Who Needs Wimbledon When You Can Watch The Governor’s Race?

July 17, 2014 16:30 pm

by Scarlet Hawk · 26 comments

Watch out, y’all, it’s getting deep in here.  For the past few weeks we politicos have been watching the tennis match between Deal and Carter play out over the court of public opinion.  One serves, one returns.  The ball girl this time comes in the form of the past head of the Ethics Commission.  And, if you’d like to continue the metaphor, the state is playing doubles with Dekalb County’s Commission and their own ethics woes or……maybe with the pissing match between Barr and Loudermilk….or Hice and Collins…. or Perdue and Kingston- all trying to prove to Georgia who is more conservative. You take your pick.  We’ll call match next week.

 I ain’t impressed with any of the above.

What is left over for Georgia is a disenchantment with the process, disengagement of the voter, and distrust of the elected officials- whomever they may end up being.  Interestingly enough, my last interaction with the AG was at a dinner in which he said that political consultants were essentially overpaid and lazy.  Protip: Give the average voter something to believe in and they will be so engaged that you won’t need consultants.

No matter who wins any of these races the state of Georgia remains sitting on the cusp of a myriad of possibilities.  The leaders who implement these will be the stuff of legends.  Georgia misses these lions of our past: Miller, Murphy, Talmadge, Carter, Coverdell, and King.  These men were not without faults, but those faults have faded as the historic legacies carry on.  So whatever may come of these elections and ethics complaints, I sincerely hope that the newly electeds remember in January that to whom much is given, much is expected.

My suggestions would include:

  • Strengthening the Ethics Commission: give them more staff and their enforcement teeth and legislate ethics reform that curtails bad legislators, not just questionable lobbyists.  Do this, Deal and/or Carter, and you won’t have to mudsling.  But then again, maybe this is the biggest challenge: proving to Georgians either of you have ideas worth casting their vote.

  • Create a third party system for redistricting rather than allowing the party in power to determine district boundaries.  Do this, and you’ll see our general elections matter more and our primary fights be less bloody.

  • Term limits: Institutional knowledge is great, but innovative ideas and idealistic young gun legislators are even better.  Watch the Liberty Caucus in the House.  I have high hopes for them.

  • Easier ballot access for Independent candidates.  You want better policy and less partisanship, let Independents run and win on their own ideas- not party platforms.

  • Open up the markets: Crowdfunding is gaining in Georgia, and we need to foster it and all the great new ideas it can fund.  Open it up and businesses will move here, and grow here.  Years ago, the timber industry adopted the phrase, “Georgia, we grow trees”- I want to see it be, “Georgia, we grow business”.

  • Get local: Every Georgia town has history and every Georgia street has potential.  Make setting up a business in local jurisdictions a one-stop shop for entrepreneurs and make our Secretary of State the one-stop shop for businesses to set up statewide.

 

I know it’s challenging, but Georgia is worth it.  It takes courage, sweat, and devotion.  And a lot of times it takes letting others get the credit for your actions.  But those actions speak your principles and your truth louder than any scandal or famous last name.

 Don’t let mudslinging be your legacy.  You’re all better men than that, and now, it’s your serve.

So there was a fire inside me. And that fire inside you, it can be turned into a negative form or a positive form. And I gradually realised that I had this fire and that it had to be used in a positive way. ~John Newcombe

 

benevolus July 17, 2014 at 5:00 pm

I just don’t think candidates have any incentive to increase voter engagement.
The possible results of mudslinging are, in this order:
1. Hurts your opponent
2. Turns off a voter to both candidates
3. Damages yourself.

Item 3 is outweighed by 1 and 2. And having to reach fewer voters costs less., or at least it’s less work.

Maybe we need a minimum voter turnout to make it a valid election? Give them some incentive!

Will Durant July 17, 2014 at 5:08 pm

Remove money considered as free speech.

Dave Bearse July 17, 2014 at 10:23 pm

and eliminate Constitutional rights for organizations equal to the rights of people.

View from Brookhaven July 17, 2014 at 5:09 pm

http://meowgifs.com/369

(Most Georgians are actually the fat kitty sleeping in the back.)

