Political Roundup: September 2007

Up in smoke: Paul Broun was elected as the new congressman from Georgia’s 10th District by running as an ultra-conservative Republican, but his very first vote as a House member found him teaming up with mostly liberal Democrats. A few hours after he was sworn in to replace the late Charlie Norwood, Broun voted for the “Hinchey Amendment” to a funding bill for the Justice Department.

The amendment, which failed to pass, would have prohibited the Justice Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) from using federal funds to interfere with the implementation of medical marijuana laws in the handful of states that have adopted them. Broun was the only Republican from Georgia, and one of only 15 GOP House members in all, to vote for the amendment. “I voted for states’ rights under the constitution, not for promoting marijuana, and honest people understand that,” Broun said after his vote.



Switchers: Former Cobb County commissioner Woody Thompson, who served on the commission for eight years as a Republican, says he will run as a Democrat in 2008 for his old commission seat. When Thompson ran for a third term on the commission in 2004, he was narrowly defeated by Annette Kesting, an African-American Democrat who made history by becoming the first black elected to the Cobb County Commission. Thompson comes from a family with some experience with Democratic Party politics – his brother, Steve, has been a Democratic state senator for 17 years and was a Democratic House member for 10 years prior to that.



A good year: The Georgia Ports Authority had another record-breaking performance for the fiscal year that ended June 30, upping the amount of freight that was handled at Savannah, Brunswick, Bainbridge and Columbus by 8.7 percent to more than 21 million tons. Gov. Sonny Perdue has appointed his close supporter and former state Republican Party Chairman Alec Poitevint to the Georgia Ports Authority. Poitevint, a Bainbridge businessman, stepped down from the GOP chairman’s post this year; his wife, Doreen, is a Perdue appointee to the Board of Regents.



Job advocate: Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle named Bob Cucchi, a veteran lobbyist for Ford Motor Co., as his “job advocate,” a newly created position to help attract job-creating businesses and industries to Georgia.



POST man: Gov. Sonny Perdue appointed Ken Vance as new executive director of the Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Council, which is responsible for training and certifying the state’s law enforcement officers. Vance was director of public safety at Georgia College in Milledgeville and also has been a member of the Milledgeville City Council since 1981.



Defending public defenders: State Rep. Mack Crawford of Concord stepped down from the legislature to become the new director of Georgia’s indigent defense system, where he replaces Decatur attorney Mike Mears. Crawford, who’s a lawyer and a mule breeder in Pike County, had served for 15 years in the House of Representatives.



Ready, Orr not: Gainesville at-torney and former state legislator Wyc Orr thought about it hard but has decided not to run in the Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate next year, “I came to the conclusion that it was something that I’m not interested in doing,” Orr said. “I love what I do and where I’m doing it.” Orr’s decision leaves DeKalb County CEO Vernon Jones and TV newsman Dale Cardwell as potential Democratic opponents for incumbent Saxby Chambliss.



NGA position: Gov. Sonny Perdue has been named to serve another one-year term on the National Governors Association (NGA) Executive Committee, where he will join Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, North Carolina Gov. Mike Easley, North Dakota Gov. John Hoeven, Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman and Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle. Perdue will also serve as a member of the organization’s health and human services committee and the education, early childhood and workforce committee.



Romney’s reinforcements: Re-publican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has received endorsements from a host of Georgia lawmakers, including House Speaker Pro Tem Mark Burkhalter and Reps. Brooks Coleman, Jan Jones, Chuck Martin, Fran Millar, Bob Smith, and David Casas.



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