Around Town: Stoner district might determine whether state GOP attains Senate supermajority
by Otis Brumby, Bill Kinney, Joe Kirby
Around Town Columnists
September 27, 2011 01:41 AM | 4318 views | 4 4 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
FIRST, state Sen. Doug Stoner (D-Smyrna) nearly got gerrymandered out of his seat by this year’s legislative redistricting, which shifted its borders deep into Republican-leaning Buckhead.

Now, it appears that his reconfigured District 6 might be the most hard-fought of any in next year’s elections. Moreover, it’s a race likely to have a vastly disproportionate influence on state politics than the typical election.

Making matters even more unusual, that influence would not be based on geography or fundraising potential.

No, it’s all about numbers: The occupant of that seat, if Republican, would represent the key “supermajority” vote. A supermajority occurs when one party obtains two thirds of the votes, allowing it to put a constitutional amendment before voters without interference from the opposing party.

The 180-member Georgia House needs 120 votes to achieve a supermajority, while the 56-member Georgia Senate needs 38, Stoner said.

Supermajority status would allow the Senate majority (sure to be Republican), to put constitutional amendments before voters without having to consider amendments, interference or even suggestions from the minority party (sure in this case to be Democrat).

Presently, 36 of the 56 Georgia Senators are Republicans. But under the new maps signed by Gov. Nathan Deal, Sen. George Hooks (D-Americus) is drawn into the same district with Sen. Freddie Powell Sims (D-Dawson), opening up a new seat in the Rome area which the Republicans expect to secure. That would bring the Republicans to within one seat of obtaining a supermajority in that body. And that’s where Stoner’s district comes in.

“It’s one of the key races Republicans are hoping to flip to their column — it would help them gain a supermajority and also help them gain a majority in the Fulton County legislative delegation,” said Dr. Kerwin Swint, a political science professor at Kennesaw State University. “It’s also a textbook case of gerrymandering, taking a district that was completely in Cobb, and stretching it far into north Fulton County, making it a majority Republican district.”

Since the new House maps also indicate that Republicans will achieve a two thirds majority in the House, Stoner said the question of whether the Statehouse is governed by a Republican supermajority is likely to hinge on which party controls his Senate district.

Republican hopefuls are already lining up to challenge him.

They include Josh Belinfante of Sandy Springs, an attorney with RobbinsFreed who formerly served as chief legal adviser to Gov. Sonny Perdue; and attorney Beth Beskin of Buckhead, who challenged Sen. Horacena Tate (D-Atlanta) in 2010.

Another possible candidate is Vinings native Hunter Hill of Smyrna, a West Point grad and security manager with SecurAmerica of Buckhead who served three tours with the Army; two in Afghanistan and one in Iraq. Hill challenged Stoner unsuccessfully in 2008. Bob Irvin of Atlanta, the former House minority leader who served in the late ’90s and early 2000s, may also throw his hat in the race.

Another possibility is that Stoner, who is one of the more moderate Democrats under the Gold Dome, could do what many of his former colleagues have done — change parties and run as a Republican. But he says that’s not in the cards. The heart of his district, where he is best known, is heavily Democratic. So he’d likely lose more support by switching than he would gain.

What’s for certain though is that the race is likely to cost him and his challengers beaucoups bucks.

“I think the statement has been made that this could be one of the most expensive Senate races in Georgia, and unfortunately that is probably true,” Stoner said.

The winner of the Republican primary and possible runoff could end up spending half a million before the general election, which could cost another $250,000 to $350,000, some predict.

But Stoner says don’t count him out. Now in his fourth term in the Senate following one term in the House, Stoner chairs the Intermodal Rail & Transit Subcommittee, a position of authority which is unusual for a minority member to hold.

“Most folks are fiscal conservatives and they’re social moderates, and I think anyone who knows me, that’s exactly what I am, I’m a fiscal conservative business person and I’m a social moderate,” he said.

***


STRAND THEATRE director Earl Reece and Cobb Chamber of Commerce president David Connell will be dancing in “The Nutcracker” this holiday season with The Georgia Ballet — but don’t worry, they won’t be twirling in tutus.

They and local YWCA director Holly Comer and S.A. White Oil Co. CEO Kim Gresh will be this year’s four “celebrity” dancers during the Ballet’s annual fundraising performance of “The Nutcracker.”

