Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 11, 2020

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 11, 2020

On December 13, 1636, the Massachusetts Bay Colony General Court organized three regiments of militia to guard against attacks by the Pequot Indians. That day is recognized as the birth of the National Guard.

On December 11, 1777, during their movement to Valley Forge for the winter, Washington’s colonial forces engaged British troops under General Cornwallis as the Americans were crossing the Schuylkill River.

Pennsylvania became the second state to ratify the Constitution on December 12, 1787.

Indiana became the 19th State on December 11, 1816.

Governor Charles McDonald signed legislation on December 11, 1841 to prevent a person from having his or her testimony excluded in court because of the individual’s religious beliefs.

The first use of nitrous oxide as a dental anesthetic took place on December 11, 1844.

Echols County, Georgia was created by the Georgia General Assembly on December 13, 1858.

On December 11, 1872, Pinckney Benton Stewart Pinchback took office in Louisiana as the first black Governor in the United States.

A memorial service for Jefferson Davis, former President of the Confederate States of America, was held in the Georgia State Capitol on December 11, 1889 while his funeral was that day in New Orleans.

Guglielmo Marconi completed the first transatlantic radio transmission from Cornwall, England to Newfoundland on December 12, 1901.

On December 11, 1941, Germany declared war on the United States.

Dickey Betts, guitarist for the Allman Brothers Band, was born on December 12, 1943.

On December 11, 1960, a civil rights demonstration including 8000 African-American citizens was held in Atlanta as part of the movement to boycott stores that remained segregated.

The Libertarian Party was founded on December 11, 1971 in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Jimmy Carter announced he would run for President of the United States on December 12, 1974.

Former Georgia Governor Ellis Arnall died on December 13, 1992. Arnall served in the State House, as Speaker, Attorney General, and in 1942 at the age of 35, was elected Governor.

Arnall also led the fight to outlaw the poll tax and the white primary, and is noted for making Georgia the first state to allow 18-year-olds to vote. He is further remembered for his role in obtaining a new state constitution for Georgia in 1945.

The United States Supreme Court released its decision in Bush v. Gore on December 12, 2000, stopping manual recounts of contested ballots in Florida.

Al Gore conceded the presidential election to George W. Bush on December 13, 2000.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

President Trump’s Press Secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, criticized Governor Brian Kemp, according to The Hill.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany tore into Kemp during an appearance on Fox News’s “Hannity” on Monday night, repeating the president’s demand that he call a special legislative session to “allow signature match” of absentee ballots, despite the fact that the process was already completed last month and cannot be repeated.

McEnany compared Kemp to Stacey Abrams, his former Democratic rival for the governor’s mansion, saying that by declining to call a special session of the state General Assembly, the governor had effectively acquiesced to Democrats’ demands.

“Gov. Kemp is no different than Stacey Abrams right now,” McEnany said. “She did this consent decree, and by not doing this, Gov. Kemp is Stacey Abrams and that is despicable.”

Vice President Mike Pence campaigned in Augusta to support Georgia’s U.S. Senators, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Vice President Mike Pence spoke at a “Defend the Majority” rally for Georgia’s two Republican senators in Augusta on Thursday.

“For our liberties and for our freedom, we need a Republican majority in the U.S. Senate – we need David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler back in Washington, D.C.”

“Cast another vote for all President Trump has accomplished – cast a vote for Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue,” Pence told the crowd of about 400 at the outdoor rally.

“Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock are going to cut our national defense to defend their big government programs,” he said.

“If we want the kind of America that we’ve enjoyed, with freedom and liberty, we need to hold the line,” Sonny Perdue said, of reelecting the senators.

Augusta U.S. Rep. Rick Allen said he’d signed a brief in support of the Texas lawsuit and that “limousine liberals” were funding the Democratic candidates.

Georgia State House Speaker David Ralston suggested the state Constitution be amended to require the Secretary of State to be elected by the members of the State House of Representatives, according to a press release.

Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) today proposed that the Constitution of Georgia be amended to empower the Georgia General Assembly to elect the Secretary of State.

“As the state’s chief elections official, it is incumbent on the Secretary of State to be responsive to the People’s House and faithfully perform his or her duties in accordance with the laws passed by the General Assembly,” said Speaker Ralston. “When the Secretary of State refuses to fulfill his Constitutional duties to answer questions from House members, it comes time to re-evaluate how that statewide officer is selected.”

