Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 1, 2021

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 1, 2021

Georgia’s Trustees decided on November 1, 1732 that the first settlement would be named Savannah and located on the Savannah River.

Parliament passed the Stamp Act on March 22, 1765 with an effective date of November 1, 1765, to fund British military operations.

The Stamp Act, however, was a direct tax on the colonists and led to an uproar in America over an issue that was to be a major cause of the Revolution: taxation without representation.

Passed without debate by Parliament in March 1765, the Stamp Act was designed to force colonists to use special stamped paper in the printing of newspapers, pamphlets, almanacs, and playing cards, and to have a stamp embossed on all commercial and legal papers. The stamp itself displayed an image of a Tudor rose framed by the word “America” and the French phrase Honi soit qui mal y pense—”Shame to him who thinks evil of it.”

Outrage was immediate. Massachusetts politician Samuel Adams organized the secret Sons of Liberty organization to plan protests against the measure, and the Virginia legislature and other colonial assemblies passed resolutions opposing the act. In October, nine colonies sent representatives to New York to attend a Stamp Act Congress, where resolutions of “rights and grievances” were framed and sent to Parliament and King George III.

Georgia Commissioners and Creek leaders signed a treaty on November 1, 1783.

Jimmy Carter ended his first Presidential campaign with a rally in Flint, Michigan on November 1, 1976.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Former President Trump came to Georgia over the weekend to attend a World Series Game. Here is some of the coverage:

YahooSports: MLB refutes Trump claim it invited him to World Series

Trump arrived at the box the Braves provided for him shortly before 8 p.m. He and wife Melania waved to onlookers from the box, located in the corner of the stadium down the right-field line. Both the former president and former First Lady participated in a pregame rendition of Atlanta’s Tomahawk Chop.

The Braves did not show Trump on the stadium’s screen prior to the game.

CBS News: Trump does controversial “tomahawk chop” with Atlanta Braves fans at Game 4 of World Series

Months after calling for a boycott of Major League Baseball, Mr. Trump and wife Melania attended the game between the Braves and Houston Astros at Truist Park in Atlanta. They were seen doing a chopping gesture – a Braves’ gameday tradition considered offensive to many Native Americans.

Mr. Trump was joined by U.S. Senate candidate Herschel Walker, a former NFL running back who received the endorsement of the former commander-in-chief. Walker is looking to unseat freshman Democratic Senator Rafael Warnock of Georgia in 2022.

Early/Advance voting turnout over the last two off-year elections.

2019 total…..120,419………. Fulton County…..11,408

2021 total…..219,392……….Fulton County…..78,729

I’m using Fulton County as a loose proxy for City of Atlanta voting because of limitations on the date in the Secretary of State’s early voting file. There are municipalities in Fulton that have local election, and part of the City of Atlanta is in DeKalb County, so it’s an imperfect proxy. But the City of Atlanta mayoral race is one of the biggest independent variables in voter turnout this year, and the difference between early/advance voting in 2019 and 2021 for Fulton is stark.

Oconee County voters will decide on a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax referendum tomorrow, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

A major sales-tax vote and a mayoral race in Watkinsville highlight Election Day on Tuesday in Oconee County.

The polls open at 7 a.m., closing at 7 p.m.

As of Thursday, 820 advance votes had been cast, according to the Oconee County Board of Elections.

In Watkinsville, Mayor Brian Brodrick is seeking a full two-year term following his election to the post last year to fill the unexpired term of former Mayor Bob Smith, who resigned.

Challenging Brodrick, who has served 17 years mostly as a city councilman, is political newcomer Rebecca Billings.

Countywide, voters will decide on a special one-percent sales tax (SPLOST) that county officials said will be used mostly for transportation improvements. The measure, if passed, is expected to raise $56 million over a period years.

The money would pay for improvements to roads, bridges and water service, as well provide equipment for law enforcement and fire and rescue, among other needs. Money from the SPLOST will also be allocated for similar projects in the towns of Bishop, Bogart, North High Shoals and Watkinsville.

Athens-Clarke County voters also will decide on an E-SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for Education), according to the Athens Banner Herald.

More than 1,600 voters have cast a ballot in early voting for ESPLOST, just days before Election Day.

