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31 March 2010

Democrats Respond To Baker Impeachment Resolution

Georgia Democratic Party Communications Director Eric Gray emailed the following statement this morning regarding the articles of impeachment introduced against Attorney General Thurbert Baker:

The impeachment effort is an attempt to distract Georgia from the real problems that have been unaddressed by Republican leadership -- lack of transportation planning, the water crisis, spiraling unemployment, teacher and police furloughs and a billion dollar budget hole.

The DPG wants to stay focused on those issues while supporting our Democratic elected officials

H.R.1866: A Resolution Impeaching Attorney General Thurbert Baker

Here it is for your consumption -- House Resolution 1866, a resolution bringing charges of impeachment against Thurbert E. Baker. The resolution is sponsored by Republican state Representatives Mark Hatfield, Bobby Franklin, Barry Loudermilk, Calvin Hill, Sean Jerguson and Michael Harden (among others).


Bringing charges of impeachment against Thurbert E. Baker; and for other purposes.

WHEREAS, Thurbert E. Baker presently serves as the Attorney General for the State of Georgia; and

WHEREAS, Article V, Section III, Paragraph IV of the Constitution of Georgia provides: "The Attorney General shall act as the legal advisor of the executive department, shall represent the state in the Supreme Court in all capital felonies and in all civil and criminal cases in any court when required by the Governor, and shall perform such other duties as shall be required by law"; and

WHEREAS, on March 23, 2010, President Obama signed into law the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act which was enacted by Congress; and

WHEREAS, none of the enumerated powers granted to Congress by the states under Article I, Section 8 of the United States Constitution can be remotely construed as authority to enact such legislation as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and therefore such power is reserved to the states as provided in the Tenth Amendment; and

WHEREAS, by letter dated March 22, Governor Sonny Perdue directed Attorney General Baker to institute and prosecute in the name of the state litigation challenging the Act on all possible legal grounds including, without limitation, the ground that the Act exceeds the power and authority granted to the Congress by the United States Constitution; and

WHEREAS, by letter dated March 24, 2010, Attorney General Baker replied to Governor Perdue that he would ignore the Governor's direction and would refuse to institute legal action, despite the Governor's clear and unambiguous command to do so and the Attorney General's clear and unambiguous duty to do so; and

WHEREAS, by failing and refusing to perform his constitutional and statutory duties, Attorney General Baker has abdicated his authority and has committed an act against the State of Georgia; and

WHEREAS, Attorney General Baker's shameful abdication of his lawful duties shows him unfit to serve the State of Georgia in the position of Attorney General; and

WHEREAS, Article III, Section VII, Paragraph I of the Constitution of Georgia provides that the House of Representatives shall have the sole power to vote impeachment charges against any executive or judicial officer of this state.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES that this body upon adoption of this resolution and articles of impeachment does hereby bring charges of impeachment against Attorney General Thurbert E. Baker.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Clerk of the House of Representatives is authorized and directed to appoint Managers of the charges of impeachment from the membership of the House of Representatives.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Managers appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives are authorized and directed to transmit this resolution and the articles of impeachment to the Senate.

Utterly ridiculous.

Georgia GOP Uses Impeachment To Distract From Ethics Troubles

Georgia Republicans are trying their hardest to hand the reins of power back to the Democrats.

Tuesday afternoon, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that state Rep. Mark Hatfield upped the ante in the feud between Attorney General Thurbert Baker (D - Georgia) and state GOPers opposed to the newly enacted health care law.

A House Republican on Tuesday filed a resolution to bring articles of impeachment against Attorney General Thurbert Baker, for his refusal to file a legal challenge to the new federal health care law – as directed by Gov. Sonny Perdue.

State Rep. Mark Hatfield, sponsor of HR 1866, says Baker is bound by the state constitution to file legal at the request of the governor.

Galloway, Jim (2010-3-30). House GOP lawmakers file bill of impeachment against Thurbert Baker. Political Insider. Retrieved on 2010-3-30.

Thirty radical Republican legislators signed on to the impeachment resolution.

Baker, a candidate for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, told the AJC that impeachment is not productive and does nothing to solve the myriad of problems facing the great state of Georgia.

He's right. Georgia has a billion dollar budget deficit and record-breaking unemployment. Yet the radical Republicans are distracting themselves from the major issues facing the Empire State of the South to focus on impeaching the elected Attorney General.

That's right. These articles of impeachment are a distraction. This senseless impeachment resolution, authored by state Rep. Mark Hatfield, is an attempt to make Georgians forget about the ethical lapses of the state GOP.

Four years ago, Sonny Perdue made history when he became the first Georgia Governor to be fined by the State Ethics Commission [Walker, Andre (2005-6-17).  Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue Fined By The State Ethics Commission. Georgia Politics Unfiltered.  Retrieved on 2010-3-30.]. Last year, former Speaker of the Georgia House Glenn Richardson resigned in disgrace due to an inappropriate relationship with a lobbyist [McCaffrey, Shannon (2009-12-3). Glenn Richardson RESIGNS: Georgia House Speaker Out After Attempted Suicide, Alleged AffairThe Huffington Post. Retrieved on 2010-3-30.].

Republican gubernatorial candidate John Oxendine is a regular target for unethical behavior. The Ox, as he is lovingly called, was investigated by the State Ethics Commission for taking $120,000 in illegal campaign contributions [Galloway, Jim (2009-10-15). Ethics commission refuses to drop John Oxendine investigation. Political Insider. Retrieved on 2010-3-30.]. There are reports that Oxendine used an investigation to pressure another Republican out of the gubernatorial campaign [McWhirter, Cameron and Galloway, Jim (2010-2-1). Did Oxendine use investigation to influence Westmoreland? Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved on 2010-3-30.].

Now former Congressman Nathan Deal, another GOP gubernatorial candidate, is in hot water with the nonpartisan Office of Congressional Ethics for violating several House rules [Nathan Deal Ethics Report Finds Ex-Georgia Congressman Guilty Of Wrongdoing. The Huffington Post. Retrieved on 2010-3-30.].

Notice the pattern emerging in the Peach State?

Since Georgia Republicans became the majority party ten years ago, they have done nothing but line their pockets with cash or hook up with cute lobbyists in short skirts.

In other words, they're crooks. But the GOP does not want Georgians to remember that at the ballot box. That's why the radical Republicans have filed articles of impeachment against Attorney General Thurbert Baker.

It's a distraction, plain and simple.

30 March 2010

Keep Sen. Seay In Your Prayers

Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter Ernie Suggs writes this morning that state Sen. Valencia Seay (D - Riverdale) is currently in ICU.

One noticeable absence in the Senate during last Friday’s Crossover Day was Sen. Valencia Seay of Riverdale. Today, her colleague Emanuel Jones revealed why. Seay is in the ICU of Emory Hospital.

It is unclear why Seay is actually in the hospital, but several years ago she suffered a heart attack.

“I spoke to her daughter last night and she told me to pray for her,” Jones said from the well.

Suggs, Ernie (2010-3-30). Senator Seay hospitalized, in Emory ICU. Gold Dome Live. Retrieved on 2010-3-30.

Let's keep Sen. Seay in our prayers, and best wishes for a speedy recover.

Georgia House Passes Anti-Bullying Bill

The Georgia House today proved once more that no bill is dead until the Speaker hammers the gavel down sine die.

House Bill 927 --the anti-bullying bill sponsored by state Rep. Mike Jacobs-- did not cross over on the thirtieth legislative day, putting its prospects of passing in jeopardy.

However, Rep. Jacobs offered an amendment to Senate Bill 250 that essentially attached his anti-bullying legislation to the underlying bill.

The House approved Jacobs' amendment on a vote of 95 to 55, resurrecting the anti-bullying bill and sending it to the Senate.

SB 250, as amended, passed the House 119 to 45.

Unfiltered Thoughts On Nathan Deal

"This has always been a political witch hunt fueled by Democrats who fear that Roy Barnes will lose the governor's race to Nathan Deal," said Deal spokesman Harris Blackwood [Dupree, Jamie (2010-3-30). The Ethics Deal. Jamie Dupree'sWashington Insider. Retrieved on 2010-3-30.].

Reading about the ethics troubles of former Congressman Nathan Deal suddenly had me thinking of a "Fresh Prince of Bel Air" episode:

First things first, Nathan Deal needs to accept personal responsibility for his actions. And, he needs to stop stealing lines from old "Fresh Prince" episodes.

29 March 2010

To Quote The Immortal Al Bundy, "Don't Tax Beer"

The Marin Institute, an alcohol industry watchdog based in California, called on state legislatures to consider raising the beer tax instead of making "draconian cuts" to budgets or essential services.

