Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 1, 2020

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 1, 2020

Original Communist (O.C.) Karl Marx published Das Kapital on October 1, 1867.

Voters in the state of Washington adopted the state constitution on October 1, 1889.

The first World Series of baseball opened on October 1, 1903.

On October 1, 1908, Ford introduced the Model T.

Happy 96th Birthday to former President Jimmy Carter, who was born on October 1, 1924 at Wise Sanitarium in Plains, Georgia, the first American President to be born in a hospital.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt visited Warm Springs, Georgia for the 21st time beginning on October 1, 1931.

In a Special Election October 1, 1940, Florence Gibbs became the first woman elected to Congress from Georgia, completing her late husband’s term and serving through January 3, 1941, but no standing for a full term of her own.

Chinese Communist leader Mao Zedong proclaimed the Communist People’s Republic of China on October 1, 1949.

The Carter Center in Atlanta was dedicated on October 1, 1986.

Mikhail Gorbachev named himself Chairman of the USSR’s Supreme Soviet on October 1, 1988.

President George H.W. Bush condemned Iraq’s takeover of Kuwait in a speech to the United Nations on October 1, 1990.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp yesterday issued Executive Orders 09.30.20.01, renewing the Public Health State of Emergency, and 09.30.20.02, providing guidance. From the AJC:

Gov. Brian Kemp on Wednesday extended the state’s coronavirus restrictions an additional two weeks, signing an order that relaxes rules for restaurant and bar employees exposed to the disease.

The new rules, which expire Oct. 15, allow restaurant and bar employees to return to work after 24 hours if they’re confirmed to be symptom-free after they were confirmed or suspected of contracting COVID-19. Previous rules required them to stay away for three days; the new limits adhere to guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The latest order also extends deadlines for high school graduates to submit ACT or SAT scores to qualify for the Zell Miller and Hope scholarships. Separately, he also extended a public health emergency until Nov. 9.

Georgia’s efforts to stem the spread of the disease are showing signs of traction. The latest report from President Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force moved Georgia out of its most severe “red” category for the first time in months.

Kemp on Tuesday rejected that notion [of imposing stricter limits], saying that his discussions with Dr. Kathleen Toomey, the state’s public health commissioner, convinced him that Georgians might rebel.

“It’s a great idea, but people are over that. One of the things that Dr. Toomey and I have tried to do is to make sure that we’re putting things out there that people can buy into,” he said at a stop in Dawsonville. “And to go backward on that, I just don’t think people are going to comply with it.”

From the Valdosta Daily Times:

In a new executive order, Kemp extended current restrictions on businesses and gatherings through Oct. 15. At the same time, he extended the public health state of emergency — giving him broad control over agency response to the virus — through Nov. 9.

The Department of Public Health released updated data on Tuesday that noted positive improvements for the week Sept. 21 through 28 including a more than 30% decrease in the seven-day average of new cases. Since the state’s peak seven-day average case rate July 24, the department said, there has been nearly 70% decrease.

From the Ledger-Enquirer:

Kemp’s office identified only two changes to the coronavirus restrictions in a news release announcing the new order:

Citing CDC guidance, restaurants and bar employees may return to work once they have been fever- or symptom-free for 24 hours following “a known or suspected positive COVID-19 diagnosis.”
Certain SAT and ACT standardized test score deadlines tied to the state’s HOPE and Zell Miller scholarships eligibility were extended.

The new order will take effect at midnight, Oct. 1 and expire Oct. 15 at 11:59 p.m. Kemp also renewed Georgia’s public health state of emergency through Nov. 9. Many city and county mask mandates, including the one in Bibb County, are tied to Kemp’s public health state of emergency declaration.

Vice President Mike Pence was in Atlanta yesterday, speaking to the Faith & Freedom Coalition, according to the AJC.

The vice president told hundreds of activists at the Faith and Freedom Coalition conference that Donald Trump is “the most pro-life president in American history,” and he electrified the audience by invoking the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to a vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court.

“I’ll make a prediction: We’re going to fill that seat,” Pence said. “And Judge Amy Coney Barrett is going to be Justice Amy Coney Barrett.”

“[President Trump] won that presidential debate hands down,” Pence said. “Now we’re just 34 days — 34 days — until another victory.”

“If 2016 taught us anything,” Pence said, “it’s that whatever the pundits and the Washington elites and the big media want to say, the American people are in charge of America.”

From WSB-TV:

Channel 2′s Richard Elliot spoke exclusively with Pence following his appearance at the Faith and Freedom Coalition conference that was held Wednesday at the Cobb Galleria Centre.

“President Trump has kept the promises that he has made to the American people,” Pence said. “The president took our case to the American people, but he also took the fight to Joe Biden.”

“I think the American people saw a fighter last night. That fighter, I believe won the debate outright, but that’s exactly the kind of fighter they want in the White House for four more years,” Pence said.

More than a million absentee ballot requests have been received so far, exceeding by a factor of 5 those in the last Presidential election, according to the Savannah Morning News.

At the end of the day on Tuesday, 1,352,070 Georgians had requested an absentee ballot for the Nov. 3 general election. In 2016, only 241,519 absentee ballots were issued.

Of the ballots requested this year, 102,900 had been completed and returned by close of business Tuesday.

[T]he Secretary of State’s office has taken steps to make the absentee process more accessible and transparent, Communications Manager for Voter Education Walter Jones said.

Jones points towards Georgia’s new online absentee ballot request portal, which allows voters to get an absentee ballot by filling out a short form online.

