Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections for July 9, 2013


Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections for July 9, 2013

Campaign Finance Reports Released

Midnight last night was the deadline for Georgia politicians to file their Campaign Contribution Disclosure Report. That only applies to candidates for state offices; the filing deadline for federal candidates is July 15, 2013.

Governor Deal stacked $613,000 this year and spent a little under $337,000, for a total cash on hand in excess of $1.1 million.

Lt. Governor Casey Cagle raised $78,551 and spent $62,031, leaving him with $571,012 cash on hand.

Secretary of State Brian Kemp out-raised Cagle, bringing in $82,710 and spent about $22,389 ending the period with just over $801k in the bank.

Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black banked $64,000 and spent under $17,000, ending with $132k in the bank.

Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens raised $15,332 and spent nearly $24,000, for a closing balance of $335,902.

Public Service Commissioner Lauren “Bubba” McDonald reports having raised not one thin dime and ended the period with less than a thousand dollars on hand.

Public Service Commissioner Doug Everett raised more than $16k during the reporting period and spent less than $230, leaving him with $16,160.96 in the bank.

State House candidate Angelic Moore raised more than $26k to campaign for the district that will be open when Ed Lindsey runs for Congress.

Chuck Efstration, the first announced candidate for Donna Sheldon’s state house seat, posted a stout $22,650 raised and no expenditures.

Just in, we received an email from Rick Allen’s campaign for 12th Congressional District:

Augusta businessman Rick Allen’s congressional campaign today announced that Allen raised an impressive $ 141,970.00 in the first month of his campaign to replace liberal democrat John Barrow in Georgia’s 12th Congressional District seat.

“I am humbled by the outpouring of support for the campaign and am deeply grateful to all of those who have invested in it,” Rick said.  “We have a lot of work ahead of us but I am more confident than ever that we will have the resources to get our message out to the people of the district.”

The campaign will also show $112,958.72 cash on hand in it’s first quarter campaign finance report which is due July 15th and covers the period between Rick’s entry into the race at the beginning of June and June 31st.

Pennington Filing a No-Show?

The Dalton Daily Citizen also reports that Pennington filed to run for Governor against incumbent Republican Nathan Deal.

Pennington filed with the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission, which will allow him to raise money for a gubernatorial run. Asked how much he needs, Pennington said enough to be competitive but did not give a specific figure.

Qualifying for the June 2014 primary starts in April 2014.

Under state law, Pennington will have to step down as mayor to run, but he says he does not plan to step down before the qualifying date.

“Being mayor is a part-time job, and I’ll be able to continue doing that job,” he said.

“There are a lot of people out there looking for a competitive primary,” he said.
In April, Pennington said Deal hasn’t done anything really bad. Pennington said the problem is “he hasn’t done anything really good at a time when the Georgia economy has struggled much more than the national economy has.”

Anyone “looking for a competitive primary” may as well keep looking at the Senate and Congressional contests, as the Gubernatorial re-election will be one-sided. On the bright side for Gov. Deal, having an actual opponent should boost his next fundraising report.

Despite these reports, the Georgia State Ethics Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission website shows no new filings for David Pennington as of 7 AM this morning. That could easily be due to problems at the Commission, or delays caused by the volume of filings right before the reporting deadline.

Several days before Pennington is supposed to have filed for Governor, web ads appeared on Facebook promoting Pennington’s critique of Governor Deal:

photoThis leads to three observations. First, someone paid for that to be promoted, or it wouldn’t say “Sponsored” at the top. Second, that spending occurred at least one day, likely more, prior to Pennington filing to run for Governor. The timing is suspect. The screenshot above was taken Sunday, July 7th, 2013 and the filing is supposed to have been Monday, July 8th. Third, Facebook ads appear to be the entry point for web advertising in Georgia political campaigns, and it can be instructive to see which candidates and potential candidates are self-promoting on Facebook.

Sheriff Tom Brown on Facebook

And speaking of Facebook, Jim Galloway wrote that he received an invitation to “Like” the Facebook page promoting DeKalb County Sheriff Thomas Brown for Congress. The kicker, according to Galloway, was that the invitation came from the Sheriff’s personal account. Make of it what you will.

