3:52 PM, Aug 14, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Georgia Democrat Michelle Nunn experienced a week of embarrassment late last month when National Review's Eliana Johnson published a leaked memo from Nunn's Senate campaign. The memo was essentially Nunn's plan for how to win her race in Georgia, a state her Democratic father represented in the Senate until 1997 but that had grown more Republican in the ensuing years. The plan also focused on Nunn's own perceived weaknesses, including fears that the first-time candidate was a "lightweight," "too liberal," and not a "real Georgian."
Another of those listed weaknesses—unspecificied "conservation easements"—was explored in detail by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in a front-page article Thursday. It seems the Nunn campaign was concerned about the airing out of the details of a land deal conducted by Nunn, her father, her husband, and a pair of Washington lobbyists. Here's more from the AJC's Daniel Malloy:
In 2004, Nunn, her father, four-term Democratic U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn, local builder Michael Wilson and two Washington lobbyists who were senior aides for Sam Nunn — Bob Hurt and Frank Norton — secured along with their spouses a $2 million loan to buy 850 acres of land in Glynn County.
At the end of 2008, the county approved a zoning change for a chunk of the property to “planned development,” with the lead owner listed as Ron Martin, Nunn’s husband. The plan was for 485 housing units, providing a projected boost of $147 million to the local economy.
But by then, the economy was in free fall, and development across the nation ground to a halt. In late 2010, the partners went forward with a much different vision: a conservation easement contract with a private land trust to forever ban development on the vast majority of the property.
The easement provided tens of thousands of dollars worth of tax benefits to the group, originally formed under the name Wisawee Partners, while preserving the environmentally sensitive area.
The Nunn campaign has argued such easements are supported by Democrats and Republicans alike, even citing an expansion of Georgia's conservation easement law supported by former Georgia governor Sonny Perdue, a Republican and the cousin of Nunn's GOP opponent David Perdue. Nathan Click, a spokesman for Nunn, told the AJC that “Michelle, her husband, Senator Nunn and Colleen Nunn were able to protect beautiful land in Glynn County for future generations through a program supported not just by Governor Perdue but a broad swath of Georgia leaders including Senators Chambliss and Isakson.”
Wetlands conservation is good politics, but it's hard to believe Nunn and her partners weren't trying to do anything but get out of a real estate deal gone bad. The two lobbyists who had gone in with Nunn on the purchase were Bob Hurt and the late Frank Norton, who founded the lobbying firm Hurt, Norton & Associates after leaving Sam Nunn's Senate office. Among the clients for which Hurt and Norton lobbied Congress is the Georgia Ports Authority, which operates the Port of Brunswick. The land Nunn and her partners had wanted to develop and sell would have likely benefitted from increased port activity in Brunswick that might come from, say, federal funds to dredge and expand the port.
In 2005, after the group had secured the loan to buy the property, their efforts to rezone the wetlands in order to build homes were met with resistance from locals, who wanted to, as Nunn's campaign now puts it, "protect beautiful land in Glynn County for future generations." Nevertheless, the land was rezoned in 2008, just in time for the real estate bubble to burst. After that, with Nunn and her partners facing high property taxes on land that couldn't be developed profitably.
The AJC goes on to report that before the easement, Nunn's partnership was assessed a tax bill of $23,100 for land that was valued at $2.55 million. After obtaining the easement, however, Nunn and her partners only owed $3,502 in taxes on land that was now worth considerably less.
Will face Democrat Michelle Nunn in November.10:30 AM, Jul 23, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Businessman and first-time candidate David Perdue pulled off what the Atlanta Journal-Constitution calls a "political shocker" by winning the Republican primary runoff for the U.S. Senate in Georgia Tuesday. Perdue defeated Republican congressman Jack Kingston, who had the backing of much of the party establishment in Georgia, most of the Republican House delegation, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
8:01 AM, May 28, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
In the lead-up to Georgia's July 22 GOP runoff election for U.S. Senate, Congressman Jack Kingston of Savannah has received an endorsement from the Heisman Trophy-winning University of Georgia football legend Herschel Walker. Walker, a Georgia native and star running back of UGA's undefeated 1980 season, says in a new ad from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that he cares "deeply about Georgia's future."
