Political Notes — Candidates already jumping into insurance commissioner race

[private]It has been only a few hours since Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens announced he would not run for a third term, but there are already at least three candidates who want to become his replacement.

Tameka Marie Richardson, a Democrat from Decatur, had filed the paperwork to run for insurance commissioner back in April.

Shane Mobley, a Macon Republican, also filed an early intention to run for Hudgens’ position on June 16, nearly a month before Hudgens said he would step down. Another potential candidate:  Jim Beck of the Georgia Underwriting Association.

We’re also hearing that one of Hudgens’ top aides, Deputy Commissioner Jay Florence, will run to replace his boss.

Florence, who has a law degree from the University of South Carolina, was Hudgens’ campaign manager when he was reelected in 2014 and also served as chief of staff to Senate President Pro Tem David Shafer — who at one time was seen as a potential candidate for insurance commissioner.

Hudgens, like Secretary of State Brian Kemp, is creating a vacancy in one of the state’s constitutional offices that is sure to attract more candidates before next year’s qualifying.

Goodbye, Kennesaw State

Secretary of State Kemp, Georgia’s top election official, confirmed last week that his office will terminate its longstanding contract with Kennesaw State University to maintain and upgrade the state’s electronic voting machines.

Those administrative functions will be moved in-house to the state elections division for future elections.

The move follows several controversies arising from security breaches at Kennesaw State’s elections center.

Hines on duty

Harris Hines, the chief justice of the Georgia Supreme Court, reported for jury duty early Monday morning at the Cobb County Superior Court.

“As citizens, each of us has a duty – and the privilege – to serve as jurors when called. I’m no different than anyone else,” Hines said.

“When some people realized who he was, I think they were surprised to see the head of the judicial branch of government, who presides as a judge over criminal and civil appeals, willing to switch places and serve as a juror,” said Superior Court Judge Tain Kell. “The jury system is the bedrock of our democracy, and it’s heartening for all of us to see our chief justice play his part.”

 Judgeship candidates recommended

The Judicial Nominating Commission (JNC) has forwarded three names to Gov. Nathan Deal to consider when filling a Superior Court vacancy in the oddly misnamed Western Judicial Circuit, which actually encompasses two counties (Clarke and Oconee) in Northeast Georgia.

The commission’s recommendations for the judgeship include state Rep. Regina Quick (R-Athens), Oconee County Chief Magistrate Richard F. Connelly Jr., and Assistant District Attorney Brian V. Patterson.

Quick is apparently so confident of getting this judgeship that she’s already indicated she won’t run for the Legislature again.

The JNC is also recommending Augusta attorney Robert “Bo” Hunter III and E. Freddie Sanders as potential replacements for retiring State Court Judge Richard A. Slaby.

As replacements for Bibb County State Court Judge William P. Adams, the JNC has recommended:  Solicitor General Rebecca L. Grist, Jeffery O. Monroe, Stuart E. Walker, and Assistant District Attorney Chéferre L. Young.

To replace Clayton County State Court Judge John C. Carbo, the JNC has recommended Senior Assistant Solicitor General Meredith C. Florio of Henry County, Magistrate Court Judge Salvia Y. Smith, and Senior Assistant Solicitor General Margaret L. Spencer of Clayton County.

Executive appointments

The governor’s office announced the following appointments to state boards and commissions —

Board of Driver Services:  Bob Pierce of Powder Springs, special projects coordinator for the Cobb County Superior Court.

Board of Trustees of the Teachers Retirement System of Georgia: Anne Cardella of Valdosta, a teacher at W.G. Nunn Elementary School and William G. Sloan Jr. of Gainesville, the executive director of the Georgia Retired Educations Association.

Justice Coordinating Council: Superior Court Judge C. Andrew Fuller of Gainesville; Fulton County Commissioner Liz Hausmann of Johns Creek; Joseph W. Hood III of Chamblee, a deputy commissioner of the Department of Community Health; Jackson County Sheriff Janis Mangum, and Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields.

Georgia Ports Authority: Jimmy Allgood of Dublin, a pest company chairman; Doug Hertz of Atlanta, the president of United Distributors; Julie Hunt of Tifton, a former English teacher.

Jekyll Island State Park Authority: Joy Burch-Meeks of Screven, the chief financial officer of FMR Burch Farms and L. C. “Buster” Evans of Bolingbroke, the executive director of the Teachers Retirement System.

Juvenile Justice State Advisory Group: State Rep. Mandi Ballinger (R-Canton); Rep. Bert Reeves (R-Marietta), a lawyer, and Rep. Andy Welch (R-McDonough), an attorney.

State Housing Trust Fund for the Homeless Commission: Eve Byrd of Decatur, the director of the Carter Center’s Mental Health Program.

© 2017 by The Georgia Report


Tags: Brian Kemp , elections division , insurance commissioner , judicial appointments