Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 24, 2024


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 24, 2024

John Hancock was elected President of the Second Continental Congress on May 24, 1775.

The Constitutional Convention of 1787 convened at Independence Hall in Philadelphia on May 25, 1787.

With George Washington presiding, the Constitutional Convention formally convenes on this day in 1787. The convention faced a daunting task: the peaceful overthrow of the new American government as it had been defined by the Article of Confederation.

The process began with the proposal of James Madison’s Virginia Plan. Madison had dedicated the winter of 1787 to the study of confederacies throughout history and arrived in Philadelphia with a wealth of knowledge and an idea for a new American government. It featured a bicameral legislature, with representation in both houses apportioned to states based upon population; this was seen immediately as giving more power to large states, like Virginia. The two houses would in turn elect the executive and the judiciary and would possess veto power over the state legislatures.

William Patterson soon countered with a plan more attractive to the new nation’s smaller states. It too bore the imprint of America’s British experience. Under the New Jersey Plan, as it became known, each state would have a single vote in Congress as it had been under the Articles of Confederation, to even out power between large and small states.

Alexander Hamilton then put forward to the delegates a third plan, a perfect copy of the British Constitution including an upper house and legislature that would serve on good behavior.

Confronted by three counter-revolutionary options, the representatives of Connecticut finally came up with a workable compromise: a government with an upper house made up of equal numbers of delegates from each state and a lower house with proportional representation based upon population. This idea formed the basis of the new U.S. Constitution, which became the law of the land in 1789.

Georgia Militia under General John Floyd began rounding up Cherokee Indians on May 26, 1838.

General Robert E. Lee wrote a letter dated May 26, 1861 to Georgia Governor Joseph E. Brown asking the state to send any weapons available for Georgia volunteers who arrived in Virginia unarmed.

The Battle of New Hope Church was fought near Dallas, Georgia May 25-26, 1864 between Confederates under General Joseph E. Johnston and Federal troops under General William T. Sherman.

The Brooklyn Bridge opened May 24, 1883.

On May 25, 1907, an equine statue of John B. Gordon was unveiled on the grounds of the Georgia State Capitol.

President Calvin Coolidge signed the “Comprehensive Immigration Act” on May 26, 1924.

Many Americans saw the enormous influx of largely unskilled, uneducated immigrants during the early 1900s as causing unfair competition for jobs and land. Under the new law, immigration remained open to those with a college education and/or special skills, but entry was denied to Mexicans, and disproportionately to Eastern and Southern Europeans and Japanese. At the same time, the legislation allowed for more immigration from Northern European nations such as Britain, Ireland and Scandinavian countries. A quota was set that limited immigration to two percent of any given nation’s residents already in the U.S. as of 1890, a provision designed to maintain America’s largely Northern European racial composition. In 1927, the “two percent rule” was eliminated and a cap of 150,000 total immigrants annually was established.

The law particularly angered Japan, which in 1907 had forged with U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt a “Gentlemen’s Agreement,” which included more liberal immigration quotas for Japan. By 1924, strong U.S. agricultural and labor interests–particularly from California, which had already passed its own exclusionary laws against Japanese immigrants–favored the more restrictive legislation signed by Coolidge. The Japanese government viewed the American law as an insult, and protested by declaring May 26 a national day of humiliation in Japan.

Serial bank robbers Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow were shot to death near Sailes, Louisiana by a group of LA and Texas state police on May 23, 1934.

Fort Frederica National Monument was established on St Simons Island, Georgia on May 26, 1936.

Fort Frederica National National Monument on St. Simons Island Fort Frederica National National Monument on St. Simons Island

May 26, 1949 was named Clay Day in Marietta, Georgia in honor of General Lucius Clay, who spoke at the courthouse square.

On May 23, 1954, the NAACP petitioned the Fulton County Board of Education to desegregate after the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education.

Then-Lt. Governor Marvin Griffin announced his candidacy for Governor on May 24, 1954.

The United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia held on May 25, 1962 that the Georgia General Assembly was malapportioned and ordered the reapportionment of the State House and Senate.

