailed in ad spending. Judson Hill spent nearly $400,000 on ads – including a recent one that also targeted Handel – and Bob Gray has pumped another $240,000 into cable and broadcast spots. Handel, who leads the GOP field in most polls, has spent less than $100,000 on ads.

Two major outside groups have provided two of the candidates with a major boost. Club for Growth, which backs Gray, has spent roughly $500,000. And Ending Spending, a super PAC that endorsed Handel, reserved more than $700,000 in ads – and said it expects the spend about $1.5 million through Tuesday.

California liberals donating to Jon Ossoff star in one of the best pieces I’ve read about Georgia’s Sixth District from The Mercury News in San Jose, California.

California political donors disgusted with President Donald Trump have found an unlikely standard bearer: a 30-year-old Georgia congressional candidate with no electoral experience.

“Right now, there isn’t a whole lot we can do,” said Amy Rao, a Palo Alto tech executive who last year hosted a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton, just months after inviting then-President Barack Obama into her home for a Democratic fundraiser. “This is one of those things that’s very tangible, that could have a tremendous impact, because every seat matters if we can win it.”

Rao gave Ossoff $1,000 after reading about him on Facebook. She said she thought social media was the key to his financial success: She shared stories about his campaign with Bay Area friends who wanted to do something to fight Trump.

“I want to send a message to Trump that his positions are not popular,” said Roy Kaplan, 71, a retired physician in Oakland who has made 25 online donations to Ossoff over the past three months. In total, he’s given $818, spurred by repeated emails from the campaign.

Reporter Casey Tolan also looks at the politics of the 6th.

“His opponents are already trying to reinforce this idea that he doesn’t live here, he’s too liberal, he gets all of his money from people who not only don’t have physical connections to the district but whose values are diametrically opposed to the district,” said Andra Gillespie, a political science professor at Emory University in Atlanta. (Ossoff lives just south of the district he’s campaigning in.)

[Trey Hood, a political science professor at the University of Georgia,] said Ossoff has run a “very slick campaign,” with an avalanche of TV advertising. His ads tend not to mention he’s a Democrat, instead talking up his plans to cut wasteful spending and hitting Trump for impulsive decision making and embarrassing America.

But even as he tries to appeal to conservative voters, Ossoff has quietly courted donors in America’s most liberal enclaves. He’s even hosted video chats with big-dollar contributors thousands of miles away in Sonoma County.

Kyle Kondik of Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball writes about why the results of the Sixth District aren’t necessarily predictive:

•  The format for this election is different than most other races: It is an all-party primary where there will be a runoff unless one candidate gets more than 50% of the vote. That means all of the candidates regardless of party run together in the same election.

•  There are a whopping 18 candidates in this election, and 11 of them are Republicans.

•  This district is open, which won’t be the case in the lion’s share of House elections next year.

Kristina Torres of the AJC updates the early voting totals:

According to the latest early-voting numbers available Wednesday from the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office:

• Number of ballots cast: 32,363
• Number of ballots voted in person: 28,498
• Number of mail-in ballots returned: 3,865
• Number of mail-in ballots outstanding: 5,306

Running the numbers myself on Thursday, the total ballots cast in the Sixth District stands at 39,467.

And a breakdown by County for the 6th:

Cobb             9,851
DeKalb         7,469
Fulton        22,055

Congressman Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) says outsiders are largely driving perception in the Sixth.

“The liberal machine in D.C. is running this operation,” Collins said in an interview Wednesday evening. “This is not a Georgia operation at all … I think the Georgia Democrats are complicit in this. I think Stacey Abrams, John Lewis and Hank Johnson, they’re all complicit in this because they have agreed to it.”

Collins cited the influx of staffers from the Washington-based Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, or DCCC, that have streamed into the suburban congressional district in recent weeks, as well as the record-setting fundraising reported by Democrat Jon Ossoff, much of which came from out of state.

