Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 25, 2014


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 25, 2014

On June 25, 1788, the Commonwealth of Virginia became the tenth states to vote for ratification of the United States Constitution by a vote of 89 to 79. A committee was appointed to be chaired by George Wythe to draft a proposed Bill of Rights.

On June 25, 1868, the United States Congress provisionally readmitted Georgia to the Union following the Civil War with the requirements that they ratify the Fourteenth Amendment and never deprive any citizens of voting rights.

On June 25, 1876, Indians under the leadership of Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse defeated the U.S. Army 7th Cavalry under Lt. Colonel George Custer at the Battle of Little Big Horn.

On June 25, 1888, the Republican National Convention nominated Benjamin Harrison for President of the United States; Harrison’s grandfather was WIlliam Henry Harrison, ninth President of the United States.

On June 25, 1990, the United States Supreme Court released its opinion in Georgia v. South Carolina, a boundary dispute. From Wikipedia:

A… 1922 Supreme Court decision, also called Georgia v. South Carolina, 257 U. S. 516, also held that all islands in the river belong to Georgia, but that the border should be in the middle of the river between the two shores, with the border half way between any island and the South Carolina shore.

Since the 1922 case, a number of new islands were created in the river between the city of Savannah and the ocean, due to the deposit of dredging spoilage or the natural deposit of sediments. In some cases, the new islands were on the South Carolina side of the previously drawn boundary, and Georgia claimed that once a new island emerged, the border should be moved to the midpoint between the new island and the South Carolina shore of the river. In some cases, the state of South Carolina had been collecting property tax from the land owners and policing the land in question for a number of years.

When an island causes the border to leave the middle of the river, it raises the question as to how the border line should return to the middle of the river at each end of the island. South Carolina advocated a right angle bend at each tip of the island, while Georgia advocated a “triequidistant” method which kept the border an equal distance between the two shores and the tip of the island (resulting in a smooth curve.

This Thursday through Sunday, Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield Park will commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain, which took place on June 27, 1864.

Click here for the schedule of events at Kennesaw Mountain.

Georgia and National Politics Today

Yesterday, CNBC declared Georgia is the number one state in which to do business.

The state scores a solid 1,659 points out of a possible 2,500, finishing at or near the top in three categories and in the top half in all but two. Since we began rating the states for competitiveness in 2007, Georgia has never finished outside the top 10 overall, with fourth-place finishes in 2007 and 2011, and a respectable eighth place in 2013.

Governor Nathan Deal responded from a trade trip to Israel.

“Since taking office, I have worked every day to make Georgia the No. 1 place in the nation in which to do business,” Deal said. “Last year, Site Selection magazine named Georgia No. 1 for business, and today CNBC followed suit. These rankings are a testament to the commitment from Georgia businesses, communities, our economic development partners and the people of Georgia. As more people see Georgia’s successes, more businesses will consider expanding or relocating here. I am confident that our state’s highly skilled workforce and seamlessly connected logistics infrastructure will enable these businesses to be successful and competitive. This is good news for Georgia, and my goal going forward is to maintain our status as a leader in the global marketplace.”

Greg Bluestein with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution got a reaction from Jason Carter’s Democratic campaign for Governor.

Carter’s campaign responded with a press release saying that the ranking that matters most show Deal’s administration is “leaving too many people behind.”

“Instead of crowing about arbitrary rankings, maybe Gov. Deal should focus a bit more on the rankings that actually mean something to Georgia families,” said Carter spokesman Bryan Thomas, citing some of the above statistics. “I bet we won’t see those facts in any of Gov. Deal’s campaign ads.”

Prepare for another round of pundits discussing what Mississippi Senator Thad Cochran’s narrow win in yesterday’s Primary Runoff means for the Tea Party and the Georgia Senate race. Politico discusses how Cochran and his allies pulled it off.

Within a week, a powerful operation had swung into motion to save the 76-year-old legislator. Rather than making peace with his firebrand challenger, state and national Republicans redoubled their efforts to tear down Chris McDaniel, whom they considered a political lightweight taking advantage of a virulently anti-Washington mood. In interviews on the day and night of the runoff vote, strategists and party leaders described the campaign as a near-perfect turnaround – considering the slimness of Cochran’s victory, it had to be.

