MARIETTA — The dust has settled, and the winners of the runoff elections have been crowned. So why did the elections shake out the way they did?
Political experts in Cobb pointed to a variety of factors, including name recognition, endorsements and a strong ground game, as the reason some candidates succeed while others did not.
Some pundits predicted the results of the race for a seat on the Cobb Board of Education, but were surprised by how one-sided the election was as Susan Thayer defeated incumbent Tim Stultz by a significant margin; Thayer received 3,030 votes, or 70 percent, while Stultz took home only 1,271, or 30 percent. ...
Thayer goes on to face Democrat Kenya Pierre in November for the District 2 seat on the board
Loudermilk’s ground game puts him over the top
Meanwhile, in the race to be one of Georgia’s representatives in the other chamber of the U.S. Congress, former state Rep. Barry Loudermilk defeated former U.S. Rep. Bob Barr to become the presumptive 11th District Repres-entative for the state of Georgia.
Loud-ermilk received 34,641 votes statewide, or about 66 percent, compared to 17,794 votes, or about 34 percent, for Barr. In Cobb County, Loudermilk took 59 percent of the vote, good for 13,591 votes, compared to only 9,314, or 41 percent, for Barr.
Kerwin Swint, a professor of political science at Kennesaw State University, argued Loudermilk’s endorsements from religious and conservative organizations, such as FreedomWorks, resonated with the types of voters in District 11.
“He’s a conservative, family-based candidate in a conservative district, and so his issue concerns and policies lined up very, very closely to where a majority of voters in the district are,” Swint said. ...
MARIETTA — In the two months since a number of primary contests were whittled down to two contenders, candidates for seats from the local school board to the U.S. House have not pulled punches in their efforts to emerge victorious Tuesday.
The runoff season — which began for some races when no one primary candidate managed to capture 50 percent of the electorate May 20 — has seen several competitive races take a negative turn as the July 22 election approaches.
Former commission Chairman Bill Byrne and former Acworth Alderman Bob Weatherford have been locked in a tight contest for outgoing Commissioner Helen Goreham’s seat representing northwest Cobb, a race that has seemingly pitted grassroots support against the influence of Cobb Chamber leaders.
Among the most contentious contests to be decided is the runoff between Barry Loudermilk, a former state senator from Bartow County, and Bob Barr, a former congressman and presidential candidate, for U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey’s seat representing the 11th District. Gingrey vacated his seat to launch an ultimately unsuccessful bid for the U.S. Senate.
Both candidates have dug up unflattering pieces of each other’s history in their attempts to prove themselves the more worthy choice.
Also in a runoff are Cobb Juvenile Court Judge Juanita Stedman and prosecutor Ann Harris, who are vying for retiring Judge Jim Bodiford’s seat on the Cobb Superior Court bench, and Cobb school board member Tim Stultz, who is defending his post against education consultant Susan Thayer.
Kerwin Swint, a political science professor at Kennesaw State University, said there’s always “a bit of a risk involved” when runoff opponents decide to launch attacks on each other.
“There’s always a calculation,” Swint said. “When you’re going to attack your opponent, you’re going to take some heat yourself. So you better make sure, if you’re going to go after your opponent, the attack hurts him more than it hurts you.” ...
MARIETTA — Prepare for an all-out assault of campaign ads in your mailbox, over your phone and on your television.
With July 22’s runoff elections a week away, candidates for several high profile positions will be emptying their war chests to buy direct mail advertisements, employ callers and purchase commercials in an attempt to drive supporters to the polls. And some candidates have large war chests.
For example, there is about $2 million cash on hand between Republican U.S. Senate candidates Jack Kingston and David Perdue.
“I’m sure both of those candidates are going to … continue to raise money right up to the last possible minute,” said Kerwin Swint, a political science professor at Kennesaw State University.
According to disclosure filings on the Federal Election Commission’s website, Kingston, an 11-term congressman, has received more than $7 million in contributions over the course of his candidacy, including about $2 million in the last three months alone. Kingston had about $1.2 million cash on hand as of June 30. ...
By WALTER C. JONESMORRIS NEWS SERVICE – updated Monday, June 30, 2014 - 1:11pm
ATLANTA | Voters in the Republican Senate runoff who want an experienced hand who came up through the party ranks have that option in Jack Kingston.
His career is the life’s dream of teenaged political junkies. The volunteering he and his wife were doing at a fundraiser as members of the Savannah Young Republicans led to the chance to meet one of his heroes, Ronald Reagan, then a former governor running for president.
Kingston’s hard work and connections led to winning a seat in the state House of Representatives for Savannah in 1984. Six years later he became the first Republican to hold the First District congressional seat since Reconstruction, and he’s been in Washington ever since, rising in seniority and power over those 22 years.
Although he never had serious opposition after his first legislative race, he says he still likes campaigning. Yet, these days, he frequently runs into questions about his years in Congress spawned by negative television ads from runoff opponent David Perdue attacking him primarily for his votes on spending.
