On David Nahmias, and one more ballot left to cast

The turkey’s been eaten and the Christmas shopping begun. But there’s one seasonal obligation to finish before the calendar flips to December: voting.

Just two statewide races remain in play for Tuesday’s runoff, both for judicial posts. One is for the Court of Appeals, and I’ll be voting (again) for the highly experienced, well-qualified Chris McFadden.

The other is for the Supreme Court, and the matchup here was hard to fathom just four weeks ago. Somehow, a very good incumbent justice, David Nahmias, was forced into a runoff against an opponent who didn’t even campaign.

When I say Tammy Lynn Adkins didn’t even campaign, I mean she didn’t spend one red cent beyond the $5,016.29 qualifying fee she paid in July from her own pocket, according to campaign-finance disclosures.

Yet Adkins, a family-law attorney in Gwinnett County, still managed to garner an astonishing 35 percent of the vote on Nov. 2. She won more than twice as many votes as a third candidate who spent some $200,000 on the election.

Adkins attributes her surprising success to residual name recognition from 2008 run for the Court of Appeals. That strikes me as unlikely: How many voters remember the name of someone who two years earlier didn’t win a race that was even farther down the ballot? Especially one who ran under a different version of her name this time (Tammy Lynn Adkins now, versus Tamela L. Adkins in 2008)?

Whatever the reason for Adkins’ advancement to the runoff — and I’m not suggesting anything nefarious, just curious — this race is really about Nahmias. Because neither Adkins nor anyone else is more qualified than him to be on the high court’s bench.

Georgia’s attorneys have said as much; 95 percent of the state bar members who rated Nahmias said he was “qualified” or “well qualified” for the bench, versus 47 percent of the much smaller pool who said they knew Adkins.

State politicians from across the ideological spectrum have said as much; Nahmias has won endorsements from people ranging from former Atlanta mayors Andrew Young and Shirley Franklin to House Speaker David Ralston and Gov.-elect Nathan Deal.

An Atlanta native and Harvard Law graduate, Nahmias has clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. He’s worked on counterterrorism efforts in the Justice Department. He’s prosecuted the likes of Olympic Park bomber Eric Rudolph and former Atlanta mayor Bill Campbell while serving as U.S. Attorney for North Georgia.

The Supreme Court does hear some divorce and other family-law cases. But it hears far more cases for which Nahmias’ criminal-law background is more relevant.

There often is something to be said for voting against an incumbent for the sake of voting against an incumbent, and I do so on probably every ballot I cast.

But I also think there’s a much more compelling case for voting against incumbents in the legislative and executive — that is, policy-making — branches of government. And even if you disagree, Nahmias has been on the bench for less than two years since Gov. Sonny Perdue appointed him.

The best explanation for how a David Nahmias ends up in a runoff is that these judicial races typically get too little attention from voters and the press (yes, that’s my hand you see raised). But that’s a poor excuse not to vote for him on Tuesday.

38 comments Add your comment

wingnutsunited

November 26th, 2010
7:13 pm

And Deal likes him LOL, great endorsement.

BW

November 26th, 2010
7:38 pm

Stupid is as stupid does Kyle. Somehow people believe voting out incumbents will change the system…we’ll see just how new the “tea party” congressmen-elect will govern.

Dave

November 26th, 2010
8:00 pm

He’s qualified in the way that Scalia and Roberts are qualified, brilliant and skewed far to the right. I’ll sit this one out.

Laurie

November 26th, 2010
9:43 pm

Thanks for the heads up. If Sonny Perdue appointed Nahmias, all the more reason to vote for Adkins.

native

November 26th, 2010
10:49 pm

You made a pretty good case, but this?

“There often is something to be said for voting against an incumbent for the sake of voting against an incumbent, and I do so on probably every ballot I cast.”

No Sale

November 26th, 2010
11:46 pm

I vowed in September to use my vote at EVERY level to shake it up. No more good ol’ boy insiders for me.

Donald

November 27th, 2010
6:11 am

Can you say incumbent fever? People looked at who was the incumbent and then voted for the opponent. “Vote the incumbents out” works at both the federal AND local level. The office being voted on, does NOT matter! People are sick of business as usual no matter who it is that may be running.

I Report (-: You Whine )-: mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

November 27th, 2010
6:59 am

It’s on!

Saying that body scanners violate Islamic law, Muslim-American groups are supporting a “fatwa” — a religious ruling — that forbids Muslims from going through the scanners at airports.

The Fiqh Council of North America — a body of Islamic scholars that includes some from Michigan — issued a fatwa this week that says going through the airport scanners would violate Islamic rules on modesty.

Now whatcha gonna do, TSA?

carlosgvv

November 27th, 2010
8:01 am

We want our judical officials to be as fair, unbiased and removed from politics as possible. So, please explain why we are still electing judicial officials who will be subjected to the same temptations and pressures as all our other elected politicans.

Real Athens

November 27th, 2010
9:37 am

” There often is something to be said for voting against an incumbent for the sake of voting against an incumbent, and I do so on probably every ballot I cast.” …

I will not argue that Nahmias is the most qualified candidate.

However Kyle, when that candidate is a long-time GOP operative and former lackey for the most “activist” justice currently sitting on the Supreme Court; in this political climate … nah, what was I thinking? This is Georgia, put an -R- beside your name and you’re guaranteed victory.

I look forward to seeing the benefits we reap as a one-party state. The first 8 years of one-party rule have been laughable as far as inability to do anything meaningful at the statehouse (water, transportation, state-wide infrastructure) unless you count carrying a concealed weapon to church as progress. That or widening I-75 between Macon and Warner Robbins aka only through the area where the Governor resides.

EnoughAlready

November 27th, 2010
9:40 am

Thanks for reminding me to vote; I’ll make sure to vote for Tammy or Tamela, however it’s listed.

Inman Parker

November 27th, 2010
10:15 am

Judging by the number of comments on your post, I predict an unbelievably small turnout on Tuesday!

Liberal/Conservative

November 27th, 2010
10:20 am

Perhaps some of Ms. Adkins’s support derives from opposition to the thinly veiled claim of job entitlement which Nahmias appears to assert.

Concerned Citizen

November 27th, 2010
10:28 am

The only way Adkins was able to get into this runoff was that her name appeared first on the ballot. The people that did not know either candidate just checked off the first name. This goes to show you how much some people really care about the election process. They are the same people that complain later after a candidate has been in office for a period of time, forgetting that they are the ones that put he/she there.

David Nahmias is a well qualified candidate for the Georgia Supreme Court. As a person just looking in from the outside, he did a great job as a Federal Prosecutor. We need tough people to serve as judges. Even though we live in the greatest country in the world, we need to get our priorities straight when it comes to punishing criminals. There is too much major crime in Georgia and across the country. Criminals just do not care because many of them know that they will get little or no jail time. Our prisons might as well have revolving doors. They have little regard for the law.

Punish serious criminals. Make them pay for their crimes. Put people in office that have this same view. Pick up the paper or turn on the local news. There is too much crime.

Lee

November 27th, 2010
11:19 am

I think what happens in these lower profile positions is that voters do not have a clue who the candidates are, but feel compelled to vote for somebody so they just haphazardly vote for one of the candidates.

My thinking is if you do not know anything about the candidates or their positions on the issues, it is probably best to leave it blank and not vote for anyone. Hopefully, those voters who do have a vested interest in the position will make an informed choice.

For example, the recent election of the State Commissioner of Agriculture to succeed Tommy Irvin. Now I know this department regulates more than just farming (everytime you pump a gallon of gas, you pump it through a meter that has been certified by the Dept of Agriculture). I did read the biographies of the candidates, but I didn’t really have a good feel of which was the best candidate. So, I left it blank on my ballot and hoped that the farmers and other folks who deal with this department make a good decision.

