Category: 2016 Elections

Rep. Westmoreland Won’t Seek Another Term. Who Will Replace Him?

Rep. Lynn Westmoreland at the Georgia GOP 2015 convention. Photo: Jon Richards
Rep. Lynn Westmoreland at the Georgia GOP 2015 convention. Photo: Jon Richards
In a move that some in Georgia’s third congressional district had been suspecting, Rep. Lynn Westmoreland announced today that he will be retiring from Congress at the end of the current term.

His statement:

After a busy fall in Congress, I finally had the opportunity for quiet reflection over the Christmas break. I spent time in prayer and with my family, and with their blessing, have decided I will no longer seek reelection for Georgia’s Third Congressional District.

It has been an honor to serve Georgia’s Third District for the last twelve years, and I believe it is time to pass the torch to our next conservative voice. Washington, D.C. is a much different environment in 2016 than when I was elected in 2004. I know all too well the challenges the new representative will face, and pledge to offer my support and guidance to the next candidate.

Joan and I want to thank the people of Georgia’s Third District. We are forever blessed to have received your support and friendship during my time in office. I look forward to this next chapter in my life; returning to my community and spending more time with family and friends.

So who will replace the six term congressman? Early bets for those likely to run for the seat include State Sen. Josh McKoon of Columbus, Senator Mike Crane of Newnan, Senator Marty Harbin of Tyrone, Rep. Matt Ramsey of Peachtree City, and Westmoreland’s current Chief of Staff Matt Brass.

All are Republicans. Do you have any other ideas for possible contenders? Let us know in the comments.

Stacey Abrams Wants to Register 170,000 New Voters Before November 2016

You may remember the New Georgia Project from the 2014 elections. It was an effort spearheaded by House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams to register 120,000 new minority voters that would potentially vote for Democratic candidates Jason Carter and Michelle Nunn. After some controversy over missing voter registration forms that eventually amounted to nothing, the effort came up short and drew criticism from some within the Democratic Party that Abrams should have minded her knitting in the Gold Dome instead.

Today, Max Blau, who has done yeoman’s work covering the New Georgia Project in the past, brings us the news that Abrams has set a new goals of registering 170,000 voters before the presidential election and running a GOTV effort that will get up to 600,000 voters that don’t normally cast a ballot to the polls. She hopes to raise $10 million to support the effort.

These details are outlined in a pair of fundraising memos obtained by Atlanta magazine. Abrams has asked Democracy Alliance—a national progressive network of donors that Politico called the “closest thing the left has to the vaunted Koch brothers’ political network”—to donate up to $5.9 million for the New Georgia Project and contribute another $4.35 million for Voter Access Institute, a little-known progressive advocacy group she founded last year. Her funding requests aren’t surprising; one of the Democracy Alliance’s members, Democratic financier George Soros, wrote Abrams’s political action committee, Georgia Next, Inc., a $500,000 check in 2014 to fund her voter registration efforts. But the two requests are ones that, considering the funder’s secretive reputation, raise even more questions about the New Georgia Project, which has been criticized for its lack of transparency and its failure to live up to its expectations.
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Abrams intends for her latest iteration of the New Georgia Project to be a constellation of projects scattered throughout the state. Voter registration efforts are centered in six cities, where, according to one memo, she plans to set up field offices with dozens of paid staffers. A series of smaller civic engagement projects are designed to push people to the polls. Her staff hosted a “hack-a-thon” where teams of computer programmers competed over a 48-hour period to create apps to make it easier to vote (#UnlockTheBox), held a five-day training course for applicants participating in a crash course to become campaign operatives (B.L.U.E.), and launched a series of citizen academies designed to demystify public policy at the local level (Advocates for Change Institute). The course even gave ACI graduates their own Apple laptops.

Time will tell whether the 2016 effort will be more successful than the one from last year.