By the time the second round of balloting rolled around on June 24, a collection of groups that might be dubbed the Emergency Committee for Mississippi had spent millions on new television ads, knocked on tens of thousands of doors and reached out to voters – including African-Americans and Democrats – who had likely never voted before in a GOP primary.

The hoped-for payoff came Tuesday night, when Cochran bested McDaniel by some 6,400 votes – a margin of less than 2 percentage points. In a gut punch to conservative activists, Cochran’s survival proved just how much swat national party leaders have when they compete to win by any means necessary.

Joe Sanderson, Cochran’s finance chair, said he always believed that Cochran would win once his legions of admirers realized what was truly at stake. “I think they came out en masse,” Sanderson said. “I’ll be honest with you, I think some African-Americans came out to support him – I don’t know that, I believe that – because they did not want Chris McDaniel and the tea party to win.”

Sanderson, with a confidence matched by few in the Cochran camp, added that he was “not surprised” by the result: “I believed all the time that Sen. McDaniel got all the votes he was going to get in the first primary.”

For the pro-Cochran alliance, the race came down to a huge strategic gamble: That the universe of Mississippians who wanted to see Cochran back in the Senate was substantially larger than the group that voted in the primary – and that rather than serving as a death knell for Cochran, the June 3 ballot would serve instead as a wake-up call for apathetic Mississippians.

Most controversially – and perhaps most importantly – the Mississippi super PAC formed to support Cochran’s reelection shifted its resources dramatically from television advertising to get-out-the-vote operations.

But this time, the Mississippi Conservative PAC didn’t spend a dime on television or radio. Instead, the group – headed by Republican National Committeeman Henry Barbour –spent untold sums identifying and turning out longer-shot voters, including non-Republicans and African-Americans who were unlikely to have participated in the first vote.

Fifty years ago, “Freedom Summer” brought a concerted effort to register African-Americans to vote in Mississippi and met local resistance. From PBS:

Over 10 weeks, 37 churches were bombed or burned. Four civil rights workers were killed. Many more were hurt.

The Freedom Summer volunteers took the baton from another group called the Freedom Riders, who risked their lives to challenge segregated travel centers in the South.

Ernest McMillan was one of the young civil rights workers who traveled to the heart of the South to help blacks register to vote in 1964.

A college student then at Morehouse College in Atlanta, he’d go on to run the Dallas chapter of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. He’d also lose a close friend to violence and spend time in prison for demonstrating at a neighborhood grocery store.

Before all that, he was just a kid at a protest.

Hank Thomas of Atlanta discusses his experience in the Freedom Rides and what they meant for the Freedom Summer.

TR: You said it would have been easier for you to travel in East Berlin before the destruction of the Berlin Wall than it was to ride on the front seat of a bus through the South. Did you have any idea of the impact that the Freedom Riders would have on interstate travel while you were involved?

HT: I knew what our goal was. It was indeed to get the law that had been affirmed by the Supreme Court: that racial discrimination in interstate transportation was unconstitutional. But the reason we did the ride, and the way we did it, was to virtually force the federal government to enforce those laws. None of the Southern states abided by the laws.

We knew that eventually we would force the federal government to act, and we did. But what I did not realize at the time was the reaching effect of what this would do. Little did we really realize that this was just one of the battles to what would be the ultimate victory—in President Lyndon Johnson signing the 1964 civil rights bill.

TR: This summer marks the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer. How much of an impact do you believe the Freedom Rides had on its inception?

HT: It was once again the escalation of the battle. We won the two battles in reference to the [sit-ins] and the Freedom Rides. So all of these are battles that are being won, and all culminating in the ultimate. At the time, we didn’t have the historical perspective for being able to see beyond what we were doing and the effect it was going to have. We were building the momentum, certainly in 1964 after the Freedom Rides and the rebellions of the summer.

