Archive for the ‘State’ Category

State of the Georgia Senate race

It’s been four weeks since Georgia’s senior senator, Saxby Chambliss, announced he would not run for re-election next year. That news triggered an avalanche of speculation about who would run for the seat, with the field expected to get very crowded very quickly. That hasn’t happened. No one has entered the race or even admitted to giving it serious consideration on the Democratic side, and the GOP field has been developing only slowly:

  • Congressman Paul Broun, R-Athens, was the first to file his paperwork to run and has been running online ads for a couple of weeks now. Yesterday, he touted the endorsement of TheTeaParty.net, a Washington, D.C.-based outfit that bills itself as the nation’s largest tea-party group.
  • Last week, Congressman Jack Kingston, R-Savannah, said he was running for Senate while speaking to the Forsyth County GOP. The very fact Kingston was speaking to a Republican group in a county a couple of hundred miles from his district tells you about all you need …

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Welcome to Atlanta, Mr. President. Now about pre-k . . .

President Barack Obama is expected in Atlanta today, to pitch a problem to a solution.

No, I don’t have that backward.

The president’s planned visit today to a Decatur pre-k school comes on the heels of his lauding Georgia’s preschool program during his State of the Union address Tuesday night. He wants to use it as a model for a federal effort “to make high-quality preschool available to every child in America.”

While I join Obama in applauding educational innovation in the states, I can think only of reasons a federal preschool program is a bad idea. Not least is the fact that the existing federal preschool program, Head Start, has been declared a failure by the very agency that administers it.

Head Start, a program for low-income children, has been around since 1965. But three years ago, after four and a half decades and $166 billion spent on the program, the Department of Health and Human Services concluded first-graders who had been in Head Start held virtually no …

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The next Republican in the Senate race? Probably not Tom Price

Now, that’s not to say Tom Price, who represents Georgia’s 6th Congressional District, won’t run in next year’s election to replace the retiring Saxby Chambliss. But unless no one else gets in the race during the next three months, Price won’t be the next candidate to jump in. (Paul Broun was the first.)

In a statement emailed today, Price said he’d raised $300,000 in the two weeks since Chambliss announced he wouldn’t seek re-election. That’s on top of the nearly $1.6 million in cash on hand his campaign committee reported as of Dec. 31. But, Price dded:

In November of 2012, the citizens of Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District re-elected me to represent them in the U. S. House of Representatives. This is a great honor and serious responsibility. As Vice Chairman of the Budget Committee, I’ve been entrusted with a leadership position by my colleagues. My current focus is on the formulation of a sound Budget Resolution, a plan to balance the budget within ten years and …

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Who says I never let y’all have fun on the weekend?

For your weekend entertainment pleasure — at least if you’re a nerd like me — I present:

Tax Reform: The Game.

Feels like it needs a bit more, huh? How about:

Tax Reform: The Game!

That’s better.

All joking aside, this is a pretty neat interactive site created by Christine Ries, an economist at Georgia Tech and member of the special council on tax reform which the Legislature created three years ago to produce reform recommendations. Reform recommendations it largely went on to ignore, that is.

But, had those recommendations not largely been ignored, there would be no reason for Tax Reform: The Game. In it, Ries has included several of the recommendations the council made. Players can mix and match them — and see how their choices would affect state revenues.

Here’s a preview of what it looks like, though you’ll have to click through one of the links above to actually play the game:

Tax Reform The Game

And if fiscal fun isn’t your idea of a good time this weekend, feel free to use the thread …

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Broun wastes no time in Georgia Senate race

Here’s what appeared on my screen when I checked the AJC Political Insider blog a few minutes ago:

Broun for Senate ads screen shot

That’s not one but two Broun for Senate ads, just two days after the congressman from Athens officially entered the race to replace the retiring Saxby Chambliss. Both ads take you to the typical landing page at which you can sign up for email updates or give money to the campaign. Beyond that, there’s a one-page website set up with what Broun calls his “Four Way Test for all legislation”: Is it constitutional/right/necessary/affordable?

Lest you have to guess which one of these four appears to be most important to Broun, here’s the script from his landing site:

Broun for Senate landing page screen shot

<– “Constitution”

.

.

.

<– “Constitutionalist”

<– “Constitution”

.

.

.

<– “Constitutional”

.

I guess you could say his campaign has a theme.