JeffD

November 27th, 2010
1:54 pm

Here’s what Kyle didn’t say: The only reason Adkins got that many votes is because her name starts with an “A” – meaning she was first on the ballot. It’s a known fact that GA voters just pick the first name on a ballot when they don’t know anything about the candidates in a given race. That’s clearly what happened here and it’s a sad commentary on the process. Get out and vote on Tuesday for the most qualified candidate: Nahmias. There’s also an important Court of Appeals seat and Fulton Superior Court seat to be decided so get educated on those candidates and vote.

A Patriot

November 27th, 2010
3:41 pm

“U.S. Attorney for North Georgia.”

“Harvard Law graduate, ”

Federal POS.

Decent people should vote Adkins.

I’ll be voting

killerj

November 27th, 2010
5:55 pm

“You said it all” he prosecute,s politicians. Go Tea Party.

Tommy Lee Maddox

November 27th, 2010
10:56 pm

He’s a smart and experienced dude.

skydog

November 28th, 2010
5:32 am

I think I`ll vote for the gal that didn`t spend a cent with BS campaign promises yet got into a runoff.

Good job Kyle(not), investigating why this many voters came out for this lady?

Anybody Sonny appointed can`t be all good.

TGT

November 28th, 2010
8:13 am

Thanks Kyle. I’ve been needing some info on this race.

Port O'John

November 28th, 2010
11:14 am

Maybe he’s in a run-off because a few of us actually know the guy as a partisan hack who was appointed to his job by the ethically-challenged Sonny Perdue. In his tenure as US Attorney he proved that he first order of business was helping the GOP – that’s not unusual for a political appointee as they get to keep their job as long as the President who appointed them stays in office. But a few of us who work in the legal field are tired of partisan hacks becoming judges via political appointment.

But don’t worry Kyle, the social conservatives will come out in force for Nahmias and he will win the run-off. This state will continue its shift to the extreme right on social issues and Nahmias will be there to ensure that any anti-gay (etc.) legislation cooked up by the legislature will be upheld.

Reality Check

November 28th, 2010
12:12 pm

It’s an absolute shame Nahmias is in a runoff but hopefully all the people who didn’t have a clue and still actually voted in this race will not be voting this time.

Matti

November 28th, 2010
1:58 pm

Here’s why *I* won’t vote for him on Tuesday: My Congressman (perhaps the most partisan Congressman we have in the entire state) left me a Robocall message asking me to vote for him. What happened to judicial races being non-partisan? Why should a qualified would-be judge spend hundreds of thousands of dollars pandering to the electorate in order to hold the position? Pandering, campaign contributions, and big-name endorsements do not lend themselves to impartiality.

catlady

November 28th, 2010
5:34 pm

Sorry, Kyle, but your endorsement sealed it for me–for the woman.

redweather

November 28th, 2010
7:22 pm

Kyle, judicial candidates in Georgia are listed on the ballot in alphabetical order by their last name. Adkins no doubt received many of her votes from voters who simply selected the first person appearing on the list. Don’t believe me? In the Court of Appeals election, Antionette “Toni” Davis has always been known as Antionette “Toni” Johnson. I’ve known her for over twenty years. But she apparently decided that using her maiden name — at least I assume Davis is her maiden name –would make sense because it would get her closer to the top of the ballot. Running as Davis moved her to second place on the list of candidates. Had she run as Johnson, she would have been fourth.

Middle of the Road but Looking Both Ways

November 28th, 2010
7:57 pm

David Nahmias is great. Georgia voters who stay home and don’t vote on Tuesday will deserve to have someone like Tammy Lynn. Davis is so well qualified. I wish we could clone him so he could be governor, lt. governor and secretary of state. honest and intelligent. Tammy Lynn is the Al Green of Georgia. Go vote for David Nahmias. This could be another good reason why judgest should not be elected by a stupid bunch of people.

