The Metro Atlanta Chamber is coordinating an effort to identify legislative candidates on the July 31 primary ballots who support – or oppose – the transportation sales tax that will be decided the same day.
A letter sent over the names of 25 business groups and chambers of commerce – many of which can be counted on for regular campaign contributions through their political action committees – opens with these paragraphs:
Your response is kindly requested to better inform these and other businesses, organizations and voters as they make decisions about which candidates to support during the 2012 election cycle.
We believe the regional transportation referendum is the only option available to address metro Atlanta’s traffic congestion problem. We also believe the project selection process was an open and collective effort by local elected leaders and thousands of citizens across our region. We believe this is our best opportunity to improve and expand our transportation infrastructure while creating a major, long-lasting economic boost to the metro Atlanta region.
It is important for us, and to the voters of this region, to know where candidates stand on this critical issue.
Here’s the very specific question:
Will you publically support the passage of the $8.5 billion regional transportation referendum, which includes 157 regional transportation projects and $1.3 billion for local transportation investments?
The Metro Atlanta Chamber effort is separate from the Connect Georgia/Georgia Chamber of Commerce exercise that caused a dust-up on Monday. But they both address the nitty-gritty of electoral contests – identifying supporters and attempting to at least neutralize opponents by raising the prospect of dried-up campaign funding.
These are the groups behind the Metro chamber letter:
American Council of Engineering Companies of GA
American Institute of Architects, Atlanta Chapter
Associated Builders and Contractors
Associated General Contractors
Atlanta Apartment Association
Atlanta Board of Realtors/Atlanta Commercial Board of Realtors
Clayton County Chamber of Commerce
Central Atlanta Progress
Cobb Chamber of Commerce
Conyers-Rockdale Chamber of Commerce
Council for Quality Growth
DeKalb Chamber of Commerce
Douglas County Chamber of Commerce
Dunwoody Chamber of Commerce
GA. Construction Aggregates Association
Georgia Beverage Association
Georgia Concrete Paving Association
Georgia Concrete Products Association
Georgia Mining Association
Georgia Restaurant Association
Georgia Technology Association
Georgia/Carolinas Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute
Greater Atlanta Homebuilders
Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce
Henry County Chamber of Commerce
Metro Atlanta Chamber
Greater North Fulton Chamber of Commerce
Over the next month, much of the transportation sales tax campaign will be conducted in places you can’t see – private workplaces. My AJC colleague Ariel Hart caught a glimpse on Monday, when she followed Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed into the Siemens manufacturing facility in Alpharetta:
Siemens has won the Atlanta Streetcar contract and its employees in Alpharetta are assembling the motor parts. Addressing an audience of a few reporters and scores of Siemens employees, Reed’s speech segued from the Atlanta Streetcar to the proposed Beltline, an item in the referendum’s project list.
“On July 31 we’re going to have a vote for the T.I.A. [the Transportation Investment Act of 2010],” Reed said, “and I hope every single person that’s working for Siemens is going to be out there voting for the T.I.A.” With Siemens’ drive technologies division president Doug Keith looking on, the employees burst into applause.
On Monday, the Fulton County Taxpayers Foundation sponsored a town hall focused on the transportation referendum in metro Atlanta. From WABE (90.1FM):
Former columnist Phil Kent was one of the panelists. He took aim at the $600 million allotted to the Beltline.
“It’s not a congestion relief project, it’s not a traffic project. God bless them, it’s a nice real estate development project and if the city of Atlanta wants to do that, then by god why doesn’t the city of Atlanta pay for it itself.”
Todd Rehm of GaPundit.com points out that this puts the hyper-conservative Kent on the same side as ultra-liberal Matthew Cardinale of Atlanta Progressive News, who fears poor people will be ousted an interior city perimeter.
State Rep. Rashad Taylor (D-Atlanta) intends to hold a press conference at the state Capitol this morning to denounce “homophobic campaign tactics” allegedly being used by his opponent in his primary contest. Taylor faces fellow incumbent Pat Gardner, who has her own news conference at Paschal’s at noon. The two Democrats were thrown into District 57 by last year’s Republican-controlled redistricting.
Fox News Latino has identified Linda Becquer Pritchett of Riverdale, one of three Democrats running for an open seat on metro Atlanta’s south side, as the niece of the late salsa queen Celia Cruz, “the iconic Cuban-American singer.” Pritchett, a paralegal, is one of eight Hispanics on Georgia primary ballots. Her opponents: teacher T.J. Copeland and attorney Ronnie Mabra.
A GOP candidate in the 12th District congressional contest has yet to emerge, but the National Republican Congressional Committee is already heavily committed to whomever he or she may be. From Politico:
The most notable new investment targets Georgia Democratic Rep. John Barrow. The NRCC is reserving $900,000 in the Augusta and Savannah media markets, a huge sum in those parts that will pay for two-plus months of ads.
Jonathan Karl of ABC News says the dog that doesn’t bark is evidence that the Republican contest to become Mitt Romney’s running mate has narrowed – and currently doesn’t include U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio:
[K]nowledgeable Republican sources tell me that Rubio is not being vetted by Mitt Romney’s vice presidential search team. He has not been asked to complete any questionnaires or been asked to turn over any financial documents typically required of potential vice presidential candidates.
My AJC colleague Daniel Malloy in Washington says Senate will be a frenzy of yeas and nays today with a planned vote-o-rama on 73 farm bill amendments, scheduled to begin shortly after 2 p.m:
The amendments, split between the parties, cover all manner of issues — from rural broadband to aerial farm surveillance to food stamps.
The amendment deal between Republican and Democratic leaders paves the way for the bipartisan-backed bill to pass. Our own Saxby Chambliss, former chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, will get votes on three of the 20-odd amendments he offered – including one to ax a $20 million farmer’s market promotional program – but none of the proposed alterations fix his chief objection to the bill. Chambliss, along with other Southern senators, thinks crop subsidy reforms in the Farm Bill are stacked against peanut and rice farmers.
Chambliss doesn’t hold out much hope that his concerns will be addressed in the Senate. But in the GOP-run House, Southerners have more sway and Chambliss thinks he has a friendly ear in Frank Lucas of Oklahoma, chairman of the agriculture committee. The people’s chamber has yet to release its version of the farm bill. Current law expires Sept. 30.
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider