Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 27, 2020

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 27, 2020

On November 28, 1777, Congress appointed John Adams as commissioner to France, replacing Silas Deane.

General George Washington set up winter headquarters at Morristown, New Jersey on December 1, 1779.

On November 30, 1782, British and American signed a preliminary treaty in Paris to end the American Revolution, which included withdrawal of British troops and recognition of American independence.

Georgia ratified the Eleventh Amendment to the United States Constitution on November 29, 1794, which reads,

The judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by citizens of another state, or by citizens or subjects of any foreign state.

On November 30, 1819, the SS Savannah returned to Savannah, GA from its trip as the first steamship to cross the Atlantic.

On November 27, 1864, Sherman ordered the courthouse in Sandersville, Georgia burned.

The Grand Ole Opry began live radio broadcasts from Nashville, Tennessee on November 28, 1925.

On November 29, 1947, the United Nations passed a resolution to partition Palestine and allow the creation of a Jewish state of Israel.

On November 29, 1963, President Lyndon Johnson appointed the President’s Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy, referred to as the Warren Commission. Senator Richard B. Russell, Jr. of Georgia was appointed to the Commission.

The Tawana Brawley case began on November 28, 1987; the greatest lasting impact would be the rise to celebrity of community activist the Rev. Al Sharpton.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

So this is what it feels like to be at the center of the political universe.

President Donald Trump plans to visit Georgia on December 5, 2020 to campaign for United States Senators David Perdue (R-Glynn County) and Kelly Loeffer (R-Atlanta), according to CNBC.

President Donald Trump, who has blamed his loss to President-elect Joe Biden on false claims that the U.S. voting system was “rigged,” urged his supporters on Friday not to boycott two all-important Georgia runoff elections that will determine which party controls the Senate.

But the GOP’s hold on the Senate depends on winning at least one of Georgia’s two runoffs. Republican Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler face competitive challenges from Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, respectively. Georgia election rules called for runoff races when no candidate exceeded 50% of voter share in either race during the Nov. 3 general election.

In response to Newsmax reporting that Georgia Trump supporters are considering boycotting the runoff elections over voter fraud claims, the president wrote on Twitter: “We must get out and help David and Kelly, two GREAT people,” even as he again asserted, without evidence, that the election was a “total scam.”

“If he continues to disillusion voters … by saying that the elections were rigged and that your vote doesn’t matter, this could have severe consequences for the administration in trying to keep those two seats Republican,” Luntz said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Monday.

“I would argue that what Donald Trump says, and does, over the next six weeks is going to determine the outcome of the Georgia Senate race and well may determine the outcome of our country overall,” Luntz said.

President Trump on Thursday called Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger “an enemy of the people,” according to the Independent.

Mr Trump said: “You’re not allowed to harvest, but I understand the secretary of state, who is really an enemy of the people, the secretary of state, and whether he’s Republican or not, this man, what he’s done, supposedly he made a deal and you’ll have to check this, where she is allowed to harvest but in other areas they’re not allowed.”

The president has frequently called the press “enemies of the people” and has referred to Democrats as “enemies of the state.”

Mr Trump and other Republicans have placed blame for the president’s loss in Georgia on Mr Raffensperger. President-elect Joe Biden is the first Democrat to win the state since Bill Clinton in 1992.

During his press appearance on Thursday, the president falsely accused Mr Raffensperger of working with Democrat Stacey Abrams, a lawyer, activist and former Georgia lawmaker, to permit “vote harvesting” in the state.

Ms Abrams has been credited with leading a registration drive that added 800,000 voters to the roll in Georgia ahead of the 2020 election.

The President on Sunday turned his ire on Governor Brian Kemp. From The Hill:

President Trump on Sunday said he regretted endorsing Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R), taking a swipe at the top Republicans in the state ahead of two critical Senate runoff elections.

The president decried the use of Dominion Voting Systems machines in Georgia, which are the subject of unproven conspiracies among some conservatives. He placed blame at the feet of Kemp and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) for approving the rules of the election.

“Everything has to be approved by the legislature, and they had judges making deals, and they had electoral officials making deals like this character in Georgia who’s a disaster,” Trump said of Raffensperger, who has defended the integrity of the presidential election in Georgia, where President-elect Joe Biden defeated Trump by just more than 12,000 votes.

“And the governor’s done nothing. He’s done absolutely nothing,” Trump added of Kemp. “I’m ashamed that I endorsed him. But I look what’s going on. It’s so terrible.”

Georgia certified Biden as the winner of the state last week. Kemp signed off on it, saying that it would allow Trump to proceed with any legal challenges. The president’s legal team has thus far failed to produce evidence of widespread fraud.

