The first Republican governor since Reconstruction got elected in 2002. The Legislature flipped by 2004. By 2008, all statewide elected officials had become Republican. The state avoided the national Democratic wave in 2006. Despite a lot of bluster about Georgia turning purple, in 2012 and 2014, the Republicans held.
There are, unfortunately, a lot of warning signs that the days of the GOP are coming to an end. Greed and corruption have set in quickly. To be fair, many of the present Republican officeholders were Democrats and changed their party to stay in office. Now they view their offices as get-rich-quick schemes.
The Legislature, under the leadership of Lt. Governor Casey Cagle and Speaker David Ralston, is nothing more than a Ponzi scheme of check writers. Wanting to know what legislation will pass is as easy as looking at campaign contribution disclosure reports. He who gives the most money wins.
Uber and Lyft, two innovative car services taking off in Atlanta, could not compete against the taxi monopoly in the last legislative session. The taxi monopoly out funded their upstart competitors and helped steer both legislation and regulation against their competitors.
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Now, short-term rental websites, like Airbnb are coming under fire. Airbnb allows individual homeowners to rent out their properties for short durations to others. The website makes the process efficient and painless. Consequently, the hotel and motel association in Georgia wants Airbnb regulated to make it more burdensome to use. The check writers are scrambling and the legislators are waiting with open arms.
Likewise, there is a broad and rapidly shaping consensus among conservatives and liberals in metro Atlanta that Atlanta does not need a casino. Mayor Reed pointed out that Las Vegas is in the desert for a reason. The left-of-center writers at Creative Loafing wrote, “Casino gambling is an option for cities with no options. If Atlanta is positioning itself as a world-class city with a high-tech horizon, we don’t need to scrape the bottom of the economic barrel for income.”
But the casino lobbyists have come to town with barrels of cash. Billionaire casino owners have floated in and out of Casey Cagle’s and David Ralston’s offices. A casino is probably coming. The deck will get stacked in its favor and the usual political consultants will be hired to run an “education” campaign to convince voters the casino is a good thing and will pay for HOPE.
Then there is the craft beer legislation, Senate Bill 63. The legislation would have allowed brewers to sell directly to those who tour their facilities. But that was opposed by the beer wholesalers who heavily financed Cagle’s run for office and others. The compromise plan allowed beer brewers to give the beer for free to those who pay for tours.
As the Department of Revenue formulated regulations to implement S.B. 63, the department sought public input, formulated rules and beer brewers went off and set up their tours and sales around those rules. Now, a few months later, the Department of Revenue has modified its rules without ever having sought public opinion. Now, the breweries will not be able to charge more for tours based on the beer consumed, but they will be charged a tax on the beer consumed even though they are not selling it.
Somewhere, no doubt, some check writer exerted influence. This is happening more and more with Georgia’s Republican leaders. Republican leaders are for sale to the highest bidder and do not listen to their voters.
Erick Erickson is a Fox News contributor and radio talk show host in Atlanta.