"More than half the states have not raised beer excise taxes in at least two decades. Legislators are ignoring a lot of revenue their states could use right now," stated Marin Institute's Research and Policy Director Michele Simon.

A Marin Institute study says Georgia has not raised its beer tax in over 45 years. The institute's advocacy director thinks that is because of big alcohol's powerful influence over lawmakers.

"This is graphic proof that Big Alcohol lobbying efforts are extremely effective at preventing sound public policy and balanced state budgets," said Michael Scippa, advocacy director at Marin Institute. "Their well-funded influence peddling is especially effective when coupled with generous campaign contributions."

I hate to be the bearer of bad new to the Marin Institute, but no one is raising the beer tax. Why? Because beer is the working man's drinking, and working men vote. Any legislator considering raising the beer tax is purchasing a one-way ticket to defeat at the ballot box.

To quote the immortal Al Bundy, "Don't tax beer."

House Speaker David Ralston Holding Town Hall In South Fulton Tuesday

Speaker of the Georgia House David Ralston (R - Blue Ridge) is hosting a town hall meeting Tuesday at the Georgia International Convention Center in College Park.

The meeting is scheduled for 7PM.

Emory Law Democrats Sponsoring Gubernatorial Debate April 1st

The Emory Law Democrats will be sponsoring a gubernatorial debate featuring the Democratic candidates for governor. The following candidates are confirmed to attend:

  • Attorney General Thurbert Baker
  • House Minority Leader Dubose Porter
  • Ray City Mayor Carl Camon
  • Former Secretary of State David Poythress
The event is scheduled for Thursday, April 1st in the Tull Auditorium. The event starts at 8:30PM.

A catered networking reception will follow the debate.

For more information, contact Alex Bissel or Christian Gant.

27 March 2010

Blue America PAC Endorses John Barrow's Primary Opponent. . .

. . . Because primaries matter.

Blue America PAC today threw its weight behind former state Sen. Regina Thomas in the 12th congressional district Democratic primary. Thomas is challenging three-term Congressman John Barrow.

Blue America also asked supporters to donate money towards getting the following ad on television:

Howie Klein, speaking on behalf of Blue America, cited John Barrow's vote against the health care bill and Thomas' long record of advocating for working families as the reason behind the endorsement.

History will remember this week as the one in which a tremendous stride was made down the road towards universal healthcare. But reactionary Georgia Blue Dog, John Barrow, was on the wrong side of history. A stranger to his own district and out of touch with its people, he voted twice in committee and 4 times on the floor of the House against healthcare reform. He voted against the bill last Sunday, causing an explosion of anger among Democrats back home. And then he arrogantly voted against the Senate reconciliation on Thursday evening, one of only 32 conservative Democrats to cross the aisle and voted with the GOP. But voting with the GOP is his default position on most everything. Does that make sense?

Today Blue America is honored to formally endorse former state Senator Regina Thomas, a strong advocate for working families with a long record in her district and in the state capitol. She offers her neighbors in eastern Georgia a far different outlook than John Barrow. Regina's perspective on governance is pure FDR-- the government is there to protect us from forces outside of our own control, whether that be foreign enemies or domestic predators. If Barrow's #1 concern is holding down taxes for the powerful and immensely rich transnational corporations that have financed his political career, Regina's concern is that the rich and powerful pay their fair share so that the society that has enriched them continues to prosper and thrive for everyone.

Klein, Howie (2010-3-27). Blue America Welcomes Our Old Friend Regina Thomas. Crooks And Liars. Retrieved on 2010-3-27.

26 March 2010

Austin Scott Introduces Resolution Directing AG To Challenge Health Care Law

The drama of Crossover Day continued as state Rep. Austin Scott, a GOP candidate for governor, introduced a resolution directing Attorney General Thurbert Baker to challenge the constitutionality of the newly enacted health care law.

H.R. 1824 is co-sponsored by House Speaker David Ralston.

The bill, which is intended to be a joint resolution by the House and Senate, would have the force of law if adopted by the General Assembly and signed by the Governor.

Bill To Save C-TRAN Makes It To House Debate Calendar

House Bill 1393, the bill that would allow Clayton County to levy an additional 1% sales tax for transportation, is on the debate calendar.

The House Rules Committee met earlier this morning and sent twelve more bills to the House floor including HB 1393.

Clayton County state Representative Roberta Abdul-Salaam (D - Riverdale) expressed optimism that her bill would pass. She also repeated her call for the Clayton County Commission to rescind its vote to shut down C-TRAN at the end of the month.

Abdul-Salaam is also a co-sponsor of a nonbinding referendum on MARTA in Clayton County. When asked why the referendum did not carry the force of law, Abdul-Salaam said that only the Clayton County Commission could authorize a binding MARTA referendum.

However, she said, the referendum might give county commissioners the will to authorize a binding MARTA referendum after hearing the people's voice at the ballot box.

Crossover Day: An Empty House (for now)

The Georgia House empty on the start of Crossover Day; the day that bills must pass one chamber or be dead for the year.

Crossover Day: The Calm Before The Storm

State Senator Greg Goggans (R - Douglas) works at his desk before the Senate convenes for Crossover Day.

Live Blogging Crossover Day

Crossover Day --the legislative day where the patience of lawmakers, lobbyists and the general public-- is tested starts at 9AM this morning.

Georgia Legislative Watch, Georgia Liberal, Peach Pundit, SWGA Politics and this site (pretty much every major blog in the state) will be live blogging the day's events.

The live blogging mayhem begins now.

Front Paging On

If the blog is already on your list of daily reads, then you've probably noticed a few of my entries on the front page.

If you've never heard of MyDD, then let me share with you a little bit about the site:

MyDD is a collaborative politically progressive American politics blog. It was established by Jerome Armstrong in 2001. Its name was originally short for "My Due Diligence." In January 2006, the name was changed to "My Direct Democracy" as part of a site redesign, with the new tagline "Direct Democracy for People-Powered Politics."

MyDD was profiled in late 2005 as part of the article "Blogging Down the Money Trail" in Campaigns and Elections magazine. The article focused on the special election in Ohio's second congressional district and the ability of blogs like MyDD, Daily Kos, and Swing State Project to raise funds for Democratic candidates and draw national attention to local races. The magazine credits MyDD with being "the first major liberal blog."

Wednesday morning, I became the newest front page blogger on this highly prominent site.

This is going to be fun.

25 March 2010

Qualifying Dates Set For Special Legislative Elections

Here's a press release from the Secretary of State:

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp today announced receipt of Governor Sonny Perdue’s Writ of Election setting Tuesday, May 11, 2010 as the date for the Special Elections to fill the unexpired terms of State Rep. Tom Graves (HD 12), State Sen. David Adelman (SD 42), and State Sen. Lee Hawkins (SD 49).

Secretary Kemp set candidate qualifying for Monday, March 29, 2010 through Wednesday, March 31, 2010. Qualifying on Monday will run from 9:00 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.; on Tuesday from 8:00 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.; and on Wednesday from 8:00 a.m. until 12:00 p.m. Candidates will qualify in the Elections Division of the Office of Secretary of State, 1104 West Tower, 2 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, SE, Atlanta, Georgia 30334-1505. The qualifying fee is $400 for each office.

The election for House District 12 will occur in Pickens County and portions of Bartow and Gordon Counties. The election for Senate District 42 will occur in a portion of DeKalb County. The election for Senate District 49 will occur in Hall County and a portion of Jackson County. Polls will be open from 7:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, May 11, 2010.

The elections are non-partisan special elections with no party primary. However, each candidate’s party affiliation, if any, will be listed on the ballot. A run-off election, if needed, will be held Tuesday, June 8, 2010.

Once again, these elections are to determine who'll have the "I" listed next to their name in November.

John Barrow Facing Some Real Trouble From 12th District Democrats

With his vote against the health care bill Sunday, Congressman John Barrow (D - Georgia) earned the ire of Democrats in his district. Now there's talk of a serious challenge against Barrow in the July primary.

The political repercussions of Democratic Rep. John Barrow ’s “no” vote on the health care bill are reverberating on Capitol Hill and in his eastern Georgia district this week, as talk of the three-term congressman drawing a serious primary challenge is heating up.

Barrow is already facing former state Sen. Regina Thomas in a rematch of the 2008 primary that Barrow eventually won in a cakewalk after Obama’s endorsement. But in recent days, there has been increased speculation about a possible primary bid by state Sen. Lester Jackson, who replaced Thomas in the state Senate in 2008 after serving a decade in the state House.

