GPB 2020

2020 will be an important year in Georgia politics with a presidential race, two U.S. Senate seats and local legislative races on the ballot. The GPB News team will have you covered every step of the way, from new voting machines to the presidential debate in Atlanta to the issues that matter to people across the state.  

Governor's Office of Planning and Budget

Gov. Brian Kemp’s latest budget proposal would increase state spending to $28.1 billion for the next fiscal year, largely driven by increases in formula-based funding for education and health care plus a pay raise for public school teachers. 

The proposal comes as many other state agencies have been asked to cut back.

The governor’s budget report released Thursday kicks off the next phase of budget discussions at the state Capitol, where lawmakers have been greeted with the news of tepid tax collections as the larger economy continues to grow.

The amended budget proposal for fiscal year 2020, which ends June 30, has been revised down slightly from $27.5 billion to $27.4 billion as the governor’s office projects only a slight growth in the amount of money collected from taxes and fees.

John Bazemore / AP

Republican Gov. Brian Kemp told lawmakers during his State of the State address Thursday that his budget proposal for the next fiscal year includes an additional $2,000 pay raise for teachers and school employees, completing a campaign promise to boost teacher pay and adding another layer of complication to a tight budget discussion.

In his second annual address to lawmakers, Kemp also said the General Assembly should continue to fully fund the state’s education formula.

“Let’s fully fund public school education for the third year in a row, accounting for growth and resources needed to properly educate,” he said.

Stephen Fowler | GPB News

Standing at the edge of a DeKalb County loading dock, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger joined several reporters and elections staff as a nondescript white truck slowly backed up to unload its cargo.

The truck was loaded with battery backups that will help power 2,839 ballot-marking devices used by DeKalb voters in future elections. It was the first of many shipments arriving that day.

While the holiday season has made coordinating deliveries to local officials tricky, Raffensperger said that more than 25,000 of the 33,100 BMDs are tested and in the state’s control and 32 of Georgia’s 159 counties have received nearly all of their new voting machines and accessories.


Grant Blankenship / GPB

A federal judge says he does not have the jurisdiction to order the state to add back about 98,000 voter registrations that were moved to canceled status last week but expressed "serious concern" about the issue raised in the complaint.

In a 32-page ruling, Judge Steve Jones denied the request brought by voting rights group Fair Fight Action that sought to reinstate registrations canceled after voters did not respond to communications from elections officials after about seven years of not voting.

Stephen Fowler | GPB News

2019 has been a consequential year across Georgia’s political landscape, from the inauguration of a new governor to fierce debates over voting and reproductive rights to national attention over the state’s potential to flip from Republican to Democrat.

GPB political reporter Stephen Fowler sat down with All Things Considered host Rickey Bevington to recap some of the biggest moments.


GPB

2020 is shaping up to be a busy year for Georgia politics.

The economy is doing well, but the state government is making some significant budget cuts.


John Bazemore/AP

The Georgia secretary of state’s office is adding 22,000 previously-canceled voter registrations back to the “inactive” voter list ahead of a scheduled federal court hearing over the issue Thursday.

In a press release, Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said the registrations belong to Georgians who last had contact with elections officials between January and May of 2012.

Andrew Harnik / AP

Just under 4,500 Georgia voters acted to keep their voter registrations from being purged this week, a small percentage of more than 313,000 registrations set to be canceled for inactivity and failure to respond to election officials.

308,753 registrations were moved from “inactive” to “canceled” status Monday night as part of federally-required voter list maintenance, according to an updated list from the Georgia secretary of state’s office.

Grant Blankenship/GPB

A federal judge has ruled that Georgia can move forward with a planned purge of more than 300,000 inactive voter registrations Monday night.

However, U.S. District Court Judge Steve Jones has scheduled a hearing for Thursday to determine whether some of those registrations must be reinstated to the inactive voter list.

At issue is a provision of Georgia law that removes voters from the rolls for not voting or having any contact with elections officials, often known as no-contact or “use it or lose it.” 


justgrimes / Flickr

Monday on Political Rewind, voting issues are in the news again. An investigation by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution indicates the farther people have to travel to get to their polling place the less likely it is they will vote.

Our panelists look at the pattern and ask if politics are at play in closing numerous precinct locations around the state.