It’s a theme that will resonate with a lot of Georgia voters, mind you. But will it be enough of one to move many members of even the state GOP’s very conservative base beyond his

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One message minority voters already sent Georgia’s GOP

The GOP’s post-election listening tour comes to Atlanta today, with a twist.

Reince Preibus, the recently re-elected chairman of the Republican National Committee, is scheduled to meet this afternoon with a couple of dozen black Republicans in an “engagement and listening session” aimed at widening the GOP’s appeal. It’s an imperative bit of outreach for Georgia Republicans — the like of which the state party, despite undeniable demographic trends away from its nearly all-white voting base, has done dangerously little.

No doubt, any number of ideas will be discussed during this session. But there’s one policy that is a color-blindingly obvious necessity for any serious attempt to win over minority voters: school choice.

Just a week ago, hundreds of students and their parents and teachers braved the cold for the annual school-choice rally on the Capitol steps. As is the case every year, the majority of these students were not white.

And almost all of them will be eligible to …

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Poll shows muddled Georgia Democratic field for Senate

Most of the attention paid to Georgia’s soon-to-be-open U.S. Senate seat has gone to possible Republican candidates — including Congressman Paul Broun, who today became the first to file paperwork to run. But the race may be the best chance Georgia Democrats have at winning a statewide election in 2014, so who might run for their nomination?

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed has said he isn’t running. Congressman John Barrow has been more coy, but his hints suggest he is reluctant to give it a shot.

With all that in mind, I was intrigued by a poll tweeted a short while ago by the AJC’s Washington correspondent, Daniel Malloy. Pollster Fred Hicks surveyed 1,411 Democratic voters statewide Feb. 1-2. Here’s what he found:

Undecided: 21.5 percent

Congressman Sanford Bishop: 16.3 percent

Former Attorney General Thurbert Baker: 15.4 percent

Former Secretary of State Cathy Cox: 15.0 percent

Former Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond: 12.6 percent

Someone else: 8.8 percent

Former DeKalb CEO …

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Will national Republicans try to shape Georgia’s Senate race?

As possible candidates to replace Saxby Chambliss in the U.S. Senate continue to sidle up to the proverbial ring with their proverbial hats aimed at it, take a few minutes to read this story from the New York Times about how national GOP figures are trying to get more involved in recruiting and promoting candidates in Senate races across the country. Here’s the gist of it:

The biggest donors in the Republican Party are financing a new group to recruit seasoned candidates and protect Senate incumbents from challenges by far-right conservatives and Tea Party enthusiasts who Republican leaders worry could complicate the party’s efforts to win control of the Senate. …

The Conservative Victory Project, which is backed by Karl Rove and his allies who built American Crossroads into the largest Republican super PAC of the 2012 election cycle, will start by intensely vetting prospective contenders for Congressional races to try to weed out candidates who are seen as too flawed to win …

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Ethics quandary at the Gold Dome: What’s a lobbyist?

Of all possible obstacles to ethics reform, who thought the biggest one would be defining the word “lobbyist”? Yet, that’s where we stand today.

For years, the biggest obstacle was getting legislators to take up the issue of lobbyist gifts to legislators. Georgia is one of three states with no restrictions at all on them.

House Speaker David Ralston was one of the strongest, and most powerful, objectors to regulating these gifts. To Ralston’s credit, he responded to public pressure by revealing this past week two mostly good bills. Among other changes, his bills would ban nearly all lobbyist gifts to state and local officials; require campaign contributions in the run-up to the session to be reported within days (rather than in July); and, critically, restore the state ethics commission’s rule-making authority.

Now, if we can only figure out who the lobbyists are.

It sounds easy, right? After all, everyone knows what lobbying is: an effort to influence public officials to do …

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In defense of Georgia’s tax-credit scholarships

This month the Wingfield household, like millions of others across America, has received a growing number of tax documents. Among them are forms certifying that we gave $50 to this charity or $100 to that one, allowing us to reduce what we owe in taxes.

What neither we nor the IRS will receive is official documentation that our church converted X number of non-believers into Christians, or that a charity we supported decreased poverty or sexual exploitation by a quantifiable amount. Or that everyone who benefited from our donations earned less than a certain amount of income.

Yet, similar bits of data are being requested of one of the kinds of non-profits we could have supported but didn’t: Georgia’s student scholarship organizations.

These SSOs accept donations from Georgia taxpayers, who can then reduce their state income taxes by an equal amount — up to a limit for all donors of about $50 million per year, or one-quarter of 1 percent of all revenues the state expects to …

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