Former Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter won the Virginia Caucus on May 23, 1976, gaining 24 delegates. On May 25, 1976, Carter won the Arkansas, Tennessee, and Kentucky Primary Elections for President.

Star Wars opened on May 25, 1977.

On May 23, 1990, the NFL announced that Atlanta would host the 1994 Super Bowl.

John Smoltz tied the record for most strikeouts by a Braves pitcher, throwing 15 Ks against Montreal Expos on May 24, 1992.

On this day in 1992, The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion by Georgia-based The Black Crowes reached number one on the Billboard US Album chart.

Happy Birthday to Bob Dylan, who was born on this day in 1941.

Seven years ago today, the 2016 General Primary and Nonpartisan General Election was held in Georgia. Two years ago today, the 2022 General Primary elections were held.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

In Bulloch County, the incumbent County Commission Chair and District Attorney were both defeated, according to the Statesboro Herald.

A relative newcomer to Bulloch County, David Bennett, is set to chair the Bulloch County Board of Commissioners beginning in January, and a defense attorney who has never prosecuted anybody, Robert Busbee, stands to replace the incumbent Ogeechee Circuit district attorney.

Among those with challengers, only Sheriff Noel Brown emerged unscathed as a wave of anti-incumbent sentiment rolled over Bulloch in the primary elections that concluded Tuesday. Voter turnout, meanwhile, was a slight 20.9% of Bulloch’s active, registered voters.

Bennett captured 5,105 votes, or 66.9%, to incumbent Roy Thompson’s 2,530 votes, in the Republican primary race for Board of Commissioners chairman. Thompson, a lifetime Bulloch County resident, business owner and recipient of awards for community service, is completing his eighth year as chairman after 12 years as a district commissioner. Bennett, originally from Jesup, first came to Bulloch County as a Georgia Southern student, but after a career in the Army Nurse Corps, made his home here after retiring as a lieutenant colonel in 2020, and now works as a civilian Air Evac flight nurse.

Meanwhile in the district attorney race, Robert Busbee, until now a defense attorney whose solo law practice is based in Statesboro, captured 10,163 votes across the four-county Ogeechee Judicial Circuit, or 63% of the total, to 5,968 votes, or 37%, for incumbent D.A. Daphne Jarriel Totten.

In Bulloch, Busbee received 4,867 votes, or 64.2%, to Totten’s 2,725 votes. In Effingham County, Busbee received 3,249 votes, or 55%, to Totten’s 2,651 votes. The other tallies were, in  Jenkins County, 296 votes, or 79%, for Busbee to 78 votes for Totten, and in Screven County, 1,751 votes, or 77.3%, for Busbee, to 514 votes for Totten.

But Bulloch Sheriff Noel Brown, already well known from two terms in office, had his face appear on billboards and signs as “A Sheriff for All People.” Now he is set to begin a third four-year term in January, after receiving 5,618 votes, or 73%, to challenger Keith Howard’s 2,072. This was Howard’s fourth time running for sheriff.

Bennett won’t be the only new Bulloch County commissioner arriving on the board in January. Challenger Ray M. Davis captured commission Seat 2-A by receiving 4,224 votes, or 62.6 %, to incumbent Commissioner Curt Deal’s 2,522 votes in Commission District 2, which elects multiple commissioners and encompasses about two-thirds of the county’s population.

All of the races mentioned above, to this point in the story, have one thing in common: All of the candidates were Republicans, so these contests were decided exclusively by voters who chose the Republican ballot.

The race for Bulloch County Board of Commissioners Seat 2-C was a little different, since three candidates had qualified as Republicans and one as a Democrat. This race is also the only one now destined, in-part, for a June 18 primary runoff.

In Effingham County, the contests for Tax Commissioner and State Court Judge go into etra innings with a June 18, 2024 Runoff Election, according to the Effingham Herald.

One of the tightest races is for tax commissioner where Kelly Hoffner received 2,630 (43.9%) and Daniel Rodewolt was close behind with 2,552 (42.6%). Since neither candidate secured 50% of the votes, there will be a runoff on June 18. Tony Sapp received 804 (13%) of the vote.

