Archive for January, 2012

Democrats to boycott effort to remove Barack Obama from Georgia ballot

Democrats, including the attorney representing President Barack Obama, have made a last-minute decision to boycott the Thursday hearing to consider a “birther” effort to remove Obama from the March 6 presidential primary ballot.

“They can tilt at windmills on their own,” said state Democratic spokesman Eric Gray on Wednesday night.

Last week, in a surprise ruling, a Georgia state administrative judge declined to quash a subpoena directing Obama to attend a hearing Thursday at the Fulton County courthouse on a challenge to strike him from the Georgia ballot this fall on claims he is not a natural born U.S. citizen. Read more background here from my AJC colleague Bill Rankin.

Among tomorrow’s no-shows will be Michael Jablonski, the Atlanta attorney serving as counsel to Obama. He’s written a letter to Secretary of State Brian Kemp, a Republican, asking him to intervene and bring the circus to a halt.

Among those pressing the action is state Rep. Mark Hatfield, R-Waycross. …

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The latest Florida hit on Newt Gingrich: He wasn’t Ronald Reagan’s vice president

Restore Our Future, the Mitt Romney-allied super PAC, now has this video up in Florida:

Here’s the full citation from the Reagan Diaries for Jan. 3, 1983, as noted by the website Capcy:

“Met with a group of young Repub. Congressmen. Newt Gingrich has a proposal for freezing the budget at the 1983 level. It’s a tempting idea except that it would cripple our defense program. And if we make an exception on that every special interest group will be asking for the same.”

You’ll note that the Restore Our Future ad doesn’t acknowledge Reagan’s use of the word “tempting.”

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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Johnny Isakson, Saxby Chambliss send judicial signals to White House

Concerned about your local federal judiciary? The White House has received this letter from U.S. Sens. Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson, giving President Barack Obama’s lawyer the names of judicial nominees they promise not to block.

One of them, Linda Walker, is a magistrate in the Northern District. And an African-American. She’s in line for a full judgeship, and would be the first black woman on the bench. Walker has been nominated before, but found herself trapped in the maze between Congress and the White House.

The others:

– Mark Cohen, for the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals,

– and Jill Pryor, as a judge for the Northern District of Georgia.

See the letter for yourself here.

Here’s an October piece — necessary background — by my AJC colleague Daniel Malloy:

WASHINGTON — Three long-awaited federal judge vacancies in Atlanta that have been declared “emergencies” are nowhere close to being filled, as they remain bogged down in murky disputes between the White …

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Super PACs drive a near-doubling in federal election spending

Some amazing paragraphs posted this afternoon at opensecrets.org:

The amount of outside spending for ads and other purposes in the current election cycle is nearly double what had been spent at the same point in 2008, according to calculations by the Center for Responsive Politics.

As of Jan. 24, $44.6 million had been spent on independent expenditures, electioneering communications and communications from unions to members and corporations to shareholders. At the same point in 2008, the figure was $23.1 million, and in 2010 it was $21.1 million.

The knock-out figure: 95 percent of this cycle’s spending can be traced to presidential super PACs.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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Drop rail link and restore reversible I-75 lanes, says Cobb Commission chair Tim Lee

Cobb County Commission Chairman Tim Lee and Kennesaw Mayor Mark Mathews just finished a surprise presser at the state Capitol, where they said they would pursue a reworking of Cobb projects to be paid for by the penny sales tax that comes up for a vote in July.

Dump a new rail spur from Atlanta to the Cumberland area, they said, in order to restore the reversible toll lanes project up I-75/575.

The state Department of Transportation, prompted by Gov. Nathan Deal, canceled bidding for it last month. Deal in his State of the State address said he was “opposed to contracting away Georgia’s sovereignty for a period of 60 to 70 years” on the road.

The rail link to Atlanta is by far the most controversial item on the Cobb project list – and Lee faces a primary challenge concurrent with the T-SPLOST vote on July 31. But he said that wasn’t a factor.