UpHere July 17, 2014 at 5:19 pm

You lost me on term limits. Elections ARE term limits.

Lawton Sack July 17, 2014 at 6:19 pm

Except that incumbents usually have an advantage of cash on hand and the ability to fundraise.

benevolus July 18, 2014 at 1:43 pm

OK, I have a couple of questions about this:
– What are we talking about here, legislative branch?
– Who is your rep? How long have they served?
– Did you vote for them? Would you again?

I just think that each district elects their rep because they like them more than the alternatives. Term limits strikes me as people trying to have influence on districts other than their own.

If the problem is fundraising maybe that should be addressed. Trying to solve a fundraising issue with term limits is like trying to solve an equation with, I don’t know, a recipe or something.

Scarlet Hawk July 19, 2014 at 9:57 am

benevolus, Lawton Sack,
Thanks so much for taking the time to read my post, for your comments and questions.
I can’t speak for Lawton, but no matter whether one is referring to the excutive or legislative branch, the inumbents have the fundraising and the bully pulpit of office advantage. For example, Kingston sponsored legislation recently that focused on border control. Nice for that to come up in a run-off for him. Who needs to pay for a mailer saying you’re conservative on border issues when you can get your Congressional Communications Director to draft an email to go out to news outlets and b/c you’re already a Congressman, you’ll get more attention than will Perdue, who’s having to buy his ads.
No matter who is whose representative, I find the vote often comes down for Georgians to who is the lesser of two evils. This is b/c most voters aren’t engaged enough to really know their electeds and b/c electeds tend to only try to engage their voters in an election cycle. So the avg voter typically chooses for or against their status quo based on feelings of satisfaction. I.e., is my life better or worse with this elected official in office?
Finally, I suggested term limits for the reason of balance of power-giving more power to the constituents, not the caucus. The longer an elected official remains in office, the more power they typically gain- both in their district by being re-elected and within their caucus, by having institutional knowledge and fundraising for the caucus itself. While not true in every case, this fosters a focus on remaining loyal to your caucus and getting re-elcted, not to your constituency. I would love to say that remaining loyal to your constituency is the key to getting re-elcted, but a lot times it frankly isn’t- especially if the seat goes unchallenged each year.

CJBear71 July 17, 2014 at 5:24 pm

I agree with the spirit of your post, although not the recommendations.

On a lighter note, Google up Wimbledon by Rich White Ladies. I won’t post a link because the song lyrics are NSFW (cursing), but it truly is going to be the dirty hip-hop hit of the summer. ;-)

Three Jack July 17, 2014 at 5:29 pm

Easier ballot access! That one change to our election process would make a tremendous difference. But it is as likely to happen as Deal doing something that doesn’t benefit him, family or friends.

Nice post Scarlett, well said.

Salmo July 18, 2014 at 8:14 am

Even the third-party candidates that do manage to get on the ballot are at best able to send the two major parties into a runoff after November. What would lowering the threshold to get on the ballot actually accomplish from an electoral standpoint?

If we had independents regularly winning elections that would be one thing, but this seems like a solution in search of a problem.

Three Jack July 18, 2014 at 9:47 am

Maybe we get lackluster independent candidates due to the highly restrictive measures that prevent decent candidates from even trying. Who in the working world has time to gather thousands of signatures?

Independents will start competing when ballot access restrictions are removed. Until then, we will continue to get non-working wackjobs like this one from Cherokee County – http://www.ledgernews.com/news/top_stories/local-activist-fuels-controversy/article_6da60250-cd1a-11e2-953a-001a4bcf6878.html

Salmo July 18, 2014 at 3:58 pm

Who in the working world has time to run in an election as an independent knowing that they aren’t likely to win?

You’re saying that they don’t run because getting the signatures is too much effort (do we really want elected officials who operate that way?). I’m saying that they don’t get the signatures because they know they’re not remotely likely to be worth it to run and get less than 10%. In either case, you’ll only get whackjobs who have the time to run a pointless campaign the vast majority of the time.

