EMILY HANEY / emily.haney@ajc.com
Photo: Emily Haney
Photo: Emily Haney

Capitol Recap: Georgia may be majority-minority state within a decade

Death and taxes claim most of the attention when it comes to certainty, but change, too, is a constant. And it’s underway in Georgia.

New data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that the state could be just nine years away from majority-minority status.

The white/non-Latino share of Georgia’s population has dropped 3.2 percentage points since 2010 to 54.1%. At that rate, whites would no longer be in the majority by about 2028.

The three biggest factors behind the change have been declining birth rates among whites, the return of African Americans who had left the South (most notably in the Great Migration) and decades of legal immigration.

Black non-Latino Americans saw the biggest part of the gain among minorities at 1.9%. Asians accounted for a 0.9% gain, as did Latinos of all races.

Here are some other notable findings from the Census Bureau:

  • In Forsyth County, nonwhites have seen their share of the population grow from 18.7% in 2010 to 28.3% in the Census Bureau’s latest estimate. That could have big implications in next year’s race in the 7th Congressional District, which covers parts of Forsyth and Gwinnett counties. Demographic changes in Gwinnett have already made political impact. Voters from the onetime Republican stronghold favored Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election. They also helped make last year’s 7th District contest the closest U.S. House race in the nation, decided by only 433 votes. Conservatives have counted on winning big in Forsyth to hold off Democratic challengers, but the ground could be shifting underneath them in Cumming and other parts of the county.
  • Forsyth is also one of four Georgia counties to place among the top 10 in the U.S. for rapid changes in their white/minority mix since 2010. The others are Douglas, Henry and Rockdale. Henry’s nonwhite share of the population has grown 10 percentage points.
  • At 89%, Clayton County is now among the top 20 counties in the U.S. for minority population.
  • Fannin County in North Georgia is the state’s whitest county. But minorities have seen their share of Fannin’s population grow from 2.9% in 2010 to 4.4% now.
  • Chatham County, think Savannah, crossed over the line into majority-minority territory in the past year. Nonwhite/non-Latino residents now account for 50.1% of Chatham’s population, up from 49.7% last year.

A “domestic” alliance: Gun rights were a big part of Republican Brian Kemp’s successful run for governor last year. A shotgun co-starred in one of his better-known ads, and he pledged to push through a tax break on firearms and ammunition.

So it’s a little surprising that Kemp’s pick for Georgia’s top cop is backing a restriction on firearms.

Vic Reynolds, the new director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, has endorsed a measure that would bar domestic abusers from owning guns.

Democratic state Sen. Jen Jordan proposed the legislation during this year’s General Assembly session. It won unanimous approval in committee before stalling.

Reynolds, Cobb County’s former district attorney and also a onetime patrolman, sees Jordan’s bill not only as protection for victims of domestic abuse, but also for law enforcement officers.

“As a former uniformed beat officer myself, and certainly as a prosecutor prosecuting cases involving domestic violence, and now as the director of the GBI, anything we can do that makes officer’s lives safer, we need to do,” Reynolds told WABE’s Lisa Hagen.

The emotional circumstances behind domestic abuse cases raise the level of risk for a police officer, Reynolds said.

“If an individual has had a previous domestic violence situation, particularly a conviction, then I think there’s a very strong argument that that individual does not need to have a weapon,” Reynolds said.

Jordan plans to push the bill again next year.

“Ready for 2020 session,” she tweeted.

Bern notice: Michael Owens, who is challenging U.S. Rep. David Scott of Atlanta in the 13th Congressional District Democratic primary, has tried to make a case that the congressman is not Democratic enough.

Roots Action, which The Huffington Post describes as a “left-wing group led largely by supporters of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders,” appears to agree with Owens.

It has placed Scott on a list of 15 incumbent lawmakers who, it says, do not deserve to win their primaries.

In an email blast to more than 1 million people, Roots Action cited Scott’s recent votes on legislation involving financial services, the environment and foreign policy as reason for his placement on the list.

Owens, a former chairman of the Cobb County Democratic Party, is pushing an agenda more to Roots Action’s liking. He supports “Medicare for All,” the Green New Deal, tuition-free college, the creation of a path of citizenship for immigrants living in the U.S. illegally and the removal of marijuana as a scheduled controlled drug.

A faithful commitment: Ralph Reed rolled out a big plan for his Faith & Freedom Coalition in the upcoming election.

The organization expects to spend at least $50 million to turn out supporters.

Reed said the plan will fund at least 500 staffers and 5,000 volunteers to mobilize religious voters.

The effort will include $4 million to target Latino voters in swing states such as Florida and Nevada.

Seeking some cyber help: Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms went to Washington this past week to ask Congress to help state and local governments prevent and respond to cyberattacks.

Testifying before a U.S. House subcommittee, Bottoms spoke about the cyberattack against Atlanta in May 2018, when a criminal group seized control of city data and demanded $51,000 in bitcoin as ransom.

The city refused to pay the ransom, but Bottoms said Atlanta lost some $7.2 million as the attack halted work in the city’s Municipal Court for weeks and deleted years of Police Department footage taken from officers’ patrol cars.

“We are living in a different digital world now,” Bottoms told lawmakers. “Nation-state actors and other foreign adversaries are on the attack. We need a strong federal partner to defend against them.”

Stover out: There’s a new opening in the Legislature.

State Rep. David Stover submitted his resignation — effective immediately.

The Newnan Times-Herald wrote that Stover, who got married last summer, said following his re-election in 2018 that he intended to serve out his term through 2020 and then decide whether to run again.

In his letter of resignation, Stover said the couple is now expecting their first child, and the due date falls early in the 2020 General Assembly session.

Stover called the pregnancy a “game changer.”

During the past legislative session, Stover was one of 10 Republicans who called on David Ralston to step down as speaker of the House over accusations that he had used his position to delay court cases to benefit his clients.

Candidates, endorsements, etc.:

— Another Republican is joining the crowded GOP field in the race for the 7th Congressional District. Lisa Noel Babbage, a Duluth-based teacher, announced her intentions to run for the seat U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall, R-Lawrenceville, is giving up. Babbage says she’s active in Women for Trump chapters in both Georgia and Virginia. She vows to donate a “significant portion of her legislative salary back to small businesses and community programs” in the district. Five other Republicans are also campaigning for the party’s nomination: Air Force veteran Ben Bullock, former Home Depot executive Lynne Homrich, emergency room physician Rich McCormick, former pro football player Joe Profit and state Sen. Renee Unterman. Voters in the Democratic primary will also have plenty of choices. The candidates on that side are Carolyn Bourdeaux, who narrowly lost to Woodall in November; attorney Marqus Cole; former Fulton County Chairman John Eaves; party activist Nabilah Islam; and state Rep. Brenda Lopez Romero.

— Former Republican state Rep. Betty Price is seeking a rematch against Democratic state Rep. Mary Robichaux, who defeated Price in November to win the Roswell-based House District 48.

— Ted Jackson has announced he will pursue a fourth term as Fulton County sheriff. Jackson was first elected in 2008. His backers include Atlanta Braves legend Hank Aaron and former U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young.

— The anti-tax group Americans for Prosperity Action, which has ties to Charles Koch, is backing Georgia U.S. Sen. David Perdue in his bid for re-election next year. Stephen Allison, a senior adviser to the organization, announced the endorsement in an op-ed. “From health care to taxes to veterans’ issues,” Allison wrote, “Perdue has shown that he trusts the people of Georgia to make their own decisions, without someone from Washington telling them what to do.”

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