Not so fast, Secretary Kemp

UPDATE: Icarus and I have a little dispute about the particular law referenced here and whether or not it allows for an independent candidate to qualify before a special primary is called.  Her majesty Karen Handel didn’t think so: when Joe Carter backed out in 2008, Karen Handel issued her proclamation of special primary on June 25th.  By my reading of the calendar, independent qualifying didn’t end that year until June 27th (three Friday’s before the primary election).  So when it happened to a Republican, they didn’t wait to make sure no independents qualified, they immediately sough action to remedy the potential problem of having an election with no candidates.  So either Karen Handel was playing fast and loose with the law or Brian Kemp is. /

Payback’s a bitch, and for once in this state it’s the Democrats turn.

A little refresher course.  In 2008, Sen. Joe Carter (SD – 13) was the only candidate to qualify for re-election to the state Senate in either party.  About 2 months later, a position for Superior Court judge became available and Sen. Carter decided to withdraw/resign and throw his hat into that ring.

What did Sec. Karen Handel’s office decide?  They decided to re-open qualifying for Republicans ONLY.  According to her Press release:

“The Special Primary for the Republican nomination will be held on Tuesday, August 5, 2008.  Since no Democratic candidate qualified for Senate District 13, there was no Democratic primary for this seat. Accordingly, the Special Primary will be held only for the Republican nomination as provided for in the law.”

Now, let me go on record as saying this is a terrible way to do things, and Democrats were opposed in 2008.  What it allows is for a popular incumbent like Levitas (or Joe Carter before him) to sign up for one more time, not get any opposition from the other side in a swing seat, and then step out once qualifying closes to allow only his party to nominate a new guy.  The legislature should change the law on this so that in the future popular incumbents in swing seats or safe seats can’t handpick (or let the party) their successor.

But to my friends in the party that likes to remind people “rule of law”, the law is the law and Secretary Kemp needs to do the right thing and follow the tradition that his predecessor charted.


  1. Here is the text of the release from 2008:
    For Immediate Release

    Candidates with qualifying inquiries should contact
    the Elections Division at 404-656-2871

    Secretary of State Handel Announces Candidate Qualifying Process for State Senate District 13

    Atlanta – Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel announced today that she will call a Special Primary to fill the Republican nomination for state Senate District 13 pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 21-2-504(a), upon the withdrawal of state Senator Joseph Carter.

    The Secretary of State’s Elections Division received Mr. Carter’s affidavit of withdrawal as a candidate in state Senate District 13. Because of the timing of the withdrawal, Mr. Carter’s name will appear on the ballot for in-person and absentee ballot voting in the General Primary. Elections officials in Ben Hill, Crisp, Irwin, Lee, Tift, Turner, Wilcox and Worth counties will post notifications in precincts within state Senate District 13 notifying voters of Mr. Carter’s withdrawal. Any votes cast for Mr. Carter will not be counted.

    The Special Primary for the Republican nomination will be held on Tuesday, August 5, 2008. Since no Democratic candidate qualified for Senate District 13, there was no Democratic primary for this seat. Accordingly, the Special Primary will be held only for the Republican nomination as provided for in the law.

    Secretary Handel set the candidate qualifying dates for state Senate District 13 as Wednesday, July 16 through Friday, July 18, 2008. Qualifying on Wednesday will run from 9 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.; on Thursday from 8 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.; and on Friday from 8 a.m. until 12 noon.

    Qualifying will be held in the Elections Division of the Office of Secretary of State, 1104 West Tower, 2 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, SE, Atlanta, Georgia 30334-1505. Candidates may also qualify in the Secretary of State’s South Georgia Office at 238 East Second Street, Tifton, Georgia, 31794. The qualifying fee is $400.00.

    Advance voting for the Special Primary will be held Monday, July 28 through Friday, August 1, 2008. The Special Primary will be held in Ben Hill, Crisp, Irwin, Lee, Tift, Turner and Worth counties, and a portion of Wilcox County. Polls will be open from 7:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, August 5, 2008. August 5, 2008 is also the date for run-offs for the General Primary held on July 15, 2008. If necessary, a run-off for the Special Primary will be held on Tuesday, August 26, 2008.

