A prominent Athens Republican has stepped down from state House candidate Houston Gaines' campaign after an Atlanta magazine reported that she posted several anti-LGBTQ comments on Facebook Tuesday, the second anniversary of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando.
According to Project Q, Joan Rhoden shared a photo on Facebook of pride-themed clothing at Target and accused "homosexuals" of spreading propaganda. She also characterized homosexuality as a disease and an "alternative lifestyle," criticized a New York bill that would add a third gender option to birth certificates and a cartoon featuring drag queens, defended Chick-Fil-A (a company that has taken anti-LGBTQ stances) and said that LGBTQ people's aim is "to annihilate free speech and dismantle the established facts of biology.”
Photo Credit: Joshua L. Jones/file
Athens-Clarke County Mayor Nancy Denson called last week’s local elections—in which progressives backed by Athens for Everyone swept the mayor’s race and all six commission races—a “U-turn” in an interview with WGAU 1340 AM this morning.
Host Tim Bryant suggested that the results were “a left turn.” Denson responded, “It wasn’t just a left turn; it was a U-turn.”
Both Bryant and Denson chalked the results up to enthusiasm on the progressive side, while, as Athens GOP chairman Gordon Rhoden said in a recent mass email, conservatives stayed home.
“When you have that kind of passion from small, very vocal groups, and they organize, we saw what they did… I have to give them credit, they did an amazing job of taking over this election,” Denson said.
The state legislature’s decision to move nonpartisan elections like Athens’ from November to May also played a role, Denson said.
Photo Credit: Savannah Cole
With nearly twice as many votes as his nearest competitor, Athens-Clarke County Commissioner Kelly Girtz was elected the next mayor on Tuesday.
Girtz had received 60.5 percent of 15,720 votes cast with 20 of 24 precincts reporting and the other four partially reporting. Former commissioner Harry Sims recieved 30.6 percent, and businessman Richie Knight 8.9 percent.
Girtz called the results a continuation of the progressive wave in 2017 that swept two Democratic state representives into office in GOP districts. But Girtz also said he reached out to every part of the county during his year-long campaign and would continue to do so.
Photo Credit: Savannah Cole
Ten of 24 precincts are now reporting, and Kelly Girtz remains in good shape in the mayor's race. He has 58 percent of 4,583 votes cast to Harry Sims' 32 percent and Richie Knight's 10 percent.
The first results in District 1 are in, and Patrict Davenport leads incumbent Sharyn Dickerson 164 votes to 134. But they're from Winterville, which is probably a little more progressive than other parts of the eastern Clarke County district.
In District 9, Ovita Thornton has opened up a 155-vote lead over Tommy Valentine.
More votes in District 2 are in, and Mariah Parker's lead over Taylor Pass has shrunk percentagewise but grown in raw number of votes, from 21 to 45.
You could watch the election results like I do—alone, with a laptop and a fifth of bourbon—or you could be social and go out and watch them with a group of people you can celebrate and/or cry with. If you choose the latter, here are your options:
Photo Credit: Nicole Adamson/file
Athens mayoral candidate Richie Knight may have violated Georgia campaign finance laws by using company resources for campaign purposes.
Interviews with a number of Knight’s former employees at HW Creative Marketing—the Athens firm Knight co-owns— and former campaign staffers suggest that Knight exceeded campaign contribution limits related to his campaign’s use of his business’s office space and payments made by his company to campaign workers. (Editor’s note: The author is dating a former Knight campaign volunteer, but she was not a source for this article.)
Marc Hershovitz, an Atlanta attorney who specializes in political law, confirmed the appearance of a pattern of apparent violations. Hershovitz’s clients in the past have included Democrats and Republicans, including former Gov. Roy Barnes, former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, state Sen. David Shafer and former congressman Ben Jones.
Steven Strickland and Marcus Wiedower are competitors in the Republican primary on May 22, but they made it clear in comments to the Oconee County Republic Party late last month that they share the goal of taking back Georgia House District 119 from the Democrats in November.
Both blamed “complacency” for their and the party’s defeat in the four-person special election held last November to fill the unexpired term of Republican Chuck Williams. The election was won by Democrat Jonathan Wallace.
Houston Gaines, who has no competition in the Republican primary for Georgia House District 117, formerly held by Republican Regina Quick, was harsh in his criticism of incumbent Democrat Deborah Gonzalez, who defeated Gaines in another special election last November for the 117th Georgia House District.
Law professor Kent Barnett asked six questions of each of the four candidates seeking to be elected as a Superior Court judge for the Western Judicial Circuit at a candidate forum held at the University of Georgia Law Library late last month.
The first two of the questions seemed like they could have been taken from a law school quiz, and the remaining four dealt with administrative issues the two winners of the May 22 nonpartisan general election are likely to deal with on the bench.
If you liked Kelly Girtz's five-point plans on affordable housing, economic development and the environment, you're gonna love this, comrade: Fellow mayoral candidate Richie Knight has released a plan with, as LeBron James might say, not five, not six, not seven, but 21 points. You can read it here.
In other Knight news, another of his campaign managers, Cameron Jay Harrelson, has resigned. He follows on the heels of Monika Ammerman, who left last summer, and Loran Posey, who was hired to replace Ammerman, then left last fall and went to work for the Girtz campaign. (In a rather extraordinary move, Knight sued Posey for a libel over a Facebook post that was critical of Knight, a lawsuit that Knight recently dropped.)
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