The House Governmental Affairs Committee today held a hearing on election processes in Georgia. Chairman Shaw Blackmon (R-Bonaire) invited the Secretary’s Office to participate in and answer questions at that hearing. The Secretary of State’s Office declined to appear.

“I have great personal respect for our current Secretary of State; however, I cannot ask the members of the House of Representatives to face questions about our elections and their integrity without the cooperation of the Secretary of State’s Office,” said Speaker Ralston. “It is unfair to the members of the House of Representatives and those Georgians they represent. As Speaker of the House, I must advocate for our chamber, and that is what I am doing by advancing this proposal.”

Speaker Ralston also recounted several instances in which the Secretary of State’s Office had acted without the input or consent of the General Assembly earlier this year including entering in a consent agreement that changed the process for signature verification and sending out absentee ballot applications to every registered voter.

“As the branch of government closest to the people, we take seriously our oversight responsibility,” said Speaker Ralston. “This measure will bring greater accountability to this important office.”

The Secretaries of State of Tennessee, Maine, and New Hampshire are all elected by their respective state legislatures.

From the Valdosta Daily Times:

“I think it’s time in Georgia that we look at an alternative way of electing our Secretary of State,” Ralston said. “There are more than one option is an alternative. Frankly, I like the option of having the General Assembly elect that individual for a set term.”

Ralston said constituents are frustrated and “feel like they’re being excluded” by the current Secretary of State’s office.

“I’m dead serious about this and so we can consider next session a constitutional amendment that would provide for the election of the Secretary of State of Georgia by the General Assembly and not in the fashion that it has been done for a long period of time,” the speaker said. “I think it’s the only way to right this ship. I don’t do this lightly, I don’t do this disrespectfully to the incumbent who I have high personal regard for, but I do it because we have a job to do.”

“In a clear power grab, Ralston and the Trump campaign wants to give the General Assembly the power to select winners of elections and violate the will of the people,” Deputy Secretary Jordan Fuchs said in a statement.

Ralston also criticized Raffensperger’s decision ahead of the primary and in the height of the pandemic to send out absentee ballot applications to all registered Georgia voters. During both the Senate and House elections hearings, GOP lawmakers echoed distrust in the voting method and have thrown out legislative proposals to limit the use of absentee ballots.

Click here to watch the video of yesterday’s State House Committee on Governmental Affairs.

Rudy Giuliani appeared virtually at the State House Governmental Affairs Committee meeting, according to the Albany Herald.

Speaking on video after contracting COVID-19, Giuliani hurled accusations of fraud that no court in Georgia has found valid so far and said Atlanta election workers shown in a controversial surveillance video “look like they’re passing out dope, not just ballots.”

“Every single vote should be taken away from Biden,” Giuliani said.

Floyd County Republican Party Chair Luke Martin spoke to the House Governmental Affairs Committee meeting, according to the Rome News Tribune.

Citing human error, Luke Martin told lawmakers about the approximately 2,700 ballots missing from the election night tally and then later 300 ballots that had been counted twice in the hand audit of the presidential race.

Martin said issues with election worker training resulted in only a small percentage of the ballots being reported on election night, with final tallies unavailable until the next day.

“Unfortunately, that’s not unusual in Floyd County,” he told lawmakers. “We’re generally one of the last counties reporting in the state.”

State Rep. Trey Kelley (R-Cedartown) was indicted on charges relating to a hit-and-run accident at which he was neither present nor in the car involved, according to the Rome News Tribune.

Tallapoosa Judicial Circuit District Attorney Jack Browning announced Thursday that Ralph “Ryan” Dover III was indicted on charges of felony hit and run and reckless conduct. House Majority Whip Trey Kelley, who represents District 16, was indicted for reckless conduct.

“Over the course of two days, the grand jurors heard a substantial amount of testimonial and video evidence from law enforcement officers and the GBI medical examiner, as well as several witness interview recordings from those involved in, and with direct knowledge of, the incident,” Browning said.

“Because the Georgia State Patrol, the investigating agency, had not made any arrests in connection with the investigation,” he continued, “the grand jury was authorized to determine for themselves and to recommend the charges they believed were appropriate and justified under the law and supported by the evidence from the state patrol’s investigation.”

After Dover struck Keais with his vehicle, he left the scene just north of Frances Drive and North Main Street. He drove his damaged vehicle eight-tenths of a mile to a local business, where he then called Kelley, who is an attorney.

