Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 2, 2019


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 2, 2019

On October 2, 1789, President George Washington signed a resolution transmitting the (then-twelve) amendments constituting the Bill of Rights to the states that had ratified the Constitution. Click here for the letter from Washington to Governor Charles Pinckney of South Carolina that accompanied the amendments.

On October 2, 1835, Texans and Mexicans met in the first military battle of the Texas Revolution, the Battle of Gonzales.

In 1831, Mexican authorities gave the settlers of Gonzales a small cannon to help protect them from frequent Comanche raids. Over the next four years, the political situation in Mexico deteriorated, and in 1835 several states revolted. As the unrest spread, Colonel Domingo de Ugartechea, the commander of all Mexican troops in Texas, felt it unwise to leave the residents of Gonzales a weapon and requested the return of the cannon.

When the initial request was refused, Ugartechea sent 100 dragoons to retrieve the cannon. The soldiers neared Gonzales on September 29, but the colonists used a variety of excuses to keep them from the town, while secretly sending messengers to request assistance from nearby communities. Within two days, up to 140 Texians gathered in Gonzales, all determined not to give up the cannon. On October 1, settlers voted to initiate a fight. Mexican soldiers opened fire as Texians approached their camp in the early hours of October 2. After several hours of desultory firing, the Mexican soldiers withdrew.

Texas Cannon Flag 600

On October 2, 1879, Wallace Stevens was born. Stevens would become a renowned poet and insurance industry lawyer. My favorite poem of his is “Connoisseur of Chaos.”

A. A violent order is disorder; and
B. A great disorder is an order. These
Two things are one.

President Woodrow Wilson suffered a stroke at the White House on October 2, 1909.

Thurgood Marshall was sworn-in as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court on October 2, 1967.

Betty Talmadge, then wife of Senator Herman Talmadge, hosted a fundraiser with Rosalynn Carter and Joan Mondale on October 2, 1976.

Ground was broken for The Carter Presidential Center in Atlanta on October 2, 1984.

The last Braves game at Turner Field was played on October 2, 2016, with the Detroit Tigers besting the Braves by 1-0.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

United States District Court Judge Steve Jones issued an injunction against the “Heartbeat Bill” passed by the General Assembly and signed by Governor Kemp. From the Fulton Daily Report:

Judge Steve Jones of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia issued a preliminary injunction Tuesday against House Bill 481, which outlaws abortion upon detection of an embrionic pulse. The statute says it could apply as early as six weeks into pregnancy and carries an effective date of Jan. 1, 2020.

“In light of binding precedent, the Court determines that Plaintiffs have met their burden for the issuance of a preliminary injunction,” Jones said in a 47-page order posted Tuesday afternoon. “Plaintiffs have also shown that, absent a preliminary injunction, they will suffer irreparable harm. By banning pre-viability abortions, H.B. 481 violates the constitutional right to privacy, which, in turn, inflicts per se irreparable harm on Plaintiffs.”

Jones also issued a scheduling order, saying the case is on a four-month discovery track, ending Jan. 18, 2020. Jones said during a hearing last Monday that he expected to schedule the case for trial early next year—unless the parties agree to an expedited schedule.

Supporters of abortion bans in Georgia and other states have said their hope is that the U.S. Supreme Court will hear their appeals and overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision affirming a woman’s right to choose whether to continue a pregnancy up until the point of viability—when a baby could survive after birth.

From the New York Times:

But in a 47-page ruling on Tuesday, Judge Steve C. Jones of United States District Court in Atlanta blocked the new law as a lawsuit challenging it proceeds. He said the new law probably ran afoul of women’s right to an abortion, which he said was guaranteed by the Constitution until about 24 weeks into pregnancy.

“Under no circumstances whatsoever may a state prohibit or ban abortions at any point prior to viability,” Judge Jones wrote.

Candice Broce, a spokesman for Governor Kemp, a Republican, said in a statement on Tuesday that the state was “reviewing Judge Jones’ decision.”

“Despite today’s outcome, we remain confident in our position,” Ms. Broce said. “We will continue to fight for the unborn and work to ensure that all Georgians have the opportunity to live, grow, and prosper.”