    Voters can request an absentee ballot from their county registrar’s office through the close of business on Friday, August 1, 2008. Absentee ballots must be returned to the county registrar by close of business on Election Day. Photo identification is not required when voting by mail. To download an absentee ballot request form, please visit

    All citizens residing in state Senate District 13 who are not registered to vote can register through Tuesday, July 8, 2008 to be eligible to vote in the Special Primary Election. Voter registration forms can be obtained at any county registrar’s office or from the Secretary of State’s website:

    Karen Handel was sworn in as Secretary of State in January 2007. The Secretary of State’s office offers important services to our citizens and our business community. Among the office’s wide-ranging responsibilities, the Secretary of State is charged with conducting efficient and secure elections, the registration of corporations, and the regulation of securities and professional license holders. The office also oversees the Georgia Archives and the Capitol Museum.

  2. macho says:

    First, has anyone suggested that Kemp isn’t going to follow the precedent, or are you making an issue out of a non-issue.

    Second, if a popular incumbent wanted to allow only his party to have a candidate in the swing seat, you do what Richard Royal did. Which is to walk your hand-picked candidate in during the last 30 minutes of qualifying. It’s actually a better, from a pure self-serving standpoint, to do what Royal did, since you have complete control over the process, instead of opening the seat to a Primary.

    I think, in the case of most of these candidates, who change their mind after the fact, it’s just an innocent case of “flakyness. “

    • Provocateur says:

      The walking of the “hand-picked candidate 30-minutes before close of qualifying” still has its risks. Democrats qualify in one chamber and Republicans qualify in a different chamber. There is no way to predict that at the time someone is being “walked-in 30 minutes before qualifying ends” in one chamber that there will not be someone from the other party who already walked-in to qualify in the separate chamber for the same seat.

      • macho says:

        I should have clarified myself. I was only speaking of risks that were distinguished from the “waiting until qualifying is over” strategy. Which obviously, having someone walk-in, and qualify against an assumed incumbent, can happen under either scenario / strategy.

  3. macho says:

    It also seems to be hypocritical to state, “this is a terrible way to do things,” but now that it’s a situation that would favor a Democrat we should do it the horrible way. It seems as if this is the time you stand up for your beliefs and state, “the previous way was an awful way to do things, which is why I believe we should open up both Primaries.”

    • macho says:

      The reality it that seat would go Democrat either way. It’s been trending Democrat for a long time.

    • Dave Bearse says:

      Huttman concluded the paragrpah with the sentence “[t]he legislature should change the law on this so that in the future popular incumbents in swing seats or safe seats can’t handpick (or let the party [pick] (sic)) their successor” which clearly indicates Huttman thinks the current law is wrong.

      The post instead pokes at a GOP where politics, not principles, all too often catalyze change.

      Earmarks? They exploded under the GOP, but didn’t become an issue until the GOP no longer controlled their dispensation.

      Deficit spending? Not an issue when funding a mistaken war with tax cuts for the rich, but deficit spend to stave off ecomonic collapse, hell no.

      Remember the nuclear option? It’s ridiculous that 80% of Obama’s nominees subject to a vote have been approved by the Senate with 80% or more of the vote, but there are 2-3 times that many appointees awaiting an, rememeber this, “up or down vote”.

      51 Senators, none Republican, have recently pledged to refain from placing anonymous holds on legislation and appointees. (Not that Dems deserve a medal for adopting the pledge now.) Guess Senate rules are working just fine now, until its Dems placing the holds.

      On a more local level…

      Ethics? Boinking a lobbyist isn’t unethical until a wife goes public.

      Transportation? That’s was an Atlanta problem until big business said otherwise.

      • macho says:

        So you’re saying the law is wrong, but Karen Handel’s interpretation was absolutely correct? Because I seem to recall most the venom being directed at Handel over the Collins ruling.

        If it’s a matter of statute, then you’re right, the Republicans simply have to change the statute the Democrats put in place.

  4. Chris says:

    Given the democrats have no loyalty oath, what’s to prevent a R from running in the D primary?

    I think the question we should all be asking is: who has picture of Rep Levitas, which lobbyist was it, and was the lobbyist over 16?

  5. Icarus says:

    Not so fast, Chris Huttman

    (Can’t you just anticipate Lee Corso saying that in just four short months, but I digress…)

    I am hardly an apologist for Secretary Kemp. I think his Kemp-bots can vouch for that.

    However, these two incidents are different, and both Handel and Kemp appear to be following the law.

    In Senator Carter’s case, only a Republican had qualified. No other Republican, Democrat, or Independent had qualified. Therefore, the window of opportunity to place a Dem or Indy on the ballot had passed. By law, the only mechanism to replace a name on the ballot was open to Republicans. Dems and Indys had ceded their opportunity at the ballot.

    However, in the case of Levitis’ seat, Republicans had conceded the seat, but Independents have the opportunity to qualify remaining. Thus, an Independent is still allowed to qualify.

