July 19, 2022


Gearing up

In a move likely to alter the landscape of this fall’s election in Georgia, Black church leaders have joined to form a get-out-the-vote effort among more than 1,000 Black churches in the state.

Those behind the new organization, called Faith Works, say it is a reaction to Georgia’s new electoral law, cobbled together by the Republican-dominated state legislature following the record-breaking turnout of Blacks and other people of color in the 2020 election. They say the law is unjust and racist, designed specifically to minimize voter turnout.

“It has become necessary for us to inform, mobilize, and organize our community and our people to vote,” Bishop Reginald Jackson, who heads Georgia’s 534 African Methodist Episcopal churches, told The Current.

The undertaking, which has an initial budget of $2.6 million, is far broader than the “Souls to the Polls” initiative in 2020, which was focused on getting Blacks and other people of color to the polls on Sundays.

“We will work to get the vote out in all parts of the state, not just to urban areas where most blacks live, but also in the rural parts of Georgia. Our effort is not only to get people out to vote but to get them to vote in their best interests, to get them mobilized, in what we think is an important election for the future of our democracy,” the 68-year-old Rev. Jackson explained.

According to the plans by Faith Works, which has been established as a tax-exempt nonprofit and nonpartisan group, churches will receive grants to fashion their own get-out-the-vote efforts, which may include buses to transport voters to the polls and phone-banking.

The plans also call for teach-ins about the new election laws to prepare them for what Rev. Jackson said could be a “hellish” Election Day of challenges, both to individual votes and to the vote at large.


Wade Herring

Carter, Herring battle over abortion

Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade, abortion policy is in the hands of the states and, ultimately, voters. 

While there’s disagreement over just how much the issue will matter when voters go to the polls in November, both incumbent Rep. Earl L. “Buddy” Carter and challenger Wade Herring are treating abortion as a wedge issue. Both believe it’s a winning issue for them in this fall’s election: Herring because, according to a recent Pew poll, 62% of Americans say abortion should be legal in all or most cases; and Carter because of the traditional electoral strength of his conservative Republican base in Coastal Georgia.

The latest front in the battle is the indication that, in states where abortions are illegal, women seeking abortions will turn to over-the-counter or through-the-mail medication.

Last week, the Biden administration moved to protect that option. A statement issued by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Civil Rights reminded the nation’s roughly 60,000 retail pharmacies of their nondiscrimination obligations under federal civil rights laws.

 “As our nation faces another significant health care crisis, this guidance is to remind the roughly 60,000 retail pharmacies in the United States of the unique role pharmacies play in ensuring access to comprehensive reproductive health care services,” the agency said in a statement.

“Bureaucrats should not infringe on a pharmacist’s ability to do their job,” tweeted Carter, a former pharmacist. “There is no constitutional right to an abortion, and as such, there is no constitutional obligation for pharmacists to knowingly dispense drugs intended for an abortion.”

In a statement to The Current, Herring acknowledged that under Georgia law, a pharmacist can refuse to fill any prescription based on their ethical or moral beliefs. But that doesn’t mean, he said, that pharmacists have “the right to diagnose, treat, prescribe for, or attempt to do so, any disease, illness, or organic disorder.” Health care decisions, he said, belong to women and their doctors.

Furthermore, Carter’s efforts to nationalize the Georgia rule regarding the rights of pharmacists to refuse to fill a prescription “only adds to the chaos, confusion, and unfairness for women that has followed in the wake of the …reversal of Roe v. Wade.”


Pooler City Hall. Credit: Jeffery M. Glover/ The Current

Chasing pork

The office of Rep. Buddy Carter has posted on the congressman’s website his requests for what the document calls “community funding” for fiscal year 2023.

The requests include $750,000 for Valdosta State University’s online elementary education degree program; $4 million for improvements for U.S. 80/S.R. 26 in Pooler; $4 million for Pooler’s wastewater expansion program; $4 million for improvements to Pine Barron Road in Pooler; and $8.7 million for the National Park Service to expand the acreage of the Cumberland Island National Seashore.

There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with bringing home the bacon to your constituents. That’s what lawmakers do. That’s what taxes are for. There’s nothing wrong, either, with calling attention to your efforts as you run for reelection.

We note, however, the large amount of money being requested for Pooler, where Carter served as mayor for eight years. We also note that in touting his accomplishments for the home front, Carter appears to want it both ways.

To placate the conservative, federal government-hating members of his own party in Coastal Georgia, he regular bashes the “socialist liberal” Democrats for driving up the national debt and calls for government spending to be reined in, even as he campaigns for reelection on his ambition to run for chair of the powerful Budget Committee if Republicans, as expected, take over the House in elections this fall.


The Woodbine Public Library.

No brainer

U.S. House District One candidate Wade Herring joined Woodbine Mayor Kizzi Knight and Camden Country Democratic Committee Chair Kelvin Blue on Friday to call for continued funding of the Woodbine Library.

As we’ve previously pointed out, the Camden County Board of Commissioners, which oversees the county’s $80 million annual budget, voted last month to deny the library’s $30,000 aid request for operating costs for fiscal year 2023.

The library serves more than 600 families in the Woodbine area, offering 24/7 broadband, printer access, and social programs for children and senior citizens, as well as books. The nearest libraries are roughly 14 miles away, in Kingsland or St. Mary’s. “Libraries are a public space, a common ground for everybody to come together,” Herring said. “Let’s listen to one another, take care of one another, and invest in children’s education.”


ICYMI

We’ll believe it when we see it: Sen. Raphael Warnock says he has accepted invitations from Savannah’s WTOC-TV, the Atlanta Press Club and the Mercer University Center for Collaborative Journalism to debate his Republican opponent, Herschel Walker, this fall. Walker told WSB radio says he’s “ready to debate.” His staff, however, says it is still “evaluating” debate invitations.

Pity Herschel Walker? “The Georgia GOP claims to care about Walker, but it has done the opposite to him. They’ve put him in a position for which he is vastly unsuited by temperament, experience, knowledge and intellect. They’ve left him exposed, not protected, and in more ways than one,” writes Jay Bookman in a thoughtful piece in the Georgia Recorder.

We’ll see what Fulton County prosecutor Fani Willis has to say about that: “I had a perfect phone call in Georgia,” former President Donald Trump tells Olivia Nuzzi, referring to his 67-minute phone call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Jan. 2, 2021, during which the president asked him to “find 11,780 votes.”

Bring ‘em on: In an interview with Israel’s Channel 12, President Joe Biden was asked whether he thought he would face Trump for a rematch in 2024. “I’m not predicting [I will face him],” Biden told Channel 12’s reporter. “But I would not be disappointed.” Meanwhile, Trump says that he has decided about running in 2024. The only question is when he’ll announce — before or after the midterm elections. Trump also is reportedly discussing his 2024 plans with big donors at off-the-record dinners.

Ouch: Confidence in newspapers and television news have hit all-time lows, Gallup said yesterday.

While Rome burns: In the “your-lawmakers-at-work” category, the U.S. House of Representatives last Wednesday passed by a voice vote and without debate legislation to create a secure government system for reporting UFOs.


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Craig Nelson is a former international correspondent for The Associated Press, the Sydney (Australia) Morning-Herald, Cox Newspapers and The Wall Street Journal. He also served as foreign editor for The...