Friday, April 28, 2006

Super Lawyer to the Rescue

As mentioned in the comments, Jane Kidd has qualified for the Senate race, and now she is challenging the redistricting in a lawsuit filed Wednesday. Because of the emergency hearing in a U.S. District Court, the judge has extended the qualifying period for Senate 46 and 47 and 13 associated House districts until May 5. The hearing will be next Tuesday in Atlanta.

We've discussed our thoughts on the merits of a lawsuit previously, and so I won't go into that again, but I will say that Kidd certainly has a strong advocate for the suit: her lawyer is Emmet Bondurant, Georgia's #1 "Super Lawyer" for the past three years straight (yes, this is an actual list, compiled by Law and Politics magazine in conjunction with Atlanta magazine based on attorney suggestions). Go, Super Lawyer, go.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Leaving Las Vegas

Been in Glitter Gulch for the past few days for a professional conference (if what "happens in Vegas" is your money, then yes, it stays there). Nice to see that in my absence we've been having an old-fashioned comment post-fest.

Yesterday was the beginning of qualifying for candidates. Still no Jane Kidd officially in the Senate or House race. We shall be monitoring the SOS website this week as time permits, and commenting on anything out of the ordinary. Let us know if you hear any skinny before that.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Get a load of this guy

Just when I think I'm out, they pull me back in!

Despite all of the talk of reduced postings, I couldn't let this one go. Sonny is apparently being challenged in the Republican gubner primary by batshit-crazy "States Rights" candidate Ray McBerry, whose platform seems to be that he doesn't find the current state flag to be offensive enough. Never mind that Sonny won in part by campaigning against Roy Barnes' dinner mat blue version of the flag, or that the current "compromise" version of the flag is itself an homage to the one of the Confederate flags; McBerry is upset that Georgia didn't return to the 1956 Confederate battle flag version. The compromise version isn't hateful enough, I guess. He also doesn't think Sonny was tough enough on companies that hire illegal immigrants (the one thing I might, kinda, be inclined to agree with him on, although I'm sure that the remainder of our ideas on immigration are in stark conflict), and that Georgia needs to amend its constitution to give fetuses legal status.

What's the matter with Georgia?

Ok Cupcake, you win

Ok, fine, you win. We’ll try to keep some interesting content up here. To be honest, we weren’t expecting the minor deluge of comments and personal emails we got about our hiatus. It’s nice to feel appreciated, and for once, we’re not being sarcastic. Apparently great minds think alike, because as I was banging out the massive post below, my co-editor was doing the same.

So here’s the deal. Speaking only for myself, I’ll try to balance the blog in with the other blogging/politicking I’m currently engaged in. The posts will probably be shorter, and may not happen every day, but hey – y’all win. We’re also pleased to announce that your friend and ours, JMac, will be picking up some of our slack here. Thanks, JMac. You’re a class act.

But hey, enough of this sappy, maudlin (not to be confused with Mauldin) horseshit. It’s time to do that voodoo that we do – beating up on politicians. Here’s some political news. We imagine that this will give you guys a few things to discuss in the comments.

Overend Kickoff

Courtesy of our friends over at Bill Overend’s campaign for Solicitor, the candidate will be having his campaign kickoff party this Sunday over at Farm 255 from 4pm until 6pm. There’s going to be some food, some music, and some talking from the candidate. It’s free and open to the public, although the campaign does suggest a $10.00 donation at the door.

Overend faces C. R. Chisholm in the Democratic Primary, and the winner takes on incumbent Republican Mo Wiltshire in the November general.

New Maddox Website

WTF? I mean, WTF? This is an improvement? Y’all liked talking about this one a month ago or so, so let the Snark 2.0 begin. By the by, there was a version in between the first incarnation and this current abomination that featured a – shall we say – extreme usage of the blink tag. Miss Publius strongly considered a lawsuit against the designer for the seizure she almost had.

Will She or Won’t She? Also, will she or won’t she?

She number 1 = Heidi Davison. She number 2 = Jane Kidd. If we were cynical and misogynistic, we would say that they’d both made up their minds months ago, but are late because they’re up in the bedroom trying to find the right pair of earrings. Fortunately, some comedy is beneath even your crack editorial staff.

