Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 21, 205


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 21, 205

According to tradition, on April 21, 753 B.C., Rome was founded. The one in Italy, not the one in Floyd County.

On April 21, 1732, King George II signed the royal charter creating the colony of Georgia. The King’s signature did not make the charter effective as several additional steps were required.

On April 21, 1789, John Adams was sworn in as the first Vice President of the United States.

On April 21, 1904, Ty Cobb made his debut in professional baseball for the Augusta (Georgia) Tourists in the South Atlantic League in center field; Cobb hit an inside-the-field home run and a double.

Manfred von Richthofen, known as “The Red Baron,” was killed in action on April 21, 1918, shot by either an Australian gunner or a Canadian. At the time of his death, Richthofen has shot down 80 aircraft in aerial combat.

Former President Jimmy Carter was appointed Distinguished Professor at Emory University on April 21, 1982. Carter holds an annual Town Hall in which he takes questions from students.

On April 21, 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed a Memorandum of Agreement with Israel. From the press statement released that day,

The MOA reiterates for the public record our long-standing relationship of strategic cooperation with Israel. Strategic cooperation can only succeed when there are shared interests, including the commitment to building peace and stability in the region. It reflects the enduring U.S. commitment to Israel’s security. That commitment will never flag. The U.S. commitment to peace will also not flag. The President knows that a strong Israel is necessary if peace is to be possible. He also knows that Israel can never be truly secure without peace.

Gov. Deal and the Press

From the Atlanta Journal-Kardashian Constitution, we learn of a trip by Governor Deal to speak to the Grady College of Journalism this past Saturday in Athens,

[T]he governor explained how his office has developed a work-around to skirt established media when he can. (We’ll note here that he gaggles with reporters at least once a week to field a slew of questions.)

Not too long ago, he told the crowd, he needed a radio producer, TV broadcaster or newspaper reporter to buy into his pitch before it gained any traction. Nowadays, he tells his office to use Facebook account, Twitter handle and email newsletter to directly contact constituents.

“From a politician’s standpoint, there’s no group of editors or new directors that can prevent me from communicating directly with a mass audience,” said Deal, adding: “We talk about the media. The fact is my communications office in and of itself is a medium in its own right. Now that’s change. And we embrace it.”

For a historical perspective, we have the remarks delivered by President Ronald Reagan on this date in 1988 to the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, which has come to be known as “Nerd Prom.”

A President may like members of the press personally, and I do — Jerry and Norm and Johanna and Lou and so many others of you — but a President institutionally seeks to wield power to accomplish his goals for the people. The press complicates the wielding of that power by using its own great power, and that makes for friction. Every President will try to use the press to his best advantage and to avoid those situations that aren’t to his advantage. To do otherwise results in a diminution of his leadership powers. The press is not a weak sister that needs bracing. It has more freedom, more influence, than ever in our history. The press can take care of itself quite nicely. And a President should be able to take care of himself as well.

So, what I hope my epitaph will be with the White House correspondents, what every President’s epitaph should be with the press is this: He gave as good as he got.  And that I think will make for a healthy press and a healthy Presidency.

Reagan’s remarks illustrate that tension between the press and the elected executive is not a bad thing – it’s an institutional feature, much like the tension between the House and Senate that are baked into the constitutional structure of our government. What should be alarming is the absence of tension between a branch of government and the Fourth Estate.

Speaking of Nerd Prom, a new movie lays bare the annual schmooze-fest that has become a magnet for Left Coast celebrities.

From the review of the film,

Patrick Gavin, who most recently worked as a journalist for Politico until leaving in 2014, chronicles in his film the evolution of the White House Correspondents’ Dinner from a small annual gathering of journalists and West Wing officials in the 1920s to the multimillion dollar week-long power-jockeying event it has become today.