ESPLOST, or Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, is a 1-percent sales tax that goes to the Clarke County School District. Voters will choose Tuesday whether or not to renew the tax, which could potentially collect $120 million over five years, school officials estimate.

Early voting began Oct. 12 and as of Friday afternoon, 1,622 voters had cast advanced ballots with an additional 149 absentee ballots. This out of a total of 75,406 active voters in Clarke County.

The ESPLOST will be the only item on the ballot for most Clarke voters, with the exception of Winterville residents, who will also vote in a city council election.

Bulloch County reports 6% turnout in early voting for Statesboro elections, according to the Statesboro Herald.

Seventeen days of early voting in city elections across Georgia ended at 5 p.m. Friday, with just under 5.8% of registered voters taking advantage of the opportunity in Statesboro, which has a mayoral race and a citywide referendum on liquor stores and, in one district, a City Council race.

Early voting participation was even lighter in the other three municipalities in Bulloch County.

But now, the polls will open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. Tuesday for Election Day voting  at traditional precincts within Brooklet, Portal, Register and Statesboro. All are elections for city-resident voters only.

13WMAZ reviews Middle Georgia elections on the ballot.

In Warner Robins, Randy Toms is running for a third term as mayor. Stephen Baughier and Larhonda Patrick are challenging him.

In Dublin, Jerry Davis and Joshua Kight want to replace longtime mayor Phil Best, who retired this year.

In Fort Valley, Jeffery Lundy and Lemario Brown are competing to replace Barbara Williams after she announced in August she would run for re-election.

Georgia will be the center of the political universe again in 2022, according to the Macon Telegraph.

One year out from the midterm elections, Georgia is poised to be one of the most hotly contested states, already attracting massive amounts of attention and money from around the country, particularly for the races for U.S. Senate and governor.

It’s not a situation Georgia has been in historically. Prior to the 2020 election, Democrats and Republicans generally did not view it as a top battleground, devoting their time and resources to more competitive states.

But after Democrats’ breakthrough victories in Georgia the last election, members of both parties are now looking to the state — where national debates over Democratic control of Washington, the direction of the GOP and voting rights are playing out in a pronounced way — as a bellwether for the broader political environment in 2022.

“Every cycle, you have one or two states where all of the trends converge,” said Jared Leopold, a veteran Democratic strategist. “Georgia has all of the elements to be the testing ground of the 2022 midterms.”

“There’s one school of thought that it’s an anomaly, and another that it’s the beginning of the state changing and it’s here to stay. I think it might be somewhere in the middle,” said Chip Lake, a Georgia Republican strategist. “We’re a huge focal point for what’s going to happen in 2022.”

It’s a good article worth reading in its entirety.

GeorgiaTrend has a Q&A with United States Senator Raphael Warnock (D-Atlanta).

GT: The 2022 elections are approaching, for you and for other federal and state officials. What do you think Georgians will be most focused on?

Warnock: I think at the end of the day voters want to know who’s looking out for them. Too often, politicians are so focused on the next election that they’re not thinking about the next generation. When you look at the kind of legislation that I have put forward, [that] I’ve sponsored or co-sponsored, it comes out of my deep-seated commitment to service. I’m focused on serving the people of Georgia, through my Medicaid Saves Lives Act, which will literally rescue Georgians who are in the coverage gap [earning too much to qualify for Medicaid but unable to afford private insurance]. I think I can boil most, if not all, my policy debates to one central question: What does it do for ordinary people and their families?

Varnell Mayor Tom Dickson is running for reelection, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

“I think there are good things ahead over the next four years, and I’d like to do my part to help Varnell be successful,” he said.

Dickson is seeking his second term as mayor. The race is nonpartisan, meaning no political party is listed. The term is for four years.

Former Varnell mayor Anthony Hulsey hopes to return to office, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

At the time, Hulsey was a Georgia State Patrol trooper.

“Due to my job, it really was hard to give the office of mayor the sort of time it needed,” he said. “I had to focus on the job that pays the bills. That was difficult, especially when we were getting called up for hurricanes.”

Hulsey’s final year in office, 2017, was one of the most active hurricane seasons in recent years. Troopers, including Hulsey, were called to provide security in parts of South Georgia hit hard by Hurricane Irma.

“But I knew that when I retired and had time to devote to the job I would run again,” he said.

Albany will elect City Commissioners tomorrow, according to WALB.

