As you are all aware, Senator Cecil Staton is not running again. However, he is still involved in politics, seeking out the opponent of Rep. Jason Spencer and endorsing her sight unseen.

Staton stated his opposition to Spencer in a letter to the media.

“The current incumbent is an extremist who has alienated himself from other legislators becoming beholden to the fringe-radical groups of our state,” Staton wrote. “It is important to send a mature person who will be taken seriously and who will work for the betterment of our state, not extreme individuals who are an embarrassment.”

Zach Louis, an aide for Staton, said the senator’s support for Stasinis is unsolicited.

“We reached out to her,” he said. “We said we want to support her campaign.”

Spencer said Staton has a branding problem.

“He is not a true conservative,” Spencer said. “I find his assessment of my politics… appalling.”

The feud between Staton and Spencer reached the boiling point during this year’s legislative session as Spencer was pushing for his bill, HB707 which prevented most of state government from implementing Obamacare. The bill got caught in the legislative meat grinder and a frustrated Spencer lashed out at what he termed “Republican Benedict Arnolds.” The bill eventually passed after being attached to HB943 and even had Staton’s yes vote on the bill. One wonders if that makes Staton beholden to those same “fringe-radical groups of our state?”

Before putting too much stock in an endorsement from the retiring Senator, one should read this article where Staton boasted of stopping last year’s Second Amendment bill and his intention to do the same this year unless he got what he wanted. One should also note that Staton only made the boast after the House passed a piece of legislation he termed his legacy. I advocated for him, asking House Leadership to pass his resolution at the expense of my version of the proposal, even as the Senate Rules Committee was prepared to move mine forward.

One should also consider this is not the first time Staton has been critical of his Republican colleagues. Should Rep. Spencer also expect a letter of opposition from Beth Merkelson?

Staton is certainly free to support or oppose whomever he pleases and to criticize members of the House with whom he disagrees with philosophically, but we are also free to put his criticism in it’s proper context.

Full Disclosure: I am supporting Rep. Spencer for reelection and have contributed to his campaign.

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Georgia’s 10th Congressional District runs from Gwinnett County on the west all the way to the South Carolina border on the east. Its current representative, Paul Broun, is doing his best to get elected to the Senate, leaving an open seat that’s being contested by no fewer than seven candidates. With first quarter fundraising numbers in hand, let’s take a look at the candidates and see where they stand.

Mike Collins: Son of former congressman Mac Collins, Mike Collins has not hesitated to bring his dad with him on the trail. He also raised awareness of his campaign by putting together a campaign video parodying Jean Claude Van Damme’s Volvo commercial. In the first quarter, he came in third in contributions, with just over $61,000 contributed, and a whopping $214,097 cash on hand. Of course, he also made the largest loan to his campaign, at $150,000. Depending on how much of that loan he’s willing to turn into a contribution, he can certainly get the word out on his campaign. He definitely has a good chance of being in the runoff that is likely to occur in July.

Donna Sheldon: As the former chair of the Georgia House Majority Caucus, Donna Sheldon has a lot of name ID, and likely the support of many of those serving under the Gold Dome. She has raised more in contributions than any other of the candidates in the race at $434,318. Her first quarter haul of $82,282 gives her $128,398 cash on hand, second only to Collins. Once you take out the $30,000 loan she gave her campaign, she has more money than the others. She has a reasonable opportunity to make it to the runoff.

Stephen Simpson: Colonel Simpson brought in $33,595 in the first quarter, and has $67,184 cash on hand. However he loaned his campaign $52,700, and his report shows the campaign having over $80,000 in debt. Simpson ran and lost to Broun in 2012, and it’s unclear if voters will be willing to hand him a victory in 2014.

Jody Hice: Hice brought in the most cash in the first quarter, with $88,660 raised. He also spent the most during the quarter at just over $124,000, leaving him with $47,023 cash on hand. He is the only major candidate who has not had to make a personal loan to fund his campaign. Hice got into a runoff with Rob Woodall in 2010, before the district lines were redrawn. I fully expect him to make one of the runoff slots this year.

