Red, Purple, & Blue: A Race for Second on GA GOP Ticket

Red, Purple, & Blue: A Race for Second on GA GOP Ticket

With Georgia’s Republican gubernatorial primary less than two weeks, two big questions remain. The first is just how much support can Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle muster in the final days of the election? The most recent AJC polling had him garnering 41% of the vote, by far the strongest showing in the field. His closest opponents are Secretary of State Brian Kemp and former state senator Hunter Hill with 10% and 9%, respectively. It is not surprising that Cagle commands a lead of this magnitude. He went into the race with the highest name recognition among the candidates and his profile was only elevated by the 2018 Georgia Legislative Session and his spat with Delta over the NRA. He has raised more money than any candidates in the governor’s race on either side of the aisle, earning nearly $7 million in contributions. He ended the most recent fiscal reporting period with $4.5 million in the bank. Clearly, Cagle does not lack for resources. Cagle recently suggested that avoiding a runoff is “mathematically impossible,” a wise move to set realistic expectations even though he very well may avoid a runoff anyway. A third of expected GOP voters are undecided, so he would only need to attract roughly one third of that third to win outright on May 22. Armed with an endorsement from the NRA, a great deal of wealthy backers, and enviable name recognition, there is no reason to think a runoff is an inevitability. The second question is, if the race does go to a runoff, who will face off against Cagle? Kemp and Hill are the two...
A Tale of Two Republicans

A Tale of Two Republicans

Right now, the Republican Party is divided. There have been divisions in the past, the Tea Party perhaps being the most recent evidence of that, but the current division is even more basic than ideology. The current division is centered on loyalty, specifically loyalty to the Republican president occupying the White House. That division is illustrated perfectly by the stances of Georgia’s two Republican senators, Johnny Isakson and David Perdue. After the president’s reported remarks calling Haiti, El Salvador, and African countries “shithole countries,” both Isakson and Perdue staked out their respective positions. Isakson made the following statement: “I did not hear it, but if it’s true, he owes the people of Haiti and all mankind an apology. That is not the kind of statement the leader of the free world ought to make, and he ought to be ashamed of himself. If he did not make it, he needs to corroborate the fact and prove it and then move forward.” Perdue, on the other hand, said the following in an interview: “I am telling you that he did not use those words.” Unlike Isakson, Perdue was present in the meeting. In that same interview, he repeatedly used the phrase “gross misrepresentation” to describe the reported remarks, which some have suggested may be a much weaker defense than initially thought. The larger point is that Isakson is willing to take the president to task, despite residing on the same side of the aisle, whereas Perdue has chosen loyalty to the president at each opportunity that arises. In a way, Georgia gets to have its cake and eat it too...
Red, Purple, & Blue: Connecting Rural Georgia with the Future

Red, Purple, & Blue: Connecting Rural Georgia with the Future

The gap between rural and urban America is wider today than it has been at any other point in our nation’s history. Urban centers like the City of Atlanta are awash in new development, new businesses, new citizens, and new opportunities. Counties and communities without significant urban centers, however, often find themselves lacking basic resources and amenities that enhance and simplify life in major cities.  One such resources is access to broadband internet. Sixteen percent of Georgians don’t have access to high-speed internet access, which equates to about 1.65 million people. At a time when reliable internet access is essential for everything from applying to jobs to completing homework assignments to connecting with individuals outside of your neighborhood, the lack of high-speed internet access can mean the different between success and failure.  The internet has become a necessity of modern living, arguably as essential as electricity. The state of Georgia has a responsibility to connect those rural citizens in a meaningful way. One might argue that the government should not be responsible for such a massive undertaking – after all, is it not the place of business and the economy to determine if such an investment is worth it? Perhaps – but imagine if government leaders had taken the same approach to electricity. Instead of expanding access to electricity with the Rural Electrification Act of 1936 with federal loans, leading to an improved quality of life for millions of Americans with relatively low investment, rural communities could have been left in the dark.  The country faces a similar choice today, and the state of Georgia would be wise to seize on the opportunity to revolutionize the...
Georgia Elections 2017 – The Return of the Democrats

Georgia Elections 2017 – The Return of the Democrats

The ability to make meaningful choices in an election is one of the hallmarks of democracy. In theory, voters should almost always be presented with at least two candidates who offer different ideas for how best to govern and represent the community. Additionally, competitive races ensure that once in office, elected officials do not take their position for granted, while also serving as a reminder to them that they serve at the pleasure of the people, not the other way around. Unfortunately, that idealized version of democracy is too often lost in this country.  In this form of democracy, the people elect a representative; someone who they feel best shares their views on most issues. In an ideal world, an incumbent is able to remain in office because he or she continues to represent their constituents well; but, in reality it is all too easy for incumbents to scare off challengers because they have amassed large war chests and have nurtured or inherited strong political networks. Long serving incumbents is nothing new here in Georgia; in fact, our state is one of the worst offenders when it comes to encouraging participation in the electoral process, ranking almost dead last in a recent analysis of election competitiveness.  In state legislative races last year, 81% of incumbents ran unopposed. Even worse, of the hand full races with open seats, 82% of them ended up with only one name on the ballot. Georgia is in clear need of an update to its electoral process. Large financial advantages for incumbents and extreme gerrymandering have increasingly made mounting a challenge to an incumbent almost...
Red, Purple, & Blue: Unity and Opportunity

Red, Purple, & Blue: Unity and Opportunity

In the aftermath of the Charlottesville, VA riot on August 12th, conversations around race and history have become more aggravated and amplified. In this current peak of racial tension, much attention has been given to the significance of Confederate statues and memorials, particularly in the American South. Given that the symbols of the Confederacy have long been used by white supremacists to push their toxic ideology, it should not be surprising that there are many people with strong feelings on their prevalence in modern society, even 152 years after the end of the Civil War. There are those who have called for them to be torn down and destroyed because of the racist beliefs of those they memorialize and more importantly, the white supremacist views of those who built the memorials.  There are those who have called for their preservation because of the historical importance of the Confederacy and the Civil War, arguing that removing such memorials is tantamount to wiping away history. One particular flashpoint in that debate is the carving of Confederate President Jefferson Davis and Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson that decorates the side of Stone Mountain in DeKalb County. Recently, Georgia State Representative and gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams called for its removal, stating that it “remains a blight on our state and should be removed.” In stark contrast, civil rights icon and former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young seemed disinterested in making an effort to remove such symbols, as “it is too costly to refight the Civil War.” He may have a point. I believe that the vast majority of people who...