Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 13, 2024


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 13, 2024

On May 13, 1607, English settlers founded the first permanent English settlement in America, at Jamestown on the James River. This led to the first English-language politics in America:

Dispatched from England by the London Company, the colonists had sailed across the Atlantic aboard the Susan Constant, Godspeed, and Discovery. Upon landing at Jamestown, the first colonial council was held by seven settlers whose names had been chosen and placed in a sealed box by King James I. The council, which included Captain John Smith, an English adventurer, chose Edward Wingfield as its first president.

Lyman Hall arrived in Philadelphia as a delegate to the Second Continental Congress on May 13, 1775.

On May 13, 1798, a Constitutional Convention adopted the Georgia Constitution of 1798.

The Mexican War began on May 13, 1846.

Georgia Whigs, led by Governor George Crawford, Alexander Stephens, and Robert Toombs, criticized the war for raising divisive questions about slavery in the territories. Georgia Democrats, led by Howell Cobb and Herschel Johnson, staunchly supported the war and states’ rights afterward. Because Whigs, nationally, appeared to be antislavery, Georgia Whigs lost the governorship in 1847. The Compromise of 1850 temporarily settled the slavery question in the territories, but the moderating influence of Georgia’s Whigs dissolved in the heated rhetoric of states’ rights in the 1850s. The next war would find Americans fighting Americans.

The first fighting at Resaca, Georgia took place on May 13, 1864 and Union forces marched into Dalton.

On May 13, 1981, Pope John Paul II was shot at St. Peter’s Square in Rome.

On May 13, 2005, the Pentagon Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) recommended the closing of Fort McPherson in Atlanta, Fort Gillem in Forest Park, the Naval Air Station in Marietta, and the Naval Supply Corps School in Athens.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Under the Gold Dome Today – Legislative Day 34

TBD Senate Rules: Upon Adjmt – 450 CAP
8:00 AM Senate Natl Res & Envt – 450 CAP
8:30 AM HOUSE Regulated Ind Special Sub– 515 CLOB
10:00 AM HOUSE FLOOR SESSION (LD34) – House Chamber
10:00 AM Senate Floor Session (LD 34) – Senate Chamber
1:00 PM Senate Public Safety – 450 CAP
1:30 PM HOUSE JUDY NC Hong Sub – 132 CAP
2:00 PM Senate Higher Education – 307 CLOB
2:00 PM Senate Insurance & Labor – Mezz 1 CAP
3:00 PM Senate Health & Human Services – 450 CAP
4:00 PM Senate Finance – Mezz 1 CAP
4:00 PM Senate Education & Youth: Sub– 310 CLOB
5:00 PM Senate Transportation – 450 CAP

Thursday – March 14, 2024 – Legislative Day 35 (incomplete)

TBD Senate Rules: Upon Adjmt – 450 CAP
8:00 AM Senate Ethics – 307 CLOB
10:00 AM Senate Floor Session (LD 35) – Senate Chamber
1:00 PM Cancelled – Senate Children & Fam – 307 CLOB
2:00 PM Senate Regulated Ind & Utilities – 450 CAP
3:00 PM Senate Public Safety – 450 CAP
4:00 PM Senate Judiciary – 307 CLOB

Balance of Session Schedule per HR 978

Monday, March 18 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . convene for legislative day 36
Tuesday, March 19 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . committee work day
Wednesday, March 20 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . convene for legislative day 37
Thursday, March 21 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . convene for legislative day 38

Monday, March 25 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . committee work day
Tuesday, March 26 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . convene for legislative day 39
Thursday, March 28 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (Sine Die) convene for legislative day 40

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee threw out six counts in the Trump case, according to the AJC.

Fulton Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee on Wednesday struck down six counts of the August indictment that alleged felony conduct by former President Donald Trump and 18 others, saying they lacked sufficient detail.

In a nine-page ruling, McAfee dismissed counts lodged against Trump, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, lawyer Charles Eastman, former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and attorneys Ray Smith and Bob Cheeley.

Many of the charges relate to allegations that defendants illegally urged Georgia elected officials, including Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, then-House Speaker David Ralston and members of the General Assembly to violate their oaths of office by convening a special session of the Legislature to appoint pro-Trump electors.

“The Court’s concern is less that the State has failed to allege sufficient conduct of the Defendants – in fact it has alleged an abundance,” McAfee wrote. “However, the lack of detail concerning an essential legal element is, in the undersigned’s opinion, fatal.”

McAfee said the six counts contain “all the essential elements of the crimes” but don’t provide enough detail regarding the alleged felonies committed. “They do not give the Defendants enough information to prepare their defenses intelligently,” he added.

All of the remaining defendants are still under indictment for racketeering and other various offenses. McAfee noted, “This does not mean the entire indictment is dismissed.”

There were 41 felony counts in the original indictment.

Prosecutors can re-indict the case with another grand jury to correct the flaws in the six struck counts or ask an appeals court to review McAfee’s decision. The judge said he’ll “likely grant” permission to appeal should the state seek it.

I wonder if that will become part of the campaign between Judge McAfee and his challenger.