And if they’re a viable candidate with a shot at winning, the signatures shouldn’t be enough of a burden to prevent them from running. I can promise you that making it out of a party primary usually takes more work than collecting signatures to get on a general election ballot, anyway.

Scarlet Hawk July 19, 2014 at 9:40 am

Salmo,
Thanks for taking the time to read my post and thanks also for the comments.

Since I’ve just finshed working with one of the few candidates in the state to qualify as an Independent (Bill Bozarth, HD 54), I can speak a bit about the process. First, it takes 5% of signaatures from registered voters within the district. In HD 54, that turned out to be 1776 signatures. We really liked that number, btw. To ensure those that signed the petition were actual voters in the district and not some random, we pulled the list of registered voters. I believe in the course of our work the campaign received 3 different lists, all from the SoS, all which had errors- duplicate names, or people who had obviously moved and their names had not been scrubbed from the list, etc., etc. So the data was a challenge. This was also in the midst of the SoS going to a new website, so there were some technical issues with these lists that other consultants were identifying as well, not just me.
Then, we went about gathering the signatures by going door to door. Anyone who’s canvassed for a candidate knows that you may have the rare chance of meeting someone nice and welcoming, but most are closed doors with a few slammed doors in face thrown in for good measure.
It should be said also that the signatures have to be rather precise and matching for the Board of Elections review. This is the final step- after submitting the petition to the SoS’s office, it is then turned over by them to the local elections board who reviews the petition for validity and integrity. This is where a lot of candidates fall short- they don’t make the cut b/c either they miss the deadline (a la Mary Norwood years ago) or their signatures are struck down as invalid under the review.

This is all just to get on the ballot.

Then and only then does an Independent candidate have a chance. Further, in contrast, the Democrat writes a check to their party and fills out a form and without any opposition- they’re on the ballot in November. For the Republican, it’s the same only that the Republican must also sign a loyalty oath to the party before they may run in the primary. You’re right in that it’s rare in our state for a Republican to go unopposed in a Primary, but it should be said that if there were two Independents who qualified, they would both have to go through the above mentioned process and THEN also go through a primary battle. I can’t ever see that happening and it never has to my knowledge, but it seems a little odd that our state restricts ballot access so much. Seems to me if we had more candidates standing on their issues rather than on their party platforms, we’re have a bit more from which to choose in elections.

Lawton Sack July 17, 2014 at 6:17 pm

I also would like to see easier ballot access for independents. I don’t understand how one person can identify as a D or R, pay his/her qualifying fee, and then run, while somebody else has to gather thousands of signatures to run. (Or identify as a L and run at Convention).

As I get older, I also am becoming more and more intrigued by Nebraska’s unicameral system, which only has one legislative body (hence the name). The body is elected and serves as non-partisan, which eliminates leadership chosen by party. The need for a conference committee is removed as well. Most bills require a public hearing, must have a 5 day lapse between introduction and passage, and can contain only one subject. I don’t see it happening, but I can definitely see a lot of advantages.

greencracker July 17, 2014 at 10:22 pm

Lolz, I bet you can get the House to pass a bill to abolish the Senate and vice versa.

WeymanCWannamakerJr July 18, 2014 at 2:03 am

As long as we are talking about unicorns the number of counties needs to go down by at least half as well.

Jon Lester July 18, 2014 at 8:07 am

I remember when someone proposed that in the 80’s and toured around the state for public hearings on the matter, which was something akin to self-abuse.

Lawton Sack July 18, 2014 at 1:10 pm

Haha. I agree with reducing the number of counties as well, but I definitely do not see it happening either. There are a lot of ideas that would reduce costs, increase transparency, and make things more efficient, but I just don’t see them happening. Still doesn’t mean they aren’t good ideas.

Rambler14 July 18, 2014 at 7:16 am

“Create a third party system for redistricting rather than allowing the party in power to determine district boundaries. Do this, and you’ll see our general elections matter more and our primary fights be less bloody.”

I’ll go one step further.

There needs to be federal legislation enacting this.

