Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections for May 3, 2013


Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections for May 3, 2013

GAGOP Chair Debate Last Night

Last night I moderated a debate among the candidates for Chairman of the Georgia Republican Party at the Gainesville Civic Center, which was hosted by the Mighty Ninth District, Hall County, and White County Republican Parties and broadcast on WTVN, the student-run television station of White County High School.

The full debate will be available online later today, and I’ll post some thoughts about it later, once I’ve recovered fully from the trip. For now, Martha Zoller has a review from last night at

[T]he fireworks came in the section where candidates ask each other questions.  The contributions B. J. Van Gundy gave to some DeKalb democrats came up and he was questioned on  whether they effected business he does with DeKalb County.  Van Gundy said they were races with no Republicans and the people were friends of his.  This won’t be a big issue, but expect this to come up again.  In essentially a “Republican primary” there aren’t many policy differences.

Van Gundy said he’s given less than $1000 to Democrats in his lifetime and the fact all his opponents mention this “money issue” means there was some sort of collusion between them beforehand.

No real damage was done to any of the candidates.  From a policy perspective, Johnson and Padgett gave the most specifics on what they would do. Harp did the best job of highlighting his fundraising experience and Van Gundy did the best job of demonstrating his support from Young Republicans, with Alex Johnson lightening things up by pointing out he was a “Young Republican” as he’s 28 years old.

My comments will differ from Martha’s and here are a few notes from my take away:

  • Alex Johnson scored easy points on at least three occasions by mentioning his website URL; today, that’s an important point for politicos.
  • Most awkward moment of the night came when BJ VanGundy reached over to hug Seth Harp.
  • Seth Harp received two points for the first, and only, proposal to hold GOP barbecues.
  • John Padgett still has “a box of guns”.
  • Use of the phrase “agin it” is contagious.
  • If you want to get a Republican audience to boo, say the words “Common Core”.

Kingston Announcement

Much of Kingston’s announcement was devoted to bolstering his credentials as a conservative.

“If I were in the Senate today, I’d be among the top 10 percent of the conservatives in the Senate,” Kingston said of his voting record.

He trumpeted his support of the military and his devotion to national security as well as his votes against President Barack Obama’s tax increases and the president’s health care initiative.

But Kingston also proclaimed his adherence to principles of conservatism over party policy.

“As a conservative, I also voted no on President (George W.) Bush’s Wall Street bailout and President Bush’s stimulus program and President Bush’s bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac because, again, conservative principles are more important than party.”

Kingston highlighted his personal frugality and his budget-slicing skills as chairman of the House Agriculture Committee.

“No one is going to get to the right of me on saving money,” he said. “I’ve returned over $1 million in unused office expenses by being a tightwad.”

The Associated Press also covered Kingston’s announcement:

“We need common sense government,” Rep. Jack Kingston of Savannah told dozens of cheering supporters gathered at the coastal city’s downtown riverfront. “We need strong government policy, not laugh lines for Jay Leno.”

Kingston’s candidacy could set the stage for a GOP primary battle over Chambliss’ seat that pits more traditional Republicans against tea-party and evangelical conservatives who lean further to the right.

Kingston avoided any mention of abortion or other social issues in his kickoff speech.

His quip about “common sense” versus “laugh lines” seemed aimed at recent remarks by both Broun and Gingrey.

Here’s my 15-second political analysis of Jack Kingston as a Senate candidate. Kingston is a solid conservative and doesn’t receive enough credit for his role as one of the early leaders of the Georgia Republican Party who ushered in the current era of GOP dominance by supporting Paul Coverdell for United States Senate very early in the 1992 Primary (actually as early as 1991, if memory serves) and winning an important Congressional seat that year, when Republicans went from one to four Congressmen.

But James Richardson pointed out one thing that separates Kingston from his competitors: his mild demeanor. That may be simply a reflection of the fact that Kingston hasn’t run a competitive campaign in years and still has to get back in the swing of things.