Under one scenario, Jackson’s entry into the primary would allow Thomas — who was never a strong fundraiser during her 2008 run and had less than $5,000 on hand at the end of 2009 — to drop out of the congressional contest and run for her old state Senate seat. That would allow Jackson to consolidate the support of black voters, who are expected to make up nearly two-thirds of the Democratic primary electorate in the 12th district this summer.

McArdle, John (2010-3-25). Vote Provokes Barrow Primary Talk. CQ Politics. Retrieved on 2010-3-25.

The Savannah Morning News reported Wednesday that local state legislators have either endorsed former state Sen. Regina Thomas or yanked their support from Barrow entirely [Peterson, Larry (2010-3-24). Black backlash against health care vote looms over Barrow's re-election prospects. Savannah Morning News. Retrieved on 2010-3-25.].

State Reps. Bob Bryant and Mickey Stephens, for example, are now backing Regina Thomas.

The question, however, is if Democrats can hold on to Barrow's seat if he's defeated in the primary.

Impeachment! It's Like A Bad Episode Of Seinfeld Under The Gold Dome

Remember that episode of Seinfeld where Morty got impeached over some trumped-up charges? Something like that is happening at the state Capitol these days.

Citing the need to waste time and tax dollars, Republican state lawmakers began looking into the possibility of impeaching Attorney General Thurbert Baker (D - Georgia) for his refusal to file suit against the newly enacted health care law.

Gov. Sonny Perdue (R - Georgia) and the state's GOP congressional delegation called on Attorney General Baker to join thirteen other state attorneys general across the nation in challenging the new health care law's constitutionality.

"I am today renewing my December request to the Attorney General that he join other states in reviewing the constitutionality of this travesty. My office has already begun to review any and all legal options to challenge this legislation," Perdue said in a news release Monday.

"The Democrats' health care bill is nothing less than an unmitigated attack on individual freedom, choices, and the quality of health care in this nation," said Congressman Tom Price (R - Georgia). "Families in Georgia deserve to have their constitutional rights protected against a federal government that is imposing its will through new mandates."

Price chairs the Republican Study Committee, a group of over 115 congressional Republicans organized for the purpose of advancing a conservative social and economic agenda in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Attorney General Baker responded to Price and Perdue thusly:

Based upon my understanding of the current Act, I am unaware of any constitutional infirmities and do not think it would be prudent, legally or fiscally, to pursue such litigation. I must therefore respectfully decline your request.

While I understand that the new law is the subject of ongoing debate here in Georgia and around the nation, I do not believe that Georgia has a viable legal claim against the United States. Considering our state's current severe budgetary crisis, with vital services like education and law enforcement being cut deeply, I cannot justify a decision to initiate expensive and time-consuming litigation that I believe has no legal merit.

In short, this litigation is likely to fail and will consume significant amounts of taxpayers' hard-earned money in the process.

Galloway, Jim (2010-3-24). Thurbert Baker's answer to Sonny Perdue: Health care lawsuit a waste of money. Political Insider. Retrieved on 2010-3-25.

According to Atlanta Journal-Constitution political insider Jim Galloway, Baker's response prompted a group of GOP state legislators to consider articles of impeachment against the Attorney General [Galloway, Jim (2010-3-24). An 'impeach Thurbert Baker' movement?. Political Insider. Retrieved on 2010-3-25.].

Georgia, much like most states in the union, is facing a sizable budget deficit [McCaffrey, Shannon (2010-1-8). At Georgia Capitol, 2010 Looks Bleak. ABC News. Retrieved on 2010-3-25.]. Our unemployment rate has exceeded the national average for 29 straight months. Our Republican-controlled legislature suffers from a significant lack of ethics [McCaffrey, Shannon (2009-12-3). Georgia House Speaker Out After Attempted Suicide, Alleged Affair. The Huffington Post. Retrieved on 2010-3-25.]. And our roads are becoming increasingly clogged. Still the Republicans want to spend their time --excuse me, the people's time and the people's money-- on impeachment.

For the past few days, I've heard the GOP castigate Democrats for allegedly subverting the will of the people by passing the health care law. Yet here the Republicans are, in Georgia, contemplating the removal of an elected official (Baker was first elected attorney general in 1998, and won re-election in 2002 & 2006 garnering 55.6% and 57.2% of the vote respectively) for not getting the people of Georgia involved in a frivolous and money-burning lawsuit.

Talk about a case of do as I say and not as I Perdue.

Retirement Watch: State Rep. Burke Day Not Running For Re-election

The Savannah Morning News reports that State Rep. Burke Day (R - Tybee) is not seeking another term in the legislature.

With all these resignations and retirements, I think it's time to start tracking who's leaving and who's staying.

R.J. Hadley, The Only Democrat Challenging Johnny Isakson

An inquiring mind shot me an email Wednesday evening asking about the 2010 U.S. Senate race here in Georgia and whether Democrats planned on contesting the seat.

Recent polls suggest the Republican incumbent, Johnny Isakson, is vulnerable.

Public Policy Polling says that only 36% of Georgians approve of Isakson's job performance [Jensen, Tom (2010-3-2). Isakson Vulnerable?Public Policy Polling. Retrieved on 2010-3-25.]. 65% of Georgians think the country would be better if incumbents were sent home according to Rasmussen Reports [Election 2010:  Georgia Senate. Rasmussen Reports. Retrieved on 2010-3-25.].

The common thread in each of these surveys implied that Democrats might defeat Isakson if a "serious" candidate jumped in the race.

I suggest to you that R.J. Hadley is the serious candidate.

R.J. is connected to the grassroots. Before announcing his candidacy for U.S. Senate, Hadley served as communications chairman for the Rockdale County Democratic Party.  R.J. knows how to win. Two years ago, he was part of the team that turned traditionally Republican Rockdale County Democratic. Two years ago, all of Rockdale County's elected officials were Republican. Now, Democrats hold a majority on the county commission including county commission chair.

R.J. told the Thomasville Times-Enterprise last month, "Some people are still waiting for the big name to enter the race, but I’m here and I’m stepping forward." [Lastinger, Mark (2010-2-27). Hadley Eager To Serve. Thomasville Times-Enterprise. Retrieved on 2010-3-25.] Candidate qualifying here in the Empire State of the South opens next month, and the so-called "big name" has yet to emerge. With 118 days left until the July 20th Democratic primary, R.J. Hadley is the big name candidate in this race.

Since first announcing his candidacy last September, R.J. has visited between thirty and forty counties; attended countless Democratic Party meetings and events; and even walked into a few Tea Party meetings with the simple message that even though we disagree, I'm running to represent all the people including you.

"I'm not a career politician, but I believe in true public service," said Hadley. "You are there to serve the public. I don't have the magic answer. I've got ideas, but the most important ideas will come from you. A lot of politicians get up there and forget that. It's a new day and time for a new voice. We need a new leader to allow people to move this thing forward."

Richardson, Elizabeth (2010-3-13). Hadley runs as Democrat for Isakson's U.S. Senate seat. Newnan Times Herald. Retrieved on 2010-3-25.

Visit to learn more about R.J. Hadley's campaign.

23 March 2010

Resignations Abound In The Georgia General Assembly

I haven't heard about this many Republicans resigning from office since learning about the Watergate scandal in high school.

Seriously though, two GOP legislators left the Georgia General Assembly Tuesday to focus on their campaigns for Congress in the 9th congressional district.

The open seat was created after Nathan Deal resigned in order to run for governor full time.

State Rep. Tom Graves and State Sen. Lee Hawkins both resigned today. Peach Pundit has the press release from Graves, and below is an excerpt from the Hawkins announcement:

Republican Hawkins' name will appear on ballots during the April 27 special election to fulfill the unexpired term of U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal. State election laws require Hawkins to resign his seat in order to seek the Congressional office.

"It has been my honor to serve these years in the State Senate and to provide strong, conservative leadership for my home district," Hawkins said. "We are all excited for this new opportunity to expand our drive for a smaller, more responsible and conservative federal government. I am firmly committed to combating Obamacare and defeating Washington's liberal elitists with our North Georgia values."

Mike Keown: Elect Me To Congress & I Will Repeal ObamaCare

2nd district Congressman Sanford Bishop (D - Albany) didn't have to wait long for criticism on his vote in favor of the health care bill signed into law Tuesday by President Obama.

Republican challenger Mike Keown said Bishop was "out-of-touch" and pledged to repeal the new law if elected to Congress.

"The bill is too expensive. It will raise taxes, kill jobs in Southwest Georgia, push our country further into debt, and force new government mandates on states and small businesses. At a time when we have record unemployment in Georgia this bill is wrong for Georgia and America," Keown said. "When the voters of Southwest Georgia send Sanford back home in November, I will vote to repeal this law."

