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


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

Colonists in Georgia signed a letter allowing the beginning of the slave trade in Georgia on October 26, 1749

Georgia Sons of Liberty protested against the British Stamp Act on October 26, 1765.

On October 25, 1774, the First Continental Congress addressed a petition to King George III raising concerns about the Coercive Acts passed by Parliament and asserting its loyalty to the monarch.

On October 27, 1775, King George III addressed Parliament, raising concerns about an American rebellion.

The First of the Federalist Papers, an essay by Alexander Hamilton published under the pseudonym Publius, was published on October 27, 1787.

The United States and Spain signed the Treaty of San Lorenzo, also called Pinckney’s Treaty on October 27, 1795, setting the 31st parallel as the border between Georgia and Florida.

A state Constitutional Convention at Milledgeville, Georgia repealed the state’s Ordinance of Secession on October 26, 1865.

The nation’s first Gold Rush started after Benjamin Parks discovered gold in what is now Lumpkin County, Georgia on October 27, 1828.

Theodore Roosevelt was born in New York City on October 27, 1858.

The wooden keel of USS Monitor was laid at Continental Iron Works at Greenpoint, New York on October 25, 1861.

President Woodrow Wilson vetoed the Volstead Act, which implemented the Eighteenth Amendment prohibition on alcohol, on October 27, 1919; the House overrode his veto that same day.

Navy Day was established on October 27, 1922.

October 27 was suggested by the Navy League to recognize Theodore Roosevelt’s birthday. Roosevelt had been an Assistant Secretary of the Navy and supported a strong Navy as well as the idea of Navy Day. In addition, October 27 was the anniversary of a 1775 report issued by a special committee of the Continental Congress favoring the purchase of merchant ships as the foundation of an American Navy.

Ronald Reagan delivered the “A Time for Choosing” speech on October 27, 1964.

And this idea that government is beholden to the people, that it has no other source of power except the sovereign people, is still the newest and the most unique idea in all the long history of man’s relation to man.

This is the issue of this election: Whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capitol can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.

You and I are told increasingly we have to choose between a left or right. Well I’d like to suggest there is no such thing as a left or right. There’s only an up or down—[up] man’s old—old-aged dream, the ultimate in individual freedom consistent with law and order, or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism. And regardless of their sincerity, their humanitarian motives, those who would trade our freedom for security have embarked on this downward course.

You and I have a rendezvous with destiny.

We’ll preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we’ll sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness.

Jimmy Carter campaigned in New York on October 27, 1976.

Gladys Knight and the Pips reached #1 with “Midnight Train to Georgia” on October 27, 1973.

Andrew Young was elected Mayor of Atlanta on October 27, 1981.

President George W. Bush signed the Patriot Act on October 26, 2001.

Chick-fil-A founder S. Truett Cathy accepted the last Ford Taurus built in Hapeville, Georgia on October 27, 2006.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Statewide offices are not the only issues on the ballot this fall; Cobb County has yet another SPLOST election. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution argues that transparency issues with Chairman Tim Lee and the Braves stadium deal post a threat to the self-imposed tax’s passage.

Cobb County voters have historically been reluctant to give their sales tax pennies to county government, rejecting special purpose levies four out of nine times since 1981.

And two years ago, Cobb voters dealt the regional transportation sales tax one of its worst defeats in Metro Atlanta, casting 68 percent of the ballots against.

But this year’s proposed six-year, $750 million Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax is challenged by more than just history.

The Nov. 4 referendum follows a Cobb Board of Ethics’ decision to proceed with a trial-like hearing into Commission Chairman Tim Lee’s recruitment of the Braves, and after a year marked of critics complaining time and again about a lack of transparency in the county’s stadium dealings.

During a marathon July meeting of the commission in which the board approved placing the tax on ballots, Commissioner Lisa Cupid told Lee that voters shouldn’t have to “play detective” to understand the projects on the list.

“We are trying right now to overcome some concerns people have about how transparent we are,” Cupid said. “This is another example of us not being as transparent as we could and should be. …I feel like I’ve had to play detective.”

Concerns about transparency could be another reason for already skeptical Cobb voters to reject the tax plan, said David Shock, assistant chairman of Kennesaw State University’s Political Science and International Affairs Department, who has studied SPLOST initiatives statewide. He said Cobb voters are unusual in their distaste for sales tax. While that method of funding is typically embraced throughout Georgia, Cobb residents usually mount well-organized opposition that appeals to the county’s staunchly conservative voting base, he said.

