Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 1, 2016

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 1, 2016

August 1 was a big day for Benjamin Mays – he was born on August 1, 1895 and became President of Morehouse College on August 1, 1936.

PT-109, commanded by LTJG John F. Kennedy was sunk on August 1, 1943.

On August 1, 1982, Hank Aaron was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

PKGO Parking

Downtown traffic today will be affected by President Barack Obama’s attendance at the Disabled American Veterans National Convention at the Hyatt Regency.

Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., addresses the same convention today. He serves at the chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.

Obama flies into Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport at 1 p.m. and flies out at 4.

While in Atlanta, Obama will also attend a roundtable discussion hosted by the Democratic National Committee, following up on last week’s nominating convention in Philadelphia. Although he was last in Atlanta in March for a conference on prescription-drug abuse, this will be the first visit with politics on the agenda since the release of a poll showing Georgia is a tossup in this fall’s presidential election.

Georgia Democrats are expressing optimism and stressing their campaign organization, augmented by the president’s willingness to visit often.

“Our field program has expanded our presence across the state, placing dozens of boots on the ground and recruiting over 1,000 new volunteers ready to support our efforts,” said Michael Smith, spokesman for the state party. “Some of the strongest talent from traditional battleground states has signed on to help us build the field program.”

Obama’s presence strengthens factors Peach State Democrats already say are favoring them this year.

“It’s just the perfect storm,” Smith said. “Our party infrastructure is in place; Trump’s campaign is an unmitigated disaster, and a majority of Georgians are seeing that it takes a Democrat to move our state in the right direction.”

The AJC Political Insider, like a moth to the flame, can’t resist writing about the possibility that Georgia could go blue in November.

The signs that Republicans are ramping up their efforts for what could be a close contest in Georgia are everywhere. Polls, even by conservative firms, are showing a tightening race. Trump’s Georgia operation is planning to double its full-time staff of three staffers within weeks.

And in a sure-fire signal that Republicans are worried about the Trump effect on down-ticket races, the Georgia GOP has stepped up its attacks on Jim Barksdale, the little-known Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate who has pumped $3 million of his own fortune into his campaign to oust Johnny Isakson.

Even the ever-optimistic chairman of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus, said he’s particularly worried about Arizona and Georgia, two states with sharply rising populations of Hispanic voters. And veteran Georgia activists acknowledge that this anything-can-happen election season could upend the state.

“In this most unusual, nontraditional election cycle, states typically reliable as red or blue for decades are in play. And I would include Georgia in that list,” said Scott Johnson, a Marietta Republican. “It won’t be automatic” for his party, he added.

“A whole lot of people have reflexively said they are part of the Republican Party and are realizing that for years, this Republican Party has not been representing their values,” said Leonard Presberg of Fayetteville, a Democrat who has made the same pitch to his friends. “Donald Trump brings that to the forefront.”

For those hoping for close elections in Georgia this year must despair at the Jim Barksdale campaign for Senate.

U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson is considered the heavy favorite to win a third term, and analysts mark it as a reliably safe seat for Republicans in November. But his campaign is gearing up for a fight against Jim Barksdale, who has largely run a stealth campaign with few public events and remains relatively unknown to many voters.

“He’s demonstrated he’s willing to write a giant check, and I’m sure there are probably more giant checks to come,” Isakson said of Barksdale, adding: “I believe you earn your way through, you don’t buy your way through. This race ought to be about the issues, not the amount of money you have.”

Left unknown is Donald Trump’s impact on the race. Trump’s divisive candidacy could swell turnout from Democrats — and prod some Republicans disillusioned with his campaign to stay home. But it could also prod more conservatives to go to the polls out of worry that Georgia could turn blue for the first time since 1992.

Barksdale has already pumped more than $3 million of his own fortune into his campaign, while raising less than $100,000. And his low-profile, unorthodox campaign could work to his advantage as he tries to cast himself as a Democratic outsider — albeit one who can stroke another check at any moment to blanket the airwaves.

“The Clinton Machine would love to make Georgia a battleground state — that is only possible if Republicans become complacent,” said Heath Garrett, an Isakson adviser. “The key is to unite Republicans, independents and Libertarians to make sure Georgia is not in play. Johnny Isakson’s campaign is the rallying point to avoid a Georgia problem.”

