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.