Political RoundUp: December 2007

Revenge is sweet? House Speaker Glenn Richardson may have lost out in his attempt to secure the DOT commissioner’s job for Rep. Vance Smith, but he could have the last laugh on some of the Transportation Board members who voted against his wishes. Board members are elected by the legislators who reside in the congressional districts that the members represent, and five of the 13 board people are up for election to new terms next January when the legislature convenes. The five members up for new terms on the board include Chairman Mike Evans and Raybon Anderson, who both voted for Gena Abraham over Vance Smith.



Permanent parkland: The De-partment of Natural Resources can add to its parkland holdings a 2,268-acre tract from Georgia Power Co. that already is part of Tallulah Gorge State Park in Habersham and Rabun counties. The North Georgia Mountains Authority has leased the land from Georgia Power since 1995; but the utility agreed to donate the property to DNR, assuring that it will always remain a state park.



Budget director: Dr. Carolyn Bourdeaux, an assistant professor of public administration at Georgia State University, is the choice to replace the retiring Kevin Fillion as director of the Senate Budget and Evaluation Office. “I am committed to continuing what the Senate budget office has been doing with program-based budgeting and moving forward with zero-based budgeting over the next few years,” Bourdeaux said after her appointment was announced.



Wayne’s honor: The State Transportation Board is honoring former DOT commissioner Wayne Shackelford of Gwinnett County by urging the General Assembly to name the interchange at I-85 and Georgia 316 as the Wayne Shackelford Interchange. Shackelford was the DOT commissioner from 1993 to 2000; he continued to push for improvements to the state’s transportation infrastructure after he stepped down from the top job.



All in the family: Gov. Sonny Perdue kept it in the family when he recently announced the appointment of two Superior Court judges. Perdue appointed Murphy Miller of Young Harris, whose father answers to the name “Zell,” as a Superior Court judge for the Enotah Judicial Circuit. Miller, 52, had been the public defender for the Enotah Circuit since July 2004. Perdue also named Donald W. Gillis, a State Court judge in Treutlen County, as a Superior Court judge for the Dublin Judicial Circuit. Gillis’ father is Hugh Gillis, who served in the General Assembly as a House or Senate member for 56 years before retiring in 2004.



Boo on Hillary: Don’t count former governor Roy Barnes or former lieutenant governor Mark Taylor among the “Friends of Hillary” who are backing Hillary Clinton for president. They say her nomination would be harmful to Democrats in down-ticket races. “With Senator Clinton, it is very difficult for somebody with such high negatives to be elected,” Barnes said at a news conference with Taylor. “Whether we like it or not, she’s a polarizing figure and I think she’d have a very difficult time being elected and governing.” Taylor said, “I am not OK with a president that cannot bring this country together. We need a president that can unite this country.”



Unfearsome foursome: There are now at least four Democrats who say they will run in the U.S. Senate race next year. The two major candidates are DeKalb CEO Vernon Jones and former TV newsman Dale Cardwell. Statesboro businessman Josh Lanier, a former Senate staffer for Herman Talmadge, says he will also run, along with environmental scientist Rand Knight. None of the four is exactly threatening Republican incumbent Saxby Chambliss, who maintains more than a 30-point lead over each of them in head-to-head match-ups by pollsters.



High marks: The Campaign Disclosure Project, a nationwide evaluation of state campaign finance disclosure programs, says in its annual ranking that the information technology staff of the Georgia State Ethics Commission has improved its electronic filing program from a 12th-place ranking to number one in the nation.



Early money: State Rep. Barry Fleming (R-Harlem) got off to a quick start in his fund raising for next year’s 10th Congressional District race, where he will be facing incumbent Paul Broun in the GOP primary. Fleming entered the race shortly after Labor Day and had already raised $273,000 by Sept. 30. Broun had just under $35,000 cash on hand.



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