Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections for April 11, 2013


Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections for April 11, 2013

MDJ: Ed Lindsey enters 11th Congressional District race

The Marietta Daily Journal reports that State House Republican Whip Ed Lindsey is running for the Eleventh District Congressional seat being vacated by Congressman Phil Gingrey.

State Rep. Ed Lindsey (R-Buckhead), the state House Majority Whip, visited Marietta on Wednesday to announce he is running for the seat soon to be vacated by U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Marietta).

With Barr, of Smyrna, already announced that he’s running for the position, and others such as Tricia Pridemore of Marietta and state Sen. Judson Hill (R-east Cobb) strongly considering it, Tumlin said it will be as good a field as the district has ever had both in quality and quantity.


The next time Roe vs. Wade is challenged in the Supreme Court, there is a good chance it will be overturned, Lindsey said. If it is, that will allow Congress to decide what kind of pro-life legislation should be authored.

Lindsey describes himself as pro-life except in the event of incest, rape or to protect the life of the mother. He said he and Georgia Right to Life agree on 98 percent of the subject.

“We disagree on somewhere between one and two percent,” he said. “Someone who is 98 percent of the time with you, you don’t turn into an enemy on both sides, and Georgia Right to Life and I worked very hard together on areas where we’ve been able to find common ground.”

As majority whip, it was Lindsey’s responsibility last year to rally support for a bill that considered fetal pain, a bill Lindsey describes as “one of the most far-reaching pro-life bills that have ever been enacted in this country. Basically the cutoff is now at 20 weeks with certain exceptions.”

I suspect that one-two percent disagreement between Lindsey and Georgia Right to Life will cause some heartburn.

Bob Barr was re-elected to a sixth term on the National Rifle Association Board of Directors, ensuring a continuing high profile nationally. This is undoubtedly helpful to his campaign for the 11th District, though I wonder if tensions between the NRA and more conservative pro-gun groups in the state legislature this year will affect the national group’s popularity in Georgia.

Border Wars

If you happen to notice a familiar name and face on the front page of today’s Wall Street Journal, you are indeed looking at Atlanta lawyer Brad Carver, who made the cover because of the years of work he has put into the Georgia-Tennessee border dispute.

Now Mr. Carver has floated a resolution in the Georgia state legislature that calls on Tennessee to give Georgia about 1.5 square miles of forest and meadow north of a small country road here called Huckabee Lane—just enough to get a pipe into a wide inlet at a dammed-up part of the river called Nickajack Lake. He says that could easily supply parched Georgians with more than a billion gallons of water a day.

On a recent visit, Mr. Carver, in a gray suit and sunglasses, carefully walked across the soggy, disputed land and stopped at the water’s edge.

“We call this occupied Georgia,” he said, pointing to the wet earth.

The 41-year-old Mr. Carver, whose clients include the Georgia Association of Realtors, major hospital systems and energy companies, says he feels so strongly about the state’s water rights that he is lobbying on the water issue pro bono for no specific client.

He is proposing what he calls a generous swap. Georgia would give up its long-standing claim to be the rightful owner of about 68 square miles of land and water given to Tennessee when the surveyors mistakenly ambled off the parallel. It includes large parts of the river, several towns and the homes of 30,871 residents, Mr. Carver says.

If the Volunteer state doesn’t accept the offer, Georgia will take its case to the U.S. Supreme Court, the arbiter of all state border disputes, says Mr. Carver.

Tennessee says Georgia’s proposal is all wet. “The governor will continue to protect the interests and resources of Tennessee,” a spokesman for Republican Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam said in an email.

It remains to be seen whether Georgia’s threat to take the case to the Supreme Court holds water. Any state in a border dispute with another can petition directly to the high court under judicial powers defined in Article III of the Constitution, according to Joseph Zimmerman, a political-science professor at the University at Albany, State University of New York, and the author of several books on interstate disputes.

Mr. Zimmerman said the court almost always takes such cases, and then appoints a special master, usually a retired judge, to review the facts of the case and sometimes make a recommendation to the court.

“This could very well happen, if Georgia wants to push it,” he said.

Even if Georgia ever got the boundary moved, it still wouldn’t necessarily be able to slake its thirst. The Tennessee Valley Authority, which owns the property in question and manages the river here, would have final say on whether Georgia could pipe out water, according to a spokeswoman.

Tennessee is not the only bellicose party in a border dispute involving land rightfully under the dominion of the State of Georgia. Banks and Jackson County each disputes the other’s right to tax and regulate property along the county border, and like our dispute with the Peoples’ Republic of Tennessee, it’s a long-running skirmish.

Where is line between Banks and Jackson County – and who pays taxes to which government?

The issue was raised again a couple of months ago, and officials from the counties involved can’t agree on a solution.

Sam Moon, a member of the Banks County Board of Tax Assessors, said the counties previously had operated under a gentlemen’s agreement regarding the parcel, but noted that agreement no longer is working.

“In 2013, it is my belief that no more gentlemen exist,” Moon said.

Moon said case-by-case dispute resolutions no longer are a viable option, and that a permanent fix is needed.

“It’s been going on since 1897,” he said. “It comes to a head every 10 or 20 years.”

Election News: Efstration for House District 104

Former Gwinnett County Republican Party Chairman Chuck Efstration is planning a run for the House District 104 seat currently held by State Rep. Donna Sheldon, who has announced a Congressional bid for the Tenth District.

“Since the conversations began that state Rep. Donna Sheldon was considering higher office, I have received an overwhelming amount of encouragement to run for State House. The support and encouragement of so many people has been very humbling,” said Chuck.

