Archive for July, 2012

Nathan Deal’s Plan B: Governor intends to step into transportation vacuum

On Tuesday morning, as metro Atlanta voters hurled an $8 million sales tax campaign into the trash, Gov. Nathan Deal held what aides called his first session with top transportation officials to discuss Plan B.

What voters dismissed was a bottom-up list of $8 billion in road and rail projects created by local elected leaders. (Read the main AJC piece on the TSPLOST vote here.)
The Plan B that staggered out of the governor’s office will be its polar opposite: Dramatically smaller, paid for with shrinking funds, and highly centralized. Projects will be hand-picked by a governor who intends to squeeze every penny available.

And no matter what others might say today, don’t look for a sequel to the TSPLOST referendum. A second vote has no place in the governor’s Plan B.

Instead, Chris Riley, the governor’s chief of staff, said traffic planners in regions across the state will be quickly asked to resubmit lists of road and rail proposals that require state and federal …

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Charter school forces come up short in Cherokee chairmanship race

With 57 percent of the vote, Janet Reed has won the race for chairman of the Cherokee County Board of Education, beating Danny Dukes with 57 percent of the vote.

Dukes was a member of the governing board of a local charter school, whose funding had been opposed by Read, a longtime member of the school board. Think of the race as a precursor of a statewide debate over charter schools that begins Wednesday.

A proposal to re-assert state authority to license the schools, over the objections of local systems, is on the November ballot.

A number of Republican incumbent state lawmakers are on the edge of defeat this evening. State Rep. Steve Davis of Henry County, one of the most conservative members of the Legislature, just sent out this via Twitter:

”I just called Mr [Dale] Rutledge to concede our race. I want to thank my family and volunteers for the help. It has been great honor to serve you!”

Current figures on the secretary of state’s website has Rutledge at 65 …

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Tea-party favorite Ted Cruz romps in Texas

The GOP establishment — not to mention Gov. Rick Perry — has lost another one. From the Associated Press:

AUSTIN, Texas — Tea party darling Ted Cruz trounced the Republican establishment favorite, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, in Texas’ runoff election Tuesday, winning the GOP nomination to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison in an outcome that figured to reverberate far beyond the Lone Star State.

The race had been closely watched nationally, seen as one of America’s most-vivid contrasts between the GOP mainstream and the tea party. But as results began to pour in, it turned out to be no contest — with Cruz grabbing early leads in key cities around the state where Dewhurst had once enjoyed stronger name recognition, fundraising and political organization just weeks earlier.

Overseeing the state Senate from the powerful lieutenant governor’s post since 2003, Dewhurst was long considered a slam dunk in his race with Cruz, the son of a Cuban immigrant and former state …

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Dear Fulton County: Please call Brian Kemp. Really.

Jared Thomas, spokesman for Secretary of State Brian Kemp, just called to say that they’re coming across “significant issues” in Fulton County today – specifically, voters being assigned to wrong precincts.

The secretary of state’s office has attempted to contact officials at the Fulton election office, but haven’t been able to get their calls returned. “We’re not getting any cooperation,” Thomas said.

This could make for a long night, people.

If you’ve encountered any problems in your precinct, please describe them below. Meanwhile, Fulton County just sent over this statement:

During the course of today’s election, the Department of Registration & Elections became aware of a database error affecting approximately 300 registered voters on ten streets in Precinct 05A1/05A2 in Southeast Atlanta. This issue affected only the State House races for a small portion of House Districts 58 and 59. No other races were affected by this issue.

After reviewing the …

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Your morning jolt: A checklist for tonight’s vote

You probably have your own list, but here’s what I’ll be watching tonight as the votes roll in:

– Even if the TSPLOST doesn’t pass in metro Atlanta, will it pass within the city limits? An in-city victory would serve as a measure of Mayor Kasim Reed’s strength one year before a re-election bid. Don’t look for Reed to be in a good mood should the referendum fail, but win or lose, there’s one side benefit to this campaign for the mayor: The business community is sorely obligated to him.

– Will TSPLOST supporters wait until 7 p.m. before assigning blame for the campaign?

– What price will Tim Lee, chairman of the Cobb County Commission, pay for being part of the creative force behind the TSPLOST vote? Outright defeat will have Republican suburban politicians thinking twice before they play nice with Atlanta again.

– Will the question on casino gaming on the GOP ballot receive enough support to cause state Capitol figures to rethink their opposition?

