Chairman’s Corner: Our 83rd Governor

By JASON SHEPHERD

Yesterday, our elected officials took their Oaths of Office to begin their terms, the culmination of the hard work that began nearly two years ago. This is only the third inauguration in the history of our state where all Constitutional officers who were sworn in were Republican. The trust placed in the Republican Party by the people of our state is still so very new compared to the more than 130 years of unchecked Democratic governance. While we are just now reaching our stride in governance, we cannot lose sight of how close our state came to turning back the clock on the progress that has been made by Republicans over the past sixteen years, and most of it in just the past eight. 


 

Additionally, Georgians once again paid witness to what is an all too ordinary event in our nation, and one we almost take for granted; the peaceful transition of power. As Brian Kemp took the oath to become Georgia’s 83rd Governor, he took the office from his predecessor, Nathan Deal, and few thought about how extraordinary it was. The annals of history show far too often a different path is taken. Power is not easily relinquished or given, even from one leader of the same party or faction or family to another, it is usually seized by brute force. That is not what happened yesterday, and no one even contemplated it would. Nothing could have been further from our thoughts.


 

Even today, in many places where sham elections occur to keep a party in power, the opposition is arrested, their assets seized, and supporters harassed by the authorizes and their brut squads. Regardless of how close the 2018 election was, elected Democrats cheered on elected Republicans. As one former Democratic elected official posted on Facebook, “As the 2019 session begins, I wish the Governor, Lt. Governor, and Legislature much wisdom, compassion, patience, humility, and good humor. Thank you for serving. I’m rooting for you.”   


 

Governor Brian Kemp gave an inaugural address that focused both on the success, but also on the challenges that Georgia faced. In a nod to an extremely close election, his speech showed no signs of arrogance, entitlement, or partisanship. In other words, Brian Kemp spoke much like the same man I met when he was elected to the Georgia Senate 16 years ago.


 

Kemp told the members of the General Assembly gathered for the jointed session, as well as the various elected officials, and guests, including those watching on TV, “Through the prism of politics, our state appears divided, metro versus rural, black versus white, Republican versus Democrat. But after visiting all 159 counties, I can tell you that we have so much in common and as governor, I will fight for all Georgians, not just the ones that voted for me.”


 

Of course, not everyone was ready to pull together and unite as Georgians, even for just the day. Former State Representative and Democratic State Party Chairman DuBose Porter decided to set a different tone stating of Governor Kemp, “His term is already marked by weak leadership and failure to work on behalf of voters as he abandons his campaign promises. Governor Brian Kemp will forever have a cloud over his head and an asterisk by his name.”


 

Knowing Brian Kemp, my prediction is that Porter’s comments will be the “asterisk” as the rest of the state comes to know the Brian Kemp so many of us already do.


 

Yesterday was not just a day for Republicans to celebrate a hard-fought victory, just our third GOP Governor in a row after more than a century in the Georgia political wilderness, but a day to remember that the mandate we received was to do our best work for all Georgians, not just the ones who supported the candidates we fought to elect. If we do that, we will not just have a better state for all Georgia, but a record of success to carry us for the four years after that. 

 

Chairman’s Corner: The will to prepare to win

by JASON SHEPHERD

2018 was a tough year for metro area Republicans. No statewide candidate won Gwinnett, north Fulton, Henry, or Cobb County for the first time in decades. We lost two legislative seats and two school board seats (one because no Republican candidate could be found to challenge for that seat).
That’s not to say we did not have numerous successes:
  • Nearly $130,000.00 raised in 2018.
  • Largest single contribution ever to the Cobb GOP of $17,600 by one donor.
  • Three other donations of over $6,000 each.
  • Winning Cobb for Brad Raffensperger on December 4.
  • More than 100 new dues paid members.
  • A strong South Cobb Outreach program.
  • Visits from Marco Rubio, Lara Trump, Sean Spicer, and Gov. Bob Ehrlich.
  • More than 500 new members of our Cobb GOP Facebook page (2,156 to 2,684).
While winning statewide was the most important goal, and on that we succeeded, and not without the hundreds of thousands of calls to rural voters made by Cobb County Republicans working out of our headquarters, we have rebuilding to do in Cobb, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry, and DeKalb. We will not hold Georgia long if we do not pursue a strategy that is focused on winning all regions, not just rural voters.
When I started in GOP politics in the mid-1990’s, we had the suburbs, but we lost nearly every race in rural Georgia. Sonny Perdue changed that in 2002 and with the new alliance of rural and suburban Republicans, we won every statewide office and took a super-majority (more than 2/3 of both chambers) in the General Assembly.
Now, however, that alliance seems to be strained as suburban voters voted Democrat while our winning margins in rural Georgia increased substantially.

The Cobb GOP ran its most aggressive ground-game in years, focusing on strategically targeted districts and worked to maximize cross-candidate promotion, but without the resources of funds and out-of-state paid “volunteers”, the Democrats had at their disposal. It’s not easy to compete when the opposition can count Oprah Winfrey and Will Farrell as part of their door-to-door teams.

