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Jim GallowayJim Galloway

New Cobb County commission map segregates voters, senator charges

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032012Legcharter

State Sen. Steve Thompson, D-Marietta, in an AJC file photo from 2012.

A bill that will redraw district lines for the Cobb County Commission is an attempt to maintain GOP influence by segregating black and white voters, a white state senator from Marietta is charging.

HB 1028, sponsored by state Rep. Ed Setzler, R-Acworth, won final passage in the Senate on Wednesday.

Your daily jolt on politics from the AJC's Political insider blogState Sen. Steve Thompson, the Democrat from Marietta, notes that the legislation takes 11,000 minority voters out of District 2 (South Cobb), represented by Republican Bob Ott, and places them in District 4 (Southwest Cobb), represented by Democrat Lisa Cupid.

The shift will have the effect of limiting African-American voting influence to a single district in the county for the foreseeable future, Thompson said.

Some powerful paragraphs from Jon Gillooly of the Marietta Daily Journal:

Thompson said he was surprised Cupid, the lone Democrat on the Board of Commissioners, didn’t object to the map.

“Yeah, you’re going to be safe, but you’re going to be part of this new segregation,” Thompson said. “It’s like these new cities they’re introducing all over north Atlanta. What they’re doing, we’re going to have lily white districts and black districts. And whether we debate the lunch counter again 20 years from now, I don’t know. It may not be racial on some people’s part, but the net effect is.”

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An InsiderAdvantage survey of 486 voters in Georgia, conducted for WAGA-TV, has Gov. Nathan Deal (38 percent) trailing Democrat Jason Carter (41 percent) in the race for governor, with Carter at 41% and Deal at 38%. The survey’s +/- 4.3 percent margin of error puts the contest at a statistical tie.

Some health skepticism is required here. A January poll by Insider Advantage showed Deal at 44 percent and Carter at 22 percent. An AJC statewide poll at about the same time gave Deal 47 percent to Carter’s 38 percent. IA pollster Matt Towery points to Deal’s problems with a late January snowstorm, the first of two, for the Republican incumbent’s dip in popularity.

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House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, D-Atlanta, on Thursday endorsed former state Rep. Elena Parent for State Senate District 42, the seat being vacated at the end of the year by Jason Carter. That’s on top of support from several other House members.  Parent faces Decatur attorney Kyle Williams in the Democratic primary. The Williams campaign points out that it’s toting endorsements from Atlanta City Council members Kwanza Hall and Alex Wan, and Jim Baskett, the mayor of Decatur.

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Gov. Nathan Deal signed the second bill of the 2014 legislative session on Thursday. Senate Bill 318, sponsored by state Sen. Lester Jackson, D-Savannah, authorizes the sale of adult beverages in bars on Sundays during the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day in Savannah, Ga. The first bill, signed weeks ago, moved the state’s primary to May 20.

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The State Bar of Georgia’s three-day Constitutional Symposium concludes today at the Westin Buckhead with a whopper of a keynote.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia will give an address on the U.S. Constitution. We’re told he’s in favor of it.

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Eager to show that he can consolidate tea party forces ahead of the GOP Senate primary, U.S. Rep. Paul Broun on Wednesday rolled out endorsements from tea party leaders and groups in Carroll County, Walton County, Hart County, Golden Isle and Northeast Georgia. On Thursday, Georgia Conservatives in Action – run by longtime activists Pat Tippett and Kay Godwin – chimed in with its backing, calling Broun “a tried, true, and trusted friend for the values that Georgians treasure.”

Rep. Phil Gingrey, considered a rival for the arch-conservative corner of the electorate, was apparently unfazed. On Thursday, the National Journal caught him on wandering over to the Senate side of the Capitol and chatting with Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb. What was Gingrey doing in the upper chamber?

“I’m just measuring the drapes,” he quipped. But seriously, he was busy meeting a few folks he intends to be working with next year.

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The U.S. Senate, in a spasm of actual legislation, sent a flood insurance reform bill to the president on Thursday. One of the chief sponsors was Georgia Republican Johnny Isakson, who said he had plenty of constituents hurting from big spikes in premiums under the federal flood insurance program.

One Iraq war veteran came up to him in Brunswick, Isakson said, and said he bought a house two years ago for $89,000. The man showed Isakson last year’s flood insurance premium bill for $2,300, then this year’s for $23,200.

“It was an extreme case,” Isakson said, “but not an isolated case.”

The bill drew flak from conservative groups for bringing a heavy federal hand back into a program it was wriggling out of. Isakson said the previous Biggert-Waters bill in 2012 had the right idea but was too abrupt. The new bill caps most premium hikes at 18 percent.

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A bipartisan group of senators also struck a deal on restoring expired federal long-term unemployment benefits for five months, including retroactive payments for those who were booted off the rolls in December. The cost is offset through a variety of measures, detailed here. .

The Senate won’t vote on the plan until the end of the month, as it’s taking a week off. Isakson said he had not seen the details so couldn’t say which way he’d vote, but that any unemployment extension must be paid for.

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