Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 22, 2017

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 22, 2017

On June 22, 1633, Galileo Galilei recanted his published theory that stated the sun was the center of the world and the earth was not.

Georgia’s Trustees voted on June 22, 1737 to seek bids for building churches at Savannah and Frederica.

Georgia Whigs voted on June 22, 1775 to join a boycott against British goods. That same day, the Continental Congress approved the issuance of $2 million in debt-backed currency.

The donut was invented on June 22, 1847.

The Battle of Kolb’s Farm was fought near Marietta, Georgia on June 22, 1864.

The United States Department of Justice was established on June 22, 1870.

On June 22, 1944, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the G.I. Bill.

On June 22, 1970, President Richard M. Nixon signed a law extending the 26th Amendment Right to Vote at age 18 to all federal, state, and local elections.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal announced that Georgia retained its credit rating from the three major agencies.

Gov. Nathan Deal today announced Georgia again earned a rating of AAA, with a stable outlook, from each of the three main credit rating agencies — Moody’s, Fitch and Standard & Poor’s. Of the states that issue general obligation bonds, only nine currently meet this standard. This rating resulted in low interest rates during the sale of $1.39 billion in bonds, which includes $349 million of refunding bonds to refund previously issued bonds and achieve total debt service savings of $43.8 million.

“The state of Georgia works diligently to maintain the coveted AAA rating, and we are one of only nine states to earn this distinction,” said Deal. “By consistently earning top marks, we ensure our bonds remain highly sought after and provide the state flexibility to secure low interest rates for capital projects. Ultimately, this AAA bond rating reflects our fiscal responsibility and results in millions of dollars of savings for our taxpayers. Thank you to the General Assembly, Chairman Jack Hill and Chairman Terry England for their diligent work and cooperation to keep Georgia a leading state for taxpayer stewardship and economic growth.”

The credit rating agencies cited the strength of Georgia’s economy with a positive employment trend, growth of the state’s rainy day fund, a balanced approach to the state’s primary revenue sources and consistent funding of obligations as factors contributing AAA rating.

Gov. Deal and the State Road and Tollway Authority awarded $3 million for bridge widening in Gwinnett and Fulton counties and SRTA awarded $23.6 million for three projects in Cobb County.

The Hall County Board of Commissioners will meet tonight to adopt a FY2018 budget and property tax millage rate.

The City of Loganville government will move to a new City Hall in July.

Centerville City Council adopted a $10.2 million FY 2018 budget with the same millage rate as 2017.

The Savannah-Chatham Public School Board adopted a $561 million FY2018 budget, also keeping the same millage rate as before.

Polk County Sheriff Johnny Moats will reduce the sentences of six inmates who helped a work detail guard after the officer collapsed.

Columbus City Council awarded more than $700,000 in grants aimed at crime prevention.

Henry County Water Authority projects its long-term capital needs will exceed $900 million.

The Columbusc consolidated city-county government mailed property tax notices four weeks late this year due to a billing system conversion.

Normally, property owners are sent tax notices June 1 and tax bills Aug. 1, with the first installment due Oct. 1 and the final installment due Dec 1. But this year, tax notices will be issued June 30, tax bills will be mailed Oct. 1, and only one installment will be required, due on Dec. 1. Taxpayers may still make an earlier installment, which is encouraged but not mandatory, officials have said.

Northeast Georgia saw an uptick in unemployment, while Gainesville held steady from the previous month.

Savannah also saw a slight unemployment increase, while Southeast Georgia remains unchanged.

Valdosta Regional Airport is hoping to tap a new Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) to fund renovations.

Government leaders in the area recently decided to hold a public vote on a regional T-SPLOST. If approved, the one-penny sales tax would fund transportation projects through 18 counties, including Lowndes.

A roundtable of elected officials is in the process of deciding projects to be funded by the T-SPLOST, which is estimated to rake in $500 million during a 10-year period, [airport executive director Jim] Galloway said.

Congressman Rick Allen (R-Augusta) lauded the House passage of a measure extending the deadline for tax credits that would benefit construction of two new nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle.

<“The tax credits were originally approved by Congress and were set to expire,” said Rep. Rick Allen, of Augusta. “We wanted to make sure that we included the units both at Vogtle and over in South Carolina and that the plants under construction right now received these credits when they are completed, which takes it out beyond 2020.”

Homer Bryson, new director of the Georgia Emergency Management Agency, spoke to the Rotary Club of Athens.

District Six Post Mortem

Karen and Steve Handel

Probably the first Post Mortem on the Sixth District that I saw was by Steen Kirby. I don’t agree with everything he writes, but it’s a thoughtful analysis.