He also said the party was being “authoritarian” by lining up its resources behind Ossoff, the race’s front-runner, rather than letting the process play out with the four other Democrats in the race.

“They don’t care if they have long-term members of their party work hard and have been elected before, they just threw them to the side” and backed Ossoff, Collins said.

In the State Senate District 32 Special Election to replace Judson Hill, 10,261 ballots have been cast.

The liberal Georgia Budget & Policy Institute ran some numbers on what they call the “cost” of tax breaks enacted in the 2018 Georgia General Assembly.

Added together, 10 bills would reduce state tax revenues by $483 million over five years, according to an analysis the public policy research organization released Wednesday.

The biggest impact by far would come from legislation lowering taxes on leased vehicles, which would cost the state almost $227 million in lost revenue. The bill also would impose a $161 million hit on local governments.

All of the tax bills are on Gov. Nathan Deal’s desk. He has until May 9 – 40 days after the end of this year’s General Assembly session – to act on them.

RealClearPolitics also takes a look at the Sixth.

the GOP electorate there consists of “the kind of Republicans that Trump does the worst with,” says Brian Robinson, a strategist who served as chief of staff for former Gov. Nathan Deal. “A lot of them didn’t vote for him, but now think he’s doing OK. That’s why you’re seeing Republicans say, ‘I’m going to be his willing partner.’”

Even some Democrats allow that a special election held just before the 100-day mark of the new presidency is a little early to be holding referendums. “I think people are willing to give him a pretty long leash,” says veteran Atlanta-based Democratic strategist Keith Mason. “It may be some time in the fall before they really form opinions.”

While Ossoff’s campaign slogan is “Make Trump Furious,” his team is downplaying the notion that the race is a referendum on the new administration. “What this race is really about is an intense political engagement and activism led by community leaders trying to make a statement about the kind of representation they want,” says Campaign Manager Keenan Pontoni. “It’s not a district where people want to send someone to Washington who is going to oppose everything that’s being done. … Folks are willing to vote for who they think is best.”

“This is Tom Price’s district. Tom Price is not a moderate,” says Robinson, the Republican strategist who is consulting for Hill’s campaign. “What message does this send to Republicans in the suburbs of Philly about what the atmosphere is out there? It shouldn’t be happening.”

Professor Michael McDonald updates the stats for 6th District early voting, showing previous GOP voters pulling closer to parity with Democrats.

Elect Project 4_12

Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle (R-Gainesville) is quickly putting together his team for his 2018 campaign for Governor.

Cagle’s campaign is led by Chairman Charles Tarbutton, an influential GOP powerbroker and an assistant vice president at Sandersville Rail Co., and treasurer Tommy Gay, another Gainesville native and co-owner of pet food maker Big Creek Foods.

Scott Binkley, former Washington D.C.-based executive director of the Republican Lieutenant Governors Association, has been hired as Cagle’s campaign manager.

Tarbutton has been a close friend of Cagle since 2005, Tarbutton told the Times on Wednesday. Tarbutton was the chairman of Cagle’s 2010 and 2014 re-election campaigns and said he has “an enormous amount of confidence” in Cagle.

“Good jobs, safe neighborhoods, good schools — those are the things that families are concerned about,” Tarbutton said. “Those are the things that government can really impact, and he has proven a leader over his time in service to the people of Georgia and is prepared to continue to lead at the next level.”

Cagle’s campaign committee, Cagle for Georgia, has set up an office on Chamblee Tucker Road in the Embry Hills neighborhood of Atlanta.

Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson will consider running for statewide office in 2018.

Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson is considering a possible run for statewide office in 2018, she confirmed Wednesday morning.

Tomlinson, 52, has been approached by state officials and those affiliated with the national Democratic Party and asked to consider runs for governor, attorney general and secretary of state as a Democrat. She did not release the names of those she has spoken with about the offices.

She has taken attorney general off the table and is considering runs for governor and secretary of state. Both of those offices will likely be vacant at the end of the term. Gov. Nathan Deal is finishing his second term and is not eligible to seek re-election. Secretary of State Brian Kemp and Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle have both created campaign committees for a run for governor. Both men are Republicans.