Shock said the controversies surrounding Lee could have an impact, especially given the razor-thin margins of recent SPLOST votes. The two most recent initiatives approved were by an average of just 100 votes out of more than 40,000 ballots cast in each of the 2005 and 2011 elections.

Readers of Cobb County’s hometown newspaper, the Marietta Daily Journal, have been seeing this issue played out on the editorial pages for weeks. The MDJ editors have endorsed the SPLOST passage:

One of the beauties of a SPLOST is that it spreads the cost of government across all classes and everyone who spends money in a community, be they rich, poor, residents, non-residents or even here illegally.

Nobody likes paying taxes, but the benefits of past SPLOSTs can be seen all over the county. And Cobb’s triple-AAA bond rating, a distinction shared with only a few dozen other communities around the country, is further evidence that the county continues to be well run.

Next month’s SPLOST referendum will be a departure from its predecessors in one significant way, however. That is, it will take place in conjunction with a general election, when turnouts are high, rather than as a stand-alone special election, when turnouts are small and easier to manipulate. That has made it more incumbent than usual for the county to assemble a list of projects to be funded that are both needed and justifiable.

We think the county has done that — and that this SPLOST deserves your vote.

Last week, a letter to the editor in the MDJ raised the transparency issue and questioned whether county government can be trusted:

There are good arguments on both sides of the 2016 SPLOST renewal debate, which will be voted on by Cobb residents in a few days.

However, the real issue here is trust. I believe there are many good people in Cobb government who do their jobs with integrity and professionalism. However the Board of Commissioners has shown itself to be lacking in those qualities. We have a chairman who thinks it is OK to ramrod $400 million in borrowing through without bothering to inform his fellow commissioners until the last minute, not to mention allowing the county residents a vote. And we have seen with the 2008 parks bonds that the will of the voters can just be discarded whenever the commission feels like it. Those bonds were voter approved and could have been used to purchase valuable green space, at a time when real estate was cheap. I have to question whether this was done deliberately to allow those in the real estate development community, many of whom have close ties to the commission, more opportunities for profiteering.

If the voters cannot be trusted to weigh in on $400 million of bonds for the Braves stadium, or to have some influence on the future land use of an already overdeveloped east Cobb real estate market, then maybe they should not trust this commission as currently constituted to spend $750 million more of their money.

Oliver Halle also raised the question of whether the Commission can be trusted with SPLOST money:

For the first time I will not be voting for a SPLOST. There have been town hall meetings where both sides have laid out their case for and against it. I am not sure which side is the more meritorious, but my inclination would be to support it. A good part of the factors going into my deliberations is that I trust my elected officials unless I have reason not to. In this instance I no longer trust the chair of the Cobb County Commission, Tim Lee. I have never particularly liked his style of governing, but I am sincere in saying that I would not let that alone interfere with my making important decisions. That said, Lee broke faith with the electorate in the new stadium deal. As I wrote in last week’s Agitator, I can live with broken promises and deal with it at the ballot box. Things can change that caused an official to change his position, and that is up to each voter to decide whether it is a deal-breaker for earning that voter’s support.

Lee was caught telling one story about his relationship with attorney Dan McRae, only to have an email completely and factually contradict him. Adding to that was how the email was intentionally written outside the Cobb County government’s email system to avoid having to comply with any Open Records Act requests that might come along. And this particular email goes to the core of how the stadium deal was negotiated.

Cobb County is going to raise the hotel/motel/car rental tax and a few others to support the bond deal that will help pay for the stadium. The public never got a meaningful chance to voice its opposition to it. There are lots of questions about whether all the promises the Braves made can or will be kept, and whether the property owners will ultimately be on the hook if all the happy talk of revenue doesn’t live up to the expectations. By then Lee and many of his cheerleaders will be long gone.

The MDJ has also profiled the heads of groups for and against the SPLOST. On the pro-side is Justin O’Dell, co-chair of Secure Cobb’s Future.

O’Dell said the benefits of the tax for county residents are numerous.

“First and foremost, it has been the mechanism that has kept this county the home of the lowest property taxes in metro Atlanta for more than a decade,” he said. “Second, it is the fairest mechanism for which to pay for infrastructure and capital projects because it is a tax that all of those that utilize our service systems and infrastructure pay. And lastly, it keeps this county largely debt free.”