Kelley called Cedartown Police Chief Jamie Newsome to send an officer out to see what Dover had hit. Newsome contacted Sgt. Josh Turner on his phone via 911’s radio system.

Local legislators discussed pririorities for the upcoming session at the Hall County Chamber of Commerce Eggs & Issues breakfast, according to AccessWDUN.

On the controversy swirling around the November elections, the legislators rejected calls for a special session to address concerns.

“There’s an old phrase in politics, and it’s ‘you ain’t got the votes,’” Sen. Butch Miller, R-Gainesville, said. Miller, the Senate majority leader, said it would take 34 senators and 108 House members to force a special session, something he said was unlikely.

Rep. Timothy Barr, R-Lawrenceville, said any changes made to election law cannot be made retroactive to the November elections.

“It wouldn’t be constitutional for us to go back and to change something that has already happened,” said Barr, whose district includes a portion of South Hall County. “That’s just unconstitutional.”

But Miller said lawmakers would certainly be looking at way to ensure the state’s elections are as secure as possible without making it more difficult for Georgians to vote. Miller said he has an election-related bill that is similar to the state’s Opportunity School District law that allows the state to take over failing school systems.

“If there is a county that is habitually failing, habitually causing a problem, habitually having to recount, habitually turning in their ballots late, we need to look at that,” he said. “It will be centered around the performance of counties.”

Lawmakers also had praise for how Gov. Brian Kemp has handled the reopening of the state following the spring shutdown.

”There were a number of people who were critical of him when he reopened the state, but he did so in a manner that really put the responsibility on us as citizens,” [State Rep. Lee] Hawkins said. “Government can’t do everything for us, nor should it. It is our responsibility to wear a mask, our responsibility to protect our families and our businesses.”

The pandemic is creating more truck traffic, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The coronavirus pandemic is generating all-time high truck traffic on Georgia’s interstate highways, state Commissioner of Transportation Russell McMurry said Thursday.

“There’s a lot of freight being moved because … everything is on your doorstep,” McMurry told members of the State Transportation Board.

After a huge drop in traffic volumes early in the pandemic, overall traffic has recovered to near normal on the interstates and is down only 5% to 10% on state highways, McMurry said. However, there is a difference in commuting patterns in metro Atlanta, he said.

What to do about the shortage of truck parking is expected to be among the recommendations of the Georgia Freight & Logistics Commission when it issues its final report later this month.

Three metro Atlanta Sheriffs-elect are quarantining after being exposed at a training session for sheriffs, according to the AJC.

Fulton County Sheriff-elect Pat Labat and Cobb County Sheriff-elect Craig Owens have tested positive for the disease, the officials said in a joint statement released Wednesday night. DeKalb County Sheriff Melody Maddox has not received positive results but is quarantining after known exposure.

The officials said they were made aware of others who were exposed while attending sheriff’s school in Pine Mountain with other recently elected sheriffs. The training event is run by the Georgia Sheriff’s Association.

“In the future, we respectfully request that the association require individuals to have tested negative for the virus before attending GSA events,” Labat, Owens and Maddox said in the statement.

From the Athens Banner Herald:

“There are 36 in our class and I think we’re up to 10 positive tests,” said [Oconee County Sheriff-elect James] Hale, who will take over the Oconee office in January for the retiring Scott Berry.

Early Wednesday, news broke that the new sheriffs in Fulton, Cobb, Gwinnett and Henry counties all had tested positive for COVD-19 after attending the classes in Harris County. Hale said that figure began rising following that initial news report.

John Q. Williams, the newly elected sheriff for Clarke County, said Wednesday that he has already had one test that came back negative and planned to get a second test Thursday afternoon.

Columbus named Chance Corbett as their new Emergency Management Director, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Cleveland instituted a 90-day moratorium on new liquor licenses, according to AccessWDUN.

Hall County is rolling out a service touted as their version of Uber, called Guber WeGo, according to the Gainesville Times.

Hall Area Transit’s new microtransit service is set to launch Dec. 14, officials have announced.

Beginning with five vehicles operating just in Gainesville, WeGo will function much like Uber or Lyft, with people requesting rides using an app available on Apple or Android devices.

One-way trips cost $3. Users will set up a WeGo account on their phones, where they can pay for the service.

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