About That “Draft Westmoreland” Campaign….Nevermind

Lynn Westmoreland has withdrawn his name from a list of potential candidates for the 2018 Governor’s race.  We were just forwarded this statement:

“After much prayer and consideration, Joan and I have decided that I will not be a candidate for Governor in 2018. While I am humbled by the kind words and encouragement that we have received from so many over the last few months, I think the best contribution that I can make to our state is outside of elected office. I’ve always thought of public service as a noble cause and it was truly an honor of a lifetime to represent so many hard working Georgians for so many years in both in the legislature and then later in congress. I look forward to doing all I can to support the Republican nominee for Governor and the entire Republican ticket in 2018.”

Just this week House Speaker David Ralston also indicated he’ll be running for re-election, and not seeking the Governor’s mansion. That’s two high profiled candidates down, with Lt. Governor Casey Cagle, Secretary of State Brian Kemp, and State Senator Hunter Hill officially in the mix. Maybe a few others have announced (I’ve been busy). Y’all discuss who this helps, and who still may get in the mix in the comments.

Walton GOP BBQ Kicks Off 2018 Primary Race

Buzz Brockway holds court at the Walton GOP BBQ

As is custom, Roy Roberts welcomed GOP activists from across the state to his farm last evening for a little bit of BBQ and a lot of politics.  (Good BBQ, excellent Brunswick stew – with no added green stuff, the way God intended it.)

The Walton County annual event draws Republicans from well outside the region, and is the semi-official kickoff to statewide Republican primary contests.  As such, the three announced candidates for Governor were there, as were at least two candidates for Secretary of State.

I’ll note that this was one of Jon Richards’ favorite events and he loved the picture taking opportunities.  What follows won’t do his work justice, but are a short collection of candid shots of the gathering are included below the jump.  These are for those that lacked faith that God & Roy had made a deal for the weather to clear up and provide blue skies by the time Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black sang “God Bless America” to open the bad joke telling and political speechifying.  Continue reading “Walton GOP BBQ Kicks Off 2018 Primary Race”

Five Georgias: The Coast

This week’s Courier Herald column. You may find the previous parts of this series by following this link.

For the past few weeks we’ve been taking a look at the regions that make up the political and economic coalitions that influence the politics and policy governing Georgia. Gone are the days of “Two Georgias”, where there was “Atlanta” and everything else, mostly rural.

For the past two weeks we looked at the two Atlantas – the Urban Core, and the Atlanta Suburbs. Today we begin with the part of “rural Georgia” that isn’t that rural and in many ways looks and acts a lot more like Suburban Atlanta than the folks in The Mountains or the non-coastal counties of South Georgia.

We’ll start breaking down “other Georgia” with The Coast because it was Georgia before there wasn’t any other Georgia. There’s also the history of asserting an open independence from and superiority over Atlanta. My friends from Savannah have long gone on record as telling anyone that would listen that “if Atlanta could suck as hard as it blows, it would have a port too”.

Coastal Georgia is anchored by Savannah not just in population but as an economic engine as well. They have earned their independence from Atlanta in the business community. Continue reading “Five Georgias: The Coast”

Five Georgias: Suburban Atlanta

This week’s Courier Herald column. You may find the previous parts of this series by following this link.

In this fourth installment of a series explaining the regions that make up Georgia’s statewide geographic political factions, we’re going to explore the newfound statewide power broker. That would be the roughly four million people that live in Suburban Atlanta.

Georgia is a state of roughly ten million people, so any area that claims forty percent of the votes needed to form a simple majority would seem to have a dominant position. This, of course, would assume that the region acted as one, and/or had leaders and constituents with well-honed political skills to exert the influence proportional to their votes.

Like many adolescent boys just given car keys for the first time, Suburban Atlanta seems to understand that it has an amazing amount of power some new found freedom, but little understanding what it takes consistently find the right partner for success.

Until Governor Perdue’s election and the subsequent assumption of power by Republicans, suburban Atlantans had little to no power under the Gold Dome. Democrats ruled this state, using a coalition of urban Democrats and rural Democrats. Republicans believed that those folks took all their money to overspend on schools in Atlanta and “roads to nowhere” in South Georgia. Continue reading “Five Georgias: Suburban Atlanta”

Five Georgias: Atlanta’s Urban Core

This week’s Courier Herald Column. This is the third installment of this series. You can track back to the beginning starting with the previous installment here.

In this, the third in a series explaining the regions that make up Georgia’s political factions, we’re going begin to take a look at each region one by one, beginning today with Atlanta’s Urban Core. For purposes of review, the other regions are Suburban Atlanta, The Mountains, South Georgia, and Coastal Georgia. This is an exploration into the economic and cultural forces that enable each region to form political coalitions as no individual region has dominant power to stand alone on any legislative matter.

We’re going to start with Urban Atlanta to help illustrate what we’re not talking about with respect to dividing lines, in order to later help illustrate where those lines likely are. The Urban Core is a land of haves and have nots. It encompasses neighborhoods that are among the most prosperous in the state. It also has Georgians suffering from some of the state’s worst poverty. The majority of the region is non-white, but there are many neighborhoods that are mostly white.

Because of all of these differences, there was quite a bit of feedback from last week’s column suggesting that this region should be further divided. Such division may be in Urban Atlanta’s future. But for now, this region elects almost exclusively Democratic legislators in a state where Republicans are dominant. It remains one region not because of its political power, but for lack of it.

This is not to say that the Urban Core lacks political power. The political power in this region lies in the economic engines contained within, and the Republicans’ belief that local control is nearly infallible. Continue reading “Five Georgias: Atlanta’s Urban Core”

The Two Georgias Are Now Five Georgias

This week’s Courier Herald column:

This is the second in a series. The introductory column can be found here.

During the 1980’s, the Director of Georgia’s Cooperative Extension Service Tal DuVall published a study on “Two Georgias”, highlighting the growing disparity between a prosperous and growing metro Atlanta, and a mostly rural “other Georgia”. It was not well received by then Governor Joe Frank Harris. Enough so that Mr. DuVall wasn’t around long enough to publicize his ideas. That credit is generally given to Doug Bachtel.

It’s never been politically popular to acknowledge that there is more than one Georgia. Whether standing in downtown Atlanta on Peachtree Street, a farm outside of Dublin Georgia, a beach on Tybee Island, or tying up to a dock in Blue Ridge, we’re all presumed to be politically equal. From the perspective of those that govern us, we are all equal in the eyes of the state.

Economically and politically, the various regions of Georgia can only be considered equal when viewed through the distortion of a political lens. The economic disparity can be proven through statistical data of income and sales tax receipts, and through the distribution of Medicaid and SNAP dollars. The political disparities often change with the topic, depending on how the legislators within each region choose to caucus on an issue.

Georgia politics is not the same as it was thirty years ago when we debated and pretended to ignore that there were two Georgias. We’re now a state of ten million people and growing. We’re the eighth largest state in the country, and in less than a generation we’ll likely be the fifth. The political party in power in statewide offices and with near super-majorities in the legislature is different.

We’re no longer a state of two Georgias. In political and economic reality, there are at least five Georgias. Continue reading “The Two Georgias Are Now Five Georgias”

A Personal Programming Note

As I’ve noted here before, I’m openly supporting Karen Handel. We previously discussed that Lawton Sack was taking the lead for GOP coverage of the GA-6 race, and Stefan Turkheimer has been our POC for the Ossoff campaign.  None of that changes now that we’re in the runoff.

As of today, I’m joining the Handel campaign in an official capacity to assist with media.  GA-6 has quickly scaled to a national level campaign. My friend asked me to help out, and I’m for my friends.  Consider this additional disclosure as is our custom here.  All other coverage issues remain the same.

One Georgia, But With Many Parts

This week’s Courier Herald column:

I began writing this column in early 2011. It began after a lunch conversation with DuBose and Carol Porter. Both had just run for statewide office. They were rural Georgia Democrats. They were in the traditional print media business, running almost a dozen papers serving the greater I-16 corridor out of their offices in downtown Dublin.

I was a new media blogger sending random opinions onto the internet. I was a Republican. And I lived in Atlanta. My audience was primarily those in Atlanta that make policy and law for the state.

We knew each had different readers. We knew the state was changing. Politics itself was changing. We were concerned that social media was driving us farther apart. Politics not only was unable to bring people together for common purposes but seemed to be cementing the division and driving new wedges.

What was originally scheduled as a lunch to catch up after the November 2010 elections turned into a discussion of how to bridge the gap between rural Georgia and “Atlanta”. South Georgia, long fearing being left behind, seemed to understand that with the election of a Governor and Lieutenant Governor from Hall County and a Speaker from Blue Ridge, their distance from power was growing literally and figuratively. Continue reading “One Georgia, But With Many Parts”

Jeremy Berry Named City Of Atlanta Attorney

Score one for the good guys.  Mayor Kasim Reed has named Jeremy Berry of Dentons to be the new City Attorney for the City of Atlanta.  Per Meridith Hobbs of the Fulton County Daily Report:

Dentons partner Jeremy Berry is the mayor’s pick for Atlanta city attorney. Mayor Kasim Reed announced today that he’s naming Berry as the new city attorney. Cathy Hampton, the current city attorney, announced April 18 that she will be stepping down on May 19. Reed said at the time that he’d name her successor by next week.

Other than that he’s an Emory grad, there’s not much wrong with this pick. While well established in Democratic political circles, Berry is also very active in the community, and I’ll state for the record he works quite well across party lines. The Mayor made a good pick.

Speaker Ralston Names Rural Development Council

A couple of weeks ago I previewed the need to get the issues of rural Georgia into the 2018 statewide campaigns. The plight of rural Georgia affects us all, as policy decisions made in Atlanta (and often influenced by the 55% of the state that live in “Atlanta”) make a disproportional impact in that other Georgia. House Speaker David Ralston has named members of a Rural Development Council that will be looking at a variety of issues unique to rural Georgia. This isn’t your average “study committee”. Look at the names and titles of the members below. This is a serious effort to not only identify and isolate well known problems, but foster actual solutions – and translate the need for those solutions to those of us that live up here in “Atlanta”.

Press release follows:

ATLANTA – Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) today announced the members of the House Rural Development Council. This council, which was created during the recent legislative session, will work with rural communities to find ways to encourage economic growth.

“Georgia is a growing and prosperous state, and we are thankful for that,” said Speaker Ralston. “But that prosperity isn’t being felt in every community across Georgia. Some of our rural areas are still struggling, and we must do everything we can to help private businesses grow jobs in every corner of our state.” Continue reading “Speaker Ralston Names Rural Development Council”