Meagan Hanson Announces Bid for HD 80 Seat

Meagan HansonjAtlanta attorney and former candidate for Chairman of the Young Republican National Federation announced she will run for the GOP nomination in Brookaven’s House District 80. The seat, formerly occupied by Judge Mike Jacobs, was won by Democrat Taylor Bennett in a special election over the summer.

In an emailed statement, Hanson said,

Over the past few years, House District 80 has experienced incredible growth and transformation. Brookhaven, Sandy Springs, and Chamblee have each seen home values increase, local businesses succeed, and families choose this community to raise their children.

Maintaining these advancements presents serious challenges – especially with prevalent corruption in county governance. Ensuring that our community and our state continue to move in the right direction should be our first priority. To do this, our community needs an effective, principled leader who shares our community’s values and will champion our causes. This is why I am excited to announce my candidacy to represent House District 80.

In the State House, I will work every day protect what we have built in our community. I will work with my colleagues to find solutions to our transportation challenges, fight to keep taxes low, foster successful schools for our children, and hold county governments accountable.

Hanson is a graduate of the University of Alabama and the University of Alabama School of Law. She is married to her husband, David, and will face another attorney, Catherine Bernard, who previously announced her bid for the seat. Bernard lost the special election that gave Bennett his seat in the state house.

Walker County Republicans To Place County Governance Structure Question On 2016 Ballot

Last night, the Walker County Republican Party adopted a resolution to place on the 2016 Republican primary ballot a non-binding referendum question on what form of county government Walker County should have: a sole commission as it is currently, or a multi-member commission board.  I was not in attendance due to personal reasons, but I saw the news on Facebook and a blurb from WDEF (the local CBS affiliate).  It seems the anti-incumbent crowd is hailing it as a major victory.

The sole commission vs. multi-member board came to a head in 2011 when a challenger to incumbent Commissioner Bebe Heiskell drew an opponent in the 2012 Republican primary.  She won by a 200-vote margin, but drew a write-in candidate challenger in the general election.

The anti-incumbent crowd actually had a prime opportunity during the 2013-2015 term of the Republican Party as one of their own won the county chairmanship in 2013, resigned early in 2014, and the Walker County TEA Party leader was elected GOP chairman in early 2014.  No questions were put on the ballot in 2014, so I’m not sure if there was a lack of awareness or focus during the changing of chairmen.  For the record, we received no proposals for ballot questions in 2012 after soliciting the membership while I was chairman of our county GOP.

Those in opposition have made the issue into a personal vendetta against the incumbent and have preached over the past 4 years on how changing our form of government will cure all of our county’s ills.  Call me skeptical, but I will be listening to the arguments for and against and will keep an open mind before I cast my ballot.

As a former co-worker and good friend of mine said to me: “Be careful for what you wish for, you may just get it.”

Rubio Visits Atlanta, Draws Endorsements From Congressman Scott, Others.

2015-09-21 10.31.53Florida Senator, and GOP Presidential hopeful, Marco Rubio visited Atlanta this morning, speaking to a crowded room of supporters and potential supporters in Buckhead. Some news was made at the event as 8th District Congressman Austin Scott introduced Rubio and announced his support of the Senator for the GOP Nomination. The AJC obtained this quote from Scott, via the Rubio campaign:

“Marco Rubio is the candidate who is ready to be Commander in Chief the first day in office,” said Congressman Austin Scott. “He will provide the type of strong conservative leadership in national security that is important to the state of Georgia and vital to our country as a whole. He has a bold vision for uniting the nation, and has the optimism and strength of character to move our economy and country forward.”

Scott reiterated those thoughts as he introduced Rubio.

On Sunday, the Rubio campaign announced other endorsements including:

State Senator P.K. Martin (R-Lawrenceville)
State Rep. Geoff Duncan (R-Cumming)
State Rep. Buzz Brockway (R-Lawrenceville)
State Rep. Chuck Efstration (R-Dacula)
State Rep. Trey Kelley (R-Cedartown)
State Rep. Bert Reeves (R-Marietta)
Sandy Springs Councilman Gabriel Sterling

I think Jon Richards will post more about today’s event but here is what the AJC reported a little while ago.

