Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 18, 2017


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 18, 2017

George Washington departed Waynesboro, Georgia on May 18, 1791, headed to Augusta.

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

Sixth District

The normally-liberal Politifact found that Democrats stepped over the line in 6th District attacks on Republican Karen Handel, rating an ad by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee as “Mostly False.”

Daily Kos, which gave Jon Ossoff much of his early fundraising momentum, says that Republican Kay Kirkpatrick’s 14-point drubbing of Democrat Christine Triebsch is somehow a positive for Democrats and liberals in Georgia.

While you might think Republicans, who have good reason to fret about the June 20 runoff in the 6th, are breathing a sigh of relief, a closer look at the numbers in the 32nd should only worry them.

For starters, in the primary, which took place on the same day as the congressional primary, the five Republican candidates on the ballot combined for 60 percent of the vote while the three Democrats took 40 percent. (As with the race for the 6th, all candidates ran together on a single ballot, with the top two vote-getters advancing.) This means that the GOP saw its overall margin slip from 20 points to just 14, a drop of 6 points. Needless to say, a similar shift in the 6th District would be lights out for Republican Karen Handel.

While this is just one data point, it’s a key one, because it shows that Democrats can hope to hang onto the gains they made in areas like Georgia’s 32nd Senate District. If that same pattern holds true for Georgia’s 6th Congressional District, which is similar—but less Republican—turf, then that’ll be good news for Ossoff.

I’d offer two suggestions here. First, if you start a piece about elections by wrongly calling a Special Election a “Primary,” you’ve just proven you don’t know of which you speak. Second, it’s probably not correct to call the 6th District “less Republican,” as Tom Price routinely trounced opponents by 20 points or more. It may be less likely to support President Trump, but that doesn’t make it less Republican overall.

San Francisco officials have demanded that the Congressional Leadership Fund remove images of the iconic Bay City trolleys from an ad spoofing Jon Ossoff’s California campaign financing.

San Francisco’s cable cars have long been used in commercials, but there is one ad that the SFMTA wants to go away.

Muni spokesman Paul Rose said, “It looks like that cable car depiction was doctored or photo shopped and they imposed a picture of the Congressman.”

And real or put on with special effects, Muni says it violates their no political ad rule.

Rose said, “We don’t want to get involved in political campaigns.”

Once again proving they don’t know what they’re talking about, this time, by referring to Jon Ossoff as “the Congressman.”

State and Local Government Operations

CobbLINC employees represented by a transit union are threatening to strike over payroll problems.

Ken Howell, a local representative of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 732, said some employees have had to wait an additional two weeks to receive their correct pay due to payroll issues with Cincinnati-based First Transit, which took over as CobbLinc’s operator in late March.

Other pay issues have involved employees being given their pay on debit cards, and when the cards were taken to their bank, they would not activate.

Howell says the operator has also not paid some employees correct amounts on their regular pay rates, overtime and “spread time,” the latter involving workdays that span more than 11.5 hours. A driver who drives four hours in the morning, four hours in the evening with four hours in between those shifts, for example, is supposed to be paid at half-time for the four hours between the driving periods.

“Since March, none of the checks have been correct,” Howell said, adding that while the number of affected employees has varied each pay period, 20 workers affected per period was a fair estimate.

Hall County homeowners are appealing their property tax assessments at a quicker rate than in previous years.

With a jump in property values expected this year, there are 100 more appeals of property tax assessments rolling into Hall County government than there were at this time in 2016.

The Hall County Tax Assessor’s Office has approximately 915 appeals already filed, according to Deputy Chief Appraiser Kelly McCormick.

“If the pace kept the same we’d be just over 2,000, in the 2,100 to 2,200 range, but these last two weeks will tell the story,” McCormick told the Hall County Board of Tax Assessors on Wednesday. “We’ll get more in the last week than we probably did in the entire rest of this process.”

Warner Robins Mayor Randy Toms presented City Council with a proposed budget that foregoes tax hikes but dips into reserve funds to the tune of $2.7 million for FY 2018.

Toms defended using reserve fund money to balance the budget, which the city also did last year. Toms said he expects revenues to grow beyond the current projections and it may be that the city won’t need the reserve fund money, or at least not as much as the budget projects.

“The truth is in the past we’ve taken money from the reserve funds, put it in there to balance the budget and then it doesn’t get used,” he said. “It goes right back into the reserve fund.”

Augusta has fired its Equal Employment Opportunity officer, according to The Augusta Chronicle.

The Carroll County Sheriff’s Department is stretched thin by rising jail populations.

[T]he inmate population at the county jail has risen to 580, compared to around 450 last year. In the past four to five months, the jail staff has had several vacancies, Robinson said.

“We are continuing to look for outstanding qualified applicants to fill those vacancies and we are continuing to make progress on that,” said Robinson. “Being fully staffed will always be a plus but what we would like to do is hire personnel in the jail. We are looking for employees there to apply and go to peace officer school which will then allow us to bring them into the law enforcement section of the office.”

Carroll County is setting up a transit system, with some service available as soon as this July.

[County Commissioner Michelle] Morgan said the transit service will be a “demand service model” that will go door to door.

“So there will be no planned bus stop under the currently proposed service model,” she said. “Designated bus stops are done under urban transit grants, Section 5307, and that service would require a detailed transit study before being considered. Generally, though, the destination point for the transit service will be in or around the municipal areas where people work or receive various types of services. The committee will closely monitor the services to determine demand, assess gaps, and make recommendations to the Carroll County Board of Commissioners as needed. This will be a key component of the committee … to educate and inform the public of when it is up and running and how to reserve or request a ride.”

