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State & Regional Govt & Politics
A high-stakes December runoff even without an Abrams-Kemp matchup 
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A high-stakes December runoff even without an Abrams-Kemp matchup 

A high-stakes December runoff even without an Abrams-Kemp matchup 
Democrat John Barrow and Republican Brad Raffensperger appear to be headed for a December runoff election. File photos.

A high-stakes December runoff even without an Abrams-Kemp matchup 

Even if the race for governor isn’t forced into a runoff, voting rights is set to dominate political debate through Dec. 4 with the runoff for Brian Kemp’s old job

The race pits Democrat John Barrow and Republican Brad Raffensperger, two candidates not necessarily beloved by their party’s bases, in a contest to turn out core supporters possibly without the luxury of a bigger-ticket contest.

That’s the framework of the race if there’s no matchup between Kemp and Democrat Stacey Abrams on the ballot. And it comes against the backdrop of the same debate over ballot access and voter suppression that swirled for the last year. 

Barrow has talked more of using the office as a bully pulpit to rail against gerrymandering and to quickly move the state to un-hackable paper ballots. Raffensperger has vowed to continue many of Kemp’s policies, including canceling registrations of voters who hadn’t participated in recent elections. 

The too-close-to-call governor race has sucked up any attention that would otherwise go to this down-ticket contest, but that could soon change as counties prepare to certify votes this week. 

A few of the questions that will be answered about the race in the coming weeks: 

  • Can a Democratic candidate so centrist he voted against Nancy Pelosi and ran a folksy ad assuring voters he’s a “Democrat, but I won’t bite ya” energize the same liberal voters that came out in force for Abrams? And will the Republicans who crossed over and voted for Barrow in November return in December? 
  • Can a low-profile Republican with little name recognition mobilize the same core conservative supporters who carried Kemp to what could be a narrow gubernatorial victory? And will Kemp and other GOP officials play a prominent role in boosting his campaign? 
  • Will persistent questions of whether Kemp abused his role as the state’s top elections official catalyze voters to choose his successor? Or do election-weary Georgians tune out the race, leaving only a handful of voters to decide the race? 
  • Will Democrats peeved at Abrams’ near-miss - if she can’t force the runoff - rush back to the polls to try to give the party a foothold in state government? Will they be countered by Republicans embarrassed by the party’s suburban struggles? 

Don’t forget, too, the down-ticket race between Public Service Commissioner Chuck Eaton and Democratic challenger Lindy Miller. That contest has involved a tense fight over the fate of Plant Vogtle and alternative energy programs. 

 

