Political Notes: July 2014

Who Says There’s No Crying In Politics?: Businessman David Perdue and veteran 1st District Rep. Jack Kingston, the top Republican vote-getters in May’s U.S. Senate primary – both of whom were beneficiaries of endless TV ads featuring crying babies – face each other in the runoff election Tuesday, July 22.

Neither of the other two congressmen in the primary race, Paul Broun from Athens, who represented the 10th District, and Phil Gingrey from Marietta, who represented the 11th, made the runoff. Nor did former Secretary of State Karen Handel.

Georgia law requires a runoff between the two top vote getters if no candidate wins a plurality (50 percent plus one) of the votes. Although voters are free to cast a ballot in either the Republican or Democratic primary, they have to stick with that same party in the runoffs. They may vote for any candidate in the general election.

Democrat Michelle Nunn won her party’s nomination outright, so she can watch the crying baby ads along with the rest of us as she prepares for the Nov. 4 general election.

Congressional Runoffs: Races to succeed the three congressmen – Kingston, Broun and Gingrey – who left safe seats to seek the Republican U.S. Senate nomination will all see runoffs July 22.

In Kingston’s District 1, Republicans Buddy Carter and Bob Johnson will meet, as will Democrats Amy Tavio and Brian Reese.

In Broun’s District 10, Republicans Jody Hice and Mike Collins will be on the ballot, and in District 11, Republicans Barry Loudermilk and Bob Barr are in the running.

And Another: In the race for the top education post in the state, both Democrats and Republicans will head back to the polls for this month’s state school superintendent runoff. Two Democrats, Valarie Wilson and Alisha Thomas Morgan, will face off, as will two Republicans, Michael Buck and Richard Woods.

Former Superintendent John Barge left the job to run, unsuccessfully, against Gov. Nathan Deal in the Republican gubernatorial primary, which Deal won without breaking a sweat.

Ready, Set, Dig: The long-awaited Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP) got a big boost when the U.S. House and Senate passed the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) in late May.

The bill includes federal funds for 24 water projects throughout the country, including some $706 million for deepening the Savannah Harbor.

In a press release issued after the House vote, Gov. Nathan Deal noted that the legislation updated an old spending cap, “eliminating the last legislative hurdle and allowing us to use the money we have set aside to begin construction.” Georgia has approved some $266 million for its part of the harbor deepening.

“Simply put,” Deal said, “it’s time to move dirt.”

New Gig: Former State Sen. Cecil Staton (R-Macon) began a new job in June as vice chancellor for extended education with the University System of Georgia (USG). He will serve as liaison between the Board of Regents and the USG institutions, government and business as well as work with the regents’ economic development office.

Staton, who resigned from the Senate, had previously announced he would retire from office at the end of his term.

Legislators of the Year: The Georgia Trial Lawyers Association (GLTA) honored Sen. Josh McKoon (R-Columbus) and Rep. Stacey Evans (D-Smyrna) as 2014 Legislators of the Year for their support of Georgia’s Civil Justice System.

The Georgia Association of Educators named Rep. Pam Dickerson (D-Conyers) as its Legislator of the Year for her work to bring about improvement in public schools. Dickerson serves on the House Education Committee.

Keeping Score: The Georgia Chamber’s annual legislative scorecard, which grades the state’s lawmakers on their pro-business votes, gave only seven of the 56 state senators and three of the 180 representatives an unsatisfactory score for the 2014 session. Some 29 senators and 112 representatives earned an A or A+ grade.

“Decisions Georgia legislators make at the Gold Dome have long-term impacts on our state’s economic prospects,” chamber President and CEO Chris Clark said in a press release. “General Assembly members’ overwhelming support for pro-business measures as reflected in this year’s scorecard prove that our Georgia lawmakers recognize the importance of passing job creation and economic development measures.”

To view the chamber’s scorecard, visit www.gachamber.com.

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