Political RoundUp: January 2008

It’s growing: Enrollment in Georgia’s public colleges increased by more than 10,000 students this academic year to an all-time high of 270,022. That’s a 3.9 percent increase over the enrollment for fall 2006. “Our new strategic plan indicates we should expect an additional 100,000 students in the University System by 2020,” Chancellor Erroll Davis says. Overall enrollment in the University System has grown by 69,920 students since 1998, an increase of 34.9 percent in less than a decade.

Stone in the pool: John Stone, an aide to former congressmen Max Burns and the late Charlie Nor-wood, is going to try to get to the U.S. House on his own as a candidate for the 10th District seat now occupied by Democratic Rep. John Barrow. Stone is probably hoping he has more success as candidate than adviser – he was a campaign aide to Burns when Burns lost to Barrow in 2004. He also worked for Jim Whitehead when Whitehead flamed out in last year’s special election for the 10th District seat.

New vet: Dr. C. Carter Black III is the choice of Agriculture Commis-sioner Tommy Irvin to be the new state veterinarian and assistant commissioner of animal industry. He replaces Dr. Lee Myers, who took a job with the USDA as state-federal liaison for the National Veterinary Stockpile stationed at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Black has been with the state Agriculture Department for 23 years and moves up from the position of associate state veterinarian.

Presidential changeovers: The Board of Regents has named Dr. John O. Schwenn, vice president for academic affairs at Emporia State University in Kansas, as new president of Dalton State College. He will take over the position in March. The Regents have also signed off on the appointment of Dr. Gary Allen McGaha as president of Atlanta Metropolitan College, where he has been interim president since January 2007. McGaha replaces Harold E. Wade, who retired after 12 years as AMC’s president.

Sonny moves over: After serving his one-year term as chairman of the Republican Governors Association, a fund-raising organization for GOP governors, Sonny Perdue has been succeeded by Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Perdue will remain active in the national organization, however. He was appointed to the newly created position of recruiting chair for the RGA, which is trying to overcome the Democrats’ current 28-22 advantage in the nation’s statehouses.

The nominator: Atlanta attorney Robert Highsmith, who was once deputy legal counsel to Gov. Sonny Perdue, was named by Perdue to the Judicial Nominating Commission, which screens and recommends candidates for judgeships to the governor’s office. Highsmith formerly served on the State Ethics Commission.

Right to Life leaders: Daniel Becker is new president of Georgia Right to Life, replacing Caryl Swift as head of the anti-abortion group. He had been the director of GRTL’s political action committee since 2000 and vice president since 2006. Georgia Right to Life also has named Mike Griffin, executive director of Ten Commandments Georgia, as its chief lobbyist for the upcoming General Assembly session.

“He is no stranger to controversial issues, having fought against video poker, Sunday alcohol sales, the ACLU and gambling,” Becker says of Griffin.

Fowler in the classroom: Former U.S. senator and ambassador to Saudi Arabia Wyche Fowler will be the next Carl E. Sanders Political Leadership Scholar at the University of Georgia law school, teaching a course on the U.S. Congress and the constitution for the spring semester. Fowler currently chairs the board of the Middle East Institute, a nonprofit research foundation in Washington.

Courageous profiles: State Sen. Emanuel Jones (D-Ellenwood) and former state legislator Matt Towery have been nominated for the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award that will be presented in May. They are being recognized for their efforts in advocating the release from prison of Genarlow Wilson, who drew national media attention when he was sentenced to 10 years in prison for an act of consensual oral sex with a 15-year-old girl when he was 17.

Other Georgians who have received this award include Georgia Supreme Court Justice Charles Weltner, former governor Roy Barnes, former state legislator Dan Ponder and Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin.

Categories: Political Notes