Any possible Democratic gains in Georgia will be severely limited. Johnny Isakson is not in trouble of losing his reelection, and Democrats failed to even qualify a single candidate for the other statewide race on the ballot, where Republican Public Service Commissioner Tim Echols is unopposed in November after dispatching two GOP challengers.

There are maybe three legislative seats in play in November. Senate District 43, which Republican JaNice VanNess won in a Special Runoff Election in November 2015 is majority-democratic and highly targeted by Dems and Republicans alike. In DeKalb County, two House seats currently held by Democrats – HD 80 by Democrat Taylor Bennett and HD 81 held by Democrat Scott Holcomb – will see vigorous challenges by Republican Meagan Hanson (HD80) and Lane Flynn (HD81).

I’d love to see a Democratic challenge to incumbent Steven Smith, in Georgia’s fictitious Fifteenth Congressional District.

My name is Rep. Steven Smith. I represent the 15th District of Georgia, which is located in Valdosta, Georgia. Valdosta is filled with great people who wish I could represent them. Unfortunately, that requires lots of votes, sucking-up and telemarketing for donations, none of which I would ever want to do. I find it a lot easier and more fun to represent folks on Twitter, which costs nothing more than time and a smartphone.

I’ve been playing this role since October 30, 2013, when I bought 5,000 followers from some Russian guy on Fiverr.com and borrowed a stock photo from the internet. Christiane Amanpour fell for the hoax the next day. The account was immediately exposed as a fake (brilliantly deconstructed by Mediaite), and I assumed my little prank was over. It wasn’t. Since that time, I’ve “hired” a great Chief of Staff and together we’ve battled everyone from Rosie O’Donnell to real U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill to reporters from the ultra-biased New York Times.

But everything really exploded when Donald Trump announced he was running. I endorsed Trump the weekend of the Iowa Caucuses — his first Congressional endorsement (you’re welcome, sir). I’ve defended him through multiple manufactured scandals and argued extensively with Hillary supporters.

The New York Times looks at challenges by the Hancock County Board of Elections to voter registration of African-Americans.

The majority-white Hancock County Board of Elections and Registration was systematically questioning the registrations of more than 180 black Sparta citizens — a fifth of the city’s registered voters — by dispatching deputies with summonses commanding them to appear in person to prove their residence or lose their voting rights. “When I read that letter, I was kind of nervous,” Mr. Flournoy said in an interview. “I didn’t know what to do.”

The board’s aim, a lawsuit later claimed, was to give an edge to white candidates in Sparta’s municipal elections — and that November, a white mayoral candidate won a narrow victory.

“A lot of those people that was challenged probably didn’t vote, even though they weren’t proven to be wrong,” said Marion Warren, a Sparta elections official who documented the purges and raised an alarm with voting-rights advocates. “People just do not understand why a sheriff is coming to their house to bring them a subpoena, especially if they haven’t committed any crime.”

The county attorney, Barry A. Fleming, a Republican state representative, said in an interview that the elections board was only trying to restore order to an electoral process tainted earlier by corruption and incompetence. The lawsuit is overblown, he suggested, because only a fraction of the targeted voters were ultimately scratched from the rolls.

“The allegations that people were denied the right to vote are the opposite of the truth,” he said. “This is probably more about politics and power than race.”

The Forsyth Herald spoke to two Republican delegates to the National Convention in Cleveland.

Michael Williams of Forsyth County and Fulton County Commissioner Liz Hausmann were among the 76 delegates from Georgia who attended the convention.

Williams, a state senator and the first elected official in Georgia to endorse Trump, voiced his admiration for the city of Cleveland and how it handled the thousands of supporters and protestors throughout the events held during the convention.

“I have to brag on the city of Cleveland,” he said. “They prepared, all around it was a great experience.”

An aspect of the convention Williams found appealing was the diversity that he saw among the speakers.

“What I noticed was there were women, African-Americans and Latinos who gave great speeches,” he said. “It was very diverse.”

Liz Hausmann, who represents North Fulton on the County Commission, spoke highly of Cleveland’s handling of the convention as well, pointing toward many situations where the police and people working with the city helped delegates find where the needed to go.

“We met so many great people from around the country,” she said. “The Georgia delegation was one of the three on the field when Mr. Trump landed in Cleveland. All of our delegates signed the official nominating form for him which was wonderful to see.”

The re-election loss by State Rep. John Yates (R-Griffin) may lead to renewed efforts to make Veterans Day a holiday in Georgia.