The other race that resulted in a runoff is for state court judge. Incumbent Stephen R. Yekel (2,986 votes, 42.2%) will face off against Melissa Calhoun (2,066 votes, 29.1%). Calhoun narrowly edged Raymond Dickey who garnered 2,025 votes (28.6%).

The County Commission Chairman race was close all evening while the votes were being tallied. Damon Rahn gathered 3,103 votes (51.7%) to Alex Long’s 2,890 votes (48.2%).

In County Commission District 1, incumbent Frank Forrest Floyd was challenged by Alfred Bryant and Wallace Thomas. Floyd garnered 580 votes (52%) to retain his seat.

The open County Commission District 4 seat previously held by Reginald Loper, was won by Beth Helmly, who received 630 votes (56.4%). Her closest challenger was Craig Johnson, who received 217 votes (19.4%).

According to the Effingham County Elections website, 2,353 residents voted early in person; and 203 by absentee ballot. Turn out on Election Day saw 4,878 Effingham County voters. Total votes cast in the county were 7,434 or just over 16%.

Former State Senator Mike Dugan (R-Carrollton) faces a runoff election against Brian Jack, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Newnan Times-Herald.

Brian Jack, brandishing an endorsement from former President Donald Trump, was leading former state Sen. Mike Dugan 47.5% to 27.7% with 2,151 of 2,715 precincts reporting in the west-central Georgia district shortly after 10 p.m., according to unofficial results.

That left Jack short of the 50%-plus-one margin needed to avoid a June runoff against Dugan. Three other candidates in a crowded Republican field seeking to succeed retiring U.S. Rep. Drew Ferguson, R-West Point – former state Sen. Mike Crane, businessman Jim Bennett, and former state Rep. Philip Singleton – were out of the running.

Jack played up his close ties with Trump during the campaign, while Dugan touted his accomplishments during a stint as Georgia Senate majority leader.

I have two notes for this piece. First, that’s my photo of Brian Jack, uncredited, that runs with the Newnan Times-Herald story. Second, Mike Dugan is right where he wants to be, I think. In 2012, Dugan was first elected to the State Senate in a Special Primary Runoff Election in which he came from second place in the Special Election to former State Rep. Bill Hembree. His style of campaigning might be formidable in this runoff. But then, there’s the Trump factor.

Dublin Judicial Circuit District Attorney Craig Fraser was defeated for reelection, according to 13WMAZ.

After 20 years with the current district attorney, Craig Fraser, people in the Dublin Judicial Circuit elected someone new. That circuit includes Laurens, Johnson, Twiggs and Treutlen counties. Laurens County Republican Harold McLendon beat Fraser by over 900 votes. He’s set to take office in January.

“As it relates to law enforcement, there’s a vast disconnect there. Law enforcement officers are asking constantly for advice on what they can do, what they can’t do. They get no help in that area. It’s a big chasm between the two of them. And it’s my job to get them back together as soon as possible,” McLendon said.

McLendon said he’ll begin that process by speaking with law enforcement leaders starting Friday morning.

His new approach to working with law enforcement includes having his assistant district attorneys keep an office at local law enforcement centers.

“I talked with Chief Moon with the City of Dublin. He said he will provide an office there for my assistant district attorney. And Sheriff Dean said he will provide a place at the Laurens County jail just to have an office out there also,” McLendon said.

“I’m gonna have a caseload where I try cases. I’m not gonna be a supervisory D.A. I’m gonna be a workhorse. So I’m gonna be out there working, trying cases. I would expect to maintain a caseload of somewhere between 300 and 400 myself. And with me going to work, we can relieve the backlog we have,” McLendon said.

He said the current backlog at the district attorney’s office goes back to about 2019. McLendon said the longer it takes for cases to go to trial, the more people will feel comfortable committing crimes, because they feel they’ll get away with it.

“These guys are calculated risk takers. Number one, if I commit the crime, am I gonna get caught? If I get caught, how long is it gonna be before I get prosecuted? And given enough time, witnesses get displaced or dismissed or disinterested. A lot happens in that time. So the immediacy of the prosecution is very, very important — to send out a message that it’s just not going to work here,” McLendon said.

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