Political Notes: Ups, Downs and In-betweens
In Memoriam: Zell Miller, the former Georgia governor and U.S. senator who established the HOPE Scholarship program that has provided more than $9.4 billion in financial assistance to Georgia college students, died in March at age 86. He had been in poor health for several years.
Miller hailed from Young Harris in the North Georgia mountains, where he was raised by a single mother. He was proud of his Appalachian roots and, when his political career was over, returned to Young Harris and the rock house where he was brought up.
He was a lifelong conservative Democrat and a strong supporter of former President Bill Clinton’s candidacy. He gave the keynote address to the National Democratic Convention in 1992 – and then was keynoter at the National Republican Convention in 2004, in support of President George W. Bush.
Miller, who lost a bid to replace the late Herman Talmadge in the U.S. Senate in 1980, served four terms as Georgia’s lieutenant governor and two terms as governor, retiring in 1999. In 2000, then-Gov. Roy Barnes, a Democrat, appointed him to fill the seat of Republican Sen. Paul Coverdell, who died in office. Miller declined to run for another term in 2004.
Primary Election: Tuesday, May 22, is the statewide primary election. Runoff date is set for Tuesday, July 24. (For more on the primaries, see “Promise and Peril,” May 2018 edition, “At Issue” opinion column.)
Seeking the Top Job: Two Democrats and six Republicans are in the running for their party’s nomination for governor in this month’s primary. Atlantan Stacey Abrams, former Georgia House minority leader, and Stacey Evans, a former legislator and attorney from Ringold, are the Democratic contenders.
Republicans in the running are Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, Secretary of State Brian Kemp, restaurateur Eddie Hayes, businessman Clay Tippins, former state Sen. Hunter Hill, state Sen. Michael Williams and author Marc Urbach.
Libertarian candidate Ted Metz has no primary opposition.
The Second Spot: Three Republican candidates and two Democrats are vying for the lieutenant governor’s job. Republicans are David Shafer, Geoff Duncan and Rick Jeffares. Democrats are Sarah Riggs Amico and Trina Arnold James.
Secretary of State: Incumbent Brian Kemp is running for governor; three Democrats and four Republicans are hoping to succeed him as secretary of state. Democrats are Dee Dawkins-Haigler, John Barrow and Rakeim “RJ” Hadley; Republicans are Brad Raffensperger, Buzz Brockway, David Belle Isle and Josh McKoon.
Insurance Commissioner: Incumbent Ralph Hudgens is not running for re-election, but Democrats Cindy Zeldin and Janice Laws and Republicans Jay Florence, Jim Beck and Tracy Jordan are running for insurance commissioner.
Attorney General: Republican incumbent Chris Carr and Democrat Charlie Bailey face no primary opposition.
Agriculture Commissioner: Neither Republican incumbent Gary Black nor his Democratic challenger, Fred Swann, has drawn primary opposition in the race for state agriculture commissioner.
Labor Commissioner: Incumbent Mark Butler has no Republican challenger in the primary, but Fred Quinn and Richard Keatley will face off in the Democratic primary.
State School Superintendent: Incumbent Richard Woods has two Republican challengers: former State School Superintendent John Barge and Sonia Francis-Rolle. On the Democratic side are Otha Thornton Jr., Sam Mosteller and Sid Chapman.
PSC: District 3 Public Service Commissioner Chuck Eaton has no Republican opposition, but three Democrats are in the primary running: John Noel, Johnny C. White and Lindy Miller.
For the District 5 PSC seat, incumbent Tricia Pridemore is opposed by John Hitchins in the Republican primary; on the Democratic side, Dawn Randolph and Doug Stoner are running.
New MARTA Chief: Jeffrey Parker, a former MARTA executive who was a vice president at HNTB Corp., a design and infrastructure firm, is the new CEO and general manager of the Metro Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority.
Open Records Probe: The GBI is conducting a criminal investigation into alleged violations of the state’s open records law by Atlanta City Hall officials last spring, during former Mayor Kasim Reed’s tenure.
The investigation was prompted by text messages that suggest delaying tactics in response to an open records request by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Atlanta’s WSB-TV News. This marks the first criminal investigation under the 2012 rewrite of the state’s sunshine law.