Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 7, 2021

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 7, 2021

On December 7, 1787, Delaware became the first state to ratify the United States Constitution.

On December 7, 1801, Georgia’s United States Senator Abraham Baldwin was elected President Pro Tem of the Senate.

On December 7, 1864, federal troops under W.T. Sherman engaged Confederate forces at Jenks’ Bridge on the Ogeechee, and Buck Creek and Cypress Swamp, near Sister’s Ferry, Georgia Confederates burned the bridge over the Ogeechee.

Today is the 80th anniversary of the Japanese bombing attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

GeorgiaInfo has the reactions of Georgia leaders to the Pearl Harbor attack,

U.S. Sen. Walter F. George stated: “Japan’s deed is an act of desperation by a war-mad people. The attack on Hawaii is a deliberate act of the Japanese government. I am utterly amazed. It is unthinkable… . An open declaration of war will give us greater freedom of action.” Noting the vastness of the Pacific Ocean, George optimistically predicted that “it may take two or three years to fight this war to the end.”

U.S. Sen. Richard B. Russell responded to the attack by stating: “Japan has committed national hari-kari. I cannot conceive of any member of Congress voting against a declaration of war in view of the unpardonable, unprovoked attack on us. I am utterly astounded.”

U.S. Rep. Carl Vinson, chairman of the House Naval Affairs Committee, added: “Of course we will have to declare war. There is nothing else for Congress to do. This is a concerted action by the Axis Powers, but I am confident our Navy is ready and will render a glorious account of itself. It probably means we will be drawn into the world conflict on both oceans.”

On December 7, 1946, the Winecoff Hotel in downtown Atlanta, previously considered fireproof, burned in the worst hotel fire to date.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Former President Donald Trump endorsed former United States Senator David Perdue for Governor of Georgia, according to The Hill.

“David Perdue has my Complete and Total Endorsement. He will not let you down!” Trump said in a statement Monday evening.

Earlier Monday, Trump called the state’s Republican governor’s race “interesting” just after Perdue formally announced his candidacy.

In his statement on Monday evening, Trump said, “Kemp has been a very weak Governor—the liberals and RINOs have run all over him on Election Integrity, and more,” using an acronym for “Republican in name only.”

“Most importantly, he can’t win because the MAGA base—which is enormous—will never vote for him,” Trump said.

“David Perdue will eliminate the Income Tax, secure the Elections, defend the Second Amendment, support our great Farmers, get crime in Atlanta and other places under control, take care of our great Vets, and put parents back in charge of the schools,” Trump added.

From FoxNews:

Trump called Perdue “a Conservative fighter who isn’t afraid of the Radical Left.” And he called Perdue “the only candidate in Georgia who can beat” Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams in the 2022 election.

“David Perdue had two bites at the peach and spent over $97 million … and could not beat a no-name like Jon Ossoff,” [Vernon] Jones said.

And he asked, “What makes him think he can beat Stacey Abrams?”

From the Associated Press:

“It is going to be a political civil war here in Georgia,” current Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, a Republican and frequent Trump critic who is not running for reelection, told The Associated Press. “It’s all avoidable if we just act like adults and move on. But that’s not reality at this point.”

Look no further for a cautionary tale than Georgia, an evolving swing state where demographic shifts of recent years have given Democrats a path to power. Biden narrowly defeated Trump here last fall and, after Trump falsely claimed widespread election fraud, Democrats seized victory in two Senate runoff elections in January that gave them control of the Senate.

Trump’s intervention in the Georgia governor’s race is a nightmare scenario of sorts for some Republican strategists, who were already gearing up for a difficult general election contest against former state lawmaker and Democratic voting rights activist Stacey Abrams, who narrowly lost to Kemp in 2018. Abrams formally announced her candidacy last week.

“We simply have to be united,” said Perdue, who narrowly lost his Senate seat in January. “Unfortunately, today we are divided, and Brian Kemp and Brad Raffensperger are to blame.”

Georgia Republican Party official Randy Evans, who served as Trump’s ambassador to Luxembourg, argued that Kemp may be so unpopular with the Trump base that he will lose to Abrams even if he survives the primary.

“If the party comes together, Perdue will be the nominee and then he’ll go on to be governor,” Evans said. “And if the party comes apart, which if the bitterness and divisiveness continues with this kind of rhetoric, then Kemp will be the nominee and Stacey will be the governor.”

From The Brunswick News:

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has shrugged off former U.S. Sen. David Perdue’s announced candidacy to oppose his re-election bid in the 2022 Republican primary.

“We’ve had several primary opponents,’’ Kemp said Monday as he greeted and posed for pictures with delegates at the Georgia Farm Bureau’s 84th annual convention on Jekyll Island.