Yesterday was the Presidential Preference Primary in Georgia, and to no one’s surprise, both parties’ contests were won by people who respond to “Mr. President.” Click here for the results from the Georgia Secretary of State.

The first thing I note is more than twice the number of voters cast ballots for a Republican versus those who voted in the Democratic Primary. Even if you throw away the GOP votes for anyone not named “Donald Trump,” GOP turnout was more than 200,000 votes above that of the Democrats.

In Gwinnett County, GOP Presidential Preference voters outnumbered Democrats handily.

Gwinnett Republican……29,015…..61.4%

Gwinnett Democratic…..18,230…..38.6%

Make of it what you will.

From WTOC:

Across the state of Georgia, there was about a 65 percent decrease in early voter turnout compared to the presidential primary election in 2020.

Only about 8,000 of the more than 230,000 registered voters in Chatham County voted early or cast an absentee ballot. That’s only about 3 percent.

A poll manager at the Jewish Educational Alliance said this might be the lowest number of voters she’s ever seen.

“Some mornings we’ll have a line before we open the door and at lunch time, we’ll have a rush and then we have a break, and then after that, then we have a rush,” poll manager Jeanette Cooper said. “But this is the slowest because when I came in the morning time to set up, I said, ‘where’s my people.’ I didn’t see none today.”

An assistant political science professor at Georgia Southern University said there’s a few reasons behind that drop.

First, she says in 2020, we didn’t know who the democratic candidate would be driving more people to the polls.

She also says in 2020, a lot of people were voting through an absentee ballot, which is something we saw less of this year.

Because voters already know who the likely front runners are in this race, President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump, she says that’s leading to lower turnout.

However, she said it’s still important to cast your vote, especially because Georgia is viewed as a swing state.

“What the primaries do, is it sort of gives the campaigns some indication of how they’ll do in the state, or where they will do well. And so, one of the reasons why it’s important to go out and vote and so that then the candidates will have some idea of how they’re going to do and what they need to do to fix any weaknesses in their campaign moving forward,” Kimberly Martin said.

From the Capitol Beat News Service:

With 65% of precincts reporting as of 10 p.m., Biden had racked up more than 95% of the vote. Author Marianne Williamson lagged far behind with 2.8% of the vote, and U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips, D-Minn., was last at less than 2%.

On the Republican side, Trump had won more than 84% of the vote in a field that was still crowded, although every other GOP candidate had dropped out of the race. Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley – the last also-ran to end her candidacy – was second with less than 14% of the vote.

The last time a former president ran for the White House was in 1912 when Theodore Roosevelt mounted an unsuccessful third-party candidacy against incumbent Republican William Howard Taft and Democrat Woodrow Wilson, with Wilson winning the White House.

Democratic former President Grover Cleveland ousted Republican President Benjamin Harrison in 1892, the last time in U.S. history that an ex-president challenged an incumbent president.

From the Moultrie Observer:

Colquitt County residents voted for former President Donald Trump for the Republican nomination and President Joe Biden for the Democratic nomination as the candidates for the presidential election in November.

With all 19 precincts reporting there were a total of 3,586 ballots cast in Tuesday’s election.

Trump received a total of 2,907 votes and Biden received a total of 453 votes.

From WTVM:

It was a lighter turnout locally for the presidential preference primaries. Muscogee County Board of Elections and Voter Registration Director Nancy Boren says around 11,000 people voted today and a little more than 5,000 voted during the three week early voting period.

Voters across Georgia picked their party preference for president on Tuesday. In Muscogee county, low numbers of voters at the polls, compared to other elections.

“You never know with the presidential preference primary, we usually have about 45% of our voters and today [Tuesday] just under 10 percent,” said Boren.

Less than a month from now, the special election for House District 139 will be April 9. The primary election, federal, state, and local races happen May 21 with a possible run off in June- all happening before the big day in November. Boren says be prepared for this election season.

“Just know who you want to vote for, research your candidates, research the propositions, and just be ready to come and vote; even during early voting or on election day,” said Boren.

From the Augusta Chronicle:

In Richmond County, with 66 of 68 precincts reporting as of early Wednesday, Trump was leading in the GOP with 84.82%, or 4,554 votes. Biden carried the Democratic primary with 6,482 votes, or 96.53%.

Trump and Biden also won in Columbia County, 84.57% (11,355 votes) and 93.57% (2,547 votes), in their respective primaries with all precincts reporting.

In the run-off to represent House District 125, which includes portions of Columbia and McDuffie counties, Gary Richardson won with 60.18%, 3,911 votes, while CJ Pearson had 39.82%, 2,588 votes.

In the Grovetown City Council election, just 25 votes separated the candidates. Ceretta Smith won with 51.38%, 466 votes, while Jacqueline Rivera-Player garnered 48.62%, 441 votes.

The Blythe City Council election went to Phillip Lee Stewart with 53.33% of the vote while Mike Rineer had 46.67%. There was about a 30% voter turnout in this race. Still, just 165 votes were cast with Stewart taking 88 of them.

The turnouts were very low with Richmond County tentatively reporting about 5% turnout. Richmond County Board of Elections Director Travis Doss said this was lower than anticipated but it wasn’t totally unexpected considering the landslide victory Biden and Trump saw on Super Tuesday.

