Political Notes: Ups, Downs and In-betweens
State Chamber Endorsements: The Georgia Chamber of Commerce has endorsed three incumbent state officials in the upcoming Nov. 6 election: Republicans Gary Black, commissioner of agriculture; Chris Carr, attorney general; and Mark Butler, commissioner of labor.
In the Public Service Commission races, the chamber endorsements went to Commissioners Chuck Eaton, District 3, and Tricia Pridemore, District 5.
“The chamber is proud to announce our support and endorsement of their candidacy in this year’s election,” said Chris Clark, chamber president and CEO, in a press release. “Each of these incumbents have demonstrated unwavering commitment for economic growth and have proven their ability to represent the interests of Georgia businesses and working families.”
The chamber will not be making endorsements in the governor’s or lieutenant governor’s races. A spokesperson says the “chamber leadership agreed earlier this year not to endorse in open statewide races,” those in which no incumbent is running.
New High Court Justice: Sarah Hawkins Warren, former solicitor general in the office of the state’s attorney general, has been named to the Georgia Supreme Court by Gov. Nathan Deal.
Warren fills the vacancy created by the appointment and confirmation of Justice Britt Grant to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.
In the attorney general’s office, Warren also served as deputy solicitor general and special counsel for water litigation. She was previously a partner with Kirkland & Ellis LLP in Washington and clerked for Chief Judge J.L. Edmonson of the 11th Circuit court.
Deal still has another vacancy to fill: the one created by the retirement this summer of Chief Justice Harris Hines.
New Albany State President: Marion Fedrick has been named president of Albany State University. She had been interim president since January.
“In my visits to Albany, I am encouraged by what I see, what I hear and what I experience,” University System of Georgia Chancellor Steve Wrigley said in a press release. “In meetings with faculty, staff and students, it is clear Marion’s leadership has caught their attention and made them excited for the future both for themselves and their institution.”
Says Fedrick, “I am truly inspired by what the future holds for the students, faculty and staff at Albany State.”
In Memoriam: J. Robert “Robbie” Hamrick, director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation from 1985 until his retirement in 1993, died in August after a long illness. He served in state government for 35 years. Among his assignments at the GBI before becoming director was serving as supervisor of investigations on the Atlanta Murdered and Missing Children Task Force.
After his GBI retirement, he was chief deputy of the Forsyth County sheriff’s office.
DFCS Director: Tom Rawlings, formerly director of the Office of the Child Advocate (OCA), is the interim director of the Georgia Division of Family and Children’s Services, appointed by Gov. Nathan Deal. He succeeds Virginia Pryor.
OCA Deputy Rachel Davidson was named interim director of the Child Advocate Office.
“Every child deserves a safe, loving and supportive environment in which to grow and learn,” Deal said in a statement. “DFCS and OCA are instrumental in our efforts to protect and care for Georgia’s youngest and most vulnerable citizens.”
Randolph Precincts Remain Open: Public outcry inside and outside Randolph County helped scuttle a recommendation by an elections consultant to close down seven of nine voting precincts before next month’s elections.
The two-person county board of elections defeated the proposal unanimously; the elections consultant, Mike Malone, had previously been fired, according to several news organizations.
Randolph, in the southwestern part of the state, is a rural, majority-black county, which voted for Democrat Hillary Clinton over Republican President Donald Trump by 55 percent in 2016. The polling places recommended for closing are in some of the most remote areas of the county. Critics of the recommendation, including the NAACP and ACLU, believed the closings would negatively affect turnout among black residents. In the race for governor, Democrat Stacey Abrams, the first black woman to vie for the office, is running against Republican Brian Kemp, Georgia’s secretary of state.
Both Abrams and Kemp opposed the idea of shutting down the precincts, which were open for the primary and primary run-off elections.