Brian

November 28th, 2010
9:39 pm

It is funny that such a standard bearer could be jobless after Tuesday. Still think that the republican sweep was really a “message” being sent? A repudiation?

Nope– just a bunch of nuts who were less busy and more motivated that the majority normals who were too busy to care.

If Nahmias does stay, I hope he’s got the guts to tell the 14th amendment rescinders to take a walk in his first generation shoes and tell them to jump in the ‘hooch.

HolyScalia

November 28th, 2010
10:17 pm

Says Kyle “Nahmias has clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia”. Maybe the electorate has wised up to anyone associating with Scalia?

itpdude

November 29th, 2010
2:28 am

I’m tempted to vote against the guy just because you told me to vote for him.

But seriously, should these judges be elected? Do we, and yeah you see my hand raised, really know squat about the judges we “elect?”

Frankly, I only knew one judge and that was Arrington. I think he was incumbent. I voted for him anyways because I liked him when he ran for mayor.

It’s time for judges to be appointed. If we don’t like the appointment, we vote out the rascals who appointed the sob.

Hillbilly Deluxe

November 29th, 2010
11:12 am

I look forward to seeing the benefits we reap as a one-party state.

All you need to do is look at history. We’ve had one party rule in Georgia, for most of the last 150 years. It’s nothing new.

Kyle Wingfield

November 29th, 2010
12:28 pm

native: Sure, I vote against any incumbent who hasn’t given me a reason to think he/she deserves to stay in office. They might not have disgraced or misused their office, but I’m not going to vote to keep putting someone back in office term after term.

Donald, Concerned Citizen, et al.: I looked at the counties that gave Adkins the highest share of their votes, and then looked at the other candidates they chose in other races to see if there was any kind of pattern. Most of them went strongly for incumbents like Isakson, and didn’t necessarily vote in large numbers for other first-name-on-the-list candidates in other down-ballot races, even other nonpartisan races. My guess is that each of those factors (and others, such as female voters choosing a female candidate) played a small role and added up to the result we got.

Dori Kleber

November 29th, 2010
2:14 pm

How did Tamela (Tammy) Adkins get so much support without campaigning? To me, this isn’t such a mystery. Adkins has had huge billboards for her legal practice along I-85 in Gwinnett County for years. While those aren’t true campaign ads, they have the same effect in terms of name recognition. My theory is that folks remembered her name from those billboards and cast their ballots for her — quite possibly not even realizing where they knew her name from. A whole lot more people commute on I-85 every day than keep up with regional and national news, so they wouldn’t necessarily recognize Nahmias’ name the way they do Adkins’.

Kyle Wingfield

November 29th, 2010
2:20 pm

Dori: I know about the billboards, but most of the counties where Adkins did best (percentage-wise) are on the border with Tennessee/N.C. and down near the coast. In other words, she did extremely well with people who probably haven’t seen those billboards often enough to remember them.

HolyScalia

November 29th, 2010
3:11 pm

Speaking of unqualified, anyone remember the woman George Bush nominated for US supreme court justice a few years back? Adkins is more qualified than she was.

Dori Kleber

November 29th, 2010
3:18 pm

Kyle, that’s interesting data. (And nice to see a columnist doing his homework!) Do I dare to suggest that Tammy’s much more American name played better to the populace? When faced with two, unfamiliar names, do voters lean towards the more white bread sounding surname?

HolyScalia

November 29th, 2010
3:22 pm

Dori, good point. But it does make you wonder how Barack Hussein Obama got elected. He surely wasn’t a slice of that white bread you refer to.

Dori Kleber

November 29th, 2010
4:02 pm

HolyScalia, you’re comparing apples and pickup trucks. I didn’t say that voters always select the most white bread sounding name. I said, “When faced with two, UNFAMILIAR names…” I’d like to think that in the presidential race, most voters know who the candidates are before they arrive in the ballot box.