An election wrap: Tucker wins, incumbents suffer, pot loses

Susan Fernandez signs "Tucker Yes" on a banner Tuesday evening while attending an election night party on Main Street of what will become the city of Tucker. Ben Gray / bgray@ajc.com
Susan Fernandez signs "Tucker Yes" on a banner Tuesday evening while attending an election night party on Main Street of what will become the city of Tucker. Ben Gray / bgray@ajc.com

Credit: Jim Galloway

Credit: Jim Galloway

The city of Tucker sailed into being with 74 percent of 5,326 ballots cast. It was the proposed city of LaVista Hills that kept everyone on pins and needles last night.

In the end, 136 votes of 13,714 cast made the difference. The forces of “no” killed the venture with 50.49 percent of the vote. It is the first metro Atlanta cityhood effort to fail at the ballot box since the 2007 vote for a city of South Fulton.

The difference between Tucker and LaVista Hills? Well-funded opposition in the latter race.

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Betty Price, who moved to the state House in a special election earlier this year, made the right choice. From Neighbor Newspapers:

A similar fate took shape in the Post 2 race where incumbent Becky Wynn had only 26 percent of the vote and 1,817 to her challenger Mike Palermo's 74 percent and 5,239 votes.

In the Post 3 race, five candidates, Don Horton, Kay Howell, Nate Porter, Shayne Gray and former Roswell fire chief Ricky Spencer, squared off to take over Betty Price's spot when she went onto become a state House representative.

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Another upset struck in Fayetteville, where voters elected the city's first black mayor, according to our AJC colleague Tammy Joyner:

Councilman Ed Johnson unseated Mayor Greg Clifton with 54 percent of the votes in a low turnout of the at-large election. Fayetteville's election only drew 11 percent of the 12,000 registered voters. Fayetteville has about 16,000 residents.

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The anti-incumbent climate stretched clear to the coast, where an upset may be in the making. From the Savannah Morning News:

Jackson was the top vote getter, with 44 percent of the vote, while DeLoach received 42 percent, according to results posted by the Chatham County Board of Elections on Tuesday night.

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Gwinnett County voters approved the renewal of a 1 percent sales tax for schools on Tuesday, with 75 percent of 25,222 ballots cast. Consider this a cleared hurdle to a larger discussion on transportation in the county.

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Given that he was compared to Donald Trump, both Democrats and Republicans need to pay attention to this GOP win. From the Associated Press:

The result was a potentially troubling sign for Democrats ahead of next year's presidential election and represented a big win for the GOP as it continues to consolidate political power across the South. Democrats also were thumped in Virginia, where they made a costly push to win a majority in one chamber of the state Legislature.

The governor's race in Kentucky was the highest profile contest in Tuesday's off-year elections. The only other gubernatorial campaign was in Mississippi, where Republican Gov. Phil Bryant easily won re-election.

In Kentucky, Republican businessman Matt Bevin had waged a campaign to scale back the state's Medicaid expansion that was made possible under the federal health care overhaul. Some 400,000 lower-income people who gained health coverage under the expansion could be affected.

Bevin ran as an outsider, emphasizing his Christian faith along with his support for Kim Davis, the Rowan County clerk jailed for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. His Democratic opponent, two-term Attorney General Jack Conway, embraced Obama's health care reforms, saying hundreds of thousands of residents could lose access to taxpayer-funded insurance if Bevin won.

"The degree to which the national party is out of step with mainstream Kentuckians has created an environment where it's extraordinarily difficult for a Democrat to win statewide," said state Auditor Adam Edelen, who lost his re-election bid to a little-known Republican state representative.

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Also from the Associated Press:

Failure of the proposed state constitutional amendment followed an expensive campaign, a legal fight over its ballot wording, an investigation into petition signatures — and, predominantly, a counter campaign against a network of 10 exclusive growing sites it would have created. It was the only marijuana legalization question on the 2015 statewide ballots.

About 65 percent of voters opposed the measure, compared to 35 percent in favor.

Issue 3 would have allowed adults 21 and older to use, purchase or grow certain amounts of marijuana and allowed others to use it as medicine. The growing facilities were to be controlled by private investors, leading opponents to label it a "marijuana monopoly."

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Houston voters defeated a ordinance that would have established nondiscrimination protections for gay and transgender people in the city.

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Ross Mirkarimi, the San Francisco sheriff who became the face of that community's controversial status as a "sanctuary city," lost his bid for re-election on Tuesday. From Fox News:

Mirkarimi and his office received heavy criticism after Mexican illegal immigrant Francisco Sanchez allegedly shot and killed 32-year-old Kate Steinle on San Francisco's waterfront July 1. Sanchez had been released from Mirkarimi's jail in March even though federal immigration officials had requested that he be detained for possible deportation.

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More links from last night's doings:

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Call it the Erin Hames Act of 2016. State Sen. Vincent Fort, his chamber's No. 2 Democrat, will unveil a proposal Wednesday he said is aimed at "eliminating conflicts of interest between Gov. Nathan Deal and Atlanta Public Schools."

He's referring to Hames, long the governor's top education adviser, who helped design the legislation that would create a new statewide school district with the power to take control of some of the state's persistently failing schools.

She left Deal's office in August to advise Atlanta Public Schools - which awarded her a $96,000 consulting contract - on how to avoid intervention from the state on the legislation she engineered. Except she didn't entirely leave Deal's employ.

An Open Records Act request revealed that Hames will also make $30,000 over the next year consulting Deal on education policy. Expect Fort's legislation -- a long-shot given the overwhelming majority Republicans hold in the Legislature -- to restrict employees of the governor's office from pulling a repeat.

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Politico Magazine has a look at Rep. John Lewis' new turn as graphic novel superhero. From Rebecca Burns' piece:

"My peers didn't say much," says Lewis, describing the 2013 launch of the first volume of MARCH, his planned graphic novel trilogy. "They thought it was kind of strange."

But now that it's become an unexpected success—the second volume was named last week as one of best books of the years by Publisher's Weekly—both sides of the aisle ask for signed copies for their children, grandchildren and constituents.

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A new survey from Pew finds that America is getting less religious. The numbers:

The falloff in traditional religious beliefs and practices coincides with changes in the religious composition of the U.S. public. A growing share of Americans are religiously unaffiliated, including some who self-identify as atheists or agnostics as well as many who describe their religion as "nothing in particular." Altogether, the religiously unaffiliated (also called the "nones") now account for 23% of the adult population, up from 16% in 2007.

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