However, without the efforts of hundreds of Cobb GOP volunteers, 2018 would have been much worse in Cobb.
The Democrats outspent us in media as well. In the north metro area, the Democrats spent over $1.1 million in digital ads alone. They mailed, called, and texted Republican voters over and over (doing the same to swing voters).
They were more aggressive too during early voting and on Election Day where they, along with liberal-leaning organizations like the ACLU and Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights, actually, in violation of state law, approached and engaged voters in line waiting to vote. On Election Day, it was like playing the old Wack-a-Mole game. They would be pop up at a poll – we would receive the information – we report them – they would move on to another location and pop up at a poll – we would receive the information – we report them and this would continue throughout the day.
And when they were called on their illegal behavior, they claimed “voter suppression.”
Given the results of the election, over the last few weeks, the Democrats, the media, and even some of our own Cobb Republicans have mocked our mission statement: Make Cobb Red Again.
It would seem they would prefer a Republican Party that is fine with a mission statement of “Purple Ain’t So Bad,” but I do not and I doubt you do either.
Coach Bear Bryant once said, “It’s not the will to win that matters – everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters.”
At our December County Committee meeting, I outlined several goals for 2019 that we must achieve to gain our lost ground in 2020.
The first I am calling “Project 171.”
The high-water mark for the Republican vote in Cobb County was just six years ago in 2012 when over 171,000 Cobb voters voted for Mitt Romney for President. We had never before and have never since had 171,000 voters vote Republican in Cobb. However, the Democrats have not either. We must identify those voters and get them back to the polls in 2020.
We will also continue training. Baseball players have spring training. Soldiers have basic training. We need to train and we need more than an average of 20 out of 400 dues paid Cobb Republicans attending.
These two topics are just the tip of the iceberg, and more information will be coming in January and February.
That is part of the will to prepare to win we must engage in.
Finally though, I want to thank you. Everything you did to make a difference in 2018 helped to provide a defense against the Blue Wave. While it was not the tsunami the Democrats had hoped for, it did sweep out enough Republicans that we lost the House of Representatives and are once again looking at Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
I’ve said for months, mid-term elections do not favor the party that has the White House.
Because of this historic trends, we do ourselves a disservice if we read too much into the results and think we need to change everything, but we also do ourselves a disservice if we read too little and do not learn the lessons that 2018 has to teach. If nothing else, it should teach us that to win, we must have the will to prepare to win.

Chairman’s Corner: That’s why they call it the blues?

By JASON SHEPHERD

Before I begin the analysis of Tuesday’s election, let me first say we have an extremely important runoff on Tuesday, December 4 for Secretary of State and Public Service Commissioner. Brad Raffensperger is still a State Representative and is about to go into special session where he cannot raise money and then we will have Thanksgiving week which will be extremely difficult to campaign during.

WE CANNOT AFFORD TO LOSE the Secretary of State’s Office. If John Barrow wins, he will follow the will of the Democratic Party and not state law. Democrats are hungry for this win as they claim Brian Kemp stole the election and the only way to elect Stacey Abrams is for the Democrats to take that office.

Make a donation to Brad by midnight by donating here: http://bradforgeorgia.com/donate/

Now, let’s talk about Tuesday…

I don’t believe in spin so I’m not going to sugarcoat what you already know, Tuesday was not a good day to be a Republican in the Atlanta suburbs.

While we in Cobb weathered the election better than our friends in north Fulton, Gwinnett, and DeKalb counties, Stacey Abrams’s margin of nearly 30,000 votes over Governor-Elect Brian Kemp’s means that in 2020 we will not only need to fight for every vote at the precinct level but will need every resource to do it with.

We have been watching over the years as the Democratic votes have been growing in Cobb. In 2015, I warned that the vote totals during high-turnout election years were growing on the Democratic side but remaining stagnate on the GOP side.

As you can see in the chart below, voter registration in Cobb County has increased by approximately 89,000 voters from November of 2008 to November of 2018.

Between 2008 and 2012, both high turnout Presidential election years, the GOP vote in Cobb increased by only 765 votes from 170,957 to 171,722. During that time, the Democrat vote totals decreased, but voter registration jumped by over 18,000 votes. While many of those new voters obviously didn’t vote, they added to the potential turnout.

Something else happened that was curious and of concern. While the GOP turnout in 2010, which saw Roy Barnes try to mount a return challenging Nathan Deal for governor, was at 133,785 votes to 70,521, just four years later in 2014, considered one of the best GOP election years in U.S. history, Democratic numbers jumped by 20,000 while GOP numbers actually went down 15,000.

That set the stage in 2016 that I had warned was coming in 2015.

That next year, Hillary won Cobb County and this year the Democrats nearly met the GOP high of 171,722 from November 2012 falling about 4,000 votes shy.

What’s more, despite claims of “voter suppression,” Cobb’s voter roles jumped by 84,000 new registered voters in only four years between 2014 and 2018.

If there are still 171,722 GOP voters in Cobb, then we still have a chance of coming back in 2020 and holding onto our county-wide offices. If not, then 2020 could see the GOP lose the County Commission 3-2, the Sheriff’s office, the District Attorney, the Clerk of Court, and other races.

Also, with a one vote majority in the legislative caucus, if we do not gain back at least one legislative seat, the Democrats will control redistricting in Cobb and be able to redraw county commission and school board districts as well.

Our Cobb County Board of Elections, which has five members; one appointed by the Board of Commissioners, one by the Republican Party, one by the Democratic Party, and two by the legislative delegation, flip from a 4-1 GOP majority to a 4-1 Democratic majority if the County Commission is lost.

