Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 21, 2015


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 21, 2015

Georgia Colonists signed the Treaty of Savannah with the Lower Creeks on May 21, 1733.

George Washington left Georgia on May 21, 1791, crossing a bridge over the Savannah River at Augusta.

American Charles Lindbergh landed at Paris on May 21, 1927 in The Spirit of St. Louis, completing both the first nonstop transatlantic flight and the first nonstop flight from New York to Paris.

On May 21, 1942, German authorities removed 4300 Polish Jews from Chelm to an extermination camp at Sobibor and killed them by poison gas. The Sobibor camp’s five gas chambers would kill 250,000 Jews during 1942 and 1943.

On May 21, 2011, Herman Cain announced his candidacy for President of the United States at Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park, and I photographed it.

During the next eighteen months, when someone talks about whomever is leading the latest polls, remember that six months after announcing his Presidential campaign, Herman Cain was leading the polls. Less than one month later, Cain was out of the race.

Happy Birthday to longtime Atlanta Braves Coach Bobby Cox. Last July, Cox was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

As long as we’re discussing the 2012 Presidential election for this Throwback Thursday, we note that Newt Gingrich, who won the South Carolina and Georgia Presidential Primaries in 2012 has another new gig at Dentons, the mega-law firm that is merging with McKenna Long. Gingrich joins his longtime colleague and Georgia’s Republican National Committeeman Randy Evans, Eric Tanenblatt, Tharon Johnson, former Congressman Buddy Darden, Gordon Giffin, and more politicos nationally than you can shake a stick at.

Qualifying and Qualified

Ten candidates qualified for the June 16, 2015 Special Election for DeKalb County Commission District Five.

Gregory Adams
Harmel Deanne Codi
Melvin Jerome Edmondson
Gwendolyn R. “Gwen” Green
Vaughn Irons
Mereda Davis Johnson
Gina Mangham
Kathryn T. Rice
Kenneth Saunders, III
George Turner, Jr.

The AJC reviews the backgrounds of some of the candidates,

“We have been without representation for two years, so the first thing that I want to do is listen,” said Mereda Davis Johnson, an attorney who is married to U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., who held the District 5 county commission seat before he was elected to Congress in 2006.

Vaughn Irons, the CEO of APD Solutions, said DeKalb needs to improve so it can become a destination for businesses and residents.

“This race is important because District 5 has been left behind on so many occasions,” Irons said. “We need to be able to catch up from an economic development standpoint and from a job creation standpoint.”

George Turner, the president of the District 5 Community Council, said residents need a commissioner who will look out for them.

“We need to improve the perception of the quality of life in DeKalb County,” Turner said. “We’ve got to clean it up in terms of code enforcement” with blighted homes.

Some of the candidates have run for office in DeKalb before, including Kathryn Rice, who is leading an effort to create a city of Greenhaven in South DeKalb; Gina Mangham, an attorney and mediator; Jerome Edmondson, who owns several call centers; and Gregory Adams, a police officer and pastor.

Edmondson [] ran against [indicted CEO Burrell] Ellis for DeKalb CEO in 2012…. Harmel Deanne Codi [was] a senior financial officer for DeKalb who resigned after she felt allegations of bid-rigging were ignored, said she could use her knowledge of the county’s inner workings to bring about change.

Vaughn Irons has a good point that DeKalb needs to improve to attract new jobs. This echoes comments made by Georgia Department of Economic Development Commissioner Chris Carr, who said,

“It doesn’t make sense that DeKalb County wouldn’t be a part of this burgeoning economy. But the reality of the situation is, there is only so much the state can do. The county is going to have to take care of its business,” Carr said. “You can’t have indictments, and you can’t have school boards getting removed, because companies can go any number of places.”

This was Carr’s bottom line: “The fact is, outside of Perimeter Center, of the projects that the state has been a part, there are very, very, very few where folks are looking at DeKalb.”

Unfortunately, Vaughn Irons, who I would think is favored to make an inevitable runoff in this election, is precisely the candidate who does the least to improve DeKalb County’s reputation for government corruption. In fact, if Irons is elected, it may mean that government kleptocracy has become so prevalent that they stop even pretending.

In the Special Election for State House District 24, qualifying closed at noon yesterday with no suprises. The candidates are:

Sheri Gilligan (R)           website     Facebook     Twitter

Will Kremer (R)              website     Facebook     Twitter

Ethan Underwood (R)   website     Facebook     Twitter

David Van Sant (R)        website     Facebook     Twitter

For the State House Special Elections to be held July 14, 2015, (HDs 48, 80, 146, 155), qualifying will be held Monday and Tuesday, June 1 & 2 from 9 AM to 5 PM and Wednesday, June 3, from 9 AM to 12 Noon at the Secretary of State’s office in Atlanta.

Debating the Debates

With a developing clown car GOP Presidential Primary, party leaders and journalists are fretting about how many candidates should be allowed to participate in the televised debates and how they should be chosen. With a current eighteen announced or likely candidates, Fox News has decided to limit the debate they sponsor to ten candidates.

In a news release announcing the Aug. 6 debate, to be co-hosted by Facebook and the Ohio Republican Party, Fox News officials said that to be allowed on stage, candidates “must place in the top 10 of an average of the five most recent national polls, as recognized by Fox News.” It said that “such polling must be conducted by major, nationally recognized organizations that use standard methodological techniques.”

