Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 25, 2018

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 25, 2018

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.

On May 27, 1813, Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter to John Adams to let Adams know of the death of a mutual friend.

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.

On May 27, 1863, Chief Justice Roger Taney, sitting as a federal district court judge, issued a decision in Ex parte Merryman, which challenged President Abraham Lincoln’s suspension of the right of habeas corpus. Lincoln ignored the ruling.

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.

Sunday is the 154th Anniversary of the Battle of Pickett’s Mill in Paulding County, Georgia, where Sherman’s forces attacked Johnston’s Confederates on May 27, 1864. Among the combatants on the Union side was Ambrose Bierce, who would later write The Crime at Pickett’s Mill.

On May 27, 1864, the Federal Army, having been stopped in its advance on Atlanta two days earlier by the Battle of New Hope Church, attempted to outflank the Confederate position. Some 14,000 Federal troops were selected for the task, and General Howard was given command. After a five-hour march, Howard’s force reached the vicinity of Pickett’s Mill and prepared to attack. Waiting were 10,000 Confederate troops under the command of General Cleburne.

The Federal assault began at 5 p.m. and continued into the night. Daybreak found the Confederates still in possession of the field. The Federals had lost 1,600 men compared to the Confederate loss of 500. The Confederate victory resulted in a one-week delay of the Federal advance on Atlanta.

Here are some photos of the battlefield and links to additional material.

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.

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

On May 27, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt said the United States was in an unlimited national emergency and laid out conditions under which Germany’s expansionism would constitute an attack on the United States. There are those who believe that Roosevelt suspended the right of habeas corpus with Executive Order 9066, which led to the internment of Japanese-Americans in concentration camps.

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

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.

On May 27, 1976, former Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter blasted the “Stop Carter” movement in a speech in Cincinnati.

Star Wars opened on May 25, 1977.

Actor Christopher Reeves was thrown from his horse in an equestrian competition in Culpepper, Virginia on May 27, 1995, becoming quadraplegic.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Congratulations to Randy Evans, who was confirmed yesterday by the United States Senate to the post of Ambassador to Luxembourg.

The U.S. Senate voted 48-43 (with nine not voting) Thursday to confirm Atlanta lawyer J. Randolph “Randy” Evans as President Donald Trump’s choice for ambassador to Luxembourg.

“As a lifelong Georgian, Randy Evans has served his state and country with distinction in both the public and private sectors,” Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., said in a news release Thursday congratulating Evans. “He understands the complex issues the United States faces across the globe and is committed to maintaining strong relationships with our European allies. I’m excited that finally today the Senate voted to confirm President Trump’s excellent choice of Randy Evans for this post, and I know our country will be represented by our nation’s very best in Luxembourg.”

“I am delighted that Randy Evans has been confirmed as U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg,” Senator Johnny Isakson, (R-GA) said in a news release. “Randy is a distinguished attorney, and he is exactly the person we need to have in a place of such strategic importance to the United States.”

Former State Rep. Melvin Everson (R-Snellville) appears to be running for the Republican National Committeeman seat being vacated by Randy Evans.

Georgia Supreme Court Justice Britt Grant appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday for hearings to confirm her nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, according to the Daily Report1.

To begin, she was introduced by Georgia Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson, who said he’d been friends since high school with her parents—who were present along with her sister, her husband, Justin (formerly with the CIA for 10 years, and now with IBM), and other family members, friends and former colleagues.

“To tell you how far we go back, I hired her as an intern when I first went to the House 20 years ago,” Isakson said. He gave her a pass for going to Wake Forrest instead of the University of Georgia and said she went on to a “great law school”—Stanford, in California.

Then the senator pointed out that she clerked for U.S. District Court Judge Brett Kavanaugh of the D.C. Circuit, also present.

Isakson failed to mention she went from the job with Kavanaugh to Kirkland & Ellis in Washington, D.C., before returning to her hometown, Atlanta, to work as solicitor general for the Georgia Attorney General’s Office. She served there for a year before Gov. Nathan Deal nominated her to the Georgia Supreme Court a year and a half ago.

Sen. Michael Lee, R-Utah, provided a chance to trip over the constitutional limits of judicial powers. Grant said it’s the duty of judges to faithfully apply the law and legal precedent, and if she wanted to make policy, she would have run for the state assembly.

“But what if they pass a really stupid law?” Lee asked. “What if it tugs at your heartstrings and you really don’t like it?”

“I’ve done that already,” Grant said of applying laws with which she might disagree. “I would pledge to continue doing that if I’m fortunate enough to be confirmed.”

The Dalton Daily News notes that Georgia Court of Appeals Judge Charlie Bethel appears to be the first Dalton resident elected statewide.

On Tuesday, Bethel didn’t face any opposition for his seat on the bench, but he still etched his name in Dalton history. Bethel is believed to be the first Dalton native to be elected to a statewide office. Court of Appeals judges are voted on by the entire state in non-partisan races.

Statewide, more than 1.1 million people voted in races which included Republican and Democratic primaries for governor and other elected offices. Bethel garnered 100 percent of the vote in his race with a total of 884,428 votes, according to the Secretary of State’s website

Bethel acknowledged, with a laugh, that running an uncontested race is much less stressful, but he was honored to be on the ballot and allowed to return to the Court of Appeals. Gov. Nathan Deal appointed Bethel to the Court of Appeals in November 2016.