And a group of Freedom Riders spoke at Atlanta’s National Center for Civil and Human Rights.

South Carolina saw a major dropoff in voter turnout in their Primary Runoff yesterday.

The June 10th primary had a voter turnout of 16 percent, but Tuesday saw a major drop as just six percent of the voters came to the polls to vote in this runoff.

Election experts believe this result is not unusual given the offices up for grabs.

Former South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster won the Palmetto State GOP Primary Runoff for Lt. Governor.

McMaster, 67, ran on his experience, saying he has the knowledge to get things done. McMaster was a U.S. attorney during President Ronald Reagan’s first term and state GOP chairman from 1993 to 2002 before being elected to two terms as the state’s attorney general.

McMaster also touted his ties to Gov. Nikki Haley, who had no primary opponent.

McMaster brought Boots, his white bulldog, to his campaign celebration, calling him a secret weapon. Boots had appeared in McMaster’s television ads.

I award +1 for having a secret weapon in a political campaign, and it being a dog. No doubt someone in South Carolina is docking McMaster a point for it being the same breed as the University of Georgia mascot.

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp says that the answer for Georgians who want to reduce regulation is at the ballot box.

Kemp, whose office oversees new corporate registrations in the state, toured the 1-year-old Macon Beer Company’s operations in a downtown converted warehouse Monday.
“I think you’ve seen it, you know, in breweries like Sweetwater [in Atlanta] and Terrapin [in Athens], where they’re fixtures in their communities now. I have no doubt that these guys will do the same thing in Macon,” he said.

Last year, a Republican-led study committee of state legislators rejected a regulatory tweak that craft brewers have been asking for — they want to be able to sell packaged beer directly to consumers at their breweries, rather than going through third-party distributors and retailers as mandated by state law.
Responding to a question about that process, Kemp said: “I think people have to vote at the ballot box about how they want government regulations to be.”

The Georgia Senate has named four members to a joint legislative committee to study the legalization of CBD oil, derived from marijuana, for a limited set of medical conditions.

Sen. Butch Miller, R-Gainesville, Sen. Dean Burke, R-Bainbridge, and Sen. Curt Thompson, D-Tucker, will join Senate Health and Human Services Chairwoman Renee Unterman, R-Buford, on the panel.

Unterman and [a state Rep. from Macon], will lead the committee, which is charged with making recommendations by year’s end about allowing medical marijuana in Georgia. It comes after the state House and Senate failed to reach a compromise on legalization in the waning hours of this year’s legislative session.

Veterans question Loudermilk

A group of military veterans followed up on the letter one of them sent to the Marietta Daily Journal asking whether Congressional candidate Barry Loudermilk has embellished his record.

A group led by retired U.S. Army Col. Larry Mrozinski says 11th Congressional District hopeful Barry Loudermilk is exaggerating his military record on the campaign trail.
The group gathered in downtown Smyrna on Tuesday morning for a news conference. They say Loudermilk, a former state senator from Bartow County, has repeatedly implied he was a pilot during his time in the Air Force, when in fact he was a communications specialist.
“Serving one’s nation or representing those who serve is a sacred trust and honored tradition in America, not to be embellished or used to manipulate or mislead the public for personal gain,” Mrozinski said during the conference. “We cannot afford to send representatives to Washington D.C. with a cloud hanging over their heads.”

There is no question that Barry Loudermilk served. The question is how he has portrayed that in speeches.

But I say there are three completely different reasons to vote for Barry Loudermilk for Congress.

1. You believe that forced implantation of microchips in humans is a real threat.

That’s right. Barry Loudermilk wrote legislation to stop forced implantation of microchips in human beings.

“I have worked closely with other legislators over the past several years to pass legislation that would protect Georgians from mandatory microchip implants. There are many in the legislature that believe there are certain groups of citizens that should be chipped for security or identification purposes. We have not been successful in passing this legislation in the past. This amendment not only protects us from required implantation, but it puts in place a statewide ban on mandating the implantation of tracking chips.”

Todd Tinfoil Hat2

2. You think that discussing government-developed mind control techniques is a good use of the State Capitol and taxpayer money.