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News

  • The brother of a woman shot by her husband at a medical clinic in Potts Camp, Mississippi is honoring his sister’s life. Around 10 a.m. Tuesday, state representative candidate Carl Robinson shot and killed his wife – Latoya Thompson – before turning the gun on himself inside the Williams Medical Clinic. The couple had been married since 2014, but court records show Robinson, 43, and Thompson, 33, had filed for divorce in April.  According to legal records, the two filed a joint complaint for divorce April 26. At the time, only one lawyer was involved.  That changed Tuesday morning. Records show that Thompson hired her own attorney and that she changed her mind about a previous agreement she signed about child custody, support and other details July 15.  Now, Thompson’s brother said his family is remembering her for her love of life and passion for singing. “She was a singer, she was our little songbird. Ever since she was a kid, she was always singing something. Beautiful smile, beautiful spirit,” said Kevin Thompson. Thompson said his sister loved her family, especially her 3-year-old son.  His last memory with her is from Saturday, when he traveled in town for their grandmother’s funeral in Lamar, Mississippi. “She was just real happy this weekend, and that’s what I take from all of this,” Thompson said. Three days later on his way home, Thompson found out his sister was shot by her husband.  Investigators said Robinson shot Thompson inside the clinic, where she worked as a receptionist. He then killed himself. Three staff members tried to help Thompson after she was shot.  According to Marshall County officials, staff attempted to perform CPR on Thompson to resuscitate her, but she died before she could be airlifted to a hospital. Robinson was running for state representative in Mississippi, officials confirmed. According to Robinson's campaign Facebook page, he was running in District 5 for the upcoming election. “I was mad at what happened to my sister. I was sad at the fact that I lost my sister, and I was numb because I couldn’t do anything about it,” Thompson said. Thompson said he knew her husband, but he did not know the specifics about their relationship. “I knew he had a temper like most of us did. I didn’t know to what extent,” he said. “You may know someone is off but never think they would go to this extent.” Thompson said his focus now is being there for her 3-year-old son. He said he will include Robinson’s family in the child’s life. “We are going to work together to make sure he has the best of both. It would be unfair for us to shield him and hold onto him,” he said. He said a memory he will hold close to his heart is their last conversation – when she told him that she loved him. Funeral arrangements have not yet been planned.
  • A Mableton man is accused of hiding his 5-year-old son from his wife — who has a temporary protection order against him — before leading deputies on a three-hour manhunt, authorities said. Quantavious Carrol, 27, faces 10 charges after the Thursday chase, which ended with deputies using a Taser on him, the Clayton County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release. Deputies tried to pull over Carrol’s vehicle, which also had a passenger inside, near Upper Riverdale Road and Tara Boulevard, the release said. Carrol, who allegedly knew he violated the restraining order, drove away from the traffic stop on I-75 North. While driving, he’s accused of throwing a stolen handgun of the window. The gun was stolen out of Gwinnett County, the release said. The chase continued onto I-285 and ended on Fairburn Road, where Carrol got out of the vehicle and ran away, the release said. The passenger was blocked inside the vehicle and was captured by deputies. His charges have not been released. Carrol continued to run, and deputies found him after searching for about three hours, authorities said. He allegedly fought with deputies after they located him, which is why a Taser was used. The 10 charges against Carrol include fleeing police, obstruction, not having car insurance, theft by receiving and multiple driving citations, records show. He remains held at the Clayton County jail without bond. The 5-year-old has been reunited with his mother, the release said. In other news:
  • An Indiana man has been charged with endangering the welfare of children after authorities said he took kids to Kentucky and forced them to sell candy for him. >>Read more trending news Shawn Floyd, 54, of Indianapolis was arrested last week in Bowling Green, Kentucky, Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear said in a statement. The 12 children involved in the case were taken into protective custody. Floyd is accused of taking 12 Indiana children to Kentucky and forcing them to sell candy for profit, the statement said. The children were allegedly made to sleep in one hotel room with three adults, and had to purchase their own meals and water, according to the statement. The youngest child was 11, the office said. Kentucky labor law requires a person to be at least 14 years old to be employed. Beshear's office was notified July 12 of about 25 solicitor permits issued in Bowling Green, mostly for minors. The office had also received previously reports of Floyd possibly being involved in human trafficking in several Kentucky counties, the statement said. 'I want to commend the work of the Bowling Green Police Department and our human trafficking investigator,” Beshear said. “Their actions prevented any further possible exploitation or suffering for these children. When it comes to preventing such crimes, it requires cooperation across agencies and promoting awareness of such actions in every community.” Floyd has a pretrial conference scheduled for Sept. 4 in Warren County, Kentucky, WANE-TV reported. Online records show Floyd has bonded out of Warren County Regional Jail. Anyone who has information on people being exploited for commercial sex or labor can call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888 (or text 233733) for immediate assistance.
  • A California family is mourning the loss of their 9-year-old daughter and warning others about the dangers of underwater pool lights. >> Read more trending news  McKenzie Kinley, who was just shy of her 10th birthday, was killed Sunday after she was electrocuted in her family’s backyard pool in Citrus Heights, according to news reports.  The child was killed after touching an underwater light fixture that was not sealed and was under repair, KOVR-TV reported. “As much as we know, she grabbed the pool light, and it electrocuted her,” the girl’s father, Cliff Kinley, told the news station.  Sacramento County rescue crews rushed to the scene, but were not able to save the child. “Thank goodness it didn’t get anyone else, because there were four other children in that pool,” Kinley said. Kinley said the family is talking about the tragedy to warn other people about the potential dangers in backyard pools. “If nothing comes from losing my daughter, at least this could save others,” the child’s mother, Lisa Moore, told KOVR. The family started a GoFundMe page to help cover funeral expenses.
  • A former Atlanta attorney and his son were sentenced to nearly six years in prison Tuesday for a banking and investment scam that netted them more than $15 million, authorities said. Donald Watkins and his son Donald Watkins Jr. were convicted earlier this year  of deceiving former NBA star Charles Barkley and using the name of former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to support the scam. Watkins was sentenced to five years in prison, while his son got 27 months behind bars, The Associated Press reported. The elder Watkins was also ordered to pay $14 million in restitution.  During the trial, witnesses including Barkley testified about losing more than $6 million in investments and loans to the former attorney. Barkley said he was friends with Watkins, who split his time living in Birmingham, Ala. and Atlanta. Other athletes who lost money in the scheme included former NBA player Damon Stoudamire and former NFL players Takeo Spikes and Bryan Thomas. Rice testified that Watkins used her name to promote an energy business without her permission, the AP reported. She declined to get involved, but Watkins included her name in emails to investors anyway, she said. As a lawyer, the senior Watkins once served in Montgomery as a city council member. He helped defend HealthSouth Corp. founder Richard Scrushy in a fraud that nearly bankrupted the company, now known as Encompass Health. He has also worked on various civil rights cases. Watkins reportedly only had a net worth of few thousand dollars despite portraying himself as wealthy, the AP reported. He attempted to purchase a major league baseball team and the the St. Louis Rams before the team left for Los Angeles.  In other news: 
  • A couple in Clarksburg, West Virginia, is in jail facing child neglect charges after three children wandered off from their home. >> Read more trending news WBOY reported that Clarksburg Police Department officials said officers received a call on June 1 about three children who were seen in the area and were not wearing clothes. A criminal complaint obtained by WBOY said one of the children was carrying a steak knife. >> Read more trending news According to the complaint, the children were away from their parents for about 25 minutes. Police located the children about a quarter of a mile away from home. Two of the children, girls ages 3 and 2, had no clothes on, the complaint said. A 4-year-old boy was only wearing a diaper, which was full of feces. Police contacted the children's mother, 24-year-old Sarah Nardo. They learned Nardo and her boyfriend, 27-year-old Donald Johnson, were sleeping when the children got out of the house.  Johnson and Nardo were arrested and charged with gross child neglect creating risk of death or injury, WBOY reported. According to North Central Regional Jail records, they were booked Tuesday. They are being held on $50,000 bond.