“Nerd Prom: Inside Washington’s Wildest Week” is an indictment of the incestuous culture fostered by the Capitol’s elite journalists and the government officials they’re supposed to be holding accountable. In Gavin’s view, this connection is encapsulated by the White House Correspondents’ Dinner.

Criticism of the dinner climaxed in 2012, as mentioned in the documentary, when veteran NBC newsman Tom Brokaw said the event is serving as a symbol of how far removed the national press is from the average American.

“If there’s ever an event that separates the press from the people that they’re supposed to serve, symbolically, it is that one,” he said at the time. “It is time to rethink it.”

Why is there no Nerd Prom in Atlanta every year. This week would be the perfect time of year – Session is over, Masters is gone, everyone has had a little time to relax.

How to Get Gov. Deal to Sign Your Legislation

From Walter Jones of Morris News, this time via the Augusta Chronicle, comes a great story on how to persuade Gov. Deal to sign legislation, and the decision-making process that takes place immediately after every Session of the General Assembly.

I’ve worked with some developing nations, and our access to government is beyond compare,” said Polly McKinney, a lobbyist for the Voices for Georgia’s Children advocacy. “The fact that you can just pick up the phone and call the governor is not something people anywhere else can do.”

Well, there’s no guarantee you’ll get the governor on the phone, but his staff does take messages. And McKinney says that can be a good way to demonstrate the amount of popular support for a given bill.

“The most important thing is to be polite and respectful. Honestly, I think everyone in state government tries to do what they think is right,” she said, echoing advice given by other veteran lobbyists.

And a good way for individuals to get an appointment with Deal is to ask their representatives or senators to request it, and it helps if they are speaking for a group or association and not just themselves, advises Brian Robinson, Deal’s deputy chief of staff for communications.

Robinson and his team regularly post to Facebook and Twitter about the governor’s doings, but they don’t monitor social media as a way to gauge public opinion. However, they’re not blind to it.

“Just a few years ago, the cannabis oil bill would have generated much controversy, but public opinion showed strong support building for this change as Georgians learned more about why it was needed and how it would work,” Robinson said.

Governors also get advice from aides in their office as well as the heads of state agencies impacted by the legislation. Many lobbyists concentrate their personal attention after the session on these staffers and merely send a letter to Deal.

Still, the decision to sign or veto may revolve around technicalities. Attorneys carefully consider the wording and possible unintended consequences of each bill.

Once Deal has decided to sign a bill, there is one more consideration before he puts pen to paper, the order in which he does it since many take effect immediately. Often several bills make changes to the same section of existing law. To keep one from confounding the provisions of another, they have to be signed in a logical sequence.

Timing sometimes depends simply on people’s schedules.

“We try to accommodate legislators interested in a bill signing, and we try to find a time when they can all be here,” Robinson said.

This is really one of the best pieces about the legislative and executive process that I’ve read, and it’s worth reading in its entirety. In recognition of this an his ongoing excellence, I hereby nominate Walter Jones, who happens to serve as President of the Atlanta Press Club, to organize the First Annual Georgia Nerd Prom. I also have several nominees for the “Journalistic Sense of Self-Importance Committee” that I’ll keep to myself for the moment.

Today at 2 PM in the Georgia State Capitol, Gov. Deal will sign legislation to implement the Opportunity School District (OSD). This law lays out the framework for how the OSD would work should voters approve a constitutional amendment in 2016. He will also sign the Utopian Academy for the Arts bill that prevents local authorities from obstructing the opening of a state-chartered school.

The tally of Governor-signed legislation for this year now stands at 22 bills, with Deal having signed House Bill 85 by State Rep. Brett Harrell (R-Hanging off the back of a garbage truck), part of the Gentleman from Snellville’s“Alcohol Everywhere” multi-year project.