The 44-year-old Republican warned a crowd of a few hundred supporters at a Buckhead hotel that “America is on the road to decline” because of a Washington establishment that is increasingly out-of-touch with the rank-and-file.

“If you keep electing the same people, we’re going to get the exact same results. And I wish I could tell you that the people disconnected from your lives are all Democrats. And they are. But it’s not just Democrats,” said Rubio. “There are even people in my party as well.”

He added:

“Not because they’re bad. Not because they don’t love America. But it’s because their ideas have grown stale. And quite frankly, many themselves have just lost touch with what it’s like to owe student loans, what it’s like to live paycheck to paycheck, how hard it is to survive in business today. Whatever it may be, we cannot get off this road to decline if keep electing the same people with the same tired ideas and the same disconnect in the way they approach government.”

Is This a Preview of a Possible HD 80 GOP Primary?

We’re not even two weeks past Democrat Taylor Bennett’s defeat of J. Max Davis in a runoff for the Georgia House District 80 seat vacated by Mike Jacobs, yet already there is talk of possible Republican challengers for 2016.

One possible candidate is Meagan Hanson, the former chairman of the Georgia Young Republicans. Hanson recently lost a bid to become chairman of the Young Republicans National Federation. In a post last night on her campaign Facebook page, Hanson said,

Almost two weeks ago, Georgia House District 80 elected Democrat Taylor Bennett as our Representative to the General Assembly. Since that time, I have received numerous calls, text messages, and other communications encouraging me to run for this seat.

While I have not yet made my final decision, David and I are giving this endeavor serious consideration and plan to make a decision in the upcoming weeks. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers.

Ultimately, I want what’s best for the people of Brookhaven, Chamblee, and Sandy Springs– and that’s for us to nominate a strong Republican committed to representing the interests of HD 80 in the General Assembly.

An obvious candidate for the GOP nomination is Catherine Bernard, who lost to Davis in the first round. Bernard was in attendance at Saturday’s Barrow County Republican Party barbecue, and was asked about a possible Hanson candidacy. Bernard responded that she wasn’t sure if Hanson was as familiar with the issues that were of concern to District 80 residents as she was.

Is Bernard in for another try for the District 80 seat? This tweet was sent Sunday morning by Nydia Tisdale, who was also at the Barrow GOP event.

tisdale-bernard

The tweet was later deleted, so a Catherine Bernard run may not be official yet. However, no one should be surprised if and when she jumps in.

Cruz Takes Oglethorpe County Straw Poll

The Oglethorpe County GOP held their annual pancake supper in Lexington this evening, and of course, there was a straw poll for attendees, covering both the GOP Presidential race and the Georgia Public Service Commissioner race. And for the third time in two weeks, we had a different winner. Herewith the results:

President:
Ted Cruz 29%
Donald Trump 13
Jeb Bush 12
Mike Huckabee 8
Marco Rubio 8
Scott Walker 8
Undecided 6
Ben Carson 4
Carly Fiorina 4
John Bolton 2
Chris Christie 2
John Kasich 2
Rick Perry 2
Rick Santorum 2

Public Service Commissioner
Tim Echols 46%
Undecided 43%
Michelle Miller 8%

Warnock v. Isakson: Do Democrats Have a Realistic Chance for Victory in 2016?

Johnny Isakson announcing his bid for re-election at the State Capitol on November 17, 2014. Photo: Jon Richards
Johnny Isakson announcing his bid for re-election
at the State Capitol on November 17, 2014.
Photo: Jon Richards
Last week, Charlie briefly mentioned the potential entry of Ebenezer Baptist Church pastor Raphael Warnock as a Democratic candidate running against Georgia Senator Johnny Isakson in 2016. The AJC’s Greg Bluestein explained the Moral Mondays leader’s thoughts about the race as told to his congregation on Sunday, and Jim Galloway describes Senator Isakson’s reaction to a potential Warnock challenge in today’s column.