    Should an independent qualify, it is my understanding that the Dems will not be allowed to have a special primary, like the one in Carter’s case, because an independent qualified.

    They’re weird, quirky and obscure laws. But guess what. They’ve been arond a long time. And guess which party they were written by.

    Handel followed the law. Had she not, the Dems would have sued. They didn’t, because they knew the law (that they had written).

    Kemp appears to know the law too. Sorry he’s just following the crap he was given to work with.

          • Jason says:

            No, WordPress allows us to set comments using certain words or too many links to be treated as spam.

            If you’re a contributor, those settings do not apply.

              • Lady Thinker says:

                The problem, Jason, is I, as well as some of the other newer posters, have asked if you have a site we can access that posts the rules so we can read them in order not to violate them. I have not had an answer to my question. Please address this issue.

            • Chris says:

              Not true, some of my comments were sent to spam, and I’ve got the highest WP privs there are.

              The spam filtering software is partially run off-site and I think that was part of Republican Lady Thinker’s problem.

              Now I shall cower in fear of Icarus’s wrath for threadjacking.

              • Icarus says:

                For all the things you have, are, and will receive wrath for, your thread jacking is among the least of your worries.

                Btw Lady Thinker, Rat Bastard is perfectly fine to get through the spam filter.

                • ByteMe says:

                  So b-tch is a no-no, but bastard is ok.

                  That’s either discrimination or chivalry.

                • Lady Thinker says:

                  Maybe so but I rarely use coarse words and had I not repeated what I heard McBerry say, there would not have been a problem, so it is McBerry’s fault. The words that pass muster astounds me and that common word doesn’t pass. Somebody buy me a beer to soothe my ego.

                    • Now that it’s Monday, someone can again buy you that beer or white zin. Thankfully our legislators won’t let us commit the sin of buying alcohol in a retail establishment on a Sunday. 🙁

                    • Lady Thinker says:

                      Yes I know, I celebrated Mother’s Day without it with my adult son and his wife, and all three of us are legal.

            • Provocateur says:

              Again, double-standard. LT was right to start with. Jason, it does not matter what WordPress “allows” you to do. The double-standard comes into play because thread-contributors are allowed to use the word, and commenters are not.

              To remove the double-standard, remove the word in the comments-filter.

  6. KempforAg says:

    It’s called I was getting my butt whooped by my opponent, needed to call Sonny for a life line, get the appointment and think the election is in the bag.

    • macho says:

      I know there seems to be a lot of bitterness with the McGinnety folks on this board, and on a certain level, I can’t blame them. But, I never really got the impression that Perdue was all that close to Kemp. It was pretty obvious the Governor supported Black in the Ag. Primar. The Gov. certainly wasn’t so close that he would be throwing a life-line out.

      • BuckheadConservative says:

        Full disclosure, strident MacGinnitie supporter here. I think everyone here knows that. Normally not one for conspiracy theories, but Sonny did say that he was giving the job to Brian to “give him a leg up” in the primary. That’s just flat wrong on any level, but when you compare the two candidate’s it’s worse. Doug has one of (maybe THE) most impressive resume on the ballot this cycle. Brian while maybe a nice guy, has a failed run for Ag Commish and a rather lackluster Senate career. In a private sector job interview setting, Kemp doesn’t get that job. I have no clue how he got it in Jan (And I’m not saying Doug should have gotten the appointment. Just that the race should have been run out as it was going)

  7. South Fulton Guy says:

    @In The Areana

    What evidence do you have that Kemp coaxed Perdue into nominating him SOS at all?

  8. Doug Deal says:

    Easy solution, pay the 300 and qualify someone and stop conceding race. It’s the Dems fault if they don’t field candidates and Indys do. Do you know how many obstacles are already in place for non major party candidates?

  9. Romegaguy says:

    I’m not sure what a candidate for Ag Commissioner has to do with determining the meaning of election laws

    • macho says:

      I’m not sure if either a former candidate for Ag Commissioner/former State Senator or a 1-year city councilman from Sandy Springs have any particular insight into election laws. My guess is the former State Senator might have an edge, since he could have been involved in passing some of the laws.

      • drjay says:

        “My guess is the former State Senator might have an edge, since he could have been involved in passing some of the laws.”

        if someone wanted to dig through bills he sponsored, cosponsored or even voted on, it’s possible some “election” stuff might be mixed in there…

        a former law clerk for a federal judge might have come across some election law as well…

        of course whether the “former ag candidate” is your guy or not–he is actually the current sos, and thus…

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