When Senate District 31 was redrawn last year, it dropped Bartow County and picked up a larger slice of Paulding County.
The new lines have delivered unto Republican incumbent Bill Heath of Haralson County a total of two challengers, both from Paulding. A first debate of the trio was held Tuesday evening, hosted by the Paulding County Republican Women’s Club. Yours truly moderated.
Two topics, both of which will appear on the July 31 GOP primary ballot, stood out as potential difference makers. First was the matter of a $100 (per day) cap on gifts to state lawmakers from lobbyists. You’ll remember that a coalition of tea party and good-government groups are pushing candidates to sign a pledge supporting the gift cap.
From Bill Carruth, a businessman and former chairman of the Paulding County Commission:
”I’ve signed that pledge, but I’ll take it one step further. I’ll make a commitment – I won’t take any perks, any theater tickets, any ball game tickets, any dinners, any hunting trips. I won’t take anything from a lobbyist or PAC.”
Heath was more circumspect:
”I learned a long time ago, you need to be very careful about signing pledges. Oftentimes a pledge you signed [with] good intentions is turned around, and someone wants to interpret it to affect your ability to legislate.
“I don’t think we can pass a law to make good folks out of bad people…I will support actively any effective ethics legislation. But I will tell you that the decision on good ethics lies in each of your hands. When you elect good, honest people to office, you don’t have to have laws to tell them how to behave.”
And from J.K. Rogers, an investigator with the Cobb County solicitor’s office:
”I don’t need free meals. I would like to see it go to a lower amount. The people who are serving should be serving for the people. They should not be serving to go to the Wild Hog Supper. They should not be serving to go to dinner….So to me, I think $100 is even too much.”
And then there was the topic of casino gambling. From Heath:
”The laws of this state, and this nation itself, were founded on biblical principles….The Bible says you should not gamble. We’ve created this system to fund education. We sugarcoated gambling a few years ago. Zell Miller did that. We instituted a lottery to encourage you all to gamble to fund education….Guess who’s paying for the education of the rich kids? It’s the poor folks. The same thing will happen with casino gambling….I will always vote against casino gambling. I’ll vote against horse-racing. If I were given the chance, I’d vote against the lottery, because I think it’s wrong.”
Then came Carruth:
”I’m opposed to it, and I’m not prejudiced. But if I saw where these Indian reservations were going to be able to bring in for-profit gambling….and that money was going to be collected anyway, and spent to make people wealthy rather than spent on education, or something we could use in the state to supplement tax money, then I would try to step in and get ahead of that.”
After the forum Carruth amended his answer to a simple “no.”
And from Rogers:
”I don’t like it. I don’t think it’s the right thing to do. But I also have to say that there are a lot of things I don’t like. And a lot of other people, they do these things. When I start imposing all of my values and all of my beliefs on you, I think I overstep my bounds. You’re smart people. You don’t need me telling you everything that you need to do, or you shouldn’t do. I think the people should decide these things – that it shouldn’t necessarily come from the top down.”
Jane Bradshaw, former parliamentarian for the state Democratic party, and Melanie Goux, editor of the website Blog for Democracy, reported late Tuesday that negotiations with Democratic party political director Rashad Richey have resulted in a permanent dismissal of his libel suit. From Bradshaw and Goux:
”Though we were never served with the lawsuit, and therefore did not have a chance to defend our names in court, we know that we never did anything wrong.
Ultimately, it is in the best interest of all parties that this dispute is resolved. We look forward to working to elect Democrats in Georgia this fall.
We are grateful for the outpouring of support from many in the Democratic community, including the legal community, and would like to acknowledge our lead counsel, Stefan Turkheimer, Turkheimer & Hadden LLC for bringing this matter to a satisfactory resolution.”
The question now is whether Richey will continue to pursue his suit against Republican blogger Andre Walker of Georgia Politics Unfiltered.
In a Monday night debate down in south Georgia, when asked about a vote he cast in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary, Wright McLeod of Augusta – one of four GOP candidates seeking to challenge U.S. Rep. John Barrow – said he voted for Bill Richardson, the most conservative Democrat on the ballot.
Larry Peterson of the Savannah Morning News has completed the fact check:
But Richardson, the former governor of New Mexico, didn’t receive any votes in the precinct where McLeod was registered to vote. The registration was confirmed by the Richmond County Board of Elections and vote totals for the precinct are from the Georgia Secretary of State’s office.
On the Wisconsin front, Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post makes this point about Gov. Scott Walker’s victory over a recall effort:
Being outspent 10-1 (or worse) is never a recipe for success in a race. Democrats cried foul over Walker’s exploitation of a loophole that allowed him to collect unlimited contributions prior to the official announcement of the recall in late March. Of course, Democrats also pushed the recall and Walker played by the rules of the game — making what he did strategically smart rather than underhandedly nefarious.
And Alan Abramowitz, the Emory University political scientist, added the following this morning:
An examination of the voting patterns and exit poll results in Tuesday’s Wisconsin recall election indicates that turnout was a key factor in incumbent Republican Scott Walker’s victory over his Democratic challenger, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.
While there was a heavy turnout for a special election, the actual number of votes cast, just over 2.5 million, fell well short of the nearly 3 million votes cast in the 2008 presidential election. And Republicans appear to have done a better job of getting their voters to the polls.
Turnout for the recall election was 91 percent of 2008 turnout in suburban Waukesha County, the largest GOP county in the state, but only 83 percent of 2008 turnout in Milwaukee County, the largest Democratic county in the state.
The same pattern was evident in the exit poll results. The 2012 recall electorate was noticeably older, whiter, more conservative and more Republican than the 2008 electorate…. Most significantly, on Tuesday Republicans outnumbered Democrats by 35 percent to 34 percent according to the exit poll. Four years ago, Democrats outnumbered Republicans by 39 percent to 33 percent.
On the GOP side, one of the largest players was the Republican Governors Association. Marty Klein, a former staffer for Gov. Sonny Perdue, said his firm, OnTarget, did all the RGA’s direct mail: “Over 3 million pieces of mail in total, over 700,000 personalized absentee request application mailers, over half a million personalized early voting mailers, etc.”
In other words, if Marty owes you money, now would be a good time to get in touch.
On Tuesday, U.S. Sens. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., and John McCain, R-Ariz., lambasted the White House for leaking what they considered sensitive intelligence information for political purposes. U.S. Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, the Democratic chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said his panel would hold hearings on the matter.
“With each leak, our allies are left to wonder how much they can trust us with their secrets,” Chambliss said. “Some in the administration have decided that scoring political points in an election year outweighs intelligence operations.”
Click here for a video of Chambliss’ remarks on the Senate floor.
Tom Crawford of Georgia Report says the current debate in the Legislature over ethics reminds him of a similar fight years ago over whether lobbyists should be required to register the names of their clients. House Speaker Tom Murphy opposed the move. Upstart lawmaker McCracken Poston pushed the measure through:
Poston said that Murphy, like Ralston, understood that lobbyists helped the House leadership maintain control over the 180 individuals who make up that chamber through the money spent to entertain legislators.
“I realized I was challenging a very institutionalized lever he could use on committee chairmen,” Poston recalled. “By knowing which chairmen liked to eat at the Capitol City Club, and which ones liked to play golf, he could keep control of the place a lot better.”
The AJC’s Politifact Georgia today takes a look at Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s claim that construction of the new terminal at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport was completed on time and under budget.
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider