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”

GAGOP District Convention 2017 Wrap Up

Once the final gavel fell on the 14th District Republican Convention, I said to a few friends “Thank God and Greyhound” (quoting the Roy Clark song).  I didn’t run for re-election for district chairman.  I have my reasons, the most important one being my wife Samantha and I welcoming our first child, Lucas Todd Smith, into the world this August.  You can read my chairman’s report to my district Convention at the end of this post.  I still have final paperwork to do to wrap up my term as chairman, including sending a copy of the resolution our district passed honoring the life of Jon Richards to his family, but it’s nice to have a weight lifted and focus on other important things….like building baby registries which we did yesterday.

There were a few district chairmen who decided not to run for another term, so there will be a lot of new faces on the GAGOP Executive Committee.  I believe they earn an appreciation for the process.  You tend to see things in a different light, so if you’re a new chairman or officer in the Georgia Republican Party structure, just remember to listen more than you speak.

Here are the district chairmen for the 2017-2019 term (thanks to Joseph Brannan for the list):

Continue reading “GAGOP District Convention 2017 Wrap Up”

David Shafer Encouraged To Run For Lieutenant Governor

While everyone had their attention focused on the aftermath of the CD 6 special election, the world of Georgia politics kept on spinning. On Wednesday, the Gwinnett County Chamber of Commerce held a legislative recap luncheon where State Rep. Chuck Efstration made it clear that fellow Gwinnett Republican and Senate President Pro Tem David Shafer is being encouraged to run for lieutenant governor in 2018. The Gwinnett Daily Post reports that Efstration made the following remarks:

I’m very excited right now that as discussions about statewide races for constitutional officers takes place, I know Sen. Shafer is being encouraged by many people, including myself, to consider running for lieutenant governor. I don’t think we’ve ever had the kinds of opportunities that we do right now for additional influence in Atlanta.

Shafer did not say much in his own remarks, only that there would be an announcement shortly. The pro tem is known for keeping his cards close to his vest, so read into this what you will. His calculus might have changed with State Rep. Geoff Duncan’s entry into the race, although Duncan’s run was widely expected. Shafer is a powerful player in the state senate as is, with 15 years of experience and plenty of statewide connections. He was going to run for lieutenant governor in 2010, but he withdrew after Casey Cagle stepped away from his gubernatorial run and decided to return to stay in his position as lieutenant governor.

The other opportunity Efstration was referring to is State Rep. Buzz Brockway’s announced run for secretary of state. Brockway represents the Lawrenceville area and previously headed up the Gwinnett County GOP. He will face at least one challenger in that race as State Rep. Brad Raffensperger has also announced.

Republicans Begin To Circle Support Around Karen Handel

Georgia Republicans are beginning to rally around #GA6 Republican candidate Karen Handel. Governor Nathan Deal’s camp didn’t waste time circling support around Handel with Deal’s Chief of Staff Chris Riley taking to Twitter yesterday.

Senator Johnny Isakson also threw his support behind the Republican candidate yesterday:

Continue reading “Republicans Begin To Circle Support Around Karen Handel”

That Tuition Increase and Other Riveting University System of Georgia News

In case you were working on an end-of-semester project, sleeping off a hangover, or just disconnected from all things public college in this state, tuition is going to go up 2 percent for the 2017-2018 academic year. That should work out to between $27 and $98 per semester for full-time, in-state undergraduates, depending on the college or university.

Don’t worry, exactly zero dollars and zero cents will be added to my salary (or almost any other professor’s salary) from this increase!

The Chancellor and the Board of Regents have to say things like “we thank the General Assembly that we were graciously allowed to raise costs,” and probably it’s not smart for an untenured, assistant professor (who is a librarian, nonetheless) to point out reality, but as costs to educate increase, our funding has to come from somewhere, and it’s almost assuredly not going to come from state appropriations. Continue reading “That Tuition Increase and Other Riveting University System of Georgia News”

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.

Contractors Discuss Immigration with Rep. Mark Sanford

I traveled to Bluffton, South Carolina yesterday to participate in a contractors round table with U.S. Congressman Mark Sanford (SC-1). Rep. Sanford joined approximately 25 contractors immediately after completing his eighth town hall in his district. The group of contractors employs between 2,500-3,000 people, with 62-63% being Hispanic.

Rep. Sanford opened the meeting by sharing seven major areas that will be addressed this year, though immigration dominated the discussion following his opening thoughts:

1. Healthcare (possible new bill within the next month)
2. Tax policy
3. Continuing resolution/budget
4. Debt ceiling (The plan appears to be to set financial limits instead of a just a cutoff date. He used the analogy of giving a credit card to someone and telling them they have a $10,000 limit instead of saying they could use the credit card until October).
5. Transportation – The money will probably be around $1 trillion
6. Border wall construction and work permits
7. Flood insurance reform


Rep. Sanford felt that a rushed timetable led to the demise of the GOP’s first attempt at healthcare reform this year. He stated that AHCA and Medicare Part D were discussed 10 times longer than the recent bill. He said there was just not enough time for people to buy into the bill and to offer up meaningful amendments.

Continue reading “Contractors Discuss Immigration with Rep. Mark Sanford”

Morning Reads — I’m Back

Miss me?

“First I Look at the Purse” by J. Geils Band (RIP).

  1. John Lewis heading to Haaahvuhd to get an award. 
  2. AgWeek editorial: Sonny Perdue needs to be confirmed. 
  3. Atlanta rapper T.I. urges more civic involvement; rules out political bid (“I’m too motivated”).
  4. Mark Texeira now an eco-advocate for Atlanta’s Procter Creek redevelopment. 
  5. Highways falling apart? That’s a good sign to take MARTA, advocates say. 
  6. Dozens of Cases Are Dismissed and Reviewed in Georgia After Officers are Fired

Special Election Open Thread #GA6 #SD32

EDIT: 12:03 a.m. – Ossoff at 48.61%, Handel at 19.49%. Gray, Abroms endorse Handel in June 20th runoff.

11:40 p.m. – Technical issues in Fulton County. I am sure the Russians will be mentioned. WSB-TV reporting: “Rare data error from one of the cards means Fulton Co. will have to manually go through hundreds of cards to find the culprit.”

9:49 p.m. – Ossoff is just above 50% at 50.96%. Handel is in second at 18.08% and Judson Hill in third at 9.50%. 97/210 precincts reporting.

As of 9:37 p.m., GA-6 is trending towards an Ossoff (53.94%) – Handel (17.62%) runoff. 67/210 precincts reporting. A LONG way to go, though.

After what seems like a million campaign ads, posts, and tweets, it is finally election night in #GA6 (and SD32). GA6 has seen a special election where one penny was given locally for every $10 given nationally. Rachel Wilson has a great overview of the race and its finances over at The Center for Public Integrity.

You can follow the results below or at the Secretary of State’s website. Take note that the election results webpage has been updated and looks very nice and colorful.

A Sad Day: Fmr. Congressman Dawson Mathis and Fulton Commission Vice Chair Joan Garner Passed Away

Within about an hour of each other, GAPol learned of the passing of Dawson Mathis, who represented southwest Georgia in the 80s, and Joan Garner who served on the Fulton County Commission since 2011.

Cong. Sanford Bishop announced the news of Mathis’ death in a statement, calling Mathis a “true friend and mentor”. No cause of death was listed. He was 76.

Garner battled breast cancer and Fulton County Commission chairman John Eaves said “We will miss her thoughtful service, her passion for equity, and, especially, her smile and her warmth.”