From the Daily Beast:

Now that Trump has truly let loose on Kemp, the governor could become another political casualty of that rage—and the indignity could worsen when Trump visits Georgia on Saturday for a rally intended to boost Perdue and Loeffler. Already, some Georgia Republicans, from local party leaders down to rank-and-file activists, could no longer see themselves backing Kemp in the 2022 primary, or were seriously struggling with the prospect.Kay Godwin, the chair of the GOP in Pierce County, was vocally critical of Kemp even before November. And Godwin, who campaigned for Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) in his Senate race and is also chairman of the group Georgia Conservatives in Action, was among those saying the 2020 election has only made Kemp’s position more perilous. Though she said the focus should be on the January runoffs, Godwin predicted Kemp “will be primaried… Just hoping and praying we get the right one this time.”

Still, the current GOP civil war in Georgia is hardly a shocking sight to party veterans who’ve seen many intraparty struggles come and go. “There’s nothing Georgia Republicans love more than a fight,” said Rusty Paul, a former chair of the state GOP. “Especially if it’s with a fellow Republican.”

At a Nov. 21 rally at the Georgia State Capitol protesting the “steal”—and COVID prevention measures, generally—members of the crowd were spotted with signs that urged: “Primary Kemp.” An anti-Kemp website advertised on the signs said on its main page that Kemp’s opposition to a special session “may very well cost conservatives two Senate seats in Georgia, handing over the U.S. Senate majority to the Democrats with Kamala Harris presiding over the body.”

‍“We are committed to his removal,” reads the site, which does not disclose a funder. “Recall? Impeachment? Primarying him?”

Scott Jay, the chair of the GOP in Newton County, said there were “too many questions” about Kemp for him to support him right now, citing Wood and Powell’s allegations to discredit Georgia’s election.

Jay said he would prefer to see Kemp primaried in ’22, but did not say by whom. “I will have to wait and see how all this plays out,” Jay said of Kemp. “I’ll vote based upon actions, upon results. He can show me solid results in a conservative manner moving forward, he may regain my vote.”

In an example of how complex the mood is within the Georgia GOP right now, Laurie Crozier, the chair of the Clay County Republican Party, praised Kemp in one breath and then quickly moved to attacking Raffensperger, calling for the secretary of state to be recalled and arguing he “has done a disservice to his party in Georgia in how he has handled this entire election.”

Governor Kemp’s office has said he is prohibited from interfering with the election results, according to the AJC.

“Georgia law prohibits the governor from interfering in elections. The Secretary of State, who is an elected constitutional officer, has oversight over elections that cannot be overridden by executive order,” said Kemp spokesman Cody Hall.

“As the governor has said repeatedly, he will continue to follow the law and encourage the Secretary of State to take reasonable steps – including a sample audit of signatures – to restore trust and address serious issues that have been raised.”

Republican National Committee Co-Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel campaigned with Georgia’s Senators on Saturday, according to Fox News.

Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel on Saturday urged Republican voters in Georgia to vote for the party’s Senate candidates in the January runoffs.

Some Trump supporters in the state had reportedly expressed reluctance to vote in the Jan. 5 runoffs out of concerns the presidential election was “rigged” in favor of Democrats and the Senate runoffs might be as well.

“How are we going to give money and work when it’s already decided?” one voter asked McDaniel, referring to the runoffs, according to The Independent.

“It hasn’t been decided!” McDaniel responded. “This is the key — it’s not decided. So if you lose your faith and you don’t vote and people walk away — that will decide it.”

Another voter asked McDaniel about a theory that some voting machines in the state had changed votes for President Trump to President-elect Joe Biden. McDaniel said she hadn’t seen any evidence of that, according to The Independent.

From the AJC:

McDaniel told those voters to “focus on the mission at hand” even if they’re infuriated by Raffensperger’s decision to certify the vote.

“We’ve got to focus on January 5th right now,” McDaniel said. “We can deal with those other things later.”

Trump supporters gathered to harass rally outside the home of Secretary of State Raffensperger, according to Fox 5 Atlanta.

Trucks flying Trump and “Stop the Steal” flags drove up and down the street outside of Secretary Brad Raffensperger’s property, honking their horns as they passed by.

The organizer of the protest tells FOX 5 that, while they’ve protested at Gov. Brian Kemp’s mansion several times, this is the first protest they’ve held outside Raffensperger’s home.

When asked what message she wanted to send to the secretary of state, organizer Ursula Christie said she wanted him to know “we are silent no more and we want him to know that we are watching and we are listening and we are aware of the actions being taken.”

Republican Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue have also called the top election official’s resignation, and losing Republican Senate candidate and Trump’s recount director Doug Collins tweeted Raffesnperger was “incompetent.”

There were about 200 supporters at yesterday’s rally.

Republican Marjorie Greene, who takes office as a Member of Congress in January, weighed in on this year’s election, according to the Rome News Tribune.

