THE CLOSELY-WATCHED Georgia Senate race for District 6 (Smyrna, Vinings, Buckhead and Sandy Springs) is taking a turn for the negative as the July 31 GOP primary nears.
The race pits attorney and Smyrna native Josh Belinfante of Sandy Springs, Iraq War vet Hunter Hill of Smyrna and small businessman Drew Ellenberg of Buckhead (a Marietta High grad), who are competing for the right to run in the fall against multi-term incumbent Doug Stoner (D-Smyrna).
District residents have been getting the following robocall:
“Hello. You are receiving this important message because you stand for principles of lower taxes and less government that has made our state great. Josh Belinfante states that he opposes Obamacare now that he is a candidate for state Senate, but as chief counsel to former Governor Sonny Perdue, Belinfante authored and promoted a $225 million health care tax, right here in Georgia during the recession. Partly as a result of Josh Belinfante’s health care tax, hundreds of job layoffs at a major Atlanta hospital were announced in June 2011. This year, please remember, we don’t need double dealers on taxes like Josh Belinfante down at the State Capitol.”
Belinfante served as part of Gov. Nathan Deal’s hand-picked legal team that, headed by state Attorney General Sam Olens, battled Obamacare all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court this summer.
So who paid for the ad? The call didn’t say, and politicos are wondering whether it was one of the other two GOP candidates or perhaps a lobbyist group supporting Georgia hospitals.
AS NOTED before in Around Town, the outcome of the District 6 race may well determine whether the Republicans wind up with a two-thirds supermajority in the Senate. That’s because the outcomes of the races in other districts are relatively easy to determine, and because the result of the other 55 races is likely to end in a Senate made up of 37 Republicans and 18 Democrats. The magic number needed for a supermajority is 38. Supermajority status allows a party to put a constitutional amendment before voters without interference from the opposing party.
The GOP-controlled Legislature redrew the district during the recent reapportionment, shifting part of it from Democratic-heavy Smyrna into Republican-rich neighborhoods in Fulton County, swooping down to include the Governor’s Mansion on Pace’s Ferry Road.
It remains a Cobb-majority district — but the Fulton portion has voted more heavily than the Cobb portion in recent elections. For example, 61 percent of total votes came from the Fulton side in the March presidential primary. Overall, that district went heavily for Mitt Romney, especially on the Fulton side of the Chattahoochee.
As a whole, the newly configured 6th District averaged 58 percent support for GOP candidates in the top four statewide races on the ballot back in 2010, most notably going 63 percent for U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson and 53 percent for Deal.
Many observers see a tough race ahead this fall for Stoner, regardless of which Republican is on the ballot.
“I think he’ll be swimming against tide,” one told AT on Monday.
MORE POLITICS: The Cobb Republican Party will conduct a series of candidate forums at its 799 Roswell Street headquarters this week and next. The first on Thursday will feature candidates for Clerk of Cobb Superior Court and Cobb district attorney. Next Wednesday’s forum will feature candidates for commission chairman, with judicial candidates squaring off next Tuesday and on July 28. The forums will start at 6:30 p.m. each evening, according to Cobb party head Joe Dendy.
AND MORE POLITICS: Cobb Superior Court judicial candidate Greg Poole has been endorsed by State Sen. Judson Hill (R-east Cobb) and state Rep. Rich Golick (R-Smyrna). … State House District 41 rep candidate Justin O’Dell of Marietta has been endorsed by the Cobb County Fraternal Order of Police. … Legendary defense attorney Bobby Lee Cook of Summerville will co-host a fundraiser for Cobb State Judge candidate Gene Clark. Cook was the model for the TV character “Matlock” portrayed by the late Andy Griffith. The event will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. on Thursday at The Arena Tavern, 2475 Barrett Parkway in Kennesaw.
Speaking of Stoner, Cobb business leaders are conducting a reception on his behalf from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday at The Georgian Club, 100 Galleria Parkway, Suite 1700. Among the hosts are Cobb Chamber leaders Tony Britton and Rob Garcia, ARC head Tad Leithead, Jim Budzinski of WellStar, Cumberland CID leader Malaika Rivers and former Cobb Commission Chairman Earl Smith. … Jim Astuto and Geraldine Wade of Summerford Subdivision (off Shallowford Road in Northeast Cobb) will conduct a meet and greet for Commission Chairman Candidate Bill Byrne from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday at Summerford Subdivision Tennis Deck.
LIFE CHANGER’S CHURCH in Powder Springs at 1839 Powder Springs Road will conduct a candidate forum from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Saturday, hosted by Pastors the Revs. Sherman and Sharon Scott. Expected candidates are Joyette Holmes, Bobby Allen, Marsha Lake, Connie Taylor, Dr. Michael Rhett, Justin O’Dell and Monica DeLancy, according to church spokeswoman Kalia Watkins.
SMYRNA’S Keith Blackwell will be sworn in as Georgia’s newest state Supreme Court justice on Thursday. Gov. Nathan Deal will swear him in at 9:30 a.m. in the House Chamber at the state Capitol.
Deal appointed Blackwell, 37, last month to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Chief Justice George H. Carley, whose departure takes effect today.
Blackwell has served on the state Court of Appeals since 2010 and was an appointee of then-Gov. Perdue. Blackwell will be the 88th justice since the creation of the court in 1845. But he will technically be the 92nd justice because there were four chief justices who never served as associate justices.
FIVE YEARS AGO, when Marietta’s Carol Aebersold held the first-ever signing for the then-new book she had penned with her daughter, Chanda Bell, “Elf on the Shelf,” at the Marietta Museum of History, few outside of her circle of friends had heard of the book that in the intervening years has become a phenomenon. The pair wrote the book based on their family’s custom of having an elf visit during the holiday season, who keeps Santa updated on the children’s behavior. Illustrations were by local artist Coe Steinwart. Since then, the “Elf” has sold millions and spawned an interactive website and an animated TV special.
Aebersold will return to the Museum at 7 p.m. Thursday to talk about the book and the juggernaut it has become. The event is free to museum members and $7 for non-members. For more information or to make reservations, call the museum at 770-794-5710 or visit MariettaHistory.org