Does Dr. Warnock have a realistic shot at unseating Isakson, who has $4 million in his campaign account, and who has been actively campaigning since announcing his re-election bid less than two weeks after ballots were counted for the 2014 election? Charlie doesn’t think so, but according to this story in the Huffington Post, Justin Barasky of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee wants to believe there’s a chance:

“As Georgia’s demographics continue to change in our favor, Democrats are excited about running a strong campaign against Sen. Isakson in a presidential election year, and we’re confident that this will be one of the most competitive states in the country in 2016,” he said.

Georgia’s House minority leader, Stacey Abrams, who has attracted similar amounts of buzz, said Warnock “will be a formidable candidate” should he jump into the race. Abrams founded a voter registration group called the New Georgia Project two years ago to reach out to the hundreds of thousands of unregistered voters in a state where African-Americans make up about 30 percent of registered voters. (As Newsweek pointed out, 80 percent of those who moved to Georgia between 2000 and 2010 were nonwhite.)

Elsewhere in the HuffPo story, after recapping the David Perdue Michelle Nunn Senate race from last year, there’s this:

One question is whether a Warnock bid could sufficiently energize Democrats in the Peach State, which has remained red despite recent demographic changes. The higher turnout that generally comes with a presidential election could also make for a friendlier electorate: President Barack Obama came within five points of John McCain in 2008.

So is this really a bunch of Democrats blowing smoke about their chances in 2016, or is there a real possibility that the demographic changes that are supposed to turn Georgia blue could come to pass next year?

Ralph Hudgens and Jody Hice to Head Up Ted Cruz Georgia Campaign

The Ted Cruz presidential campaign today announced its Georgia leadership team, as the candidate prepares to speak at the Red State Gathering in Atlanta, and to visit Savannah, Newnan and Midland over the weekend. The Peach State campaign will be headed by Georgia Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens and 10th District Congressman Jody Hice. From the press release:

“Sen. Cruz is the kind of principled conservative we need to stop the Washington Cartel of establishment politicians and special interests who govern to enrich themselves before the American people,” said Georgia Chairman Ralph Hudgens. “I am proud to serve as his Georgia Chairman and lead this incredibly strong team of Georgia leaders.”

“I’ve known Sen. Cruz as a man of great strength of character and I’m deeply honored to serve in this role,” said Congressman Jody Hice.

“Georgia is a crucial state to the 2016 election and I am looking forward to working alongside the stronghold of courageous conservatives who work tirelessly to defend conservative principles across the state,” said Cruz. “The team we have put together has unparalleled experience running and winning campaigns at the grassroots level. I am honored and excited to have their enthusiastic support as we spread our message in Georgia and across the region.”

Named as co-chairs were District 28 Sen. Mike Crane, District 16 Sen. Marty Harbin, District 3 Sen. William Ligon, and District 29 Sen. Josh McKoon. Grassroots coordinators include Kay Godwin, Pat Tippett, and Brant Frost V.

District Chairmen include Debra Giddens, 1st District Chair; Rick Allen, 2nd District Chair; Katherine Frost, 3rd District Chair; Bronwyn Jennings, 4th District Chair; James Edwards, 5th District Chair; Katie Spee, 6th District Chair; Judy Craft, 7th District Chair; Gloria Alday, 8th District Chair; Carol Mahoney, 9th District Chair; Suzanne Hudgens, 10th District Chair; Scott Johnson, 11th District Chair; Lee Burton, 12th District Chair; Rich Thompson, 13th District Chair; and Jim Beck, 14th District Chair.

Others named to positions include Joe McCutchen, Georgia Radio Coordinator, Jan Horne, Georgia Visual Media Coordinator, Teri Sasseville, Georgia Social Media Coordinator, Gail Engelhardt, Georgia Social Media Coordinator, and Austin Mathis, Georgia Students for Cruz Coordinator.

Who do you believe is most likely to tell the truth among Democrats?

