Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 19, 2022

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 19, 2022

British General Charles Cornwallis surrendered to General George Washington at Yorktown, Virginia on October 19, 1781,  ending the American Revolution.

On October 19, 1790, Lyman Hall, one of three signers of the Declaration of Independence from Georgia, died in Burke County, GA. Hall was elected Governor of Georgia in 1783, holding the position for one year, and was an early advocate for the chartering of the University of Georgia.

On October 19, 1983, the United States Senate voted 78-22 to create a federal holiday honoring Martin Luther King, Jr., to be celebrated on the third Monday of January. The House passed the King holiday bill, sponsored by Reps. Katie Hall (D.-IN) and Jack Kemp (R-NY), by a vote of 338-90 in August. President Ronald Reagan signed the legislation on November 3, 1983.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

From the Secretary of State’s Absentee Voting Database:

Total ballots cast: 293,454

Total mail ballots cast: 24,223

Total in-person ballots cast: 268,262

cast October 17, 2022: 134,156

cast October 18, 2022: 134,106

Total Electronic ballots cast (overseas and military voters): 969

Governor Brian Kemp issued Executive Order #10.18.22.01, naming three members to a commission to review the indictment of Miller County Sheriff Richard Morgan and recommend whether he should be suspended.

Governor Kemp discussed agriculture when he visited the 44th Sunbelt Ag Expo in Moultrie, according to WALB.

“Agriculture is by far the number one industry in the state. It’s a very diverse industry, as you can imagine. From traditional row crops, like you said, see a lot of in this part of the state and South Georgia,” Kemp said.

The governor said having events like the Sunbelt Ag Expo in Georgia is a great testament to the importance of the agriculture industry in the state.

“The huge poultry industry, horticulture, you know, produce I mean, it’s all over, cattle, it’s just a great industry in our state. By far the number one economic impact. And so events like the Expo are very important to keep that alive and keep it going and also help raise awareness,” Kemp said.

Kemp said one of his goals is to make the University of Georgia the number one agriculture school in the country.

“The research and extension that we’re seeing coming out of there, whether it’s water usage, better farming practices that make us more efficient, but also help the farmers, you know, be more profitable is going to be key to improving our yields in the future. And that’s why we’re doing so much with innovative farming,” he said.

Georgia State Senator Tyler Harper (R-Ocilla) is running for Agriculture Commissioner and wrote an Op-Ed in the Albany Herald.

Agriculture is Georgia’s No. 1 industry, the backbone of our economy, generating more than $74 billion in annual economic impact while employing roughly 400,000 hard-working Georgians. Our state is a leading producer of poultry, peanuts, timber, blueberries, eggs, cotton, and watermelons – just to name a few. Our farmers provide a healthy, nutritious, and reliable food source, and their work has an incredibly positive impact at every level of society.

Our farmers and Georgia’s agricultural industry keep us going. They provide the food, fiber and shelter that sustains our way of life on a daily basis, and have continued to do so throughout a global pandemic. But the challenges facing our farmers are unlike anything they have ever experienced before.

From a lack of access to capital and technology, to rising input costs such as high fertilizer and fuel prices, to strict regulations and uneven playing fields for trade, their obstacles are significant. These obstacles are compounded by bad policies that have driven up input costs, diminished labor supply, and shrunk the family farm’s share of the retail dollar to a record low.

This in turn creates a domino effect that creates record high prices at the gas pump, grocery store, and virtually everywhere in between while also making us more vulnerable and reliant on foreign countries for our food, fiber and shelter. In short, when our No. 1 industry faces challenges without the support of strong public policy and leaders who understand the industry, our quality of life at every turn suffers.

However, with challenges come opportunities. We must focus on lowering input prices that make going to the grocery store less expensive. We need to put our farmers and producers first by leveling the playing field and ensuring they can compete on the global stage – because, at the end of the day, food safety and food security are national security issues. Simply put, agriculture is national security, an industry that impacts every Georgian every day, and for our state to be successful, agriculture must remain successful.

Georgia has been the best state to do business in for nine years. In order to maintain that ranking, we have to invest in our state’s No. 1 industry to ensure that Georgia has a safe, reliable food supply for generations to come. Quite simply, agriculture’s success is our state’s success. With strong public policy and public servant leaders who not only understand the challenges and opportunities facing our top industry but are willing to tackle them, I’m confident working together we can do just that.

A three-judge panel of the Georgia Court of Appeals heard an appeal in the lawsuit over Hall County’s pension plan, according to the Gainesville Times.

Attorneys on both sides of an estimated $75-million class action lawsuit regarding the Hall County pension plan argued Tuesday, Oct. 18, on whether freezes to the plan’s benefits were improper.

The lawsuit was originally filed in January 2017, when a group of 100 current and former Hall County employees argued their pension benefits were illegally frozen.

