Category: Elections

Wisdom Narrowly Conquers Lust

No, the defeat of Lust didn’t happen in a poll of dissuaded AshleyMadison users, and this is a family political blog, so this post will remain G-rated.

However.

In the municipal and legislative runoffs that took place across Georgia on December 1, there were notable upsets, but perhaps none with as much at stake as that posed by Lust versus Wisdom. 1,173 voters in Powder Springs Post 2 faced this choice on Tuesday, and when all the votes were counted, Lust was vanquished by the hair’s breadth of 13 votes.

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Statewide, we only get our wisdom in moderation. In Powder Springs, Wisdom is theirs for the next four years.

(Meanwhile in Powder Springs, veteran Councilmember Al Thurman won Tuesday’s mayoral runoff with 57% of the vote – and also made history as the first black mayor elected in Cobb County. In the Marietta Daily Journal, Thurman emphasized his hope that his service as mayor will transcend race, stating, “I’m not the black mayor. I’m the mayor. I’m here to serve everyone… The demographics are changing and this is a clear reflection of this change.”)

Election Results: DeLoach Wins in Savannah, GOP’s Van Ness Takes SD 43

Today’s special elections produced results that look good for Republicans. In a closely-watched race in Savannah, challenger Eddie DeLoach defeated incumbent mayor Edna Jackson, 53% to 47%. Mayor Jackson won the first round of balloting last month, 44% to 42%. The campaign leading up to the runoff had racial overtones, including a Connect Savannah cover illustration reminiscent of a Normal Rockwell Thanksgiving dinner painting that some though put Mayor Jackson in a servant’s role.

The other major surprise of the evening was in Senate District 43, where the runoff between Republican Janice Van Ness and Democrat Tonya Anderson. In this strongly Democratic district, Van Ness won the election by 87 votes, 3,864 to 3,777. Count this one as a pickup for the GOP. There may be provisional and late absentee ballots to count, but it’s doubtful that the result will be overturned.

After the results were announced, Georgia GOP Chairman John Padgett issued this statement:

Tonight’s victory in Senate District 43 proves that Georgia Republicans can win anywhere. With a clear, convincing message, trained and equipped grassroots army, and unmatched determination and grit, the VanNess Campaign defied the odds to win in a historically left-leaning district. Congratulations to Senator-elect Janice VanNess and her entire campaign team on a well-deserved victory. We look forward to working together in the months and years ahead to move Georgia forward.

Georgia Senate President Pro Tempore David Shafer issued this statement:

In a Senate District that Obama carried three years ago with 71% of the vote, JaNice Van Ness won an amazing victory tonight. She unashamedly campaigned on conservative principles, and the voters of Senate District 43 decisively responded.

In the race for State Senate District 20, formerly held by Ross Tolleson, Larry Walker managed to win without a runoff, taking 52.2% of the vote in a six person field. Walker came in second in the contest earlier in the summer to replace Larry O’Neal, losing to Shaw Blackmon in House District 146. Running two campaigns within the space of six months likely helped Walker.

There were other races at the local level. Feel free to tell us the results in the comments.

Georgia SOS Office treats data breach like nude selfie; asks boyfriends to delete from phone

Every month, usually the second week of the month, I receive a CD-ROM from the Georgia Secretary of State Election Office. About two years ago, I requested a copy of the Georgia voter file to perform some analysis of Georgia voters. As a press outlet (yes, we really are), I continue to receive this disk every month, delivered like clockwork to my home address. It’s useful on occasion when preparing investigative pieces, or for background for voter trends in Georgia.

I tend to save the data every few months to have a ‘fresh’ version, but don’t keep every copy. There are plenty of political parties and for-profit entities that track this data, and can provide much more meaningful analysis than I can.

Yesterday, Erick forwarded an email he had received via both the Redstate and WSB contact forms from an investigator with the GASOS office. The investigator was looking for me, and didn’t have anything but my name and address. This, despite the fact that the SOS form that I filled out requesting the Voter File contained my mobile number and contact information. The investigator sent the requests to Erick at 3:20PM, he forwarded them to me at 4PM, and I called at 4:10PM. The investigator asked if I still lived at the “Newcastle Drive” address, and if I was at home. I was not, I told him, but I could take a look for the disk later in the evening. “OK, then”, he said, “I’ll turn around”.

Excuse me?

Somebody wanted that disk back pretty badly.

