Archive for August, 2010

Barnes, Monds, Deal talk tort reform, health care at gubernatorial debate

The men who want to be Georgia’s next governor clashed Saturday over tort reform, embryonic stem cell research and Medicaid funding in their first formal debate since the November ballot was set earlier this month.

Democrat Roy Barnes, Republican Nathan Deal and Libertarian John Monds appeared together for the first time in a debate sponsored by the Medical Association of Georgia at the Cobb Energy Center.

Given the sponsor’s focus, the questions were dominated by health care matters. Barnes and Deal agreed on much, including the need to create incentives to attract primary care physicians to rural parts of the state. But they differed on many other topics.

On tort reform, Deal decried a state Supreme Court ruling in March that struck down limits on jury awards in medical malpractice cases created by a landmark 2005 state law. The former congressman said the state should amend its constitution to re-create the limits.

Voters, he said, “would overwhelmingly say yes because they …

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Max Wood emerges from GOP primary defeat with Perdue appointment

The Associated Press is reporting that Gov. Sonny Perdue has appointed former U.S. Attorney Max Wood as chief  judge of the Office of State Administrative Hearings.

Wood came in third to Republican opponents Preston Smith and Sam Olens in the attorney general primary race. Olens, the former Cobb County commission chairman, later won the runoff with former state Sen. Smith of Rome. (This clarifies an earlier reference to Wood’s primary loss as noted by Charlene at 4:54 p.m.)

Wood was an assistant prosecutor and judge advocate general before he became federal prosecutor Georgia’s middle district in 2001.

He is a graduate of LaGrange College and the University of Georgia School of Law.

He is replacing Judge Lois Oakley, who retired.

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Ex-senator blocked from write-in campaign against Barrow

Larry Peterson at the Savannah Morning News reports that former state senator Regina Thomas won’t be able to mount a write-in campaign against U.S. Rep. John Barrow (D-Savannah):

Citing state law, the secretary of state’s office – which oversees elections – ruled that the former state senator from Savannah is ineligible.

If she had been allowed to run, that could have split Democratic voters and boosted the prospects for [Republican Ray] McKinney.

Barrow defeated her in the July 20 primary for the 12th Congressional District, which takes in most of Savannah.

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Gay-bashing in governor’s race? Probably not

Over at Georgia Voice, Ryan Lee taps Matt Towery of InsiderAdvantage on whether we’re likely to see more gay-bashing in the governor’s race.

The answer? Probably not:

Even some Republicans believe that GOP candidates overestimate the effectiveness of going anti-gay.

“I think you have a lot of young, naïve campaign strategists who oftentimes pull that out of their pocket because they think that’s a big issue to the public,” Towery said.

“But most people who live in suburban Atlanta, which makes up a lot of the [Georgia] population and a lot of Republicans, they are dealing with the gay community every day, whether it be where they shop, or where they eat or who they deal with in business, and contrary to what the national perception is, most Georgians, when we poll that issue, most people just don’t care.

“It’s a live and let live state,” Towery added. “Now, do they favor gay marriage? No, but then most states don’t. It’s not a hot button. People …

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Deal’s runoff win named one of 2010’s biggest upsets

The political reporting team at MSNBC has declared that Nathan Deal’s defeat of Karen Handel in the Republican gubernatorial runoff one of the year’s biggest political upsets.

MSNBC’s Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, Domenico Montanaro, and Ali Weinberg delcared that Sarah Palin’s endorsement “wasn’t enough for Karen Handel, who — in a bit of a surprise — lost her GOP gubernatorial run-off in Georgia against ex-Rep. Nathan Deal.”

The top upset of the year? Scott Brown’s victory in Massachusetts over Martha Coakley to fill Ted Kennedy’s former U.S. Senate seat.

Deal is now locked in a general election battle with Democrat Roy Barnes and Libertarian John Monds.

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Got questions for Saturday’s debate between Monds, Deal and Barnes?