Yates, who first took office in 1993, was the last World War II veteran in the General Assembly and he chaired the House Defense and Veterans Affairs committee. Some of his fellow veterans had been waiting because Yates, using his chairmanship, had long thwarted their efforts to make Veterans Day a school holiday.

“I hate to see people lose,” retired Marine Col. Nick Hart said of Yates’ loss, “but that’s good news.”

Hart, of St. Simons, had worked with his fellow Vietnam veteran Mike Browning to get bills passed to make Nov. 11 a school holiday when Browning was still chairman of the Veterans Council of the Golden Isles.

Yates told the Times-Union several years ago that he favored schools remaining open so that he and other veterans could attend and share their experiences with students and teach them the importance of the day.

Nominations for a gubernatorial appointment to the Georgia Supreme Court will be accepted through August 8, 2016.

Members of the bar may submit their own name or the names of others. The public is also invited to submit nominations. Such names should be sent to the Commission by Aug. 8, 2016, by letter addressed to:

Judicial Nominating Commission
c/o Dana McGuire
600 Peachtree St. NE, Suite 5200
Atlanta, GA 30308-2216
by fax to 404-962-6919 or by email to dana.mcguire@troutmansanders.com.

To each person nominated, the Commission will send an application package to be returned for receipt on or before Aug. 26, 2016. The Commission will meet sometime after Sept. 12 to interview applicants. Applicants will be notified of the time for their interview. All interviews will be held at The State Bar of Georgia, 104 Marietta St. NW, Atlanta, GA 30303.

An eight-vote margin in the Democratic Primary election for Senate District 43 means a recount will probably take place and military ballots could decide who advances to the November General Election against Republican Senator JaNice VanNess.

Tonya P. Anderson and Dee Dawkins-Haigler remain in an almost virtual tie. Anderson leads Dawkins-Haigler by eight votes, or 50.05 percent to 49.95 percent. While it is almost a certainty that there will be a recount, there are still approximately 37 outstanding ballots in the three counties represented by District 43 that will not be counted until sometime Friday.

In Rockdale County, there are 13 provisional and 13 military ballots that could have an effect on the race. In DeKalb County, there are eight military ballots to count, and in Newton County, there are three military ballots to count.

Michael Muldrew won the Runoff election in the Ogeechee Circuit to take a seat on the Superior Court bench.

In Rockdale County, Oz Nesbitt won the runoff election for County Commission Chair, defeating incumbent Richard A. Oden and Sherri Washington won the Democratic Primary for District 1 on the County Commission. Clarence Cuthpert, Jr. defeated incumbent Charles Mays in the runoff election for Rockdale County Probate Judge and Heather Duncan won the District 4 Board of Education runoff.

On election day, Nesbitt fulfilled the fantasy of every candidate ever, catching someone taking down his campaign signs.

“I just happened to be going down the road, in fact, I was heading home after a day of campaigning on election day, on Tuesday, and noticed this gentleman in a pickup truck grabbing an armful of several campaign signs. And of course, mine was one of many he had in the back of his pickup truck,” Nesbitt said. “It wasn’t just my sign, it was several other signs, but I didn’t know that until the whole thing unfolded.

“I contacted my campaign manager, George Lopez. He then contacted the Conyers Police Department, who also notified the Rockdale Sheriff’s Office, who then contacted the Newton County Sheriff’s Office, because I followed this guy all the way to Newton County, where he was stopped by the Newton County Sheriff’s Office,” Nesbitt continued. “It is actually a city of Conyers case, because that’s where the thefts took place, although it unfolded on the Access Road in Newton County.

“When I pulled my vehicle up next to his and I motioned for him to roll the window down twice and he refused, then he put his car in gear, I knew right then from 15 years in law enforcement that he was trying to do what he needed to do to get away. My instinct just kicked in. I needed to notify the authorities and give them play-by-play as to what road he was on and where we were going. Then, within a reasonable amount of time, the Newton County Sheriff’s Office was able to catch up with the direction he was traveling and stopped him, cuffed him and took him into custody.”

Nesbitt said most people don’t realize the cost of running a campaign and losing signs.

“The average individual doesn’t know the agony of finances a candidate has to go through. Trying to raise campaign funds is probably the most difficult part of the whole campaign process,” he said. “The cost of a campaign sign can add up when you’re trying to win a campaign and do marketing and branding. When you’re having people to steal them, take them, discard them, or tear them up, that gets expensive.

Newnan County property owners are likely to see higher property taxes from the Board of Education.