Technology and the Georgia Republican Party

Brandon Howell has a piece in Campaigns & Elections in which he argues that the GAGOP should invest significantly in technology and online media.

The luxury of facing a party in financial shambles is an important opportunity for the GOP to build a better digital operation and leverage emerging technology now as opposed to playing catch up later.

Republicans would do well to capitalize on the unforced errors buying them more time, pushing the party forward with technological innovation and crafting a message with long-term viability.


Yesterday, GAGOP Chairman John Padgett sent out an email that also discusses, among other things, the revamped technology efforts of the state party.

Under the leadership of longtime grassroots activist Joe Dendy, the Georgia GOP will establish regional offices throughout the state just in time for the 2014 election cycle.  These storefronts will serve not only as a command center for volunteers and campaign staff but will also help to promote the Party in key areas of the state.  Stay tuned for more information about this exciting endeavor!

As I am sure you’ve noticed, the Party’s social media presence has ramped up since the State Convention.  As promised, we are putting a huge emphasis on Facebook and Twitter as a means to communicate with Republicans in Georgia and throughout the entire United States.  I hope you will not only LIKE us on Facebook and FOLLOW us on Twitter but also let your voice be heard.  By SHARING posts and RETWEETING, we will grow the Party by amplifying the conservative message.

I’ll be writing a lot about campaigning, both the old-school methods and new technology as it applies to running for office. Here, I will proffer the following to our political leaders: social media and new technology are not just about quantity. We often see campaigns doing a lot of social media in ways that make us think they’re unaware of best practices, analytics, and how to engage their audience. If you’re “doing social media” in a way that doesn’t use hard numbers to quantify your effect and improve your results, you’re leaving a lot on the table.

Cherokee Madness

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution brings us three new facets to the ongoing kerfluffle involving Cherokee County Board of Education member Kelly Marlow.

First, a response by the lawyer representing Marlow, political consultant Robert Trim and Cherokee GOP Secretary Barbara Knowles:

Anthony Morgese, a lawyer who is representing Trim, Knowles and Marlow, said the school board member never said she saw the superintendent, only his car. However, in a 911 call obtained by several local media outlets, a panting Marlow is heard saying, “The superintendent of the school raced right by me in his white BMW and did not, did not stop, nothing. … He just accelerated past me.”

Knowles pushed Marlow out of the way, preventing her from being hit, said Morgese. A video of the incident was obtained by police.

Morgese said the three made truthful accusations and are being unfairly targeted by the superintendent and police. He said he will fight the charges.

“I don’t know why they’re going after her, other than the fact that they have a hostile relationship since she’s been trying to change things in the school system,” Morgese said. “There are a lot of things we disagree with. But you don’t go out getting people arrested.”

Marlow has used her website,, to build community support for her school board actions, especially among local tea party activists.

“What Kelly did is what the rest of us have been trying to do: ask questions,” said Cherokee resident Jack Spaver. “That’s a school board that’s letting a superintendent run them. The employee is telling the boss what to do rather than the boss telling the employees what to do.” [Editor’s note:do they mean Jack Staver?]

Second is that revelation that video of the incident exists. And it being Cherokee County, I’m sure it’ll turn up on YouTube eventually.

Third comes from a separate story about Common Core, in which Marlow is quoted extensively without reference to the incident above.

Kelly Marlow, a school board member in Cherokee County who has opposed Common Core, said the cost of a national test tied to the standards is a concern.

“I have publicly shared my concerns about the lack of public input and the skyrocketing implementation costs of Common Core during a board meeting earlier this year,” Marlow said. “I have even asked for a public hearing solely on implementation costs of Common Core and have been told it was ‘a little late in the game.’ It’s budget time in Cherokee County, and I think it would be playing a dangerous game to move forward without a full understanding of whether or not our citizens’ tax dollars will cover the bill or if we will all be washing the dishes.”

While it’s possible that story was turned in before the incident happened, it’s also possible that the writer recognizes that Marlow’s critique is not necessarily diminished by the confrontational atmosphere that seems to pervade Cherokee county politics, and that at this point, she is accused but no finding of guilt has been made. I hope I can keep both those points in mind, and I hope not to write further about this for a while.

