It’s UGA vs. Tech in Brookhaven

Former Tech QB Taylor Bennett will meet Republican J. Max Davis — a former offensive lineman at UGA — in a runoff for House District 80.

The Brookhaven Post is reporting that the two will meet in an August 11th runoff for the seat vacated by Republican Mike Jacobs, now a DeKalb state court judge.

Republicans Catherine Bernard and Loren Collins came in third and fourth, respectively, in Tuesday’s special election. 

Analysis

Bennett — whose campaign visibility throughout the district was dwarfed by Davis and Bernard — was surprisingly the top vote-getter on Tuesday, with 36 percent. Davis came in second, with 33 percent.

Bennett’s campaign seemingly came on strong in the final days before the election, as the Democrat received endorsements from such organizations as the Sierra Club, Georgia Association of Educators, Planned Parenthood and even former state senator Jason Carter.

Davis, Brookhaven’s first-ever mayor and arguably the highest profile candidate in the election, also had a hefty list of endorsements, most notably from the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and local political heavyweights such as state Sen. Fran Millar, Rep. Tom Taylor and three of the four members of the Brookhaven City Council.

Any contest fielding four candidates is most likely bound for a runoff, but Bennett’s first-place showing has to be considered somewhat of a political shock, given the district’s strong GOP leanings, along with some of its neighboring communities.

Another factor contributing to Davis’ second-place showing could be residual damage resulting from some unflattering charges made against him during the campaign, dating back to his tenure while mayor of Brookhaven.

In any event, if Bennett defeats Davis on August 11, it could signal a dramatic, political changing of the guard in an important metro Atlanta house district.

22 comments

  1. Charlie says:

    I don’t find this that shocking. You have one Democrat against three “Republicans”. I can’t recall the percentage of the vote Stefan told us on radio last week (Noon to 1pm, Fridays, 640AM WGST!) that Michelle Nunn received from this district, but it was more than 36 percent.

    Perhaps more importantly, have the Glynn County precincts been counted yet?

  2. Jiminy Cricket says:

    The sub-story about Ms. Bernard’s office break-in is being underplayed, IMHO.

    The very fact that the story broke with ‘political ties not attributed’ to the break in is juicier than a Highland Tap steak. The perp is a graffiti tagger and EVERYONE knows they are anarchists and bed wetters.

    If Brookhaven sends the Lysol-spraying UGA frat boy to the Statehouse, he will be right at home. He may have to leave his beloved Lysol with security, though, I have heard it is not allowed in the building.

  3. northside101 says:

    Charlie, Nunn received well over 36 percent last year in the district—she actually got 46 percent, with Perdue taking 52 percent—about a thousand vote difference between the two candidates. She was the top Democratic candidate (in percentage) last year in this district, even running ahead of DeKalb’s own Jason Carter (43 percent in the district). Agree with you Taylor’s showing not shocking—there is a sizable Democratic minority in this district (not because it is heavily black—little over 10 percent of the district’s registered voters are black—but more likely because of white liberals). Every Democrat running statewide last year got at least upper 30s (in percentage). Thus, if you have an attractive Democratic candidate who does not sound too-far out there ideologically, and a sharply divided Republican primary electorate, easy to see how a Democrat finished first here yesterday. Now question becomes whether the Barnard voters stay home or go to one of the two runoff candidates—and whether the August runoff turnout drops or increase (usually it drops, but in rare cases it can increase—if the latter, perhaps because more people are in town by mid August—the runoff date here—with school starting back up than in the dead of July, peak vacation season).

    Perhaps also of interest, there was very much more interest in this race in the DeKalb side than in Fulton. The DeKalb portion of the district accounts for more than 70 percent of the district’s registered voters, but yesterday accounted for 87 percent of the district’s total turnout (3467 in DeKalb and 529 in Fulton). And speaking of Fulton…why does it take SO LONG for them to STILL count the ballots. Even by 10 last night, there was next to nothing reporting from Fulton in the special elections yesterday (like by that hour maybe 200 votes counted in the HD 48 race, Price and MCCleary).

