Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 18, 2016


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 18, 2016

Abraham Lincoln was nominated for President by the Republican National Convention on May 18, 1860.

The United States Supreme Court handed down its decision in Plessy v. Ferguson on May 18, 1896.

The U.S. Supreme Court rule[d] seven to one that a Louisiana law providing for “equal but separate accommodations for the white and colored races” on its railroad cars is constitutional. The high court held that as long as equal accommodations were provided, segregation was not discrimination and thus did not deprive African Americans of equal protection under the law as guaranteed by the 14th Amendment.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Yesterday, Governor Nathan Deal released a statement on the federal “guidance” letter regarding school bathrooms.

“The Obama administration’s directive, recently announced by press release, to local school systems regarding accommodations for transgender students has generated confusion and controversy among parents, students and school officials,” said Deal.

“While I do not believe this directive carries the force of law, the Departments of Justice and Education have threatened to revoke federal funding from schools that fail to comply. Georgia’s constitution and state laws, however, require these decisions be made at the local level. While our 181 school systems must each determine an appropriate response to this federal overreach, I have asked State School Superintendent Richard Woods to provide guidance to those local school systems seeking assistance and clarity on this issue in order to ensure that there will be as much uniformity across our state as possible,” said Deal.

“Until Congress acts, I assure the citizens of Georgia that the offices of the governor, attorney general and state school superintendent will work cooperatively to protect the interests of Georgia’s children from this abuse of federal executive,” said Deal.

Attorney General Sam Olens wrote on Facebook, and likely elsewhere, about the Obama directive,

The “Guidance” Letter recently issued by the Obama Administration addresses a sensitive and complex issue with a sledgehammer. In yet another example of executive overreach, the Administration is attempting to use executive fiat to push schools toward whatever policy outcomes it desires without any legal or constitutional support, in this case relating to dorm rooms, bathrooms, and locker rooms.

State Senator Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega), locked in a primary election, also hit the Obama administration on bathroom rules.

“We’re asking the governor and lieutenant governor to look at the president’s policy initiative that he announced this week that basically threatens local governments with withholding their funds for their local schools,” Gooch said Tuesday. “We think that’s a wrong direction for our country. We shouldn’t be controlling local school boards and dictating them and holding this over their head.”

“We have a lot of concerns with this transgender policy that [President Obama] has basically adopted and he’s announced and we want to make sure going forward we protect the safety of our children and our school systems,” Gooch said. “It’s concerning when you see hundreds and thousands of parents come to a school board meeting like we saw up in Fannin County this week, and it’s going to affect every county in Georgia and across the country, so we’ve asked the governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general to take a strong stand against it, and we’re going to stand against it as well in the Senate.”

The three candidates in the House District 68 Sprint Special Election addressed the goofy 12-day campaign for a seat that could be equivalent to a lifetime appointment. From the Times-Georgian.

The three candidates in the 68th District Georgia House of Representatives race agree that it’s a “low-down dirty shame” that early voters will not be able to cast ballots for them. One candidate on Tuesday night called the voters disenfranchised while another said the secretary of state should create a ballot with just the House seat for early voters since there is a record of who voted and they technically would not be voting twice.

“I personally don’t agree with how things have happened,” said Lattanzio. “We live in a democracy where the people have the choice to choose who they want and I feel like we were given a pill to swallow. We have less than two weeks to decide this race, we had one day to qualify and a lot of people felt disenfranchised by the way the system works.”

Bearden said he plans to speak to the Legislature to ask that the current state law be changed. He agreed that it is not fair for candidates or voters.

“I think it is very simple for the Board of Elections or the secretary of state to create one ballot box in District 68,” he said. “They know who voted already. Yes, we have state law that says you can only vote one time, and that’s the law. But the citizens didn’t change their minds, the ballot changed on them and they should have the right to come back and vote for any of the three of us. So if elected, I promise you we are going to address this bill … to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Collins, who last week resigned as mayor of Villa Rica, said the whole situation was nothing but politics at its finest and as a result many people will feel as if their vote is not going to count.