Over 100 people gathered on and around the patio of a Ringgold hotel Saturday for a fiery rally where Republicans from Tennessee and Georgia rallied for Loeffler.

“Now, I don’t know about you guys, but Nov. 3 turned out a lot different than I expected. I do not believe Joe Biden won Georgia,” she said, spurring cheers and support from the crowd. “I’m gonna tell you right now, I was born and raised, I’ve lived in Georgia my entire life, and I know for a fact Georgia is a red state.”

“We did not elect sleepy Joe Biden. He’s not going to be my president.”

Then Greene said that Republicans need to vote in January despite election security concerns in Georgia.

“But as we work through this process, I want to inform all of you and give you a message of hope and encouragement. A lot of people are upset about the president’s election, rightfully so, I am too. There’s a lot of people working on it,” she said. “But there’s something that we have to keep our eyes focused on, we have to focus on Jan. 5 here in Georgia on fighting for our Senate seats.”

Greene also called for supporters to “hold the line” in order to protect Georgia against what she referred to as the “socialist” opposition and maintain Republican control of the Senate.

“We are not going to let Hollywood, George Soros, Stacey Abrams, Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, AOC and the squad come to Georgia and steal our senate seats,” she said. “Georgia does not want socialism. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff embrace socialist values of the Democratic Party.”

UGA Political Scientist Dr. Charles Bullock spoke to the Statesboro Herald about the runoff elections.

“No state has ever had two runoffs for the Senate at the same time, and of course never before then has there been a situation where the control of the Senate hung in the balance awaiting the outcome of a runoff,” Bullock said.

“No other state does it exactly like Georgia does,” Bullock said. “In the case, say for a six-year term, Perdue’s seat, first you have to go through a primary and you might have to go through a runoff on that; then there’s a general election, then there’s a potential for a runoff after that. No other state does that.”

Georgia ended up electing both its senators at the same time after Sen. Johnny Isakson retired at the end of 2019 and Gov. Brian Kemp appointed Loeffler until a special election could be held.

“People want to know what’s likely to happen, of course, and if we look to the history, we’ve only had seven partisan general election runoffs (in Georgia),” Bullock said.

Additionally, Georgia has held five runoffs for seats on its Public Service Commission over the years, but one of those was nonpartisan, Bullock said.

“Of the seven partisan runoffs, Republicans have won every one of them,” he said. “Now in some, like the one in ’92, the Democrat, Fowler, led in the November (general election) vote. He led by about 30,000 votes, but then lost the runoff by about 16,000.”

So the conclusion that Republicans always win Georgia’s runoffs is true “so far,” Bullock said.

“And what that really tells you is that Republicans have done a better job of getting their supporters back to the polls than Democrats have,” he reasoned. “So then a question becomes, is there anything in 2020 which might change that pattern?”

From the Associated Press via the Statesboro Herald:

“If they want to excite Trump supporters to turn out to vote in the Senate runoff, candidates need to be supportive of what the Trump campaign is doing in the regard to challenging the election,” said Debbie Dooley, a national tea party organizer in Georgia and an early supporter of Trump’s 2016 campaign.

After Georgia’s Republican secretary of state and Republican governor certified the state’s vote totals in Biden’s favor, Dooley said, the sentiment among the president’s strongest supporters crystallized. They “question why they should support candidates that aren’t fully supporting Trump,” she said.

Some Georgia state legislators want a Special Session to address perceived shortcomings in Georgia’s election laws ahead of the Runoff, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Augusta Chronicle.

A group of Republican state lawmakers are calling for the General Assembly to hold a special session ahead of the Jan. 5 runoff elections for U.S. Senate to consider changes to Georgia’s voter ID laws amid testiness over the recent presidential contest.

Gov. Brian Kemp has not said whether he would convene the legislature before the regular session on Jan. 11. His office responded Tuesday with a prior statement from the governor, Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan and Georgia House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, saying they “share the same concerns many Georgians have about the integrity of our elections.”

If a special session is convened, lawmakers should consider creating a notary or photo ID requirement for voting by mail and hold committee hearings on “any evidence of voter fraud,” four Republican state senators who called for the session said in a news release.

“As the [first recount] has shown, we have structural issues with the implementation and proper execution of our ballot counting procedures,” read a joint statement from Sens. Greg Dolezal, R-Cumming; William Ligon, R-Brunswick; Brandon Beach, R-Alpharetta; and Burt Jones, R-Jackson.

Former Democratic candidate for President Andrew Yang, (who?) will be in Columbus to help fire up the same voters who didn’t flock to his presidential campaign. From the Ledger-Enquirer:

Entrepreneur and former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang will be in Columbus for a Dec. 6 event ahead of the state’s two U.S. Senate runoffs.

The event serves as a kick-off for the Muscogee County Democratic Party’s campaign efforts before the Jan. 5 election.