“I’ll tell you it’s because this guy didn’t buckle down to all the fear and all the junk that’s on Facebook,’’ said [Georgia Farm Bureau President Tom] McCall, who farms in the Fortsonia Community in Elbert County. “He knows where his food, clothing and shelter come from.”

From USA Today via the Athens Banner Herald:

University of Georgia political science professor Charles Bullock said an ugly GOP primary is good news for Abrams, given how close the Peach State has become electorally.

“I think she’ll get a big bag of popcorn, a king-sized Coke, and sit down and watch what happens on the other side,” Bullock said.

The Abrams campaign noted to NBC News this weekend how roughly 1.3 million Georgians have registered to vote since she lost in 2018. It said its modeling shows 47% of those new voters are people of color and 43% are younger than 30.

“Georgia is growing and its is changing,” the Abrams campaign said in a Dec. 6 tweet. “New voters, especially young people and people of color, have catalyzed the political transformation of our state.”

Abrams lost to Kemp in the 2018 gubernatorial contest by about 55,000 votes. Two years later, Biden beat Trump in the Peach State by roughly 11,779 votes.

A few months later, Democrats won the two Senate run-off elections, where Ossoff won over Perdue by just over 55,000 votes and the Rev. Raphael Warnock defeated Republican Kelly Loeffler by approximately 93,000 votes.

“Stacey Abrams has an ability to motivate her supporters to go to the polls with the right strategy,” Bullock said. “Going back to when she starts talking in 2014 or so about new voters, she is going to mobilize people who haven’t voted in the past.”

In August, Trump pollster Tony Fabrizio released a survey of 500 likely GOP primary voters in Georgia that found an endorsement from the former president “would completely upend the race” in Perdue’s favor.

The poll showed Perdue more than doubling his share of the GOP electorate from 16% to 41% with Trump’s backing, “while Kemp sees a huge chunk of his voters slip away” going from 41% to 26%, according to the poll, which was paid for by Trump’s Save America PAC.

Georgia could see two Kemp-Perdue battles next year. If neither candidates wins 50% of the vote in a crowded May primary, there will be a run-off in June.

From the Georgia Recorder:

“It will be like a cage match,” said University of Georgia political science professor Charles Bullock. “World heavyweight title on the line. There will be no holds barred, I suspect. They were friends, and the story is – probably accurate – that the Perdue cousins were instrumental in getting President Trump to weigh in on behalf of Gov. Kemp in the Republican runoff in 2018, but now that they’ve broken, they’ll be unrestrained, and there’s an awful lot at stake.”

“The last time I think there was a really serious one, certainly the last time that a sitting governor was denied a nomination was 100 years ago in 1922,” Bullock said. “Thomas Hardwick lost the Democratic primary to Clifford Walker. The big issue was the Ku Klux Klan. Hardwick opposed it, Walker was a member.”

When it comes to policy, there are not a lot of differences between Kemp and Perdue, said Amy Steigerwalt, a political science professor at Georgia State University. The distinction between the two, she said, comes down primarily to their relationship with Trump and the 2020 presidential election.

“It lays bare the fact that this is not about policy right now, it’s not truly about what is the best path forward in many ways for the country, it’s about what does it mean to be a Republican,” Steigerwalt said. “Does being a Republican mean that you adhere to conservative policy positions and values, or does it mean that you support former President Trump, including his accusations of fraud? And that’s not a great place for the party to be.”

“Now there is going to be a terribly nasty and brutal Republican primary that is going to leave scars and wounds, festering, bubbling, horrible open wounds, I think, not only on whoever wins, but on the party and its ability to then reunite for the general election,” [Steigerwalt] said.

If Perdue clinches the primary, he could have a hard time winning back moderate voters who favor the GOP but dislike Trump, Bullock argued.

“He’s not going to be in the position like Glenn Youngkin was in Virginia, where Youngkin was not wrapped in Trump’s cloak,” he said. “If David Perdue gets the nomination, he’s going to be very much wrapped up in Trump’s cloak and not be able to separate himself from Trump.”

Georgia government tax revenue was up 17 percent in November over the previous year, according to a press release by Governor Brian Kemp.

The State of Georgia’s net tax collections in November totaled $2.29 billion, for an increase of $332.7 million, or 17 percent, compared to November 2020, when net tax collections totaled $1.96 billion. Year-to-date, net tax revenue collections totaled $11.87 billion, for an increase of nearly $1.70 billion, or 16.7 percent, over FY 2021.

