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Monday, May 12, 2014

A Day at the Races(4/18/14), Part 2: Endorsing David Pennington for Georgia Governor

On Friday, April 18, 2014, I had the opportunity to attend two political meet-and-greets held around my area. The first one was hosted by Republican Congressman and US Senate candidate Phil Gingrey. The second one, which I will now document, was hosted by former Republican Mayor of Dalton, GA, and Gubernatorial candidate David Pennington, who is primarying incumbent Republican Governor Nathan Deal.

This meeting was held at a local restaurant. I arrived a little before the meeting started. I sat apart from the crowd, as I was planning to eat dinner and hadn't any questions I really wanted to ask(was more there to listen and observe). After some opening remarks from campaign workers, Mr. Pennington got up and introduced himself.

One of the first things he talked about was our states' population growth, which is one of the fastest rates of growth in the country. He also brought up the fact that we have one of the highest tax rates and unemployment rates in the country and are also rated near the bottom of the pack with regards to education quality. He emphasized his opposition to Common Core(which Governor Deal and State School Superintendent John Barge both support and implemented statewide), adding that education is up to local school boards, teachers, and parents. He pointed out that schools today have gotten so bad that students grade-watch their professors and teachers change the answers on kids' tests and pass them.

These education practices leave future members of our work-force sorely lacking in skills, which translates into higher rates of unemployment and poverty. A statistic he cited was the employment-to-population ratio in Metro Atlanta counties over the past 20 years. Citing the counties of Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton, and Gwinnett, he pointed out that the employment-to-population percentage averaged from in the high forties to 50% 2 decades ago, while they now average in the low forties and high thirties. An observation Pennington noted in his jobs and employment discussion was the fact that, with a majority of the 'quality' jobs centred in and around Atlanta, the lack of jobs in the rural, outlying parts of the state is the reason that Atlanta traffic is amongst the worst in the nation. One of his major points was that Atlanta moved Georgia's economy forward from the 70s to the 90s, and that Georgia's economy has suffered with Atlanta's economic atrophy.

At this point, somebody asked Mr. Pennington a question regarding the Chamber of Commerce. Pennington emphatically stated that, as a small businessman, he did not associate himself with the CoC. Teeing off of that, he emphasized the fact that he is not a professional politician. He is a small business owner who put himself forward to the Citizens of Dalton when he saw a failure of leadership in the city. He talked about how he, over the past 6 years, cut taxes and licensing fees city-wide and gave his salary to charitable purposes(which he promised he would do as Governor. He credited his policies with i,proving Dalton's economy, even as the rest of Whitfield County lagged behind.

Mr. Pennington also referenced a recent quote from Governor Deal which stated that tax reform in GA was 'dangerous.' This quote runs contrary to Deal's claims while campaigning in 2010. In 2010, he campaigned as a supporter of the FairTax(a tax system Mr. Pennington is supportive of), complete with the endorsement of then-Congressman and FairTax mastermind John Linder. Sometime in the past 9 months, Georgia became one of the few states to enact the 'Amazon Sales Tax,' which taxes items sold on the world's largest online shopping venue. This is in addition to all the other high tax rates Deal has enacted and retained in his tenure. Another quote, perhaps unsurprising, from Governor Deal which was cited was one, spoken at a rally at the local 'Achasta' golf course, which bashed the Conservative grassroots(a comment made as 'Conservative' Senate candidate Karen Handel looked on).

The final points Pennington made pertained to the political ramifications of the Primary Election. He proclaimed that the Conservative movement is dead of Republicans re-nominate Deal and that Democrats will win if Deal is re-nominated. He cited the fact that Democrat Jason Carter has his grandfather Jimmy's friends, Hollywood, the mainstream media, and national Democratic organizations behind him. He has a near-infinite money supply trucking in, and he can go on the air attacking Deal over ethical issues, including, but not limited to, his associations with the car auctioning company Copart(which Pennington has stated is to Deal what Watergate was to Richard Nixon). He also said that Georgia is gone if a Democrat wins because of the population growth, mainly in the minority community, and the fact that Republicans will be seen as having been given their chance{even though the last two GOP Governors(including the cousin of leading GOP Senate contender David Perdue) are former Democrats}. In explaining why the Conservative movement would win by nominating him, he touted his record as Dalton's Mayor as a tax-cutting, ethical Conservative, which is a stark contrast to Governor Nathan Deal. He emphasized his belief that, by articulating his Conservative beliefs before the state electorate, he would be able to, with the energy of the grassroots behind him, defeat Democrat Jason Carter in November.

After the meeting ended, I got the chance to pick up campaign literature and meet both the candidate and his supporters. I mentioned being impressed with what I had heard and indicated I would be supportive of the campaign. About a week and a half ago, I cast my early votes for Pennington, Paul Broun, School Superintendent candidate Mary Kay Baccallo, and Public Service Commission candidate Craig Lutz. I hope that people will consider supporting Pennington as the Conservative and electable alternative to Deal and John Barge.

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