Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 8, 2014


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 8, 2014

On July 8, 1776, the bell now known as the Liberty Bell rang in the tower of the Pennsylvania State House, now called Independence Hall, to announce the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence.

Rung to call the Pennsylvania Assembly together and to summon people for special announcements and events, it was also rung on important occasions, such as King George III’s 1761 ascension to the British throne and, in 1765, to call the people together to discuss Parliament’s controversial Stamp Act. With the outbreak of the American Revolution in April 1775, the bell was rung to announce the battles of Lexington and Concord. Its most famous tolling, however, was on July 8, 1776, when it summoned Philadelphia citizens for the first reading of the Declaration of Independence.

The Liberty Bell inscription includes a reference to Leviticus 25:10, “Proclaim Liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.”

The first of General William Tecumseh Sherman’s troops, under Major General Schofield, crossed the Chattahoochee River between Powers Ferry and Johnson Ferry on July 8, 1864.

Former United States Senator from Texas Phil Gramm (R) was born on July 8, 1942 in Columbus, Georgia, where his father was stationed at Fort Benning.

On July 8, 1975, President Gerald Ford announced his candidacy for President in the 1976 elections.

Barry Loudermilk: Not much of an Historian

Speaking of the Declaration of Independence, Congressional candidate Barry Loudermilk told the Marietta Daily Journal last week that:

“Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, the document that changed the entire world. He was the youngest, newest freshman in the Second Continental Congress, and so I think it’s a good idea to bring somebody new.”

Part of that statement is incorrect. Perhaps that’s surprising for a candidate who describes himself as an “historian and Constitutional scholar.”

The incorrect statement is that Thomas Jefferson was the “youngest, newest freshman in the Second Continental Congress.”

John Jay, who would serve as the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court was a delegate to both Continental Congresses was born in 1745 – two years after Jefferson was born in 1743. Also younger than Jefferson was Edward Rutledge of South Carolina. From Georgia, George Walton, born in 1749, was younger than Jefferson and was first elected as a delegate to the Continental Congress in 1776, the same year as Jefferson. Jefferson was elected a delegate to the Continental Congress on March 29, 1775, while Walton was elected from Georgia in February 1776, making him both younger and newer to Congress.

If Loudermilk made a single historical misstatement, it might just be an error – after all, I regularly have to correct myself here. But it appears to be part of a pattern of misstating history to serve his political ambition.

On April 27, 2013, Loudermilk spoke to the Bartow County Republican Party, and said,

“What the amazing thing was, when President Kennedy set out there and said, ‘we’re going to go to the moon in this decade,’ he didn’t create a government bureaucracy to do it, we created NASA to oversee it and turned it over to the private sector. We turned it over to the free market system and said ‘you guys figure out how to get there.,” said Loudermilk.

In fact, NASA was, and continues to be, a government agency. Also, it was not created by President Kennedy, but by President Eisenhower in 1958.

The folks from took exception to my pointing out Loudermilk’s errors, writing,

“An attack has been leveled that Sen. Loudermilk revised history in saying private companies helped get a man on the moon. In fact, IBM was one such private company that NASA turned to for help in this important project.”

These folks didn’t revise history, they just misstated what I wrote. Loudermilk didn’t say private companies help get a man on the moon – he said that President Kennedy turned the moon shot over to the private sector, which is untrue. Once again, we have the Loudermilk campaign distorting the truth to serve Barry Loudermilk’s desperate need to get himself elected to Congress.

Barr on immigration

Loudermilk’s opponent Bob Barr is raising the issue of whether the Obama Administration is shipping immigrants to Georgia.

Bob Barr, a former member of Congress locked in a tight Republican runoff with former Barry Loudermilk of Cassville for the 11th District congressional seat, has declared an immigration emergency in Georgia. From the press release:

“As tens of thousands of illegals continue streaming across our southern border, citizens of Georgia are increasingly concerned that the Obama Administration is planning to surreptitiously ship many to locations in our state; or that our government may already have begun doing so under cloak of secrecy.