Barnes, Poythress Say Transportation Stalemate Boils Down To Leadership

Two Democratic gubernatorial candidates weighed in on the news that Georgia may be without a way to fund transportation projects due to a stalemate in the state legislature.

The Atlanta Business Chronicle recently reported that for the third consecutive legislative session, a viable transportation plan may fail.

Former Gov. Roy Barnes said the news served as an example of a leadership failure under the Gold Dome.

"If the Governor wants to pass it, it gets passed," Barnes said. "Unfortunately we've had an administration and leadership in the General Assembly that does not think mass transit is important, and it is."

Former Georgia National Guard Adjutant General David Poythress echoed those sentiments while also suggesting that lawmakers are too afraid of being labled "tax and spenders" to get anything done.

"I think this comes down, fundamentally, to a question of leadership," Poythress said. "The current leadership is so afraid that they are going to be tagged as a tax and spend administration that they have been unwilling to do anything even with the consent and the approval of the voters."

Georgia Democrats Post February Fundraising Numbers (And It Ain't Good)

The Democratic Party of Georgia filed its March monthly FEC campaign report, and. . .

. . .well, you tell me if these fundraising numbers are encouraging:

(as of February 28, 2010)
Cash On Hand
Democratic Party of Georgia

[SOURCE: Federal Elections Commission]

Just in case you're curious, here's the Georgia GOP FEC report for the same period ending February 28, 2010.

Barnes Responds To Poythress' Call To Drop Out

Monday, Democratic gubernatorial candidate David Poythress called on former Gov. Roy Barnes to exit the governor's race "for the good of the Party."

I caught up with former Gov. Barnes at the Georgia World Congress Center Monday night, and asked him to respond to the Poythress campaign's renewed call for him to drop out of the governor's race.

"I don't have any response," Barnes said. "I don't talk about other candidates. I run my own platform and I'll let the people decide on July 20th."

[EDITOR'S NOTE]: I've got a lot of audio that I'm reviewing from last night's Jefferson-Jackson Dinner including interviews with Roy Barnes and David Poythress about the two major issues of the 2010 campaign -- jobs and transportation. I'm working on getting those blog entries up as soon as I can.

Quote of the Day: the Tim Kaine edition

Monday, March 22nd, the state Democratic Party held its annual Jefferson-Jackson fundraiser at the Georgia World Congress Center.

Democratic Party of Georgia Communications Director Eric Gray said 1,500 people were present to see outgoing Agriculture Commissioner Tommy Irvin receive the "Georgia Giant" award, and hear from Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine -- which brings me to the quote of the day:

"The Georgia governor's race is very appealing to us. We think we can take this office back."

-DNC Chairman Tim Kaine

Kaine was introduced by Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed.

Clayton County Legislator Wants A Nonbinding Referendum On MARTA

With Clayton County Transit (or C-TRAN) shutting down in a matter of days, all options should be explored to keep people riding what could be their only way of getting around.

At the state Democratic Party's Jefferson-Jackson Dinner Monday night, state Rep. Roberta Abdul-Salaam (D - Riverdale) told me about a bill she had drafted to allow Clayton County residents to vote on joining MARTA. The only problem is that the referendum is nonbinding.

House Bill 1446 presents the following question to Clayton County voters in the July 20th primary election:

"Should Clayton County become a full participant in MARTA (the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority) and levy a sales tax in support of MARTA and Clayton County's public transportation needs?"

This referendum is a good thing, but let's put some teeth behind it. Let's make H.B. 1446 a binding referendum.

I believe that Clayton County voters will overwhelming approve joining MARTA. I believe that if folks know that the most they'll be inconvenienced without public transportation is the few months it takes to implement the results of the binding MARTA referendum, it will be more palatable to them because they'll know that hope is just over the horizon.

Let's make this vote binding and start creating a truly regional mass transit system.

22 March 2010

Georgia General Assembly Moves Crossover Day To Friday

Crossover Day, one of the longest legislative days of the year, has been moved from Thursday to Friday.

The Georgia House & Senate today adopted Senate Resolution 1322 which sets the 29th and 30th legislative days for Wednesday, March 23rd and Friday, March 26th. The legislature will not be in session on Tuesday of this week.

In addition, S.R. 1322 has the General Assembly in recess for the week of April 5th which is also spring break for many local school systems.

Crossover Day is the day by which legislation must pass one chamber in order to have a chance at becoming law.

David Poythress Renews Call For Roy Barnes To Drop Out

Citing polls and the need for Democrats to avoid a divisive gubernatorial primary, David Poythress called on former Gov. Roy Barnes to end his campaign for the Governor's Mansion. Below is the press release:

Last July, I called for former Governor Barnes to rethink his decision to run for Governor. In a Friday radio interview on WGAU (1380AM) in Athens, Democratic Party of Georgia chairwoman Jane Kidd agreed when she said “…for the good of the Party, let’s keep the competition down to as few candidates as possible.”

What’s become clear over the last nine months is that more and more Democrats realize that we need to nominate a candidate who can win in November. Roy Barnes may be the frontrunner, but he cannot beat the Republican nominee.

The points I mentioned last summer hold true today. The state’s teachers haven’t forgiven or forgotten how he insulted them, and they stand ready to enthusiastically vote against him again. The Georgia GOP is so excited about their nominee facing Roy that they have already launched an anti-Barnes website reviving the “King Roy the Rat” image. And, although he claims to be “listening,” Barnes still doesn’t realize that Georgians aren’t buying his reinvention tour.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that he proved he could have a $20 million fundraising lead and all the advantages of being an incumbent and LOSE when he handed the GOP their first keys to the Governor’s office in over 150 years.

The recent polling results show him trailing or even with nearly every Republican candidate, dropping down to the mid-thirties - a far cry from the overwhelming lead in the polls he used to enjoy!

I hope Kidd can convince Barnes to not destroy the Party for the second time in less than a decade. With so many critical issues facing the state and reapportionment looming, the stakes are too high for the Party to take a chance on him again. And he’s brought no new energy or ideas to the campaign so far.

In short, we need a candidate with proven leadership and commonsense solutions to our state’s critical problems. I believe I am the only Democratic candidate with a strong record that can withstand the fierce competition of the General Election.

So let me repeat my sentiment from last summer:

“For the good of the Party, I hope that Roy Barnes realizes that there’s still time for him to change his mind so we can avoid a divisive primary. Ironically, the only sure-fire way to prove that he has changed is for Roy to put Georgia’s needs before his own ambition and stay out of the race for Governor.”

Unfiltered Thoughts On The Health Care Bill

I'm going to keep this short.

Congress made its law, now let them enforce it.

Breaking Out Those Old Schoolhouse Rock Tapes: Tyrannosaurus Debt

Not. Again. General Assembly Can't Seem To Get It Together On Transportation

For the last two legislative sessions, I've sat in the Senate Press Gallery and watched in disappointment as the Georgia General Assembly failed to pass a comprehensive transportation plan for this state. This year, despite support from Gov. Perdue, it does not appear that the third time will be the charm.

Metro Atlanta’s hopes for a way to fund gridlock-easing transportation improvements may be about to die in the General Assembly for a third straight year.

With the 2010 legislative session approaching a make-or-break deadline, a transportation funding bill proposed by Gov. Sonny Perdue could fall victim to the same political tensions that blew up the last two years of work.

“This year, because the governor actually introduced legislation himself ... we were very optimistic that we would finally get a comprehensive transportation package approved,” said Bill Linginfelter, chairman of the Metro Atlanta Chamber and area president for Regions Bank.

“[But] if we bogged down for the third straight year, what it proves is that it’s not only a complex issue that we have to deal with, it’s also a highly political one.”

Williams, Dave and Saporta, Maria (2010-3-19). Transportation funding bill may fail again. Atlanta Business Chronicle. Retrieved on 2010-3-22.

Allow me to be candid here.

If state lawmakers fail for a third time to pass a transportation funding bill, the 2010 legislative session will be nothing short of a failure in my eyes.

Rural Georgia Set To Be Decimated In 2011 Redistricting

The Athens Banner Herald examines the redistricting process that is to come after this year's census is completed, and the news isn't good for rural Georgia.

At least six seats will migrate from South Georgia to the Atlanta area in maps legislators will draft in a special session next year and begin to use in 2012 elections. The 29 counties of metro Atlanta will control 100 seats in the 180-seat House, according to Rep. Roger Lane, chairman of the House Legislative and Congressional Reapportionment Committee.

Redistricting remains in the back of the mind for most legislators, according to Rep. Ann Purcell, R-Rincon.

"It's a big concern for all of us," she said. "We always lose representation for the Southern part of the state. ... That means instead of having 30 votes in that area of the state, we only have 20."