Each of the four will be paired with a professional dancer for the event, which this year will benefit the YWCA of Northwest Georgia.

The performance will take place at 7 p.m. Dec. 3 at the Jennie T. Anderson Theatre at the Cobb Civic Center. Call (770) 528-0881 for ticket info.

***


PEOPLE: Marietta woodworker extraordinaire Ron Ransom’s Santa Clauses are now available at High Cottage at 101 Church St. just off the Square. For special Santas, call Ron at (770) 420-0550.

Marietta Rotarian/travel agent Mark Chesney jetted off on Saturday with six others to climb Africa’s Mt. Kilimanjaro. Also making the climb from Cobb are Abbott Hall, John Tate, Brent Chesser and Dr. Armando Janeria.

THE CENTER FOR THE STUDY OF THE CIVIL WAR ERA at Kennesaw State University will present one of the country’s best-known Civil War historians and authors, Dr. James “Bud” Robertson, at 6 p.m. Oct. 15 in Social Science Building 22, Room 1021 Auditorium. His topic will be “The Untold Civil War,” which also is the title of his latest book soon-to-be published by National Geographic.

Robertson, a professor at Virginia Tech, is best known for his biography of Stonewall Jackson. For more go to www.kennesaw.edu/civilwarera or call the Center for the Study of the Civil War Era at (678) 797-2551. ... Meanwhile, the newly formed Cobb County Civil War Rountable will host the owner of one of the world’s largest collections of Confederate photographic images, David Wynn Vaughan, at 7 p.m. Oct. 6. Vaughan has the largest known number of images from the former Georgia Military Institute in Marietta and they, and the stories about each image, will be his topic that night. The meeting will take place at the Kennesaw State University College of Continuing Education Building, 3333 Busbee Drive. There is no charge for CCCWRT members or first-time visitors, says president David Brannan. Register at: cobbcivilwarrt@gmail.com.

GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE Texas Gov. Rick Perry will address the Georgia Public Policy Foundation’s “Wisdom, Justice and Innovation” legislative conference Friday at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre.

Perry’s address to the Policy Foundation conference is expected to focus on the twin roles that tax reform and tort reform play in creating and sustaining economic growth,” reports the GPPF’s Mike Klein.

Perry is slated to talk only from 10:15 to 10:30 a.m. on the topic “Taxes, Torts and Texas: The Key Policies Supporting the Growing Texas Economy.” The governor accepted the GPPF’s invitation several weeks before he entered the race. The conference will be open to the public, but pre-registration by Wednesday is required. Also keynoting the event is Home Depot co-founder Arthur Blank., and Cobb Superior Court Judge Tain Kell is to appear as part of a panel discussing “Conservative Criminal Justice Reform: Less Crime for Less Money.”

***


REPUBLICAN presidential hopeful Mitt Romney of Massachusetts has announced the endorsements of numerous Georgians, including state Attorney General Sam Olens of east Cobb, Smyrna Mayor Max Bacon and Heath Garrett, former chief of staff to U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson.

***


COBB STATE COURT judicial candidate Gene Clark will hold his campaign kickoff from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Friday at the former Target Printing location, 254 Roswell St. Barbecue will be from Fred’s Bar-B-Que House in Lithia Springs.
Comments
(4)
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Republican Chick
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September 27, 2011
All I can say is that the Cobb GOP better support the true conservatives. Do not support Stoner's party switch- it's just to save his political skin.
anonymous
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September 27, 2011
Am I the only one who finds it a little strange that Mr. Clark, candidate for state court, had to hire a Bar B' Que company from Douglas County?

What about the place has recently been popping up once a month for the GOP breakfasts? Just kind of makes you go huh.... in the middle of the night.
nmwander
|
September 27, 2011
There isnt a Republican in Georgia that isnt actually a Democrat. Saxby Chamblis-Democrat. Nathan Deal-Democrat. on and on. They just switch parties long enough to keep their hands in YOUR pockets.

Vote Democrat this year just to torque off the incumbant Repubs.

Screw all of em. They are all to blame for the financial mess THEY created in the past 20 years.
anonymous
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September 27, 2011
Another opportunity for a DEMOCRATIC in REPUBLICAN clothing.

What a mess.

Show me the Mules.
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