Today’s Courier Herald Column:
Today’s the day. This chapter in the never ending campaign cycle is over at 7pm. We then count the votes, which hopefully will be mercifully decisive by the wee hours of the morning. I don’t believe the country is in much of a mood to tolerate a recount of Bush-Gore proportions.
If I had to hazard a guess, I still believe we’re looking at the Presidential race coming down to Ohio. If Mitt Romney loses Virginia or Florida, the race is over. If President Obama loses Pennsylvania, the race is over. If there’s a wild card in the mix, it’s Wisconsin. Its 10 electoral votes are just enough to give Romney a narrow path to victory should Ohio not end up in his column tonight.
Despite the proper focus paid to the presidential race, however, there are quite a few things here in Georgia that are worth watching. Expect the word “supermajority” to be used a lot during local election coverage. Republicans need 5 House members and 2 Senate seats to have a 2/3 majority in both chambers. The significance of this is that it would allow Republicans to pass constitutional amendments through the legislature strictly along party lines.
Many observers believe Republican supermajorities would provide what is needed to change the constitutional limit of 159 counties and allow for the reformation of Milton County from much of North Fulton. Rural Republicans are reluctant to support Milton’s breakaway as there is a perception that it would allow a large and powerful block of Georgia’s citizens to retreat further into the suburban Atlanta mindset which doesn’t have to deal directly with the issues facing rural or urban Georgia. As a result, the effect of creating a supermajority to obtain Milton County is often overstated.
One of those Senate seats Republicans hope to pick up is the seat currently held by Doug Stoner of Cobb County. Hunter Hill of Buckhead is challenging Stoner for the Republicans. Even if Republicans fall short of achieving their supermajority, a victory by Hill is still significant for ending Fulton County as we know it. Hill would help provide Republicans with either equal or majority footing in the Fulton delegation with respect to local legislation.
It appears the near term strategy for those who wish to re-create Milton County will first submit legislation to reorganize Fulton County and put many of the county government’s functions into that of municipalities. Very little of Fulton remains unincorporated and passing off most government functions to the cities within the county would, in effect, push the elections for those that control the taxes and spending for most functions to a more local level than what is currently possible county wide. It’s a solution that solves many of the goals a breakaway Milton county would solve without as high of a legislative hurdle to implement.
Of course, I’ll also be looking at the constitutional amendments. I fully expect Amendment 2 to pass though I am voting against it. Amendment 1 which would allow for the State Charter School Commission will have political implications well beyond this election. The last minute decision by Atlanta Tea Party Patriots leader Debbie Dooley to lead the charge against the measure will remain in the memory of elected officials for some time to come.
The Public Service Commission races will provide a bit of topics for the inside baseball crowd. The positions are not as high profile as many races, so it will be interesting to see if there is much of a vote difference between the two Republican incumbents. If most people vote party lines, then both Stan Wise and Chuck Eaton should win comfortably.
Wise, however, has generally been used as the poster candidate for closeness with insiders and a general refusal to campaign for his six year, six figure state job. As Wise has no Democratic opponent, David Staples of the Libertarian party is likely to set a new high water mark for his party’s statewide candidates.
That’s the overview. Let’s get to the counting.