Lucky for you, Barry Loudermilk attended a session at the Georgia State Capitol to learn about government-developed mind control techniques. I bet we even paid him mileage and a per diem for it.

Linda Flory, a political activist from Ball Ground, said she does not think taxpayers should have paid to host the meeting or to have the senators attend.

“Any (senator) that attended received taxpayer money for being there,” Flory said, as senators can receive per diem reimbursement for their attendance at such meetings. “I don’t think that was a useful outlet for our tax dollars. I think its ludicrous that our senators are involved in listening to any kind of theory on that.”

3. You learned something about the Constitution from the $10,000 video he made using your taxpayer dollars that you didn’t already know from “Schoolhouse Rock.”

That’s right, Barry Loudermilk says he owns a video that $10,000 of your taxpayer dollars paid for.

Critics are questioning a local politician who now says he owns the copyright to a video that was produced with $10,000 of taxpayer money.

The video, called “It’s My Constitution,” features former state senator and current congressional candidate Barry Loudermilk and his three children talking about the importance of the U.S. Constitution. It also features an introduction from State Education Superintendent John Barge, and was sent to Georgia classrooms for use in studying Constitution Day.

“It’s paid for with taxpayer dollars; arguably the public owns that,” said Georgia Department of Education spokesman Matt Cardoza.

During the credits of the 15-minute video, a copyright in the name of “Firm Reliance” appears on the screen. Firm Reliance is a non-profit organization registered to Loudermilk. The video is prominently featured on the non-profit’s website.

“If it’s in the public domain and the public paid for it and it’s for the public, why have any copyright on it?” Fleischer asked Cardoza.
He replied, “Right. I can’t answer that question. I really don’t know why it says it’s copyrighted there.”

LoudermilkCopyright1 Loudermilk Copyright2

DeKalb County Commission. Facepalm.

So here in DeKalb, we have an elected Chief Executive Officer and seven County Commissioners. Our elected CEO Burrell Ellis has been indicted and suspended from office and awaits trial. The County Ethics Board has opened investigations into three Commissioners over alleged misuse of county funds and the Feds are investigating.

The board voted to investigate thousands of dollars of charges by Commissioners Sharon Barnes Sutton and Commissioner Larry Johnson, as well as an aide to Barnes Sutton. Both commissioners say the purchases in question were for legitimate government business.

Commissioner Elaine Boyer and her chief of staff Bob Lundsten are already under investigation for similar allegations. Boyer denies the allegations.

Meanwhile, the FBI reportedly has begun issuing subpoenas over the alleged spending abuses by commissioners and their staffers.

A fourth Commissioner, Stan Watson, is caught up in a South Carolina corruption investigation.

DeKalb County Commissioner Stan Watson claimed to know nothing about a South Carolina case involving attempted bribery of an unnamed DeKalb official. But records obtained by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution show his phone repeatedly called the office of one of the businessmen on trial in the wide-ranging corruption scheme.

Now, he told the AJC that he is being subpoenaed in connection with the case, though he says he has done nothing wrong.

“I’ve been asked to come testify, and that’s it,” Watson said before referring further questions to his attorney. “When I get served, I will go and figure out what’s going on and try and make it work.”

He would not answer questions about the phone calls, which he tried to hide from the newspaper.

Watson turned over 586 pages from his personal cell phone bills, from November 2012 through April 2014. The records were subject to the Open Records Act because he paid the bills with his county Visa card.

Without any legal justification, Watson used a black marker to try to obscure 16 calls between his phone and defendant Eric Robinson’s business line. But phone numbers and other information could still be read through the ink, and Watson apparently missed striking out two other calls to Robinson’s office, The Bridge Corporation Group.

And former CEO Vernon Jones has a good shot at being elected our next Sheriff in the Primary Runoff on July 22d. (Any eligbile voters in DeKalb can return to the polls and vote in the runoff, regardless of whether they voted on May 20th.)

Having devoted my career to the proposition that the best government is obtained by citizens voting, I’m now faced with the ultimate repudiation of that idea.

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