Archive for August, 2011

Mitt Romney’s men at the state Capitol

You know that Attorney General Sam Olens and former House Republican leader Mark Burkhalter of Alpharetta are already in Mitt Romney’s corner – and have been for some time.

This morning, the Romney presidential campaign – perhaps sensing that Texas Gov. Rick Perry might do the same any day – today put out a list of other supporters at the Capitol. They include:

— Bill Hamrick of Carrollton, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee;

– Calvin Hill of Canton, vice chairman of the House Appropriations Committee;

– House Majority Whip Edward Lindsey of Atlanta;

–Wendell Willard, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee;

– Rep. Bruce Williamson of Monroe, a first-termer;

– and Public Service Commissioner Doug Everett;

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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Legislature salutes a ‘Man of Steel’

The House this morning will take up the matter of Lt. Bobby Woods, an Army Ranger from north Georgia – and a graduate of the University of Georgia. From the resolution:

WHEREAS, on August 7, 2010, he was on patrol outside of Kandahar, Afghanistan, when his platoon was suddenly ambushed; Lieutenant Woods was shot in the head above his eye by a sniper, and the bullet shattered his bone and lodged in his temple; and

WHEREAS, while under enemy fire, Lieutenant Woods used his own bandage to wrap his head, and he miraculously led the rest of the platoon as they defeated the ambush; and

WHEREAS, Lieutenant Woods conducted a med-evac to evacuate the wounded after the combat; however, instead of leaving with the wounded, the brave Lieutenant led the rest of the platoon back to base before seeking medical attention for himself; and

WHEREAS, he was flown to Walter Reed Army Medical Center for treatment and has undergone at least four surgeries, and while his medical prognosis remains …

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Your morning jolt: New FBI unit takes aim at corrupt state judges, lawmakers in Georgia

A unique way to greet the return of the Legislature to the state Capitol this morning, from Greg Bluestein and the Associated Press:

The FBI has assembled a new squad to investigate corruption among judges and legislators in Georgia, though the top federal agent in the state is being tightlipped about what cases are developing.

Brian Lamkin, who heads the FBI office in Georgia, [said] he decided to form the team after months of reviews and a look at the bureau’s long-term priorities.

Georgia’s FBI office has long used a single squad that handled the brunt of corruption cases, from law enforcement officials to government officials. But Lamkin set up a special team to look into wrongdoing by police and other law enforcement officers and landed string of recent corruption charges. That team will still check out officers while the second new corruption squad will have a different goal, he said.

“It impacts the everyday system. It’s not just a dirty law enforcement officer that …

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Karma and the drawing of Georgia’s political boundaries

Ten years later, what went around, came around.

Last week, our Republican-led Legislature plunged into the ruthless process known as redistricting.

Constitutionally, it is an occasion to pay homage to the concept of one person, one vote. In reality, redistricting is the irresistible opportunity for the ruling forces of the Capitol to redraw the state’s political boundaries — with the object of securing their own power for the next decade.

Congressional lines will be tackled this week. U.S. Rep. John Barrow, the Democrat from Savannah, is advised to reserve a moving van — Republicans are almost sure to force him out of his district, again.

A ghost of 2001: Senate District 51 required an eight-hour trek by car

A ghost of 2001: Senate District 51, occupied by Republican Bill Stephens, required an eight-hour trek by car

But the true blueprint for power in Georgia was largely settled on Thursday, when House and Senate Republicans passed separate district maps — intended to give their party super-majorities in each chamber.

In the House, white …

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Channel 2 poll: Rick Perry takes a quick lead in Georgia

A fresh poll by Channel 2 Action News and InsiderAdvantage shows Texas Gov. Rick Perry coming out of the chute strong in Georgia, with nearly a quarter of the Republican vote after only a week in the 2012 presidential campaign.

Undecided comes a close second at 20 percent.

More from Lori Geary and company when available, but here are the basics:

– Rick Perry, 24 percent;

– Herman Cain, 15 percent;

– Newt Gingrich, 9 percent;

– Michele Bachmann, 8 percent;

– Mitt Romney, 6 percent;

– Ron Paul, 5 percent;

– Jon Huntsman, 1 percent;

– And other candidates, 4 percent;

The details: 425 likely GOP presidential primary voters, conducted by automated telephone interviews on Thursday, margin of error plus or minus 5 percent.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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A first Latino district – without a Latino lawmaker

Tom Crawford of the Georgia Report is the first to examine this aspect of the House redistricting map that passed Thursday:

The House map adopted by Republican lawmakers includes, for the first time in the state’s history, a legislative district in Gwinnett County with a population that is more than 50 percent Latino.