Lee and Mathews were Cobb’s two representatives on the roundtable committee that drew up the list of projects for the 10-county …

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Cloak-and-dagger redistricting in Athens

Look for Athens to boil over in the next few days. We’re hearing that a certain state Rep. Doug McKillip, a former Democrat in the area, is backing local legislation to force a March 6 – that’s right, in five weeks – referendum on some specifics of Athens/Clarke County’s consolidated government.

The bill hasn’t been dropped. Yet. But note that March 6 is the day of Georgia’s presidential primary, when hordes of Republican voters will be driven to the polls. Not so many Democrats are expected. President Barack Obama’s name is the only one on the ballot.

As a university town, the A/CC area leans Democratic, but its government is officially nonpartisan — a mayor and 10-person commission. The latter is made up of eight district commissioners and two elected at-large.

The at-large commissioners – Mike Hamby and Kelly Girtz — appear to be one set of targets. The choice that is to be placed before voters, we understand, would do away with the at-large …

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Scrutinizing Mitt Romney’s biggest fan

Last night, the unstoppable Joe McCutchen of Ellijay attempted to explain his unmatched passion for Mitt Romney on Comedy Central.

Oscar Poole, famous for the bright yellow suit he wears to GOP conventions, unfortunately was campaigning for Romney in Florida and doesn’t make an appearance. But you still have to watch it:

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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The tea party, religious conservative push for ethics

Below is a letter from a coalition of tea partyers and religious conservatives, demanding that the Legislature take up a cap on gifts from lobbyists. The signatures at the bottom are worth looking at:

Dear Legislators:

Over the past two and half years we have seen the biggest grassroots conservative movement in recent history. The American, and more specifically Georgia conservative has risen-up (some for the first time) to become involved in the political process.

We are dedicated to a return to fiscal and personal responsibility, constitutionally limited government, and free market solutions. Now, Tea Party groups, 9-12 groups, and other grassroots activists are uniting together with long-time established conservative statewide organizations in Georgia to call for strong ethics and accountability from our leaders.

We now have the ability to move forward on what could be the most important piece of legislation this session, a comprehensive ethics reform bill being offered …

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Newt Gingrich: NBC took audience out of Monday’s debate

And the crowd goes – silent.

GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich this morning complained that NBC took the audience out of Monday night’s debate in Tampa, by requesting those in the hall to hold their applause.

Said Gingrich, via The Hill newspaper:

“I wish in retrospect I had protested when Brian Williams took [the crowd] out of it because I think it’s wrong,” he said. “I think he took them out of it because the media is terrified that the audience is going to side with the candidates against the media, which is what they’ve done in every debate.”

Gingrich was in fact off his game last night. He eventually returned this volley from Mitt Romney, but it took a while:

Last week in South Carolina, Fox News and CNN encouraged audience reaction. Presumably, Thursday’s debate hosted by CNN will follow the same pattern. An inquiry to CNN prompted this statement:

“As we have done in the past, CNN will ask the audience to be respectful of the candidates. We have …

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Georgia as Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney showdown site

Newt Gingrich supporters cheer in Columbia, S.C, after they learned that Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich had defeated his GOP rival Mitt Romney in the South Carolina Republican presidential primary. Tim Dominick/The State/MCT

Newt Gingrich supporters cheer in Columbia, S.C, after they learned that Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich had defeated his GOP rival Mitt Romney in the South Carolina Republican presidential primary. Tim Dominick/The State/MCT

COLUMBIA, S.C. — If you’ve prayed and pined for the 2012 race for president to come to Georgia, send a dozen roses to Juan Williams over at Fox News. Or John King at CNN.

They just made it happen.

Firing up South Carolina voters with explosive media-bashing performances in two nationally televised debates this week, GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich on Saturday dashed Mitt Romney’s chances of putting a quick end to the race for the Republican nomination.

By doing so, the revived former U.S. House speaker has ensured that, in the next four weeks or so, TV sets in metro Atlanta and beyond will be saturated with the same calm, philosophic conversations that have graced living rooms in Iowa, New Hampshire, and – until 12 hours …

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