The changes within the following tax categories account for November’s overall net tax revenue increase:

Individual Income Tax: Individual Income Tax collections for November totaled $1.22 billion, which was an increase of $195.4 million, or 19 percent, over last year when net Individual Tax revenues totaled $1.03 billion.

The following notable components within Individual Income Tax combine for the net increase:

• Individual Income Tax refunds issued (net of voided checks) increased by $14.1 million or 24.5 percent
• Individual Withholding payments increased by $173.6 million, or 17 percent, compared to last year
• Individual Income Tax Return payments were up nearly $8.9 million, or 65.3 percent, over FY 2021
• All other Individual Tax categories, including Non-Resident Return payments, were up a combined $27 million

Sales and Use Tax: Gross Sales and Use Tax collections increased by $208.6 million, or 18.6 percent, to a total of almost $1.33 billion, up from the previous year’s total of 1.12 billion. Net Sales and Use Tax increased by $154.5 million, or 30 percent, compared to November 2020, when net Sales Tax revenue totaled $515.8 million. The adjusted Sales Tax distribution to local governments totaled $654.2 million, which was an increase of $57.6 million, or 9.7 percent, over last year. Lastly, Sales Tax refunds declined by $3.5 million, or -45.8 percent, from FY 2021.

Corporate Income Tax: Net Corporate Income Tax collections decreased by $26.6 million, or -171 percent, compared to FY 2021, when net Corporate Tax revenues totaled $15.5 million in November 2020.

The following notable components within Corporate Income Tax make up the net decrease:

• Corporate Tax refunds issued (net of voided checks) increased by $30.2 million or 141.6 percent
• Corporate Income Tax Estimated payments were up $6.5 million, or 23 percent, over last year
• All other Corporate Tax payments, including Corporate Return payments, were down a combined $2.9 million

Motor Fuel Taxes: Motor Fuel Tax collections for November increased by $13.4 million, or 8.4 percent, from last year’s monthly total of $160.1 million.

Motor Vehicle – Tag & Title Fees: Motor Vehicle Tag & Title Fee collections for the month fell by $1.5 million, or -5.5 percent, compared to November 2020 when Motor Vehicle fees totaled $27.5 million. Title ad Valorem Tax (TAVT) collections increased by nearly $3.3 million, or 5.7 percent, compared to last year’s total of $57.5 million.

Gwinnett County Commission Chair Nicole Love Hendrickson (D) endorsed the reelection of U.S. Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux (D-Gwinnett), according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Hendrickson, who is the first Black woman to lead the county’s government and is completing her first year in office, cited Bourdeaux’s working relationship with the county as her reason for endorsing the congresswoman’s re-election.

“I believe in Carolyn Bourdeaux,” Hendrickson told the Daily Post. “She has proven herself. Since I’ve been in this position, she has really driven a lot of efforts and resources at the local level. I think that speaks volumes to congressional people when they pay particular attention to their local communities and hear the needs.”

The 7th Congressional District has been redrawn by the Georgia General Assembly to be considerably safer for Democrats than it was when Bourdeaux won the seat last year, but she will face opposition from within her own party.

U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath, D-Ga., has announced she will run against Bourdeaux for the seat after her own neighboring district was redrawn to be significantly more Republican-leaning. State Rep. Donna McLeod is also running for the seat.

The Floyd County Board of Education adopted a social media policy for employees, according to the Rome News Tribune.

Officials say the proposed policy is not meant to restrict any employee’s First Amendment rights, but to set guidelines for what is appropriate to post and what’s not.

“More than half of the school systems in Georgia have this policy,” Superintendent Glenn White said.

The policy states employees cannot cyberbully, use social media while at work, allow social media to affect job performance, use school photos or videos without permission, create personal relationships with students via social media or make inappropriate posts showing prohibited photos, sexual messages, violent messages or use of drugs.

The policy encourages employees to make their personal social media pages private to prevent students and parents of students from accessing them.

The Georgia State Senate Study Committee on Violence Against Health Care Workers discussed enhanced penalties for attacks on some healthcare workers, according to the Capitol Beat News Service.

A state Senate study committee asked the General Assembly Monday to consider stiffening penalties for violent attacks on Georgia health-care workers.

But new legislation addressing the issue is unlikely because criminal justice experts believe existing law already covers violence in the health-care workplace, said Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick, R-Marietta, the study committee’s chairman and an orthopedic surgeon.

“There are already penalties in place for aggravated assault and aggravated battery,” she said. “I can’t promise legislation is going to happen or would pass if it’s proposed.”

A study the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration released in April 2020 found that health-care workers account for about 50% of all victims of workplace violence.

The study committee’s final report that Kirkpatrick presented Monday encouraged hospital officials to train health-care workers and other hospital staff in how to deescalate potentially violent confrontations and how to defend themselves if it becomes necessary.

