Posted: 11:56 am Saturday, August 9th, 2014
By Greg Bluestein and Jim Galloway
Below is a rolling account of the rest of the meeting.
Updated at 5 p.m.: A state Democratic convention is a natural venue for Republican-bashing, and a slate of statewide candidates has been doing just that.
But Greg Hecht, the former Clayton County state senator and candidate for attorney general, set the bar with a lengthy denunciation of the Republican incumbent, Sam Olens. In part:
“As opposed to investigating corruption, our attorney general believes its right to allow corruption – to hide evidence, to be complicit in whatever’s going on in the governor’s office. And not appoint an independent counsel to investigate.
“When in May of 2011, draft subpoenas by the Republican-appointed ethics director and Republican-appointed deputy director were presented to the attorney general’s office showing violations of the law, or potential violations, what did the attorney general do? Nothing.
“He let the ethics director and deputy director to get squeezed out so there’d be no investigation.
“There have been only whistleblowers.”
Which, of course, set off a roomful of shrieks from whistles passed out to delegates.
Update at 4:00 p.m.: The Dublin convention gave many down-ticket Democrats a chance to address their biggest audiences yet. Here’s a taste of some of their rhetoric:
David Vogel, who is challenging Rep. Doug Collins in a deeply conservative north Georgia district, said Democrats were facing “evil” forces that he compared to the “Lord of the Rings” saga.
Ken Dious made clear his campaign for an open Congress seat in northeast Georgia was about exposing some of GOP nominee Jody Hice’s conservative views.
“If you know anyone in the 10th District, tell them about Jody Hice. All they have to do is put him in Google. They’ll find out.”
Chris Irvin, the party’s candidate for agriculture commissioner, said the state’s immigration crackdown “kicked our workforce out of this great state,” and cost farmers untold millions of dollars in losses.
And Dan Blackmon, the party’s candidate for a Public Service Commission seat, used part of his time to promote Jason Carter’s gubernatorial bid.
“We are going to get Jason Carter elected so we can have the Affordable Care Act right here in Georgia,” he told the cheering audience.
Update at 3:00 p.m. As those “No Deal” whistles shrieked in Dublin, Democrats unanimously adopted a quartet of resolutions drafted with the November election in mind.
The most noteworthy was a proposal urging Gov. Nathan Deal “to do the right thing and not leave the taxpayers of this state on the hook for settlements to whistleblowers fired during the cover-up of his campaign finance violations.”
It urged the governor to dip into his own wallet to pay nearly $3 million the state agreed to spend to settle whistleblower lawsuits from former ethics staffers.
Democrats have cheered the drip-drip of developments in ethics cases and the resolution is a sign, as we noted yesterday, that part of the party’s November appeal hinges on a call for more transparency.
The other resolutions, by the way, involved support of a “reasonable” campaign finance overhaul, one recognizing the importance of a quality education and a fourth commending and supporting the mobilization of women’s vote.
Update at 2:50 p.m.: Republican Senate candidate David Perdue had an interestingly timed campaign stop at a Dublin ice cream shop around the corner from the Democratic convention this afternoon.
After his standard stump speech – an attempt to tie Michelle Nunn to President Barack Obama’s administration – he offered this message to Democratic poobahs meeting across the way:
“I wish they would stand up against their leaders in Washington – Harry Reid and Barack Obama – and bring some common sense to the crises we have today on our border, and foreign policy and the economy and get people working again.”
He also sought to link Nunn and other Democrats with former President Jimmy Carter’s recent editorial that declared Hamas, the Palestinian faction locked in a monthlong war with Israel, should be recognized as a legitimate “political actor.” Said Perdue:
“We’ve got to honor our relationship with Israel, our obligations to them. We’re dedicated to their survival, and frankly I’m offended by the way that some people equate what Israel is doing to what Hamas has done. Hamas is a terrorist organization that attacks Israel, and Israel is defending herself. And frankly right now the United States should be giving Israel all the support it can to defend itself.”
Updated at 2:30 .m.: On the eve of the Democratic gathering here in Dublin, which will feature speeches by Michelle Nunn and Jason Carter, the Georgia Voice posted a tough op-ed by Dan Grossman and Jeff Cleghorn – which skewers Nunn’s let-states-decide position on gay marriage. A taste:
Ms. Nunn’s position that the dignity of our relationships should be left up to the will of Georgia voters is a despicable thing to say. To say that voters should decide whether gays and lesbians should have equal rights is as despicable as saying that voters should decide if black children should attend the same schools as white children.
Or that the electorate should control whether loving interracial couples are allowed to marry. To declare that a person of color does not have a “right” to equality, but only as much equality as the voters are willing to provide, would be a hateful, racist statement. And to tell a gay person that she or he has no “right” to equality—but only as much equality as the voters are willing to provide—is no less hateful and arguably homophobic.
Here at the state Democratic convention, we just ran into Glen Paul Freedman of Atlanta, a delegate from the LGBT caucus and a leader within Georgia Equality. Freedman was wearing stickers for both Carter and Nunn.
We asked Freeman if the above criticism of Nunn was warranted. His reply:
“I don’t think so. I think [both Nunn and Carter] have stated their positions. They’ve said it in public and in private. I believe both of them are friends of the LGBT community. I think they’re deserving of our votes, and donations if people can spare it.”
Freedman also said that such quibbles over the specifics of the two candidates’ positions on gay marriage – who has said what to whom – don’t take into account a necessary comparison to Republicans. “The two individuals they’re running against will never say the words,” Freedman said.
Freedman also said that the governing board of Georgia Equality will be holding endorsement interviews with candidates for constitutional offices on Tuesday in Atlanta.
Carter will be there. It will be the first time ever, Freedman said, that a candidate for governor has shown up in person.
Dublin, Ga. – With a skirling bagpipe rendition of “God Bless America” and a videotaped message from President Barack Obama, the Democratic Party of Georgia has just convened.
The house is pretty much full. The house, incidentally, is the DuBose Porter Center. Porter is the current state Democratic party chairman. “This place was built when Democrats were in control,” the chairman said.
The Porter center is located on the campus of the local technical college, which — Porter quickly pointed out — lost 40 percent of its students several years ago in a remake of HOPE scholarship grants. “We’re here to take our state back,” he said, hijacking a phrase usually used by Republicans.
Highlights of the day will be addresses from Michelle Nunn and Jason Carter, the party’s respective candidates for U.S. Senate and governor.
The gist of Obama’s message: Republicans are pursuing an ideological agenda that hurts the middle class.
David Perdue, the GOP candidate for U.S. Senate, is scheduled to be in town within the next hour, at a local ice cream store, to provide the counterweight.
Keep checking back here for updates.
The whistles you see below are a constant (and ear-splitting) presence at the convention.
Emblazoned with the words “No Deal,” party chair DuBose Porter said they were meant to symbolize the whistleblower lawsuits dogging Gov. Nathan Deal’s administration.
A side effect: Some overzealous types may have already blown a few eardrums in these parts.
About the Authors
Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He joined the newspaper in June 2012.