Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 28, 2022


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 28, 2022

On November 28, 1520, Ferdinand Magellan became the first European to navigate from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific.

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

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

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

Early voting begins today in Glynn County and many other counties for the December 6, 2022 Special Runoff Election for United States Senate. From The Brunswick News:

The only race on the ballot is the runoff between Democratic incumbent U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Warnock.

Glynn County’s three early voting polling places are at the main Glynn County Board of Elections Office, 1815 Gloucester St., Brunswick; St. Simons Fire Station No. 2, 1929 Demere Road.; and the Ballard Community Building, 30 Nimitz Drive, Brunswick. All three locations will be open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. today through Friday. Election Day is on Dec. 6.

From WALB in Albany:

A total of 27 counties in the Peach State have early voters taking advantage of the extra day to vote this weekend.

For other counties, early voting begins Monday, including Dougherty county.

Bennie Hand, a county elections board member, said this year’s turnout was much lower than he expected even in a midterm year.

On Nov. 8, 47% of people in Dougherty County who could vote did vote according to Hand.

“Dougherty had a lower turnout than surrounding counties. As a matter of fact, Dougherty County ranked in the bottom in the lower half of the counties in the state,” He said.

From WSAV in Savannah:

Early voting kicked off in Chatham County Saturday ahead of the runoff election between Democrat Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker on Dec. 6.

Individual counties had the option to offer voting this Saturday after a lawsuit by Warnock’s campaign and Democratic groups. They challenged guidance from the Secretary of State’s Office which cited a law that prohibited early voting within two days of a holiday.

A state Supreme Court judge ruled that the law doesn’t specifically apply to runoffs.

In Hinesville on Saturday, people showed up to vote only to be met by a locked door.

“I just think that it is crazy because most of us only have the weekend off from work, so today would be a great day,” said Liberty County voter, Marvin Beason.

Chatham County voters had the opportunity to cast their ballots Saturday at the Voter Registration’s Main Office at 1117 Eisenhower Dr., Suite E, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

From WTOC:

More than 1,000 voters already cast their ballot over the weekend during Saturday and Sunday voting in Chatham County.

Even though there were some lines, it moved quickly because there is just the one senate runoff on the ballot. This is the runoff for the highly contested Senate race between Herschel Walker and Raphael Warnock.

If you didn’t vote in the midterm you can still vote in this runoff, but only if you were registered to vote by the deadline for midterms. You can no longer register to vote just for this runoff.

From 13WMAZ:

Starting Monday November 28, all Georgia counties will offer early voting for the U.S Senate runoff race between Democratic Incumbent Senator Raphael Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker.

However, depending on the county you live in, some Georgians got a head start.

Folks in Bibb County had the opportunity to make their decisions Saturday, with people starting to line up an hour prior to the opening to ensure their vote counted.

As of 3:30 p.m., 1,117 people voted in Bibb County. Lines were wrapped around the building with eager voters like Izrael Dubois.

The county opened one polling location at their Board of Elections office on Pio Nono Avenue.

Baldwin, Crawford, Macon, and Hancock counties were the only others to offer the option in Central Georgia.

“With the polls closing at 5, you don’t get a chance to get here and get voting, we want everyone to come out here and vote,” [Brenda Little Carswell said].

Early Voting in all other counties is from Monday, November 28 until Friday, December 2.

If you plan to vote absentee, the last day to request a ballot is Monday.

From WJBF in Augusta headlined “Sunday 5,067 people voted early for the December runoff”:

Four locations in the Richmond County area opened up for early runoff voting including the Municipal Building, Henry Brigham, Warren Road and Robert Howard Community Centers.

From WRDW:

Early voting continues through Friday, but it started Sunday in Richmond County, bringing out more than 5,000 people to cast a ballot.

Although we didn’t have early voting on Saturday here, more than 70,000 people in Georgia took to the polls on Saturday.

Early voting ends across the state on Friday, then Dec. 6 is Election Day.

Richmond County Board of Elections Director Travis Doss explained the reason for the Sunday voting here.

“Because the time period for the runoff was so short, we wanted to try and give people as many opportunities as possible to come out and vote early,” he said.

Sunday’s total turnout of more than 5,000 beat previous single day turnout numbers from 2018, 2020 and 2022. The record was set back on the last day of advanced voting in 2016 at more than 5,400.