Georgia State House Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones (R-Milton) will back anti-obscenity legislation, according to the AJC.

Jones, the chamber’s speaker pro tem, sparked backlash recently when she announced plans to back anti-obscenity legislation. She said the effort, also endorsed by State School Superintendent Richard Woods, is aimed at bringing uniformity to the way public school districts block student access to online sources.

It’s a revamped version of the legislation she once opposed. That bill was sponsored by several House Republicans in 2020 and would have enhanced penalties against any “person affiliated” with a school, including a guest speaker, who knowingly shared obscene materials with minors.

“Generally, school systems make decisions about internet filters for school-issued devices and school-related search engines,” she said. “Some systems select filters that are strong. Others do not. I do not support penalizing educators for activities over which they do not possess authority.”

Jones said her proposal, which is still being drafted, will try to create a “fair and consequential process” to address educators who use poor judgment or intentionally expose students to inappropriate materials. It might also borrow from a Senate proposal that created a “complaint resolution process” for parents, she added, but it won’t include additional criminal penalties.

Macon-Bibb County Mayor Lester Miller criticized news coverage of violent crime, according to the Macon Telegraph.

Miller blasted news outlets, though not by name, for sensationalism and for what he considered their mischaracterizing of some killings as “murders” when the incidents were deemed accidental or justifiable homicides.

So far this year, there have been 42 deaths that sheriff’s officials have categorized as murders.

While some of the 10 other violence-related deaths or homicides here have resulted in criminal charges — including one in a bar fight and another in which a child playing with a gun killed a little girl — they do not fit the legal definition of murders. Four such shootings are listed as justifiable homicides.

Augusta Commissioners will vote today on whether to support a redistricting map drawn by the legislative redistricting office, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Drawn by the Legislative Reapportionment Office, the plan for commission and Richmond County Board of Education district lines was approved by a local committee last week, despite opposition from two older, largely white Augusta communities, Summerville and Forest Hills.

Warner Robins City Council voted to outsource payroll after a federal lien was filed against the city, according to 13WMAZ.

“Sort of the things that happened with the IRS issues that we had, the ways that payroll was filed, and this is just really to help us out so that these things don’t happen again,” [Council member Derek] Mack said.

According to Mack, the city administrator has already vetted several companies. LaRhonda Patrick attended the city council meeting for the first time as mayor-elect. She says outsourcing the city’s payroll will be good for Warner Robins.

“You are no longer in charge for the compliance, the daily operations. It goes to another company; and a lot of companies have started to do that if they have not already, so I am in agreement with that move,” Patrick said.

Macon-Bibb County Commissioner Virgil Watkins wants distance restrictions on coin-operated gaming establishments, according to 13WMAZ.

If commissioners approve the proposed ordinance, coin-operated amusement machines (COAMs) cannot be located within 100 yards of any church, public library, county recreation center, alcoholic treatment center, and housing authority property and 200 yards from any school or college campus.

The proposed ordinance also says businesses can’t have these machines within 1,500 feet of any liquor store and 2,500 feet of any small box discount store, also known as a “vice mart.” These are small convenience stores that don’t have fuel or fresh food and only have alcohol and packaged snacks.

Watkins says there is a grandfather clause built into the ordinance, so businesses that already have these machines within these distances are allowed to operate. However, a business would not be allowed to have a COAM if they are within the restricted areas and if they apply for a new license or changes ownership after December 15.

The Georgia Ports Authority is working to clear a shipping backlog, according to the Savannah Morning News.

At its Monday board meeting, GPA officials detailed expediting the completion of 1.6 million twenty-foot equivalent container units (TEUs) in annual capacity, which will come online by June 2022 as part of the long-term Peak Capacity Project. The GPA board also approved a $24.4 million purchase of nine electric-powered rubber-tired gantry cranes that will help support the expansion.

“The actual on-terminal projects are being done more quickly,” explained GPA Executive Director Griff Lynch. “We have talked to the contractors and asked them to kind of move along a little bit faster than they were … so they’re implementing much more pressure on getting those projects done.”

The TEU expansion will increase total capacity by 25%, resulting in over 7 million TEUs of annual container space at the ports.

By January, GPA will open 670,000 TEUs of new annual capacity at Garden City Terminal. In early March, 155,000 TEUs of additional terminal capacity will be available, and by June another 850,000 TEUs will come online at the port.

Meanwhile, the South Atlantic Supply Chain Relief Program that is facilitating the opening of off-terminal “pop-up” container yards across the Southeast is underway and will increase capacity by another half-million TEUs.

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