Since then, the case has bounced between Hall County Superior Court and the appellate courts. The most recent ruling came in April from Judge Martha Christian, who granted summary judgment to the Hall County government.

“This is a case we’re all finding on this side of the bench pretty challenging,” Judge Christopher J. McFadden said.

Democrat Stacey Abrams launched a statewide bus tour, according to the Capitol Beat News Service.

At a Mexican restaurant in southeastern Atlanta, Abrams told cheering supporters she wants put a $6.6 billion budget surplus to work meeting Georgians’ needs, not passing tax cuts that primarily benefit the wealthy, the approach taken by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp and his GOP predecessors for the past two decades.

“For 20 years, we’ve been told there’s not enough money,” Abrams said. “We know we need education. We know we deserve health care. … It’s time to get rid of a governor willing to do less and less and hire a governor willing to do more.”

She said if she is elected governor next month, she will push to repeal the “heartbeat” abortion law, which bans abortion in Georgia after a fetal heartbeat is detected, usually about six weeks into a pregnancy.

On guns, Abrams said the Kemp-backed legislation the General Assembly passed this year allowing Georgians to carry concealed firearms without a permit was the wrong way to go in a state plagued by gun violence. She said the governor pushed the bill for political expedience.

“We need a governor who is willing to strengthen our laws, not weaken them to win a primary,” she said.

Abrams’ bus tour will continue Wednesday with stops in Lilburn, Athens, and Conyers. On Thursday, she will make stops in College Park and Columbus.

Out-of-state celebrities will campaign for Georgia Democrats, according to the AJC.

U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock’s campaign will host Lin-Manuel Miranda, the famed “Hamilton” creator and artist, at a Wednesday event in Atlanta designed to mobilize Latino voters.

And Stacey Abrams called on Oprah Winfrey to host a virtual event on Thursday to help energize Black voters ahead of her rematch against Gov. Brian Kemp. Winfrey, the media titan, also held a rare in-person campaign rally for Abrams during the closing days of her 2018 bid.

Abrams hasn’t been shy about relying on celebrities to boost her rematch. In recent weeks, her campaign promoted an endorsement from Will Ferrell and featured footage of Common, the entertainer, joining canvassers who knocked on doors in Atlanta.

Warnock, however, has relied less on big-name surrogates this cycle. His campaign said the Miranda event was part of a series of “Latinos for Warnock” gatherings around the state. A poll conducted by the University of Georgia released Wednesday shows Warnock lagging Republican Herschel Walker among Hispanic voters.

Still, the governor’s campaign spokesman Tate Mitchell noted the famous figure who has yet to stump with Abrams in the closing weeks of the race – a president whose approval rating hovers below 40% in some recent polls.

“Where is Joe Biden?” Mitchell asked.

From the AJC Political Insider:

The event, titled “Oprah Winfrey and Stacey Abrams Present: A Thriving Life,” will be virtual and touch on topics including education, health care, housing and living wages.

Abrams is relying on elements of the same playbook as her 2018 campaign, when Winfrey and former President Barack Obama revved up supporters in the final weeks of the race. Obama has announced an in-person event with Abrams and other Democrats on Oct. 28.

Speaking of Latino voters, the most recent UGA poll shows they favor Herschel Walker and split nearly evenly between Gov. Kemp and Stacey Abrams, according to the AJC.

The poll released Wednesday by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution/Georgia News Collaborative poll pegged Abrams at 49% and Kemp at 48% among Hispanic voters. That’s well within the poll’s margin of error of 5.6 percentage points.

Walker, meanwhile, had a 47-41 advantage over Warnock.

The poll of 309 likely voters — all of whom self-identified as Hispanic or Latino — was conducted Oct.11-12 by UGA’s School of Public and International Affairs. It was commissioned by the Georgia News Collaborative, a consortium that includes The Atlanta Journal-Constitution as a member.

From another AJC story:

Hispanic voters in Georgia appear to be in the mood for a course correction, according to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution/Georgia News Collaborative poll released on Wednesday, two days into the start of in-person early voting.

Just 6% of respondents said they think the country is headed in the right direction; and a majority also disapproves of Joe Biden’s job performance.

Echoing the concerns of the overall Georgia electorate, Hispanic voters indicated the economy is a dominant source of worry as they prepare to head to the polls.

Nearly 64% of Latino voters said high prices have had a “significant, negative impact” on their daily lives – compared to 54% of overall Georgia voters. An additional 28% of Latino voters said inflation had a “noticeable” effect, and just 1% said it had no real impact.

Housing costs are an important component of rising inflation. They’re also a source of significant pain among Georgia Hispanic voters, with 61% of those who participated in the poll indicating that a lack of affordable housing is a problem in their local communities.