The event will be held outdoors behind the Columbus Civic Center at 1 p.m. Yang’s presence in Columbus will hopefully motivate younger voters and other key groups to return to the polls, said Laura Walker, the county’s party chair.

“He is really here in Georgia to help empower the organizations that are already working on the ground,” Walker said.

Yang has been spending a lot of time in Georgia to help Ossoff and Warnock win their races.

Congressman Rick Allen (R-Augusta) tested positive for COVID-19, according to the Statesboro Herald.

District 12 Congressman Rick Allen announced Tuesday that he had tested positive for the coronavirus. The Republican from Augusta, who has represented Georgia’s 12th District in Congress since January 2015, defeated Democratic challenger Elizabeth “Liz” Johnson earlier this month to earn his fourth term.

In an email from his office early Tuesday afternoon, the 69-year-old Allen said: “I have been undergoing regular COVID-19 testing and learned today that I have tested positive for COVID-19. I do not have any symptoms and will continue to work on behalf of the 12th District from home as I quarantine.”

The 12th Congressional District includes Bulloch, Candler, Evans, Screven, Jenkins and 12 other counties. Also, portions of Effingham and Columbia counties are part of the district.

Hall County announced it completed rescanning ballots in the official recount of the Presidential election, according to the Gainesville Times.

“Scanning was completed around 2 p.m. Saturday, but there are a number of ballots that will need to be adjudicated on Wednesday,” county spokesman Brian Stewart said in an email on Sunday, Nov. 29.

Macon-Bibb County Mayor Robert Reichert vetoed anti-discrimination legislation passed by the Macon-Bibb Commission, according to the Macon Telegraph.

The anti-discrimination ordinance was written to prohibit discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations based on race, religion, color, sex, disability, national origin, ancestry, sexual orientation, gender identity or military status. The resolution was to rename the Macon City Auditorium after C. Jack Ellis, the city’s first Black mayor.

The ordinance and resolution were passed by the Macon-Bibb County Commission in a 5-4 vote with Commissioners Bert Bivins, Elaine Lucas, Virgil Watkins, Larry Schlesinger and Al Tilman voting for the legislation and Valerie Wynn, Mallory Jones, Joe Allen and Scotty Shepherd voting against it.

“The Anti-Discrimination Ordinance currently under consideration here in Macon-Bibb County is well-intentioned. However, there has been much concern raised that when applied to LGBTQ and/or SOGI individuals, the efforts to protect their rights perhaps interferes with the rights of other people.”

In Savannah, lower municipal revenues continue to hamper budgeting for the city, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Revenue losses and an uncertain economy due to the pandemic continue to be at the forefront of the city of Savannah’s budget planning for 2021.

While revenues from sales and hotel/motel tax collections have dropped due to COVID-19, one revenue source the city has lost altogether is the preservation fee.

The fee that was charged to sightseeing tour companies was ruled as a tax on free speech by a federal judge in a lawsuit against the city.

Revenue for the city’s enterprise funds, water and sewer, parking and mobility have also taken a pandemic hit.

Currently the city is working on a planning budget of $414.5 million with no property tax increase, using the current millage rate of 12.739.

Brunswick City Commissioners are considering a move toward starting transit in the coastal city, according to The Brunswick News.

Commissioners at Wednesday’s meeting will be asked to consider a resolution that will make the city eligible for more than $701,000 in funding to establish the service as part of the Small Urban Transit program. The city is required to pay matching funds of up to $350,000.

City commissioners must approve the resolution with the Federal Transit Administration and the Georgia Department of Transportation where they agree to follow the guidelines required to establish the service.

Mayor Cornell Harvey said it could take as long as a year or more before the service is up and running. The city will receive funding to keep the service running for three years to give it enough time to be established and self-sustaining.

It’s likely the city will start with small- to medium-sized buses.

Brunswick and Glynn County will discuss a possible 2021 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST), according to The Brunswick News.

City of Brunswick and Glynn County commissioners will hold a joint meeting Tuesday to discuss Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax 2021.

The proposed temporary 1 percent sales tax, which voters would have to approve at the polls, comes after commissioners dropped initial plans for a SPLOST 2020 earlier this year.

Former Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice George Carley died of COVID-19, according to the AJC.

After three decades on the appellate bench, Georgia Supreme Court Justice George Carley had only a few months remaining before his self-imposed retirement date. Before his departure, his colleagues wanted to make sure he knew how much they thought of him.

They unanimously voted to allow Carley to serve briefly as chief justice of Georgia’s highest court before he stepped down from the bench in July 2012.

Carley, who obtained his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Georgia, was appointed to the state Court of Appeals in 1979. Former Gov. Zell Miller elevated him to the state Supreme Court 14 years later.

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