Photo by Bill Torpy

Capitol Recap: Stockbridge’s newest tactic on Eagles Landing: Bar fight

The city of Stockbridge has opted for a new tack as it tries to fend off the loss of about one-third of its residents and nearly half of its tax revenue that would occur through creation of a city of Eagles Landing.

It’s going after the lawyers.

Its lawyers.

Stockbridge officials say they were double-crossed and have filed complaints with the State Bar of Georgia against state Rep. Andy Welch and state Sen. Brian Strickland. Both of the Republican legislators from McDonough are partners in the firm Smith Welch Webb & White LLC, which was representing Stockbridge when the plan for Eagles Landing was rolling out.

In their complaint, the officials note that Stockbridge opposed the legislation to create Eagles Landing, Senate Bill 262, “and requested that the legislators not pursue its enactment into law.”

“Contrary to their client’s wishes,” the complaint states, “the attorneys not only sought passage of the legislation but donated money to the community group which was supporting the legislation, the Eagle’s Landing Educational Research Committee.”

Eagles Landing’s creation could lead to Stockbridge’s devastation. If 9,000 of the existing city’s 28,000 residents suddenly become part of Eagles Landing, Stockbridge will have a difficult time trying to pay off more than $14 million in outstanding debt.

Former Stockbridge Mayor Lee Stuart, in a press release, said that while Welch and Strickland were cashing checks from Stockbridge, “they were fighting with all their strength to destroy the city.”

Voters who would live in Eagles Landing will vote on whether to create the city in a referendum on the Nov. 6 ballot.

Race gets a little hotter: It looks like we may have a real contest on our hands.

University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato has shifted Georgia’s race for governor from the “likely Republican” pile to the “leans Republican” pile.

Sabato writes in his Crystal Ball analysis that he’s still has his doubts about Democrat Stacey Abrams’ chances against Republican Brian Kemp.

“Georgia is a racially-polarized and right-leaning state, which to us probably gives an edge to Kemp, who is white and conservative, over Abrams, who is black and liberal,” Sabato wrote. “But the potential for strong black turnout and a poor environment for Republicans hurting Kemp suggests that our Likely Republican rating is probably too bearish for Abrams.”

Another thing in Kemp’s favor, Sabato wrote, is Georgia’s requirement that the race go to a runoff if no candidate achieves a majority in November’s election.

“If no one does that — there is a Libertarian on the ballot (Ted Metz) — there will be a December runoff, where turnout may be lower and the electorate potentially more Republican,” he wrote. “The presence of a runoff, to us, helps Kemp because it ensures that Abrams can’t win with a plurality.”

A signature moment? Republicans in the state Senate have now signed on to support Kemp.

The senators in massive numbers had backed Kemp’s opponent in the GOP primary, Casey Cagle, who as lieutenant governor had been their president in the chamber for the past 12 years.

Their new commitment to Georgia’s secretary of state was actually spelled out in ink as each senator put his or her signature on a Kemp campaign sign.

Whether the scrawling of a felt-tip pen will mend all wounds is another matter.

This year’s fight for the GOP nomination was more bitter than most, with Kemp’s spokesman at one point calling a Cagle supporter in the Senate “mentally unstable.”

Duncan gets a deal? On a similar note, it appears that the GOP nominee for lieutenant governor, Geoff Duncan, has reached an agreement with Senate Republicans that, if elected, will allow him to lead the chamber without restriction.

A close ally to Duncan said the former member of the state House is fairly certain Duncan will be “good with the Senate.”

A GOP official said the senators have been instructed to line up “solidly behind our nominee.”

Republican senators haven't always been on congenial terms with a GOP lieutenant governor. In 2011, a dispute between the senators and Cagle cost him the ability to make committee assignments and name committee chairmen.

Duncan beat a former Senate president pro tem, David Shafer, in the July GOP runoff, qualifying for that election only after edging out former state Sen. Rick Jeffares in the first round of voting in May. He will face Democrat Sarah Riggs Amico in November.

Candidate turned suspect: A former candidate for a Georgia congressional seat is facing a murder charge.

Channel 2 Action News reported that earlier this month Kellie Collins turned herself in to the McDuffie County Sheriff’s Office.

Collins ran a short campaign that ended before last year’s Democratic primary for the seat held by U.S. Rep. Jody Hice, R-Monroe. New gun regulations were among her issues.

Police in Aiken County, S.C., found the body of Collins’ former campaign treasurer, Curtis Cain, with an apparent gunshot wound. Cain was living in an apartment there.

Polling opposition: A proposal to close seven of Randolph County’s nine polling places — just as the elections approach in November — has drawn the ire of the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia.

“This proposal is reminiscent of Georgia’s ugly, discriminatory past, and that is where it needs to stay,” Andrea Young, the executive director of the state ACLU chapter, said in a statement.

The county, in the southwest corner of the state, is predominantly African-American.

Guns: Evan Ross, the Democrat challenging state Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, R-Rome, in November is taking a familiar tactic and giving it a twist.

Ross is holding a raffle, The Rome News Tribune reports, but the prize isn’t a gun. The winner gets a gun lock.

The challenger told the paper he was looking to distinguish himself from some Republican candidates who have auctioned off guns to draw supporters.

“I’m a gun owner, I have a concealed-carry permit, I support the Second Amendment,” Ross said. “I just want to emphasize that northwest Georgia gun owners are very responsible people and they want to be safe.”

Farmed out: Georgia farmers are losing one of their strongest advocates at the Capitol.

Brian Tolar is leaving the Georgia Agribusiness Council after 21 years, including the last nine as its president.

Tolar has been considered the top agriculture lobbyist under the Gold Dome.

Like many of the Capitol's lobbyists, Tolar had supported Cagle’s bid for governor.

More change: Another familiar figure in the hallways of the Capitol, James Touchton, is also making a move.

Touchton recently left his position as director of policy and governmental affairs at the Council for Quality Growth.

He’s now seeking other opportunities.

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