“I don’t agree with it and I don’t like it,” said Collins. “This has to be changed and it should be changed. My 85-year-old granddaddy voted early and he can’t vote for me now and that’s a shame. This is what your state Legislature has passed. But again, this is state politics at its finest and it is a low-down dirty shame. It needs to be changed. Period. Bottom line.”

In Villa Rica, former deputy city manager Jeff Reese is the first announced candidate for the Mayoral seat vacated by J. Collins.

House District 52, vacated by State Rep. Joe Wilkinson, who is not running for reelection, features two candidates who are close on the issues, but are choosing to focus on personal issues.

Deborah Silcox and Graham McDonald, who are running to fill the House District 52 seat Joe Wilkinson is leaving after 16 years, both said they support Gov. Nathan Deal’s campus carry and religious freedom vetoes.

Silcox, 52, said her son is a college student in Texas, where campus carry is the law. At his school, a dean resigned in part because of the law. Additionally, she said, she did not think the religious freedom law would withstand a judicial challenge.

McDonald, 36, said he was a strong supporter of both vetoes.

Where they differ, though, is in their backing. Silcox is being supported be Wilkinson, who qualified for re-election, then dropped out after former backers threw their support to a different candidate.

Rep. Wendell Willard, R-Sandy Springs, and Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul encouraged McDonald to jump into the race opposite Wilkinson, before he dropped out.

Wilkinson [said Silcox] has the intellect and temperament to be successful.

“I just feel much more comfortable that she could be a very, very effective member of the House right away,” he said. “She will be a great success in the House.”

The race got more personal in a forum sponsored by Sandy Springs’ Riverside Homeowners Association.

Silcox called McDonald—who resigned from the Sandy Springs City Council to make the House run—someone willing to quit on voters at taxpayer expense. McDonald called Silcox a negative campaigner who tells different people different things to win votes.

“I don’t think anyone wants to see a close-up of my nose, large pores and all, with the word ‘quitter’ on it,” said McDonald, referring to a Silcox campaign flyer. He emphasized that local leaders had urged him to run to help preserve a community “very dear to my heart.”

“I am running, not a negative campaign, and it is not preposterous, what I’m saying,” Silcox said. “I’m running just on the facts,” she added, noting that McDonald’s decision to leave the council mid-term means the city is spending more than $70,000 to hold a special election. “I will not quit…I will not seek a higher office,” Silcox said.

“First of all, 70 to 80 thousand is a lot of money, a lot of taxpayer money,” McDonald replied, “but it pales in comparison to having the wrong person in our state House seat. That’s just the bottom line.”

Things are also getting personal in GOP Primaries for seats centered in North DeKalb, according to Dick Williams of the Dunwoody Crier,

State Sen. Fran Millar (R-Dunwoody) is being challenged by Paul Maner, a financial adviser who promises to invest according to biblical principles. Maner is part of a gaggle of dissidents who blame incumbent legislators for immigrants being re-located to Georgia. He also faced a lawsuit by a campaign consultant for non-payment of bills.

A similar situation faces state Rep. Tom Taylor (R-Dunwoody) whose opponent, Tom Owens of Doraville, is listed at the state capitol as “Escorted Entrance Only” after his many attempts to intimidate legislators on the immigration question. Taylor has a pending charge of driving under the influence with which to contend.

In the state House District that includes Brookhaven and parts of Sandy Springs and Chamblee, three Republicans seek to oppose state Rep. Taylor Bennett (D-Brookhaven).

Meagan Hanson, an attorney, has come under attack from Alan Cole who falsely charged her with suing the Republican Party and being part of a law firm that contributed to Democratic Gov. Roy Barnes.

Hanson did not sue the party and was not a member of the firm when it contributed to Barnes.

In turn, she points out that Cole voted in five Democratic primaries from 2000 through 2008. She also points out that the third candidate, Catherine Bernard, voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and against Mitt Romney in 2012. Bernard, also a lawyer, came into politics as a Ron Paul supporter. She recently responded to ethics charges against her by saying she would amend several years of campaign reports, without specifying the amendments.

The Gwinnett County Commission approved the creation of a new Sugarloaf Community Improvement District.

Gwinnett County Sheriff Butch Conway and his challenger talked law enforcement issues with the Gwinnett Daily Post.

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