So, is this just a matter of “Demographics as Destiny”?

That would explain the slow increase of the Democratic vote, but it doesn’t explain the rapid flip.

Back in May, I became aware that Democratic operatives were furiously knocking doors in GOP areas of Cobb and began asking when we would have the resources of lists and technology to engage in-kind. Initially I was told it would be in June. Soon it was pushed back until July…then August. At that point I asked whether or not the Victory Center would be opened at all so I could make other arraignments. I was told soon.

It wouldn’t be until September.

At that point, we were 4 months behind.

Even then, while the Democrats were using an army of paid door-to-door staff, we were asked to rely on volunteers.

We quickly went about ranking the races that would be the toughest and concentrated an aggressive volunteer door-to-door campaign for September through Election Day.

Our top tier of focus was Karen Handel, Congressional District 6, Leah Aldridge Senate District 6, Matt Bentley, House District 40, and Sam Teasley, House District 37.

Our next tier was Scott Sweeney, School Board 6, JoAnn Birrell, County Commissioner District 3, Kay Kirkpatrick, Senate District 32, Travis Klavohn, Senate District 38, Sharon Cooper, House District 43, DeAnna Harris, House District 41, and Ed Setzler, House District 35.

The rest of our candidates were in the third tier and considered to be in safe districts.

The only one of our top tier that was not lost was Karen Handel. Cobb voters turned out big for her, giving her more votes than Brian Kemp received. However, the DeKalb portion of her district ran the Democratic voter numbers up so high that the Cobb and Fulton wins were not enough. Lucy McBath won 60-40% in DeKalb.

As many of these districts had overlap, we were able to canvass for several candidates, as well as the top of the ticket all at the same time.

We invested in infrastructure as well, making sure we had online sign-up for each event. We shared information as well so, as best as possible, we did not duplicate efforts or overlap the campaign organizations but supplemented where they could not.

However, despite posting on Facebook, our website at CobbGOP.org, Twitter, and in the barrage of emails like this one, we did not have one single volunteer signup online. That did not mean people didn’t still show up, but there were several weekends of door-to-door where the only volunteers regularly showing up for canvassing were me, Pam Reardon, Jeff Souther, Darlene Knight, and a couple of others. Pam Reardon and her husband Tom likely knocked on more doors than the rest of us combined! There were other Cobb County Republicans who devoted themselves to certain candidates and worked with them directly like Kim Sherk, but, for the most part, we struggled to have our volunteer needs met, all while we were going up against paid operatives on the Democratic side who were supplemented by a strong and engaged volunteer effort.

In the final weekend, volunteers made over 75,000 phone calls and knocked on nearly 2,000 Cobb doors.

The problem was, more than 50% of votes were already cast.

We won Election Day, we lost the three weeks of early voting. They were knocking doors in the spring, we didn’t start knocking until fall.

Most are aware they were targeting Republicans. For the first time ever, my household received mail pieces paid for by the Democratic Party of Georgia. Flush with cash, they called and mailed everyone, even committed Republicans. While we microtargeted to get out the vote, they covered it all. Even if they could get just one or two out of ten Republicans, that could, and maybe did, make the difference.

Our final issue was messaging. When a friend of mine; suburban, married, early 40’s with two kids and a GOP voting record brags to me on Facebook that she travelled from Cherokee County to Cobb to knock doors for Stacey Abrams, we’ve lost the messaging war.

Part of it is the lingering “Never Trump” wing, those who look at all the great things Donald Trump has done from the economy, to reducing taxes, to bringing North Korea to begin reducing its nuclear ambitions, to destroying ISIS, etc. (You can find a much longer list at https://www.whitehouse.gov/trump-administration-accomplishments) and still say they pick style over substance. Another part is that we were fighting history in that the President’s party historically loses seats in midterm years.

One of those will be fixed next election when Donald Trump is back on the ballot, but if we still have to fight the “Never Trump” Republicans and do not have a message to appeal to those who have flipped because they believe the rhetoric from the left which, in their minds, is reinforced by how Trump reacts, 2020 won’t be any better than 2018 was, and Georgia cannot stay red if we don’t retake territory.

In 2001, I was elected a Georgia Republican Party Vice-Chairman and Ralph Reed was elected Chairman. The State Party led as we started knocking doors much earlier in the cycle than ever before. The result was we gathered data to use in 2002 that made Sonny Perdue’s victory possible. The advantage of the position is it gave me a close seat to observe, participate, and learn. In 2001-2002, the Democrats were use to winning. They took the elections for granted and no longer engaging in grassroots. They looked a lot like we are beginning to look today.

We can do that again and beat the Democrats at their game and bring back that 171,000 Republican voters. It will take effort. It will take buy-in from our grassroots leaders. Most importantly, it will take all of us working together to make it happen.

MDJ: Early voting numbers dwarf 2014 turnout; politicos weigh in

Early voting numbers dwarf 2014 turnout; politicos weigh in

Ross Williams

Election Day is Tuesday, but for thousands of Cobb County residents, their civic duty is already done.

This year, 111,882 Cobb voters cast their ballots early in person, according to unofficial numbers from the Cobb Elections Department.