From the Gwinnett Daily Post:

Secretary of State’s Office Chief Operating Officer Gabriel Sterling said 15,053 Gwinnett voters cast ballots on the first day of advance in-person voting in the county this weekend. Another 15,633 voters cast ballots in Gwinnett on Sunday, according to Sterling.

Last week, Gwinnett County opted to offer seven days of early voting ahead of the Dec. 6 runoff between U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., and Republican candidate Herschel Walker. Friday will be the final day of advance in-person voting.

While some counties opted to only open some of their early voting locations on a limited schedule for Saturday and Sunday voting, Gwinnett’s elections board chose to operate all of the county’s 11 early voting sites on a 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. schedule for every day of advance in-person voting.

From the Gainesville Times:

[Elections Manager Paige Thompson] said the absentee by mail ballot box is located in the Elections Office on the lower level of the Hall County Government Center. Voters can deliver their ballots there between 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.

“All ballots must be received by our office by 7 p.m. on Tuesday, December 6,” Thompson said. “There is no early voting at the Hall County Government Center.”

From the Rome News Tribune:

Exactly 42 absentee ballots had been returned to the Floyd County elections office through late Saturday, just hours before the scheduled start of advance voting for the U.S. Senate runoff. The was impressive as the ballots were mailed a week ago.

[On Sunday], as the sites closed for the day, a total of 891 people had voted in the Senate runoff between Republican challenger Herschel Walker and U.S. Sen. Rev.  Raphael Warnock.

Most likely, that’s a record for Sunday advance voting in Floyd County and perhaps for a Saturday as well. Also, it was near what the election’s office recorded during a full day of early balloting for the Nov. 8 general election (between Oct. 17 and Nov. 4).

Governor Brian Kemp issued Executive Order #, a writ of election calling a Special Election to fill the House District 7 seat vacated by the death of Speaker of the House David Ralston. The Special Election will be held Tuesday, January 3, 2023. The Secretary of State’s Office will set qualifying days and hours.

From the AJC:

The many sides of the late House Speaker David Ralston were honored in a funeral ceremony on Sunday that brought hundreds to his beloved hometown of Blue Ridge, nestled beneath the green-topped mountains that forged him.

“Politics were important. But people were more important,” said state Rep. Randy Nix, a Republican and close Ralston friend. “If you were hurting, the R and the D by your name didn’t really matter.”

And, perhaps the most fitting testament to Ralston’s memory, just about as many Democrats as Republicans assembled to bid the speaker farewell.

One of them, Democratic state Rep. Mack Jackson, recalled his stunned reaction when Ralston abruptly told him he planned to attend Sunday services at his tiny church in Tennille, a city of roughly 1,500 in east Georgia.

When Jackson asked why, Ralston answered simply: “Because you are my friend.”

“Those words resonated in my heart,” Jackson said in his eulogy. “This powerful man reached across the aisle to someone like me — and he came to a little rural Georgia church in Tennille. He truly cared about the whole state of Georgia.”

In an emotional eulogy, [former Governor Nathan] Deal fought tears as he praised Ralston’s steadying presence, knack for mediation and abiding sense of dignity amid turbulent political times. Though Ralston often appeared stern, Deal said lurking behind the veneer “was a sincere and caring smile.”

“He would help anyone if he could. He would use his power and influence to help anyone without power and influence,” said Deal, who praised Ralston’s uncanny understanding of policy and people that helped him lead his fractious GOP caucus.

“He was a student of history who could foresee where an issue was headed — even though opinion polls showed otherwise,” said Deal. “In political terms, he could see around corners.”

“None of the good things that happened in my administration could have happened, or would have happened, without David Ralston,” said Deal, who said he hoped his late wife, Sandra, was giving Ralston a tour of heaven beyond the pearly gates.

“Step aside, St. Peter,” the former governor said. “You have a new docent.”

As the funeral service neared an end, Nix uttered two words that Ralston took much pride in declaring each year to mark the end of another trying legislative session: “Sine Die.”

And then, with tears in his eyes, Nix added: “We look forward to that special session when we meet again.”

From GPB News:

“I’m told that Speaker Ralston always felt a sense of awe every time he entered the Capitol,” Gov. Brian Kemp said during a brief ceremony Tuesday. “Today, we all feel that sense of awe in the presence of this departed friend and servant of the people.”

State Rep. Calvin Smyre, a Democrat and the longest-serving member of the state House, considered Ralston a dear friend.