Read more

Election Results Open Thread

In Snellville, candidates and supporters wave signs in front of City Hall Tuesday afternoon.
In Snellville, candidates and supporters wave signs in front of City Hall Tuesday afternoon.
It’s all over but the counting of the votes. Polls closed in Georgia at 7 PM, and results for everything from deciding whether Lavista Hills and Tucker should be new cities, to city council and mayor elections, to SPLOST renewals to special elections for state house seats should be posted over the next few hours.

There are elections for State Senator in District 43, and State House in Districts 93 and 122. You can find the results for those elections here. Meanwhile, David Beaudoin takes a guess at what to expect in the HD 122 race in his Local and Special Elections blog.

What are the results you are hearing in your area? Let us know election results and any other speculation in the comments.

Special Election Called to Replace Ross Tolleson in Senate District 20

We won’t have to wait too long to find out who will replace Ross Tolleson in Senate District 20. Today, Governor Nathan Deal issued an executive order setting the date of the special election as Tuesday, December 1st. Tolleson, who announced last month he is suffering from early Alzheimer’s disease, resigned his seat effective today.

At least three candidates have announced their intention to run for the open seat, including Vivian Childs, Michael Reese, Larry Walker.

No official date has been set for qualifying, although one must assume that will take place in the next few days. We have already had one rushed special election this year, when the writ of election to replace Mark Hamilton in House District 24 was issued on May 14th and the election set for June 18th. That was 36 days between writ and voting. Those running for Senate 20 have 31 days. the minimum permissible time between the call for a special election and the vote under Georgia’s election law appears to be 29 days.

Kellie Austin To Run For Something Statewide–Details At 5:30

CS2_9617_ppKellie Austin’s campaign manager issued a press release announcing a campaign announcement for some statewide office at 5:30 this afternoon somewhere on the Square in downtown Lawrenceville.  Apparently she is responding, as the sub-headline of the presser says, “to the request of many to oppose a statewide incumbent in 2016.”  Here’s the presser (formatting is as it was in the original email):

(Gwinnett) — Kellie Austin will announce on Wednesday at 5:30 pm on the Square in downtown Lawrenceville, GA her plans to seek elected office.

Kellie Austin has never run for public office and is fed up with watching politicians become disconnected from the people they were elected to represent. Having the support of grassroots organizations and concerned Georgians, she has made the decision to challenge the incumbent for statewide office in 2016.

Kellie will stand for the rights of Georgians and has no personal agenda and no industry prejudice. She says, “We must get back to solid, common sense, economically viable solutions.”

Kellie is a true Georgia Girl. She was born in Hall County and has lived in Decatur, Fayette, Fulton, Habersham, and Stephens counties while growing up. She has lived for the past decade in Gwinnett. She has been a respected political consultant and has helped many businesses to reach their greater potential through her business marketing development. She understands economic development in the private sector, having worked closely with several Community Improvement Districts.

To find about more about Kellie and her campaign, visit her website: VoteKellie.Com

Her website, as of 1:30p EDT, had a parking page from GoDaddy, so no information available yet.

Most statewide elected offices were decided last year, but there are a couple of statewide offices that are on the ballot: US Senator and Public Service Commissioner – District 2.  Maybe she’s running for US Senate against Johnny Isakson since she’s running against an nondescript incumbent.  The rumors that are currently floating about is that she will be running for Public Service Commissioner currently held by Commissioner Tim Echols who was elected in 2010 and is up for re-election next year.  Of course, her presser doesn’t say if she will be running as a Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, or Independent.  If she runs as a Republican, she would be joining Michelle Miller who announced earlier this year that she would be running for the Republican nomination against Echols.

We’ll have to wait until 5:30p to get the full details on if she’s running for Senate, PSC, or something else.

Three House Seats To Be Decided Tuesday

Tuesday brings to a close the summer round of special elections that began back in June after six House seats became open. Voters will go to the polls to choose new representation in House District 80, which includes portions of DeKalb and Fulton counties, House District 146, which includes much of Houston county, and House District 155, which includes portions of the South Georgia counties of Ben Hill, Coffee, Irwin, Tift, and Turner.

The most watched race is the seat formerly held by Mike Jacobs in Brookhaven. In the July 14th first round, Democrat Taylor Bennett got the most votes, with 36.8% Former Brookhaven mayor J. Max Davis edged past Catherine Bernard for the runoff slot, 31.5% to 30.1%. Loren Collins came in fourth, far behind the frontrunners.

The race is significant for two reasons: should Bennett win, control of the Fulton County delegation would flip to the Democrats, allowing them to undo some of the measures passed in the General Assembly designed to limit the size of Fulton County government. In addition, a win by the Democrat would leave the GOP one short of its current supermajority in the House, making it impossible to pass a constitutional amendment without Democratic support.