Thirteen cities in Gwinnett County will elect municipal leaders, with two of those including Mayoral races, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

While 13 cities in Gwinnett have at least one contested race on their municipal election ballots, Braselton and Dacula are the only ones where a mayoral race will be among the contested races.

Braselton voters will decide who will succeed retiring Mayor Bill Orr, with councilman Hardy Johnson and attorney Kurt Ward vying for the seat.

Sugar Hill was originally expected to have a contested mayoral race, but one of the two candidates for the office was disqualified after discrepancies and questions arose over whether she lived in the city or at least met the residency requirement to run for the office. That leaves councilman Brandon Hembree as the only remaining candidate for Sugar Hill’s mayoral seat.

On Wednesday, the Georgia General Assembly convenes for a redistricting Special Session, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Albany Herald.

Both parties are offering vastly different visions for how Georgia should be represented in Congress, with Republicans seeking to maintain their majority in the Peach State’s 14-member U.S. House delegation and Democrats looking to even things up.

Georgia House and Senate Democrats showed their cards Oct. 21 by releasing a proposed congressional map ahead of the special legislative session. Democrats said their map would provide a fair opportunity for voters of color in Georgia to elect representatives of their choice, as minorities would make up a majority of the residents in six of the 14 districts (Districts 2, 4, 5, 7, 10 and 13).

“We are focused on maps that fairly reflect Georgia,” state Sen. Elena Parent, D-Atlanta, said. “We’ve had a lot of growth in minority groups. We believe the maps should reflect these significant changes.”

For the GOP, the key question will be whether to try to regain one of the two congressional seats in Atlanta’s northern suburbs lost to the Democrats during the last two election cycles or go for broke and try to take back both seats.

A congressional map Georgia Senate Republicans released in late September appears to take the more cautious approach. It goes after the 6th Congressional District seat Rep. Lucy McBath, D-Marietta, won in 2018 by moving heavily Republican Forsyth County into the district and removing portions of North Fulton and North DeKalb counties more friendly to Democrats.

Redistricting takes place against the backdrop of increasing numbers of diverse voters, according to the AJC.

[Argentine immigrant Pablo] Cecere and his family are part of a diverse wave of new arrivals who, according to recent census data, helped flip the city [Johns Creek] of 82,453 residents from majority-white to majority-minority in 2020. Since 2010, the number of Hispanic residents in Johns Creek surged by 45%. The city also added 1,606 new Black residents, and it saw its large and multicultural Asian population, which makes up roughly 30% of the total population, grow by 37.5%.

Over the past 10 years, 53 cities in Georgia became majority-minority, an indication of the state’s overall diversification (per the census, Georgia as a whole is just over 50% white, on the verge of also reaching majority-minority status). Only 10 cities statewide flipped in the other sense, from majority-minority to majority-white.

Of all the cities that became newly majority-minority, Johns Creek is the largest, by population. The 10 biggest cities in the state to have undergone a similar demographic shift include Gwinnett County’s Peachtree Corners (No. 4), Sugar Hill (No. 8), Suwanee (No. 9) and Snellville (No. 10). Of the smaller cities that have also flipped majority-minority, six are located at least partly in metro Atlanta’s five core counties: Buford, Loganville, Mountain Park, Hampton, Dacula and Grayson.

In Snellville, the Hispanic population increased by 96% since 2010 (+1,298 residents), the Black population increased by 50% (+2,668) and the Asian population increased by 109% (+646). During that same period, the white population went down by over 27% (-2,855 residents). In Mountain Park, the white population is 19% smaller than it was in 2010. In Hampton, it’s nearly 16% smaller.

Charles Bullock, a University of Georgia political science professor, posits that a “small share” of those moving away from the suburbs may be “empty nesters” who are choosing to relocate closer to Atlanta, where the white population has grown since 2010.

Added Bullock: “This is part of a long, long, long-term phenomenon of white people moving further and further out. [At the beginning] it was simply people leaving Atlanta. And now, you know, Johns Creek is a long way from Five Points.”

But Bullock says that diversification inside suburbs could yield Democrats only a “short term” advantage, were Georgia Republicans to replicate tactics that proved successful with immigrant voters in places like South Florida.

“Ultimately Republicans may figure out that if they want to remain competitive, they need to begin to appeal to some of these minority voters. Now they haven’t done that so far, at least not in Georgia … But at some point they may decide to go after some minority groups.”