“In truth, every time, you ever have your name on the ballot, it is a humbling experience when you see your own name on the ballot,” Bethel said. “Part of the premise of our system of government is that we allow people to exercise their power at the ballot box. It is humbling and an honor and really is a privilege.”

Gwinnett County continued a trend of electing women in open seat  judicial elections. From the Gwinnett Daily Post:

Two Superior Court seats and one State Court seat were up for grabs due to retirements — Debra Turner from Superior Court- Division 2, Tom Davis from Superior Court- Division 9 and Joseph Iannazzone from State Court- Seat 4.

With 82 percent of precincts reporting as of 12:45 a.m., Tracie Cason won with 61.14 percent of the vote, or 40,475 votes, followed by Wesley Person with 20.4 percent, or 13,508 votes and B.T. Parker with 18.46 percent, or 12,219 votes for the seat Turner is vacating.

In the race for the seat being vacated by Davis, Tracey Mason was barely ahead of Veronica Cope, 29.77 percent to 28.76 percent, in a race heading to a runoff. They were followed by John Burdges (18.89 percent), Jason Park (15.16 percent) and Jon Setzer (7.41 percent).

Over in the race for Iannazzone’s seat, Ronda Colvin-Leary won with 60.29 percent of the vote, or 39,664 votes over Lance Tyler, who had 39.71 percent, or 26,123 votes.

So, that’s three open seats on the bench, two of which elected women outright, and in the third, two women advance to the Primary Runoff.

Nick Bowman of the Gainesville Times looks at the early fallout in the Runoff Election for the Republican nomination for Governor.

Casey Cagle is a “puppet,” and Brian Kemp is “incompetent” — barbs were flying almost instantly after the dust settled around Tuesday’s Republican gubernatorial primary.

Georgia Republicans should prepare for a bloody runoff between Lt. Gov. Cagle and Secretary of State Kemp as the two men scramble for their party’s nomination to face Democrat Stacey Abrams in the November general election.

Cagle let loose his first few conspicuous blows against Kemp in an afternoon announcement to media, saying that his accomplishments offer a “stark contrast” to those of Kemp.

Meanwhile, Kemp came out hard against Cagle a celebratory speech Tuesday night in Athens, where he labeled Cagle a “puppet” who is beholden to special interests and has “twisted every arm at the state Capitol he could find.”

A bitter runoff between the two could be bad news for the GOP in November, said Douglas Young, a professor of political science at the University of North Georgia’s Gainesville campus.

“Cagle and Kemp need to be very careful that this runoff does not get so nasty or bitterly divisive that whoever loses, his supporters will simply say, ‘Well, I’m going to stay home,’” Young said on Wednesday. “Remember, Abrams, she doesn’t have another election until early November.”

Macon-Bibb County may see the first runoff election of the year, as the Board of Elections is expected to set the runoff date in the special election for County Commissioner. From the Macon Telegraph:

The Bibb County elections board is expected to vote Friday on setting the District 1 runoff for June 19, board member Mike Kaplan said.

The elections board reached out to the Secretary of State’s Office following Tuesday’s election to get clarification on which day the runoff could be held, he said.

The elections board would also discuss if there will be an early voting period.

Savannah will resemble a goat rodeo, as the city deploys the ruminants for foliage control. From the Savannah Morning News:

The city will rent 60 goats and two livestock guardian dogs from Atlanta-area company Get Your Goat Rentals, according to a press release issued Thursday afternoon. The goats will be used to remove vegetation along a ravine in the Laurel Grove North Cemetery located near W. Anderson Street and at the Clinch Street Pond behind Derenne Middle School.

The goats will benefit the city in several ways, according to city officials. Goats are able to clear vegetation in areas that are difficult for workers to clear or to access with machinery they thrive on poison ivy, poison oak, Kudzu, blackberries, nasty vines, and briers; and cost-savings are expected to result from using the goats instead of city staff. In addition, city officials said the goats are more environmentally friendly since the type of vegetation they eat ordinarily requires heavy machinery or toxic chemicals to manage and they leave behind natural fertilizer.

The city is scheduled to receive the goats on June 19. While the goats are working they will be confined using marked electric fencing. Get Your Goat Rentals estimates it takes 20-25 goats one week to eat one acre of vegetation.

After making an unsuccessful attempt to secure a federal grant for the goats last year, the estimated cost of using temporary workers for six months is about $21,000, although it may take less time than that, said city spokesperson Michelle Gavin.

Lowndes County Commissioners approved the county’s participation in a national lawsuit against opioid manufacturers, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Augusta Commissioner-elect John Clarke is under fire for allegedly racist Facebook posts, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Augusta commissioners are speaking out about offensive Facebook posts attributed to commissioner-elect John Clarke, but Clarke says he is not stepping down and wants a chance to serve.

Clarke, who took down his Facebook account Sunday after some of the posts became public, won the Super District 10 commission seat Tuesday with 52.8 percent of votes over Lori Myles. The super district encompasses regular commission districts 3, 6, 7 and 8.

While The Augusta Chronicle’s City Ink column referenced one post from Clarke’s account stating white men “had to go to work” so they could not march on Washington, another post circulated Sunday that showed Clarke repeatedly using racial slurs in conjunction with obscenities in reference to black protestors.

With the posts coming out on the eve of Tuesday’s election, Clarke, 70, said he’d been “hacked” and declined to comment further.

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