Your morning jolt: Local races will create climate for transportation sales tax vote

The qualifying period for candidates seeking a spot on the July 31 primary ballot began this morning.

Secretary of State Brian Kemp has promised live updates here. My AJC colleague Aaron Gould Sheinin has a rolling blog going – plus an advance that focused on tea party ambitions:

[Debbie Dooley of Atlanta Tea Party Patriots] said a tea party candidate has already announced a challenge to state Sen. Jack Murphy, a Republican from Cumming and chairman of the Senate Banking Committee. The movement is also hopeful, she said, to have a serious challenger for state Sen. Don Balfour, a Republican from Snellville and chairman of the Senate Rules Committee….

Dooley said if former state Rep. Clay Cox, R-Lilburn, doesn’t qualify to run against Balfour, she will — reluctantly.

While candidates are ponying up qualifying fees in the Capitol, the watchdog Common Cause will lead tea partyists – and state Sen. Josh McKoon, R-Columbus – further down that frightful, liberal path to chaos this morning. They’ll have a press conference calling on all GOP and Democratic candidates to sign a pledge to limit lobbyist gifts to legislators to $100.

But the most dedicated students of the next three days of qualifying will be the political strategists behind the transportation sales tax campaigns in metro Atlanta and the rest of the state. The concoction of local races for county commission seats, district attorney, sheriff, Congress, and the Legislature will create the voting environment by which the transit initiative will pass or fail.

State Reps. Elena Parent and Scott Holcomb, two Atlanta Democrats paired in the same district, are to announce Friday which one of them won’t run. We’re betting that Parent will bow out – she’s been introducing Holcomb to her voters.

A new poll by the Washington Post/ABC News finds evidence that President Barack Obama’s support for gay marriage may have changed a few minds:

Overall, 53 percent of Americans say gay marriage should be legal, hitting a high mark in support while showing a dramatic turnaround from just six years ago, when just 36 percent thought it should be legal. Thirty-nine percent, a new low, say gay marriage should be illegal.

On the other hand, Gallup says its latest polling data shows that personal identification with a woman’s right to abortion is slipping:

The 41% of Americans who now identify themselves as “pro-choice” is down from 47% last July and is one percentage point below the previous record low in Gallup trends, recorded in May 2009. Fifty percent now call themselves “pro-life,” one point shy of the record high, also from May 2009….

However, opinion on the legality of abortion is holding steady:

Since 2001, at least half of Americans have consistently chosen the middle position, saying abortion should be legal under certain circumstances, and the 52% saying this today is similar to the 50% in May 2011. The 25% currently wanting abortion to be legal in all cases and the 20% in favor of making it illegal in all cases are also similar to last year’s findings.

U.S. Rep. Peter King, chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, is seeking an FBI investigation into White House leaks of information surrounding that aborted underwear bombing. Reuters news service adds this:

Later on Monday, Sen. Saxby Chambliss, vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, faxed a similar but more specific request to [the FBI].

A representative of Chambliss’ office said that the letter referred to a Reuters story from last week, which disclosed that a briefing by a senior White House official may have inadvertently tipped the media to sensitive information about an undercover informant who played a central role in the case.

The briefing by John Brennan, the White House counterterrorism adviser, came after the Associated Press wrote the first story about the plot by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) to plant an underwear bomber on a U.S. flight.

During the call, Brennan said that the bomb scheme was never a real threat because the U.S. had “inside control” over the plot. Within hours, a former official who was on the call speculated on television that the U.S. “had somebody on the inside” of the plot.

Denis O’Hayer of WABE (90.1FM) has posted a long interview with state Sen. George Hooks, D-Americus, who is leaving the Legislature after three decades. Hooks, the chamber’s unofficial historian, hits the highlights of his career, and has this observation on current Republican thinking:

”Should you say no taxes at all? Frankly, I don’t like voting for a tax increase, and I hope I have voted for very few. But I think you do a disservice to the citizens when you just say no, no, no. Georgia has not raised a motor fuel tax – we’re the lowest in the nation – since 1971, when then Gov. Jimmy Carter was in office. Frankly, the other states have moved ahead of us. So we need to examine that. That’s one of the things we’ll be talking about this summer.”

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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9 comments Add your comment


May 23rd, 2012
9:53 am

I was a Tea Partier when it first started in FL, and even supported Governor Scott. I am now regretting that affiliation. The Tea Party has become arrogant, and its one-dimensional approach of bashing all things government (believe it or not, government does some things well) is just plain old.

They are stale, repetitive, and have become very boring. I will go back to being Conservative, and move away from the Tea Party blowhards.

TSPLOST Supporter

May 23rd, 2012
9:57 am

All you Tea Partyists and TSPLOST opponents should take note of that last paragraph from Senator Hooks.


May 23rd, 2012
10:57 am

You do a disservice to the citizens when you enable bad legislators and bad legislation by voting for poorly written legislation like the TSPLOST/TIA. TSPLOST/TIA will only continue business as usual where the region continues to let well connected developers make the land use decisions even though its ultimately unsustainable. Its laughable that democrats would vote for this poorly written legislation that makes the dangerous step into funding road construction with a general sales tax that even applies to essential groceries. Road building is something that offers an unique ability to use taxes that more closely resemble user fees, thus allowing some semblance of rational consumer decisions. Taxing people who don’t own a car or who make decisions to use their car less does not promote sustainable decisions but hides the true cost of driving alone. Tolls and gas taxes should be used to fund major road corridors, not a sales tax on essential groceries.


May 23rd, 2012
10:59 am

And why does TSPLOST exempt the sale of gas from the tax?
Why does TSPLOST exempt Delta from the tax?
Why does TSPLOST exempt the price of a car over $5,000 exempt?
What other loopholes or unintended consequences baked into this tax?


May 23rd, 2012
11:01 am

Why are people inside 285 the ones overwhelmingly in favor of the TSPLOST while the folks outside are not when the main beneficiaries of the TSPLOST passage will be those far outside 285? Or perhaps they aren’t beneficiaries since their communities probably will face a reduction in Quality of Life from the car dependent growth the TSPLOST subsidizes.


May 23rd, 2012
11:13 am

“Altogether the project list includes $463 million for roads and bridges; $45 million for freight, logistics and aviation; $27 million for safety and traffic operations; $11 million for bicycle and pedestrian projects; $8 million for planning and management; and $7 million for public transit”

Including a major widening of GA 96, at $41 million, the road leading from former Gov. Perdue’s business to I-16.


May 23rd, 2012
11:46 am

Omitted attribution. Above is from Macon Telegraph


May 23rd, 2012
12:14 pm


How else will the former governor get from his business to I-16 to keep an eye on his trucking business and further arm-twist us into paying for his destruction of the Savannah River.

say what?

May 23rd, 2012
2:01 pm

Stop listening to polls: they are either wrong or right. When they call I give them the answer I think they want to find. It is fun to read these news stories built around lies lies and more lies.
Hey, but the pollsters have to work so keep calling.