Seriously, the big political questions right now, on a local level, are whether Heidi runs again, and whether Jane gives up the safety of her House seat (which is, by our last count, approximately 8,329% democratic) to run for the State Senate against Cowsert. We’ll dispose of Heidi first by saying, how could she not run? We know, we know, only a few months ago, we went on record saying she wouldn’t run. But, whether she runs or not, we’ll have been right. Here’s our take. Heidi has an agenda. She’s got a vision of what she wants this city to be, and whether you agree with her vision or not, you’ve got to agree that she hasn’t done everything she wants to do. Plus, she reeeeeeeaaaaaallllllly likes to screw with people’s minds during the qualifying process. Remember four years ago?

As far as Jane Kidd goes, your guess is as good as ours. Rumors abound (meaning that we’ve heard this from multiple sources) that the fine folks at the Democratic Party of Georgia have encouraged her to stay in the House seat, and not risk a loss in the Senate race. (More on the DPG in a second.) For what it’s worth, if the DPG is pushing that on her, they’re wrong. Any Democrat with a pulse can win Jane Kidd’s House seat. To beat Cowsert in the new 46th (now with 10% more conservative base), you need at least one of two things in a candidate, preferably both. You either need a candidate who can be credible with conservative-leaning swing voters, or you need a name. We don’t know how Jane Kidd would fare in rural Oconee County, but she is at least a recognizable name in local politics. She also has the fundraising boost that pseudo-incumbency provides.

Will all of that make a difference? Who knows? We will mention that both members of your crack editorial staff recently gave up safe, secure, stable gigs to pursue far less safe, but more rewarding career options – and it is a tough personal call to make. Jane Kidd is far more about governing than she is about campaigning, so she may stay in the House because she gets a more or less guaranteed chance to continue governing.

The Democratic Party of Georgia

Campaigns and Elections magazine, a trade publication in the politics industry, recently did a piece on the best and worst state parties. We were shocked to see that they’ve listed the Georgia Democratic Party as one of the best in the nation. Seriously kids, we thought it was a typo. Alas it wasn’t. Apparently seasoned political observers think Bobby Kahn and his posse are doing something right. Really?

As Samuel L. Jackson famously said, “Allow me to retort.” The DPG is not exactly a stellar organization. Over the last four years, they’ve made a cottage industry out of losing the races they should have won. There are two major issues that are hampering the DPG right now. The first is candidate recruitment. We’re guessing that not too many of our readers have ever been recruited by the DPG to run for something, and to be fair, we haven’t either – but we have been involved with enough races in this state to have a more than peripheral acquaintance with the process. Basically, the DPG swoops in on some unsuspecting lawyer or activist or whoever fits their demographic profile of the “perfect candidate” for that district, and promises them the moon to get them to run. Usually, the DPG will hint at oodles of direct mail, maybe some independent expenditures, and all the Atlanta-based advice that the prospective candidate can handle. And, when they’re recruiting candidates, every race is a targeted race. Unfortunately, when push comes to shove, they can’t deliver, and the candidate is left alone in the woods, underfunded and underexposed.

You can’t blame the DPG completely. Smart candidates know that they have to raise the money they need, and a commitment is worth exactly $0 until the check comes in. Unfortunately, a lot of candidates are first-timers, and they don’t learn that nugget of wisdom until it’s too late. And we don’t mean to imply that the DPG is making promises that they know they can’t keep. When you’re involved in an enterprise that depends on the kindness of others to keep it financially afloat, you have to believe that eery year will be better than the last. But sometimes, fundraising falls short.

The other major shortfall in how the DPG does business is in its coordination with local parties. A lot of rural counties don’t even have a local Democratic party structure, and that’s a shame. Even in the smallest counties, you can find 5 or 10 hardcore Dems who would be willing to get together every month and figure out how to help some local folks win some races. Many hands make light work. For the counties, like Athens-Clarke County, that do have large Democratic parties, the DPG needs to mobilize them better. Right now, we have this state party structure that is more or less ineffective in its purview, and county parties that vary in their effectiveness within their own fiefdoms. The DPG needs to work more closely with the local folks and give them the support they need to do their jobs better. All politics is local.

So whither now, DPG? Here’s our suggestion. Stop trying to be a vote machine and start being a support machine. Build the infrastructure to help your candidates out. Focus on providing the research and tools that campaigns need, and get your hands out of every race in the state. There are tons of good operatives in Georgia – for instance, here in Athens, Al Davison is no slouch at the politics. Give them what they need to win and get out of their way.