New state voting laws are being tested in tomorrow’s elections, according to the AJC.

Poorly run elections could result in state investigations under Georgia’s voting law, and the State Election Board has already ordered a performance review in Fulton. Continued shortcomings could add to the case for a state take over of the county’s elections management.

In addition, state law now requires counties to post online their total number of ballots cast — not the results, just the total number of votes — by 10 p.m. on election night.

Georgia’s voting law was passed by the GOP-controlled General Assembly soon after the 2020 election cycle, a response to supporters of Republican Donald Trump who demanded changes after his loss to Democrat Joe Biden. Its advocates say the bill guards against fraud. Detractors say it erects unnecessary obstacles to voting.

Much of the law dealt with absentee voting by requiring additional forms of voter ID, curbing ballot drop boxes and tightening deadlines.

But the legislation, Senate Bill 202, also affects Election Day.

It’s now illegal for volunteers to hand out food and water to voters waiting in line. In addition, ballots cast in the wrong precinct won’t be counted except after 5 p.m., when voters don’t have time to go to their assigned polling location.

Then after polls close, election workers must count ballots nonstop until they’re finished. All absentee ballots must be counted by 5 p.m. the day after the election, with the exception of provisional and overseas ballots, which can be tallied up to three days afterward.

Hall County’s elected Tax Commissioner Darla Eden is threatenting a defamation suit after allegations of misconduct, according to the Gainesville Times.

Elected Tax Commissioner Darla Eden couldn’t be disciplined by Hall County officials for bullying and discriminating against her employees following an outside investigation.

But the county’s human resources department did make recommendations in a three-page letter.

But even before she received the recommendations, Eden threatened to sue the county and asked it to apologize and redact the report.

“The Report contains material that is defamatory and/or that subjects Ms. Eden to false light invasion of privacy,” Ken Jarrard, a Cumming attorney representing Eden, wrote on Aug. 11. “Because the material makes defamatory charges against Ms. Eden within the context of her duly elected office, damages are inferred.”

He goes on to claim the report is libelous and allegations of sexual harassment and age discrimination are “outrageously improper and beyond the pale. … The Report is replete with unsupported legal conclusions … Ms. Eden hereby reserves the right to take any and all appropriate legal action against the County and any employee, elected official, or agent acting on behalf of the County — that was involved in assembling the Report.”

Eden, 53, has served as tax commissioner since first elected in 2012 and was most recently re-elected in 2020. Her annual salary is $134,016, and she oversees 25 employees.

At a May tax commissioner’s conference in Athens, Eden got into a physical altercation with a subordinate in a hotel lobby. Eden received previous complaints from employees claiming she was a bully and discriminated against older workers, prompting the county to hire an outside investigator in May to look into the claims.

Eden denied many of the allegations in the report, calling it a “hatchet job” that did not give her due process. She said many of the problems described in the report stemmed from payroll issues and underfunding from the county.

Hall County is reserving $4 million dollars in federal COVID relief funds for local nonprofits, according to the Gainesville Times.

The county received nearly $40 million in ARPA funds in March to help alleviate losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding for nonprofits can be used for projects associated with improving public health, serving those negatively affected by the pandemic and serving communities disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, according to a statement from county spokeswoman Katie Crumley.

Eligible grant opportunities include: COVID-19 vaccination, education assistance, services to foster youth, affordable housing and food programs.

“It is an honor and a privilege to share these funds with organizations within our community who are doing incredible work, serving the citizens of Hall County in monumental ways day in and day out,” Hall County Board of Commissioners Chairman Richard Higgins wrote in a statement. “We are looking forward to seeing how these funds will be utilized to better our community as a whole.”

Spaceport Camden proponents are hopeful for a favorable licensing decision, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The spaceport would be located on a now defunct industrial site, which was home to the Thiokol Chemical Corp. in the 1960s. Part of the work done at the plant at the time was making solid-fuel rockets for the Saturn I program.

The site would include a vertical launch facility, launch control center complex, alternate control center and visitor center and mission preparation area. Construction is expected to take about 15 months.

About 70 jobs would be created between construction and infrastructure work and 77 full-time jobs are expected to be created once the facility opens for operations.

The FAA is expected to issue a decision on the license by Nov. 3

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