Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 23, 2014


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 23, 2014

We are now 104 days from the General Election on November 4, 2014.

Once again, the Battle of Atlanta provides us with our metaphor for today. On July 23, 1864, Union and Confederate forces in and around Atlanta gathered the dead and worked to save the wounded. Union artillery began bombarding Atlanta.

Former President Ulysses S. Grant died on July 23, 1885.

The Cleveland Metropolitan Park District was established on July 23, 1917 and currently has a set of beautiful parks winding through the city. If you’re going to be in Cleveland for the 2016 Republican National Convention, take some time to tour the city, including the parks. When I visit my mother and grandmother in Cleveland, I regularly see deer in the parks in Shaker Heights, and outside my grandmother’s retirement home. We’re thirty years past the “mistake on the Lake“ era, and you’ll be missing out if you don’t get to learn about the city.

I’m planning on attending the 2016 Convention and may set up an event or two for my fellow Republicans who are there from Georgia. Stay tuned.

John Smoltz started his first game as a major league pitcher on July 23, 1988, as the Braves took a win over the New York Mets.

Hopefully this won’t be another metaphor for the election, but Great White Sharks have been spotted off the coast of Georgia.

he message from shark researchers sums it up: “Female shark hotspot?” tweeted the nonprofit Ocearch Tuesday afternoon. “Lydia, Genie & Mary Lee are off the coast of #Savannah, GA!”

All three great white sharks are fitted with satellite tags that last located them more than 100 miles off Savannah.

Campaigns and Elections

Today, we begin the General Election campaign for United States Senate, Governor, and for the “Shafer Amendment,” which will constitutionally limit the ability of the General Assembly to raise the state income tax rate. Visit to learn more and if you’re a leader in a local, district, or the state GOP, consider working to put your organization on the record as supporting Amendment One on the November ballot.

I’m not going to spend too much time on last night’s elections. I want to digest what happened, and there’s plenty of direct information out there on the news sites. We’ll spend a few minutes recapping yesterday’s election results and talking about lessons we learned.

What I learned yesterday

The important thing is not being right every time, but learning something every time you are wrong. That’s a valuable insight whether you’re talking about political prognostication or something else.

Taking the view of “I learned a lesson” when you’re beaten, knocked down, or just wrong on the internet also has the benefit of lifting your mood. One of my favorite websites that isn’t about politics has a short video on this valuable life lesson.

1. The first time I was a guest on GPB’s new radio show “Political Rewind” a couple weeks ago, I learned that when I’m the proper distance from the microphone, my 40-something year old eyes can’t focus on the mic’s windscreen, and there’s something disorienting about being that close to something you can’t focus your eyes on. Of course, vanity won’t let me simply get glasses for this.

There’s a reason we have a lot of metaphors like “can’t see the forest for the trees” or “preaching to the choir.” The problem is that it’s hard to see what’s going on among the majority of Republican Primary voters who are not activists or party types. A message to those folks who are disconnected from politics can connect in a way that moves them without necessary being visible to those who are concentrating on the party structure and activists.

For those of us involved in the General Election as pundits, professionals, or players, we need to learn this lesson and apply it.

2. David Perdue’s challenge will be to take the support he has received in the Primary and Primary Runoff from people who are not involved in the political process and try to make a coherent organization or movement out of people who are resistant to being part of the political process.

Perdue will inherit much of Jack Kingston’s organization the same way Kingston gained from Karen Handel, and he should take the time to figure out how Kingston’s volunteers and staff can best be brought into the tent. But he also has to recognize the limitations of that organization and of his own – if we couldn’t see the breadth of his support, it will be hard to identify those who voted for him and ensure they come back out in November and don’t fall for an outsider message from the other side.

3. We’re behind the eight-ball. Michelle Nunn has a lead in the polls, and $2.3 million in the bank. I still think Republicans are favored in the fall, but we have to get it together and that starts tomorrow. Sleep in and lick your wounds today, but be prepared to take the field tomorrow.

4. The Georgia Republican Party needs to consider whether it’s promoting a message today that connects with the broader electorate or whether they’re “preaching to the choir.”

Democratic Party of Georgia Chairman Dubose Porter released a statement last night that indicates what we’re in for from the DPG and the Michelle Nunn and Jason Carter campaigns: three months and twelve days of all-out class warfare. From Porter’s statement:

“There is a clear contrast in this race between Michelle Nunn, a leader who has spent the last 25 years leading volunteer organizations and lifting communities up, and David Perdue, someone who has spent his career enriching himself while often times tearing companies and communities apart,” said Democratic Party of Georgia Chair DuBose Porter. “Georgians want leaders who will fix the mess in Washington, not someone who puts personal profit ahead of regular people.”

So, we’re going to hear a lot about Pillowtex and a lot about what a greedy bunch the Republican party and their Wall Street cronies are. Major issues will be the gender gap in pay, Citizens United and the role of big money in politics, and the minimum wage.

Expect also to see Michelle Nunn on all the morning shows today and the rest of the week.

Runoff Roundup

As of this morning, David Perdue holds a roughly 8500-vote lead over Jack Kingston, besting the 22-year Congressman by less than a 51-49 margin. From Walter Jones with Morris News:

With all but two Georgia counties reporting their final vote tallies as of 7:30 a.m., Perdue had 50.9 percent to Kingston’s 49.1 percent. The difference was about 8,600 votes out of more than 482,000 ballots cast.

Voters said they were fed up with the situation in Washington and wanted a change. Perdue, a political newcomer convinced them he was better able to bring change than Kingston, a 22-year veteran of Congress.

“David offered voters a clear alternative to the typical politicians,” said his spokesman Derrick Dickey. “As a political outsider and first-time candidate, his message resonated with voters who are fed up with business as usual in Washington.”