“Questions from this campaign to federal agencies inquiring whether shipments of these illegals are planned for Georgia – or whether such shipments may already be underway – have been met with silence or refusals to provide meaningful answers. Our questions have been prompted by accounts stating that Georgia is in fact a recipient state for some of these illegals….”

The AJC’s Jeremy Redmon queried the Barr campaign – specifically, campaign manager and son Derek Barr – for actual evidence of dangerous women and children from the outer reaches of Guatemala, dispatched to subvert the wisdom and justice, constitutionally dispensed in moderation, of our fair state. Said Derek Barr:

“Additionally, the NBC Nightly News reported Saturday night that some illegals are on their way to Georgia. From Maryland, Indiana, Pennsylvania, to California communities have received unannounced shipments of these illegals. The state and local taxpayers are left paying the bills.”

Walter Jones interviews Kingston, Perdue

Walter Jones with Morris News is must-read for political junkies in Georgia, and has published profiles of both candidates for United States Senate in the Republican Primary Runoff on July 22d. First up is Congressman Jack Kingston.

Kingston’s hard work and connections led to winning a seat in the state House of Representatives for Savannah in 1984. Six years later he became the first Republican to hold the First District congressional seat since Reconstruction, and he’s been in Washington ever since, rising in seniority and power over those 22 years.

Although he never had serious opposition after his first legislative race, he says he still likes campaigning. These days, he frequently runs into questions about his years in Congress spawned by negative television ads from runoff opponent David Perdue attacking him primarily for his votes on spending.

“One of the constant concerns you have is that people are too polite when they come up to you. I’d rather have them ask me head on,” he said.

“People conveniently overlook the fact that I introduced the first earmarks reform back in 2007 and called on a moratorium that is in effect now,” he said.

And David Perdue:

“If I were out of touch, there is no way that I would have been successful in a competitive business career,” he said, adding that he could have never marketed to bargain-conscious consumers at Dollar General or motivated rank-and-file Reebok employees without an understanding of their needs.

The biggest misunderstanding of the campaign, according to Perdue, is that he genuinely cares about people.

What he has been out of touch with, undeniably, is the phraseology of conservative activists.

“The vocabulary of politics is just unbelievable,” he says. “You just have to be so careful, I believe, with the terminology.”

His imprecise rambles created many verbal snares that have repeatedly come back to trip him up. Various statements have been replayed to make him seem to be a snob, an advocate for tax increases, supporter of gun control and the Common Core school standards and an opponent of repealing the Dodd-Frank banking law that many Republicans loath.

Savannah Morning News endorses Kingston

Not surprisingly, the Savannah Morning News has endorsed hometown Rep. Jack Kingston for Senate.

JACK KINGSTON and David Perdue have been beating each other up as the July 22 runoff for the Republican Senate nomination gets closer.

If you didn’t know it, you might think they belonged to opposing parties.

Such is the sad nature of today’s politics. Don’t promote your own ideas and qualifications. Just rip the other guy.

That’s unfortunate, because Mr. Kingston and Mr. Perdue have solid resumés. They don’t need to be heaving mud balls.

That said, we believe Mr. Kingston deserves the GOP nomination for this statewide seat. He has shown what he can do in the U.S. House, representing Georgia’s First Congressional District. He’s ready to step up to the next level as the GOP nominee and face Democratic nominee Michelle Nunn in the November general election.

Mr. Kingston also has demonstrated a good combination of guts and brains. It’s not easy for someone from this part of Georgia to win statewide. South Georgia candidates are at a distinct disadvantage when they compete against those from the more populous northern region. But by earning a spot in the GOP runoff, Mr. Kingston has proven he can build coalitions — a skill that’s needed in the Democratic-controlled U.S. Senate more than ever.

During his 20-plus years in the House, Mr. Kingston has compiled a record that’s pro-job and pro-growth. He’s a fiscal conservative. He has worked for health-care reform that would benefit America, not break the bank. He knows the military (the Army’s Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield and the Navy’s Kings Bay Naval Base are in his backyard) and the ports — two key parts of Georgia’s economic engine.

