Archive for the ‘Commissioner of Agriculture Race’ Category

Ballot measure for trauma would add $10 to Georgia car tags

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By Carrie Teegardin, AJC staff writer

Plenty of Atlanta drivers speed through the South Georgia segment of I-75 on the way to Florida’s beaches.

But they might slow down if they knew what some health care workers call that portion of the interstate: “the corridor of death.”  The stretch of road earned the name because people who get in car crashes in much of South Georgia are at least 50 miles from a trauma center – a hospital equipped to handle serious injuries.

Georgia voters will decide on Nov. 2 whether they want to add $10 to the cost of annual vehicle registrations to improve trauma services statewide. Hospitals, emergency services workers and public health officials say the $80 million that would be raised every year by passage of Amendment 2 is needed to save lives.

Everyone wants a fast response when they dial 911 for help, but selling the new $10 fee may be difficult. Some metro …

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1,900-plus serving in military file for absentee ballots

County elections offices have received more than 1,900 applications for absentee ballots electronically from military and overseas voters, Secretary of State Brian Kemp said this week.

Requests for absentee ballots in electronic format have come from Georgians stationed or living in approximately 45 countries in North, Central and South America, the Caribbean, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Australia.

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New poll shows Republican sweep in top Georgia races

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Another poll shows the same expected sweep by Republicans on Nov. 2. The Landmark Communications poll has Republicans on top in the races for governor and four other statewide contests. Republican Nathan Deal beats Democrat Roy Barnes by 8 points instead of the 5 points found in the recent InsiderAdvantage/WSB-TV poll earlier this week.

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Lobbying becomes a booming business despite tougher rules for lawmakers

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At a time when the economy has most industries hurting, the business of lobbying is booming, reports AJC’s Bob Keefe in Washington. He reports that while Congress passed tough rules aimed at lessening the ways lobbyists can influence politicians three years ago, the money flowing to lobbyists continues, and among the companies making sure their voices are heard are Atlanta-based Coca-Cola Co. and Southern Co.

Atlanta-based Coca-Cola and its affiliated companies, for instance, paid Washington lobbyists about $6.3 million in the first half of this year alone — double what they spent in the comparable period last year, according to public records.

The rise in spending on lobbyists by Coca-Cola and its affiliates coincided with a rise in legislation that could have affected the company, such as a proposed tax on soft drinks, new school nutrition guidelines and environmental legislation affecting water …

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Energized Republicans turning up the heat

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By Aaron Gould Sheinin, Tammy Joyner, Jeremy Redmon, AJC staff writers

Just 50 miles apart, Cherokee and Clayton counties are political polar opposites.

Cherokee is rock-ribbed red, having gone 75 percent for Republican presidential nominee John McCain in 2008 and where nearly 10 times as many voters cast ballots in the GOP primary in July as in the Democratic.

Clayton, meanwhile, gave 83 percent of its votes to Barack Obama for president, and five times as many voters participated in July’s Democratic primary as in the Republican one.

As Election Day approaches, the two counties tell a story that is being played out across the nation: Republicans ready to take back Washington are gearing up for a banner year, while Democrats are laboring to prevent major losses.

Ralph Reed, a former state GOP chairman and chairman of the conservative Faith and Freedom Coalition, predicts the November election …

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A closer look at the race for agriculture commissioner

AJC reporter April Hunt is taking a closer look at the Georgia race for agriculture commissioner:

In an era when food-borne illnesses make headlines and consumers clamor for more information on nutrition, the battle to become Georgia’s next agriculture commissioner has taken on greater interest.

Republican Gary Black, Democrat J.B. Powell and Libertarian Kevin Cherry are in a three-way race to replace Tommy Irvin, a Democrat who has held the job since 1969.

That means whoever wins will for the first time in decades shape an office that regulates everything from what lands on grocery shelves to pet shops.

Black, who farms in Commerce and was president and a lobbyist for the Georgia Agribusiness Council until the campaign, said he will push for more consumer education and more inspector training to ensure better safety.

Powell, a state senator and member of the Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee, agrees that food safety is the main focus, but he worries that budget …

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Sky’s the limit for Georgia PACs

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Candidates in other states are benefiting from a Georgia law that allows unlimited corporate contributions to political action committees. Just take Mississippi Gov. and potential presidential candidate Haley Barbour.

Political watchdog Jim Walls reports Barbour this summer more than doubled his Jackson-based political committee’s bank account, pulling in $231,000 after July 1.

Mississippi law caps corporate donations to PACs at $1,000. The sky’s the limit in Georgia, where Barbour’s committee is registered. Haley’s PAC pocketed seven checks of $20,000 or $25,000 from businesses in his state just in July and August.

There, in a nutshell, is why political action committees love Georgia….

Barbour, Gov. Sonny Perdue and hundreds of other elected officials have also formed their own “leadership PACs” to donate to other candidates and to pay for loosely defined nonpolitical expenses. Haley’s …

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Georgia’s electronic voting law gets Justice Dept. clearance

Although the law won’t directly affect Georgians until the next election, the Albany Herald reports the Justice Department has approved a Georgia law requiring access to electronic voting at least 45 days before an election day. Absentee voters appearing in person will be able to cast ballots electronically rather than by paper. The measure, passed by the Legislature earlier this year, had to get federal clearance under the Voting Rights Act.

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Parties seek edge via head start at ballot box

AJC reporter April Hunt reports the benefit of early voting has proven clear to voters, with somewhere between a third and a half of Georgia voters expected to cast their ballots before Election Day largely because of the convenience.

What is less clear is whether the relatively new practice helps Democrats or Republicans more. Still, candidates and officials in both parties are experimenting with strategies to grab as many early votes as possible. Read more of Hunt’s article.

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No more federal oversight for Sandy Springs elections

This just in from AJC reporter April Hunt:

Sandy Springs has become the first Georgia city to bail out of the Voting Rights Act’s federal oversight of its elections.

The city asked for a “bail out,” or exemption, in January, after an unsuccessful attempt to run its own elections last fall. The U.S. Justice Department reached a deal with the north Fulton city late Wednesday night.

“We’re honored to be the first city in Georgia to earn this,” said Sandy Springs city attorney Wendell Willard. “It gives us the flexibility we don’t currently have.”

The city claims being exempted from the act’s “pre-clearance” requirement for all voting procedures — including those as small as moving polling sites — will save it money by using private contractors to run its elections. The city backed away from using a private firm for the 2009 election because there wasn’t enough time to get approval from the Justice Department.

The request was not without its critics. The Fulton …

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