One really good thing the DPG could do right now is to take a hint from states like Alabama and Iowa, where state Democratic parties laid out the cash to build a colossal voter file – better than the raw data available from the Secretaries of State in those states. The parties sent canvassers out to update, test issues, get demographic data, and generally make the voter file a very useful database for Democratic campaigns.

The fact is, the DPG is not very good right now. So, if you want to win some races, maybe it’s time for a new direction and a new purpose.

Not Dead Yet

Ok, you guys convinced me...well, maybe not permanently, but I'm at least gonna do some posts about these local races.

Solicitor's race - As alluded to in the comments, there's talk that Mo won't even run for reelection. Given the political makeup of Clarke County, it's unlikely that he'd defeat any of the potential challengers. (As an aside, why didn't Sonny respect this when appointing a replacement for Ralph? Sure, I guess the instinctive thing to do is to do a patronage appointment of someone in your own party in that situation. But he had to know that a Dem would win the election the very next year. Wouldn't some sort of continuity in the ACC Solicitor's Office be more important than whatever marginal political advantage Sonny might gain from appointing a R Solicitor in ACC? Then again, I guess that's the point; what happens here really doesn't matter to Sonny politically, so might as well reward an R. Ah, jeez, back to my post I guess).

As also mentioned, the confirmed candidates are C.R. Chisholm and Bill Overend, with Brian Patterson as a possible but as yet unannounced third. All are expected to run as Dems. CR has experience in the Solicitor's Office, and the other two have experience in the DA's Office (I believe BP is still there, although it's hard to keep up with the fast-food-esque turnover in that office). Those talking shop around the courthouse have CR pegged as the early favorite.

Rawson-Hudgens - I'm still learning about Rawson myself, but I wouldn't be so dismissive of his chances. He is a part of the local county party machinery, and we've certainly been critical of them in the past. However, Rawson also seems to be a serious-minded candidate who knows his stuff. Couple that with the right kind of campaign on the ground, and who knows what might happen. Rawson may be the guy to restore some credibility to the county party machinery.

More soon, although no guarantees on when exactly. Thanks for all the kind words everyone, and we'll try to keep at least some level of posting up with regard to these local elections.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Posting Slowdown (er..Standstill)

As you have undoubtedly noticed, if any of you are even still checking, we don't post so much around here these days. As was alluded to in previous posts, both AthPo eds. are in busy transitional phases in their lives/careers. It's not clear at this point where AthPo is headed. We are considering getting some editorial assistance; however elimination, or at least an extended hiatus, of the blog is also a possibility. If that ends up being the case, I want to extend a hearty thanks to all who have contributed from all ends of the political spectrum, and I encourage everyone to continue to read and contribute to our linked blogs (as will we as time permits). Here's a few tidbits to tide you over if you're still jonesin' for local politic news:

The Solicitor's race is heating up, with several former prosecutor's lining up as possible challengers, including my personal favorite Bill Overend;

The filing deadline approaches rapidly, with still no definite word on where Jane Kidd will run;

Mac Rawson will challengeRalph Hudgens for his State Senate seat.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Eminent Domain Bill

[Today’s post comes to us courtesy of GP over at the Daily Douchebag.  Check out some of his other blogging here.  Eds.]

Sonny and everyone else under the dome yesterday scrambled to take credit for HB1313 at the signing ceremony.  Republicans proclaimed loudly their victory over those that would abuse eminent domain at the expense of private property rights.  I’m tempted to think that the “abusers of eminent domain” are strawmen created by Republicans to exploit a sensitive nationwide issue, but that’s not true.  The potential abusers of eminent domain in Georgia were the Republicans themselves.

Dan Moody proposed SB 5 in early January 2005 which would have allowed developers to use eminent domain to seize private land in partnership with almost any local government.  Neal Boortz brought attention to the bill on his radio show resulting in a public outcry.  Under pressure, Moody changed direction and co-sponsored SB86 in mid March 2005, which specified that eminent domain could not be used to seize property for the benefit of private developers.  This was at best a modification of his previous stance if not an all out reversal.  Somehow this has evolved into a campaign issue.  Ralph Reed has been attacking Casey Cagle as being soft on private property rights through weekly email newsletters.

While I’m glad that HB1313 was signed yesterday, I’m rather annoyed that Republicans are taking credit for “solving” an issue that they themselves created, while simultaneously using it as an attack issue in their campaigns.  Your opinions welcome.