Posted: 8:15 a.m. Friday, July 12, 2013
By Jim Galloway, Daniel Malloy
U.S. District Judge Steve Jones on Thursday ordered Georgia’s federal election calendar turned upside down, moving the date of the all-important primary for U.S. Senate and other contests from the traditional mid-July to June 3 – the earliest such date in Georgia history.
The calendar change, which currently affects federal contests only, also expands the primary runoff period from three weeks to more than two months – which could substantially increase the cost of running, particularly for four Republicans now in next year’s Senate contest.
A long run-off period eating up GOP resources and increasing rancor could also create an opportunity for a Democratic candidate in that same race. Branko Radulovacki, a metro Atlanta physician, has already announced. Michelle Nunn, daughter of the former U.S. senator, is still considering her candidacy.
The new primary date could also greatly change the make-up of next year’s primary, which will be held only a few days after most school systems dismiss their students for the year. July turnouts are notoriously low, and often dominated by party activists, in part because so many Georgians take vacations during that month.
The federal lawsuit specifically revolves around Georgia’s insistence on runoff elections in primary and general election contests, requiring victors to receive 50 percent plus one vote. Runoffs in Georgia currently occur three weeks after the first vote. But federal law requires a 45-day waiting period, so that ballots can flow to and from overseas military outposts, and to other Americans living overseas.
Jones said he would have preferred for the state to have dealt with the problem on its own. “However…the Georgia General Assembly failed to act in its 2013 session and the Court has not received reasonable assurance that there will be legislative action in 2014,” the judge wrote.
But because the judge’s order affects only federal races, action by the Legislature next year now becomes likely – separate schedules for federal races and state contests topped by a governor’s race would be confusing for voters, and expensive for the counties that would bear the added costs, according to Secretary of State Brian Kemp.
The calendar ordered by Jones:
-- A March 17-21 qualifiying period that would more than likely occur during the next session of the General Assembly;
-- A Tuesday, June 3 primary;
-- Followed by an Aug. 6 runoff where necessary;
-- An unchanged Tuesday, Nov. 4 general election;
--And a Tuesday, Jan. 6, general election runoff – where necessary.
So as we wrote yesterday, it is possible that six months could elapse between the casting of the first ballots next year, and the counting of the last.
Michelle Nunn praised President Barack Obama on Thursday for supporting volunteerism ahead of a White House ceremony next week that will highlight her group’s work and its chief sponsor, former President Georg H.W. Bush. From Politico.com:
“One of the things I think is poignant about the White House gathering is, at a time when there’s not as much bipartisanship and working across the aisle as we would like, there has been this shared commitment to service,” [Nunn] said. “It’s a reminder that there is common ground.”
….Nunn declined to answer questions on the issues of the day or about her likely campaign.
“I don’t have a particular timetable, and I’m really focused on the White House event,” she said. “It’s enough to keep me busy … I will be giving [politics] some attention after this White House event.”
The political action committee for Atlanta-based financial exchange operator InterContinental Exchange just filed its midyear report, showing a $5,000 donation to U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston’s campaign.
That would be the same InterContinental Exchange with a CEO named Kelly Loeffler, a rumored candidate for Senate herself.
The gift technically was to Kingston’s House campaign in March, before he announced his Senate candidacy -- but when he was running around the state “exploring” a bid. The PAC did not give to U.S. Reps. Phil Gingrey of Marietta or Paul Broun of Athens, or former Secretary of State Karen Handel. What does that say about Loeffler? She donated to the PAC ($1,200) in June and would not, as CEO, have daily control over it.
But the politically attuned people there would presumably know what their boss is up to.
Speaking of Kingston, we’re told that he will show more than $800,000 raised in the second quarter – after reeling in $841,000 in the first. His full campaign finance report will be filed early next week.
In other fundraising news:
-- State Sen. Buddy Carter, R-Pooler, says he raised $232,837 from 1976 donors in the first two months of his campaign to fill the First District congressional seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston of Savannah.
-- In the same contest, David Schwarz, a former senior staffer for Kingston, reported raising “almost $125,000” in the second quarter from 180 donors. This is Schwarz’ first crack at elected office.
-- In the 10th District race to replace U.S. Rep. Paul Broun, R-Athens, state Rep. Donna Sheldon, R-Dacula, reports raising $210,000 in the last reporting period and has $175,000 in cash on hand. She would have something of a fundraising advantage, as the chairman of the House Republican caucus, she was in charge of fundraising there, too.
Something you don’t often hear in Georgia, caught by Jeff Gill of the Gainesville Times:
Businesses contemplating impacts of health care reform shouldn’t “wait until this time next year to start figuring this out,” Georgia Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Chris Clark told a Gainesville audience [Thursday]….
“Anytime I talk about (this), half my audience looks down at their Blackberry and iPhones and starts trying to find something else to do,” Clark said, drawing some laughter. “... The fact is it’s the law of the land, and that law’s not going to change.”
Former President Jimmy Carter and his electoral observers won’t be allowed into Zimbabwe to observe that country’s July 31 elections. From Africa Review in Kenya:
President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party has vowed that western countries that have imposed sanctions on its leadership will not be allowed to observe the crucial polls.
“ZEC chairperson Rita Makarau on July 9 informed the Carter Centre that our application to observe the forthcoming national elections in Zimbabwe has been turned declined,” the centre said in a statement Thursday.
“While the Centre regrets this news, it respects the commission’s decision. Without accreditation, the Carter Centre will not be able to conduct an international election observation mission.”
The AJC’s Politifact Georgia today looks at whether celebrity chef Paula Deen indeed campaigned for President Barack Obama.