That’s nearly a 90 percent increase over the last midterm election in 2014, when 59,134 Cobb voters came to the polls early.

There were 17 days of early voting this year, two of them Saturdays, while in 2014, there was only one Saturday and 16 total early voting days.

No major incidents were reported this year, but there were long lines, and voters waited up to three hours during the busiest times.

Cobb Elections Director Janine Eveler said she is happy with how things turned out. She said poll workers were happy to see the big crowds, though she does wish the department had arranged to have a second polling location open the first week.

During that week, only the county elections headquarters was open for early voting. The next week, Jim R. Miller Park became available, and in the third and final week, nine more spots opened up.

“I think overall it went well, although I wish we had arranged to have Jim Miller Park for the first week as well,” Eveler said. “Our Main Office is a little too small to handle that kind of turnout. We always expand our locations from few to many as the three weeks go along, but this election was unique in that there were so few people who were undecided, even in the first week of voting. … We knew this would be an exciting midterm so we offered all our locations, even some we normally only use in presidential years, and also extended hours.”

Eveler said there is a snowball effect to early voting — when people see long lines, they are more likely to get in lines themselves, making the lines even longer. But she said that may be good news for those planning to vote on Election Day.

“If people see lines to early vote, they figure they better get theirs done too,” she said. “They worry that early voting lines mean there’ll be lines on Election Day and it becomes important not to wait until Tuesday. In reality, the higher turnout in early voting reduces lines on Election Day.”

If you are one of those who plan to cast a ballot on Tuesday, you can do so between 7 a.m. And 7 p.m. Remember you must vote at your assigned polling location — you can find that at www.mvp.sos.ga.gov — and don’t forget to bring your photo ID.

Eveler also said to be sure to double-check your ballot before submitting and to report any irregularities to poll workers before casting your ballot.

Cobb party chiefs react

Perhaps nobody in the county has been paying more attention to the early voting numbers than the heads of the two major parties, Michael Owens of the Cobb Democrats and Jason Shepherd of the Cobb GOP.

Both men said they were glad to see people taking part, but neither dared to predict what the turnout might mean for their parties.

“I think it means the voters are engaged,” Shepherd said. “The question is: Is it our voters who are engaged, or their voters who are engaged? Right now it’s looking like everyone’s voters are engaged.”

Owens and Shepherd both spoke to the MDJ by phone from different last-minute get-out-the-vote efforts, capping off a long election cycle.

Owens said Cobb Democrats are working hard to capitalize on trends indicating the county may be moving toward the Democratic column, citing, among other points, that Cobb voters chose Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump in the 2016 election. He would not say whether he thinks the change will come this year, but he believes it’s coming.

“Cobb County is a red-to-blue county,” he said. “We know we’re trending toward blue. There’s a large part of the county that is already blue and that continues to grow. What we’ve historically considered red is definitely flipping, going up all the way to north Cobb County, up to Acworth. We have a solid trend toward Cobb County turning blue, and we’re going to continue trending toward blue.”

Owens said gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams’ historic candidacy plays a role in that— if she wins, she will be the first African-American woman to govern any American state. But he said a solid stable of Democratic candidates up and down the ballot has encouraged Democratic voters to turn out in Cobb.

“It’s an opportunity for Democrats to vote for Democrats on the ballot in every part of the county,” he said. “Historically, that hasn’t been the case. … We have contested races in every single part of the county. … Not only do we support Stacey Abrams and (lieutenant governor candidate) Sarah Riggs Amico, but we’re actually engaging voters, talking about our candidates for state House … we have taken a focused effort to ensure we have good candidates across the county.”

Shepherd said he is well aware of the work Democrats have been putting in to flip Cobb County, referencing recent trips to town by big names such as former President Barack Obama, comedian Will Ferrell and media mogul Oprah Winfrey to stump for Abrams.

“The amount of effort Democrats are making in Cobb County, they see Cobb County as a big prize, Cobb being historically a Republican county, but one that went a little purple the last election cycle,” Shepherd said. “Democrats are working very hard to flip it. … They think Cobb is in play, and the Cobb Republican party is doing everything it can to make sure we can get out and show them Cobb isn’t in play. We’ll find out on Election Day.”

Shepherd acknowledged it is typical for the party in control of the White House to lose seats in a midterm election, but he wasn’t ready to accept a blue wave yet.

“The Democrats are really trying to push the blue wave, and the Republican Party is trying to stand out with a red wall to stop it,” he said. “They talk about waves; we talk about wave breakers.”

AJC: Former Ossoff volunteers try to make Democratic gains in red suburbs

Former Ossoff volunteers try to make Democratic gains in red suburbs

Nov 02, 2018
By Amanda C. Coyne, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Luisa Wakeman never used to talk about politics. The Cobb County Democrat knew most of her neighbors were dedicated Republicans and she didn’t want to alienate herself.

Her first toe dip into the political pool was an event in East Cobb supporting then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in 2016.

“We went to the rally and it grew minute by minute,” Wakeman said.

She was energized, volunteering for Clinton and becoming a precinct captain for Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff in the 2017 special election for the 6th Congressional District

While both of her candidates lost, Wakeman was encouraged; she had found people close to home who shared her views, and she was no longer afraid to talk about politics. She went to a one-day boot camp held by Georgia’s Win List, a political group that supports female Democratic candidates.