GPB’s Adam Ragusea on Senate Race

Georgia Public Broadcasting’s Adam Ragusea has a piece on the Senate race, examining the avalanche of endorsements that has come out for Jack Kingston.

On the GOP side, losing candidates like Phil Gingrey and Karen Handel, establishment Republican figures like Newt Gingrich, and even Tea Partyers are backing Congressman Jack Kingston, even though he came in five points behind businessman David Perdue in the May 20 primary.

Widespread Republican support for Kingston is likely the result of familiarity with the 11-term U.S. House member, said Chris Grant, a political science professor at Mercer University.
“They know him, they have a trust level with him,” Grant said of the politicians who have served with Kingston in congress and before that in Georgia’s General Assembly. “I think a lot of these folks have seen Kingston as a reliable ally, someone they owe some favors to, and right now he’s cashing in on them.”

Grant sees the political dynamic largely in terms of who owes favors to whom, continuing,

A counterintuitive advantage that Kingston has over Perdue, Grant said, is that Kingston’s use of favors to get endorsements and contributions means that he will owe supporters favors if he makes it to the Senate.

I would argue that much of Kingston’s advantage is ideological – voters supporting a candidate who understands their needs. The extraordinarily strong turnout for Kingston across South Georgia suggests to me that his understanding of the agricultural economy, which includes the Port of Savannah, through which Georgia products are exported, fueled his popularity there.

Then Grant ends with this, which I don’t see at all

“I think Kingston has the organizational ability to turnout votes,” Grant said, “but enthusiasm may be on Perdue’s side, so the run-off could go a different way.”

I would argue from my recent experiences in the field that enthusiasm is much more pronounced in the Kingston camp.

Runoff Turnout Strong?

As of yesterday’s Voter Absentee File from the Secretary of State, 37,097 Georgians completed advance voting ballots for the July 22d Primary Runoff Election. The true number of advance voters may be higher, as sometimes reporting lags.

In comparison, for the first week of early voting for the May 20th Primary Election, 46,376 advance voting ballots had been completed.

First week Primary Runoff turnout was about 80% of the first week Primary total, quite remarkable, given that last week had one fewer voting day due to the July 4th holiday, meaning there were 80% as many voting days that week versus the first week of Primary advance voting.

DeKalb Ethics: a full diaper house

If the DeKalb County Commission were a poker hand, it’d be a Full House, indictments over investigation.

Currently, CEO Burrell Ellis is under indictment and awaiting trial for alleged ethical misconduct. While no Georgia indictment have come yet, a South Carolina jury convicted Jonathan Pinson of 29 felony counts involving an alleged scheme to bribe DeKalb County Commissioner Stan Watson.

A witness, former construction company CEO Richard Zahn, had testified that the defendants told him Watson could help him get work on the county’s $1.7 billion water and sewer upgrade project if he paid Watson $50,000 or $60,000. Zahn also said the defendants wanted him to buy Atlanta Falcons box seats for Walton.

U.S. District Judge David Norton said there wasn’t enough evidence to support allegations that an illegal deal was struck or that any public official in DeKalb received anything improperly.

Watson has said the judge’s ruling clears his name, and he said he didn’t have anything to do with the case.

An FBI agent testified in court that Georgia-based agents are investigating corruption in DeKalb County. He didn’t say whether Watson was a target.

Commissioner Kathie Gannon was the subject of an ethics complaint, making a clean sweep of the Commission, with all members now facing ethics complaints.

An ethics complaint filed Monday against DeKalb County Commissioner Kathie Gannon accuses her and an assistant of spending government money on gift cards and lawyers.

There are now ethics complaints pending against all six DeKalb County commissioners and Interim DeKalb CEO Lee May.

Gannon said the allegations are unfounded, and she said she has legitimate explanations for every expenditure in her budget.

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