One of our commenters in this morning’s story about a recent Fox News poll made the remark, “I’m curious what the numbers would be on the lie/truth question for other candidates. Maybe the next Fox poll will cover that. (Yeah, right.)”

Well, we’re not going to wait on any other media outlet to ask that question. Here is the first of two Peach Pundit polls, asking the question, which presidential candidate do you trust the most, to tell the truth? This first poll is for Democratic candidates. At 2 pm on Friday, a similar poll for GOP candidates will go live. Weigh in and tell us what you think.

New Fox poll: Trump No. 1, trouble for Hillary?

Donald Trump comes in first in a just-released Fox News poll, with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker a close second.

But the poll’s real story may be a sign of trouble for Hillary Clinton.

Clinton easily leads all Democratic contenders for the nomination, 59 percent compared to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders 19 percent. But 70 percent of voters overall said a candidate who is sometimes less than honest is a “deal breaker” for them; plus, 58 percent said Clinton’s natural instincts lean more toward “hiding the truth” and “telling the truth” (33 percent).

Democratic voters say her natural instincts lean toward “telling the truth” at 61 percent, but even among those voters, 29 say Clinton is more prone to “hiding the truth.”

You can download the entire poll here.

Here’s a look at how GOP candidates fared:

  • Donald Trump — 18 percent
  • Scott Walker — 15 percent
  • Jeb Bush — 14 percent

None of the other candidates reached double digits.

Here’s the exact question that was asked about Hillary Clinton in the poll. Tell us what you think.

A Primary for Fran Millar?

We understand that District 40 Senator Fran Millar of Dunwoody will be challenged in the 2016 Republican Primary by Paul Maner, who could announce his candidacy a week from today. Last month, Maner sent out this tweet, which he later deleted from his Twitter account:

Paul Maner Tweet

Maner is a Financial Advisor with National Financial Services Group. His bio on the company’s website includes this:

Paul describes his priorities as God, family, work. He has been married to his best friend, Paula, since 1983. They have a son and daughter-in-law (married by Paul) who serve in the Army as Combat Medics. They live in Spokane, WA and have two boys. Paul’s hobby is competitive shooting. He is a member of the IDPA (International Defensive Pistol Association) and competes once a month at local matches. His favorite hobby is Friday date night with his wife.

Paul tries to live by the motto “You get out of life, what you contribute to it.” He strives to always remember what we’re doing here on earth, which is giving to and serving others.

We are told Maner is prepared to invest some money into his candidacy. Whether he will win against the long-serving Millar, who was sworn into the Georgia House in 1999 and the State Senate in 2011 is another question.

Are Third-Party Candidates for President Possible in 2016?

Could there be four candidates for president on your ballot in November, 2016? It has been more than 20 years since Ross Perot ran as an independent candidate in 1992, and even longer since John Anderson challenged Ronald Reagan, but Atlanta lawyer and Republican National Committeeman Randy Evans floats the possibility of a four way race in a recent opinion piece he wrote for the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

His choices for third party candidates are Bernie Sanders on the left, and Rand Paul on the right.

In the Democratic Party, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders challenges the Democratic nomination frontrunner, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Notably, although elected as an Independent, Senator Sanders caucuses in the U.S. Senate with the Democrats and is running for the Democratic nomination for president.

Senator Sanders describes himself as a democratic socialist. Previously, he was a member of the Liberty Union Party. But the most significant fact about him is his ability to rely on a steady number of similarly politically situated Americans. In the race for the Democratic nomination, his polling numbers are consistently high enough to make a difference.

In the Republican Party, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul challenges a Republican nomination field which has no clear frontrunner. Although elected as a Republican, Senator Paul is often also identified with the Libertarian Party — standing strong on issues like the Patriot Act that put him at odds with mainstream Republicans.

And so, an interesting possibility emerges. What if Senator Sanders decides to nonetheless seek the presidency as the nominee for the Liberty Union Party and Senator Paul decides to seek the presidency as the nominee of the Libertarian Party? Such a combination could capture a sizable share of the votes cast in the general election.