“I thought we were signing up to help other candidates run successful campaigns, but then I found out they were signing up to run my campaign,” Wakeman said. “I realized I had to do my part to make sure the needle shifted.”

Wakeman is one of a handful of former Ossoff volunteers who are running for state House districts in Cobb, Fulton and DeKalb counties that have long histories of Republican domination: Essence Johnson in East Cobb-based District 45, Angelika Kausche in Johns Creek’s House District 50 and Mike Wilensky in Dunwoody-based District 79.

Republicans have held all of those districts since at least 2012.

Republicans are aware that some districts are changing.

A few Sandy Springs precincts in House District 43 went Democratic in 2016, according to Cobb County Republican Party Chairman Jason Shepherd. But the newly contested districts are still “pretty red,” he said.

The last time Cooper faced a Democratic challenger, in 2010, she won with 66.9 percent of the vote. In Kausche’s District 50, the last contested election, also in 2010, resulted in then-Rep. Lynne Riley winning with 70 percent of the vote. District 79’s Rep. Tom Taylor won by a 67.7 percent margin when he was last challenged by a Democrat in 2010.

Rep. Sharon Cooper, District 43’s longtime incumbent and chair of the House Health and Human Services Committee, is confident that her constituent service combined with her high rank in the legislature will secure her 12th term.

“I don’t think (my district) would want to replace someone with my seniority with a freshman in a minority party that will have little ability to benefit the district.”

Networks and resources
These types of Democratic challenges are not unique to areas within the 6th Congressional District — neighboring Gwinnett County has also seen an increase in Democrats filing to run. But the much-watched, most-expensive special election created a new trove of voter information and campaign infrastructure that wasn’t there before, candidates say.

Mike Wilensky in Dunwoody-based District 79, planned to run for the state House before the 6th District race began, but saw a growth in Democratic campaign resources after Ossoff’s congressional race ended.

There was “very little information at all about who were Democrats in this district” before Ossoff’s campaign, Wilensky said. Ossoff campaign’s nonstop canvassing — it reportedly attempted more than 1 million door knocks — allowed Wilensky and other Democratic state house candidates to better assess their chances and figure out their likely supporters.

Essence Johnson, running for House District 45, was surprised at jhow Republican-dominated the area was when she moved to East Cobb in 2015 from northern Virginia. She had been politically engaged since college, thought about running for local office, but stepped back after having her son, who is now 6. The 6th District race is drew her back into politics.

“It really lit my fire again, people who are progressive and liberal, working to flip the seat and also in the community,” Johnson said.

Before the special election campaign, “there was no organizing” in the East Cobb area, Johnson said. What she found in the 6th District race and now her own is that many of the Democrats getting involved are mothers like herself.

“It’s getting those moms out and getting engaged,” Johnson said. “ … In East Cobb, I never in a million years thought there would be so many people who are progressive, moderate, liberal, that are my neighbors.”

Special election impact
This kind of network-building is not uncommon after presidential races with candidates that particularly electrify a party’s base — think Kennedy, Reagan and Obama, said Charles Bullock, the Richard B. Russell Chair in Political Science at the University of Georgia. What’s happened in the 6th District is an example of the phenomenon on a smaller scale, he said.

Ossoff came within four points of Republican Karen Handel, who won the seat. The close margin was assisted by an eye-popping $29.9 million fundraising total on Ossoff’s side; Handel raised $6.3 million, but was assisted by $30 million in spending by outside groups. After election day, it was the most expensive U.S. House race in history.

Previous Democratic challengers to Rep. Tom Price, who vacated the seat when he became U.S. secretary of health and human services, lost by up to 40 points.

Democrats hoped to flip the seat and haven’t given up on the quest. Ossoff is not running in the current election, but has supported new 6th District Democratic candidate Lucy McBath. The race has been locked in a statistical tie in recent polls.

But the high fundraising totals and national attention of the 2017 special election may have ended up further galvanizing Republican support, Shepherd, Cobb’s GOP chairman said.

“If you’re well-known in the community, you’ve represented the community well, you represent the district well, you tend to stay in office,” Shepherd said. “People come out to protect an elected official they really like.”

Republicans are also highly energized because of the governor’s race, which has been locked in a statistical dead heat between Democrat Stacey Abrams and Republican Brian Kemp. Cooper thinks her increased campaigning may have a trickle-up effect on the governor’s race and other statewide offices.

“By my turning out more Republicans to vote … that in the end could hurt Stacey Abrams and higher up the ticket,” Cooper said. “If I hadn’t had someone running against me, I wouldn’t have done all this mailing. I wouldn’t be out knocking on door … I would not have done all I’ve done for our Republican governor candidate Brian Kemp.”

No matter the outcome Tuesday, Wakeman and other candidates are determined to continue growing the Democratic infrastructure in Atlanta’s northern suburbs.

“We didn’t talk to each other about politics and we needed to,” Wakeman said. “Now we’re talking more openly.”