O’Dell said one of the biggest benefits of the SPLOST is it collects revenue from everyone who spends money in the county, which spreads out the tax burden. While there are conflicting studies about exactly how much of the $750 million would come from those who live outside the county, O’Dell said it’s more than nothing.

Does it make you suspicious when you see the largest newspaper in the county and the head of the pro-tax contingent apparently quoting the same talking points? Then again, good arguments tend to be repeated and used by others.

Coming out against the SPLOST is Lance Lamberton, a longtime conservative activist:

Lance Lamberton predicts Cobb voters will reject the county’s proposed six-year extension of its special purpose local option sales tax Nov. 4 for several reasons.

“I think this is the most wasteful SPLOST we’ve ever had,” he said.

“It’s for six years. There’s a credibility and trust issue. And it’s held in a general election,” Lamberton added.

“I’m of the view that putting more money in the private sector is a better use of people’s money than putting it in the public sector,” he added.

According to Lamberton, the proposed SPLOST would cost a family of four with a median annual income of $65,000 about $3,080 over its six-year life.

Lamberton said voters should also reject the SPLOST proposal to send a message to the state Legislature the county wants to be able to levy the SPLOST at less than 1 percent. A bill to allow for a fractional SPLOST failed to reach the governor’s desk during this year’s legislative session.

“We were very, very close to getting a fractional SPLOST in the last session of the Legislature,” he said. “I think that this defeat of the SPLOST will put it over the top. Then, we can present a SPLOST, and even the Cobb Taxpayers Association would not be in opposition to a good fractional SPLOST.”

Lamberton also has an issue with the six-year term of the proposal.

“It’s assuring the SPLOST will be in place for eight years,” he said. “That’s pretty unusual. On top of the fact that it’s already existed for 10 years continuously.”

The Marietta Daily Journal has done an excellent job of presenting both sides of the argument for their voters – that’s what I think makes them a great newspaper.

Early voting and voter turnout

Last week, Mark Rountree of Landmark Communications published an analysis of some of the early voting figures:



As of Thursday night Oct 23, 2014

307,703 people have voted in 2014:

93,577 or 30% are Black

201,716 or 66% are White


279,269 have voted in person so far:

89,106 or 32% are African-American in-person voters

178,915 or 64% are White in-person voters


28,184 have voted by paper mail-in ballot

4,408 or 16% are African-American voters

22,637 or 80% are White voters


42,397 ballots remain outstanding (not sent back in)

28% of outstanding ballots were mailed to African-American Voters

64% of outstanding ballots were mailed are to White voters

In 2010 at this time, 253,999 had voted.

26% were African-American voters and 72% were White voters

We received word yesterday that Sunday early voting in Albany netted 500 voters, of whom 470, or 94%, were African-American. Compare this to roughly 60% of 2010 votes in Dougherty County being cast by African-Americans. The Democratic party appears to have dominated Sunday early voting in Dougherty. The Albany Herald wrote about early voting there:

Four hundred ninety-nine voters cast ballots during the four-hour period, catching many elections officials off-guard with a turnout that Dougherty Elections Board Chairman Commodore Conyers said “proved there was a need for a Sunday vote.”

Dougherty Elections Supervisor Ginger Nickerson said she was not surprised by the large turnout and that the process was running as smoothly as possible.

“We had a state investigator come in and approve everything, and we’ve had a poll watcher assigned to keep an eye on everything,” Nickerson said. “Everyone’s being very patient.”

Poll watcher Joseph Brannan of Columbus said he’d been appointed by the state to keep an eye on the process in Albany. He said he’d seen no irregularities.

“Dougherty County is the only county in Southwest Georgia to hold Sunday voting, but watchers have been assigned at every place in the state where there’s Sunday voting,” Brannan said. “I’m not really watching for anything in particular.

“What I’ve seen so far is that the Elections staff has done a very good job of conducting the voting. I don’t think they or anyone was really prepared for this big a turnout, but they have worked diligently to keep the process moving.”

Dougherty County Commissioner Clinton Johnson, who asked the Elections Board to reconsider its initial vote not to allow Sunday voting, smiled broadly as he watched the voters stream into the Riverfront Resource Center.

“I think (the Elections Board) took the right side in this matter,” he said. “Today proves that the Democratic process works in Dougherty County. A need was definitely met here today.”

WSB-TV reported on some Sunday early voting in Metro Atlanta:

It’s the first Sunday voters can go to the polls in one metro county and many went straight from church for early voting ahead of the November election.

