Political Notes

The Big Day: A long, tough and, arguably, ground-shifting election season wraps up Tuesday, Nov. 8, when Georgia voters make their presidential selection and choose a U.S. senator, U.S. congressional representatives, state legislators and local officials.

Also on the ballot are two proposed changes to the state constitution. The first would establish an Opportunity School District to permit state takeover of chronically failing schools, and the second would abolish the state Judicial Qualifications Commission to allow the General Assembly to recreate it.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. on Election Day.

On The Rolls? Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp has said that some Georgians whose voter-registration applications were rejected will be able to vote in the Nov. 8 election.

The Newnan Times-Herald and other news organizations reported that the change comes as a result of a lawsuit filed against Kemp by Project Vote, a national nonpartisan voter advocacy group, and a federal judge’s order that Kemp’s office release information about the rejected applications.

Some applications were rejected because personal information on the application did not match driver’s license or Social Security records. The lawsuit says black, Latino and Asian-American applications were more likely to be rejected, based on Georgia’s “strict matching” requirement on registration forms and claims that the process violates the Voting Rights Act.

The Georgia NAACP, Georgia Coalition for the Peoples’ Agenda and Asian Americans Advancing Justice are among the groups bringing the lawsuit against the secretary of state.

New AG: As of Nov. 1, Chris Carr is the new attorney general for the State of Georgia. The former state economic development commissioner was tapped by Gov. Nathan Deal to fill the unexpired term of Sam Olens, who resigned to become president of Kennesaw State University. Carr, an attorney, is a former top aide to U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson.

Ballot Language: A suit filed in Fulton County Superior Court is challenging the wording of a proposed constitutional amendment on the Nov. 8 ballot that would create an Opportunity School District and allow the state to take over chronically failing local schools, according to several news outlets.

Plaintiffs say the ballot question asks if the state should be permitted to “intervene” in such schools, but does not indicate that a new superintendent appointed by the governor would have the authority to take over the schools and the local taxes that support them.

Honors For Lawmakers: Georgia’s two U.S. senators and 11 members of the U.S. House delegation received Friend of Farm Bureau awards from the American Farm Bureau Federation.

Sens. Johnny Isakson and David Perdue were honored, along with Reps. Rick Allen, Sanford Bishop, Buddy Carter, Doug Collins, Tom Graves, Jody Hice, Barry Loudermilk, Tom Price, Austin Scott, Lynn Westmoreland and Rob Woodall. All are Republicans except for Bishop, who is a Democrat.

The recognition goes to legislators who have at least a 60 percent voting record in support of Farm Bureau issues.

“We are extremely grateful for the support we receive from our members of Congress, which is essential to the continued success of Georgia farmers,” said Georgia Farm Bureau President Gerald Long, who is a member of the national organization’s board of directors.

Perdue serves on the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee. Allen and Scott are members of the House Agriculture Committee, and Hice is on the House Committee on Natural Resources.

Awards To Ag Department: Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black and members of the department’s Georgia Grown team are recipients of prestigious tourism awards given at the Governor’s Tourism Conference.

Black won the Bill Hardman Sr. Tourism Champion in Government Award for his dedication to agritourism, and the Georgia Grown team received the Bill Hardman Sr. Tourism Champion Partnership Award for their efforts.

The Georgia Grown Trail 41 Association won the Champion Product Development award for its promotion and preservation work in a 12-county area along U.S. Highway 41.

“I am extremely proud of the Georgia Grown team for recognizing the potential of what is still an emerging market,” said Black.

Matthew Kulinski is the program manager for Georgia Grown.

A Department of Agriculture press release notes that agriculture is the state’s largest industry, with a $72-billion economic impact; tourism, the state’s second largest industry, has a $58.9-billion impact. Agritourism has an estimated $142-million impact.

Salute to Westmoreland: U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson took to the Senate floor to deliver a tribute to Georgia’s 3rd District Congressman, Republican Lynn Westmoreland, who is retiring Dec. 31 after six terms of service.

“Lynn Westmoreland is a true entrepreneur, a native Georgian, a dedicated father, an outstanding businessman and an unquestionable leader in the United States House of Representatives,” Isakson said.

Westmoreland served 12 years in the Georgia House before going to D.C.

“Wherever Lynn has been he has been a fighter for what’s right in our country.”

Categories: Political Notes