“One of the constant concerns you have is that people are too polite when they come up to you,” he said. “I’d rather have them ask me head on.”
So, here they are, head-on.
He’s being called “king of the earmarks” because he used them more in a three-year period than all other Republican members of the Georgia legislative delegation combined. ...
The biggest difference between Kingston and Perdue is that one had a career in Congress while the other held a career as a senior executive in private enterprise. Perdue is appealing to voters who want a change while Kingston’s support comes from those who appreciate his conservative voting record.
Kingston has won the endorsements of the National Rifle Association, National Right to Life, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as well as many tea party leaders who generally oppose the chamber.
He has a lifetime voting record of 100 percent in accord with the National Conservative Union and 96 percent with the National Federation of Independent Business.
“When he goes around saying that Jack Kingston is a liberal, it just doesn’t have credibility,” Kingston said of his opponent’s attacks.
Kerwin Swint, a political science professor at Kennesaw State University, said while primary voters may be more attuned to attack ads than general-election voters, he said they are not ploughing new ground.
“The content of the ads is pretty well known,” he said. “There is nothing striking or new in them, but I guess it’s about repetition.” ...
ATLANTA-- The emptiness of political discourse is measurable by the commercials. Exhibit A this year would be the series of commercials for U.S. Senate candidates that featured babies depicting politicians. It is theater that can starkly contrast with the importance of the office sought.
"it's just a very different type of activity, governing and politicking," said Kerwin Swint, Kennesaw State University political science professor.
It's demonstrated with the issue of Bowe Bergdahl, the U.S. Army sergeant freed by the Taliban -- and the controversy that has stirred. Central to it has been Saxby Chambliss, the retiring U.S. Senator from Georgia whose seat is sought by the men behind the baby commercials.
As Intelligence Committee chairman, Sen. Chambliss arguably follows the lineage of other national figures who occupied Senate seats from Georgia -- including Senators Sam Nunn, Carl Vinson and Richard Russell.
"Saxby Chambliss currently has a heightened role on the intelligence committee. And he's able to play a role in substantive foreign policy issues that Kingston or Perdue (or Michelle Nunn) would have to perform once they're in office," Swint said. ...
Georgia may be dominated by Republicans in virtually every top political office, but Democratic state Sen. Jason Carter of Decatur believes 200,000 previously uncounted votes will be crucial to winning back the governor’s mansion.
The prevailing theory among political analysts is that as red as the Peach State is today, it’s ripe for Democratic victories in the next two to three election cycles, when demographics changes favoring the party will make it a true swing state.
Carter isn’t buying it.
The numbers he and his campaign staff have been crunching offer the gubernatorial candidate, who two weeks ago secured the Democratic nomination, hope he can defeat Republican Gov. Nathan Deal.
In 2012, President Barack Obama garnered more than 1.7 million or 45.5 percent of votes. Carter said he will likely need to capture 1.3 million of those votes to win the off-year election.
However, last month’s primary turnout of just under 20 percent doesn’t bode well for Democrats. Carter received 304,243 votes to the Republicans’ 596,218 votes, of which Deal captured 72.2 percent. And nearly 60,000 more Republicans than Democrats participated in early voting.
Carter’s campaign believes upward of 600,000 Democrats who aren’t registered to vote are in the state. Registering and getting just 200,000 of them to vote in November, campaign officials calculate, will give them the win.
Getting potential supporters not only motivated, but also physically to the polls will be crucial to the Carter campaign. ...
Kerwin Swint, a political science professor at Kennesaw State University, says Carter will need not just Democratic support but independent voters this year.
“It’s a midterm election year and could be a tough one for Democrats nationally,” he said in an email. “If it was a presidential year then maybe he could rely more on Democratic voters. But considering the hurdles a Democratic candidate in Georgia faces this year, he’s doing quite well.”
Voters from both parties showed up in fewer numbers for Tuesday’s primary election, and some say that’s far more significant for Democrats than Republicans.
Georgia Democrats have high expectations for the 2014 ticket led by gubernatorial candidate Jason Carter and U.S. Senate candidate Michelle Nunn.
“It’s been years since we’ve seen this kind of excitement and energy," said Georgia Senate Minority Leader Steve Henson in November. "We’ve got such good candidates that are announcing for office and we’ve got so many important issues to talk about. This excitement level is just off the scale."
Republicans had a similar drop-off this year, but it didn’t stop Brian Robinson, spokesman for Gov. Nathan Deal, from boasting on Twitter that even with opposition, the governor received more votes than the total number of Democrats that showed up to the polls.
Kennesaw State University political science professor Kerwin Swint said a number of factors were at play, including an earlier primary than past years. Still, Swint says the writing appears to be on the wall - he says any anticipated demographic shift favoring Democrats is still several years away.