From 11Alive:

Jones is a University of Georgia Alum for undergrad and law school. He was appointed by President Barack Obama to the federal bench in 2011. Two other judges who blocked similar laws were also appointed by Obama. Presidents Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush appointed the other three.

Judge Jones will also preside over another hot Georgia issue: the challenge to the election system brought by the non-profit organization Fair Fight Georgia. The organization is run by former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.

Congratulations and condolences to Philip Singleton, who won the runoff election for State House District 71, according to unofficial reporting by the Secretary of State’s Office.

Marcy Westmoreland Sakrison (R)      41.14%      1788 votes
Philip Singleton (R)                                 58.86%     2558 votes

From the AJC:

Singleton defeated Marcy Westmoreland Sakrison — a private school teacher who had the support of the House’s most powerful Republican — in the runoff to last month’s special election to replace former state Rep. David Stover, R-Newnan.

About 9% of the district’s nearly 48,000 registered voters cast ballots in the runoff election.

Sakrison, the daughter of a former state House Republican leader and congressman, had the support of prominent Republicans, including Ralston — who donated $2,800 to Sakrison. Other Republican lawmakers donated at least $10,500 to Sakrison, and several lobbyists and statehouse special interests also donated to her campaign.

Sakrison reported about $118,000 in donations. Singleton raised almost $68,000, according to state campaign finance records.

Singleton also was the top finisher in the Sept. 3 election, securing about 37% of the 5,004 votes cast. Sakrison got about 34%. Since neither won a majority of the ballots cast, a runoff was required.

From the Newnan Times-Herald:

“We’re just honored to have the trust of the people of Coweta and Fayette counties,” Singleton said Tuesday night. “It’s obvious that the negative campaign tactics we’ve seen in this race don’t work,” he said.

“The good news is we can put all that behind us, and we can work on uniting our county and promoting strong conservative Republican values in the legislature.”

“There was a tremendous amount of slander and negative campaigning used by the opposition,” Singleton said, referencing four campaign mailers and several Facebook posts by his opponent.

There was also a mysterious robocall the night before the Sept. 3 special election, claiming to be from a pro-MARTA organization and asking people to vote for Sakrison.

The unexpired term ends in 2020, and qualifying for the 2020 election will be held in March, with the primary held May 19.

Jackie Gingrich Cushman, a conservative writer and daughter of former Speaker Newt Gingrich, has applied for appointment to the United States Senate, according to the AJC.

Jackie Gingrich Cushman, an author and financial analyst who is the daughter of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution late Tuesday she applied for the job.

“What it really comes down to in the end is: are you putting yourself out there with stands you believe in,” she said of her philosophy. “I’m not trying to be politically divisive, but I’ve got a conservative perspective and I won’t give in to what the other side wants.”

Gingrich Cushman, who recently authored “Our Broken America” about the lack of consensus in politics, sees herself as a serious contender– particularly if Kemp wants to keep an eye on the suburbs.

She said her frequent media appearances for her father’s failed 2012 presidential run will come in handy, as well as her financial background. Her resume includes a five-year stint as director of financial planning for Bellsouth Mobility and a role as a senior adviser for her father.

“I’ve learned how to be cheerfully persistent and positive, with a belief that things can be better,” she said. “You need someone who can take the heat, stand by their conservative convictions and still be positive.”

Democrat Stacey Abrams has added another mark partner for her pyramid voting rights protection scheme. From The GA Voice:

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has partnered up with former Georgia Democratic gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams through her organization Fair Fight to help combat voter suppression in the 2020 elections.

“The Human Rights Campaign is thrilled to partner with Stacey Abrams and Fair Fight to ensure that all of us are able to vote, and that all of our votes are counted,” said HRC President Alphonso David. “The right to vote is fundamental, but it has been weaponized against underrepresented minorities throughout our nation’s history. This weaponization has primarily targeted voters of color, but it has also harmed LGBTQ Americans.”

“I am so proud to be building a partnership with the Human Rights Campaign, because this fight is all of our fight,” Abrams said. “We must make sure that LGBTQ voters and all voters across the country are able to register, to vote, and to have their vote counted – no matter who they are, what they look like, or who they love.”

