Political Notes: January 2011
Justices For All: Supreme Court Justice David Nahmias defeated challenger Tammy Lynn Adkins in the post-Thanksgiving runoff and will retain his seat on Georgia’s high court. He had endorsements from an impressive bipartisan group of Georgia legal and political luminaries, including Gov.-elect Nathan Deal, Attorney General-elect Sam Olens, former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, former Attorney General Mike Bowers, former Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears, House Speaker David Ralston, U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss and departing Gov. Sonny Perdue, who appointed Nahmias to the court in 2009. Both Perdue and Chambliss made robo-calls on Nahmias’s behalf.
Adkins, a Gwinnett County attorney, ran what could kindly be de-scribed as a low-key campaign.
In the State Appeals Court runoff between Chris McFadden and Toni Davis, McFadden prevailed.
Short Tenure: Economic Development Commissioner Heidi Green, appointed by Gov. Sonny Perdue last summer, will be replaced in Gov.-elect Nathan Deal’s administration by Chris Cummiskey, who has been UGA’s director of state relations since 2008. He’s also been chief of staff for former House Speaker Glenn Richardson and state director for Sen. Johnny Isakson.
Keeping Their Day Jobs: Trey Childress, appointed by Gov. Sonny Perdue as the state’s Chief Operating Officer, will retain that position in the Deal administration. Childress, 33, has a background that includes serving as director of the Governor’s Office of Planning & Budget and a stint as Perdue’s senior adviser and director of policy. He is a member of the Board of Directors for the Georgia Ports Authority.
Also staying on are Greg Dozier, commissioner, Department of Driver Services; Mike Beatty, commissioner, Department of Community Affairs; Vernon Keenan, director, Georgia Bureau of Investigation; Steve Stancil, director Georgia Building Authority; Todd Long, planning director, Department of Transportation; and Ron Jackson, commissioner, Technical College System of Georgia.
Maj. Gen. William T. “Terry” Nesbitt will remain as Adjutant General of the Georgia National Guard; and Charley English will retain his position as director of the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA).
New Minority Leader: Rep. Stacey Abrams of Atlanta was elected leader of the Democratic Caucus in the Georgia House of Represent-atives. Abrams, a tax attorney who received her law degree from Yale Law School, is the first female to lead a political party in Georgia’s General Assembly and the first African American to lead the Democrats in the House.
The clearest message from the November elections, she said in a press release, “was a clamor for jobs and a rebound in the economy,” which she calls a surface message. “What Georgians want is economic security for their families – which is more than just a job. It’s a job that pays well. It’s an educational system that prepares their children to get those jobs. ... Any party that only hears ‘jobs’ is going to be in trouble in the long run. And it will be the responsibility of the Democratic Caucus to show Georgians what they could have and what they’re getting instead.”
From Blue To Red: After the overwhelming Republican sweep in the November election, seven (at press time) Democratic state lawmakers decided to jump on the GOP bandwagon. Announcing a party-switch from Democrat to Republican were State Senator Tim Golden, Valdosta, and five state representatives: Alan Powell, Hartwell; Bob Hanner, Parrott; Gerald Greene, Cuthbert; Ellis Black and Amy Carter, both of Valdosta.
Perhaps the lowest blow dealt to the Democrats was the switch announced by Rep. Doug McKillip of Athens just days after he was elected chair of the House Democratic caucus.
Sellier’s Passing: Rep. Tony Sellier, (R-Fort Valley), died in December of congestive heart failure. He had just been re-elected for a third term.
Leader of the Pack: Georgia’s new District 8 Congressman Austin Scott (R-Tifton) has been elected Congres-sional freshman class president. Scott, who dropped out of the governor’s race to run for Congress, defeated incumbent Democrat Jim Marshall.
In Trusts We Trust: Gov.-elect Nathan Deal, whose money troubles came to light during his successful run for governor, has announced that he will put his assets in trust. Deal’s lawyer, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, says the trustee will have control over everything. Deal has already put his Gainesville residence up for sale – with a price tag of $985,000.
Transit Support: DeKalb County mayors have joined together to push for funding of a regional transit system, including buses, bus rapid transit and light rail, according to the Metro Atlanta Mayors Association.
The mayors support the Transpor-tation Investment Act of 2010, which will let voters weigh in on a one-cent sales tax to support the projects.