Guest speaker that day was state Sen. Jason Carter (D-Decatur), who many see as a probable candidate for top state office not next year, but soon. And yes, he is the grandson of former President (and Gov.) Jimmy Carter and wife Rosalyn.
The younger Carter is a UGA law grad (now with the Atlanta firm Bondurant, Mixson & Elmore) and former Peace Corps volunteer in South Africa. And it surely doesn’t hurt that he boasts one of Georgia’s most famous political names.
Name recognition is a key factor in mounting an effective candidacy. Just ask Michelle Nunn, daughter of former U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn. Speculation has it that she will run for the Democratic nomination next year to succeed retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss, and one of Cobb’s best-connected Democratic politicos told Around Town last week that, “She’s definitely going to do it.”
AS FOR CARTER’S future, among those high on his chances is Rotarian and Senior Cobb Superior Court Judge Conley Ingram, who culminated his almost eight-minute introduction of Carter by declaring, “I’m telling you, and I’m going to put my judge’s robe aside for a moment to tell you this. I’m not a member of a political party these days. I vote for a Republican, and occasionally I vote for a Democrat. It kind of depends on the candidate. But if the Democratic Party in Georgia ever elects another outstanding governor or United States senator, you can bet on it — it will be Jason Carter.”
Quipped Carter when he took the microphone: “Well, it’s all downhill from here.”
THE INGRAM-CARTER CONNECTION goes way back. Ingram was appointed to the Georgia Supreme Court in 1973 by then-Gov. Carter and Ingram noted in his introduction that Jason’s great-grandmother, Lillian Carter, was a good friend with a great sense of humor.
“One time we were going somewhere and I was driving and she said, ‘For God’s sake, Conley, slow down! Jimmy ain’t got time to go to my funeral!”
JASON CARTER picked up where the judge left off in terms of reminiscing about the Carter family.
“When we talk about my grandfather and grandmother, what I admire the most about them is that they have stayed the same people that they always were. That means they’re still rednecks from South Georgia — and you cannot get that out of them no matter what!” he began.
The former president is unfailingly polite, the grandson said.
“The first email my grandfather ever sent said, ‘Please let me know if you don’t get this.’ So we all wrote him back saying, ‘Pawpaw, we didn’t get the email.’”
After leaving the White House the couple returned to Plains and the little house they had bought in the 1950s.
“They hadn’t done much to improve the house, but suddenly they were starting to host a different class of person,” Carter recounted. “My grandmother was really embarrassed. They hadn’t changed any of their glassware, and she was mortified one day when she was entertaining guests and looked down and realized she had handed Henry Kissinger a Tweety-Bird glass that she’d gotten for free at Burger King. But that’s the kind of people they are, just plain country people.”
The younger Carter served as commencement speaker at Georgia Southwest University recently and was introduced by his grandfather.
“His introduction was not nearly as good as Judge Ingram’s,” Carter quipped. “He had spent the whole morning out in the woods with his turkey gun and turkey call sitting there and the only difference between him and all the other people sitting out there looking for one is what he gets to say to me afterward if he doesn’t get one.
“I said, ‘Pawpaw, how many did you get?’ And he said, ‘Well, you know those damned Secret Service make so much noise …’”
JASON CARTER was elected to Senate in 2010 (thereby becoming the first member of his family to win an election since his grandfather was elected president in 1976) and said most of his best friends there are Republicans. He had praise for Republican state Sens. Lindsey Tippins and Judson Hill of Cobb and noted that he cosponsored the first bill offered this year by freshman Sen. Hunter Hill (R-Smyrna).
“We collect fewer state taxes per capita than any other state,” he said. “We have won the small-government competition.”
But he noted the case of a friend of his who, when calling the licensure bureau of the Georgia Secretary of State’s office, was told there were “454 people” on hold ahead of him.
“Sometimes we’re not giving the services we need to make the trains run on time,” he said. And although state taxes are low, Georgia is the eighth-most dependent state on the federal government.
“If we continue to shrink the size of our government, it will increase our dependence on the federal government,” he said.
And speaking of shrinking, he complained that Georgia spending per student has dropped from $3,700 to $3,000 each in the past decade and that the number of teachers has declined by 8,500 since 2009.
“WHATEVER PEOPLE THINK about my grandfather’s politics, the one thing I take to heart is when I got in politics to run, I went down and asked him for advice,” Jason Carter told the club. “And he said the bottom line is, ‘It’s a hell of a lot more important to be a good person than it is to be a good politician. Tell the truth and work as hard as you can and you’ll be fine.’”
Something tells us that whatever he ultimately chooses to run for, Carter is going to do just “fine.”
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NEW CHAIR: The Cobb-Marietta Coliseum & Exhibit Hall Authority, which operates both the Cobb Galleria Centre and the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center, has a new chairman for the first time in more than a decade. He’s Jerry Nix, recently retired CFO and VP/Finance of Cobb-based Genuine Parts Co. He was elected by fellow board members on Wednesday to succeed former Cobb Commission Chairman Earl Smith, who chaired the Authority board for the past 12 years. Smith’s tenure included construction and opening of what’s now the Energy Centre.
Smyrna Mayor Max Bacon was elected as vice chair. Other members of the Authority include Cobb Commission Chairman Tim Lee, Chairman, Marietta Mayor Steve Tumlin, Seven Oaks CEO Robert P. Voyles and former state Rep. Johnny Gresham.
THE VAUNTED C-130J Super Hercules noted a landmark milestone this month when the plane’s various operators surpassed a collective 1 million flight hours via combat, special ops and humanitarian missions, reports Lockheed Martin’s Stephanie Stinn.
The Marietta-built plane’s “J” model first flew in 1996 and is flown by the U.S. Air Force, Air Force Reserve Command, Air National Guard, Marines and Coast Guard.
EVENTS: “Helicopter day” at the Aviation Wing of the Marietta Museum of History will be from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday at the corner of Atlanta Road and South Cobb Drive, reports the museum’s Jan Galt Russell. The annual event will showcase helicopters used by law enforcement, emergency medical services and the military. Admission to the event is free, although there is a $5 per vehicle parking fee. For more go to www.MariettaHistory.org. ...
The 149th anniversary of the Battle of Pickett’s Mill just over the county line in Paulding will take place from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday at Pickett’s Mill State Park, 4432 Mt. Tabor Church Road. A company of the 8th Arkansas Volunteer Infantry Regiment will be on hand and Michael Shaffer, assistant director of Kennesaw State University’s Civil War Center, will lecture on “The Atlanta Campaign: Tunnel Hill to Pickett’s Mill” at noon.
For more call (770) 443-7850. ...
COMING IN NOVEMBER: Lt. Gen. Carol Mutter, USMC (Ret.) will be grand marshal and keynote speaker at November’s Veterans Day Parade sponsored by the City of Marietta and the Marietta Kiwanis Club. Mutter was the first American woman to achieve three-star rank, reports Club member Victoria Turney, who herself is a retired Marine gunnery sergeant.