If you compare Lynn Westmoreland and Jack Kingston, they’ve probably voted together 95% of the time, but face-to-face or in front of a Republican party organization, Westmoreland will come off as more conservative personally than Kingston. That’s just a matter of appearances, but in modern politics, appearance is reality.

Former Kingston staffer David Schwarz, likely considering a bid for his former boss’s Congressional seat, released a statement.

“I am so excited for Jack Kingston, Libby, and the entire Kingston family. Congressman Kingston, who I had the honor of working with, would make an excellent U.S. Senator for Georgia.”

“I am humbled by the encouragement I have received to provide the next generation of conservative leadership needed to control Washington spending and provide innovative ideas to help businesses grow and create jobs. I am praying about that decision with my family and hope to come to a decision soon.”

Look for a Monday announcement from Senator Buddy Carter to run for Kingston’s seat, as the dominoes continue falling.


Gov. Deal Signs Legislation on Juvenile Justice Reform, Pill Mills

In Dalton, Governor Deal signed House Bill 242, which came out of the Special Council on Justice Reform and takes a “smart on crime” approach that prioritizes reducing recidivism over punishment by allowing more alternatives to incarceration designed to help prevent repeat offenses.

“We acted because Georgia could not afford its own numbers. Not when we have more than half of all youth offenders ending up back in a detention center or prison within three years. Not when we have each youth in a detention center costing Georgia’s taxpayers $90,000 or more every year and not when 40 percent of juveniles in detention facilities are considered a low risk to reoffend,” said Deal.

“We worked hard and we found ways to keep low-risk offenders out of detention centers and save taxpayer dollars, nearly $85 million over five years, while also eliminating the need for two new facilities. We did all this while not only maintaining but improving public safety.”

The Governor signed House Bill 178 in Ringgold, hometown of lead sponsor State Rep. Tom Weldon, to combat “Pill Mills,” many of which moved into Georgia as adjoining states cracked down. The the Georgia Pain Management Clinic Act creates a licensing process for pain management clinics operating in Georgia under the supervision of the Georgia Composite Medical Board.

“When our state goes from housing 10 pain management clinics to 125 in just three years, we must do something to ensure the continued safety of our citizens,” Deal said. “We know this process works, because we can observe the successes that have happened around us. When Florida enacted tougher laws, the number of pain clinics there dropped dramatically, as did deaths from oxycodone and hydrocodone. I hope to see similar results in Georgia.”

 Governor Deal Suspends Brunswick City Commissioner

Gov. Deal suspended Brunswick City Commissioner and Mayor Pro Tem James Brooks, who will continue to be paid as a Commissioner.

Brooks is facing racketeering charges along with violation of oath charges in a Camden County indictment. Brooks was also charged with witness tampering and obstruction of a law enforcement officer during the investigation into the murder of a 13-month-old boy last month in Glynn County.

After a special commission studied the charges against Brooks and unanimously recommended his suspension, Deal suspended Brooks until the d[is]position of the charges against him or until the end of his term in office.

Brooks’ term ends on December 31, 2013 and he is seeking re-election.

Note that Brooks has been charged with separate crimes in two different jurisdictions. If he wins reelection before being cleared of charges, he’ll have outdone even Victor Hill in one way.

I’d say I’m surprised to have not read any mention of this in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, but it just doesn’t fit the narrative they want to push – the idea that Republicans are the troublemakers in government.

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Kennesaw State University opened in 1966 as Kennesaw Junior College, became Kennesaw College in 1976, Kennesaw State College in 1988 and Kennesaw State University in 1996. As of fall semester 2012, KSU was home to more than 24,000 students and 600 faculty.  invites you to LIKE the Kennesaw State University College Republicans Facebook Page.


Georgia Association of College Republicans Spring Road Trip 2012

Two students from the Kennesaw State College Republicans will join the 2012 GACR Road Trip to South Carolina that won’t be going anywhere near a beach unless they’re lucky enough to get assigned to part of the First Congressional District of South Carolina along the coast.