These two issues drew plenty of attention to the race, with Governor Nathan Deal and 6th District Congressman Tom Price endorsing and campaigning for Davis, and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and other Democrats hosting a fundraiser for Bennett. Third place finisher Bernard declined to endorse either candidate in the runoff.

In the race to replace Larry O’Neal in Houston County, Shaw Blackmon got almost 44% in July, not quite enough to defeat second place Larry Walker, who had 35%. Both are Republicans. Walker is the son and namesake of Larry Walker II, who held the seat formerly occupied by Sam Nunn for 32 years, retiring in 2004. Maggie Lee of the Macon Telegraph had the story back on election night. It’s important to note that Blackmon was appointed to the board of the Technical College System of Georgia by former governor Sonny Perdue, and has enjoyed the support of Perdue in the election. Some of Blackmon’s campaign team also worked on Senator David Perdue’s election bid.

The House District 155 race, which will replace Jay Roberts, is also between two Republicans. Farmer Clay Pirkle received 36.5% of the first round vote, while former Ocilla mayor Horace Hudgins got 31.7%. WALB news posted a story on the background and goals of the two candidates.

Polls will be open on Tuesday between 7 AM and 7 PM. You need not have voted in July’s first round in order to vote in the runoff. You can verify if you are in one of the districts holding runoffs, and find your polling place by going here.

:: Update ::
Once the polls close, results will be available here.

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.

More Fun In HD-80 Race

Tomorrow is the special election in HD-80, and it sounds like the tried-and-true GOP operative tactics of Attack, Rebuttal, Counterattack, Rebuttal, Wash, Rinse, Repeat, and then finally call for unity against Democrats is in full operational mode.

For those keeping score, there are three Republicans and one Democrat who is running to fill the seat being vacated by Mike Jacobs.

An anonymous mailer was sent out attacking J.Max Davis, one of the Republicans running for the open seat.  The AJC’s Political Insider has pictures of the mailer, but the gist of the mailer is a sexual harassment complaint that was made against Davis during his term as Brookhaven’s mayor and compared him to former Democratic President Bill Clinton.  From the Political Insider:

Records show Davis was accused of spraying an aerosol product on a woman’s buttocks while she was working at city hall, and the mayor told the flustered woman he was joking. The woman and a witness reported the incident to the city mayor the next day, who has said he never aimed at the woman’s backside. Davis is now facing allegations that he bullied the woman into retracting the allegations against him, and that he sought to cover-up the complaint. He’s denied any wrongdoing.

We’ll see how this affects J.Max’s chances of making it to a run-off with someone who we’re still curious about if she voted for the Republican presidential candidate in 2012, the libertarian/conservative/classical liberal/Bull Moose YouTube candidate (is he afraid of the Republican label even though he qualified as a Republican?), or the Democrat….or win the thing out-right.

Prognosticate in the comments.

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.

Can the House Freedom Caucus save the GOP?

Two freshman Georgia congressmen have learned in a hurry that fiery political rhetoric might get you elected, but it doesn’t get you very far in the messy world of governing.

This week’s AJC highlighted the heat that Barry Loundermilk and Jody Hice — who represent two of Georgia’s most conservative, solidly GOP districts — faced from voters when they returned home during a congressional break. Their constituents were outraged, among other things, over both men’s support of House Speaker John Boehner and the GOP majority’s capitulation on President Obama’s executive immigration orders on the Department of Homeland Security’s funding bill.

The Republican tidal wave of 2014 hasn’t produced much in the way of results, and as Peach Pundit’s Jon Richards points out, Hice’s predecessor, Paul Broun, is rumored to be considering a run to get his old job back.

Now, both Hice and Loudermilk have joined the House Freedom Caucus (HFC), a group that has been formed to pull Republican leadership to the right.

The HFC is already causing some GOP insiders to develop a good case of heartburn. One senior GOP aide tells Roll Call that its members are “not legislators, they’re just assholes” and nothing more than a collection of “the craziest of the crazy.”

But the HFC now numbers about 30 representatives, and Ohio congressman Jim Jordan is reported to be in line to become the HFC’s first chairman. One HFC member says he’d support Jordan for speaker.

The HFC has obviously been formed in direct opposition to Boehner and other GOP insiders who are seen either as being too cozy with Democrats or too intimidated by President Obama to stop his policies.

In 2014, voters overwhelmingly elected Republicans to move Capitol Hill to the right. The question is, will the HFC pull the party in the direction that voters elected them to go? If not, Republicans may continue to be seen as appeasing the White House, which will have its own ramifications in 2016.

