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DuBose Porter on whistles, Israel and an upcoming DNC gathering in Atlanta

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DuBose Porter, chairman of the Democratic Party of Georgia. AJC file

DuBose Porter, chairman of the Democratic Party of Georgia. AJC file

 The most prominent and, without a doubt, annoying gadget at the state Democratic convention in Dublin this weekend was a cheap, plastic whistle, meant to symbolize lawsuits brought or threatened by four dismissed employees of the state ethics commission.

The shrieks, blown at nearly every mention of a Republican – especially Gov. Nathan Deal — assaulted every eardrum in the DuBose Porter Center of the Oconee Fall Line Technical College, an auditorium named after the state lawmaker who is now chairman of the Democratic Party of Georgia.

Your daily jolt on politics from the AJC's Political insider blogDuring the proceedings, we chatted with Porter:

Insider: So who came up with the idea of the whistle?

Porter: I have to give the remarkable staff at the Democratic party credit for that. But when they mentioned it to me, I thought, ‘Absolutely, yes.’

It’s a way to remind people how serious this issue really is – that we have a governor who had the same problems in Congress, who resigned so they couldn’t sanction him. And then he’s done very much the same behavior in his campaign for governor, and as governor.

It’s nothing that’s made up. It’s very real. The case went to court, resulting in verdicts from impartial jurors that held on the side of the people who blew the whistle….

Even when the case was won by the whistleblower, they wanted to change the rules for whistle-blowing.

Insider: They backed off that really quick.

Porter: But [Deal] did it. His first instinct was to stop something that caught him in his bad act. And then we found out, during the discovery process, that Sam Olens, the attorney general, withheld the evidence that would have – more than likely, had the judge seen that – had the governor as a witness, to have to testify under oath in [executive secretary] Stacey Kalberman’s case….

Insider: We’ve got [former President] Jimmy Carter quoted as saying that the race for governor isn’t going to be decided on ethics.

Porter: No, it’s going to be decided on education and other things – which is what we’re running on. But how people behave, and confidence in government, is important, too.

In his welcoming speech, Porter told convention delegates that Deal’s efforts to reconfigure the HOPE scholarship program, to adjust for falling revenue, fell unfairly on technical college students who receive a separate HOPE grant. In our conversation, he elaborated:

Porter: We were placing 90 percent of graduates here into a job, and it was cut by a thousand students. That’s what dropped. Truck drivers can make, starting off, around $50,000 [a year] when they get their CDL license. That program was cut back, because it’s an expensive program. They came back to fix certain areas, because they badly they messed it up.

Right now, the state has a demand for 25,000 truck drivers that were being trained through the technical college. Since that pipeline has been stopped, we can’t get those people on the road.

Job training does matter, and to not put a priority on funding that has hurt our economy and people’s opportunity to have a better life in Georgia.

Insider: You’ve seen a concerted Republican attack, on both Michelle Nunn and Jason Carter, on the topic of Israel. Have there been any discussions at the state party level on how to respond? Does it threaten the state Democratic party’s Jewish support in Georgia?

Porter: I don’t think it does, because they know where our party has been in the past. And it’s been very supportive of Israel. What the Republican party is doing is trying to find some issue to wedge – forgetting that people’s day-to-day life has been hurt because of their policies.

Insider: Do you think the responses by Nunn and Carter have been sufficient, or do they need to come out a little bit stronger?

Porter: I read their response. I thought it was adequate. But I know that the history of our party has always been supportive of Israel. And I don’t think that people in the Jewish community feel that that’s changed. Matter of fact, I appointed Rabbi Larry Schlesinger to our state committee. He was on the [Macon] city council and now on the [combined Macon/Bibb] county commission. Larry has been a very good guidance for us.

Porter: What’s the significance of the Aug. 20-23 gathering of the Democratic National Committee in Atlanta?

Porter: Because of the interest in these national races in Georgia, [party chairman and congresswoman] Debbie Wasserman-Schultz selected Georgia for the DNC convention. They’re bringing resources from everywhere, on how to do voter turnout, how to do better electronic media, how to do the registration.

This is the best shot in the nation right now.