Religious Liberty Bill

As we mentioned yesterday, 11 of 14 Georgia Republican Party District Conventions endorsed the religious liberty legislation by Saint Sinner Senator Josh McKoon (R-Columbus). Yesterday, McKoon issued a press release on the resolutions,

“Grassroots Republicans sent a loud and clear message to elected leaders Saturday,” said Sen. McKoon. “They want the legislature to give final passage to Senate Bill 129 so Georgians of every faith can have the same protection of their religious liberty interest from state and local government that they already have from the federal government.”

“To honor the promise of the First Amendment, I intend to carry that message back with me next year to the Gold Dome.”

Every district that considered a resolution to support passed it.

The Marietta Daily Journal has more from Cobb County on the RFRA legislation and GOP supporters,

Republicans in all three congressional districts covering Cobb County voted to pass resolutions in support of religious freedom legislation at convention meetings Saturday, said Rose Wing, Cobb GOP chairwoman.

Wing said the Cobb GOP itself did not pass a similar resolution because a member didn’t submit one for a vote before the deadline.

“In Cobb, we did not take a position on it because no one had presented it for resolution,” Wing said. “My personal opinion is that the Religious Freedom Act falls straight along with our First Amendment rights of freedom of religion. It just says that the government can’t interfere with my freedom of religion without some compelling interest.”

Robert Potts, Cobb GOP secretary, said he planned to file a resolution, but he missed the deadline. Potts said he supports the resolutions passed by 11 of Georgia’s 14 congressional districts in support of McKoon’s bill.

“We have a convention process for a reason. No, these resolutions do not make the religious liberties bill a law, but it’s a reminder that the people they represent at a local level support this,” said Potts, who is also the deputy national field director of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, which promotes awareness of laws that could affect Christian residents.

“I can’t recall a time where this many congressional district conventions spoke with one voice on an issue like this. I think it’s pretty unprecedented for them to call specifically for a piece of legislation to be passed in its existing form,” McKoon said.

“The House Judiciary Committee can consider a substitute to what they have before them right now,” McKoon said. “Mechanically, it’s fairly easy to do what needs to be done. They just need to put a substitute in front of them that looks substantially like what passed in the Senate.”

McKoon said he has always been against the anti-discrimination language in the bill and that the 11 district conventions all approved resolutions leaving out such language.

“The opponents of this bill have often tried to claim that it was going to give people some right to discriminate, and that is a lie. That is not true. One of the reasons I can say that so definitively is that Georgia law does not provide any sort of protection for sexual orientation, so … any Georgia business that wants to say we’re only going to do business with heterosexuals or we’re only going to do business with homosexuals can do that. That is legal under Georgia law today,” McKoon said.

State Rep. Stacey Evans (D-Smyrna) [originally listed as R by MDJ], a member of the House Judiciary Committee, said she was disappointed the Republican conventions passed the resolutions without anti-discrimination language.

“And it’s even more disappointing that Josh McKoon would almost trumpet that people could use this legislation to discriminate or that they already could if they wanted to,” Evans said.

A Rough Week in Politics

We noted the passing of Dr. Eva Galambos, first Mayor of Sandy Springs.In her honor, Sandy Spring City Hall will be closed today from 12:30 to 2:30 PM.

However, the city will open the Council Chambers at 1 p.m. April 21 and will stream the funeral service for the public.

Funeral services for the city’s first mayor, who lost her battle with cancer Sunday afternoon, will be held at 1 p.m. at Temple Kehillat Chaim. Arrangements will be handled by Sandy Springs Chapel.

Residents who are unable to attend tomorrow’s streaming can view the service by visiting this link. A community memorial will take place at 2 p.m. Friday at Sandy Springs United Methodist Church, said city spokesperson Sharon Kraun.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks residents to consider making a donation to the Anne Frank in the World Exhibit or to a charity of one’s choice.

Yesterday, former State Rep. Jay Shaw, whose son is current State Rep. Jason Shaw (R-Lakeland) also died. From the Valdosta Times,

Shaw served 10 years as Lakeland mayor and 16 years as the District 176 state representative. Upon stepping down from the state House of Representatives, his son, Jason Shaw, campaigned for District 176 and won. He served on the Georgia Department of Transportation board.

