Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 27, 2014


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 27, 2014

On May 27, 1813, Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter to John Adams to let Adams know of the death of a mutual friend.

On May 27, 1863, Chief Justice Roger Taney, sitting as a federal district court judge, issued a decision in Ex parte Merryman, which challenged President Abraham Lincoln’s suspension of the right of habeas corpus. Lincoln ignored the ruling.

Today is the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Pickett’s Mill in Paulding County, Georgia, where Sherman’s forces attacked Johnston’s Confederates on May 27, 1864. Among the combatants on the Union side was Ambrose Bierce, who would later write The Crime at Pickett’s Mill. On Saturday, May 31, 2014, the battle will be reenacted at Pickett’s Mill Historic Battlefield Site.

On May 27, 1864, the Federal Army, having been stopped in its advance on Atlanta two days earlier by the Battle of New Hope Church, attempted to outflank the Confederate position. Some 14,000 Federal troops were selected for the task, and General Howard was given command. After a five-hour march, Howard’s force reached the vicinity of Pickett’s Mill and prepared to attack. Waiting were 10,000 Confederate troops under the command of General Cleburne.

The Federal assault began at 5 p.m. and continued into the night. Daybreak found the Confederates still in possession of the field. The Federals had lost 1,600 men compared to the Confederate loss of 500. The Confederate victory resulted in a one-week delay of the Federal advance on Atlanta.

Here are some photos of the battlefield and links to additional material.

President Calvin Coolidge signed the “Comprehensive Immigration Act” on May 26, 1924.

Many Americans saw the enormous influx of largely unskilled, uneducated immigrants during the early 1900s as causing unfair competition for jobs and land. Under the new law, immigration remained open to those with a college education and/or special skills, but entry was denied to Mexicans, and disproportionately to Eastern and Southern Europeans and Japanese. At the same time, the legislation allowed for more immigration from Northern European nations such as Britain, Ireland and Scandinavian countries. A quota was set that limited immigration to two percent of any given nation’s residents already in the U.S. as of 1890, a provision designed to maintain America’s largely Northern European racial composition. In 1927, the “two percent rule” was eliminated and a cap of 150,000 total immigrants annually was established.

The law particularly angered Japan, which in 1907 had forged with U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt a “Gentlemen’s Agreement,” which included more liberal immigration quotas for Japan. By 1924, strong U.S. agricultural and labor interests–particularly from California, which had already passed its own exclusionary laws against Japanese immigrants–favored the more restrictive legislation signed by Coolidge. The Japanese government viewed the American law as an insult, and protested by declaring May 26 a national day of humiliation in Japan.

On May 27, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt said the United States was in an unlimited national emergency and laid out conditions under which Germany’s expansionism would constitute an attack on the United States. There are those who believe that Roosevelt suspended the right of habeas corpus with Executive Order 9066, which led to the internment of Japanese-Americans in concentration camps.

On May 27, 1976, former Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter blasted the “Stop Carter” movement in a speech in Cincinnati.

Actor Christopher Reeves was thrown from his horse in an equestrian competition in Culpepper, Virginia on May 27, 1995, becoming quadraplegic.

Competing Poll Numbers

The latest Rasmussen poll shows Michelle Nunn leading both Republican Senate candidates in head-to-head matchups.

A new statewide telephone survey of Likely Georgia Voters finds Nunn leading Congressman Jack Kingston 47% to 41%. Three percent (3%) prefer some other candidate, while nine percent (9%) are undecided.

In a matchup with businessman David Perdue, Nunn earns 45% support to her GOP rival’s 42%. Seven percent (7%) favor another candidate in this contest, and six percent (6%) are undecided.

The survey of 750 Likely Voters in Georgia was conducted on May 21-22, 2014 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 4 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.

Rasmussen also shows Jason Carter with a significant lead over incumbent Republican Governor Nathan Deal.

A new statewide telephone survey of Likely Georgia Voters finds Carter with 48% support to Deal’s 41%. Three percent (3%) like another candidate in the race, while seven percent (7%) are undecided.

The survey of 750 Likely Voters in Georgia was conducted on May 21-22, 2014 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 4 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.

Two quibbles I have with the Rasmussen poll concern the wording of the Gubernatorial ballot question:

If the 2014 election for governor of Georgia were held today, would you vote for Republican Nathan Deal or Democrat Jason Carter?

I believe that the ballot question, where practicable, should be as close as possible to what voters will see on the actual ballot. The Rasmussen question departs from the ballot in two major ways: first, it does not note that Nathan Deal is the incumbent; second, it does not name the Libertarian candidate, Dr. Andew Hunt. Those are both subtle differences, but I think highly important to an accurate poll.

Public Policy Polling (PPP) has released their survey of the Republican Primary runoff:

The poll by left-leaning Public Policy Polling gives Kingston 46 percent over Perdue’s 34 percent. Some 20 percent of voters are still undecided in the contest, which could help decide control of the U.S. Senate.

The poll, which was conducted for lefty guerilla group Better Georgia, shows Democrat Michelle Nunn neck-and-neck with both potential GOP opponents. Nunn and Kingston were locked at 45 percent apiece, and Nunn led Perdue 48 percent to 46 percent.

It also showed a tight race for governor, with Gov. Nathan Deal in a 43-43 tie with Democrat Jason Carter. Libertarian Andrew Hunt was polling at 7 percent. The governor’s approval rating was at 38 percent while his disapproval rating was at 46 percent. That’s less than the 44 percent approval rating Deal logged in a recent AJC poll.