 

Stephen Fowler | GPB News

Nearly half of Georgia’s 159 counties are getting more voting machines than allotted in the original request for proposals, according to the latest numbers from the secretary of state’s office.

Georgia has purchased 33,100 Dominion ballot-marking devices as part of the largest single implementation of a new voting system in U.S. history, with 31,826 of them slated to be delivered to counties ahead of the March 24 presidential preference primary.

Sara Tindall Ghazal

A longtime voting rights advocate and former voter protection director for the Democratic Party of Georgia is challenging a Republican incumbent from Cobb County in the state House.

Sara Tindall Ghazal announced she is running for House District 45, which covers parts of East Cobb and Sandy Springs. The seat has been held by Republican Matt Dollar (R-Marietta), who was first sworn in in 2003.

Stephen Fowler / GPB News

A federal judge says Gov. Brian Kemp must answer some questions about his time as Georgia's top elections official as part of a wide-ranging lawsuit challenging how elections are administered.

U.S. District Court Judge Steve Jones ruled last week that the governor will need to answer two hours' worth of questions about comments he made about increasing minority voter turnout and his actions as chair of the State Election Board.


Patrick Semansky / AP Photo

Today on Political Rewind, the senior-most Republican in Georgia’s congressional delegation announces he will not seek re-election. Why has Rep. Tom Graves joined the GOP exodus from Congress? 


Rep. Tom Graves
Rep. Tom Graves

Georgia Rep. Tom Graves (R-Ranger) announced Thursday he will not be seeking re-election in 2020. 

In a letter to his constituents, the northwest Georgia lawmaker said "the time has come for me to pass the baton" and leave after nearly a decade in the House.

Georgia Secretary of State's Office

The Georgia Secretary of State’s office has unveiled a new education program to help voters acclimate to a new $104 million election system that prints out a paper record of your vote that is then scanned and stored for counting.

Secure The Vote” is a website and awareness campaign that will show Georgians how the Dominion Voting Systems ballot-marking devices work, including a streamlined check-in process using iPads, the touchscreen machines where you make your selections and the printed ballot with a summary of your selections that is then inserted into a precinct scanner.

Stephen Fowler / GPB News

On Wednesday's Political Rewind, Gov. Brian Kemp officially announced that Kelly Loeffler is his pick to replace the retiring Sen. Johnny Isakson. An Atlanta business executive, Loeffler is new to the game of politics. 

What can we expect from Loeffler as a senator and as a senatorial candidate leading up to Georgia’s 2020 elections? And, now that the announcement has been made, how will conservative Republicans react to Kemp’s choice? How will Rep. Doug Collins, President Donald Trump’s choice for the Isakson seat, respond?


Elijah Nouvelage / AP

Gov. Brian Kemp on Wednesday named Atlanta businesswoman Kelly Loeffler as Georgia’s next U.S. Senator as the Republican party in Georgia seeks to maintain control of two Senate seats, the state House and its presidential vote heading into the 2020 election cycle.

Loeffler will be the second-ever woman to represent Georgia in the Senate, and, if she wins a special election next fall, she will be the first Georgia woman elected to the Senate. In her remarks, she acknowledged that it will take work for her become known to voters in Georgia.

“But here’s what folks are gonna find out about me: I’m a lifelong conservative, pro-Second Amendment, pro-military, pro-wall and pro-Trump,” she said. “And I make no apologies for my conservative values, and will proudly support President Trump’s conservative judges.”


Ranking Member Rep. Doug Collins accompanied by Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler speaks as Attorney General William Barr does not appear before a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington.
Andrew Harnik / AP Photo

When the House Judiciary Committee takes up the impeachment inquiry into President Trump, expect Georgia Congressman Doug Collins to lead the Republican messaging.

As ranking member, the Gainesville Republican tells GPB News that he’s heading into tomorrow’s proceedings ready to push back against “what is actually going to be very much a waste of American taxpayers’ time.”


Sam Bermas-Dawes / GPB News

Today on Political Rewind, we are live from the studios of WUGA in Athens. We will discuss the impending announcement from Gov. Brian Kemp about his decision regarding Sen. Johnny Isakson’s seat. At the moment, Atlanta business executive Kelly Loeffler seems likely to be the pick, despite pressure from President Donald Trump to tap a fierce ally from Georgia, Rep. Doug Collins.