Bert Loftman July 18, 2014 at 7:49 am

Regarding term limits – The Supreme Court prevents the States from enforcing them with Inc. v. Thornton (1995)
Regarding Political Party Power – Do away with primaries, go back to conventions. Taxpayers should not support party elections with primaries. The Libertarians do it. So can DemPuplicans.

northside101 July 18, 2014 at 9:03 am

A “third party redistricting” system is not practical in Georgia, in large part because of the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits retrogression in minority voting strength. The 2011-2012 redistricting of the General Assembly produced somewhere around 65 majority-black seats in the General Assembly (about 50 in the House and 15 in the Senate, and perhaps a majority Hispanic district in the House). So unless there is some change in the VRA between now and the 2020 census, the Legislature will be obliged to create at least that many districts after that census. That is why you have the odd-shaped House districts in DeKalb and Fulton Counties that run a long distance north to south and very thin east to west. If you drew just nice-shaped squares and circles for districts south of I-20 in Fulton and below Memorial Drive in DeKalb, you would end up with a lot of 90%+ black districts, and the map drawers would be accused of “segregating” the voters. Plus you would have fewer minority districts, which is obvious—you can create more minority districts in the 50-65% range than 90% range. That is why an “Iowa-type” system can’t work here. (Iowa is 90% white, so you don’t have VRA issues in that state in their unique redistricting system.)

Some might suggest an independent or non-partisan commission. But what would be the criteria for serving? Would you have to have never voted in a party primary to serve on there, or donate to a party? Who would make the appointments? What if the commission is evenly split between Democratic and Republican members and they can’t agree on a tiebreaker?

Furthermore, why would the party out of power want to give up that power to redistrict? Only reason I can think up (I think this was suggested by UGA’s Dr. Charles Bullock years ago) would be if the party in power were about to lose power in an election before redistricting, thus better to go with a commission. But given they heavy GOP majorities in each chamber, neither the House or Senate is going to be majority Democratic this cycle or 2016, and probably not before the 2020 census. And after Democrats controlled redistricting for decades, is isn’t likely the GOP, only in power in both chambers for about 10 years, is going to relinquish that power. Furthermore, voters have a way of punishing a party they believe goes too far in redistricting. That certainly happened in 2002 when Roy Barnes went down to defeat. Sure, there were other issues, especially the flag but also education reform and the Northern Arc. But reading accounts from some Democrats in the Legislature back then, even they claimed Barnes went too far with legislative redistricting, as seem by the revival of multimember districts in the House and odd-shaped districts with extreme deviations in the Senate (underpopulated Democratic districts and overpopulated Republican ones). And the Larios decision of 2004 (which invalidated the legislative maps drawn by the Democrats) reconfirmed the overreach.

Left Turn Only July 18, 2014 at 10:25 am

One additional suggestion. After the Second World War, the US wrote the Japanese constitution and had a huge hand in writing the German constitution. Rather than mirroring our own vaunted document, both contain a degree of proportional representation, so the minority parties could have representation proportionate to their percentage of votes received. That, plus easier access to the ballot for additional, would ensure we all have some degree of representation.

seekingtounderstand July 18, 2014 at 2:42 pm

Ace serve I would most like to see from Gov. Deal……………”Do you really want to turn your children over to Democrat control after the APSCheating Scandal? You want school choice don’t you Georgia?” “I will not allow big data companies to obtain information on your children from our schools while in office” This would make for some really good debates in my opinion.

From Carter I would most like to see this fault line serve thrown “Once all people are no longer constrained by ethics and morals everything changes, so why did the republicans refuse to set higher ethical standards for our Georgia Legislature Branch” “Is Gambling going to be voted in Gov. Deal second term?” “Ethics and Gambling are not a good mix”
These would be much more entertaining for voters.

kolt473 July 19, 2014 at 12:01 am

Still think Deal will pull it out, not ready for another Carter in the Governors mansion nor new taxes which all democrats seem to like, plus amnesty. Jimmy was disaster for GA and America, had no current names to run, but had to go back to the past vote and pray Dem polls always mislead use the provisional ballot that way get letter from registrars office.

The Last Democrat in Georgia July 19, 2014 at 12:30 pm

Good column and good comments on the thread, Ms. Hawk.

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