District 99, the state's first majority Latino district

District 99, the state's first majority Latino district

The Latino-majority district, however, does not include the residences of either Rep. Pedro Marin (D-Duluth) or Rep. David Casas (R-Lilburn), two of the first Latinos elected to the General Assembly in 2002. Instead, the incumbent legislator who resides in the Latino-majority district (House District 99) is Rep. Hugh Floyd (D-Norcross).

When asked why the House carved out a Latino district and then bypassed current Latino legislators, Rep. Roger Lane (R-Darien) said, “We don’t draw districts for a legislator, we draw it for the folks who live there. This area was compact enough to draw it with a …

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Your morning jolt: Jon Huntsman, Christine O’Donnell headed to state Capitol

Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman announced via Twitter on Thursday that he’s a thoroughly modern man when it comes to Darwin and climate change – unlike a certain Texas governor.

From the Associated Press:

“To be clear. I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy,” Huntsman tweeted.

Although Huntsman didn’t mention Perry by name, the tweet was sent within hours of a campaign stop by Perry in New Hampshire where was asked by the crowd about both topics.

While Perry dodged a question about climate change, he has previously said the theory is unproven. On Thursday, he defended the teaching of creationism in schools because evolution “has some gaps to it.”

Why is this worth a mention? Because on Wednesday, Huntsman will be at the state Capitol in Atlanta to meet Gov. Nathan Deal and as many state legislators as possible.

Perry already has a firm contingent of supporters in the Capitol, and Deal is still formally tied to Gingrich …

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Senate may have just created the most expensive legislative race in state history

After five hours of debate and a straight party-line vote, the state Senate on Thursday created what is likely to be the most expensive legislative race in Georgia history.

The new Senate District 6, as passed by the Senate on Thursday

The new Senate District 6, as passed by the Senate on Thursday

Yes, Senate Republicans also passed a map designed to give them a two-thirds majority in the chamber after 2012, and allow GOP domination of local legislation for majority non-white Fulton County.

More on that later.

Key to the Republican search for a constitutional majority is Senate District 6, now occupied by Doug Stoner, D-Smyrna. The Cobb County district has been shifted east into most of Buckhead and much of Sandy Springs. Republicans will make up 55 percent of the district.

The contest for the seat will be a political consultant’s playground – a district populated by many would-be politicians and millionaires. Chances are, in some cases, they’ll turn out to be one and the same.

The contest is likely to eclipse the 2002 state Senate …

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Your morning jolt: The lions and lambs of Georgia politics on one team

You know that the metro Atlanta effort to pass next year’s transit sales tax struck something of a sandbar earlier this month, when the campaign’s top political strategist, Glenn Totten, abandoned the project. Possibly with some encouragement.

A retooling is underway. Right now, Paul Bennecke, the former political director for the Republican Governors Association, is the only name of note attached to that campaign effort, which is being financed by the Metro Atlanta Chamber.

An overlapping $3 million statewide effort – remember that counties will be grouped into a dozen regional tax conclaves – is being underwritten by the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, which on Wednesday announced one of the most carefully balanced political teams we’ve ever seen.

Talk about your lions and lambs bedding down together:

Heath Garrett, principal political strategist with the Stephens and Schriefer Group, is a former chief of staff for U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson;

Chris Carpenter, the …

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How the transit sales tax is about to become tangled in a fight for control of Fulton County

Early this week, the leaders of five disparate pieces of metro Atlanta — unlikely partners such as the mayors of Atlanta and Kennesaw — unanimously settled on a draft list of $6.14 billion in transportation projects to be paid for with a 1-cent sales tax.

If, that is, the tax is approved by the voters of 10 metro counties sometime next year.

In a land that has nearly as many governments as churches — “feudal” and “futile” are both words that have been applied to the region — the completion of a group shopping list for metro Atlanta can be rightly pegged as historic.

But already, the time for celebrating is over. At the state Capitol, next year’s statewide round of regional sales tax votes is again in trouble.

At issue is legislation backed by Gov. Nathan Deal to shift the day of the vote from the July primary, when the electorate is likely to be overwhelmingly Republican, to the November general election.

Tea-party Republicans against the sales tax are …

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