Gary Gerrard: The Athens lawyer netted $26,744 in the first quarter and had $21,734 cash on hand at the end of March. With a personal loan to his campaign of $40,000, his campaign is technically upside down. Gerrard has promised not to take a congressional salary until the country has a balanced budget.

Mitchell Swan: Swan is a Marine Corps Colonel and a late entrant to the race, announcing his candidacy this year. As a result, the $11,531 he’s raised in the first quarter is also all he has raised for the race. Having spent most of that, he’s left with $1,258 cash on hand.

Brian Slowinski: I couldn’t find any campaign disclosures for this TEA party candidate on the FEC website. Slowinski is known for his videos and his children dressed in fluorescent green campaign shirts at campaign events.

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Yesterday, David Pennington’s campaign issued a presser saying that he had a major announcement. We now know what that announcement was, and apparently there is a lot of intrigue. From the Political Insider over at the AJC:

One reporter asked the tea party candidate what, exactly, his major announcement was. Pennington said he would leave a formal invitation to Deal to attend the upcoming debates and urged the governor to pack it in if he didn’t.

It appeared to me mostly political theater and not much substance. No earth-shattering announcements or anything like that. Just a challenge to the governor to debate. Governor Nathan Deal will more than likely not participate in a debate, and that’s his choice.

Check out the rest of the story at the Political Insider blog to see how it unfolded.

::UPDATE::

You can read the full presser below the fold, but as the AJC article explained, it didn’t go so well for Pennington and the press conference was essentially hijacked by Randy Evans, the governor’s attorney.
[click to continue…]

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Smart Girl Politics weighs in on a Georgia race: sgp

Smart Girl Politics Action is proud to endorse Karen Handel in the Georgia U.S. Senate Race.

Karen was the first Republican Secretary of State in Georgia and fought the Obama administration to ensure photo-ID remained in place so that only US citizens could vote.

Karen has been successful in both the public and private sectors, including time as the Vice President of Public Policy for the Susan G. Komen Foundation, where her pro-life beliefs made her a target of the far left.

Karen recently received the endorsement of Sarah Palin and the American Future Fund. Karen has a strong conservative record and is a proven leader, which is why we fully support her candidacy.

Georgia’s primary is May 20. If you live in the Peach State, please be sure to get out and vote. Every vote counts!

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The Jason Carter gubernatorial campaign has sent a message to supporters claiming it doesn’t have enough money to buy TV ads.

Campaign manager Matt McGrath is asking for $5 donations “to help get Jason’s message out.”

Here’s the message: 

“We’re in trouble.

“Gov. Deal just spent more than a million bucks to plaster his new commercial on every TV across the state.

“I’ve been looking over our budget, and we simply can’t afford to go on the air to tell Jason’s story yet. So we need your help.

“Chip in $5 to help us get Jason’s message out.

“Deal has spent years stockpiling millions of dollars for his campaign. There are a lot of deep-pocketed special interests who want to beat Jason in this race. We need to count on you to stand against them.

“Deal’s ad is full of distortions about his weak record as governor. But until we can afford to match his ad buy, it’s the only message that most Georgians will hear about this race.

Sincerely,

Matt McGrath
Campaign Manager
Carter for Governor”

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In his state of the state address, Governor Deal promised significantly more money for education. Working with the Legislature, k-12 education received an additional $25 million or so in the amended fiscal year 2014 budget, over and above $135 million for enrollment growth. Additionally, there was as an additional $314 million the fiscal year 2015 budget over the previous year’s funding. The desire was expressed by the Governor and Legislative leaders that some of this money be used for teacher raises. However based on what Legislators heard from Superintendents and local Boards of Education, raises for teachers were not mandated.

Two of the state’s largest school systems will indeed raise the salaries and wages of teachers and other employees. Cobb will end furlough days, hire new teachers and give all employees a raise.

Public school employees in Gwinnett also received some good news:

For the first time since the 2008-09 school year, employees will receive a cost-of-living raise of two percent, and teachers will receive the first step increase, a calculation based on experience, since 2009-10. Ninety eight percent of teachers will receive a step increase and a cost-of-living raise, and the average salary increase will be 3.8 percent.

