Poll: Atlanta voters already sweet on a $250m bond referendum, side with APS in Beltline flap

The campaign for a $250 million bond referendum in Atlanta on March 17 hasn’t yet begun, but already voters are in a mood to approve it, according to a poll by Democratic political strategist Cabral Franklin. From his website:

The bond referendum is poised to pass and is popular throughout every demographic tested. In total 63% of voters are in favor of the referendum, 21% are opposed, and 15% are not sure or don’t have an opinion...

Franklin, the son of the former mayor, also touches on this sensitive topic:

Voters seem to favor Atlanta Public Schools in the APS/Beltline brouhaha. The parties are involved in a standoff over proceeds from property taxes generated around the Beltline. Mayor Reed has stated that the recession devastated the Beltline’s funding model. School leaders say they need the money for board priorities such as early childhood education. The mayor wants APS to take a significant discount on the more than $162 million owed. The majority of voters disagree. Over 54% say the school board should hold firm and demand the full amount while only 26% say APS should take a significant discount.

See the details for yourself here:


Secretary of State Brian Kemp will be hosting a downtown Atlanta luncheon next Tuesday for former Hewlett- Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, one of 604 Republicans currently contemplating a 2016 run for the White House.

Meanwhile, Todd Rehm of GeorgiaPundit.com reports that former Florida governor Jeb Bush, another GOP presidential contender, will be at the Capital City Club on March 19 for a $1,000-a-head fundraiser.


In an earlier post, we told you about preparations by probate judges for the day that gay marriage comes to Georgia -- and moves to open up a second front in the battle. There's no doubt that this item from the Washington Post will make its way into Georgia’s debate over “conscience protection” legislation:

A Washington state florist who refused to provide flower arrangements for a gay wedding “because of [her] relationship with Jesus” violated the state’s anti-discrimination and consumer protection laws, a judge ruled Wednesday.

“Religious motivation does not excuse compliance with the law,” Benton County Superior Court Judge Alexander C. Ekstrom said in his 60-page opinion. “In trade and commerce, and more particularly when seeking to prevent discrimination in public accommodations, the courts have confirmed the power of the legislative branch to prohibit conduct it deems discriminatory, even where the motivation for that conduct is grounded in religious belief.”


Freshman U.S. Sen. David Perdue took his first overseas trip since he joined the Senate this week, heading to Israel and meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The Georgia Republican's chat with Netanyahu, according to Israeli media accounts, focused on the pending nuclear deal with Iran. From the Jerusalem Post:

A nuclear deal with the P5+1 will not stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday during a meeting with US Senator David Perdue (R-Ga.).

"When we say that the current proposal is a bad deal, we know what we are talking about," Netanyahu said.

Perdue thanked Netanyahu for his hospitality and said he shares Netanyahu's concerns about the nuclear agreement.

The Senate is looking to pass additional sanctions on Iran, which the White House opposes for fear of derailing the sensitive nuclear talks. Perdue serves on the Foreign Relations Committee.

The political backdrop for Perdue's trip is Netanyahu's re-election campaign and Washington visit next month, in which he will address Congress -- with Atlanta Rep. John Lewis and some other Democrats abstaining -- but not visit the White House.


Closer to home, Sen. Johnny Isakson talked foreign policy with the state chapter of the National Federation of Independent Businesses. Isakson criticized President Barack Obama's strategy to combat the Islamic State and said  he's eager to start the debate over giving the White House authorization to fight the terrorist group.

Isakson, who is running for a third-term in 2016, said ISIS' "unbridled arrogance is making us look silly."

Said Isakson:

"We've got to take the shackles off the United States military and join our coalition partners … Until we do that, we'll have a threat on our energy policy, our economic policy and our military policy. We need to go after ISIL and destroy them once and for all."


At the same forum, Rep. Tom Price said he had high hopes of getting "some help from the Supreme Court" on one of his favorite issues.

The High Court is set to decide this summer whether the federal government can award subsidies to the more than three dozen states that didn't set up their own health care exchanges under President Obama's signature law.

Price said the odds are "better than 50-50" that the provision will be struck down.

"Then this thing will come unraveling pretty quickly. The bad news is that there could be 6 to 8 million people who won't be able to purchase healthcare without subsidies," said Price. "And we need to be ready to help them. We are intent on making certain we move this system in the direction to make sure that small businesses and large businesses are ready."

Added Sen. Johnny Isakson: "Hopefully this will be the catalyst for Obamacare to go away."


Secretary of State Brian Kemp's bid for an SEC primary is gaining steam in Arkansas.