Richard McIntosh and Thomas Wallace are running for Temple City Council in a July 20 Special Election.

Both men, neither of whom have ever held political office, will face each other during a special election to be held on June 20, the earliest date available on the state’s election calendar. Although the winner will represent Ward 4, all registered voters in the city will be able to cast ballots. The registration deadline is May 22.

Early voting for the post will begin on June 5 and close on June 16, and will be held at the Carroll County Elections and Registration Office, 423 College St., Carrollton. The polling place for election day will be the Temple Senior Center, 280 Rome St.

the special election may well become a referendum on a controversial proposal to lower marijuana fines in the city.

McIntosh favors a three-strike punishment for those found possessing one ounce or less of marijuana, with first offenders having a chance to pay a $100 fine with no jail time. Third-time offenders would face a $1,000 fine and up to 180 days in jail. Wallace, however, opposes any change in the current law. Both men, however, say the council should focus on other matters.

Nevertheless, the marijuana issue has become one of the most contentious issues in city politics, roiling public controversy ever since an ordinance to reduce the penalty for possessing small amounts of the drug was first proposed in March by Ward 1 council member Penny Ransom.

When the matter came up to a vote on May 1, it failed on a tie vote among the four council members, with the Ward 4 post vacant after Simmons’ death. Ransom has vowed to introduce the matter again sometime after the election, so whoever fills the fifth council seat will be in a position to cast a deciding vote on the issue.

Neither McIntosh nor Wallace appeared willing to make the matter the defining issue of the race.

2018 Elections

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp continues to sound populist themes as he tours South Georgia.

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp said he and the President share a large commonality, namely they both are focused on fighting for the “everyday Georgians” who have felt largely forgotten by politicians in recent years.

“I think (Donald Trump) struck a chord with working Georgians and with small business people that are literally … just fed up with government. They are ready for somebody to fight for them. I’m going to … be leading that fight,” Kemp said Tuesday when he stopped by Valdosta as part of a whirlwind tour of southwest Georgia, the latest move in his campaign for governor.
He wants to give rural Georgia the best and fastest Internet.

“If we’re going to do this, we need to go big, we need to go bold. (Internet) is the next interstate, if you will. It’s the next rail line,” Kemp said.

“That will open a lot of doors to a lot of problems in rural Georgia, like getting better paying jobs (and) more opportunities where people’s children can actually stay in their local community versus having to leave to go find a good paying job.”

Like Trump, Kemp has taken a hard-line stance against illegal immigration.

But many farmers in Georgia have said they need undocumented workers to fill the jobs that no one else wants, and they’re worried massive deportation would cause a crash in the farming industry.

Kemp said he understands the needs of farmers and that his main frustration is not with field workers but rather the illegals flocking to sanctuary cities.

Part of running a modern Democratic campaign is rolling out your message in national progressive circles, building name-ID (and SEO value) in the leftosphere and courting progressive would be-kingmakers on sites like Daily Kos, which helped Jon Ossoff immensely in raising his $8.3 million dollar special election war chest.

So take the article at The Nation, which touts likely Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, notably at the expense of her fellow State House Democrat Stacey Evans.

It’s no accident that Barack Obama’s historic candidacy inspired record high turnout among African-American voters, propelling him into the White House by a near-landslide margin. In Georgia, Obama received 47 percent of the vote in 2008, a higher percentage than any Democratic presidential candidate since native son Jimmy Carter’s 1980 campaign (Bill Clinton won Georgia in 1992, but he received only 43.5 percent of the vote in a race where third-party candidate Ross Perot siphoned off significant Republican support).

Abrams is poised to ride the same sort of wave that carried Obama to victory. In the 241-year history of the United States, there has never been an African-American woman elected governor of a state—any state. As one of the highest-ranking Democrats in Georgia, Abrams represents the best opportunity to finally smash that glass ceiling. A majority of all voters in the Democratic primary will be black, making her the odds-on favorite to win the nomination. In a state that is rapidly approaching “majority-minority” status (whites currently comprise 53.9 percent of the population), the electoral calculus for Democrats is increasingly favorable.

An Atlanta Journal-Constitution article reported that the rationale for getting behind Evans is that she could perform better with white voters. That approach, however, was tried—and failed—in the last midterm election. In 2014, the Democratic nominees for governor and senator had two of the most famous last names in Georgia politics—Carter and Nunn. Jimmy Carter’s grandson Jason was the gubernatorial standard-bearer, and former Georgia Senator Sam Nunn’s daughter Michelle Nunn ran for the Senate. They both lost by slightly more than 200,000 votes, receiving the standard 23 percent of the white vote that Democratic candidates in Georgia have received since 2008.

Why would lesser-known candidates from less-beloved families do better? There is simply no empirical evidence that a Georgia Democrat can do much better than 23 percent of the white vote. The greatest upside and clearest path to victory in that state lies in expanding the number of voters of color—the most Democratic voters of all.

It is rare when the stars line up as they have for Abrams’s campaign in Georgia, and the moment of truth will be whether the state and national Democratic power players can see the light. Will Emily’s List, the Democratic Governors Association, the Democratic National Committee, and progressive activist groups embrace this dark-skinned black woman the way they have other progressive candidates? Will progressive donors step up and make massive, multimillion-dollar investments in inspiring and organizing the 1.3 million voters of color who have not previously been motivated to participate in Georgia elections?

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