Gwinnett County to surpass Fulton in population by 2040

Like a giant amoeba, the weight of metro Atlanta is slowly oozing north. From the Gwinnett Post:

Gosh. With that many people, some new form of moving around might be in order.

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A decades-old pact has long blocked the 52 families of the hostages taken captive in Iran from seeking recompense since their 1981 release. On Wednesday, the 35th anniversary of their freedom, they celebrated a novel workaround of that law engineered by Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson.

The year-end budget includes enough funding to provide the hostages $4.4 million each - or $10,000 for every day they were held hostages. And all eligible spouses and children of the hostages will receive a $600,000 lump sum payment. The funds are set to be disbursed later this year.

 The “Algiers Accords,” which President Jimmy Carter agreed to in order to get the hostages out, do not allow the hostages to sue Iran directly, and the State Department has fought in court to keep it that way. 

“Today's a day that many thought would never actually happen,” said Isakson. “We finally are able to announce the compensation to those who were held hostage and those who were treated so brutally by the Iranians."

Read more about Isakson's re-election strategy in today's premium editions.

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Gov. Nathan Deal is holding a press conference Thursday to announce an economic development expansion.

We suspect it has something to do with this Kaiser Permanente news that broke a few days ago.

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One suspects that plenty of quiet cell phone conversations have been going on. On Wednesday afternoon, state Sen. Mike Crane, R-Newnan, announced his candidacy for the Third District congressional seat to replace U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland.

Don’t expect any Democrat of note to announce. Our number-crunching friend tells us that the district voted 66 percent for Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election. In 2014, Westmoreland’s district gave David Perdue 65 percent of its vote, and Nathan Deal 64 percent. No Democratic statewide candidate received more than a third of the vote in the 2014 cycle.

But already, we have a candidate to replace Crane in the state Senate. Matt Brass, Westmoreland’s chief of staff, this morning raised his hand. From the press release:

“I am proud and thankful to have worked, learned and fought alongside a man that has fought this fight for many years. I look forward to taking all I have learned and putting it towards serving Georgia’s 28th District in the State Senate.”

One thing to know about Brass: If he invites you to reach into your wallet and make the next round of golf more interesting, don’t do it. His bio includes this line: “Prior to working for U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (GA-03), Matt was a Canongate Golf Club professional.”

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Over at Fetchyournews.com, U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, defended his December vote for a bipartisan spending bill. Collins said the Georgia GOP delegation was obligated to support the measure after it successfully argued for the removal of language inserted by U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., which would have given his state an advantage in the long-running argument over water.

“We could have turned and voted no, but then in the future, if there ever need be, we would get no help in trying to take care of the interests of Georgia,” Collins said.

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Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is beefing up his campaign in the SEC primary states as the race with Hillary Clinton tightens in Iowa and New Hampshire.

From the Washington Post:

Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders is preparing for a protracted battle with Hillary Clinton by hiring staffs and laying groundwork in more than a dozen contests that follow Iowa and New Hampshire, the first two nominating states.

Sanders has deployed about 50 paid campaign aides apiece to Nevada and South Carolina, the next two states on the calendar, according to advisers. Paid staffs are on the ground in all of the 11 “Super Tuesday” states that have contests on March 1, a presence that appears to at least match that of the Clinton camp.

The Vermont senator is also airing TV ads and Spanish-language radio spots in Nevada. He is about to go on TV in South Carolina. And his team is mapping out plans to spend a fresh wave of small-dollar donations expected to arrive if he upsets Clinton in Iowa or New Hampshire, as recent polls indicate is possible. That money, aides say, would allow Sanders to compete with the former secretary of state and Democratic front-runner in the crush of contests that quickly follow on the calendar, as the playing field rapidly broadens and the election becomes more dependent on expensive television ads.

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Our AJC colleague Mark Niesse has picked up word that state Rep. Dee Dawkins-Haigler may run for that state Senate seat that Democrats lost late last year to Republican JaNice Van Ness.

Dawkins-Haigler would be in for a primary fight with her former Democratic colleague, Tonya Anderson, who lost a runoff to Van Ness in December and wants to run again.

***

A group of Georgia horse breeders is working with a sports architecture firm to design a potential horse racing track in the state.

Morris News Service reports that the plans, including a residential and commercial development centered on the track, were announced this week by the Georgia Horse Racing Coalition. No location for the track was announced.

The coalition projects that the 250-acre complex would bring more than 5,000 jobs.

A concept is being designed by Missouri-based Populous Holdings Inc., architects for projects like the new Braves' stadium, Yankee Stadium, Ascot Racecourse in England and the Hong Kong Jockey Club.

Horse-racing is legal in Georgia. However, betting on it is not and the coalition has been pushing in recent years to expand legal gambling to include betting on horses.

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About the Author

Jim Galloway
Jim Galloway
Jim Galloway is a three-decade veteran of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution who writes the Political Insider blog and column.
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