Democrat Jon Ossoff has raised $800k for his Senate bid, according to The Hill.

Democrat Jon Ossoff raised more than $800,000 in the third quarter of the year for his Senate bid against incumbent Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.), his campaign said Tuesday, a substantial fundraising haul for a candidate who launched his campaign only three weeks ago.

Ossoff will report more than $1.3 million in total receipts for the quarter, including funds transferred from a former House campaign committee. He will report $1.3 million in cash on hand, his campaign said.

Since announcing his Senate bid in early September, Ossoff has racked up a list of high-profile endorsements, including from Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), a longtime congressman and civil rights icon who holds outsize sway in Democratic circles, especially in Georgia.

But Perdue, a first-term senator, is also heading into his reelection with influential allies, including President Trump himself. He has not yet disclosed his third-quarter fundraising haul, but he reported raising nearly $1.2 million in contributions in the second quarter of the year and has more than $4.8 million in cash on hand.

DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond wrote county commissioners about priorities in his budget proposal, according to the AJC.

Thurmond, who is entering the fourth and final year of his first term in office, said there are six areas where he hopes to focus county spending next year. In a memo to county commissioners, he said the budget proposal he submits to them by Dec. 15 will build on prior achievements, such as increasing the county’s rainy day fund, while introducing new new initiatives.

“The following budget priorities for (fiscal year) 2020 represent our vision for providing the highest level of services and the best quality of life for our residents,” Thurmond wrote.

The areas where the CEO hopes to prioritize county spending are:

•  making neighborhoods safer;
• improving public health, social services, recreation and culture;
• strengthening the workforce and promoting economic development;
• beautification and reducing blight;
• investing in maintenance and repair of county infrastructure; and
• making government more efficient, effective and transparent.

Thurmond asked department heads to submit budget requests below 2019 spending levels. He also told them to look for additional places to cut cost in order to redirect the money to other priorities.

The League of Women Voters will host a candidate forum for Savannah Mayor and City Council, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The League of Women Voters of Coastal Georgia will host two candidates forums for the municipal elections in Savannah on Thursday, Oct. 3.

The forums will be held at the Coastal Georgia Center at 305 Fahm St.

The Savannah at-large candidates for council forum will be held from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. A forum for the Savannah mayoral candidates will held from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Food trucks will be onsite before the first forum and during the hour break before the second forum begins.

Both forums are free, but attendees are encouraged to pre-register at

Warner Robins City Council member Carolyn Robbins has died, according to the Macon Telegraph.

Robbins, 77, died Monday. Her funeral service is at 2 p.m. Oct. 8 at Trinity United Methodist Church, 129 South Houston Road. Visitation is from 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 7 at McCullough Funeral Home, 417 South Houston Lake Road.

Robbins, who had been battling health issues for some time, did not seek re-election to Post 2 during qualifying earlier this year in August. The Post 2 term ends this year.

Her husband and high school sweetheart, Tony Robbins, died Aug. 22. They raised three children together.

Statesboro City Council District 4 member John Riggs proposed a moratorium on new apartments, according to the Statesboro Herald.

“I would like for you to think about it for a few days. I would like to hear what our attorney has to say,” he told the city’s other elected officials Tuesday during the 9 a.m. council meeting.

“This is due to us having too many apartments and not enough students,” Riggs said.

“Just remember my goal is to keep the apartment complexes that we have now full, keep their rents high, but not too high,” Riggs added. “Every new apartment that we build, it makes an older apartment seem obsolete, or they drop the rent on it and possibly sometimes they don’t do background checks.”

Interviewed after Tuesday’s meeting, Riggs indicated that he wants new regulations on apartment complexes too. But first he wants to halt “anything that is going to lower the values or the rents in other people, because that “causes people that you don’t want to live there, bad people moving in,” he said.

Glynn County and the City of Brunswick discussed a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST), according to The Brunswick News.

Glynn County and Brunswick City commissioners held a joint work session on Tuesday to talk about their Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax 2020 plans.

