Political Notes: January 2010

Is Johnny safe? Sen. Johnny Isakson so far does not appear to have a credible Democratic or Republican primary challenger for his reelection campaign in 2010, a fact that prompted the online publication CQ Politics to declare the U.S. Senate seat to be safely in GOP hands. “Georgia remains one of the nation’s most Republican-trending states, and none of the well-known prospects that Democrats hoped to coax into a challenge to Isakson, such as U.S. Rep. Jim Marshall or former Gov. Roy Barnes, could be tempted into a run,” wrote Emily Cadei of CQ.



Still growing slowly: Even with the recession and the collapse of the construction industry, the Atlanta Regional Commission projects that Metro Atlanta will add more than 3.2 million people by the year 2040 (the current population is a little more than 5 million). That would be the equivalent of adding three more Fulton Counties or 30 more Fayette Counties over the next three decades, said Mike Alexander, ARC’s research division chief. The computer models ARC uses to project population growth do not account for the possibility that Metro Atlanta could lose a major source of water if the federal courts shut off withdrawals from Lake Lanier after 2012. “The next time, it’ll be part of our modeling,” Alexander said of the water supply issue.



New president: Religious publisher Jerry Luquire of Columbus is the new president of the Georgia Christian Coalition, succeeding Jim Beck. Luquire was chief of staff to former Democratic congressman Jack Brinkley but later helped organize the Muscogee County Republican Assembly. He ran unsuccessfully as a Republican in a recent special election to replace Vance Smith in the Georgia House, when Smith became DOT commissioner.



Seay moves up: State Sen. Valencia Seay (D-Riverdale) was appointed first vice chair of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators’ (NBCSL) committee on telecommunications, science and technology. She was chosen by Rep. Calvin Smyre (D-Columbus), the president of NBCSL. The committee makes policy recommendations on technology issues that affect minorities, such as infrastructure access, taxation and rate setting.



Women and children: Abdul K. Lindsay is the new director of the Georgia Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Program, a division of the Department of Community Health. Lindsay previously was a school nutrition director, clinical nutrition manager, public health community nutritionist, and WIC nutritionist and administrative dietitian. He heads an agency that provides low-income women, infants and children with food to supplement their diets, information on healthy eating and guidance to health care.



Pondering policy: Kelly Mc-Cutchen has moved up from executive vice president to president and CEO of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, a conservative think tank based in Atlanta. He succeeded T. Rogers Wade, a former aide to Sen. Herman Talmadge who is now chairman of the foundation’s board. McCutchen, a native of Ellijay, worked for the Trust Company Bank in Atlanta before joining the foundation in 1993.



Setting the standards: Gov. Sonny Perdue has appointed three new members to the Professional Standards Commission, the agency that handles certification of public school teachers. The appointees are Marci G. Cawthon, the assistant principal of instruction at Bonaire Middle School; Penny L. Elkins, senior associate vice president for the Atlanta campus and regional academic centers of Mercer University; and David W. Johnson, president of United Community Bank in Rome.



Bad air: Forbes magazine evidently doesn’t like Metro Atlanta’s atmosphere. The publication rated the city as the most toxic of the 40 largest metropolitan areas in the country. “In Atlanta, Ga., you’ll find southern gentility, a world-class music scene – and 21,000 tons of environmental waste,” the magazine commented. “In spite of its charms, the city’s combination of air pollution, contaminated land and atmospheric chemicals makes it the most toxic city in the country.” The ranking was based on such factors as the number of facilities releasing toxins into the environment, the days per year of heavy air pollution, and the number of contaminated sites designated for cleanup efforts.



Senators take new jobs: Ed Tarver stepped down from his Augusta-area seat in the state Senate after he was confirmed by the U.S. Senate for the position of U.S. Attorney for Georgia’s southern district. He will work out of Savannah in his new position. Tarver was appointed to the federal prosecutor’s job by President Barack Obama. Another state senator, David Adelman of Decatur, was nominated by Obama to be the U.S. ambassador to Singapore.

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