– In the new 9th …

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Newt Gingrich on Muslim infiltrators, Tony Blair – and some guy named Mitt

My esteemed AJC colleague Daniel Malloy ventured out of D.C. today to witness the following:

ARLINGTON, Va. – Newt Gingrich played surrogate Monday afternoon for Michele Bachmann, Tony Blair, his own accomplishments from the 1990s, and – oh, yes — Mitt Romney.

Though it might have been hard to tell, Romney’s campaign organized the news conference at Belmont TV, an electronics retailer a few miles from Gingrich’s home, as one of 18 events by major Republican names across the nation intended to drive President Barack Obama’s “You didn’t build that” remark into the skull of every swing voter.

After owner Ken Sickmen, who took over the business from his father, lamented that the shaky economy means fewer people want to buy big-screen televisions, Gingrich took the podium for the kind of delightful, self-referential skewering of the president that was the basis of his primary stump speech. The former Georgia congressman also picked up on the news of the day, that …

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When Ralph Reed met General Butt Naked

Tom Freston of Vanity Fair has a startling piece on a Liberian encounter that he and Ralph Reed had with cannibal-warlord-turned-Christian-evangelist Joshua Blahyi, who once went by the name of General Butt Naked.

Clearly, you need to read the entire article, but here’s a taste:

Because of Mr. Blahyi’s new evangelical status, I asked Ralph Reed, the former head of the Christian Coalition, who was in our delegation, if he wanted to come and meet this self-styled warlord turned evangelist. He was curious and agreed. “I’ve never met a warlord before,” he said. So Ralph and I headed out one hot, humid afternoon in search of the former General Butt Naked, living now in a rundown suburb of Monrovia called the Chocolate City, as in the P-Funk album. George Clinton, like President Monroe, is on the Liberian map.

We were told to look for the general along the side of the road, just after the gritty port area, so he could guide us to his current headquarters. We drove through …

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TSPLOST supporters will party separately on Tuesday

Maybe the following doesn’t mean anything. But at minimum, as they say in politics, the “optics” are poor.

This morning at the state Capitol, the Untie Atlanta campaign handed out flyers inviting one and all to watch-the-vote party on Tuesday night at the Marriott Marquis – starting before the polls close at 5 p.m. The event is being coordinated by the Metro Atlanta Chamber.

But we just received notice that Fast Track Forward, “the diverse 90-member-plus transit coalition,” will host its own election night watch party at the RiRa Irish Pub at 8 p.m. Tuesday.

One might deduce that one wing of the metro TSPLOST effort doesn’t want to party down with the other.

Fast Track Forward is a campaign of the Livable Communities Coalition. Via an asterisk – a sign that someone is aware of how this might look — it’s noted that LCC Director Jim Stokes will put in an early appearance at the Marquis party.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

For instant updates, follow me …

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Eliminating the competition in a GOP race for Congress

Updated at 4:55 p.m.: In politics, if there’s anything worse than being attacked, it’s being ignored. A reader down in South Georgia sends us a mailer in which state Rep. Lee Anderson, R-Grovetown, assesses his GOP competition in the 12th District congressional race:


As you can see, Anderson runs down both businessman Rick Allen and attorney Wright McLeod for their ties to Democrats. But there are four – not three — Republicans in the contest to oust U.S. Rep. John Barrow, R-Augusta.

Anderson ignores Maria Sheffield of Dublin. No doubt because Anderson and Sheffield are the two non-Augusta candidates in the GOP contest — though as a lawmaker, Anderson represents the northern ‘burbs of that metro area. Both Anderson and Shefffield are also in pursuit of tea party votes.

Both Allen and Wright are complaining that the mailer, which hit 12th District homes on Friday, misrepresents their histories. Here’s a clip on the brouhaha, from NBC26:

Updated: If you watch the video …

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If elections were press conferences…



At left, a pro-TSPLOST event headlined by Gov. Nathan Deal. At right, a protest by the Transportation Leadership Council

TSPLOST supporters overwhelmed opponents on Monday in a set of dueling rallies at the state Capitol on Monday. Granted, one side did have Gov. Nathan Deal, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, and U.S. Reps. John Lewis and Hank Johnson — Fulton County Commission Chairman John Eaves and DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis, a dozen state lawmakers and the entire staff of the metro Chamber of Commerce.

In fact the only major political figure missing from the Capitol mix on the support side was House Speaker David Ralston. A spokesman said that a) Ralston had a previous engagement, and b) he’s been staying neutral on the TSPLOST question. Possibly it makes a difference that the 9th District congressional candidate that Ralston supports, Doug Collins of Gainesville, has declared himself in opposition.

The Transportation Leadership Coalition rally followed …

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