The Democrats and the Governorship in 2018

In the not so distant past, Democrats held an iron grip on the governor’s office in Georgia. There was an unbroken string of Democratic governors in Georgia from Benjamin Conley in 1872 to Roy Barnes in 2002. Sure, these weren’t the types of Democrats you see now. Most were very conservative, although some statewide Democrats started moving to the ideological center after black voters joined the Democratic Party post-1964. But still, they weren’t Republicans and, despite GOP gains after 1994, it seemed unlikely that a Republican would sit in the governor’s mansion prior to the 2002 election.

In 2002, Republican State Senator Sonny Perdue challenged sitting Democratic Governor Roy Barnes in a longshot bid. Although the south had generally been trending toward the GOP in prior gubernatorial elections (Georgia included) and white voters were now giving over 60 percent of their votes to Republican candidates (up from just 33 percent in 1986), Barnes had tremendous spending and name recognition advantages over Perdue.  Moreover, he had defeated his Republican opponent in 1998 by over 8 percentage points and his moderate “New Democrat” policy positions sat well with Georgia voters who were conservative by nature, but had strong ties to the Democratic Party.

Perdue’s victory was shocking, as he won 118 of Georgia’s 159 counties and 53 percent of the two-party vote. Public polling strongly underestimated his chances of winning. His support was particularly strong in rural Georgia, where the average share of the Republican vote went from 38 percent in 1998 to 56 percent in 2002. Rural white voters were the game changers in 2002. These voters had not lent the same level of support to Republican gubernatorial candidates in 1990, 1994, or 1998. They finally turned to the GOP in 2002 though— maybe to support Perry-native Perdue, maybe because of Governor Barnes’ position on the Georgia state flag. Whatever their reasons, their party-switching handed the governor’s mansion to the GOP in 2002, and it has not let go since.

15 years and three elections later, the Georgia Democratic Party is in bad shape. It has little influence outside of Atlanta and hub cities, and it has a tough path ahead in 2018. Yes, Georgia’s demographics are changing. But, it is still 60 percent white and gave over 2 million votes to Donald Trump in 2016. Hillary Clinton won just 32 of 159 counties, and most of these were in the Atlanta area or near a hub city. Democrats’ white voter problem (they are taking around 25 percent in statewide contests) is not going away by 2018, making it difficult for them to win a statewide race.

It is possible that Democrats can recapture their pre-2002 mojo, but a few key things must fall in place next year. Continue reading “The Democrats and the Governorship in 2018”

Pres. Trump to Karen Handel: Oh–You’re Welcome.

President Trump is claiming credit for ensuring no Republican won in last night’s CD-6 race.

I suppose it’s a badge of honor that you can cause a ten-point swing in an election. But usually, only, you know, if your party benefits from said change.

Or maybe a loss is a win if you have the right alternative facts.

Pres. Trump Makes Articulate, Fact-Based Analysis of CD-6 Race

Just kidding, we all know that’s impossible.

Instead, President Trump relied on his usual bombastic and semi-conspiratorial scolding (AKA: his most presidential sounding voice) to predict Republicans will win on Tuesday. Anyone want to hazard a guess if he even knows who the Republicans are? Methinks he has no clue.

A Kay By Any Other Name…

Since former state Senator Judson Hill resigned his1 seat when he qualified to run for Congress, Senate District 32 seat needs to be filled with a special election. While this race hasn’t drawn the media attention of the CD6 scrum, the special election for State Senate 32 is special in its own way2.

Allegations bubbled that one candidate, Kay Kirkpatrick, changed her name prior to qualifying. It’s been reported that she signed a security deed as “Kay Haltom” on February 14 of this year, then qualified to run for the state senate as “Kay Kirkpatrick.” Coincidentally, “Haltom” is the last name of Dr. Kirkpatrick’s husband, so for the purposes of this post, I’ll refer to it as her “married name.”

One of the other candidates in the District 6 race3 has sought to make hay out of this, and a formal hearing to determine Dr. Kirkpatrick’s “qualifications to remain on the list of electors” is scheduled for Friday. It is possible that registering to vote using one name and signing a legal document using her married name could result in removing Dr. Kirkpatrick from the ballot – although that outcome is slightly less likely than a flock of black swans riding unicorns showing up at the State Capitol.    Continue reading “A Kay By Any Other Name…”

Democrat John Ossoff Leads Republican Karen Handel By Slim Margin In GA-06 Race

A new poll released yesterday by the Trafalgar Group shows Democrat John Ossoff with a slight edge with 18.31% in the race to replace Tom Price in GA-06. Democrat Ron Slotin is in 6th place with 2.82%.

Former Secretary of State Karen Handel continues to hold a lead among the Republican contenders with 17.98% of those polled.  Former Johns Creek City Councilman Bob Gray is in 3rd place with 13.42%, former State Senator Judson Hill with 7.98% landed him in 4th place, 5th place: Amy Kremer with 3.05%, 7th place: Former State Senator Dan Moody with 2.11%, and 8th place: Bruce LeVell with 0.45%.

Over a third of those polled (33.9%) are still undecided.

Another interesting tidbit of data is the first question that they asked the poll respondents: their approval of Donald Trump’s job as president so far.  Over half of likely voters (51.47%) responded that they approved of the job the President was doing, 41.18% disapproved, and 7.35% had no opinion.  In a Republican district, that can be quite concerning.  It’s also why we’re seeing the NRCC targeting Ossoff early on by seeing what they can hang on him.  It’s also something that Senior Strategist at Trafalgar noticed:

Cahaly also stated, “We’ve already seen outside play a major role. Last week the Congressional Leadership Fund, (GOP) SuperPac, placed a 7-figure media-buy attempting to knock Ossoff off of his lead, and it appears to be working. Their theory in this game of Congressional special election Whac-A-Mole, is to hit the leading Dem enough to set an all-Republican runoff, but not so much that another Dem is elevated enough to contend. So far the Congressional Leadership Fund folks appear to be exceptional whackers.”

