May 17, 2022
Cue the announcers…
In the last few days, more and more Republican Party heavyweights are finally getting off the sidelines and throwing their support behind Gov. Brian Kemp in the heated race for the gubernatorial primary on May 24. One of the bigger surprises: Former Vice President Mike Pence has endorsed the incumbent, and thus stepping more firmly over the line between his former life as a Donald Trump loyalist and a Trump antagonist.
The popular Pence announced he would headline a rally this Monday, May 23, the evening before the primary.
Pence was known for his deeply conservative views during Trump’s tenure, a bridge for many Evangelicals to a president whose moral compass didn’t naturally match their own. Pence, though, made clear in his Friday announcement that he’s not a Mar-a-Lago puppet. In his statement, he called Kemp, the man Trump loves to use as a punching bag, “one of the most successful conservative governors in America.”
Trump, in response to Pence’s news, threw around some harsh words about his former Veep. “Mike is trying to get involved, and he’s a very nice man, but he really let us all down,” Trump told far-right radio show host John Fredericks last Friday. That reference was to Pence’s refusal to try and stop the U.S. Senate from certifying the 2020 Election results.
Trump says he’ll return to Georgia if his preferred Republican candidate for governor, David Perdue, forces a runoff next Tuesday. Perdue is running well behind in the polls against Kemp, but those polls also show a significant number of Georgia Republicans are still undecided about whom they will back.
Another Georgia leader has finally gotten off the fence about whom he’s backing. Speaker David Ralston officially got behind Kemp during a photo opportunity in his hometown of Blue Ridge last week. Yet Ralston walked on eggshells regarding Trump, a man who still causes enough shivers in the Republican establishment to never be named. Still, in praising Kemp, Ralston’s allusion to the former president was clear.
“This is the third governor I’ve served with, and I can tell you that he’s got all the leadership qualities, the great qualities, that the others had and in some instances even better. He’s done a great job,” said Ralston. “He’s taken a lot of unfair hits, frankly. You know, I’m a country guy and you can only beat on me so many times or my friends and they’ve beat on this guy one too many times.”
Among other national figures joining the Kemp bandwagon: Mitt Romney, who called Perdue’s embrace of the Big Lie “absurd.”
Perdue’s camp had no immediate comment about Romney weighing into their candidate. But the grudge match between the two men goes back to at least 2019, when Perdue publicly chastised Romney for not being on the Trump bus.
Cable TV hasn’t started selling pay-per-view to what is becoming the nation’s marquee Republican battle. Maybe they need a theme song to make it worth their while?
15 minutes of international fame
Coastal Georgia is about to get a wave of international news headlines later this week when President Joe Biden departs for South Korea in his first trip to Asia as the American leader.
In Seoul, Biden is expected to formally announce the deal by Hyundai Motor Co. to build its new electric vehicle plant in Bryan County. Biden will be in South Korea for talks with Korean and Japanese leaders, starting May 21. No word yet about which Georgia political luminaries will be accompanying the White House contingent for the official ceremony.
The Savannah Economic Development Authority has kept mum about the planned deal even after multiple news organizations and the White House leaked the news last week despite the boon it will be to Chatham area residents.
The last big business news between Koreans and Georgia was announced three months ago with Hyundai’s subsidiary KIA Motors applauding their first compact SUV made in the Peach State.
Tick-tock and ya don’t stop
With the clock ticking down quickly before primary day, the most up-to-date data from the Secretary of State’s office shows that approximately 7% of Coastal Georgians who are registered to vote have cast ballots early. A full 12.8% of McIntosh voters, 8.5% of Glynn County voters, 8.1% of Liberty County voters and only 6.6% of registered Chatham County voters have taken advantage of early voting.
Candidates across Georgia are worried about low turnouts, pointing to historic downturns in voter interest during midterm elections. So far in the 2022 primary, close to 417,000 Georgians have voted early ahead of the primary. Of those, 56.9% voted in the Republican primary and 42.4% voted in the Democratic primary.
Most of your Soundings team have taken advantage of early voting because we are expecting to be working at a frenetic clip on May 24.
In Chatham County, early voting is being held downtown at the Civic Center — with free parking in the Johnny Mercer lot — and at the Eisenhower Board of Elections headquarters as well as at the county’s mosquito control center, 65 Billy Hair Dr., the Islands Library on Johnny Mercer Boulvevard, and Southwest Library next to Savannah Mall.
The experience at the Civic Center was efficient and professional. There was no line. There were friendly and well-educated election workers ready to assist. The only downside is that early voting is only taking place during business hours. If you have requested an absentee ballot, you can drop that off through Friday during business hours inside at the secured drop boxes, or during voting hours on Primary Day.
In Glynn County, early voting is taking place between 8 a.m.-5 p.m. at three places:
The Board of Elections Office at 1815 Gloucester St., The Ballard Community Building at 30 Nimitz Dr., and Fire Station #2 on St. Simons at 1929 Demere Road.
Democracy is not a spectator sport, y’all. Please plan to vote. If you are a registered voter and you want information about who is on the ballot before heading to the polls, check the Secretary of State’s website to see a sample ballot for your district.
Here’s a link to The Current’s Guide to Early Voting for the Coastal Georgia counties.
Tuesday’s hot tickets
School’s just about out for the summer – but politics are here to stay.
Tuesday evening gives Chatham voters one more chance to hear the candidates running for school board races — and for teachers and students to ask these potential future leaders questions about questions important to them.
Organized by Deep, Chatham County Youth Commission, Migrant Equity Southeast, Savannah Youth City, Movement Matters and Loop It Up Savannah, the forum will be held at Savannah’s downtown Saint Philip Monumental AME Church — the part of downtown with plenty of free parking.
The event starts at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 17, and is scheduled to last 2 hours. You are welcome to arrive for part of the time, or stay for the entire two hours.
If you are an educator or student and would like to submit a question, please click here: https://forms.gle/kgpk8NrZ2ZSfUK2bA
If you want more information, contact Loop It Up Savannah: firstname.lastname@example.org
Coastal GOP event for Jones
Meanwhile, William Ligon, former state senator for St. Simons known for spearheading hearings on the false opinion that the Georgia 2020 elections were stolen, is part of a group of notable island residents hosting a reception to support one Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, Burt Jones, at Bennie’s Red Barn from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Jones is running in a tight race that has a total of 13 candidates, both Republican and Democrat, after the incumbent Geoff Duncan decided not to seek re-election. Duncan has been on the forefront of the effort to minimize Trump’s influence over the national Republican Party. Jones, the state senator from Jackson, has gotten Trump’s endorsement.
One of Jones’ Republican competitors in the primary, Jeanne Seaver of Savannah, accuses him of not being a true conservative. Jones’ family business makes money from legalized gambling in Georgia, something Seaver opposes.
Jones is also coming under the spotlight for not disclosing campaign expenditures associated with his use of his private plane. The lack of transparency could contravene state campaign ethics laws. One of those trips might have included this February trip to Savannah.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reached out to the Jones campaign, which replied that the organization planned to pay a lump sum for the plane expenditures after the primary.
If you are interested in attending the Jones event on St. Simons, contact Loree Anne Paradise at email@example.com or 912-245-0212
Last week’s Soundings had a listing error. School board president candidate Roger Moss, who is running as a nonpartisan, did not receive a campaign donation from the Skidaway Island Republican Club. Two other school district candidates received $1,500 donations from the group.
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