Jones, Walter C. (2010-3-22). Minds already on redistricting. Athens Banner Herald. Retrieved on 2010-3-22.

So the 2010 census isn't even done yet, and legislators are already thinking about redistricting.

In 2011, there will be a special session to redraw the legislative maps. During that special session, there will plenty of time to talk about maps. Right now, Georgia has a budget crisis. We've got a water crisis. We've got a transportation crisis too. And a record number of this state's citizens are out of work.

Let's keep our eye on the ball here.

21 March 2010

Phil Gingrey: Democrats Employ Dirty Tricks To Succeed

Georgia Congressman Phil Gingrey issued the following statement in response to the Sunday night health care vote:

“Today was a tragic day for every American as Democratic leaders – through a flagrant abuse of Congressional rules – rammed health care reform legislation through the House that 73 percent of Americans oppose. However, the pervasive attitude in Washington has become simply: Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and President Obama ‘know better’ than the American people about what is ‘best’ for them and their families. That attitude is one that I absolutely abhor and is certainly not what our founding fathers had in mind when they designed our representative democracy. Our founding fathers also could not have imagined a country where Americans are forced to buy government-approved health insurance under penalty of law, and House and Senate leaders subvert the rules process to pass legislation that is against the will of the majority.

“I spent 30 years practicing medicine in Georgia. Based on my experience, I believe I understand the needs of America’s patients and the importance of the doctor-patient relationship. I also know firsthand from my constituents how very troubled our economy is and how families are struggling to make ends meet. On both counts, this bill not only doesn’t help, but in fact makes matters worse. Furthermore, we don’t even know every evil that is contained in the bill that passed the House today – but I can assure you that we will continue to discover them if this bill is signed into law.

“I am proud that every Republican member of the House stood up against this travesty which will result in, at a minimum, a trillion dollar government takeover of health care and I am deeply proud and appreciative of the millions of Americans that took the time over the last year to make their voices heard. We may have lost this battle, but Americans deserve to have elected leaders that do not betray their trust and actually listen to their voices. I am confident that the majority of Americans whose voices were ignored by Democrats’ who cast a ‘yes’ vote today will continue to make their voices heard – and for that I am very thankful. I will continue to do my very best to support them.”

How They Voted: Health Care Reform

Sunday, the U.S. House of Representatives approved President Obama's health care reform bill. Here's how Georgia's congressional delegation voted:

Did Not Vote
John Barrow
Sanford Bishop
Nathan Deal
Phil Gingrey
Hank Johnson
Jack Kingston
John Lewis
John Linder
Jim Marshall
Paul Broun
Tom Price
David Scott
Lynn Westmoreland

Republican Lee Hawkins Condemns Health Care Vote

Georgia State Senator Lee Hawkins issued the following statement in reaction to Sunday night's vote on the health care bill. Hawkins is a candidate for Congress in Georgia's 9th district.

"This is the worst, most tone deaf, most economically negligent vote that any U.S. Congress has ever taken," said Dr. Hawkins, a family dentist and former President of the Georgia Dental Association. "It is going to cost millions of jobs and therefore destroy the economic livelihood of untold numbers of families.

"Their 2,700 page bill was made public only 72 hours ago, but apparently H.R. 3590 will require virtually every single business in America to provide health care insurance to all employees, even part time ones. Each insurance plan must be approved by the federal government. This will result in many businesses no longer hiring employees, full or part time ones, and forcing many small businesses to fire employees to stay profitable.

"Make no mistake about it, big corporations already provide health care. This legislation is mainly a weapon being used against small and family run businesses.

"No one will work harder than me in the next Congress to overturn this disastrous plan.

Lynn Westmoreland: Health Care Vote Alters The Nation

Georgia Congressman Lynn Westmoreland issued the following statement on the health care vote Sunday evening:

“This vote creates an expensive new entitlement that implements a government takeover of 1/6 of the American economy,” U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland said. “This law will raise taxes on all Americans, it will kill jobs in a lagging economy, it will put mandates on Americans and on businesses, it will put government in between doctors and their patients, it will raise the premiums of people who currently have insurance.

“The Democratic health care bill will add $2.6 trillion in new spending. There’s no free lunch. We’ll either tax ourselves to the point we’re not competitive internationally or we’ll simply add on more and more debt. Regardless, the bottom line is we cannot afford this new entitlement.

“We have bills that as a nation we can’t pay as it is. Now we’re adding on more stress to an overburdened system. Our debt obligations threaten to put our economy in critical care, and we’re crippling the ability of innovative Americans to create new jobs.

“There’s no doubt that there are many Americans facing tragic situations because they lack health insurance. Many more are underinsured and millions live in fear of losing their coverage. By opposing this legislation, we are not belittling or ignoring the real crisis in our nation’s health care system. Republicans have put forth responsible reforms that have fallen on deaf ears with this Democratic Congress and administration. No matter how great our desire to cover each and every American who lacks coverage, we do not serve the greater good if our actions bankrupt our nation.”

Jack Kingston Responds To Health Care Vote

Georgia Congressman Jack Kingston released the following statement on the passage of the health care bill:

“The most significant legislation of our generation and it has been rushed through not on its merits but by using parliamentary tricks and special interest payoffs. If the bill was that good and full of true reform and lasting solutions, the debate would have been marked by transparency and bipartisanship.

“Health care is one-sixth of our economy but, more importantly, one of the most personal facets of our lives. Inserting government bureaucrats between doctors and patients is not the answer. With Social Security and Medicare going broke and America’s national debt at more than $12 trillion we’re now starting a new trillion dollar entitlement program – it’s irresponsible. And with 10% unemployment, we’re going to put a new tax on businesses whenever they hire somebody. This is a sad day for America.

Breaking Out Those Old Schoolhouse Rock Tapes: I'm Just A Bill

Peachtree Road Race Registration Opens Today

This is it.

Today is the day.

No, I'm not talking about the health care bill.

I'm talking about the Peachtree Road Race. Today, registration opens for an annual Atlanta tradition. I've completed seven Peachtrees, and now I'm ready to sign up for number eight.

Registration for the world's largest 10K opens up Sunday afternoon at 1PM. The first 45,000 who sign up online are automatically in. The remaining 10,000 will be randomly selected from among those who complete the paper application that will appear in the March 28th Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

For more info, visit

20 March 2010

Democrats Exorcise "Demon Pass"

It is being reported that congressional Democrats have dropped the bad parliamentary procedure known as the Slaughter Solution; the method by which the U.S. House would "deem" the Senate health care bill passed without a direct roll call vote [Montgomery, Lori (2010-3-20). House leaders plan separate health vote, rejecting 'deem and pass'. Washington Post. Retrieved on 2010-3-20.].

As I said earlier this week, the Slaughter Solution was a bad rule that needed to be voted down. The news that this sleazy parliamentary trick won't even be considered is encouraging. It means that basic rules of order will be adhered to.

Amend the bill. Pass the bill as amended. Send it back to the U.S. Senate for its consideration. If the Senate agrees to the House amendments, then the bill goes to the President's desk. If the Senate disagrees and the House insists on its position, then appoint a Committee of Conference to negotiate a final piece of legislation.

That is how bills are supposed to be passed. That is how the Georgia General Assembly passes bills. That's what is taught on those old School House Rock tapes we all grew up watching.

State Sen. David Adelman Confirmed To Singapore Ambassadorship

It is now official.

Georgia State Senator David Adelman (D - Atlanta) was confirmed by the U.S. Senate Friday to be ambassador to the Republic of Singapore.

Adelman was confirmed by unanimous consent of the Senate without any opposition.

A special election will be held to fill Adelman's seat in the Georgia Senate.

David Scott Should Vote No On The Health Care Bill [UPDATE]

[UPDATE]: Call Rep. David Scott at (202) 225-2939, (770) 210-5073 or (770) 432-5405; and tell him to vote "NO" on the Slaughter Solution and the underlying health care bill.

As a resident of Georgia's thirteenth congressional district, I figured that it is past time for me to let my U.S. Representative know how I want him to vote on the health care bill.

Let me start by saying that this whole process stinks to the high heavens.

The Cornhusker Kickback, the Louisiana Purchase, the Gator Aid and now the Slaughter Solution suggests that the Democratic Party is so desperate for a so-called political victory that they are willing to pass any health care bill by hook and by crook.

That is no way to legislate. It is what I'd call legislating for politics rather than legislating for the people.

So I'm asking my Congressman to join his Democratic congressional colleagues Jim Marshall and John Barrow in voting no on the health care bill.

Congressman Scott, vote no on the health care bill and start over.