An agreement between the city and county commissions over the property expired last year when the city failed to make significant progress on its construction by an agreed-upon deadline.

County commissioners voted in a past meeting to set a SPLOST referendum on the May 2020 primary election ballot. If it passes a public vote, the collection of the new penny sales tax would begin when SPLOST 2016 collection ends in September of 2020.

To get the referendum on the May ballot, the county, city, Jekyll Island Authority and Brunswick-Glynn County Joint Water and Sewer Commission need to, by the end of December, hash out the cut each agency will get and lists of projects they would like to use the tax revenue on.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Resources Division announced a record year for sea turtle nests, according to The Brunswick News.

The state Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division announced Monday, “Sea turtle nests on Georgia beaches took a hit from Hurricane Dorian with about 20 percent of nests ‘still in the ground’ when the hurricane swept the coast. About three-quarters of the remaining nests were either destroyed or waterlogged and poor hatching success is expected. Roughly 80 nests are still incubating on Georgia’s coast.

“The good news: With 3,928 loggerhead nests laid since April — the most ever recorded since surveys began in 1989 — an estimated 240,000 hatchlings had already emerged before Dorian arrived.”

Interestingly, St. Simons Island didn’t break nesting records this year, despite the unusually active season. St. Simons closed out the season with six nests total, seven sort of the 2016 record of 13. Catherine Ridley, SSI Sea Turtle Project coordinator, said the Sea Turtle Project has some plans in the works to hopefully make the island a more-inviting place for future nesting seasons.

“There were likely many reasons for our lower numbers, but I suspect that lighting issues and other human activity were at least partly to blame,” Ridley said. “When you look at Georgia’s developed islands, especially St. Simons and Tybee, you see a common theme. These problems essentially amount to a type of habitat loss — we have stretches of beach that would otherwise be great nesting habitat, but with too much artificial light, they’re effectively lost to turtles. If SSI is ever going reach our full potential and contribute to the recovery of the species, those are issues we have to take seriously and correct through increased education and stronger ordinances.

“This winter, we’re planning to launch a new community-wide sea turtle certification program. Local businesses and citizens will be able to complete different levels of turtle-friendly actions to demonstrate their commitment to wildlife. And with the help of a new online rating system, beachgoers will be able to choose which hotels, condos, and restaurants to support based on the business’ track record and compliance with conservation measures. Glynn County’s lighting ordinance is also decades old, so we hope to take a look at strengthening that language as well. I’m excited about everything we have planned. Our community works so hard to support sea turtles and other wildlife, and we want to ensure everyone has the tools in place to take action.”

M/V Golden Ray appears to have released some oil into St Simons Sound, according to The Brunswick News.

The Unified Command, the group tasked with responding to the shipwreck, reported dealing Monday with a “significant discharge” of oil from the Golden Ray, said spokesman Michael Himes, a U.S Coast Guard Petty Officer. The command also reported “weathered” tar balls washing up on the sand at Jekyll Island.

The 656-foot freighter has foundered on its port side in the sound – between St. Simons and Jekyll island — since overturning on Sept. 8 while heading out of the Port of Brunswick with a cargo of some 4,200 vehicles. The command is in the process of pumping some 300,000 gallons of fuel from the Golden Ray, the first phase in removing the behemoth ship from the sound. The Unified Command had pumped some 74,134 gallons of fuel from the Golden Ray as of Tuesday, Himes said.

The Unified Command responded to Monday’s release of pollutants from the ship with skimmer boats to remove oily sheens on surface water. Also, workers placed of thousands of feet of absorbent booms and barrier booms to remove and contain pollutants. Containment booms also were placed to surround the Golden Ray, the Unified Command said. Additionally, divers worked on the submerged portion of the ship to seal areas where the oil is leaking, Himes said.

Fletcher Sams, Executive Director of the Altamaha Riverkeeper, said Unified Command officials told him they worked from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to contain the discharge from the ship. Fletcher found plenty of new signs of “fresh oil” during an inspection on the water Tuesday, he said. “It’s bad, man,” Sams said. “It’s bad.”

