Legislators get ’14 score cards
by Haisten Willis
May 07, 2014 04:00 AM | 3122 views | 10 10 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA — Three Cobb legislators in heated primary battles received a ‘U’ on the Georgia Chamber’s 2014 legislative scorecard, the lowest score possible from the pro-business group.

Steve Thompson (D-Marietta) is the longest-serving member of the Georgia State Senate, in office since 1980. But he received the lowest score possible from the Chamber, which grades legislators based on what they say are pro-business bills considered during the year’s legislative session. Thompson’s Democratic primary opponent is Michael Rhett, a retired Air Force veteran. The district includes much of south Cobb in addition to the city of Marietta.

State Rep. Charles Gregory (R-Kennesaw) also received a ‘U’ from the Chamber. His primary opponent for the northwest Cobb seat is attorney Bert Reeves.

“The bills that they looked at, I can say for sure that I would have voted for (some of the measures Gregory voted against),” Reeves said. “I haven’t reviewed SB 213. It did overwhelmingly pass, but I haven’t read it so I can’t comment one way or the other. The other three that he either abstained or voted down I would have voted for.”

Asked about his low score, Gregory said, “I believe that the only pro-business friendly policies is to get government out of business to lower taxes and have them applied evenly and fairly and less regulation. And as far as my score, I am in good company with conservative Sen. Josh McKoon (R-Columbus) and when the Democratic Majority Leader gets an A plus.”

Gregory said he’s not going to vote for a bill just because the Chamber wants it.

“As long as the Chamber supports crony capitalism and corporate welfare on certain bills, I’m not going to vote on those bills,” Gregory said. “There are other bills that they support that I am in favor of, for example SB 125, which protected private property rights.”

The Grading process

State legislators were graded based on their votes on several bills. Members that didn’t vote enough times were given an N/A rather than a grade. Everyone else received either an A, B, C or U. Some also received a plus or minus based on intangibles, such as sponsoring bills, speaking for or against bills or intentionally missing a vote that would be counted in the scorecard.

“Decisions Georgia legislators make at the Gold Dome have long-term impacts on our state’s economic prospects,” said Georgia Chamber CEO Chris Clark in a press release.

“General Assembly members’ overwhelming support for pro-business measures as reflected in this year’s scorecard prove that our Georgia lawmakers recognize the importance of passing job creation and economic development measures.”

The release from the Chamber said nearly every lawmaker in both the House and the Senate earned a passing grade. But out of Cobb’s 21-member delegation, three received a U. State Sen. Horacena Tate (D-Atlanta) also received the lowest possible grade, along with Thompson and Gregory.

Senator Judson Hill (R-east Cobb) received both an A+ and a favorable intangible rating.

“I’m honored to get their recognition,” Hill said.

“I’m grateful that the Georgia Chamber and the Cobb Chamber work every day to create a favorable work environment for the private sector.”

He said the Chamber is an insightful tool for legislators.

“They are a valuable resource on legislation and if and when they — or any other advocacy group — fail to be, they lose their effectiveness,” he said. “I can tell you I’ve not always gotten an ‘A.’ I don’t sacrifice my values for any one group, or frankly, for anybody.”

Rhett questions Thompson’s leadership

Rhett, who hopes to end his opponent’s 34-year run in the legislature, said the scorecard calls Thompson’s leadership into question.

“He touts himself as being the leader in the state senate, for the Democrats at least,” Rhett said. “I just think now he’s trying to pull people in different directions.”

Rhett said he would aim for a higher grade than Thompson’s ‘U.’

“I feel I’d get a better grade,” he said. “I would be aiming for an ‘A.’”

Efforts to get in touch with Thompson were unsuccessful at press time.

Party primaries will be decided May 20. Kennesaw State University professor Kerwin Swint said the scorecard is released right before the primary so the Chamber can let voters know where it stands.

“It’s their way of trying to help people get elected they think will help them,” he said.

“This will be most impactful in a close race where you have an open seat and two or three candidates trying to get a foothold, or in a hotly contested race where an incumbent is being challenged.”

He added that the scorecard may be more important in Republican races because that party is generally seen as being more pro-business. But he said in general, politicians hope they get a positive grade.

Comments-icon Post a Comment
Badge of Honor
May 07, 2014
The best thing to happen to a candidate in today's environment is to get Chamber opposition. If you're a legitimate Democrat property owner in Cobb, vote for Steve and Horacena and Charles if you're a conservative.
May 07, 2014
Is this the same Chamber of Commerce which seeks mass amnesty for illegal aliens?

Is this the same Chamber of Commerce which encourages uncontrolled mass immigration of unskilled labor to further depress wages and overload our municipal services like schools, law enforcement and public health departments?

Is this the same Chamber of Commerce which encourages immigration of minimum-wage employees to work at national discount retailers, fast food chains and hotel chains with the expectation that the immigrants will be on food stamps, housing vouchers, and subsidized medical care from the day they set foot in the country?

It seems they are only interested in dirt-cheap labor as long as the middle class is bled dry to foot the bill for the other costs. It sure doesn't negatively affect their gated communities and private schools and members-only golf courses.

Just Wait
May 07, 2014
The best thing about the Chamber score card is it tells me who NOT to vote for! Not looking for Chamber puppets.
John Galt
May 08, 2014
Gregory will get my vote. I am also not looking for Chamber puppets.

Gregory actually knocked on my door to talk with me and ask for my vote. Impressive! I tend to vote Libertarian and Tea Party, so I believe he is the best pick for me.
May 07, 2014
Bert Reeves is nothing but a puppet for his liberal campaign consultants and campaign contributors. You know, Bert, the liberal Democrat trial lawyers you are taking money from? Another go along to get along moderate Republican funded by huge special interests and lobbyists. Exactly what we don't need at the Capitol.
Foster Ashe
May 07, 2014
Charles Gregory doesn't represent the Georgia Chamber and perhaps that's not so bad but the trouble is he may not exactly represent the people of his district either. His allegiance appears to be primarily to Ron Paul, the perennial Presidential candidate, and his unique politcal agenda.

Although he may not have made his Ron Paul allegiance a part of his campaign, Charlie is undeniably a huge Ron Paul supporter and many of Paul's legions of supporters have attempted to get elected to local offices so as to gain power over the Republican Party apparatus on the state level which they feel twarts Ron Paul's efforts to get elected nationally.
Kennesaw Resident
May 08, 2014
Thanks for the info. Gregory is exactly the candidate I am looking for then.
May 07, 2014
The Chamber of Commerce is giving a "U" to Charles Gregory because they do not like that he is working against the incessant tax and spend big government ways of the rino establishment infested state house.

I note that Judson Hill gets an A from the Chamber. That the Chamber is so fond of Hill is all the reason I need to NOT VOTE for Judson Hill next time around.

Foster Ashe
May 07, 2014
The evidence of my comment above is this one from 'anonymous'. The Ron Paul supporters will be out in full force to defend Charlie because their goal goes way beyond local Cobb County politics. They must keep Charlie in office and take control of the state Republican Party apparatus so as to control the nominating process for president. That’s their hidden agenda.

If you don’t believe me, do your own research.

Incumbents out
May 07, 2014
Please vote responsibly! The fact is, we need to vote all incumbents out and get new blood into office at the state and federal levels! This country is lost thanks to the politicians! If they would make people accountable for themselves, we wouldn't have 48% of the country on food stamps and all the welfare recipients, because they would have to get a job. Period! Taxes are the death of this country. They just aren't fair with all the loopholes. Flat tax and everyone pays. No loopholes and no breaks. You buy something, you pay tax!
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