According to Evans, third party candidacies are more likely in 2016 than in other presidential years because of a combination of factionalism and increased visibility via social media and the Internet. Indeed, on the left, we’ve seen Sanders supporters pushing a very progressive agenda that can make presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton look like a centrist. On the right, we’ve heard threats by conservatives to sit out the presidential election if an establishment or moderate candidate ends up being the GOP nominee.

Is Evans’s theory possible? And if we did end up with four candidates as he postulates, who would be most likely to emerge the winner on November 9th, 2016?

Bernie Sanders Tests the Waters in Atlanta

Plenty of ink has been spilled describing the challenges Republicans will face over the next year selecting their 2016 presidential candidate. Choices range from libertarian to social conservative to moderate to establishment to tea party, with plenty of subflavors in between. For the Democrats, the conventional wisdom as been that Hillary Clinton would be chosen as the nominee without much of a fight.

Others, including Martin O’Malley, Jim Webb and former GOPer Lincoln Chafee are among the 15 declared Democratic candidates. However, the Hillary alternative that seems to be attracting the most attention is Vermont Senator and avowed Socialist Bernie Sanders. Supporters have staged rallies for the 74 year old around the country with the theme, “Who the Hell is Bernie Sanders?,” including in Atlanta, where around 100 people showed up at Manuel’s Tavern on a recent Sunday, as the Washington Post reports.

In the Atlanta version, it was a gathering of ardent progressives but also relative newcomers to this world, people slightly surprised that it was the rumpled, white-haired Brooklyn native — who speaks of reversing “grotesque” income inequality, getting billionaires out of politics and the need for “political revolution” — who was best articulating their growing unease with the direction of the country.

These people included [Dan] Friedman, his gray hair closely clipped, his glasses wire-rimmed.

“If you look at his 12 points,” he said, referring to agenda items such as taxing the wealthiest, breaking up big banks and free college tuition, “they are more aligned with mainstream Americans than other candidates, particularly if you do away with labels — that ‘socialist’ label.”

Friedman said his own politics had not changed that much since he first voted Democrat in 1968 after the Bobby Kennedy assassination; rather, he said, the party had moved further away from his values, so far that he was now slapping on a People-for-Bernie name tag.

On the Republican side of the aisle, there’s been a lot of talk about how one candidate or another isn’t conservative enough, along with fears that “the establishment” will dictate which candidate emerges as the winner at the RNC Convention 13 months from today. Looking across the aisle, some conservatives fear Hillary Clinton as the third term of the Barack Obama presidency. Judging by the reaction at the “People for Bernie” meetings like the one in Atlanta, it appears that some Democrats are looking for an alternative to an expected Hillary coronation.

Donald Trump announced his intention to seek the Republican nomination for president on Tuesday, evoking LOLs from many in the GOP who, despite admiring his spunk, think there is no way the real estate mogul and reality TV star could win the nomination. The question for Democrats is whether a Sanders candidacy represents a serious effort by the party to get back to its progressive heritage, or if Sanders is the Democrat’s answer to Donald Trump.

Kemp: SEC primary means road to White House runs through South

The so-called SEC primary now has six states holding their presidential primaries on March 1, 2016.

OnlineAthens.com is reporting that Arkansas is the latest state to join Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s effort to give the South a larger voice in choosing the Republican and Democratic White House candidates.

Arkansas joins Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.

Other Southern states holding primaries around the same time next year are Louisiana (March 5); Mississippi (likely March 8); Florida and Missouri (March 15); South Carolina (Feb. 20); and Kentucky (possibly May 17).

“It is now clear that the road to the White House runs through the South,” Kemp said in a statement.

The SEC primary has also spawned a website, secprimary.com, reportedly the work of young Alabama Republican Jordan Doufexis, and a companion Twitter feed, @SECPrimary, with almost 300 followers.