Bus drivers will receive a $1.25 per hour increase, while school nutrition workers will receive a 51 cents per hour raise as the district aims to close the cap with other school districts around metro Atlanta.

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The Georgia Legislature needs to start selling drone-shooting permits. Not only for the fun of it, which would be considerable, but so that we too can have campaign ads like this one.

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As mentioned in the daily, the 12th Congressional District race is dominated  in funding by incumbent, Congressman John Barrow.  

Related! Remember US Rep. John Barrow, the guy everybody wants to take on? He’s raised $290,000 and has over ”…$400,000 more in the bank than he did at this point in 2012,” according to the Hill. Barrow (who is always described as “the last white congressman from the deep south,” which just seems impossible) will face one of five Republicans currently duking it out amongst themselves to challenge him in the fall. 

However, the ability to raise money in a short amount of time is something to watch.  Congressional candidate Delvis Dutton has raised $114k in 56 days.  Not bad.  The press release is below the fold.   [click to continue…]

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Morning Reads — Disturbing News

April 16, 2014 8:38 am

by Ed · 8 comments

Not all of you payed homage/properly felicitated  me yesterday. To make up for it get my Paypal address from Charlie.

Texas Tornados appreciation series continues with “Soy de San Luis.”

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Senator Chambliss was recognized by National 4-H  Council, and credits the organization as the first place he delivered a pubic speech.  Still a great organization; still a great Senator. [click to continue…]

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Happy Birthday Ed

April 15, 2014 14:00 pm

by Scarlet Hawk · 10 comments

Hey, look who has a birthday today- our resident hipster and morning reads contributor, Ed.  He never misses an opportunity to be snarky when he comments, nor in our internal communications, but somehow refuses to venture forth outside the perimeter (we’re working on him).  Let’s all wish him well on his b-day and buy him a drink at the next roadshow.  Hope it’s a great one, Ed!

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Former Dalton mayor and Republican gubernatorial candidate David Pennington will be making a “major campaign announcement” tomorrow in the state capitol right outside of the Governor’s office:

ATLANTA, GA – David Pennington, the only Conservative running for Governor of Georgia, will be making a major campaign announcement outside of the Governor’s Office at the State Capitol tomorrow.

This comes on the heels of the recent court ruling regarding Nathan Deal’s near constant ethics scandals over campaign funds and private, personal business dealings.

When: Wednesday, April 16, 2014 at 12:30 PM
Where: Outside of Governor’s Office, Georgia State Capital, 203 Capitol Place SW, Atlanta, GA 30334
What: David Pennington Major Campaign Announcement

Discuss.

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Who is GLA?

April 15, 2014 13:00 pm

by Eric The Younger · 8 comments

The Georgia Life Alliance has released their board members. Here’s the run down.

ROME, GA – The Georgia Life Alliance (GLA), the official state affiliate of the National Right to Life Committee, is pleased to announce its Founding Board members.

GLA assembled a group of seasoned pro-life activists committed to protecting and enhancing the Right to Life for all of our citizens. The Founding Board is made up of medical professionals, non-profit professionals, religious leaders, and pro-life grassroots activists.

“It is with great pleasure that I announce the Georgia Life Alliance Founding Board members. Our board demonstrates our commitment to advancing the pro-life cause in Georgia,” said Emily Matson.
Emily Matson, Attorney
Rome, GA

Kristin Radtke, Fmr. FRC and CWA staff, Educator, Mother
Suwanee, GA

Martha Zoller, Fox News Radio/WGAU Co-Host
Gainesville, GA

Erick Erickson, Editor-in-Chief, RedState
Macon, GA

Dr. Jim Froehlich, Medical Director, Atlanta Care Pregnancy Resource Center
Gainesville, GA

Nancy Kingston, Founding Executive Director, Atlanta Pregnancy Resource Center
Tucker, GA

Bill Hancock, CEO & Co-Founder, FaithBridge Foster Care
Alpharetta, GA

Susan Lataif, Fmr. NRLC Lobbyist, Mother
Rome, GA

Lance Cooper, Attorney
Cobb County, GA

Legal Counsel:
Bryan Tyson, Attorney, Strickland Brockington Lewis LLP
Atlanta, GA
The Georgia Life Alliance advocates for the vulnerable, the abandoned, and the defenseless: the baby still in her mother’s womb, the orphaned child desperate for a safe and loving home, and the woman who finds herself in a desperate situation.