Kingston told supporters that when he called Perdue to concede he had a simple message for the victor about the general election.

“Don’t call me. I’m on your team,” Kingston recounted. “This is so much bigger than David Perdue or Jack Kingston. It is about taking over the U.S. Senate and turning America around.”

Wednesday morning will be the first day of the general-election campaign. Perdue must immediately shift his sights from attacking his fellow Republican to blasting Democratic nominee Michelle Nunn. She’ll be fighting back, and both sides will have large financial commitments from political-action committees.

“Tomorrow it becomes more of a national race with a lot of outside groups weighing in, but we plan to keep our nucleus,” Kingston said.

Even closer is the margin between State School Superintendent candidates Richard Woods (199,071 votes) and Mike Buck (198,343 votes). The race will almost certainly have a recount. From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

First, a crowded primary. Then, a runoff that doesn’t run either candidate off the ballot.

Now, the race between Mike Buck and Richard L. Woods, the two Republican candidates for Georgia school superintendent, appears to be headed for a recount.

Woods, a longtime educator from Irwin County making his second bid for superintendent, held a paper-thin edge over Buck, the chief academic officer for the Georgia Department of Educator. With nearly all of the state’s counties reporting their results late Tuesday night, that edge was within the 1 percent threshold that would give Buck the right to request a recount. He told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he would request a recount if the margin turns out to be closer than 1 percent.

“We would all like to have some closure, but it looks like sometime tomorrow at the very earliest before we’ll know,” Buck said from his campaign headquarters late Tuesday night. “So, we’ll stick it out and see what happens.”

Democrat Valarie Wilson took her party’s nomination over State Rep. Alisha Thomas Morgan. From the Athens Banner-Herald and Morris News:

Wilson won with 53.4 percent of the vote over Alisha Thomas Morgan, an Austell legislator, who garnered 46.6 percent, as of 10:50 p.m.

Kerwin Swint, political science professor at Kennesaw State University, said the support from established organizations likely helped Wilson.

“It’s about infrastructure,” he said. “Getting out the vote is something where, if you have the establishment behind you, you have people manning the phones, you have people willing to hand out literature.”

While Wilson has support of large education groups like the Georgia Association of Educators through her connections as former City of Decatur school board member and former Georgia School Board Association president, Morgan had sought the support of Democrats in favor of education reform and school-choice. She also had the backing of some national school-choice organizations, which rankled with some Georgia Democrats.

In Congressional District One, State Senator Buddy Carter beat Dr. Bob Johnson.

Carter won 53 percent of the votes, while his opponent, Bob Johnson, garnered 46 percent.

Johnson, a surgeon from Isle of Hope, ran as a political outsider in support of term limits and firmly against the Affordable Care Act also known as Obamacare. His success came from the lower half of the district in Glynn and Camden counties and a few small counties.

Johnson claimed he was supported by about 85 percent of local tea party members and virtually all tea partiers nationally, including former vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, who lent her support after a last-minute “gentle probe.” The Club for Growth, FreedomWorks and a few other conservative groups backed him also.

But behind Carter were key mainline conservatives, including many area mayors and sheriffs, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He also positioned himself closely to the Republican incumbent, Jack Kingston, a longtime Savannah congressman running in a closely watched U.S. Senate primary runoff.

The Republican nominee is heavily favored against Democratic nominee Brian Reese of Savannah in the Nov. 4 general election.

Carter, the primary’s top vote-getter, ran in favor of tax reform, reining in the national debt, balancing the budget, repealing Obamacare, and protecting gun rights – picking up a National Rifle Association endorsement.

He said he felt most confident of his popularity in his state Senate district, western counties and some areas down south where he was banking on endorsements from such people as a third place primary rival to pay electoral dividends.

Jody Hice, the ideological and stylistic heir to Dr. Paul Broun, took the GOP nomination in the Tenth District, which opened when Broun ran for U.S. Senate.

With 54 percent of 49,632 votes recorded by 10:45 p.m. Tuesday, Hice dominated the 10th District, winning 15 of its 25 counties.

Hice, a conservative radio host from Walton County, took first place in the May 20 primary with 37 percent of the total vote. Mike Collins, a trucking company owner from Jackson, came in second in the primary with 33 percent.

Clarke County voters preferred Collins, though. He earned about 62 percent of about 3,700 votes cast in the race here, while his lead in neighboring Oconee County hovered around 52 percent of the total vote late Tuesday. Hice took Barrow County with 68 percent of 4,446 votes.

More than half of Hice’s margin came from Walton County, his home and the most populous county in the district that sprawls across eastern Georgia. With 8826 votes cast in yesterday’s runoff, Walton County produced more votes than it did in May’s Republican Primary.

Barry Loudermilk handily won the 11th District over Bob Barr.

As of midnight, with all precincts in every county reporting, Loudermilk had received a total of 34,641 votes or 66 percent compared to Barr’s 17,794 votes or 34 percent.
Loudermilk’s lead was smaller in Cobb County, which he won with 59 percent of the vote to Barr’s 41 percent. Loudermilk took home 13,591 votes in Cobb County, while Barr received 9,314. In total, 22,905 of the 52,435 votes that had been tallied at press time were cast in Cobb County.
Loudermilk said he felt “awesome” after his win, though he added the victory was still sinking in.
“My heart goes out to everybody that went to the polls and elected me to this position,” he said. “It’s people responding to a positive message that there is hope for America we get our nation back on track.”
The newly-elected congressman attributed his victory to a positive message and style of campaigning.
“I think (my) message resonated with people more than the negative attacks we’ve seen,” Loudermilk said.


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