More Numbers

The Associated Press ran the numbers of the cost per vote in the United States Senate Primary and came up with this:

Cost per vote, Republican Primary $29.17

Cost per vote, Democratic Primary $11.87


Total spending in the Georgia Republican primary topped $17.5 million — at least $13.2 million by the candidates’ campaigns and the rest by outside groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and various super PACs trying to elect or defeat particular candidates. Those totals do not include what the candidates may have spent in the final weeks of the campaign but haven’t yet disclosed through the Federal Elections Commission.

Almost 604,000 of about 5 million active voters — those who are registered and have cast ballots in recent elections — cast ballots in Georgia’s Republican Senate primary.

Perdue’s campaign spent $3.9 million through the end of April, about $2.4 million of that coming from his personal fortune. He led the field with 30 percent, at a cost of $20.97 per vote for his campaign — $13.18 per vote out of his own pocket. Another half-million in super PAC spending pushes the total to $23.75.

Kingston outspent Perdue and got 26 percent. His $4.3 million effort cost $27.79 per vote, and almost $1 million in advertising from the national chamber pushed the total to $34.19.

Third-place finisher Karen Handel was the most efficient spender of the major Republican candidates, drawing 22 percent of the vote at a cost of $5.29 per vote and $6.13 if adding independent group spending on her behalf.

Wither the Tea Party?

Nate Silver, the prodigous prognosticator has written an obituary for the Tea Party, though not based as most of his writings are in quantitative analysis. Along the way, he makes several good points, but I’d suggest his political analysis is best when it’s based on numbers.

According to a series of mainstream media accounts, McConnell “crushed” the tea party in “the latest big beat” for the movement, which is “losing steam” as the economy improves. There are a couple of problems with this story. The most important is that the tea party is hard to define.

Furthermore, as Slate’s Dave Weigel pointed out earlier this week, the term “tea party” is applied very loosely by the political media. Was Missouri Rep. Todd Akin a member of the tea party, for instance? Weigel says no: Most groups associated with the tea party endorsed either Sarah Steelman or John Brunner in the 2012 Republican primary in Missouri. I think the case is considerably more ambiguous: Akin was listed as a member of the Tea Party Caucus on Michele Bachmann’s website in 2012. But these ambiguities arise all the time. Marco Rubio was once strongly associated with the tea party but is now somewhat estranged from it. Sometimes the term seems to serve as a euphemism for “crazy Republican” rather than anything substantive.

What is the tea party, exactly? That’s not so clear. There are a constellation of groups, like Tea Party Patriots, FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity, who sometimes associate themselves with the movement or are associated with it. But their agendas can range from libertarian to populist and do not always align. As in Missouri, they often do not endorse the same candidate. Nor do they always endorse the candidate who self-identifies as member of the tea party.

Is the tea party opposed to the Republican establishment or has it been co-opted by it? That’s also hard to say. The Tea Party Caucus no longer exists in a substantive way in the House. A group that called itself the Senate Tea Party Caucus did hold a meeting at some point last summer. The attendees included McConnell and McCain — those establishment stalwarts — who are therefore now listed as former members of the Tea Party Caucus at Wikipedia.

Perhaps it’s time to discourage the use of “tea party.” Or, at the very least, not to capitalize it as The New York Times and some other media organizations do. “Tea Party” looks better aesthetically than “tea party,” but triggers associations with a proper noun and risks misinforming the reader by implying that the tea party has a much more formal organizational infrastructure than it really does.

Silver’s obituary isn’t so much concerned with the demise of the Tea Party movement, but with the usefulness of the phrase “Tea Party.” If the organizations that style themselves Tea Parties in Georgia are to retain more than local relevance, they will have to grapple with the question of whether the distributed leadership model still works for them, and if not, how to replace it with a unified tea party without becoming yet another establishment group.

Judicial Runoff Elections

Last week, we mentioned that the Tallapoosa Circuit Superior Court race is headed into a runoff, but neglected to mention that Haralson County voters as well as Polk County voters are eligible to choose between the candidates, Haralson County lawyer Meng Lim and Polk County Juvenile Court judge Chuck Morris.

In Cobb County, Ann Harris and Juanita Stedman face one another in a runoff election after Harris took 41% in the Primary to Stedman’s 32 percent.

The Cobb Superior Court runoff race will determine the person replacing Judge Jim Bodiford, who will retire at year end rather than seek what would have been his sixth term on the Cobb bench.

Harris, 50, lives in Smyrna and is a senior assistant district attorney who has practiced law in the Cobb Superior Court for nine years.

Harris’ devotion to work is one of the reasons District Attorney Vic Reynolds publicly endorsed her in the Cobb Superior Court race.
“She is very fair. She knows the law,” Reynolds said. “She works extremely hard. She is committed to serving justice.”
With nearly 20 years litigating in Cobb’s Superior Court, Harris said she has worked with victims, fellow attorneys and witnesses.

Stedman, a former member of the Marietta School Board and special education teacher at Marietta High School, was endorsed by Cobb Sheriff Neil Warren and retired Sheriff Bill Hutson.

Stedman, who has been a judge for 13 years in the Juvenile Court of Cobb County and serves as an Assisting Superior Court Judge, campaigned with a vision statement promoting her “on-the-job training” and reputation as “conservative and “tough on crime.”

In the Atlanta Circuit (Fulton County), Jane Barwick led in balloting for an open Superior Court seat with 49.7% of the vote and meets Shelitha Robertson (31.6%) in a runoff.

Incumbent Conasauga Circuit (Murray and Whitfield Counties) Superior Court Judge David Blevins (35.5%) was forced into second-place and a runoff election against Jim Wilbanks (46.4%).

In Roswell, Brian A. Hansford and Melanie Ellwanger face off in a runoff for municipal court judge.

Hansford leads the pack with 40 percent, or 3,249 votes, followed by Ellwanger at 32 percent, or 2,576 votes. Both candidates John Monroe and Leslie Donaho did not received enough votes to break into the runoff.

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