An early take on the race for Georgia’s 14th District

Next month, state lawmakers will gather again in Atlanta to redraw Georgia’s political boundaries.

In summer hearings across the state, this legislator and that one has sworn to eschew crass partisanship. Keeping like-minded voters together in new House, Senate and congressional districts will be topmost in their minds.

If you believe that, please send the number of your checking account as soon as possible.

Especially on the congressional level, redistricting will be a bloodthirsty affair, driven by the Republican effort to maintain control of the U.S. House and the Democratic effort to rip it away. Democrats are not playing nice in states they control. Republicans in Georgia will behave no better.

For GOP lawmakers gathered in Atlanta, the first decision may be which Democratic member of Congress to bleed — John Barrow of Savannah or Sanford Bishop of Albany.

The dearth of warm bodies below I-20 means Republicans can target one or the other, but probably not both. Barrow is likely to draw the short straw.

Bishop’s 2nd District covers most of southwest Georgia, the no-growth sector of the state. Redistricting is based on population shifts measured by the U.S. census. But the 2nd District has grown only fractionally — .4 percent.

Also, Bishop is African-American — a fact that, given the requirements of the Voting Rights Act, could provoke more scrutiny by the U.S. Justice Department.

On the other hand, Barrow is a prominent target — the last remaining white Democrat from the Deep South in Congress. More importantly, his 12th District has grown by 9 percent over the last 10 years.

Voters will have to be shifted away. Lawmakers are likely to make sure that many of them are Democratic — if Jack Kingston, the Republican congressman from Savannah, will absorb them.

The happier task for GOP lawmakers in Atlanta will be finding a suitably Republican location for Georgia’s new, 14th Congressional District.

Key to the geography will be the 7th District now occupied by U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall — which has grown by an astounding 30 percent. Woodall’s district, dominated by Gwinnett County, must shed more than 200,000 voters to reach the targeted 691,975 souls per member of Congress.

Mathematics says the new 14th District will be based in northeast Georgia. So do the politics of the state Capitol.

Every sketch of a 14th District presumes that Hall County will serve as its base. Gov. Nathan Deal has a house in Gainesville. Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle lives there. Fannin County, home to House Speaker David Ralston, is only a short drive up the road.

Two residents of Hall County have already latched onto political consultants in anticipation of a tumultuous, Republican-dominated battle for an open — and very safe — congressional seat.

One is Martha Zoller, the 16-year host of a north Georgia radio talk show devoted to politics and public affairs. (Zoller is aired on Gainesville’s FM103.7, which, like The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, is part of Cox Media Group.)

Zoller, 51, is a well-known speaker at political gatherings, and is said to have a talent for fundraising. She’s never run for public office, but any background in conservative talk radio suggests a decent relationship with the burgeoning tea party faction of the GOP.

However, though the primary is still more than a year away, and the district and the field of candidates remain hypothetical, state Rep. Doug Collins, 45, must be considered the early favorite.

Collins is an ordained minister and lawyer, and was named one of Gov. Nathan Deal’s floor leaders in January. (In a congressional ethics investigation, Collins was also listed as being present at a meeting that Deal, as a congressman, had with state officials — in defense of the future governor’s auto salvage business.)

But Collins’ ties to the House speaker may be more important. Shortly after his election to the House in 2007, Collins found himself on a plane for Iraq, as an Air Force Reserve chaplain. From thousands of miles away, Collins fought the House Republican caucus for the honor of casting one of the few votes for Ralston in his quixotic 2008 challenge to then-House Speaker Glenn Richardson.

Such things are not forgotten.

“Doug Collins is an excellent public servant and fine family man. We’re discussing opportunities that might exist in the future,” said political strategist Chip Lake, recently chief of staff for U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, R-Coweta County.

Westmoreland is the U.S. House member who has been placed in charge of national reapportionment issues for Republicans. So there is some chance that Collins will have a decent seat at the table once the line-drawing commences.

Given the unsettled nature of the Republican party, and the prospect of an unassailable perch in Congress, a raftful of other candidates are certain to join the race — depending on where the new 14th District stretches beyond Hall County.

An eastward move toward the Savannah River could prompt state Sen. Jim Butterworth, R-Cornelia, a Cagle ally, to consider the contest. A district that points farther north might tempt cardiologist Chris Cates of Blairsville, a 2010 candidate for the 9th District seat won by Republican Tom Graves.

But the 14th District isn’t likely to stray too far west, and Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers, R-Woodstock, has let it be known that he would prefer to stay in the Legislature, at least for now.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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31 comments Add your comment

Charles Stuckey

July 6th, 2011
6:42 pm

B1 Butterworth would have to make two trips just to haul his backbone to DC.

td

July 6th, 2011
6:54 pm

Plus tow additional Republicans from Georgia to the House of Reps sounds like a great outcome for redistricting.

Fire Eater

July 6th, 2011
7:03 pm

No Democrats running in the new 14th District? Ha Ha Ha!

Centrist

July 6th, 2011
7:06 pm

No mention of the last re-districting where Governor Barnes and Democrats drew such irregular and partisan maps that they got thrown out by various courts and judges.

While such manipulation is historic and got the name gerrymandering because of it – it is doubtful the current flock of Republicans will go to the lengths Democrats did in Georgia 10 years ago. Maybe the main reason is they don’t see their majorities so threatened like Democrats did.

td

July 6th, 2011
7:24 pm

This may be the first time ever that the republicans control a majority of state legislatures during a redistricting year. It should be very interesting to hear the screaming from the democrats on how unfair the redistricting process is.