Chairman’s Corner: 2018 Constitutional Amendments

15 days until Election Day.
In addition to the candidates, there are five amendments to the Georgia Constitution on the ballot this year. While the Republican Party does not take an official position on these amendments, I hope we can answer some of the questions you may have.
Amendment 1 – Land conservation, parks, trails: This amendment will set aside a portion sales tax funds already being collected on sporting goods for conservation efforts. The goal is to raise $200 million over the next 10 years when the amendment automatically sunsets.
Amendment 2 -Business courts: This amendment would create special state business courts (supposedly out of the current state court budget) to specifically handle business litigation matters. Currently, State Courts and Superior Courts in the counties handle business matters. The goal is to have specialized judges hearing these cases. Also, unlike other Georgia judges, these Business Court judges would not be elected, but be appointed by the Governor with the approval of the Georgia House and Senate Judiciary Committees for a five-year term.
Amendment 3 – Timber tax: While the devil is in the details, this amendment is designed to lower the tax burden on timber landowners. There was already a tax provision passed in 2008 and this fixes some of the holes in that amendment. Georgia has one of the highest tax rates on timber that is between 3 and 6 times higher than neighboring states.
Amendment 4 – Crime victims’ rights: I will come out and say that I am voting for this amendment and Brian Kemp has endorsed it as well. Also known as “Marsy’s Law,” the amendment will require victims to not only be notified when certain proceedings occur. There is already a state law dealing with this issue, but there are several issues with the state law. First, many counties are ignoring the law as there are no repercussions for ignoring the law. The amendment will put the law on a constitutional rather than a statutory level and add teeth to go after jurisdictions that fail to notify.
There are valid criticisms, namely that a statutory change can accomplish the same thing without amending the Georgia Constitution and estimates that the cost burden may be as high as $11 million to comply with. Additionally, the notification are required even before a conviction which may mean some who have not been convicted of a crime may have to wait in jail longer because a victim couldn’t be found to be notified. Of course, the ultimate purpose is to make sure that an offender on bail or released from a sentence does not surprise a victim seeking revenge.
Amendment 5: Local option sales tax: This would remove the requirement that a county school system and a city schools system (like Cobb County Schools and Marietta City Schools) would have to agree before offering an amendment for a local option sale tax to support the school system. As noted in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Cobb County State Sen. Lindsey Tippins has said the measure was proposed because there were situations across Georgia where independent school districts serving a small portion of a county’s students would “hold the larger districts hostage” on the referendum in hopes of obtaining a larger share of the tax proceeds.
I hope this helps explain the five amendments that will be on the ballot. You can read the ballot language and download a sample ballot on the Cobb Board of Elections webpage at www.cobbelections.org.
Just 15 days left.

For Immediate Release: Cobb Democratic State Rep Hiding Shocking Past of Violence Against Women

Cobb GOP Chairman Calls on Rep. Smith to Withdraw from Ballot

“While they were arguing, Mr. Smith pushed her with [their] son in her arms.” – From Police Report 4/11/2007 Case #07-0494491

 

Marietta, Georgia – Cobb GOP Chairman Jason Shepherd is calling on Democrat State Representative Michael Andre Smith to withdraw from the ballot after shocking allegations recently came to light involving Rep. Smith’s two incidents, one resulting in an arrest, for attacking his then girlfriend. One incident occurred in Kennesaw in 2006 and the other in Marietta in 2007.
From the Police Report Case Number 07-49449:

 

Mugshot from Georgia State Representative Michael Smith’s arrest.

The publicly available police reports detail Rep. Michael Smith in one incident allegedly pushing his girlfriend while she was holding the couple’s baby, and in a separate incident breaking the passenger side window of his girlfriend’s car. Smith married his accuser soon after the last arrest. (Rep. Michael Smith’s booking photo (left) can also be downloaded below2).

Cobb GOP Chairman Jason Shepherd states, “In light of the serious nature of multiple allegations and the history of physical violence against his girlfriend that appear on Mr. Smith’s record, voters and the public should know who it is that is representing them in the Georgia House. Georgia women deserve a Representative who will champion their rights, not a Representative who, according to police reports, not only knocked over a woman holding her baby but broke the window of her car when she wouldn’t give him money. This type of behavior is unacceptable and Mr Smith needs to immediately withdraw from the election.”
As a result of the 2006 incident, Judge Lewis ordered Mr. Smith to, “STAY AWAY, ABSOLUTELY, DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY, BY PERSON, TELEPHONE, MESSENGER OR ANY OTHER MEANS OF COMMUNICATION” with the victim, and reminded him that any contact whatsoever may subject him “TO A SEPARATE PROSECUTION FOR THE FELONY OFFENSE OF AGGRAVATED STALKING.”3
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), in 2013, 29,779 Georgia women accessed domestic violence services. In Cobb County, the 24-hour crisis hotline is 770.427.3390. However, anyone facing immediate danger should call 911.
“On one hand we have seen a nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court deeply scrutinized and questioned publicly about things he was never arrested for and happened decades ago; while on the other hand, right here in Cobb County, we have a Democratic State Representative who, according to police reports, seems to have freely admitted that he followed his girlfriend to her car demanding money and then broke the passenger side window of her car,” added Shepherd. “Violence against women is a serious issue, and Mr. Smith has some serious explaining to do. I stand with his opponent, DeAnna Harris, a survivor of domestic abuse. She can tell you this is a very serious matter. As a public official, he needs to answer for these allegations and immediately withdraw his candidacy.”
The general election date is November 6, 2018. Early voting begins Monday, October 15. Go to www.cobbgop.org for more information.
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Chairman’s Corner: 22 Days