$30,000,000 dollars later, people still aren’t sure what Jon Ossoff stood for, and cared about, and the Democratic party leadership and consultant class still don’t know how to win. For the price of a dozen competitive House elections or statewide campaigns–and hundreds of local and state legislative contests–Democrats are left standing in the same place they were after November 2016 in Georgia’s 6th district, and across the country.

Ossoff’s improvement can largely be tied to the fact that spending does move the needle to an extent, but it wasn’t enough. Ossoff’s polling lead was squandered away by a poor final salvo, and most likely GOP voters being motivated by the horrific terror attack against GOP congressman on a baseball field in Virginia.

1: Ossoff Lacked a Clear Message and Had an Irrelevant Platform

If you visit Ossoff’s website, you’ll see a smorgasbord of issue positions, written in a cold, distant, unengaging tone, and without any real priority placed on any specific issue. This matches Ossoff’s advertising, mail, and messaging overall. Months later, I’m not sure anyone has a clear answer what Ossoff stands for, or what his top agenda items would have been if elected to Congress. He was neither “Anti-Trump,” nor “Progressive” or “Centrist,” or frankly anything else.

Molly Ball writes for The Atlantic about the election:

They hoped to send one message to Washington; instead, they may have sent the opposite one—that the mass of American voters are in no hurry to deliver a rebuke to the chaos in Washington, and that Republican representatives still have wide leeway to pursue their policy objectives on issues like health care without losing or disheartening their base.

That is a tough pill to swallow for Democrats who have convinced themselves opposing Trump will bring them back from the brink of powerlessness. So far, they have cut into Republicans’ margins, but they have not yet figured out how to win, and moral victories get no votes in Congress.

Trump was He Who Must Not Be Named as the race wound down. “This race—it’s not about what’s going on around the rest of the country,” Handel told her supporters in the restaurant. “It’s about you and about the people of the Sixth District.” Earlier that day, the president had repeatedly tweeted in support of her.

Ossoff, too, seemed to spend most of his time deflecting questions about Trump, pivoting ceaselessly back to well-worn talking points about “fresh leadership” and “quality of life” and “bipartisanship delivering solutions.” “There are a lot of folks trying to look for national implications,” he told me, sitting in a back room of his campaign office in Chamblee, hands folded in his lap. “But that’s not what voters in the Sixth District are focused on.”

A Daily Kos writer has one very interesting data table:

A lot of attention is paid to early vote vs. election day vote, with mixed predictive success at best. Here’s how it broke down for Fulton Co. GA-6 precincts:

ossoff handel ossoff margin
mail 5,781 3,698 +21%
early in person 35,111 37,140 -2.8%
election day 17,321 24,062 -16%

Ben Shapiro, in the Daily Wire writes:

So, what happened?

1. Ossoff’s Chances Were Inflated From The Outset.

2. Democrats Nationalized The Race With Outside Money. Democrats made the crucial mistake of nationalizing the GA-6 with outside cash. This led Republicans in the district to react negatively — instead of staying home, which Democrats desperately needed them to do, they got offended and voted in large numbers. Ossoff received more money from California than Georgia. Voters took it as an insult, and acted accordingly.

5. Democrats Still Have The Albatross Of Nancy Pelosi. Republicans hammered at the relationship between Ossoff and Nancy Pelosi, who is still the most unpopular politician in America (29% favorable). Democrats may be enamored of a San Francisco nut job running the House for themselves, but voters in Georgia aren’t.

6. Ossoff Didn’t Live In The District. Combined with the outside money, the focus on Pelosi, the Hollywood involvement, and the nationalized focus on Trump, Ossoff not living in the district hurt him. He seemed like a carpetbagger emissary from San Francisco to enough voters to lose him the district.

From Harry Enten at FiveThirtyEight, who sees it as a question of “reluctant” Trump Republicans:

And that brings us back to Georgia 6: It’s a reluctant Trump district. If Democrat Jon Ossoff can win in Georgia 6 over Republican Karen Handel, it could be a sign that Democrats can win over reluctant Trump voters nationwide next year.

Nationally, reluctant Trump voters differ from other Trump supporters in three important ways.

Reluctant Trump voters, on average, have more education than other Trump voters; it’s one of their defining features as a group. According to SurveyMonkey, 37 percent of reluctant Trump voters have at least a college degree compared with 25 percent of other Trump voters. That matches with the general movement away from the Republican Party by well-educated voters in 2016.

Trump voters in Georgia 6 are also probably more loyal to the Republican brand than to Trump specifically. In the Atlanta Journal Constitution survey, only 35 percent of people who voted for Trump in 2016 say their vote in the special election is meant to express support for Trump now.

Reluctant Trump voters are more likely to believe that health care is a top concern than Trump’s more enthusiastic supporters.

