Political Notes: August 2010

Barnes VS. Handel or Deal: No surprise that former Gov. Roy Barnes won the Democratic primary outright, and will have a chance to win back his old job in November. Meanwhile, Republicans Karen Handel, former Secretary of State, and Nathan Deal, former Congressman, are battling each other in the Aug. 10 runoff, meaning each will have another three-week period to vie for the “I'm-way-more-conservative-than-my-opponent” title. The big surprise is that John Oxen-dine, longtime Insurance Commis-sioner and presumed GOP frontrunner for most of the campaign, finished fourth.

The Porter name on the November ballot will be Carol, not DuBose. She won the Democratic nomination for the lieutenant governor's job and will face incumbent Casey Cagle. Her husband, a veteran state representative, fell short in his attempt to beat Barnes.

In the race for State School Superintendent, Democrat Joe Martin will face Republican John Barge in November. Both won their party nominations in the primary and avoided a runoff.

Fourth District Democratic Congres-sman Hank Johnson won his party's nomination, defeating former DeKalb County CEO Vernon Jones and DeKalb Commissioner Connie Stokes. He will face Republican Liz Carter in November.

Gary Black easily won his bid to be the Republican candidate for Agricul-ture Commissioner and will be on the November ballot.



Libertarians, Party of 12: Georgia’s third party will have a dozen names on the November general election ballot along with the winners of the Democratic and Republican primaries. Libertarian candidates are selected at a party convention.

This year’s candidates and the offices they seek are Chuck Donovan, U.S. Senator; John Monds, governor; Rhonda Martini, lieutenant governor; David Chastain, secretary of state; Don Smart, attorney general; Kira Willis, state school superintendent; Kevin Cherry, agriculture commissioner; Shane Bruce, insurance commissioner; William Costa, labor commissioner; James Sendelbach, public service commissioner for District 2; Brooke Nebel, state representative for District 51; and Brad Ploeger, state representative for District 59.



New DOT Board Leaders: Rudy Bowen of Suwanee is the new chairman of the State Transportation Board, replacing Augusta’s Bill Kuhlke. Johnny Floyd of Cordele is the new vice-chairman. Both were elected unanimously by fellow board members.

As If There Was Any Doubt: Georgia peanuts are the best, and a poll by the Congressional Quarterly Roll Call in Washington has confirmed what Georgians are born knowing. The poll was conducted in conjunction with the 49th annual congressional softball game. Georgia peanuts got 43 percent of the votes, and Virginia’s came in second with 41 percent, the Cordele Dispatch reported. Sen. Johnny Isakson and Congressmen Jim Marsh-all and Jack Kingston accepted the trophy on behalf of the state’s peanut farming families.



Top Legislators: The Georgia Chamber of Commerce named five state lawmakers as 2010 Legislators of the Year, in recognition of their efforts on behalf of the business community.

This year’s winners are Sen. Bill Cowsert (R-Athens); Rep. Rich Golick (R-Smyrna); Rep. Kevin Levitas (D-Atlanta); Sen. David Shafer (R-Duluth); and Rep. Lynn Smith (R-Newnan).

The chamber presented Lifetime Achievement Awards to retiring legislators Mark Burkhalter (R-Alpharetta) and Jerry Keen (R-St. Simons).



No Pay Raises? U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson and 19 of his fellow senators, including several Democrats, have urged House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to move toward a vote on legislation that would permanently block automatic cost-of-living raises for members of Congress. “I can’t think of anyone less deserving of a pay raise in this economy,” Isakson said in a press release.

The Senate passed a measure last year that would repeal the automatic pay raises; the bill is pending in the House. Isakson and a majority of the senators also voted to block the annual increase for 2010 and 2011.

His office says Isakson donated the equivalent of the automatic pay raise he received for the 2009 fiscal year to the Atlanta Community Food Bank.

In a letter to Pelosi, the 20 senators said, “… it is time to end a system that guarantees members a pay hike unless they act to block it.”



Powering Up: The Georgia Public Service Commission voted 4-1 to approve Georgia Power’s plans for meeting customers’ future energy needs. The Integrated Resource Plan is submitted to the PSC every three years. This one includes a plan that will allow the utility to be compensated, through regular electric rates, for programs promoting energy efficiency, including solar. Commissioner Bobby Baker cast the lone “no” vote.

Commissioner Chuck Eaton tried to add a provision that would have allowed Georgia Power to purchase an extra megawatt of solar power from private companies, but it failed by a 3-2 vote; Eaton and Baker were the “yeses” on that one.

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