To quote John Barrow, "I am strongly in favor of reforming the health care system, but I don’t think this bill is going to do it, and therefore I can’t support it."

"We can do better and I’m ready to start."

19 March 2010

Georgia GOP Raises More Than $180,000 In February

For the month of February, Georgia Republicans raised six figures and increased their overall cash-on-hand total to more than $1.7 million.

(as of February 28, 2010)
Cash On Hand
Georgia Republican

[SOURCE: Federal Elections Commission]

The Democratic Party of Georgia has yet to file their monthly report with the FEC.

Sanford Bishop On Health Care Bill: Still Undecided

The office of Congressman Sanford Bishop might not have revealed that the south Georgia Democrat is still unsure on how he will vote on the $940 billion health care bill.

After reading this article, liberals and conservatives are bound to flood Congressman Bishop's phone lines urging him to vote their way.

Democratic Congressman Sanford Bishop’s staff says that the Blue Dog Democrat remains undecided on whether he will support a contentious health care reform bill unveiled Thursday in the House.

Bishop’s Press Chief Jennie Gibson told the Herald Thursday afternoon that the congressman was “still undecided until he has a chance to read the bill.”

Gibson confirmed media reports that Bishop wants stricter language than was in the Senate bill to ensure that it doesn’t authorize federal funds for abortions.

Sumner, J.D. (2010-3-18). Bishop unsure on health care vote. Albany Herald. Retrieved on 2010-3-19.

Here's a word of advice for Sanford Bishop:

Take the phone off the hook. Don't be pressured by the unions. Don't worry about by those nitwits at Vote your constituents on the health care bill.

18 March 2010

What Are They Thinking? Mark Burkhalter Parkway? Really?!?!

With all the pressing issues facing the state this year, it certainly is nice to know that a few lawmakers are keeping their eye on the ball with critical legislation that will move Georgia forward.

A group of legislators led by House Speaker Pro Tempore Jan Jones (R - Milton) have introduced a bill that will name a stretch of road in north Fulton County Mark Burkhalter Parkway.

Here are some of the highlights from House Resolution 1685:

WHEREAS, Representative Burkhalter served as Administration Floor Leader for Governor Sonny Perdue and was later elected as Speaker Pro Tempore of the House of Representatives in 2005, serving in that capacity until January of 2010 when he briefly succeeded to the office of Speaker of the House, making him one of the few Georgians in history to have held that high office; and

WHEREAS, all of the members of this House who have been privileged to serve with Representative Burkhalter respect him for his great abilities, his tireless devotion to the betterment of the State of Georgia, and his many outstanding legislative accomplishments.

Really? Republicans want to name a road after a man who became House Speaker after the former officeholder got caught screwing around on his wife? Really?

Georgia unemployment is in the double-digits. The state doesn't have a plan for transportation or water. And education is on the chopping block, but Jan Jones et al. have enough time to draft bills naming roads after people. Really?

I mean really? What are these legislators thinking? Really? Do they actually think this is a good use of our tax dollars? Really? Really?!?!

Assistant MARTA GM Suggests Expanding Into Clayton County

In thirteen days, Clayton County Transit (C-TRAN) will be no more.

Yet there is still hope that March 31st will not mark the end of public transit in the south metro Atlanta county.

MARTA Assistant General Manager Ryland McClendon proposed a solution to ClayCo's mass transit woes that I've been advocating in favor of for the last few months -- bring MARTA to Clayton County.

While MARTA cannot use any of its money for C-TRAN, in one scenario MARTA could be part of a solution: if it went into Clayton County.

"We would say to them the consideration of putting it to the voters as to whether or not they would be willing to pay a one cent sales tax that would allow MARTA to operate in Clayton County is a solution that could be explored," McClendon said.

Watson, Jaye (2010-3-17). MARTA Penny Tax Could Bring Service to Clayton County. WXIA-TV. Retrieved on 2010-3-18.

All it takes is one Clayton County legislator to drop the bill authorizing a referendum on MARTA. I'm pretty sure the legislation would sail through the General Assembly and be approved by a wide margin by the voters.

What the heck are Clayton County's elected officials waiting for? Time is a luxury they don't have.

Liberal Opinion Columnist Says "Deem Is Dumb"

Over the last few days, left-wing Georgia bloggers have been justifying the so-called "Slaughter Solution" as a means to pass the yet-to-be-seen health care reform bill.

At Georgia Liberal, Brett called those opposed to the Slaughter Solution "ill-informed fools" [Brett (2010-3-16). The Self-Executing Rule — How to Pass Health Care. Georgia Liberal. Retrieved on 2010-3-18.]. And Johnathan of Beyond The Trestle described the Slaughter Solution as "a perfectly reasonable and acceptable procedural method" [Johnathan (2010-3-16). Common sense and procedural rules. Beyond The Trestle. Retrieved on 2010-3-18.].

For those unfamiliar, the Slaughter Solution is a parliamentary trick being considered by Democratic congressional leaders to pass health care reform without actually voting on it. Essentially, the House Rules Committee --chaired by New York Rep. Louise Slaughter-- would adopt a rule deeming the Senate health care bill passed without a formal roll call vote.

Conservatives have been up in arms over this sketchy move with some even questioning its constitutionality [Barbash, Fred (2010-3-16). ‘Slaughter Solution’ could face legal challenge. Politico. Retrieved on 2010-3-18.].

Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Cynthia Tucker weighed in on the discussion Wednesday afternoon, but her stance on the Slaughter Solution was not the one most would expect.

Tucker, a widely-accepted liberal, declared that "deem is dumb."

. . .it’s unimaginably dumb for the Democrats to pass the health care legislation using that obscure procedure. They’re not avoiding political trouble. They’re creating more! What a bunch of cowards.

Don’t be cowards, Dems. Pass the bill with a straight-up vote.

Tucker, Cynthia (2010-3-17). ‘Deem’ is dumb. Democrats shouldn’t use it. Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved on 2010-3-18.

Earlier this week, I called on Georgia's Democratic congressional delegation to vote down the Slaughter Solution and vote their conscience on the underlying health care bill [Walker, Andre (2010-3-15). GA Dems: Vote Down The Rule, Vote Your Conscience On Health Care Reform. Georgia Politics Unfiltered. Retrieved on 2010-3-15.]. I am repeating that call today because the Slaughter Solution is, as Cynthia Tucker suggests, a cowardly act.

It is a bad rule and needs to be defeated.

Vote down the rule. Vote your conscience on health care reform.

17 March 2010

African-American Job Creation Should Be Issue One For Democratic Candidates

Earlier today, I highlighted the abysmal unemployment rate in Hancock County --23.5% as of January-- and spoke of the need for both parties to focus on job creation in the black community.

While I wrote that post, I became curious as to how many other counties in Georgia were like Hancock. I wanted to know how many counties were majority black, and what the unemployment rate was in each of those places. After gathering numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau and the state Department of Labor, I had my answer.

A total of twenty Georgia counties have a majority black population. In all but five of those counties, the unemployment rate exceeds the state level. The highest percentage of unemployed came from Hancock County followed by Warren, Washington, Taliaferro and Jefferson counties.

This should matter to the Democratic Party of Georgia, and any candidate running statewide in the Democratic primary, because collectively these twenty counties account for a quarter of the vote in the Democratic primary. Below is a stat sheet backing up that claim:

I am willing to bet that if you ask the voters in these twenty counties what their number one issue is, they will say job creation. Any candidate running in the Democratic primary, especially those candidates for governor, should recognize that the nomination will be won or lost in these twenty counties.

So, Thurbert Baker, Roy Barnes, Carl Camon, DuBose Porter, David Poythress, what's the plan? What is your plan to lower unemployment and create jobs in these twenty battleground counties?

Your candidacy literally depends on your answer to that question.

DeKalb County D.A. Endorses Ken Hodges For Attorney General

This just in from the campaign of Democrat Ken Hodges:

DeKalb County’s Gwen Keyes Fleming Backs Ken Hodges’ AG Bid

Gwen Keyes Fleming has announced her endorsement of Ken Hodges (D) to be Georgia’s next Attorney General.

“It takes a real dedication to the law to achieve what Ken Hodges has achieved, inside the courtroom and out. I admire him for it,” Fleming said. “His record of victim’s advocacy and his experience as a prosecutor are what Georgians should expect from an Attorney General. Ken’s got my full support.”

Fleming was sworn into the DeKalb County District Attorney’s Office in 2005. She has also served in the office of the DeKalb County Solicitor-General, to which she won election in 1998.

Fleming’s announcement comes on the heels of the February 24 statement from Thomas E. Brown -- also of DeKalb County -- naming Ken Hodges as “the best pick to be Georgia’s top prosecutor and chief law enforcer.”