Porter added that Wasserman-Schultz is Jewish, and would certainly address Republican accusations that Carter and Nunn are soft on Israel.

***

On his fivethirtyeight.com website, statistician Nate Silver says there’s evidence that non-traditional pollsters are adjusting their results to conform with better polling being conducted in their races:

It’s easy to see why we have a problem. In races with no gold-standard pollster, the nontraditional pollsters have had individual polling errors about 0.6 to 4.3 percentage points higher than when at least one gold-standard pollster is active in the race. Gold-standard pollsters’ error rates were about 1.5 to 3.1 percentage points lower during the same period.

On average, the gold-standard polls in the final 21 days of Senate campaigns had an absolute mean error of about 3.8 percentage points. The nontraditional pollsters in those same races had an average error of 4.3 points. Those are fairly close, but when no gold-standard pollsters were active, the mean error rate for the nontraditional polls shot up to 6 percentage points.

Silver’s definition of non-traditional polls:

– doesn’t follow probability sampling;

– doesn’t use live interviewers;

– is released by a campaign or campaign groups (because these only selectively release data);

– doesn’t disclose (i.e. doesn’t release raw data to the Roper Archives, isn’t a member of the National Council on Public Polls, or hasn’t signed onto the American Association for Public Opinion Research transparency initiative).

***

The other day we published a story scrutinizing some of state Sen. Jason Carter’s missed votes, including his non-vote on a proposal to incorporate Lakeside even after a fiery speech condemning the move.

Republicans dug up a video of that speech, which you’ll find above. Near the end of the video, around the 8:40 mark, you’ll see Carter walking out of the floor of the chamber just as the bell rings for the vote.

Carter’s camp has said he was clearly opposed to the bill, even if his “no” vote didn’t register. But Gov. Nathan Deal’s camp has seized on it as an indication that Carter is “afraid” to make tough decisions.

Update: Carter’s campaign notes that the video appears to have been edited around the 8:27 mark to make the voting time seem shorter. His aides say, again, that the Democrat obviously intended to vote no - his speech made that very clear – even if the vote wasn’t logged.

***

We’ve already seen Republican Senate nominee David Perdue hit the trail with Gov. Nathan Deal, and this past weekend brought Perdue joining forces with Rick Allen, the Augusta businessman challenging Democratic U.S. Rep. John Barrow.

The pair hit Statesboro, Lyons, Dublin, Waynesboro and Augusta, according to the Statesboro Herald, which pointed out that the duo has a lot in common — lengthy business careers and no previous service in public office.

We suspect this remark from Allen might pop up again in a Democratic attack, as he went after Barrow for voting for the Dodd-Frank financial reform law:

“What happened to this economy was the federal government tried to engineer the economy,” he said. “We need to get back to our free enterprise system. The banks will regulate themselves.”

***

We told you Friday about the American Chemistry Council’s $720,000 ad buy boosting David Perdue. The spot is above, and it presents Perdue as a future teammate to Republican U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson in Washington — the first time Georgia’s soon-to-be senior senator has brought into the current contest on TV.

Meanwhile, Ending Spending Action Fund put another $47,000 into online ads hitting Democrat Michelle Nunn.

***

At their gathering in Dublin, Georgia Democrats announced a couple of hires to run the coordinated statewide campaign for Jason Carter, Michelle Nunn and the rest of the ticket.

The executive director is Tracey Lewis, who was deputy campaign manager for liberal star Elizabeth Warren in her 2012 U.S. Senate race win in Massachusetts over Republican incumbent Scott Brown. Lewis also worked on the coordinated campaign in Connecticut in 2010, helping elect the well-named Gov. Dan Malloy (no relation to any of your insiders).

Senior Advisor Cabral Franklin is from Atlanta, the son of the former mayor, and was a consultant for an Atlanta city council race in 2013, the T-SPLOST effort in 2012 and Georgia Democrats’ 2010 coordinated campaign.

***

William Perry, executive director of Common Cause Georgia, is calling on the Atlanta Ethics Board to investigate expenditures by Councilman Michael Julian Bond.

Click here for the 11Alive report on Bond’s $2,400, five-day trip to Washington that also included a family reunion

 

 

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