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr (R-Cobb County) debated Democratic State Senator Jen Jordan, who is running against him, according to the Capitol Beat News Service.

Democratic state Sen. and lawyer Jen Jordan of Atlanta has been a vocal opponent of the [“Heartbeat”] law. She has previously indicated she would not enforce it if elected attorney general.

During Tuesday’s debate, Jordan said she believes the Georgia abortion law violates the state Constitution.

“I think specifically what we have to look to is the right of privacy under Georgia’s state Constitution, which was first identified in 1905,” she said.

“I have stood up for the women of this state, fighting to protect human trafficking victims, fighting to protect victims of gangs, fighting for those that are being taken advantage of from an elder abuse standpoint ” incumbent Republican Attorney General Chris Carr said in response.

The Georgia abortion law does not allow a pregnant woman to be prosecuted, Carr said, and Jordan’s claim is a scare tactic.

“If anyone, it’s the [medical] providers that are provided for in this law,” he said. “It would be up to the district attorneys to make that determination.”

The candidates also sparred over crime. Carr pointed to his track record in prosecuting human trafficking and gang crimes. He also said Jordan missed many key votes – including on laws about crime – while she was in the state legislature.

Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger debated Democratic challenger State Rep. Bee Nguyen, according to the Capitol Beat News Service.

“I’ve had to stand up to incredible pressure,” incumbent Republican Brad Raffensperger said, referring to threats and pressure he faced following the 2020 election in Georgia. “I’m standing up for you, the voter. I’m standing up for the Constitution, and I’m standing up for the rule of law.”

Much of the debate focused on Georgia’s Senate Bill (SB) 202, a lengthy and often controversial state election reform bill the General Assembly passed last year.

“I oppose laws that make it harder for Georgians to vote, including the 98-page bill that criminalizes handing out a bottle of water to voters waiting in line,” Nguyen said.

She also argued that the law increased the burdens on local county election boards without increasing funding.

“More and more people are leaving [local elections offices] because they don’t have the adequate resources to administer free and fair elections in all 159 counties and poll workers are being threatened and harassed,” said Nguyen. “We need a comprehensive plan to make sure that our local boards are well resourced and well equipped.”

Georgia should repeal the provisions of SB 202 that allowed the voter registrations of 65,000 Georgians to be challenged, Nguyen said.

During a part of the debate where candidates were allowed to ask each other questions, Nguyen asked Raffensperger about prior statements about his pro-life stance.

Raffensperger said the secretary of state has little to do with the abortion question, adding that Nguyen’s question indicated she doesn’t understand the job.

“Job one is to know the job, and you don’t know the job,” he said.

U.S. Representative Buddy Carter (R-Pooler) debated Democratic challenger Wade Herring, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The debate saw Carter, the four-term incumbent, on the attack. He branded Herring, a political newcomer making his first run for office, as a “rubber stamp” for the Biden administration multiple times over the course of the debate.

Herring breathed some fire himself, branding Carter a “career politician.” Carter has held political office at the municipal, state or federal level for the last 28 years.

Carter was pressed on being a self-avowed “Trump surrogate” and his resistance to joining the Congressional Freedom Caucus, a group made up of many Trump-facing Republicans who Carter says are “great people.”

“Why am I not a member of the Freedom Caucus? Because I don’t want to have to sell my vote to anyone. One of the rules of being in the Freedom Caucus is that you have to vote with them 85% of the time,” Carter said. “My vote belongs to the people of the 1st District, not to anyone in Washington D.C.”

Carter’s wealth was called into question in the debate. Since he took office, his net worth has grown to $33 million, according to the estimates of D.C. based government finance tracking nonprofit OpenSecrets’ 2018 report, the most recent available on Carter. That puts Carter as the 16th wealthiest person in the House of Representatives.

In Carter’s answer, he said his wealth was the result of being a hard-working pharmacist.

“I can assure you that my wealth came from working as a pharmacist, it came from being a small businessman. I owned my business for 32 years, and in those 32 years, I worked hard. Yes I was successful because I worked hard, and I don’t apologize for being successful,” Carter said.

Multiple times throughout the debate, Carter called Herring a “rubber stamp,” angling hard to present his opponent as a Biden equivalent, as the president’s approval ratings fall amidst record high inflation.

“My opponent wants to go to Washington D.C. to be a rubber stamp for those failed policies,” Carter said.

U.S. Representative Sanford Bishop (R-Albany) debated Republican challenger Chris West, according to 13WMAZ.

It’s been dubbed the only competitive U.S. House race in the Deep South this election by political analysts. Thomasville attorney Chris West is vying to unseat the longest serving Congressman in the current Georgia delegation, Columbus Democrat Sanford Bishop.

This is Bishop’s biggest challenge to hold his seat since 2010 when he narrowly won against former state lawmaker Mike Keown. Bishop has held the seat since 1993.