“From the time Jay was elected mayor of our community he discovered a new career — politics. He was our friend in Atlanta,” said J.H. “Sandy” Sanders with the Lakeland/Lanier County Chamber of Commerce. “To most people, he was just Jay, who loved his family, Unity Methodist Church where he grew up and the people of this county. Just over a week ago, a dear friend was celebrating her 90th birthday. From his hospital bed at Emory, he called her and sang ‘Happy Birthday’ in his deep baritone voice. ‘I will never forget this,’ she said. ‘But, that was just Jay.’”

He entered politics in the late 1970s, when he was in his 30s. Shaw recalled in a past interview with The Valdosta Daily Times being aggravated that younger people weren’t more involved in Lanier County politics. His father, Slaton Shaw, part of that older generation of leadership as a member of the school board, had enough of his son’s frustrations.

Jay Shaw recalled the extent of their conversation: “My daddy said to me, ‘You either need to keep your mouth shut, or get involved.’”

As a boy, Jay Shaw was surrounded by politics and public service.

He remained a Democrat throughout his political career, but he supported his son’s run for the state seat as a Republican.

“I aligned myself with the Democrats because they were in charge,” he said. “I was there for the people I represent.”

To better serve his constituents, he went with the majority party.

Shaw said, if he had started his state career later when the GOP was in charge, he would have run as a Republican. Starting with the majority party is the best way to get results for the constituents you represent, he said.

Cobb County District Attorney Vic Reynolds had a heart attack last week and is recovering and planning to return to the office.

The Family Business

The story about the passing of Jay Shaw illustrates an interesting fact of politics, not just in Georgia but everywhere. The children of politicians grow up surrounded by it and often follow their parent’s footstep, as Jason Shaw took over his father’s House seat.

This morning, has a story on current political families in Washington, or those currently trying to make it to DC.

Laura Burton Capps has long been seen as a possible successor to her mother. (Her father Walter Capps first held the seat, but died after just nine months in office. Lois Capps won a special election to succeed him.)

The congresswoman’s daughter recently confirmed she is seriously considering a bid for the now-open Santa Barbara-based 24th District. If she opts to run, she would join the many politicians who have sought to follow in their parents’ footsteps and ascend to Congress — and she might be one of a handful who could attempt the feat this cycle.

“The reality is that the names carry weight because they send signals,” said Democratic pollster John Anzalone, who has worked for a number of candidates from political families.

At least three other politicians could try and carry on the family legacy in the House and Senate this cycle.

In all, 18 current members had a mother or father who served in Congress before them, according to CQ Roll Call data, with eight directly succeeding their parent. That’s a drop from 22 in the 113th Congress, thanks to a handful of retirements and members who were defeated last fall.

Running for Congress from a popular political family provides distinct advantages.

For starters, name recognition. There’s also access to the family Rolodex, and a base of donors right out of the gate. Endorsements are usually not far behind.

“Someone of that background typically … without a mom being an elected official would have a very limited ability to come into a race and be in a strong position to win,” California pollster Ben Tulchin said of Laura Capps’ potential.

In fact, some members say they had to work harder to prove to voters they were qualified for the job and were not simply trying to walk into a seat because of their notable surname.

“You have to dispel those notions by showing people that you really have something to offer the community, that you’re just not doing it on name recognition,” Rep. Donald M. Payne Jr., D-N.J., told CQ Roll Call. Payne succeeded his late father, Rep. Donald M. Payne, in a 2012 special election after his death.

A similar dynamic is playing out in middle Georgia’s 146th House District, where Larry Walker, III is running in a special election for the seat that was given up by State Rep. Larry O’Neal. Walker’s father was a Democratic member of the State House, where he served for many years as Majority Leader, but the younger Walker’s announcement for the seat makes no mention of the senior.

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