22 days until Election Day.
2018 is a mid-term election year. Typically, in mid-term years, the party that has the White House will lose. That means, if history is any guide, Republicans are on the defensive this year.
However, politics have been anything but typical these last few years.
One thing that is certain though is votes. We know that Stacey Abrams and the Democratic Party of Georgia has been running a very aggressive absentee ballot campaign mailing out millions of absentee voter request cards.
They know we are not mailing out millions of absentee voter request cards.
The result has been obvious. According to the website www.GeorgiaVotes.com, so far in 2018, 52,968 Georgia voters have cast their votes by turning in their absentee ballots. This is a 127.8% increase over four years ago.
Why does that matter?
In Presidential election years, like 2016, approximately 70-80% of registered voters vote. In mid-term election years, like 2014 and 2018, only about half of registered voters vote in the election.
In Cobb County in 2014, only 214,490 votes were cast. This was 53.35% of Cobb’s registered voters. In 2016, 335,466 voters cast ballots. That was 79.09% of Cobb’s registered voters.
This is important because if only 53.35% of Republicans vote in Cobb in 2018 and 79.09% of Democrats show up, Cobb’s Republicans will be washed away in the Blue Wave simply because good Republicans stayed home and did not vote.
While I do not think that 79.09% of Cobb’s Democratic voters will vote in the next 22 days, what if it’s 58% or 60%? Lower than in 2016, but higher than a typical midterm election.
As I said, statewide, the absentee ballots being returned are more than double what they were four years ago. And in Cobb County, the numbers are even higher.
In Cobb County, absentee voting has jumped by nearly 285%!
While most of these voters, nearly 60%, early voted two years ago or did not early vote, but are doing so this year, over 40% of these early voters in Cobb are new voters.
And history and demographics suggest they are not Republican Voters!
If 285% of Democratic voters in Cobb show up on Election day versus Republican, the result can be catastrophic for Georgia.
As my Georgia Bulldogs found out this weekend, once you get behind, it’s hard to catch up.
We will have elected a Governor who wants to abolish the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), leaving our borders not only vulnerable to illegal aliens but human traffickers and drug smugglers as well, all while encouraging illegal immigrants to voteAll of this while falsely accusing Brian Kemp of voter suppression.
We will have a Lt. Governor who attacks Republicans as racist and sexist while her own company is being sued for racial and gender discrimination.
But if we are going to win, we need your help.
That’s why the Cobb GOP has created the “Keep Choppin” Pledge.
Take a minute to pledge to give just 10 volunteer hours between now and the election day to help our Republican candidates in Cobb and Statewide get elected.
Pledge to vote early or on Election Day.
Pledge to get your friends and family to take the pledge too.

It doesn’t take much for us to finish the drill and win in November.
And there are just 22 days left.

Chairman’s Corner: Mr. Kavanaugh Goes to Washington

by Jason Shepherd
29 days until Election Day.
In the 1939 Frank Capra classic movie Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, newly appointed Senator Jefferson Smith (Jimmy Stewart) is falsely accused by the political machine back home run by Boss Jim Taylor, of corruption, bribery, and everything but sexual assault when he was in high school. The political machine controlled the press which fed the lies about Smith to his constituents, controlling the narrative and refusing to let any evidence that would exonerate the Senator get through to the people.
When his supporters, those who knew him best, went out and championed his cause, they were intimidated, bullied, harassed, and even assaulted. To stop the Senate from expelling him on these false charges, Senator Smith does the only thing he can do – filibuster the debate on his own removal. 
 
At the end, thousands of letters are delivered to the Senate floor calling for Smith’s removal…not one in support. Exhausted from speaking for hours, even through the night, discouraged by the thousands of letters against him, he directs his final words (the clip below) towards the senior senator from his state, Senator Joseph Paine (Claude Rains), a loyal part of the corrupt political machine that’s destroying the good name Smith has spent his whole life building. 
 
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington Speech
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington Speech
Like Jefferson Smith, Judge Brett Kavanaugh has now come into the United States Senate and has had to then defend his good name and reputation against accusations levied against him by the Democratic Party, the modern-day Taylor Machine.
False allegations trumpeted by United States Senators blinded by partisanship and more drunk on the prospect of returning to power (God, I too hope they never get it) than Brett Kavanaugh ever was at any high school party in 1982.
Allegations that were then repeated by an all-too-willing media, and, just like that, a man’s entire life’s work and reputation are tarnished and smeared, perhaps forever.
 
While those on the left might watch Smith’s passionate defense of his own innocence and cheer, when they see Brett Kavanaugh’s same passionate defense of his good name, they jeer and claim it’s further proof he does not have the “temperament” to be on the U.S. Supreme Court. 
 
Kavanaugh has all the temperament he needs. I wouldn’t want anyone on the Court who wouldn’t passionately champion the American idea that a person is innocent until proven guilty, even if the one he is passionately defending is himself.
 
At the end of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Smith’s name is only cleared when, in a moment of revelation and experiencing a crisis of conscience, Senator Paine tries to kill himself and, when stopped, runs screaming back into the U.S. Senate demanding that he be expelled admitting everything Jefferson Smith said about him and the Taylor Machine is true. 
 