“Obama’s not on the ballot. It’s not a presidential year. Turnout is deflated. And so Democrats – even those with famous names like Carter and Nunn – are swimming upstream,” said Swint. ...
Stacey Kalberman’s claim that she was forced from her job as head of the state ethics commission will cost the state a total of $1.15 million, according to documents obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
A Fulton County jury in April ruled that Kalberman was pushed out for investigating Nathan Deal’s 2010 campaign for governor and ordered the state to pay her $700,000 plus court costs and legal fees. The agreement signed Wednesday shows the total cost for the first time.
The final amount is nearly equal to the commission’s $1.35 million annual budget and will be paid by the Department of Administrative Services through its self-funded insurance program.
Under the terms, Kalberman is to receive $725,111.79, and the law firm Thrasher Liss & Smith will be paid $424,881.21.
Kalberman and her top deputy, Sherilyn Streicker, were investigating a series of complaints against Deal’s campaign and in May 2011 presented draft subpoenas for records from Deal’s campaign and others. Just weeks later, the subpoenas remained unsigned and Kalberman was told her salary would be cut deeply and Streicker’s job eliminated. ...
The Kalberman case is one of three involving the commission and its Deal investigation that could be decided in the next several months — all before November’s election when Deal will next face voters.
Streicker’s whistleblower lawsuit is scheduled for trial in Fulton County in June. Former commission media specialist John Hair’s whistleblower case is tentatively scheduled for October.
Hair was hired by current commission director Holly LaBerge, who took over after Kalberman’s departure. Hair claims LaBerge ordered him to alter and remove documents from the Deal investigative file and that he was fired when he refused.
LaBerge has denied the allegations.
Steve Anthony, who lectures on state politics at Georgia State University and served as chief of staff to longtime House Speaker Tom Murphy, said these cases will continue to give Deal heartburn if the results are similar.
“It will cause problems on a variety of fronts,” Anthony said. “It will make him have to respond to that and, space and time being what it is, it means he can’t respond to something else.”
It will also draw voters’ attention away from Deal’s own message and gives ammunition to Democratic gubernatorial nominee Jason Carter. ...
Kennesaw State University political scientist Kerwin Swint, a former GOP activist, agreed.
The cases “are like a storm cloud hanging over the Deal administration and the governor’s campaign,” Swint said. “The fact that more court action involving the state ethics commission and its gross mismanagement over the last three years is coming soon has to be unwelcome news to the governor’s re-election team.”
David Perdue has advanced to a runoff in the Georgia Republican Senate primary, and he’ll have to get back to campaigning soon.
Perdue will likely face Rep. Jack Kingston or former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel in a runoff July 22. Kingston is currently in second place, six points ahead of former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel. The second place finisher has not yet been declared.
Georgia election law requires that a candidate get at least 50 percent plus one vote in order to be elected. No one in the crowded GOP field did that Tuesday night.
So that brings us to July, when two candidates will square off to decide which of them will face Democrat Michelle Nunn in November. ...
Should Kingston win second place, the runoff between him and Perdue is bound to be a lively one, said Kerwin Swint, a professor of political science at Kennesaw State University.
“If it’s Perdue and Kingston that is going to be an expensive, mean runoff,” Swint said.
Political Novice Poised for Strong Showing in Senate Primary
Updated May 19, 2014 8:19 p.m. ET
ATLANTA—A multimillionaire Georgia businessman is poised for a strong showing in Tuesday's Republican Senate primary race by stressing his business acumen over a field of longtime political officeholders.
David Perdue, a 64-year-old former chief executive of Dollar General Corp.DG -1.20% , is Republican voters' leading candidate, according to a recent survey. Last week's poll by Saint Leo University in Florida showed that of 689 likely primary voters, 26% supported Mr. Perdue to fill the seat of retiring Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss.
U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston and former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel are fighting for second place, according to the poll, with 16% for Mr. Kingston and 15% for Ms. Handel.
They appear to have edged aside U.S. Reps. Paul Broun and Phil Gingrey, both doctors who dominated airwaves early on, making vocal opposition to the Obama administration and the Affordable Care Act cornerstones of their campaign. Mr. Gingrey had led in earlier polling.
Mr. Perdue, by contrast, has stressed his experience as an executive working to turn around troubled companies, including Dollar General and shoe and apparel company Reebok. He said candidates who have spent years in political office don't have the business experience needed to turn around the government's finances, calling the nation's debt the biggest threat to national security. ...
Mr. Perdue, who has given his campaign nearly $2.7 million in loans and in-kind donations, was little-known when he entered the race last year. He gained support in part thanks to widely viewed television commercials featuring crying babies labeled with his opponents' names. The ads have helped him run "a great outsider's race" to take the lead, though the other candidates could get substantial support in what is expected to be a low-turnout election, said Kerwin Swint, a political-science professor at Kennesaw State University. ...