Bill Smith

July 6th, 2011
7:52 pm

I bet Martha Zollar will run quite a race. I will vote for her if I live in the new district. I wonder who her consultant is?

As for Butterworth, a friend of mine who spent quite a bit of time at the capitol working on a project this year says exactly the same thing about him.

The Centrist

July 6th, 2011
7:52 pm

I sure hate that John Sidney McCain and Sara Palin didn’t win the 2008 election, and I’m glad I’m over 55.

Centrist

July 6th, 2011
8:00 pm

I think it was Jim Galloway’s Uncle Gerry who helped Roy Barnes and the Democrats in Georgia make that salamander shaped district the judge threw out. I believe that was the origin of the name gerrymander – but THIS year with Republicans mostly in control it will be reported as if it is a new maneuver. References to past Democratic gerrymandering will not be tolerated by the Democratic party’s MSM organs. Only read and hear about it on the internet, Wall Street Journal, Fox, and talk radio tributaries which are growing into the next main streams.

(I’m just having fun in good mood with the Braves up)

Just Wait

July 6th, 2011
8:13 pm

If you don’t think the Republicans will do whatever is necessary to increase their numbers in Congress, you’ve drank too much of the KoolAide. And gerrymandering has been around much longer that Georgia Democrats.

jd

July 6th, 2011
8:59 pm

Centrist — as we see in NC, Republicans don’t draw districts that look like gerrymanders — they resemble Rohrsach tests on crumpled paper!

tom mitchell

July 6th, 2011
9:00 pm

Centrist…you are an idiot Where did you first hear the term “gerrymander”? Did you dream it up and decide you should alert the world? Get off this blog, please.

Centrist

July 6th, 2011
9:20 pm

@ tom mitchell who calls me an idiot – here are answers to you questions and comment:

Where did you first hear the term “gerrymander”?
Probably in a 5th grade classroom during civics.

Did you dream it up and decide you should alert the world?
No, others beat me to it.

Get off this blog, please.
Sorry, not going to happen.

(Centrists are considered idiots by most Republicans and Democrats, so it must be true)

The Centrist

July 6th, 2011
9:20 pm

Martha Zoller gets paid by the owners of the liberal AJC. Let’s eliminate $3.5 BILLION from the Federal budget over the next 10-years by eliminating the FCC so that the Cox Sisters and Murdock at Fox can use the money as they see fit.

The Centrist

July 6th, 2011
9:31 pm

To answer the question. Governor Elbridge Gerry signed a bill that redistricted Massachusetts to benefit his, now this is really funny, Democratic-Republican Party. When mapped, one of the contorted districts in the Boston area was said to resemble the shape of a salamander. With the last space shuttle, we can justify eliminating NASA all together to get rid of $200 BILLION, over, ten-years, from the Federal budget.

The Centrist

July 6th, 2011
9:34 pm

Did someone mention “civics?” The entire annual budget for the US Department of Labor is $14 Billion. Let’s eliminate it and save $140 Billion over the next 10-years. That will get rid of those welfare queens.

The Centrist

July 6th, 2011
9:41 pm

As we get ready for debates about redistricting and when an African American complains about the past, particularly in the South, tell them to look up a book published in 1859 by James Redpath.

The Centrist

July 6th, 2011
9:43 pm

It is funny, prior to the Civil War, Northern Alabama and North Carolina were liberal!

Prognosticate

July 6th, 2011
11:38 pm

Rogers vs. Olens 2014 gov race

brad

July 7th, 2011
7:48 am

brad

July 7th, 2011
7:51 am

AKA Centrist’s mama and daddy.

Maximilian Greenburg

July 7th, 2011
8:13 am

I just needed a space to say that Beverly Hall is a corrupt, cheating, money grubbing low life…oh, and did I say that she was really ugly, too?

Mullis

July 7th, 2011
8:14 am

Vote for my buddy MIKE EVANS for the 14th Congressional District. Chicks dig his ponytail!

Red

July 7th, 2011
8:15 am

Prior to the Civil War Northern AL was liberal? How did you come to that conclusion?

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History Will Teach Us if We Will Learn

July 7th, 2011
9:32 am

I think the Centrist is not a Centrist most of the time, although with change in time what was the center can move left or right on the political spectrum. That said, he is right about gerrymandering in Mass. Gov. Gerry was an early patriot who for the most part was opposed to the new Federalism. The Democratic-Republicans were a precursor to the Republican Party and leaned toward strict constructionism of the Constitution. The Federals preferred a strong central government similar to Great Britain. At the time Jefferson, Madison and Gerry (D/R Party founders) were considered liberal at the time. Kinda ironic…
And Centrist is right about the northern counties of AL, Ga and NC. Prior and during the Civil War, the did not support the seccessionist movement. Most lived in the mountians didnt own slaves and werent concerned about railroad tarriffs. This is why we have a Union County. Ain’t history great!

Sluggo

July 7th, 2011
10:24 am

Is anybody hearing about Lee Hawkins possibly running?

Sluggo

July 7th, 2011
10:25 am

Enter your comments here

CobbGOPer

July 7th, 2011
11:01 am

I wonder if Cagle is interested. I mean, he bowed out of the Governor’s race, does he intend on hanging around potentially until 2018 to try his hand? Seems like he doesn’t have anywhere to go after Lt. Governor, why not try to cop a sweet DC gig…

RetiredSoldier

July 7th, 2011
11:38 am

Red-

There were pockets of Republianism in several areas of the “south”. Mountain republians in NC, TN, AL and GA. In the hill country of Texas where many germans lived was also a republican area. In the mid 1800’s on many issues republicans were more moderate than democrats.

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