The State Board of Education ordered the closure of the Woodall Center in Muscogee County because it’s unsafe, requiring the relocation of programs for special education students.

A member of the Pooler City Council filed a complaint over alleged “up-skirting.”

A photo of Port Wentworth Council member Debbie Johnson that was posted on Facebook has resulted in Johnson filing a complaint for racial discrimination and sexual harassment against the city.

The complaint, filed with the city, states that a council member took a photo of Johnson “exposing between my legs,” behind the closed doors of a closed session of the council.

Johnson states that resident Eric Steely posted that photo on Facebook with a caption that said she was not wearing underwear.

Johnson’s complaint against the city, however, states that she has experienced racial discrimination since she was elected in 2014 as the first African-American on an all-white male council.

“Over the years, I have felt that there was a conspiracy for political reasons to which they have used political tactics to sexually harass, politically intimidate, defame my character, racially discriminate, public humiliation and threaten my safety,” Johnson said in the complaint.

Johnson also states that she has been in fear for life and in the past has contacted numerous agencies, including the FBI, Department of Justice, the NAACP and the Chatham County District Attorney’s office.

In the claim, Johnson states that Mayor Glenn Jones, Councilman Bill Herrin, former Councilman Lloyd Ernie Stanhope and former Councilman Tim Holbrook are all Facebook friends with Eric Steely.

Johnson also writes that Facebook has a record of Jones, Herrin and Stanhope viewing the photo in question.

Pokemon

Some hints for drawing foot traffic to your business via Pokemon Go.

Businesses that are Pokestops can also purchase Lure Modules to attract more customers to the stop closest to their establishment. Lures are items that are picked up during normal gameplay, but businesses can purchase up to eight modules at a time for 99 cents each and they last for 30 minutes after activation.
“A business could conceivably set a lure every half hour on the hour while it is open. If that is something your business can only do every now and then, consider a ‘Lure Luncheon’ or ‘Lighting Up Lures Night,’” said Wright.
The Chromatic Dragon at 514 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. is one of those Pokestops and Ashlee Perkins, who is in charge of business development for the gamer pub, said the staff has been moving at light speed to offer promotions for Pokémon Go, even adding a few Pokémon-themed items to the menu.
“We are doing a lot to help our community enjoy this awesome new game as much as we do,” Perkins said.
To draw in gamers the pub has been hosting Lure events every Saturday and Sunday, offering discounts on certain menu items. Until Aug. 1 there are also various meal discounts for Pokémon teams depending on which team you’re a member of.
More and more local businesses have jumped on the success of the game including TailsSpin, who used the game to promote pet adoptions earlier in the week at Pokémon at Bark in the Park and Adoption — Catch ’em event at a Savannah Bananas game and Savannah radio station Q100 hosted a Pokémon bar crawl last weekend, taking those searching for creatures to six downtown bars along the way.
Mellow Mushroom in Pooler has begun hosting gym battles with delicious prizes like free pizza for a year, gift cards, and food and beverage discounts. Best Buy on Abercorn Street is trying to attract customers with a sign on the door reminding customers that they “Can’t catch them all” with an old phone and suggest they come in to check for mobile upgrades to get a new smartphone.

The Richmond County Sheriff’s Office has issued a warning for Pokemon Go players:

“While no one has reported any incidents related to the game, our deputies have noticed a number of people playing the game over the past weekends in the downtown area and wandering into alleys and dark areas. We would like to caution players to be safe, be aware of their surroundings, and to be careful while crossing streets,” Lt. Allan Rollins wrote in a news release Friday.

That warning came too late for an Athens man who says he was sexually assaulted while playing Pokemon Go.

A 24-year-old man reported that he was sexually assaulted by another man Tuesday as he was playing a Pokemon game in a parking lot, Athens-Clarke County police said.

The man said the suspect touched the inside of his thigh and asked questions such as whether he liked men, according to police. The man said he did not try to leave or call for help because he feared the suspect might have a weapon.

Pokemon Go is inspiring some cool events, including a Pokemon Bar Crawl, a 5k road race, and a Pokemon Go Fitness Camp.

The University of Georgia is using Pokemon GO as part of its football program recruiting toolbox.

11Alive has a guide to locations for some rare pokemons.

Pro-Tip for Pokemon GO: Murphey-Candler Park in Brookhaven is crawling with rare Pokemons, including all the Charmanders you can catch.

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