"Thats why I want my friend, Jack Kingston, carrying the ball for us in Washington," says Walker. Watch the ad below:
11:58 PM, May 20, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
The Associated Press reports that former CEO David Perdue and congressman Jack Kingston won first and second place, respectively, in Tuesday's Republican primary for U.S. Senate in Georgia. Because Perdue, at 30 percent, did not win an outright majority, both he and Kingston (who got 26 percent) will face off in a runoff election for the GOP nomination on July 22. Fewer than 25,000 votes separated Perdue and Kingston.
9:35 AM, May 20, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
If there’s one thing we know about today’s Georgia Republican primary for U.S. Senate, it’s that we really don’t know who will win. Or, more precisely, we don’t know which candidates will come in first and second to proceed to the inevitable runoff election in July. With five major candidates in the running, it’s unlikely the winner will get the necessary 50 percent support to avoid a runoff. So even after today, we still won’t know who will be the Republican nominee in November.
4:54 PM, May 14, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
With just days before Georgia's May 20 primary election, the leading Republican candidate has suggested he would support raising taxes as a way to fix the economy. Speaking to editorial board of the Macon Telegraph, businessman David Perdue said he supports "both" curbing government spending and increasing revenue. When a member of the board pointed out that "increasing revenue" is a euphemism for "raising taxes," Perdue reportedly "chuckled."
3:10 PM, May 13, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
A new internal poll of the Georgia Republican primary for U.S. Senate finds David Perdue, Karen Handel, and Jack Kingston all within a few points of each other. The poll conducted by Rosetta Stone Communications on behalf of the Handel campaign, found Perdue leading the pack with 22 percent support, with Handel just behind at 20 percent and Kingston in a close third at 18 percent.
1:06 PM, May 1, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
A new poll of the Republican primary for U.S. Senate in Georgia shows former secretary of state Karen Handel moving into a statistical tie for first place with businessman David Perdue, inching ahead of congressman Jack Kingston. The poll found among likely voters, Perdue has 22 percent support, Handel has 21 percent, and Kingston has 17 percent. Additionally, congressmen Paul Broun and Phil Gingrey polled at 14 percent and 12 percent, respectively. Eleven percent say they are undecided.
11:02 AM, Apr 29, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Savannah-based congressman Jack Kingston is getting some support in his bid for the U.S. Senate in Georgia by way of a new ad from the Chamber of Commerce. The ad calls Kingston a "consistent conservative." Watch it below:
Kingston, a 12-term House member, earned the Chamber's endorsement for the GOP primary earlier this month.
10:11 AM, Apr 25, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Karen Handel, a Republican candidate for Senate in Georgia, has a new TV ad that pitches her as a "conservative fighter" who wants to "stop illegal immigration and Obamacare" and "cut spending."
"I've been a fighter my whole life. I left a troubled home at 17, but I beat the odds," Handel says in the 30-second spot. "I worked my way up in the private sector and implemented Georgia's tough voter ID law." Handel is the former secretary of state. Watch the video below:
10:23 AM, Apr 18, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Jack Kingston, the Savannah-based Republican congressman running for the U.S. Senate, has been endorsed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Here's more from the Washington Post:
"Now more than ever we need conservative leaders with a demonstrated record of fighting for Georgia jobs, and that leader is Jack Kingston. As senator, Jack will help lead America’s comeback and lay the groundwork for more jobs, more growth, and a generation of prosperity," said Rob Engstrom, the business group's political director.
10:55 AM, Apr 10, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
In a new radio ad, Republican Senate candidate Karen Handel of Georgia hits back at her primary opponent David Perdue for his recently released comments about her lack of a college education. Perdue also touted his international business experience. The minute-long Handel ad replays Perdue's comments.
12:15 PM, Apr 7, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Karen Handel, the former secretary of state of Georgia, has raised $200,000 in the past two weeks for her campaign for Senate, according to a spokesman. The cash-strapped Republican, who is facing better financed primary opponents, has raised more in that time than she had in the previous quarter.
8:02 AM, Apr 3, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
A leading Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Georgia criticized a fellow primary opponent for having only a high school degree. David Perdue, a businessman and first-time candidate for office, was touting his experience and education to a group of voters in January when he made a reference to "a high school graduate in this race."
That candidate is Karen Handel, the former secretary of state and gubernatorial candidate. Handel left an abusive home at age 17, according to her campaign, and finished high school. She never graduated from college.