Finding Alternatives to Runoff Elections Just Got More Urgent

One of the most disruptive features of the 2014 election cycle was a result of a court ruling that in order to allow overseas soldiers enough time to vote in a runoff election, absentee ballots would need to be provided 45 days prior to election day. Following the judge’s ruling, the legislature passed House Bill 310, which moved the primary election to late May and the runoff election to late July. Had the general election for the Senate gone to a runoff, that would have been held in early January. But election dates were not the only things to change. Election qualifying was moved up to early March, and legislators sped through the 2014 session, even “meeting” when the Capitol was closed due to snow and ice, in order to be able to raise money and campaign as early as possible.

The state had appealed Judge Jones’s ruling to the 11th Circuit Court, which issued its ruling on Tuesday. From the summary:

The district court ruled that the 45-day transmittal requirement applies to runoff elections for federal office, and that the runoff election schemes in these two states violated UOCAVA. After the district court had issued its ruling and after the briefs in this appeal were filed, the Georgia Legislature passed H.B. 310, which in relevant part amends Georgia’s election calendar and voting procedures to comply with the 45-day transmittal requirement. In light of H.B. 310, the court dismissed Georgia’s appeal as moot.

Coincidentally, State Rep. Buzz Brockway filed House Resolution 399 a week ago, calling for the Speaker to appoint a five member committee to study alternatives to runoffs. Specifically, the resolution states,

WHEREAS, there have been many ideas proposed regarding alternatives to runoffs, such as plurality elections, “jungle” primaries, and instant run-off or preferential voting methods, and alternatives to long run-off periods, such as allowing military and overseas citizens to vote online or through other electronic means; and

WHEREAS, in light of the experiences from the 2014 election and the dissatisfaction expressed by many citizens regarding the process, alternatives to the current election schedule need to be studied to determine if modifications should be made to how Georgia conducts its elections.

A hearing on the resolution in the Elections Subcommittee of the Governmental Affairs Committee had been scheduled for this afternoon. Due to the weather, the meeting is going to be postponed. But because of the Appeals Court ruling, the need for the study committee just became more important.

Libertarian Support Dissolves at the Polls

For all the speculation of a Libertarian candidate pushing two of the nation’s most-watched political races into a runoff, neither Andrew Hunt or Amanda Swafford were ever a factor in Tuesday night’s elections.

Libertarian support dissolved completely at the polls, allowing both Gov. Nathan Deal and David Perdue to cruise to comfortable victories.

As a result, Democrats in Georgia will continue to wander in the political wilderness for at least the next decade. Even with two election cycles between now and 2020, Democrats will not be able to gain enough clout under the Gold Dome to play an influential role in the next big political battle – redistricting, as mandated every time a Census is conducted.

For 2018, expect state Rep. Stacey Abrams and Secretary of State Brian Kemp to take their battle over voter registration to the governor’s race. Both have to be considered leading candidates in what will become an open gubernatorial contest in four years.

Post-Electoral Legal Fight May Be On The Horizon

It’s crunch time for candidates, but the US Senate election here in the Peach State is getting attention from national media outlets. It’s a neck-and-neck race that could potentially break either way or be forced into a run-off that would take place in January 2015 (#moarcampaigncommercialsinyourstocking). Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp and Democratic Georgia House Minority Leader Stacy Abrams have been sparring back and forth over accusations of fraudulent voter registrations collected by the New Georgia Project and Third Sector Development.

The Hill has an article that outlines some potential legal battles that both sides may launch due to 40,000 of the 80,000 registrations that the New Georgia Project filed haven’t shown up on the voter rolls. Secretary Kemp has stated that all valid registrations filed through his office or the respective county elections office has been processed and will be able to vote on Tuesday (or today, 10/31, since the last day of early voting ends today).

A legal challenge could erupt from this in the event the US Senate race ends up being a tight race and breaks for Perdue, but it would be complex at best:

Nunn and Perdue have been deadlocked in public polling, while Carter has been within reach of Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R) too. In both races, if neither candidate reaches 50 percent outright because of third parties they will go to a runoff, further complicating the potential for legal action as fights over provisional ballots would eat into the month allotted for the governor’s race and nine weeks for the Senate race.

“Provisional ballots are just wrought with peril,” one Georgia Democrat told The Hill.

Republicans are also keeping a close eye on the court wrangling, though it’ll likely be Democrats and civil rights groups who have to do the heavy lifting to get their voters counted.

You can guarantee that both the Georgia Republican Party and Democratic Party of Georgia are starting to silently lawyer up in the event things get hairy on Tuesday night. Thankfully, we don’t have chads.