Since its launch around the end of August, the online portal has been used by 262,712 Georgia voters — more than the total absentee ballots issued in the 2016 general election.

The Secretary of State’s office released additional information on the more than 1000 alleged double-voters, according to the AJC.

New information disclosed by his office this week provides details to justify his claim but doesn’t show any intention by voters to rig elections. Many double-voters might have cast in-person ballots because they thought their absentee ballots wouldn’t count.

Preliminary numbers show 1,042 people voted twice in 119 counties during the June 9 primary. State election officials found these voters by comparing absentee and early voting records with voter check-in data on election day.

The release of double-voting details sheds light on how fraud may or may not have occurred at a time when voters across the political spectrum are worried about their ballots counting in the Nov. 3 presidential election. President Donald Trump has frequently criticized mailed-in ballots — even though he uses them himself to vote in Florida — but the data doesn’t point to an organized effort to destabilize elections in Georgia.

“It does not appear to be a vast conspiracy,” said Gabriel Sterling, Georgia’s voting system implementation manager. “Just by the data distribution pattern alone, you can see this was individuals acting and not in any kind of organized effort on anybody’s part that we could discern.”

“It’s pretty clear that there were double-voters,” Sterling said. “Any time we see the potential for double-voting, it’s going to be investigated because a vote diluted is a vote denied. You’re hurting the rights of everybody else who follows the rules.”

Democrat Raphael Warnock visited Statesboro to campaign, according to the Statesboro Herald.

The Rev. Raphael Warnock, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, told people attending a campaign stop Saturday on Georgia Southern University’s campus in Statesboro that the nation now faces four historic challenges at the same time.

Health care, linked to more than one of those challenges, was the issue he emphasized most. Warnock, 51, senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, which was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s home church, is one of 20 candidates on Georgia’s Nov. 3 ballot contending for the seat previously held by Sen. Johnny Isakson and now by appointed Sen. Kelly Loeffler.

“We are living through some tough times,” Warnock said. “In an ordinary time, any one of these things would be a real challenge and would demand real leadership: a once-in-a-century pandemic, which has then produced an economic turndown unlike anything we’ve seen since the Great Depression, a renewed reckoning on our age-old challenges regarding race in this country. …”

Having listed the pandemic, the economic downturn and the reckoning with racism, which he called “America’s original sin,” Warnock observed, “on top of all of that, a challenge from the highest levels of our government to the very basic democratic norms and institutions that make us an American people.”

Warnock raised nearly $13 million dollars in the last quarter for his Senate campaign, according to the AJC.

Democrat Raphael Warnock will report raising more than $12.8 million over the last three months of his campaign to oust U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler in a wild special election that will almost certainly stretch into next year.

Warnock, the pastor of Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, has collected more than $17 million from 500,000 separate contributions since entering the race this year.

It’s not immediately clear how much cash on hand the first-time candidate will report after the three-month period, which spans from July to August. In previous filings, he’s outraised both Loeffler, who is self-financing her campaign, and U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, her most formidable Republican rival.

Augusta will consider changes to the fire department after a report critical of leadership was released, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Suwanee will offer alcohol license tax credits for 2021 to businesses hit by COVID-19, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The city is offering as much as $6,000 in alcohol license tax credits for eligible businesses to use during the 2021 license renewal period. It is a one-time credit available to restaurants and beverage establishments who currently have a license from the city for the on-premises consumption of alcohol and plan to renew their license next year.

New restaurants and beverage establishments that begin business between Thursday and June 30, 2021 are also eligible for the credit.

“While nearly all city businesses experienced negative impacts during this pandemic, restaurants have faced special challenges and difficulties due to mandated restrictions and social distancing,” Suwanee Mayor Jimmy Burnette said. “The city council developed this program in hopes of helping these businesses make it through these difficult times.”

Campaignus Interruptus

Republican A. Wayne Johnson pulled out of the all-comers election for the U.S. Senate seat held by Sen. Kelly Loeffler, according to the AJC.

A. Wayne Johnson dropped out of the 21-candidate contest on Thursday and endorsed U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, though his decision came so close to the November vote that his name will remain on ballots.

“It has become clear to me that the time has come for me to take the responsible action of removing myself from the field of candidates in order to allow the voters of Georgia to focus their attention on a truly electable candidate,” Johnson said in a statement.

In his withdrawal statement, Johnson said that Collins was the most qualified candidate in the race in part because “he understands first-hand the kitchen table issues that are affecting the citizens of Georgia.“

“I also identify with Doug as coming from a hard working middle-class family, as a military veteran, a father and as a fellow public servant.”

Democrat Kerri McGinty abandoned her campaign for State Senate District 1, leaving Sen. Ben Watson (R-Savannah) unopposed in the general election, according to the Savannah Morning News.

McGinty, a Whitemarsh Island resident, captured the Democratic primary in June, running unopposed. She suspended her campaign in late July for personal reasons related to her health and requested that she be removed from the ballot through the Georgia secretary of state.

She notified the Georgia Democratic Party of her withdrawal, giving the organization time to submit another candidate for the general election. The state party declined to do so ahead of the ballot printing deadline, leaving Watson as the only candidate in the race.

Watson was gracious when contacted about the race Wednesday, offering best wishes to McGinty and expressing his eagerness to continue his service in the Georgia Senate.

“I’m just happy to be representing the First District,” he said. “I’m humbled and honored to be reelected and will continue to work hard for our area and our constituents.”

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