    • bgsmallz says:

      IMO…it’s whether J Max can get Sandy Springs voters to understand the significant impact of having a Dem led county delegation compared to a GOP led county delegation. He finished 3rd in each of those precincts, but I think you could see better turnout and there is less ‘protest’ vote in that area b/c he hasn’t been their mayor. Bernard in the “Brookhaven” precinct which is HD80 side of Ashford Park and the other neighborhoods around the Marta station took home 4 votes to every 1 for J Max. That’s astonishing and a message. He’s not making up ground there. Folks on the north end of Brookhaven are pretty apathetic about J Max. Voter turnout at Montgomery and Kitteredge was low even for special election standards.

      If I’m J Max, I’d stop sending mailers about the ‘brunch law’ and transportation…and load up on the City Schools Amendment that is being carried by Tom Taylor. Defending the DeKalb County School System isn’t a good look for anyone and making it a choice about city schools vs. DeKalb would get folks to the polls that otherwise wouldn’t care.

      I’d also like to give 4 Stars to Tim Darnell…just when I thought you had your best trolling headline yesterday with Watergate, you topped it with Tech vs. UGA. Bravo!

      • City schools amendment = tax increase. News flash, people in Brookhaven can afford to move to Decatur or Atlanta if they want a city school system. Montgomery is excellent and your kid can take magnet classes at Chamblee already. I find it hard to believe that a Brookhaven city high school could compete with what Chamblee already offers at anywhere near what they pay in property taxes now.

        • Jiminy Cricket says:

          Well, Chris, you are just . . . w r o n g.

          Cities affected by having their own school systems should pay what they currently pay, or LESS, according to the preliminary studies I have seen. The current model is simply too big to benefit the children. I notice you did not mention Cross Keys dismal 42% graduation rate.

          Back to J. Max. Says a N. DeKalb active female GOP voter: actual text

          “I hate that she lost. I think J Max was a terrible mayor and he’s a disgusting person. Can’t believe I’m going to vote Democrat and I think a lot of other people will too because of him.”

          I know he the Establishment fav, but bgsmallz is right – Either put your shoulder behind Tom Taylor’s Bill and win back the female vote or give the seat to the oppo.

          • bgsmallz says:

            Chris-

            The cricket is right. Have you looked at the feasibility study for Dunwoody? Using 2013 Tax Digest numbers and millage rates, Dunwoody was projected to have a $30M surplus.

            http://www.dunwoodyga.org/upload/Get_Involved/DISD-report131123-1800-final.pdf

            Do you know what has happened to the Tax Digest since 2013? It’s has gone through the roof. You know what hasn’t happened? The DCSD hasn’t rolled back the ’emergency’ millage rate from an astounding 23.9 mills. The study would show even more of a surplus now. I think a Brookhaven/Chamblee district study wouldn’t be as robust, but I do think you’d see a significant surplus projected.

            BTW…What happens when the county gets a massive influx of money from the 2015 tax digest in the range of a $100M? Do you rollback the tax rate from the ’emergency’ level? Nope. What about reducing the student to teacher ratio? Nope. Everyone gets a raise!!!! $$$$$

              • bgsmallz says:

                Just a quick suggestion….please don’t hang the exclamation point out to dry like that. It’s a wonderful piece of punctuation…my favorite, really…but it can’t be expected to carry weak sarcasm on its own. Just like a 99mph fastball, an exclamation point used to prop-up a punchline requires a skillful delivery.

                I only bring that up because your sarcasm made my point for me. It didn’t resonate. My point is that it could and should in a two person race where there is a clear difference on the issue.

                BTW-if the best counter is truly “you folks in Brookhaven can afford to move to Decatur if you want good schools”…well, something tells me that will resonate plenty.

                • LOL dude if it’s such an awesome idea both candidates can be for it! When the incumbent mayor of Brookhaven gets 32% in his city, maybe “I’m going to make Brookhaven even bigger and more expensive for you” is not the best electoral message! Maybe the fact that most special election voters are well over 50 and only pay school taxes but don’t benefit from having children in the schools means there are better things to run on!

                  • bgsmallz says:

                    I don’t know if you’re just trying to be argumentative or you don’t want to look at the math. I’m going to assume both.