Mercer University School of Medicine will open two new clinics in Peach and Clay Counties, according to the Albany Herald.

Following up on the successful launch of Mercer Medicine Plains in July 2018, Mercer University School of Medicine plans to open two additional rural health clinics in the coming weeks to continue delivering on its commitment to meet the healthcare needs of rural Georgians.

Mercer Medicine, the primary care practice and division of the faculty practice of MUSM, will establish comprehensive healthcare facilities in Fort Valley in Peach County and Fort Gaines in Clay County.

When Mercer Medicine Plains was dedicated, Mercer President William D. Underwood said that Mercer Medicine’s first clinic outside of Macon “represents part of a broad-ranging initiative by the university to transform access to health care in this state” and would serve as a model for additional rural health clinics around the state.

Augusta may be seeing an early start to flu season, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

In a rare early showing, 30 people have tested positive for flu at University Prompt Care offices, which could be a harbinger of another severe flu season ahead, the medical director said.

Since Friday, there have been 30 positive rapid tests for flu, Dr. Bo Sherwood said.

“This is early” to see so many cases, Sherwood said. “Now if this keeps up another five days in a row, then a notice should go out that this is it. This is flu season and it is hitting hard and it is going to be this way for a while.”

While every flu season is different, flu usually begins circulating in Augusta anywhere from mid-November to mid-January. It is possible that this could be a false beginning, that there could be an outbreak and then die down for a while, which has happened in some previous seasons, Sherwood said.

The Floyd County Democratic Party will host a meet-and-greet for local candidates, according to the Rome News Tribune.

Rome voters will get a chance to talk with City Commission candidates one-on-one Thursday at a gathering hosted by the Floyd County Democratic Party.

The free meet-and-greet is scheduled for 7 p.m. in the Willingham Village community room, 560 N. Division St. Tina Bucher, the party’s communications director, said in a release that all nine candidates have been invited and refreshments will be served.

Gainesville City Council approved a moratorium on vaping shops, according to the Gainesville Times.

Tuesday evening’s decision by the Gainesville City Council establishing an immediate 120-day moratorium on vape shops did create a somewhat hazy environment with numerous unanswered questions.

The final vote tally was 4-2 in favor of the moratorium.

Despite the split vote the intent of the resolution was clearly unanimous, but questions about what would (or could) happen next led Gainesville City Councilwomen Ruth Bruner and Barbara Brooks to vote “no” on the measure.

City Attorney Abb Hayes said a lot of detail still needed to be worked out in the resolution he presented at the end of the voting meeting.

City Manager Bryan Lackey explained after the meeting adjourned that enforcement of the moratorium on existing vape shops would not begin immediately, but encouraged vape shop owners to contact the city if they have questions.

An email from the United Tea Party of Georgia has caused a kerfuffle, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

An email from United Tea Party of Georgia which included a reference to carrying guns into a Gwinnett library where a 287(g) forum is set to be held Wednesday has Democrats alleging the Tea Party plans to intimidate opponents of the controversial immigrant detention program at the forum.

The forum is being hosted by Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights, the black Alliance for Just Immigration, Racial Justice Action Center and Project South at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the library, which is located at 455 Camp Perrin Road in Lawrenceville. The organizers pitched the forum as a chance to learn about “the real impact (the 287(g)) program has on immigrant communities.”

“Billed as a ‘Community Forum’ it will really be a place for just the anti-Butch Conway and anti-law groups to speak their mind,” the unsigned email from the United Tea Party of Georgia states. “I am planning on going and would love to have some company! We need to arrive early because they may recognize us and claim the room is full. NOTE: You can carry a weapon (open or concealed) in the library as long as you have a valid permit. I will certainly be armed.”

The email prompted pushback from two Democrats running for county offices in 2020. Gwinnett Commission chairman candidate Curt Thompson and Commission District 1 candidate Kirkland Carden reached out to their supporters with the allegations of intimidation by the United Tea Party of Georgia against 287(g) opponents.

“This threatening, and intimidating remark is another in a long line of questionable actions and conduct by the most ardent supporters of the 287(g) immigration enforcement policy,” Thompson said in a statement.

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