If only real life were that simple. If only the villains came clean and those falsely accused were vindicated. We won’t hold our breath waiting for Senator Diane Feinstein to have a moment like Senator Joseph Paine.
Sadly, real life is more like the book and movie To Kill a Mockingbird. There, attorney Atticus Finch loses the defense of Tom Robinson, a black man who, in 1930’s Alabama, was clearly falsely accused of the rape of a white woman, Mayella Ewell, a rape that a physical disability would have made impossible for him to commit.
Finch protects Robinson when a pre-trial lynch mob tries to remove him from the jail to kill him, but, after the guilty verdict, he cannot protect him and word comes back to Finch that Robinson is killed, allegedly trying to escape, a claim that seems all too convenient after the lynch mob and the clearly biased verdict.
Mayella Ewell was fine to see Tom Robinson go to prison for something she knew was not true. There was never a time when she, like Senator Paine, confessed. In fact, Mayella Ewell’s father seeks violence and revenge. He attacks Atticus Finch’s two children, however, his justice is swift as the reclusive neighbour Boo Radley kills Ewell with his own knife and saves the children.
Today we see the left seeking the same violence. We cannot forget the crazed left-winged activist who took shots at Republican Congressmen, including our own Congressman Barry Loudermilk, and seriously injuring Steve Scalise of Louisiana, or Congresswoman Maxine Waters’s call for more violence.
Still, Kavanaugh’s confirmation has brought a new round of insanity from protesters actually clawing at the bronze doors of the U.S. Supreme Court, as my friend Emily Zanotti points out in The Daily Wire, to calls for violence from the likes of even Georgetown University professors.
However, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert  writer Ariel Dumasmay have given the left’s real epitaph of the Kavanaugh confirmation when she tweeted (and soon deleted)

As I said in the beginning…29 days until the election.

AJC: Ga. Republicans see Kavanaugh’s confirmation as rallying force

What took you so long?

That was the sentiment broadcast by many metro Atlanta Republicans on Saturday as the Senate prepared to cast a final vote on Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination.

At a pair of county GOP meetings in Atlanta’s northern suburbs, the party faithful cheered the news that the D.C. circuit court judge appeared on the cusp of confirmation, and they vowed to use that hard-fought win to galvanize Republican voters ahead of a midterm election that’s viewed as favorable to Democrats.

Democrats have “lost another battle, but that is not getting them down and out,” said Jason Shepherd, chairman of the Cobb County GOP. “Which means we have to fight double hard in order to get out the vote in 31 days.”

Shepherd was urging the more than 120 people assembled for a party breakfast in Marietta to get involved on behalf of a slate of Republican candidates assembled that morning, which included U.S. Rep. Karen Handel to lieutenant gov. nominee Geoff Duncan.

Roughly 30 miles to the Northeast, at a canvass launch for U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall in Cumming, Paul Stykitus didn’t need any help getting motivated.

“I think the Kavanaugh nonsense has just turned any fair-minded individual to say, ‘enough’s enough,’” said the 69-year-old sales director. “I think he should have been confirmed earlier.”

As dozens of protesters assembled in Atlanta’s Woodruff Park to voice their opposition to Kavanaugh’s confirmation, many local Republicans blamed Democrats for smearing the judge’s reputation even before California professor Christine Blasey Ford accused him of sexual assault.

“It’s just a witch hunt,” said Paul Frank, a Cumming retiree, adopting the refrain President Trump has used to describe the ongoing Russia investigation. “It’s another Democratic ploy to try and get their people in.”

Kelli Warren, president of the Republican Women of Forsyth County, said she was pleased about Kavanaugh’s nomination advancing.

“To me, the most important thing is the presumption of innocence,” she said. “With Dr. Ford, where were her witnesses? … And I say that being the mother of a daughter who recently, I found out, is a victim of domestic violence. I’m totally empathetic to that situation, but we can’t persecute or blame someone if we don’t have proof behind it.”

Local GOP officials expressed confidence that Kavanaugh’s confirmation would drive GOP voters to the polls in November.

Patrick Bell, chairman of the Forsyth County GOP, said many voters have come up to him upset with the “lack of decorum” surrounding the confirmation process, and especially the way anti-Kavanaugh protesters have swarmed Republican senators on Capitol Hill, at the airport and at a D.C. restaurant in the case of U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz. He predicted the tactics will “backfire” on Democrats in November.

Many GOP voters who had not been paying much attention to politics until recently, he said, “are fed up with everything, and I think that the mob rule is bringing them out,” Bell said. “They’re tired of it.”

Georgia’s U.S. Sen. David Perdue, who had a contentious run-in with protesters in a northern Virginia airport on Monday, similarly criticized such protesters in a fiery Senate floor speech on Wednesday in which he accused his Democratic colleagues of inciting overzealous activism.

“When the paid activists who support you attack my wife, you have gone too far,” the first-term Republican said. “You are inciting this disrespect of our law.”

Perdue and his Georgia GOP colleague Johnny Isakson both recently announced their intent to support Kavanaugh.

Democrats similarly vowed to use Kavanaugh’s promotion to drive their voters to the polls next month.

“We are going to get so damn engaged in the political process in this country they’re not going to know what hit them,” state Sen. Nan Orrock, D-Atlanta, said at the Woodruff Park rally. “We will win.”

Staff writer Meris Lutz contributed to this article. 

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