                    There are roughly 7,200 students in Brookhaven and Chamblee attending public schools. (Source: Dekalb County Schools)

                    The study above shows a Dunwoody school system budget to be roughly $48M for 6,000 students. (Source: Dunwoody School Study) City of Decatur schools budget for 2015-16 is $23M for rouglhy 4,200 students. (Source: City of Decatur Schools)

                    Decatur’s tax digest is about $1B. Dunwoody’s tax digest is right around $2.9B. (Source: Dekalb County)

                    The combined Tax Digest for Chamblee and Brookhaven is right around $4 Billion…that’s Billion with a capital B. (Source: DeKalb County/City of Chamblee) Using DeKalb County School’s 23.9 Millage rate, (Source: DeKalb County Schools) Brookhaven/Chamblee is contributing $95.6 Million in property taxes to DCSS that could fund a potential school system. (Source: Math!!! ($4B x .0239 = $95.6 M) A City school system would also be eligible for roughly $20 to $30 Million in State, Federal and other funding. (Source: Dunwoody School Study)

                    The budget surplus for a city school system using DeKalb’s current rate would be $40M on the low end (Marietta Schools budget around $85M for 8,800 students) and $60M on the high end. It would allow you to improve schools, cut the overall millage rate, and probably add a seniors don’t pay school tax clause similar to what is done in Cobb.

                    I know Math is hard, but those numbers seem easy.

                    Now you tell me…is the better platform city schools for tax cuts and better education or Taylor’s “let’s increase state funding” platform?

                    I’m open to correction…I may be completely messing up the numbers.

                    Sources….
                    http://www.dunwoodyga.org/upload/Get_Involved/DISD-report131123-1800-final.pdf
                    http://taxcommissioner.dekalbcountyga.gov/PropertyAppraisal/TaxDigest.html#
                    http://www.chambleega.com/documentcenter/view/313
                    http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/www/documents/planning/2015/Student%20Population%20and%20School%20Enrollment_20141121.pdf

                    • Well all I’m saying is the guy who created Brookhaven had two thirds of voters choose someone else. “Hey let me make the government even bigger for you” might not be the best idea. Brookhaven is about 30% Hispanic. Decatur is 3%. Something tells me a school system that requires everything in two languages is more expensive than one that doesn’t. People in the city already pay higher taxes than they used to and a school system with their track record (pink pony lawsuit etc) would almost certainly end up costing more than DeKalb. Again for the majority of voters over 50 or who send their kids to Marist, why roll the dice like this?

  4. Progressive Dem says:

    “Another factor contributing to Davis’ second-place showing could be residual damage resulting from some unflattering charges made against him …” That’s an understatement! He sprayed Lysol at the buttocks of a female city employee! Who wants to vote for that guy?

  5. northside101 says:

    bgsmallz, I am skeptical that making the Fulton House delegation control an issue will bring out a lot more voters in Fulton portion of the district to help Davis—that is too “inside baseball” for most people. A lot of folks can’t even name their own legislator, much less the ones in any adjoining districts, or how big the county legislative delegation is, or why that matters. “Sexual harassment” is bigger eye-catcher than “if Taylor Bennett wins, Democrats retake control of the Fulton House delegation.” But maybe that will come up anyway, along with perhaps a partisan campaign—“my opponent voted for Obama”—in a district where Obama trailed Romney by 13 percentage points last time. On the schools question, would be interesting to know how many district residents send their kids to private schools anyway—like Marist Catholic and St. Martins Episcopal, and Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic.

      • Jiminy Cricket says:

        The women are deciders on this one.

        Some will be grossed out by the Lysol Affair, others will say ‘boys will be boys.’ The GOP machine will push all buttons and we are well conditioned to pulling the lever for mediocrity.

        Establishment is behind J. Max because it will not allow ‘inside baseball’ to prevail on a Dem FULCO House delegation. Fear is a tremendous motivator.

        go j. max ….

  6. Chamblee says:

    Living next to the district – the lysol problem not one of J. Max’s biggest issues. It’s the
    – lack of open administration
    – chronic perception of corruption
    – perception of giveaways to developers
    – running on a platform of increased local control and delivering anything but
    – oh and “century center”. Just ask anyone in Chamblee (or Brookhaven) about that wound.

  7. SallyForth says:

    All this is neither here nor there. The Dem got 36%, the squabbling Repubs got the other 64%. In the end, they will come together and still send an R to the House.

    • Lea Thrace says:

      And that’s what matters unfortunately in this state. Not that the R sent up is an upstanding ethical person but that they are an R. Heaven forbid voters support the better person regardless of party. Ugh.

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