With just a little over a month before the election, we’ll see how variables in DC (including the continuing drama of President Trump, the newly released Republican plan to replace the Affordable Care Act, and the general sentiment of Washington) will play in the GA-06 race.  At this point, it may end up in a run-off between a Republican and a Democrat.

Whoops Dems Did It Again

The following is a guest Op-Ed from LaDawn “LBJ” Jones. She is a former Democratic state representative from South Fulton County, a local attorney, and my frequent sparring partner as a political analyst for 11Alive in Atlanta.

I would like to be the first to congratulate President Trump on his 2020 re-election. My condolences to the United States of America and the Democratic National Committee. This bold prediction comes after my review of the schedule for the DNC Convention in Atlanta. It is clear from the list of meetings that the leadership learned absolutely nothing from Trump’s November win.

After the general pleasantries of registration, general session and budget discussions, the schedule lists a plethora of caucuses and councils that have a glaring missing component. See if you can pick it out: rural council, Native council, disability council, LGBT Caucus, North/South/East/West caucuses, Asian American Pacific Islanders caucus, women’s caucus, black caucus, Hispanic caucus, military council, senior council and youth council.

Excuse me DNC, where does a middle aged white male who lives in an urban community get a chance to discuss his concerns for the country and work on a strategy to address those issues? Asked another way, when is the next Republican committee election? This is what they meant when they said, “Trump spoke to my issues.” Continue reading “Whoops Dems Did It Again”

A Spat Between A Georgia Congressman And The President-Elect Works Against Unity

In an interview with Chuck Todd for this week’s “Meet The Press”, Congressman John Lewis (D-GA-05) expressed his opinion that President-elect Donald Trump is not a legitimate president.  He bases his opinion on the back-and-forth discussion of alleged Russian hacking that exposed email correspondence from the DNC and the Hillary Clinton campaign.  Apparently Congressman Lewis didn’t heed the words of Vice President Joe Biden during the certification of the election results: “It’s over.”

Rather than letting the Congressman’s statements roll off of his back and taking the high road, President-elect Trump took to Twitter early this morning to rebut Congressman Lewis’ opinion:

Both the Congressman and President-elect are, frankly, acting childish. President Barack Obama, in spite of all of the snide comments about his origins perpetuated by some conservatives, is our president. On January 20th at noon, in spite of all of the protests and desperate pleas against his election, Donald Trump will be our president. The votes have been counted and certified. It’s over.
Continue reading “A Spat Between A Georgia Congressman And The President-Elect Works Against Unity”

Morning Reads – Thursday, January 5, 2017

On this date Ford Motor Company announced that there would be a new daily minimum wage of $5 and an eight-hour workday.

Peaches

Jimmy Carter

Sweet Tea

Liberty Drum

New Year, New Resolve

This week’s Courier Herald column:

As our new year begins in Georgia, political optimism for many is fueled by the fact that a state governed by Republicans now has a White House and Congress controlled by Republicans. Well, optimism for many Republicans anyway. More than a few Democrats are still somewhere between pretending 2016 was a bad dream and preparing for two to four years in the wilderness of a power vacuum. Hint: there is no Bobby Ewing shower scene coming. It’s time to lean in.

For those in position to advance their agenda, the optimism comes from several sources. One Georgian has already been tapped for the President-elect’s Cabinet. Another is rumored to be a front runner. There is renewed optimism that federal policy can be aligned with state goals.

Almost paradoxically, this will cause a delay for implementing some big ticket legislative items. Many were prepared to resign themselves to the relative permanence of Obamacare, and push for at least some funds offered for additional Medicaid patients. With the obituaries of the “Affordable” Care Act already being written but the plans for succession murky, State leaders are likely to strike wholesale changes to healthcare funding from this year’s list of resolutions.

Expect continued efforts to patch together funding for rural healthcare and existing Medicaid programs instead. More substantive changes will have to be considered in 2018. This is unfortunately an election year where many statewide offices will be open, including the Governor. These years often cede policy reform to campaign rhetoric, so it may be 2019 before major state changes in medical funding align with whatever comes next from Washington. Continue reading “New Year, New Resolve”

Tom Price, Stock Investments, And Some Needed Perspective

Apparently the clutching of pearls has been added as a Festivus holiday activity. The Wall Street Journal published a story last night noting that Congressman Tom Price, now President Elect Trump’s pick for Secretary of Health and Human Services, owned and/or traded $300,000 of stock in medical related companies.  The AJC has dutifully followed up referring to this story as a “bombshell” and is openly questioning whether this will derail Price’s nomination.

I’ll take the long road to answering that question.  But if you want a spoiler or the TL;DR version, here it is:  It won’t.

The simple fact is that the stock transactions were perfectly legal, properly disclosed, and are in no way unique.  They represent a small portion of Congressman Price’s net worth.  One of the stocks highlighted that he made the most profit on isn’t a US Company nor does it have US operations or sales, so it is completely removed from Price’s Congressional oversight.  And the nature of the hyper-critical, hyper-partisan criticism is hyper-hypocritical.

Got that?  Let’s break each of those facts down. Continue reading “Tom Price, Stock Investments, And Some Needed Perspective”