From the Athens Banner Herald:

In Oconee County, the Georgia Secretary of State reported that all eight precincts had reported before 8:30 p.m.

Trump received 3,460 votes for 77.3% of the vote. On Tuesday, there were 2,481 people who voted at the polls, while other votes came in on the early voting period.

Biden took the Democratic primary with 727 votes, or 94.4%, in a county that traditionally votes heavily Republican.

In Clarke County, Biden won easily with 93.55%, or 4,175 votes. Trump also won handily with 2,328 votes, or 79.25%.

A special referendum question on liquor by the drink on Sundays in Winterville won passage, according to returns. The yes-no vote 154 to 53.

In neighboring Oglethorpe County, the final vote showed Biden with 289 votes for 93.8% of the vote and Trump with 1,436 votes or 90% in their respective primaries.

From WSB Radio:

Georgia’s Secretary of State said on Tuesday voting went smoothly across the state.

Secretary of State’s Chief Operating Officer Gabe Sterling gave a briefing on Tuesday evening.

“Zero lines all day, no real issues on the ground. Everything seems to be working very smoothly. The counties have had a good day,” said Sterling.

There were fears the cyberattack in Fulton County might have affected voting, but Brad Raffensperger said everything went just fine.

“The issue that they had, we actually separated it out of our database several weeks ago as they’re working through their issue, so it never affected our statewide database, and obviously, they said it never got into their voter registration system either,” said Raffensperger.

Raffensperger believes once all is said and done, voter turnout will be right around 10% in a presidential primary where both candidates are pretty much already decided.

“If we’re keeping it real here, I think it was kind of baked in who the victors will probably be on one side of the aisle and who will win the other side of the aisle,” said Raffensperger.

More on the House District 25 Special Runoff Election from the AJC:

Former Columbia County Commissioner Gary Richardson defeated conservative activist C.J. Pearson in a runoff special election between the two Republicans to fill a seat in the Georgia House.

With the endorsement of Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, Richardson won the solidly conservative Augusta-based seat against Pearson, a 21-year-old social media influencer who aligned himself with former President Donald Trump’s brand.

Richardson, the CEO of the Sparkle Express Carwash chain, campaigned as a conservative businessman who prioritized the economy, police funding and opposing the “woke agenda.” He won about 60% of the vote, according to unofficial results.

Richardson will complete the term of former state Rep. Barry Fleming, a Republican from Harlem whom Kemp appointed to become a superior court judge. House District 125 includes parts of Columbia and McDuffie Counties.

Richardson and Pearson will face off again in two months for a full two-year term. Both Republican candidates filed paperwork last week to run in the May 21 general primary. The winner will face Democrat Kay Turner, a cosmetology instructor who doesn’t face any opposition in the primary.

From WJBF:

According to Columbia County officials, they’re calling for the county’s board of elections to do a 100% hand count of all House District 125 runoff election ballots before certifying the results. They said this is due to an early morning error when uploading the ballot on Tuesday.

Tuesday was also the same day as the Georgia Presidential Preference Primary election and a Grovetown city council seat election.

If you qualified to vote in both the primary and House District 125 elections, you had to cast two separate ballots.

This may sound confusing, but voters we spoke to think the process was smooth and easy.

When we spoke with District 125 Candidates Gary Richardson and CJ Pearson, they were both feeling good about their campaigns.

“We’re in it to win it, and so we’ll just keep plugging and work hard to get there,” Richardson said.

“I think now more than ever, our district, our community is looking for a new generation of leadership,” Pearson said.

Monroe County voters chose to extend the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for Transportation (T-SPLOST), according to 13WMAZ.

Monroe County voters passed the TSPLOST, a 1% sales tax that is specifically earmarked for transportation projects in the county.

According to a post from the Monroe County Commission, the TSPLOST passed 1,004 to 741, with the yes votes securing 57% of the ballots cast.

The ballot initiative specifically notes that this is not a new tax but instead a five-year extension of the first TSPLOST which voters approved in November 2021.

Monroe County Public Information Officer Richard Dumas explains that the county realized they’ll need more money for projects sooner rather than later.

“We estimated $17 million to be dispersed for Monroe County and the cities of Forsyth and Culloden. I think it’s $14.1 total for Monroe County and the remainder for the cities, but we’re going to hit that cap two and a half years in. Which is only halfway through the five-year period,” Dumas said.

Rhonda Wood was elected to the Oakwood City Council post 4 seat, according to AccessWDUN.

Wood defeated challenger Volley Collins with 58.53% of the vote with 100% of precincts reporting. 516 Oakwood residents cast their ballots in the race.

That follows the passing of late Post 4 City Councilman Dwight Wood in Sept. 2023. His passing left the seat vacant. Rhonda will fulfill the remainder of his term.

Rhonda is Dwight Wood’s wife and previously told AccessWDUN she hopes to continue his legacy.

“He’s got huge shoes to fill – something that I won’t be able to do because they’re so big,” Rhonda said. “But I want to carry on his legacy and help the citizens of Oakwood.”

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