The release did not say which polling organizations would be considered credible. That Fox News had set criteria for the debate was first reported by The Washington Post.

At the moment, Jeb Bush and Senator Marco Rubio are at the top of most national surveys, with the majority of the other announced and unannounced candidates bunched up in single digits. But by setting a threshold based on national polling, Fox News may prompt some of the candidates on the brink of exclusion to air national cable advertisements in an effort to lift their standing.

Fox News officials said that those who did not make the cut for the debate would be given equal airtime down the road. But given the potential for breakout moments in debates — such as those that occurred with Michele Bachmann in a June debate in 2011, or Newt Gingrich in South Carolina in early 2012 — that may be cold comfort.

The debate will be moderated by Bret Baier, Megyn Kelly and Chris Wallace, all of Fox News.

Newt Gingrich told the AJC that debate participation shouldn’t be limited.

“I don’t know how you do it early on but I’m very much concerned that we don’t have either the news media or the party institutions kill people before they even get a chance to see the voters. The American people should decide which candidates are real, not some formula designed by people to see the best known.

“You wouldn’t have picked Bill Clinton in the fall of 1991 necessarily to be the Democratic nominee. You certainly, when John McCain ran out of money you would not have expected McCain to come back and sweep as rapidly and decisively as he did.

“I’d like them to see some way to accommodate everyone early on. You’re certainly not going to block Carly Fiorina or Ben Carson from having a chance to debate. And if you don’t exclude them, you really can’t exclude anybody.”

And because we seemingly can’t get enough of Newt Gingrich this morning, we note that Ohio Governor John Kasich, who speaks next week at a Fulton GOP lunch and then headlines the Walton County GOP Barbecue, has tapped long-time Gingrich ally Bob Walker to chair his Presidential vehicle.

Kasich announced that he was bringing on Bob Walker, a congressman-turned-lobbyist, as a volunteer adviser to his New Day for America political action committee, which is functioning like the governor’s campaign-in-waiting. Walker was a major player in Gingrich’s failed 2012 presidential run, and he and the former House speaker—and Kasich—go way back.

Walker and Gingrich have been close friends since the late 1970s, when they were first elected to the House of Representatives—Walker from Pennsylvania and Gingrich from Georgia. Kasich arrived in 1983 from Ohio and they bonded through the Clinton years when the Republicans went from minority to majority in Congress, with Gingrich as their leader. Walker served 10 terms before he retired in 1997 to start a DC-based lobbying shop, whose clients have included Comcast, American Airlines, and the natural gas industry.

During the last presidential election, Walker chaired Gingrich’s doomed presidential bid. He served as his confidant-in-chief and Gingrich’s most visible surrogate in the media. As the former speaker became the most serious conservative opponent to Mitt Romney, Walker told Politico, “There are candidates that see [Gingrich] with the potential to coalesce the conservatives behind him. They are panicked. They are desperate.”

Perhaps the folks organizing the GOP debates could consult with Georgia, where we saw huge debate fields in last year’s elections for United States Senate and State School Superintendent.

It’s not so much a debate as a candidate forum, but Georgia College and State University will host a forum for candidates running for Mayor of Milledgeville on June 11, 2015, followed immediately by a meet-and-greet.

Math and Numbers

One of the first major applause lines at the GAGOP Convention this past weekend was when State School Superintendent Richard Woods said, ““We have no obligation from the state of Georgia that they’ll have to teach funny math. If our teachers choose to use a standard algorithm, they’ll be able to do so. We look forward to making that announcement next week.”

Woods spoke to Lori Geary of WSB-TV yesterday to discuss Common Core and math.

Georgia’s state superintendent says he’s heard the concerns of teachers and parents about Common Core.

He told Channel 2’s Lori Geary Wednesday he wants everyone to know that Common Core math is not mandated in the state of Georgia.

State Superintendent Richard Woods says by complicating elementary school math, some parents can’t even figure out how to help their children with homework.

“Last year, second grade a double-sided math sheet came home to me explaining how to do the homework with my son,” said parent Stacey Gyorgyi. Gyorgyi, who lives in Gwinnett County, says that’s when her frustration with Common Core math boiled over.

Woods says the new method makes solving a simple problem like 29+17 a 10 or 20 step process. He told Geary it’s time to go back to the way math used to be taught in schools.

“Right now, we’re just having to say, ‘Let’s just stop. Put some common sense back into education,’” Woods said. “It’s ok to do math the way we’ve done it.”

Woods said students are no longer getting the basics when it comes to math, and many are struggling.

“We have too many kids taking remedial math and English in a post-secondary experience. To me, that’s going back to a weaker foundation,” Woods said.

This morning, the Georgia Department of Labor released new unemployment numbers, which show our April state jobless rate holding steady at 6.3%, which is unchanged from March 2015, and down a full point from April 2014.

“While our unemployment rate for April held steady for the third straight month, our employers continue to create new jobs and lay off fewer workers,” said State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler. “The stable rate continues the 54-month trend in which we’ve seen our rate either remain unchanged or go down.”

“We did very well over the year, as we saw the largest April-to-April job growth we’ve seen in 16 years,” said Butler. “And, our rate of growth at 3.0 percent is significantly higher than the national growth rate of 2.2 percent.”

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