Political Roundup: July 2007
New tourism chief: Charlie Gatlin, deputy commissioner and a longtime employee of the Department of Economic Development, will also take over the department’s tourism division, replacing former tourism director Dan Rowe. Gatlin, who joined the department in 1990, will continue to serve as executive director of the Georgia Allies, a public-private marketing partnership of 15 statewide economic development organizations that promotes Georgia to industry prospects.
And another: Gov. Sonny Perdue has named Chris Clark new executive director of the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority (GEFA), the state agency that administers loan programs to help local governments build water and sewer facilities. Clark had been serving as deputy commissioner for global commerce at the Department of Economic Development. He is the permanent replacement at GEFA for Paul Burks, who retired from state government last year.
Dividing up support: The major Republican candidates for president have split Georgia’s GOP leadership as far as endorsements go. John McCain is the favorite of Alec Poitevint, former state chairman and close confidant of Sonny Perdue. Mitt Romney has House Speaker Pro Tem Mark Burkhalter in his corner. House Speaker Glenn Richardson and Majority Whip Barry Fleming have lined up with Rudy Giuliani. Fred Thomp-son has the backing of Senate President Pro Tem Eric Johnson and Senate Majority Leader Tommie Williams.
Gain one, lose one: U.S. Rep. Jim Marshall has picked up one opponent and dropped another as the Macon Democrat readies himself to run for a fourth term in 2008. Retired Maj. Gen. Richard God-dard, former commanding general of Robins Air Force Base, has said he will run as a Republican against Marshall, an Army veteran who served in Vietnam. State Sen. Ross Tolleson (R-Perry), who had been mentioned as possible opponent for Marshall, has decided not to enter the race.
A simple solution: President George W. Bush has been a target of criticism not only from Democrats, but from a growing number of Republicans as well because of the war in Iraq. Gov. Sonny Perdue offered his own assessment of these Bush critics during a recent appearance on a talk radio show: “Until you’ve got a better idea, keep your mouth shut.”
Two firsts: News coverage of the Republican Party’s state convention focused so heavily on the booing of Sen. Saxby Chambliss and the verbal jousting between Gov. Sonny Perdue and Speaker Glenn Richardson that another newsworthy development went largely unremarked: Sue Everhart of Mar-ietta was elected state chair, the first woman to hold that position for the state GOP. It is also the first time in Georgia’s political history that both major parties have been headed by women (Jane Kidd is now the Democratic Party chair).
DTAE leadership changes: Retired BellSouth executive Carl Swearingen is new chairman of the state Board of Technical and Adult Education, replacing Ben Copeland of Lakeland. Swearingen was appointed to the DTAE board by the governor in July 2006.
Join the crowd: With the passage and signing of SB 194, Georgia has joined a growing list of states holding presidential preference primaries Feb. 5 next year. Participants in “super primary day” include Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Utah. South Carolina and apparently Florida will hold primaries a week earlier, Jan. 29.
Travel abroad: Gov. Sonny Perdue headed an industry-hunting mission to Europe in June with an itinerary that included stopovers in Ireland, Northern Ireland, France, the Czech Republic, Germany and Belgium. Ironically, the trip was announced just a few days before Perdue chopped money from the state budget that had been funding a foreign language program in Georgia’s public schools.
Helping hand: The Legislative Black Caucus has promised to raise $50,000 for Morris Brown College to help the historically black institution retire some debt and bolster its financial status. Early contributors include state Rep. Calvin Smyre, Sen. Emanuel Jones and Rep. Al Williams.