“I thank Rep. Sheldon for her leadership as our Representative and commend her for her commitment to public service. However, the people of Gwinnett County deserve a conservative champion in the State House that will deliver bold, new ideas for our future,” Chuck said.

In other election news, Waycross Judicial Circuit District Attorney Rick Currie announced that he will retire effective May 31st, requiring a special election.

Savannah gets $1.28 Million for Port Expansion

President Obama’s budget proposal, released hours before Senator Johnny Isakson’s dinner at the White House, asks Congress to appropriate $1.28 million toward the $650 million projected total budget for the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project.

Georgia officials had hoped for roughly $100 million to begin dredging of the Savannah River channel this year.

Savannah and other East Coast ports are racing to deepen their harbors to make room for supersized cargo ships expected to begin arriving through an expanded Panama Canal in 2015.

Georgia has allocated $231 million for the Savannah project. The federal share has been tough to get with Washington’s focus on deficit reduction.

Governor Deal’s office expressed disappointment, but probably not surprise.

Brian Robinson is the governor’s spokesman.

“Obviously this is not as much as we need from the federal government. Far from it. The governor is disappointed there’s not a bigger investment, particularly given the time constraints.”

Deal sees the project as crucial for Georgia to remain competitive once the Panama Canal is expanded in 2014, making way for larger ships that require deeper ports.

“It’s not entitlement spending that continues on forever and ever and explodes in the out years,” said Robinson. “This is an upfront investment that will pay dividends for years to come. Once this is paid for it’s paid for, and that’s the kind of investment we need to create jobs in Georgia and the Southeast.”

While acknowledging the setback, Deal’s office is trying to look at the bright side. The federal budget is far from final. Congress has its own version and negotiations with the White House will go on for months.

Another sign additional funds could be forthcoming is the president included the dredging project on a list of top infrastructure priorities nationally.

No matter what happens in subsequent months in Washington, construction for the deepening project is set to begin later this year using existing state funds.

This certainly puts Congressman Jack Kingston (R-Savannah) in the spotlight for coming months. Whether that’s good or bad for a possible Senate run remains to be seen.

Alpha Gamma Fraternity hosts wild party at Lake Blackshear

Two top officials with the Georgia Department of Agriculture have resigned and others were reprimanded by Commission Gary Black after a report detailed a party held after departmental training at Lake Blackshear Resort near Cordele.

“There was heavy consumption of alcohol, music and dancing and the environment became similar to that of a college fraternity party,” the investigative report says.

One male employee told investigators that a female at the party “flashed” him by “pulling up her shirt.” After several hours of “socializing, dancing and alcohol consumption,” most people left. A group of seven men and one woman stayed and went swimming in the resort’s lake. “The employees were in various stages of undress while in the lake,” the report says.

State taxpayers spent more than $32,000 on the training seminar, although the report says no taxpayer funds were used to purchase alcohol. Sometime during the night, a state vehicle assigned to Skaggs was damaged and agency funds were used for repairs. The report notes that Skaggs agreed to repay the state the $151.65 used to fix the car.

The Department of Agriculture oversees a number of programs to both regulate food safety and agricultural operations, as well as promote Georgia agriculture, the largest industry in the state.

The combination of this loss of key personnel in Agriculture and President Obama’s low level of funding proposed for Savannah harbor dredging make yesterday a bad day for Georgia business and Georgia workers.

A third shot to the gut for Georgia’s economy is a proposal in the President’s budget for a Base Realignment and Closing Commission in 2015.

The president previously called for a BRAC in 2013 and 2015, but that was shot down amid opposition from both parties in Congress.

The likelihood might be higher this time around, however, as sharp cuts in military spending in the past two years have led to operational cutbacks and, therefore, an even greater excess of infrastructure.

The last BRAC was in 2005 and was focused on cutting costs. McMahon has said he expects the next BRAC to be more like the 1995 BRAC, focused on reducing infrastructure. That year, the Air Force closed two of its five maintenance depots.

Robins is one of the three remaining depots, and one of those, Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City, may hold a BRAC immunity card because it is the headquarters of all three.

If the Air Force decided to reduce depot capacity, it could come down to a contest between Robins and Hill Air Force Base in Utah.

Heads-up in Augusta

Norfolk Southern F UnitsThe Norfolk Southern usually sends its officer cars special to Augusta, Ga for Masters Week. If you’ve seen these locomotives in the area, please email me. I might drive out to see them.

Also filed under “corporate travel”: the National Republican Senatorial Committee has reimbursed Columbus, GA-based AFLAC for use of one of the company’s corporate jets.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee reported it paid $4,256 on 2/20 to AFLAC for “travel 2.24.13″. An aircraft tracking service indicates AFLAC has two corporate jets based in Georgia….

The report is not required to show who the traveler was or where or how they traveled, but we know the NRSC is certainly interested in Georgia….

Martha Zoller: third lesson from a Congressional campaign

Third, people stretch the truth about giving you money. I could tell you some stories. People you knew for years don’t return your calls. You’ve got to be able to raise money and if you are an outsider, it’s even harder. There’s an elected officials club and they give to each other. I was able to keep pace with fundraising every quarter but the first one and that $100K disadvantage I had in the beginning, hurt me in the long run. Tea Party and Grassroots, you’ve got to learn to give money. The PACs and the lobbyists and the elected officials are going to give money and you need to be able to match that. And, a bit of advice to politicos and dollar people—return the call, tell us yes or no and we won’t spend our time calling you over and over.

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