Former first lady Rosalynn Carter spoke to the Piney Grove Baptist Church on Glenwood Avenue Sunday morning.

After the service, she planned to caravan with parishioners to the early voting site in south DeKalb. The group planned to use a full-size bus and two other smaller vans to get what they called “Souls to the Polls.” Unfortunately, plans changed when the bus carrying Carter and several parishioners broke down. A different bus took some parishioners and Carter left to vote at another time.

We spoke with DeKalb County’s election director about the first chance to vote on a Sunday.

WRDW looked at Sunday voting in Richmond County:

Campaigners holding signs while people drive by, hoping to get voter for their favorite candidate. For the first time in Richmond County people can cast their ballot on Sunday.

“It’s better for me considering I’m a single parent and I’m very busy during the week day. This way I won’t have to interrupt my son’s schedule to come during the week day,” said Martha Gilyard Wilson.

After some prayer, church members hit the polls.

“So we as a congregation committed that we would become faithful voters, and we would exercise our rights by voting early,” said Pastor Mark Pierson.

The Athens Banner-Herald covered their local Sunday early voting:

Taking advantage of Sunday voting, a new trend this year in several Georgia counties, voters lined up outside the ACC Board of Elections Sunday, and by 1:30 p.m., 3,923 combined advance and Sunday voters had done so, and by the end of the day, about 300 would cast Sunday ballots.

Church vans pulled up throughout the afternoon, unloading passengers who otherwise might not have made it to the polls. But the turnout was already as varied as the candidates themselves: A group of men showed up on skateboards, wheeling past ladies still in their Sunday hats to take their place in line.

Election Supervisor Gail Schrader said she and her staff were surprised at the turnout.
“We knew it would be good, but we didn’t know exactly what to expect,” she said.

A man wearing a purple usher’s ribbon from church earlier in the day said his church leader encouraged people to get out and vote.

For Thaddeus, the man in the ribbon, Sunday voting was more about ease of access than anything else, and it was a nice change of pace from the usual election-day hustle and bustle.

“People like to get out and mingle, you know, but some of them might not be able to make it out, if they don’t have a car,” he said.
Another plus to Sunday voting was that parking downtown was free.

From the Gwinnett Daily Post:

As of early Friday, 14,530 residents have taken advantage of early voting in Gwinnett County. More than 10,000 voters have cast ballots in person at the elections office since advance voting began on Oct. 13.

An additional 4,449 voters have cast ballots by mail and 27 have voted via electronic ballots. Advance voting continues this week at the Gwinnett County Elections Office, located at 455 Grayson Highway, Suite 200, in Lawrenceville. Voters may cast ballots at the Elections Office through Oct. 31, Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Voting will also take place at the county’s six satellite locations — Bogan Park Community Recreation Center, Lenora Park Activity Room, Centerville Community Center, Dacula Park Activity Building, George Pierce Park Community Recreation Center and Lucky Shoals Park Community Recreation Center. Satellite locations will be open from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, Oct. 27-31.

From the Augusta Chronicle:

After passing a resolution to allow Sunday voting last month, the Richmond County Board of Elections decided to operate a single polling location at the Municipal Building’s newly renovated lobby to gauge interest in the idea.

Though numbers didn’t come close to the 1,275 voters who visited four polling locations across the county Saturday, Board of Elections Executive Director Lynn Bailey said the 497 who cast ballots Sunday show how popular the concept might be.

Doors were open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and less than three hours into the first Sunday voting period, the polling location was running voters through at a rate of about 100 per hour, she said. The location featured 20 voting machines and 10 poll workers.

“I can’t attest to why they’re choosing to come out today, but it is certainly popular with many citizens,” Bailey said. “Anytime you provide an opportunity it’s always good to see people take advantage of it.”

From the Rome News-Tribune, published before Sunday voting opened there yesterday:

The option to cast an early ballot has drawn more than 2,000 people in its first two weeks. Elections officials say 892 voted early the first week, and 1,256 so far this week.

Floyd County voters will choose between Democrat Deboria “Bo” Arrant and Republican incumbent Larry Maxey for the Post 4 County Commission seat.

Republican Scotty Hancock and Democrat Ouida Sams are running for the Post 5 commission seat.

Incumbent John Mayes isn’t running for re-election.

There’s only one local state House of Representatives seat in contention. Republican incumbent Katie Dempsey will face Democrat Richard Garrett for the District 13 seat covering the city of Rome.

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