“It means the world to me, as a prosecutor, to have the support of a professional like Gwen Fleming,” Hodges said. “There’s a balance between being tough on crime and smart on crime. Gwen gets that. It shows in the work she’s done with teen mentoring workshops, and with pre-trial diversion programs that give first-time offenders a second chance, just like the New Heights program my office established in Albany.”

“I’m thankful for Gwen’s leadership and support,” Hodges said.

Ken Hodges served for 12 years as Dougherty County’s District Attorney. A proven prosecutor, Hodges earned distinctions as the Chairman of the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia, the President of the District Attorney’s Association of Georgia, and as the state’s District Attorney of the Year in 2002. A winner of the Georgia Criminal Justice Coordinating Council’s Eagle Award, Hodges believes in prosecuting public corruption, cracking down on gangs and urban crime, and supporting law enforcement in its efforts to protect all Georgians.

For more on Hodges’ campaign, visit

Health Care Freedom of Choice Amendment Fails By Four Votes

After an unexpectedly short debate, the Georgia Senate failed by four votes to give SR 794 the two-thirds constitutional majority for passage.

However, notice was served that a motion to reconsider (a vote to re-vote) would occur on the next legislative day.

Guest Blogger: Congressman Lynn Westmoreland On Health Care Reform

Health care bill full of hidden surprises
By Lynn Westmoreland

There are a lot things in the government takeover of health care that my constituents – and most Americans – don’t like.

But liberal House Speaker Nancy Pelosi gave us subtle warning last week that there’s plenty more hidden in there.

“We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it,” she said in a speech to county commissioners.

Let me get this straight: We’ve debated health care change for a year, and on the week of the final vote we’re told there are some surprises?

What we do know is bad enough. If we’re appalled by what they’re willing to tell us about, how scary are the policies and backroom deals that they’re hiding from us?

House Democratic Whip James Clyburn (S.C.), the majority’s top vote-counter, said Sunday on Meet the Press that his caucus didn’t yet have the 216 “yes” votes needed for passage.

I’m not sure what’s worse: knowing they have the votes to pass it or knowing they’re just short of having the votes to pass this monstrosity. That’s because we’ve seen what happens when they need extra votes. They buy them with taxpayer dollars, usually in ways that are shockingly unfair to most Americans.

The bill that the House will consider is the Senate bill passed on Christmas Eve, when most voters were safely distracted by travel plans, church services, family dinners and last-minute shopping.

What you may remember from that bill are the huge payoffs for certain states: the Cornhusker Kickback, the Louisiana Purchase and Gator Aid for Florida. There are also political payoffs for unions.

If the House passes the Senate bill, all of these deals will become law – even though not one single person will stand up and defend those outrageous items.

How bad is this Senate bill? Speaker Pelosi admitted Monday that she may resort to parliamentary gimmicks that subvert the democratic process because “no one wants to vote for the Senate bill.”

Well, they shouldn’t vote for it. House Democrats are hearing clearly from their constituents that Americans don’t want this bill. Even beyond the unseemly political payoffs, there are many substantive reasons to oppose this bill. It raises taxes by billions of dollars and includes more than $1 trillion in new spending we can’t afford, cuts Medicare benefits by half a billion dollars, kills jobs by placing mandates on employers, puts health care decisions in the hands of the government instead of the patient, ignores lawsuit abuse, and allows for taxpayer funding of abortion.

With all of these unpopular provisions, it’s little wonder that House Democratic leaders are trying to pull every trick in the book, including an effort to pass the bill without actually voting on it. It’s a strategy stunning for its arrogance and lack of regard for the constitutional process.

Just Sunday, White House adviser David Axelrod said, “I think we're going to have a vote, and the American people are entitled to an up or down vote. We don't want to see procedural gimmicks used to try and prevent an up or down vote on this issue.”

I agree Americans deserve and honest up or down vote on the floor of the House, free of gimmicks. If Democrats are going to pass a bill for a government takeover of 17 percent of our economy, they should have the courage and decency to stand up and cast their votes for it.

Lynn Westmoreland (R-Grantville) represents Georgia’s 3rd Congressional District.

New Poll: 47% Of Georgians Favor A Vote On Horse Race Betting

Wednesday morning, State Representative Harry Geisinger (R - Roswell) touted a new poll commissioned by the Georgia Equine Education Project (GEEP) that says 47% of Georgia voters would be in favor of allowing the people of Georgia to vote in a referendum on whether or not betting on horseracing in Georgia should be allowed under the law.

"At a time when we need to attract new, high-revenue businesses to Georgia, I am glad to see that the people would favor a referendum on allowing them to vote up or down on whether to bring this job creating engine to our state. The bottom line is this can help bring jobs and close our revenue hole in the long run," Geisinger said. "Once we have the opportunity to present the facts to the people, I feel confident that Georgians will move overwhelmingly to support bringing horseracing to our state. The poll showed that people are 57% more likely to support horse racing if part of the proceeds go to the HOPE Scholarship and other education efforts, which is in fact, already in our bill."

State Rep. Geisinger is the chief sponsor of House Bill 1168, a bill that would permit horse race betting in Georgia.

The survey conducted by Duluth-based Landmark Communications had a sampling size of 1,134 Georgia voters. The poll said that 47% favor a referendum on horse race betting with 38% opposed. In addition, only 26% of those questioned view horse racing as immoral.

Debate On Online Voter Registration Hits Senate Today

Senate Bill 406, a bill that would allow Georgians to register to vote securely online, is on the debate calendar today in the state Senate.

SB 406 is supported by Secretary of State Brian Kemp.

“This common sense, secure online voter registration initiative will utilize technology to increase citizen access to elections, save Georgia taxpayer dollars, and prevent voter registration fraud,” Kemp said.

Georgia Senate Debates Health Care Freedom of Choice Amendment Today

A lot of attention is being directed towards the health care bill currently under consideration in Congress. Democrats in the U.S. House are busy scurrying around for the votes to pass a measure that they say would provide health insurance to more tha 30 million Americans.

If the bill becomes law, however, a proposed amendment to Georgia's constitution might allow people to opt out of any health insurance plan without penalty from the government.

Senate Resolution 794, sponsored by Republican Judson Hill, is scheduled to be debated today. SR 794, the Health Care Freedom of Choice Amendment, says " no law or rule or regulation shall compel any person, employer, or health care provider to participate in any health care system."

"Our country was founded on individual freedom and liberty, and no government should be able to compel its citizens to only use certain doctors or restrict people from purchasing private health care or health insurance,” said Sen. Judson Hill. "Socialized health care will not solve our health care challenges. I will continue to work to make sure that all Georgians have access to high quality health care at affordable rates." [Update on the Health Care Freedom of Choice amendment. Georgia Legislative Watch. Retrieved on 2010-3-17.]

SR 794 needs 38 votes in the Senate and 120 votes in the House in order to appear on the ballot this fall.

Towery: Milton County Has A Better Chance Than Most Think

Matt Towery, the Chairman & CEO of Insider Advantage Georgia, posted a video Monday discussing the prospects of Milton County clearing the legislature this year and appearing on the ballot in November.

Here's the money quote from Towery:

"My sources at the Capitol tell me right now that Milton County has a much better chance of becoming a reality, or at least having an opportunity to become a reality, than anyone could possibly imagine. Right now, it looks like Milton County is at least probably going to make it out of one chamber . . . it has a lot more in terms of its legs than anyone seems to realize."

Speaker Pro Tempore Jan Jones is no fool and she's not stupid. The only way HR 21 hits the House floor is if Speaker Pro Tempore Jones has the votes. If HR 21 appears on any Rules Calendar between now and Crossover Day, rest assured Jan Jones has hit the magic number of 120.

Tough Economy Hits Majority Black Hancock County Hardest

For the last thirteen months, the state unemployment rate has steadily increased from 8.4% in January 2009 to 10.4% one year later [SOURCE: Georgia Department of Labor]. In the black community, unemployment is nearly double the overall rate.

Wednesday, a Macon television station put a face to black unemployment. In majority black Hancock County, joblessness has skyrocketed to more than 20%.

According to the Georgia Department of Labor one middle Georgia county has one of the highest unemployment rates in the state.

The department tells NewsCentral, Hancock County has a current unemployment rate of 23.5 percent.

Smith, Celeste (2010-3-10). Hancock County Unemployment Rate Over 20%. WGXA-TV. Retrieved on 2010-3-17.

In 2000, Hancock County had a population of 10,076. 77.8 perecent of those people are black [SOURCE: U.S. Census Bureau], which means that the top issue in Hancock County is jobs and job creation.