One takeaway from The Hill may be relevant to Georgia’s 2018 elections:

Democratic infighting ramps up

Squabbling among Democrats and liberals began before the final results were in from Georgia. The debate was conducted in raw terms.

The central issue was whether Ossoff had run too timorous and centrist a campaign to fire up the base.

Amid all the drama of the Trump presidency, the depth of divisions among Democrats — and the continuing rancor between centrists and progressives dating back to the Clinton-Sanders primary fight last year — has often been underreported.

From the PBS NewsHour:

For Democrats especially, redistricting matters

The biggest political battle of the year (so far) didn’t take place in Atlanta’s politically moderate suburbs by accident. Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District belongs to a dying breed of moderate House seats. The reality is, there aren’t many left. In the midterm elections next year, Democrats will undoubtedly target the 23 Republican House seats that Clinton carried in 2016. But even if they won every single one, that still wouldn’t be enough for them to flip the House.

Both parties have a stake in the redistricting debate. But Democrats, as the minority party in Congress, have more to lose in the short-term if the status quo doesn’t change. That’s why their hopes of flipping the House hinge in large part on redistricting reform — and why liberals should thank Obama and his ally and former attorney general Eric Holder for making redistricting their top political priority under Trump.

It won’t be easy. Republicans will fight reform efforts, and redistricting is a convoluted issue that doesn’t pull at voters’ heartstrings. Holder, the chairman of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, acknowledged as much this week, saying that “part of my job is to make redistricting sexy.” The Supreme Court’s decision Tuesday to hear a case on partisan gerrymandering will help. As the Georgia election showed, Democrats have a lot riding on the outcome.

Congresswoman Karen Handel

East Cobb gave Karen Handel her margin of victory on Tuesday, according to the Marietta Daily Journal.

“The east Cobb part of the 6th District gave Handel a huge win,” Swint said. “That was the single biggest margin for her of the three counties. So there’s no question Cobb helped deliver her the win.”

In Cobb, Handel received just over 58 percent of the vote. In Fulton and DeKalb, she got 52.7 percent and 41.5 percent respectively.

Handel lost DeKalb by 9,777 votes. In her home turf of Fulton, she picked up 6,687 votes, leaving her about 3,000 votes shy of a win.

Handel’s margin of victory in Cobb was 12,792 votes, giving her a nice soft cushion on which to comfortably bounce over the 50 percent mark.

East Cobb Commissioner Bob Ott, an early Handel supporter, said he was not surprised Cobb Republicans came out in large numbers for the runoff.

“The folks in Cobb have a big concern over the schools and the community and everything else if they see that’s going to be threatened and changed,” Ott said. “I think they’re going to come out and speak their mind at elections just like they do at my town halls. I have 100, 150 people at my town halls. So it doesn’t surprise me to see such a large turnout from folks in Cobb. They’re very engaged and know what’s going on in the district.”

2018 Elections

Georgia Court of Appeals Judge John Ellington announced he will run for a seat on the Georgia Supreme Court next year.

Ellington told the Daily Report this week that he has organized a campaign for the state’s highest court and plans to announce his candidacy Thursday.

“The quality of life in any community depends on the quality of the judicial system,” Ellington said. “I have spent my entire judicial career of 25 years serving every classification of court in Georgia.”

“The Court of Appeals has been described as the salt mine of Georgia jurisprudence,” Ellington said. “Our Supreme Court provides the leadership for all levels of court. I want to take my experience now to the Supreme Court and share that experience.”

Ellington said he will run for the seat now held by Justice Carol Hunstein. She has said she will not run for reelection in 2018 because she will reach the age of 75 before her next six-year term would end. Georgia requires appellate judges to retire before their 75th birthday or forfeit their pensions.

Suburban women are the key to Democratic victory in Georgia, or so we’ve been told since at least 2014. If that’s the case, Democrat Stacey Evans is making a play for Ossoff supporters ahead of the 2018 Gubernatorial election. From a campaign email:

Last night, Jon Ossoff came SO CLOSE to winning the Georgia Special Election.

It was a long and tough election. Republicans spent MILLIONS to buy the results they wanted, and used every dirty trick in the book.

Now Republicans are counting on us to feel discouraged by the results.

But they are WRONG. We proved that Democrats are fired up and hungry for a win.

And if we came that close to flipping Georgia’s Sixth District, we can definitely WIN the race for Georgia governor.

But because of hardworking Democrats like you, he put a solid-Red district on the defensive.

We can keep up his momentum, [name]. We can still keep the hope alive that his campaign inspired in so many Georgians.

We’ve come so far, [name]. Don’t let Republicans think we’re done fighting.

-Team Evans

If it’s true that suburban women fueled the Ossoff effort, consolidating their support could be a very savvy tactic headed into 2018.

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