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Greg BluesteinTamar Hallerman
Jim Galloway

Newt Gingrich endorses a Georgia spaceport

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The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from launch complex 40 at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., last Friday. The rocket will deliver almost 7,000 pounds of science research, crew supplies, and hardware to the International Space Station. AP/John Raoux

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from launch complex 40 at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., last Friday. The rocket will deliver almost 7,000 pounds of science research, crew supplies, and hardware to the International Space Station. AP/John Raoux

During his 2012 run for president, former U.S. House speaker Newt Gingrich was widely mocked for proposing to build an American colony on the moon by the end of his second term.

He’s was serious then, and he’s at it again. According to the Brunswick News, Gingrich has now endorsed, via letter, the construction of a spaceport on the Georgia coast:logo-all

The letter was sent to show the support for the spaceport and legislation designed to attract the commercial space industry to Camden County.

“I have always believed that Georgia should actively pursue today’s $300-plus billion commercial space industry, including by promoting a coastal-area site for launching satellites and humans on commercial missions,” he said. “I congratulate you on the leadership you have shown by taking this step to establish Spaceport Camden.”

Gingrich said Georgia has an “incredibly robust aviation industry,” but it lags behind other states such as Florida, Texas, Virginia, California and Alabama. Though the state graduates hundreds of aerospace engineers every year, most don’t stay in the state to work.

As you can see from this piece by the AJC’s Dan Chapman, the idea of launching huge rockets from Georgia shores has provoked a mixed reaction within the coastal community.

Nonetheless, in January, state Rep. Jason Spencer, R-Woodbine, introduced legislation intended to pave the way for the spaceport. HB 734 would have granted private versions of NASA from lawsuits filed by passengers. Or rather, by their survivors. To wit:

…[A] space flight entity shall not be civilly liable to or criminally responsible for any person for a space flight participant injury arising out of inherent risks associated with any space flight activities occurring in or originating from this state….”

After a good many false countdowns, HB 734 was launched out of the House in February, but disappeared into the infinite, empty void of the state Senate — and was never seen again.

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We’ve been informed by the Georgia Building Authority that the Board of Regents, under whose auspices tours of the state Capitol are conducted, have decided not to schedule any for next Monday. That’s when a group of armed protestors have decided to hold an unsanctioned, anti-Muslim rally on the Capitol sidewalks.

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Amanda Swafford, a one-time Libertarian candidate for U.S. Senate, has floated a potential bargain with the Georgia GOP that might help Republicans in the 2018 race for governor, but could boost the third party’s chances in down-ticket races. Here’s what she posted on Facebook:

(1) The Libertarian Party of Georgia agrees not to field any candidate for Governor in 2018, therefore no potential run-offs in that race

The trade:

(2) No petitioning requirements for any recognized political body candidates (presently, Libertarians) in 2018 thru 2020 for any partisan office in Georgia. Qualifying fees only, just as any other political party candidate must pay.

(3) No appeal of the Green Party v. SOS decision (Setting Georgia’s Presidential signature requirement @ 7,500 until the legislature acts)

She told us it was a potential response to a federal judge’s decision last month that ruled a portion of the state’s ballot access laws violated the U.S. Constitution — and significantly lowered the bar for a third-party candidate to land on the ballot.

“As an independent and someone dedicated to ballot access reform in Georgia, I think it has real potential for all parties as every side with a stake in the process concedes a little in the deal,” she said.

Doug Craig, a Libertarian who has already announced a bid for governor in 2018, said he has a meeting with Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s office this month to discuss a potential deal.

I could live with that,” he wrote of Swafford’s proposal, “but would love a long-term solution.”

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The season of campaign contribution reports is upon us. In the 11th District congressional race, businessman Daniel Cowan will report raising $373,000 in a three weeks since he signed up as a primary challenger to U.S. Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R-Cassville. Of that, Cowan has banked $350,000.  Loudermilk raised $236,000 in 2015, but you can anticipate an increased emphasis on his campaign treasury this year. Three other Republican challengers are in the race: Billy Davis of Kennesaw, Hayden Collins, and William Llop of Sandy Springs.

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Blake Tillery, chairman of the Toombs County Commission and a candidate for retiring state Sen. Tommie Williams’ seat, was involved in a fatal traffic incident on Monday. From WTOC:

The Vidalia Police Department and the Georgia State Patrol are investigating a fatal accident that happened just before noon on Monday.

Investigators say the accident involved a car and a bicycle, and it occurred in front of Walmart on Highway 292 in Toombs County.

The cyclist, 44 year-old Bunji Mark Takaya of Lyons, died. The driver is Michael Blake Tillery, 32.

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The challenger seeking to oust DeKalb District Attorney Robert James landed a trio of big-name endorsements.

Solicitor General Sherry Boston earned the support of former District Attorneys Bob Wilson and J. Tom Morgan as well as Thomas Brown, the county’s one-time sheriff. Her campaign called the endorsement of two ex-DAs of a challenger over an incumbent “unprecedented in DeKalb’s political history.”

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It’s do or die time for John Kasich as he seeks a glide path to a contested Republican convention in July – virtually his only chance at winning the party’s presidential nod. From The New York Times:

Mr. Kasich has repeatedly found reasons to explain away losses and remain in the race, but the conditions now are about as favorable as he is likely to find: Mr. Trump has suffered a series of self-inflicted wounds that have solidified resistance among his many skeptics. Mr. Cruz has shown little ability to appeal to heavily secular Republican primary voters in the Northeast. And the only states voting through the end of April are filled with the sort of pragmatic centrists that Mr. Kasich has targeted since entering the race last year.

If he is not competitive in New York, which votes next week, or in Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maryland, Delaware and Pennsylvania, where voters go to the polls on April 26, it is not clear where he will fare any better.

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A familiar name is included in Georgia Sen. Mike Crane’s list of grassroots leaders as part of his bid for the open Third District congressional seat: Rick Allen.

Not to be confused with the U.S. congressman of the same name, who took out longtime incumbent John Barrow in Georgia’s 12th Congressional District last cycle, the Allen from southwest Georgia ran for the Second District seat occupied by U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Albany, in 2012. That Allen was defeated in the Republican runoff.

The Crane campaign on Monday said Allen would lead grassroots efforts in Muscogee County. It also announced a dozen other county chairs across the district.

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Democratic state Rep. Stacey Evans is speaking at the University of Georgia law school on April 18 on a unique topic: “The Voice of a Woman Lawyer: Why it Matters and How to Use it.” You can find details here.