How will Georgia conservatives react to this perceived rebuke of the president? Will Collins, if he is not tapped for the seat, plan on contesting it in 2020?

We also hear Sen. Isakson's farewell address from the U.S. Senate floor.


isakson.senate.gov

Sen. Johnny Isakson is set to deliver his farewell speech Tuesday afternoon from the floor of the U.S. Senate.

The three-term Republican is the only Georgian to be elected in the state House and Senate and the U.S. House and Senate and has served for 45 years in elected office.

Stephen Fowler | GPB News

After months of speculation, hundreds of resumes submitted and a holiday weekend Twitter war mentioning jellybeans and jorts, Gov. Brian Kemp is set to finally announce who Georgia’s next U.S. Senator will be.

 

Kemp will be joined by members of Georgia’s Congressional delegation, state lawmakers and party leaders, grassroots activists and his appointee at 10 a.m. Wednesday in his ceremonial office.

Alex Brandon / AP Photo

Today on Political Rewind, Gov. Brian Kemp is locked in a battle with President Donald Trump over his choice to replace Sen. Johnny Isakson in the U.S. Senate. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Kemp is set to name Atlanta business executive Kelly Loeffler to the seat. Critics claim Loeffler is not a true Trump conservative and want Rep. Doug Collins for the job.

How will this fierce battle play out in the week ahead? Our panel weighs in.

John Amis / AP Photo

Gov. Brian Kemp has a big decision to make: who will be Georgia’s next U.S. Senator?  

The first-term Republican has leaned towards Kelly Loeffler, an Atlanta businesswoman who co-owns the local WNBA team and runs a bitcoin trading and storage company. But President Trump, whose Twitter endorsement helped push Kemp to a gubernatorial primary victory, has called for Rep. Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) to be selected.  

Democratic Candidates on the Debate stage
John Bazemore / AP

Before Wednesday's Democratic president debate in Atlanta, GPB's Rickey Bevington spoke with a political consultant from Grady County in South Georgia about what rural Democrats wanted to hear from the candidates.

Pete Fuller heard our interview and shared his persepctive. Fuller is the chair of the Jackson County Democrats and the Rural Caucus Chair of the Democratic Party of Georgia.

Bevington checked in with him after the debate to get this reaction to how the candidates addressed rural issues.


John Amis / AP

Joe Biden did not hold any public campaign events in Atlanta following Wednesday night's debate. Instead, the former vice president held a closed-door meeting with a group of black mayors from cities across the South. 

The group represents an important potential partnership that could help Biden strengthen his support among Southern leaders in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary. 

Stephen Fowler | GPB News

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren delivered a speech dedicated to the history of black women in politics as she seeks to increase support after Wednesday’s primary debate.

In a gym on the campus of Clark Atlanta University, the presidential candidate was welcomed by Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, a fellow Massachusetts Democrat. 

Stephen Fowler | GPB News

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders says if he is elected president, attending any historically black college would be tuition-free.

Speaking at a rally on the campus of Morehouse College, Sanders outlined his latest affordable education policies.

“We are going to encourage young people to go into teaching because we're going to give educators the respect and compensation they deserve,” he said. “And that means that no teacher in America should earn less than $60,000 a year.”

Tiffany Cross, U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH) and Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris greet the crowd at a breakfast in Atlanta.
Robert Jimison / GPB

A day after candidates sparred over race and culture during Wednesday night's Democratic presidential debate at Tyler Perry Studios, candidates crisscrossed through Atlanta to pitch their message to black voters from every background.   

 

Religious black voters were courted by five candidates over breakfast hosted by Rev. Al Sharpton. Across town Sen. Kamala Harris held her own morning buffet where she spoke to a group of black women.

 

Stephen Fowler | GPB News

Four presidential candidates joined Stacey Abrams Thursday to help reach out to some of the 313,000 registered Georgia voters who may be removed from the voter rolls ahead of the 2020 election.

At a phone bank set up by Abrams’ Fair Fight Action group in a room at Ebenezer Baptist Church, South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg churned through voter contacts, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker tapped a rhythm along with the names of his voters and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar joked about beating her fellow candidates’ score of total voters reached. 

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