Click the following link to make a donation to the Georgia Association of College Republicans for their trip to South Carolina. We hope to bring you some stories from their big road trip next week.

You don’t even have to support that particular candidate in South Carolina to think it’s worth investing in the future of some of Georgia’s upcoming Republican leaders. Drive past Starbucks and get a cup of free office sludge, and you can put that $5 towards a good cause.

College Republicans’ Next Stop: Tennessee?

Depending on their results in South Carolina, the next posting of College Republicans may be under the command of Major Brad Carver at the Tennessee line.

Senator Jeff Mullis on Tennessee

Georgia State Senator Jeff Mullis (R-Chickamauga) recently visited the Tennessee legislature, and much was made of the fact that legislators there cheered him, and that he was one of two Georgia legislators who opposed a resolution that suggested a settlement of the border dispute between the Peach State and our northern neighbors in the Volunteer State.

I sat down with Senator Mullis for InsiderAdvantage to discuss his view of the border issue and the need for water. It’s worth reading, especially for Georgians who don’t understand or forget that much of Northwest Georgia is more closely tied to Chattanooga, Tennessee, than to Atlanta.

Mullis: “I don’t disagree with [Georgia’s position on the location of] the line but I know that what we need is Riparian rights for our water. Six percent of all the water in the Tennessee River comes from North Georgia and we take less than one percent back.”

“All my counties in the border are connected into the TN river by TN American Water Company and the Cities of Rossville and Fort Oglethorpe and Catoosa County solely get their water from them.”

IA: You don’t disagree that Georgia has a claim to water from the Tennessee River?

“My question is the strategy. I think that if you have a disagreement with your neighbor you should go to the fence line and talk it over with him, try to work out a deal, work out the problem, before you call the law in that case, or in our case, point fingers, send resolutions saying, “‘we’re going to lawyer up and sue you if you don’t work with us.’”

Georgia-Tennessee Land Wars Through the Years

The current kerfluffle with our northern neighbors is not the only conflict over land owned by Georgia and claimed by Tennessee. In the 1920s, land owned by the Peach State in Chattanooga became the subject of legal and non-legal maneuvering.

The Georgia-owned property was a nuisance to the city’s growth, until city officials in the Roaring Twenties apparently saw a way through Georgia’s blockade of buildings.

In 1926, Chattanooga Commissioner Ed Bass used a bit of trickery to speed along a Georgia secession. The sides were awaiting a court ruling on whether the city could use eminent domain to extend Broad Street from Ninth to Main Street — right through one of Georgia’s buildings.

“The city arranged to begin demolition for the construction of the road on a Saturday when the courthouse was closed and when obtaining an injunction to stop demolition would have been impossible,” according to a news account.

“Crews worked Saturday night and all day Sunday. In the early hours of Monday morning, with the city commissioner on hand to direct them, cars drove through the new road while a band played ‘Marching Through Georgia.’”

Porsche Introduces 911 Turbo and 911 Turbo S

smPorsche 911 Turbo S _7_From a press-release by Atlanta-based Porsche Cars North America:

Turbo S model now capable of accelerating from 0-60 mph in 2.9 seconds

The Porsche model offensive in the anniversary year of the 911 is reaching new heights. Fifty years ago, the 911 made its debut at the Frankfurt International Auto Show – and just ten years later, the first 911 Turbo prototype was at the IAA. On this 40th anniversary of the 911 Turbo, Porsche is now presenting the new generation 911 Turbo and Turbo S – the technological and dynamic performance peak of the 911 series.

A new all-wheel-drive system, active rear axle steering, adaptive aerodynamics, full-LED headlights, and up to 560 hp from a flat six-cylinder engine with twin-turbochargers underscore the role of the new generation 911 Turbo as an ultra performance car, every day car, and technology flagship.

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