2014-15 Election Schedule

Yesterday, Galloway also wrote about the schedule proposed by the United States Department of Justice for Georgia’s 2014 elections in order to bring them into compliance with the federal mandate of at least 45 days for overseas voting.

We brought you the same information on June 20th and in the morning news on June 21st. Here’s the proposed schedule again.

Primary held on Tuesday, June 3, 2014
Primary runoff held on Tuesday, August 5, 2014
General Election on November 4, 2014
General runoff on Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Jim writes about one possible effect of changing the dates:

Georgia’s 2014 primary season may be about to shrink by more than a month – from the traditional mid-July event to June 3.

That’s still after the largest school systems in metro Atlanta have disgorged their students, but before most Georgians hit the road for summer vacations. Which means the make-up of the GOP primary audience could be significantly different – perhaps larger, and less dominated by activists.

I’m more concerned about the length of runoff elections if that schedule is made law. A two-month long Primary Runoff for United States Senate will mean higher costs, and absolute brutality. Imagine the scorched earth if the 2010 Gubernatorial Primary Runoff between Nathan Deal and Karen Handel had lasted for two months.

The Bibb County Board of Elections is asking a federal judge to give his blessing to holding the first election for the new Macon-Bibb consolidated government on September 17th, 2013.

Karen Handel introduces Senate campaign team

Yesterday, Karen Handel’s campaign sent out an email introducing her 2014 team. What I find most notable about Handel’s team are the two names missing. Fred Davis, who did the famous “King Roy” video that first made clear Sonny Perdue was a serious candidate and who did ads for Handel’s 2010 campaign is not mentioned. And Rob Simms, longtime consultant to Handel is currently serving as Political Director for the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Chris LaCivita, lead consultant, and Ron Butler, direct mail with Creative Direct in Richmond, Virginia, are a top-notch, first tier team at the national level. Ron handled mail for Handel previously, and has worked extensively with LaCivita for many years. These two alone make Handel’s campaign team one of the best in the field for the Georgia Senate seat.

Corry Bliss, who will manage the campaign has an interesting resume and even prompted a “Fake Corry Bliss” twitter account in 2010. My congratulations to Strickland Brockington Lewis, who will be handling legal issues for the campaign, and Tori Wester, grassroots coordinator.

Gov. Deal appoints Burrell Ellis review committee

Yesterday, Deal appointed Rockdale County CEO Richard A. Oden and Clayton County Commission Chairman Jeffrey E. Turner to join Attorney General Sam Olens on a committee to recommend whether DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis should be suspended after his indictment on multiple felony counts.

Oden and Turner are both African-American and were elected as Democrats.

The committee has fourteen days to meet and review the issue before issuing a recommendation. Lawyers for Ellis made it clear they plan to fight.

We plan to call witnesses,” said J. Tom Morgan, the former DeKalb District Attorney who is one of Ellis’ four-man legal team. “We plan to fight.”

Morgan wouldn’t discuss strategy. But he and Ellis’ other lawyers, including former federal prosecutor Craig Gillen, could argue that those powers are separate from allegations that he shook down vendors for campaign cash in his re-election bid two years ago.


Yesterday, Senate President Pro Tem David Shafer (R-Duluth) announced that Jason Fernandes is leaving his job as Director of the Senate Budget and Evaluation Office and that a replacement will be nominated by a search committee to be chaired by Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jack Hill on which Shafer and Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle will also serve.

The Georgia State Ethics Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Committee has three job openings. May God have mercy on your soul.

Georgia House Speaker David Ralston appointed Rebecca Sullivan, a former Executive Counsel to Governor Sonny Perdue to the State Elections Board.

Also, per John Padgett’s email, you’ll be seeing new faces next time you visit the State Party headquarters.

Mika Kawana, Anna Ford, and Brian Keahl, who worked tirelessly over the years for the betterment of the Party, we are happy to welcome to the GAGOP Staff – Adam Pipkin as Executive Director, Brad Hughes as Political Director, and Qiana Keith as Executive Assistant.  The new staff will have big shoes to fill but I am confident in their skills and look forward to working together to improve operations and enhance outreach.

On a personal note, the outgoing staffers have done an excellent job and I wish them all the very best in whatever is next. I also look forward to great things from the new staff under Chairman Padgett’s leadership.

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