State Sen. Gary Stubblefield proposed legislation to move the state's presidential primary to March 1, a move that's supported by other Arkansas leaders. Even Arkansas, where quasi-native daughter Hillary Clinton spent most of her adult years, wants more love from presidential candidates.

"Seldom do we get to hear the candidates here, in person, before our primaries," Stubblefield said in a Facebook post. "Frankly, we just don't matter that much to the campaigns when our election is that late. So, I have put SB389 up for consideration in an attempt to do something about it."

Kemp is leading a regional movement to convince other Southern states to shift their votes to the same day to give the region a broader say in the race for the White House.


In other Arkansas news, the folks at Peach Pundit report that state Rep. Kevin Cooke and former state Rep. Delvis Dutton traveled to Little Rock on Monday to hoist an 'Appeal to Heaven' flag over the statehouse.

The movement is explained thusly:

The Appeal to Heaven movement started in the Georgia legislature when a handful of legislators publicly committed themselves to an absolute right of conscience and doing what is right despite political cost – something largely unknown in many legislatures or politics in general. The history of ‘Appeal to Heaven’ dates back to George Washington’s cruiser flag with these words and a white pine known as the “Tree of Peace,” though the flag originated with John Locke in the 1600’s and his constant reference to natural law. The phrase “An Appeal to Heaven” connotes that when all resources and justices on earth are exhausted that only “An Appeal to Heaven” remains.


Mark Burkhalter is back.

The Alpharetta Republican, long a power player in the statehouse and briefly a Speaker, was elected to represent the Sixth Congressional District on the State Transportation Board. His term begins ... now.


As he ponders a presidential run, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., appears to be an early contender in the Sheldon Adelson Primary, arguably at least as important as the SEC primary. From Politico:

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is getting some 2016 encouragement from several of the GOP’s top donors, with Sheldon Adelson signing up as a co-chair for a March 3 fundraiser for the senator’s testing-the-waters political committee, Security Through Strength.

Graham’s “luncheon and policy discussion” at the Capitol Hill club will be held right after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to a joint meeting of Congress. Donors are invited to watch together, before being joined by Graham.

In addition to Adelson, other prominent donors among the 33 co-chairs include Oracle co-CEO Safra Catz, hedge fund manager Seth Klarman, real estate developer David Flaum and homebuilding magnate Larry Mizel. The invitation asks for a donation of $2,700 to be a co-chair and $1,000 to attend.

Could Graham be this cycle's Newt Gingrich, buoyed by the Las Vegas casino magnate?


Former U.S. Rep. Paul Broun has resurfaced trying to help the National Association for Gun Rights, the gun lobby that believes the NRA is too soft. In an email solicitation, Broun asks for money to help force an audit of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which Broun alleges is creating an illegal registry of gun owners.

Your small contribution of $25 or more can make the following happen, writes Broun:

1) Using mail and email to contact up to 12 million Americans from all over the country to mobilize them to this fight;

2) Launching a massive state-of-the-art Internet and Social Media campaign designed to turn up the heat on Congress to expose the BATF;

3) Writing op-eds, working highly-trafficked blogs and talk-radio shows to explain to Second Amendment supporters that we can't afford to let the BATF off the hook;

4) Running hard-hitting radio, Internet and TV ads, if they can raise the resources, to ensure Congress leaves no BATF stone unturned.


Over at Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball, Emory political scientist Alan Abramowitz says his research is showing that last year’s Super PAC funding didn’t have the impact you might think. A taste:

Republicans made major gains in the 2014 Senate elections but the findings reported here indicate that outside spending by conservative groups had little or nothing to do with those gains. The main reason why Republicans did very well in 2014 was that Democrats were defending far more seats than Republicans and many of those seats were in states that normally favor Republicans based on recent presidential voting patterns. Democrats lost all seven of their seats in states carried by Mitt Romney in 2012 even though Democratic candidates enjoyed an advantage in outside spending in several of those races.

The factors that limited the impact of outside spending in 2014 are very likely to be present in the 2016 elections as well. In the large majority of states, the winners of the presidential and Senate elections will be determined by the relative strength of the parties in the state. In the last four presidential elections, 40 of the 50 states have supported the same party in each contest, and there is little reason to expect anything different in 2016. In the 2016 Senate elections, Democrats are likely to gain at least a few seats simply because Republicans will be defending a large number of seats in blue states that they picked up in the 2010 midterm election. Notwithstanding the plans of the Koch network to spend almost $900 million on the 2016 elections, neither party is likely to enjoy a substantial advantage in spending in the relatively small number of competitive states that will decide the presidential election or control of the Senate.


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About the Author

Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.