“We spent many, many conversations together talking about the things that relate itself to public policy in Georgia, and through it all we had a great relationship,” he said. “I worked with him on issues that were transformational and very weighty issues, and although we had some differences, but were never disagreeable.”

In recent years, Ralston helped shepherd bipartisan legislation to reform mental health care in Georgia, enact a hate crimes law and repeal the state’s citizens arrest law after the murder of Black jogger Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick as well as Georgia’s strict abortion law, sweeping election rules changes and other conservative-minded policies.

Kemp called the former speaker a “commanding authority” and “determined fighter” who would always show you respect, “and when the fighting is done, shake your hand.”

Smyre recalled a time when he originally planned to retire from being a lawmaker several years back and Ralston encouraged him to stay and work together on legislation, despite party differences and an increasingly rancorous national political environment.

“And two things that we talked about: one was civility, and one was tolerance of one’s opinion,” he said. “So those two items were what come to mind when it deals with Speaker Ralston. And although there were major differences under the Gold Dome, there was a sense of civility that you could disagree without being disagreeable.”

Axios reports that Governor Kemp has created a new federal PAC.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission to create Hardworking Americans Inc., a federal PAC that will allow the Republican to boost his national profile, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Kemp’s unique success defeating a Trump-backed opponent in a primary and a Democrat in a key battleground has made him something of a case study for Republicans. It’s also paved the way for speculation about his future national ambitions.

• The new PAC could set Kemp up for a federal run, including for U.S. Senate.

• Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) will be defending his seat in 2026, the same year Kemp’s gubernatorial term will end.

Be smart: A federal PAC allows Kemp to influence races across the country and donate money to other candidates, including in Republican primaries.

• In the near term, it could allow him to boost support for Republican Senate hopeful Herschel Walker, who’s locked in a Dec. 6 runoff against Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.).

• The PAC hasn’t yet reported any contributions, and no fundraiser for Walker has been announced.

What they’re saying: “We’re all in to help get Herschel over the goal line and keep Georgia red for years to come!” senior Kemp adviser Cody Hall told Axios.

Georgia’s unemployment rate ticked up in October, according to AccessWDUN.

State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said the rate in Gainesville rose from 2.0% to 2.5% in that span. That rate is also two-tenths of a percentage higher than October of 2021.

“Job seekers have continued to experience a favorable hiring environment across multiple job sectors, despite a slight uptick in unemployment rates,” Butler said. “As we prepare for peak holiday hiring, we encourage job seekers to take advantage of the many employment opportunities, both full-time and part-time, available across Georgia.”

While the unemployment rate is higher, Butler said the Gainesville area did add to its workforce, with about 700 people entering jobs last month. Job numbers are on the rise as well, with Gainesville ending October with a record 100,000 jobs.

Metro Atlanta has seen a rising number of anti-Semitic incidents, according to the AJC.

According to researchers with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), through October there have been 17 reported incidents in the metro area in 2022. That’s nearly double the 2021 total and does not include incidents in the farther-flung suburbs and the rest of the state.

Much of the rise is linked to the coordinated distribution of antisemitic leaflets. And those behind the campaign have seen their message boosted by the controversies of high-profile celebrities, such as rapper Ye (formerly Kanye West), whose social media messages and conspiracy theories about Jews resulted his suspension from Twitter and Instagram last month.

“In regards to Kayne West, his influence on Twitter opened a big door for us as white nationalists,” said Michael Weaver, a Cartersville resident who has conducted most of the leafleting campaigns in northern suburbs by himself. “His 30-plus million followers was the equivalent of distributing millions of flyers therefore red pilling tens of millions of Americans.”

Shortly after the Ye controversy, Carrollton police cited a couple for littering after a resident complained about a car driving through the city tossing baggies with antisemitic flyers weighted down with dried corn into yards. A man in the car estimated he had tossed 600 baggies that night, according to a police report.

Hearshen said such distributions of hate literature are not victimless acts, and they often lead to violence.

“Graffiti hurts, slander hurts, leafleting hurts,” he said. “But they don’t end with slander. They end with dead people.”

The Western Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office will create a new Juvenile Restorative Justice Diversion Program, according to the Athens Banner Herald:

The program was created in a partnership with the Georgia Conflict Center in Athens, according to its executive director Danny Malec.

The conflict center works with schools and criminal justice organizations. The nonprofit was created in 2010.

Restorative justice is an “evidence-backed philosophy” that focuses on the rehabilitation of offenders through reconciliation with the victims and community in which the offender takes accountability for their actions, according to a news release from the DA’s office.