“I’ve got the experience in the private sector. I’ve got experience in agriculture. I’m a lifelong south Georgian. We’ve created over 1500 jobs through our company,” said West.

“I’ve been able to use the political process to work very hard to bring jobs and a stronger economy, better education, safe communities that are free of crime and drugs,” said Bishop.

West says inflation was driven by bad policy decisions. He wants to push for energy independence and strip what he calls “wasteful spending” in the Inflation Reduction Act passed this summer.

“We’ve got to unwind the bad regulations. We got to get energy independent. We’ve got to unleash American potential to be able to grow the economy,” West said.

Meanwhile, Bishop says higher inflation was caused by the pandemic. He says he’s helped by supporting that Inflation Reduction Act. He pointed out it had a specific section to reduce inflation effects on medication, particularly insulin.

Glynn County Commissioners heard from staff about preparations for the Georgia-Florida game weekend, according to The Brunswick News.

The Glynn County Commission discussed preparations for the annual Georgia-Florida football game Tuesday, but there was no talk about renewing the alcohol ban imposed by the county the past couple of years.

Glynn County Emergency Management Agency Director Andrew Leanza told commissioners maps, flags, drones, law enforcement, food trucks, evacuation routes, a hospital tent and proactive education are all part of the plan to help maintain a safe, tourist-friendly environment for everyone.

Flags coded by color and number will be posted along the beach to enable emergency officials to quickly respond to any situation, and many safety officials will have radio communications.

“We want to enhance safety without invading the party atmosphere,” said Commission Chairman Wayne Neal. “I think this will be beneficial.”

Hyundai Motor Group will break ground for its new plant in Bryan County on October 25th, according to WTOC.

This groundbreaking will come more than 5 months after Hyundai announced it would be building an electric vehicle and battery processing plant here.

The move represents a more than $5.5 billion investment from Hyundai and is expected to bring more than 8,000 jobs to the area.

Plant completion is scheduled for the first half of 2025.

Georgia’s Congressional delegation is asking the Biden Administration to narrow the proposed new rules designed to protect Right Whales, according to The Brunswick News.

In a letter to [U.S. Secretary of Commerce] Gina M. Raimondo, Georgia’s two senators and all 14 members of the U.S. House urge the Commerce Secretary to exempt ships calling on the ports of Brunswick and Savannah, as well as harbor pilot boats, from the proposed seasonal speed limit rules.

The National Marine Fisheries Service is proposing to broaden the Atlantic Right Whale Strike Reduction Rule by requiring vessels 35 to 65 feet in length to maintain a speed of roughly 11.5 mph when in waters inhabited by right whales.

NMFS says the regulations are necessary to protect the Atlantic right whale, the population of which numbers 350 or less, marine biologists estimate.

U.S. Sens. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, Democrats, and Republican U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, R-1, were among the members of the Georgia delegation signing the letter.

“We encourage NOAA to consider narrowly tailored changes to this rule focused on maritime safety, such as exemptions for pilot vessels and ocean-going cargo vessels within federal navigational channels that are in the Seasonal Management Areas, in order to provide certainty and support safe and efficient port operations,” the delegation wrote the Commerce Secretary.

Because Georgia’s offshore is a calving ground for right whales, ships would have to honor the new mandate from Nov. 1 to April 15.

Georgia’s congressional delegation is seeking a conversation with the head of the U.S. Department of Commerce, the parent agency of NOAA.

“We respectfully request a call with you in the next two weeks to discuss a better path forward,” the group wrote.

Here’s your PSA highlighting the importance of understanding and planning for tides when boating in tidal areas, from The Brunswick News.

The roar of overhead engines rattled the rafters of Jack and Kay Candler’s Sea Palms home on St. Simons Island late Sunday afternoon, throwing a wrench in the serenity of their pristine marsh view.

But the disruption was nothing compared to the predicament at that moment for a pair of kayakers and their dog, left stranded a quarter of a mile out in the impenetrable marsh by a receding high tide.

The overhead ruckus was the sound of a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter coming in for the rescue.

“Limited water due to the receding tide stranded the kayakers,” the Coast Guard said in response to a request for information from The News. “It required hoisting from a helicopter as the area was inaccessible by boat and jet ski.”

Or airboat. Rescuers had an airboat on standby along the marsh at Peninsula Drive in Sea Palms, Jack Candler said.

“We had it happen to us, and it was really intimidating,” Jack Candler said. “It’s pretty scary. You could hardly pull your foot up and out of the mud.”

The kayaks remained in the marsh. Jack Candler said they might try to retrieve the kayaks when the tide is right.

“Where they were you probably wouldn’t want to risk being out there past about mid tide, even on a good high tide,” he said. “They probably did the right thing by calling for help. Dark was coming on.”

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