We will work tirelessly to bring attention and healing to the struggles of the unborn and other at-risk groups, endeavoring to help secure life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all Georgians.

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In his role as vice-chairman of the House Education Committee, Rep. Mike Dudgeon of Johns Creek was involved in the ultimate failure of Senate Bill 167, the anti-Common Core bill sponsored by Sen. William Ligon. After passing the Senate, the bill did not pass the House Education Committee.

In a recently published constituent newsletter, Rep. Dudgeon explains his opinion about Common Core and SB 167. He notes that the question “Do you support Common Core” can’t really be answered in a single word, or a single sentence, because the term means different things to different people.

So, do I “support” Common Core? Here are some short answers depending on what one means. Detailed answers follow.

  • Do I support Federal control over or involvement (Common Core) in education? Absolutely not, I firmly oppose it.
  • Do I support ongoing attempts to put liberal or politically correct content (Common Core) in our curriculum? Absolutely not, I firmly oppose it.
  • Do I support ceding binding control over Georgia education to anyone outside of Georgia (Common Core)? Absolutely not, I firmly oppose it.
  • Do I support our student data being used for commercial purposes or non-educational data being collected (Common Core)? Absolutely not, I firmly oppose it.
  • Do I support the idea of being able to effectively compare our scholastic progress with other states (Common Core)? Yes, with reservations.
  • Do I support the current Common Core Georgia Performance Standards (Common Core) as they are being taught today in Math and English in our state? Yes, with reservations.

Go ahead and read the entire newsletter for the reasoning behind his answers.

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A new study by a nonprofit called State Budget Solutions shows Georgia as having the second highest percentage point increase between 2001 through 2012 in the amount of revenue being funded by federal dollars. In 2001, 29.09% of state revenue came from the federal government, while in 2012, it was 38.06%, a difference of 8.97%. Only Louisiana had a higher percentage increase of 12.54%.

The average over the period had 35.48% of state revenue coming from the federal government. That’s enough to put the Peach State at 14th when compared to the other 49 states. Mississippi, Wyoming and South Carolina had the highest percentage of federal dollars, while Nevada, Virginia and Delaware had the lowest.

The Washington Examiner takes this a bit further, showing that on a per-capita basis, federal revenue went from $878 in 2001 to $1,424 in 2012.

Georgia’s state government receives less federal money per capita than 43 other state governments, but it’s rapidly losing its budget autonomy.

Federal dollars made up up 38 percent of the Peach State’s budget in 2012, up from 29 percent in 2001. The state received $5.6 billion for public welfare programs and $2.9 billion for education in 2012, along with $1.2 billion for highways.

The Republican Governors Association rightly notes Governor Deal’s leadership in keeping state taxes low and promoting economic growth. If voters approve a constitutional amendment in November, the state will be prevented from raising income taxes.

By keeping state taxes low, the amount of federal funding of the state’s budget is likely to increase, and that poses risks. As the State Budget Solutions study states,

Growing reliance on federal funding in state budgets is a dangerous trend. It threatens the financial stability of all 50 states, as well as the federal government. As federal debt skyrockets, Congress must look for ways to reduce spending. In the many states that count on the federal government for over one-third of their general revenue, every congressional spending reduction proposal puts the state at risk of a serious financial shortfall.

States must recognize that this funding arrangement also harms fiscal federalism. Federal funding usually comes with strings attached, and that means less chance for local control. When states cannot stand firmly on their own financial footing, they will lose the ability to make the best, locally-based, independent decisions for their residents.

Would you be willing to trade an increase in state tax revenue for a reduction in federal funding of state operations?

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