The number one question blacks should be asking these candidates running office is how are they going to lower the African-American unemployment rate.

There are sixteen individuals hoping to succeed Sonny Perdue as Georgia's governor. The Republican candidates seem to be focused on taxes. The Democrats seem to be focused on ethics. I have yet to hear a single candidate --from either party-- focus solely on putting Georgians back to work.

It is time for black community leaders to send a message to Democrats and Republicans. Do not come asking for our endorsement unless you have a concrete plan to get black folks a job.

23.5 percent unemployment is unacceptable.

C-SPAN: Democrats Work Behind Closed Doors On Health Care Bill

It's never a good thing when C-SPAN, the non-partisan Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network, subtly suggests that congressional Democrats are avoiding transparency and openness by crafting a huge health care bill away from the public eye behind closed doors.

Here's a screenshot from the front page of

We all remember the last time C-SPAN inserted itself into a debate on open government [Walker, Andre (2010-1-5). C-SPAN CEO Asks Pelosi & Reid For Transparent Health Care Coverage. Georgia Politics Unfiltered. Retrieved on 2010-3-17.]. It was not pretty. The universal opinion at the time was that if C-SPAN had issues with transparency and openness, then the process was not open and transparent enough.

This week is Sunshine Week; a week dedicated to "opening a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information." [SOURCE: Sunshine]

Tuesday afternoon, President Obama issued a statement pledging his continued support for open government. The statement read in part:

I want to applaud everyone who has worked to increase transparency in government and recommit my administration to be the most open and transparent ever, an effort that will strengthen our democracy and ensure the public’s trust in their government. We came to Washington to change the way business was done, and part of that was making ourselves accountable to the American people by opening up our government.

If the President's words are to be believed, then let the sunshine in on the Rules Committee. If Democrats are committed to the most honest, most open and most transparent government ever (and I believe we are), then let the cameras into the room and allow the American people the opportunity to see their government at work.

16 March 2010

MacGinnitie Campaign: We've Won 8 of 9 GOP Straw Polls

The campaign of Republican Doug MacGinnitie is claiming momentum after winning its eighth straw poll conducted by local GOP organizations. Tuesday morning, the MacGinnitie campaign proclaimed victory in the Union County Republican Party straw poll held March 13th.

"I am honored and excited to have won the straw poll in Union County," stated MacGinnitie. "It is affirmation that our campaign is continuing to build momentum and strong grassroots support across the state."

MacGinnitie received 57% of the votes cast in the poll, well ahead of the 36% Secretary of State Brian Kemp tallied [SOURCE: Union County Republican Party Straw Poll Results].

"This win reaffirms the belief that Georgians are not looking for another career politician, but rather a successful businessman with private sector experience,” stated MacGinnitie. “Our straw poll victories are a testament to our campaign’s ability to organize a network of dedicated citizens who believe in our vision for fair and honest elections and job growth.”

The MacGinnitie campaign said that, in addition to the Union County win, they've racked up GOP straw poll victories in Cobb, DeKalb, Glynn, Henry, Muscogee and Walker counties.

Milton/Campbell County Bill On Rules Committee Consideration Calendar

House Resolution 21, the proposed constitutional amendment that would allow the re-creation of previously existing counties that were merged into another county, is on the House Rules Committee Consideration Calendar.

The consideration calendar contains legislation that the House Rules Committee deliberates on before sending the measure to the full House for debate and a vote.

HR 21 is being considered under the structured rule which means that no amendments to the bill can be made from the floor.

With "Crossover Day" scheduled for March 25th, HR 21 must clear the House by that date if it is to have any chance of passing this year.

Did House Speaker David Ralston Suddenly Switch Parties?

In an op-ed appearing on the pages of the Athens Banner-Herald Tuesday, the paper's editorial board brought more attention to the possible budget cuts to higher education in Georgia [Athens Banner-Herald (2010-3-16). Editorial: Student protest brings reality to budget debate. Athens Banner-Herald. Retrieved on 2010-3-16.].

There's just one problem with their editorial. House Speaker David Ralston is a Republican, not a Democrat. Although, I am pretty sure that the state Democratic Party would welcome Ralston with open arms. Here's the screenshot from the Athens Banner-Herald errant editorial:

"Vote Liberals Out" Billboard Comes To Moultrie, Georgia

Remember this billboard?

If you're heading down to Moultrie anytime soon, you may be able to see it up close and personal.

A Colquitt County billboard encourages south Georgians to consider voting liberals out of Congress this fall.

The Tea Party Freedom Line from Thomas County, Cairo, and Moultrie met in an afternoon rally across from Spence Field Monday. 30 sponsors paid for the billboard that will remain up thought the November elections. Organizers say they're putting their complaints about health care and the economy into action and hope to inspire others.

Emert, Jennifer (2010-3-15). Colquitt billboard encourages you to vote. WALB-TV. Retrieved on 2010-3-16.

I think it is safe to say that conservatives are fired up and ready to go.

Hank Johnson: "Bring Home Affordable Health Care For The American People"

Monday afternoon, 4th district Congressman Hank Johnson called on Democratic members of Congress to "unite behind President Obama’s plan for health care reform."

"It’s time to bring home affordable health care for the American people," said Congressman Johnson. "This has been a century coming. Americans who are sick should get the care they need, free from unnecessary fear of destitution or death."

Johnson is part of the team that is busy rounding up votes for the health care bill. The DeKalb County Congressman serves in the House leadership as Regional Whip for the southeast.

15 March 2010

GA Dems: Vote Down The Rule, Vote Your Conscience On Health Care Reform

Roll Call reports this afternoon that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is "considering a rule that would deem the Senate [health care reform] bill enacted when the reconciliation bill containing a series of 'fixes' is passed on the House floor."

House Republicans say they cannot block a Democratic maneuver that would allow Members to avoid a separate vote on the Senate health care bill.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told bloggers Monday morning that she is considering a rule that would deem the Senate bill enacted when the reconciliation bill containing a series of “fixes” is passed on the House floor.

That would allow Democrats to avoid taking a difficult, separate vote on a Senate bill many dislike because it contains special deals for Nebraska, Florida, Louisiana and other states.

Dennis, Steven T (2010-3-15). Dreier: GOP Can’t Stop Democrats From Procedural Scheme to Pass Health Bill. Roll Call. Retrieved on 2010-3-15.

This rule that Speaker Pelosi is considering doesn't pass the smell test. In my gut, it feels very undemocratic. Having a little experience with the legislative process, I can tell you that much like there are bad bills, there are also bad rules.

The Hawks rule in the Georgia House of Representatives certainly qualified as a bad rule. So did the rule pushed through by former House Speaker Glenn Richardson that barred members of the media from the House floor. The rule that would prevent an up-or-down vote on the Senate health care bill is a bad procedural rule, and Democrats should not be resorting to these sort of parliamentary tricks just to pass this health care reform bill.

Either the legislation has the votes or it doesn't.

If the bill has the votes, that's great. Pass the legislation, and be done with it. However, if the bill does not have the votes, then it probably is a bad bill. And bad bills should be sent back to committee for further study or changes.

The Democratic members of Georgia's congressional delegation need not support this rule. John Barrow, Sanford Bishop, Hank Johnson, John Lewis, Jim Marshall and David Scott need to vote down this bad rule. They can vote their conscience on the underlying health care bill, but this rule being considered by Speaker Pelosi needs to be defeated.

Nothing good can come of it.

Strategic Vision Poll: Barnes, Oxendine Lead In Primary Races

Sunday, Dick Williams announced on the public affairs program "The Georgia Gang" that polling agency Strategic Vision had new numbers on the state's gubernatorial campaign.

Below are the results which are based on telephone interviews with 800 likely voters in Georgia, aged 18+, and conducted March 5-8, 2010 by telephone. The margin of sampling error is ±3.5 percentage points.


If the Democratic primary for Governor were held today and the candidates were Thurbert Baker, Roy Barnes, Carl Camon, Dubose Porter, or David Poythress, for whom would you be voting?

Thurbert Baker - 21.8%
Roy Barnes - 43.9%
Carl Camon - 1.2%
Dubose Porter - 2.1%
David Poythress - 2.4%
Undecided - 28.5%


If the Republican primary for Governor were held today and the candidates were Jeff Chapman, Nathan Deal, Karen Handel, Eric Johnson, Ray McBerry, John Oxendine, or Austin Scott, for whom would you be voting?

Jeff Chapman - 0.4%
Nathan Deal - 12.8%
Karen Handel - 17.0%
Eric Johnson - 8.5%
Ray McBerry - 1.9%
John Oxendine - 29.8%
Austin Scott - 2.1%
Undecided - 27.4%