Tomlinson expects to make a decision in the next week or two, she said.

Qualifying is set for March 5-9, 2018. The primary is scheduled for May 22, 2018, and the General Election is in November 2018.

State Senate District 32 candidate Kay Kirkpatrick faces a hearing about her voter registration.

The Georgia Secretary of State Office received a complaint Monday against Kirkpatrick that alleges she used a different name other than her legal name to run for office.

The case, now under investigation, alleges a problem with Kirkpatrick’s voter registration status in Cobb County. According to online records, Kirkpatrick previously used the name Kay Kirkpatrick Haltom, and sometimes Kay K. Haltom, but when she filed for office, she dropped Haltom.

The Cobb County Board of Elections and Registration will hear the case four days before Tuesday’s special election.

The Dalton Board of Education will roll out its draft FY 2018 budget.

“We will have a PowerPoint presentation,” said Superintendent Jim Hawkins. “People will be able to look into the process. We aren’t going to have a final budget on Tuesday. What we will have is the latest draft, and the public will have a chance to make comments.”

One key item the board members decided is to limit the amount of the school system’s fund balance that will be drawn down to cover any budget deficit. Board members suggested a range of $966,000 to about $1.5 million as the maximum amount they would like to see drawn from the fund balance.

Chief Financial Officer Theresa Perry says both would leave the school system with a fund balance of about $11 million at the end of fiscal 2018. Officials have said they need to keep a fund balance of at least $10 million to cover any cash flow issues and to handle any unexpected spending needs.

Perry said anticipated revenue for 2018 is $73.3 million, with $43.5 million of that coming from the state and federal governments and the rest from local property taxes, tuition and other fees. Spending for this fiscal year is budgeted at $71.2 million.

Byron City Council set rates for the new stormwater management utility.

Produce Section

Vidalia onions started shipping early this year.

Shipments of the Vidalia onion started moving Wednesday, which was the first day farmers could push the state’s most famous vegetable out the door.

“You probably won’t see any Vidalias on the shelves until Friday or even Saturday,” said John Williams, director of sales and marketing at L.G. Herndon Jr. Farms in Lyons.

Multiple varieties grown in a 20-county region can claim the trademarked Vidalia label — but only if they are packaged after a date set by the state’s commissioner of agriculture, Gary Black.

This year, that date was April 12, which was the earliest start in five years.

Georgia blueberry farmers may faces losses up to $400 million this year due to freezing conditions.

The losses to Georgia’s blueberry crop from the mid-March freeze aren’t as bad as anticipated, but some in the industry still call it terrible.

In the days after March 15 and 16 when temperatures dropped into the lower 20s across the region while blueberries were in full bloom or had already set fruit, Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black estimated up to 80 percent of the crop had been lost.

Steve Mullis, who packs fresh and frozen blueberries at Farmer John Berries, said the crop will actually be better but only slightly.

“It’s probably going to push the 70 percent mark,” and that will likely mean a loss of $300 million to $400 million, he said.

Statewide referendums are being held for pecan farmers and beef producers.

Georgia pecan growers and beef producers will vote in separate referendums this spring to decide if their respective grower assessments, which fund the Georgia Pecan Commission and the Georgia Beef Commission, will continue.

The pecan referendum is being held through April 30. Producers growing 30 or more acres of pecans are eligible to vote in the statewide referendum. Growers should receive a ballot in the mail from the Georgia Department of Agriculture. Eligible producers who have not received a ballot should contact the GDA at 404-586-1405. Ballots must be signed and postmarked by April 30 to be counted.

The beef referendum will be held May 1-30. Growers should receive a ballot in the mail from the Georgia Department of Agriculture by May 10. Eligible producers who don’t receive a ballot should contact the GDA at 404-586-1405. Ballots must be signed and postmarked by May 30 to be counted.

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