AJC opinion writer Kyle Wingfield reports that he will be among the moderators Saturday at the first face-to-face debate featuring Democrat Roy Barnes, Libertarian John Monds and Republican Nathan Deal. The debate, sponsored by  the Medical Association of Georgia, is from 1 p.m. until 2 p.m. at the Cobb Energy Centre near Cumberland Mall.

Wingfield said joining him will be John Bachman of Channel 2 Action News and Wendy Saltzman of WGCL-TV (CBS Atlanta). And if you have a question you want Wingfield to ask, he’s taking requests. Just click here.

Admission is free, although Cobb Energy Centre charges $5 for parking.

Follow and join the Georgia election conversation on Twitter @ajcgaelections

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Perdue aide: Showing humility might benefit Barnes

In TV ads aired earlier this month, the Republican Governors Association ridiculed Roy Barnes, the Democratic nominee for governor, for apologies he’s issued for moving too fast during his first term.

But at least one employee of Gov. Sonny Perdue thinks Barnes’ strategy has merit. From

Tommy Hills, the state’s chief financial officer and a top Perdue aide, thinks the overtures might be a smart move on Barnes’ part. “If he’s able to portray himself as a humble person, I would think it has more benefit than detriment to him, because I don’t think most voters who have some opinion of Governor Barnes would think he’s a very reticent or shy person,” Hills says. “Contrition may play in his favor.”

Barnes’ longtime friend [Buddy] Darden puts it this way: “Some people think it’s groveling, but you know, the world loves a reformed sinner. But he’s done that now, and as we go into the general election, you’ll see a little bit of a …

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Deal, Barnes differ on Savannah-Knoxville interstate idea

GOP gubernatorial candidate Nathan Deal and Democrat Roy Barnes are on opposite sides of the interstate when it comes to the idea of linking Savannah and Knoxville, Tenn. The proposal has gained traction in recent months with Federal Highway Administration now conducting a feasibility study.

Conducting the study, however, doesn’t mean a new interstate will be built. The agency will look at possible routes, costs and impacts on tourism, industry and the environment, which is a major source of concern among critics.

Savannah Morning News’ Larry Peterson reports that Deal is all for the new interstate, while Barnes has reservations pending more study.

Deal, a former north Georgia congressman, is especially upbeat about portions of the route that would tie Savannah to Augusta.

“With the deepening of the port of Savannah,” he said, “we must improve our infrastructure so we can move goods from ships fast and efficiently to other parts of the state and throughout the Southeast.

“We …

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DeKalb school board candidate disqualified over residency

AJC reporter Megan Matteucci reports the DeKalb County board of elections is accusing a school board candidate of lying about his residency and has has disqualified him.

Donny “Muhammad” Grogan said he mistakenly listed the wrong district and will file an appeal Thursday with the Superior Court.

Elections officials said they launched an investigation into Grogan’s residency after receiving a complaint from another school board candidate.

In June, Grogan qualified to run for the District 7 board seat. He paid his $540 qualifying fees and signed an affidavit listing his Buckingham Circle address and District 7. He went back to the elections’ office several times to check on his paperwork, gathered supporters and printed signs, he said.

Last month, he received a letter questioning the affidavit he signed. He went to the elections office and was told that he doesn’t live in District 7, but was allowed to change the affidavit to say District 5.

Elections director Maxine …

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Cobb asked to retain retiring elections chief at $800 per day

AJC reporter Janel Davis reports the Cobb County Commission has been asked to rehire the retiring elections director for four months of contracting work at a rate of $800 per day, up to $25,000.

Having Director Sharon Dunn on contract September through December while a replacement is trained would be an asset to the department, said Beverly Smith, chairwoman of the Cobb elections board, which made the request.

The proposal was introduced as an add-on to Tuesday night’s commission agenda, but was tabled when Commissioner Thea Powell balked at the last-minute agenda item and questioned the contract cost.

Powell noted that a Monday draft of the agenda item for Dunn’s contract work requested $1,600 a day, instead of the $800 daily rate included in the final item, and there was no maximum payout in the draft version.

The board consulted with the county manager and human resources department to determine a final consulting rate, Smith said, and the board made an offer at the …

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