October 2007: Political Roundup
Security: Gov. Sonny Perdue was appointed to the Homeland Security Advisory Council (HSAC), a panel that advises Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff on security issues. “I value the independent and innovative advice I receive from these trusted counselors,” Chertoff said. More of Perdue’s people are also moving to the Washington area now that he’s chairing the Republican Governor’s Association. The latest emigre is Chris Schrimpf, who worked in Perdue’s communications office and was part of the governor’s reelection campaign in 2006. Schrimpf has been named communications director for the RGA. Other Perdue aides who have worked at RGA include Nick Ayers and Paul Bennecke.
Replacing Mack: Three candidates will be running in the Nov. 6 special election to replace Mack Crawford in state House District 127 – Republican Jim Fletcher, a Thomaston funeral director; Demo-crat Bonnie Byrd Gardner, a Means-ville educator; and Republican Billy Maddox, a Zebulon attorney. Craw-ford resigned from the General Assembly over the summer to be-come director of the state’s public defender program.
Harris retiring: Andrew Harris, the longtime director of government relations for Georgia Tech, has retired from the legislative liaison position. Tech President G. Wayne Clough has replaced him with Dene Sheheane, who had been filling a similar position for Georgia State University President Carl Patton.
Opening fire: The powerful NRA lobbying organization is al-ready hard at work for next year’s legislative session trying to drum up support for a bill that would allow employees to take firearms to the workplace. The NRA recently sent letters to selected Georgia voters asking them to contribute money to the cause as well as sign and mail “special postcards” to Republican lawmakers and Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle urging adoption of the workplace firearms bill. “Right now, some your fellow Georgia gun owners are at serious risk of losing their jobs simply for exercising their Second Amendment rights,” reads the letter signed by NRA Executive Director Chris Cox. The Georgia Chamber of Commerce, along with other business groups, will again line up in opposition to the gun bill.
He’s flexible: Former Hinesville mayor and state legislator Homer “Buddy” DeLoach has been appointed to the Jekyll Island Park Authority. DeLoach has approached politics from all points of the partisan spectrum. He first ran for office as a Democrat, but was elected mayor and initially to the House of Rep-resentatives as a Republican. In 2000, DeLoach left the Republican Party and was reelected to his House seat as a certified independent. He was reelected again as an independent in 2002.
They’re disciplined: An analysis of votes in the U.S. Senate shows that two of the Republicans doing the best job of maintaining party discipline are Georgia’s Saxby Chamb-liss and Johnny Isakson. A ranking by Congressional Quarterly of “party unity” scores for senators shows Chambliss and Isakson are both in the top 10. Chambliss ranks fourth among GOP senators because he voted in line with other Repub-licans on 97.1 percent of all Senate votes. Isakson is close behind in eighth place with a “party unity” score of 95.1 percent.
Back from Iraq: At least two veterans of the Iraq War could be running in Georgia congressional races next year. Bill Gillespie, who retired from the Army as a lieutenant colonel earlier this year, has filed the paperwork with the Federal Election Commission to form an exploratory committee for a campaign in the 1st Congressional District, where Jack Kingston is the incumbent. Gillespie, 44, served in Iraq along with the 3rd Infantry Division, which is based in Fort Stewart. Bobby Saxon, who was also deployed to Iraq in 2005 with the 3rd Infantry, has announced he’ll run as a Democrat in the 10th Congres-sional District, which recently elected Republican Paul Broun.
Legislative veterans: This has been a year for retired members of the General Assembly to come out of political retirement and run for mayor. Former House member Robert Reichert won the Demo-cratic primary in the Macon may-or’s race and is heavily favored to win the general election in Nov-ember. Ron Borders, who served eight years in the House, has announced he’ll run for mayor of Valdosta. Borders served 10 years on the Valdosta City Council and was a legislator from 1999 through 2006, when he decided not to run again.