“This method has shown high satisfaction rates for offenders, victims, and the overall communities in which restorative justice is practiced,” according to the DA.

Those eligible for the program are 16 and under and will be identified through the DA’s office. If the juvenile agrees to participate, he or she will be referred to the Georgia Conflict Center.

The Western Judicial Circuit serves Athens-Clarke County and Oconee County.

Bryan County will use a $37.1 million dollar loan to build out infrastructure associated with the new Hyundai manufacturing plant, according to the Savannah Morning News.

“The plan, in conjunction with the Savannah Harbor-Interstate 16 Corridor Joint Development Authority, is to pull water from strategically located wells to create a pipeline to the mega-site, while also providing services to select other sites along the way,” said Carter Infinger, chairman for the Bryan County Board of Commissioners.

“The sewer infrastructure is also planned for installation along key sites that have the most efficient impact. These projects are done with the assistance of the three other members of the JDA – Bulloch, Chatham and Effingham Counties.”

“Ultimately, the goal is to minimize the dollars Bryan County taxpayers spend on this water and sewer infrastructure,” said Infinger. “You can’t ask for a better interest rate than that. We don’t have to start paying it back for four years.”

He referred to the loan as “free money,” because future developments will contribute greatly in paying it off.

“It’s really not going to cost our citizens any money or much money to have these upgrades done when everybody pays their impact fees,” said Infinger. “We do a traffic impact analysis to look and see how it impacts, so we get money from those folks. It will basically pay this loan off. It’s free money for the county to do infrastructure projects to improve the roads for citizens in the way they get around, as well as sewer infrastructure projects.”

“The roadways to get to the site also need to be upgraded and we can do this with T-SPLOST funds and other funding mechanisms,” said Infinger.

Bulloch County Commissioners will meet jointly with Statesboro City Council members to discuss building out infrastructure in the southern part of the county, according to the Statesboro Herald.

A main topic will be the provision of water, sewer and other public infrastructure in the southeastern part of the county and for new industries in the region.

A related second topic for discussion will be transportation needs and planning after voters in the Nov. 8 referendum approved a five-year extension of the Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, or T-SPLOST.

In September, [Bulloch County Manager Tom] Couch suggested the county would be seeking more than $12 million from “outside” sources towards an estimated $22.6 million in infrastructure spending for supplying water and sewer service to future homes in southeastern Bulloch as well as the planned Hyundai Motor Group electric vehicle factory in northern Bryan County. At least some of the remaining “local” funding would be from federal American Rescue Plan Act, or ARPA, money already appropriated.

He also suggested that the city might extend its water and sewer systems to serve some of the growth area.

LaGrange City Council member Willie Edmonson will serve as Mayor Pro Tem after the resignation of Mayor Jim Thornton, according to WTVM.

Wednesday was the final day for Jim Thornton, who served the city for the past nine years.

Monday, Thornton will be beginning his new job as Director of Governmental Relations for the Georgia Municipal Association.

While he takes on a new role, Willie Edmonson, District 2 councilman, will temporarily fill the seat.

“I’ve had this position before, But naturally, that was when the mayor was in office, and I just acted only when he was not there. Now I’ll be acting on a regular basis,” said Edmonson.

The opportunity makes Edmonson the first Black person in the position.

“I look at it as a public servant Job. Not anything that so above anyone else,” said Edmonson.

For the past seven years, he’s served as a member of LaGrange’s City Council.

Edmonson says his primary focus while serving as the city’s mayor for a few months will be the economy.

The Port of Savannah recorded its second-busiest month on record for October, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Albany Herald.

The port handled 552,800 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) of containerized cargo last month, an increase of 9.8% over October of last year. That put Savannah’s total for October below only the 575,500 TEUs the port moved in August.

“There has been downward pressure on the total U.S. container trade related to inflation and a shift in consumer spending toward services such as restaurants and travel,” Joel Wooten, the authority’s board chairman, said. “However, the Port of Savannah continues to outperform relative to the national market, driving new business for Georgia.”

“Greater availability of computer chips has allowed carmakers to increase production,” Cliff Pyron, chief commercial officer for the ports authority, said. “This, combined with manufacturers’ traditional end-of-year push, yielded strong results for our October auto volumes.”

Authority Executive Director Griff Lynch said the Port of Savannah is continuing to make progress reducing the backlog of ships at anchor waiting to enter the port.

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