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Political Notes: Ups, Downs and In-betweens

New Role For Yates: Former Acting U.S. Attorney General Sally Yates is now a partner at the Atlanta-based King & Spalding law firm, where she first began her legal career after her graduation from the UGA College of Law.

Yates, a 27-year veteran of the Department of Justice who successfully prosecuted the Centennial Olympic Park bomber when she was U.S. attorney, was famously fired by President Donald Trump when she said she could not enforce the administration’s travel ban on individuals from predominantly Muslim countries.

Yates, a native Atlantan, will work in King & Spalding’s Special Matters & Government Investigations team in the firm’s D.C. and Atlanta offices.


The Runoffs: Tuesday, July 24, is the primary runoff election date for races not decided in the May election.

In the Republican gubernatorial contest, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Secretary of State Brian Kemp go head-to-head for the opportunity to face Democratic nominee Stacey Abrams in the November general election. Abrams is a former Georgia House minority leader and the first African-American woman to run for governor in the U.S.

In the lieutenant governor’s race, Republicans David Shafer and Geoff Duncan are competing to face Democrat Sarah Riggs Amico.

For secretary of state, Republicans David Belle Isle and Brad Raffensperger are running; former U.S. Rep. John Barrow is the Democratic nominee. In the race for state school superintendent, Democrats Otha Thornton Jr. and Sid Chapman are in the runoff; the winner will face Republican incumbent Richard Woods.


Voted Out: Eight incumbent state lawmakers – four Republicans and four Democrats – were voted out of office in the May primary, as reported by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Rep. Jason Spencer (R-Woodbine) was defeated by Steven Sainz, who has no Democratic opposition in the November election. Rep. Johnnie Caldwell (R-Thomaston) lost to Ken Pullin, who will run against Democrat Chris Benton.

Rep. John Deffenbaugh (R-Lookout Mountain) lost to Colton Moore, and Rep. Dan Gasaway (R-Homer) was defeated by Chris Erwin. Neither Moore nor Erwin has a Democratic opponent in November.

Rep. Howard Mosby (D-Atlanta) was bested by Becky Evans, and Sen. Curt Thompson (D-Tucker) lost to Sheikh Rahman. Neither has Republican opposition.

Rep. Earnest “Coach” Williams (D-Avondale Estates) lost to Viola Davis, who has no Republican opponent. Rep. Darrel Ealum (D-Albany) was defeated by CaMia Hopson, who will run against Republican Tracy Taylor.


Hands-free Driving: As of July 1, Georgia is the 16th state to make it illegal for motorists to have a cellphone in their hands while they are driving, although use of earpieces, wireless headsets or a smartphone watch is permitted. The law applies to drivers at traffic signals or stop signs as well as those in moving vehicles.

Exceptions are made for emergency calls to report a traffic accident, criminal activity, fire, medical emergency or hazardous road conditions.

Gov. Nathan Deal signed House Bill 673 into law in Statesboro, near the site of a devastating I-16 crash that killed five Georgia Southern students in 2015. (The truck driver involved admitted to texting shortly before the crash.)


Mimosas, Maybe? Local governments need to decide by July 31 if they want to take advantage of the so-called Brunch Bill, SB 17, passed by the General Assembly and signed by the governor, and give their citizens the chance to weigh in on the November ballot.

The bill allows communities to hold a referendum on rolling back the current Sunday on-premise consumption sales time from 12:30 p.m. to 11 a.m.

Cities and counties that already permit Sunday sales will need one ballot item for the time change; those that do not will have two – one yes or no for Sunday sales and one to vote on the time change. If the measures pass, it will be up to individual localities to set the effective date.

The Georgia Restaurant Association, which backed the bill, notes that the July 31 date is to give local election officials time to put the measure on the November general election ballot.

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