Andrew Pinson retains state Supreme Court seat

Andrew Pinson

ATLANTA – Georgia Supreme Court Justice Andrew Pinson was reelected Tuesday night in a rare contested election for a seat on the high court.

Pinson captured 55% of the statewide vote to 45% for former U.S. Rep. John Barrow, according to unofficial results.

Incumbent state Supreme Court justices in Georgia rarely face opposition. In fact, Chief Justice Michael Boggs and Justices John Ellington and Nels Peterson were reelected Tuesday with no opponents.

Gov. Brian Kemp appointed Pinson to the court in 2022 and went to bat for him in the final stages of the campaign. The Republican governor appeared in a TV ad criticizing Barrow, a Democrat who represented an east Georgia congressional district for a decade, for politicizing the non-partisan judicial race.

The Kemp ad followed an ad in which Barrow promised to protect abortion rights if elected.

McBath cruises to Democratic primary win

U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath

ATLANTA – U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath, D-Marietta, scored a resounding Democratic primary victory Tuesday, despite a bid by the Republican-controlled General Assembly to run her out of office by redrawing her congressional district.

Running in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District after moving over from the 7th District, McBath piled up such a big lead over two challengers that the race was called less than an hour after the polls closed at 7 p.m.

McBath captured 84.7% of the vote to just 9.3% for Cobb County Commissioner Jerica Richardson and 5.9% for state Rep. Mandisha Thomas.

McBath ran a campaign focused on her decision to run for Congress in 2018 to push for stricter gun control laws after her teenage son was shot to death.

“When I lost my son, I saw politicians talk about keeping us safe, but too many lacked the courage to take action,” McBath said in a statement released after Tuesday’s election was called in her favor. “I had no other choice but to stand up and run for office myself.

“Twice, extremist Georgia Republicans tried to bend the rules and draw me out of Congress. Twice, Georgians have stood with me and resoundingly voted to send me back to Congress. Our work to keep our families safe, expand access to health care, and protect Georgians is just getting started.” 

In Congress, McBath helped steer the most comprehensive gun violence legislation in 30 years to passage, building national name recognition in the process. That and a huge fundraising advantage over the two challengers paved the way to her lopsided victory.

McBath next will face Republican Jeff Criswell in the general election in November. Criswell was unopposed Tuesday for the GOP nomination.

Port of Brunswick sets record for auto volumes

Port of Brunswick (Photo courtesy of Georgia Ports Authority)

ATLANTA – The Port of Brunswick handled a record 80,600 units of Roll-on/Roll-off cargo last month, an increase of more than 44% over April of last year, the Georgia Ports Authority reported Tuesday.

While diversions from the Port of Baltimore after a cargo ship struck the Francis Scott Key Bridge drove some of the growth at Brunswick, several other factors were involved, said Griff Lynch, the authority’s president and CEO.

“Asian imports remain strong, but we are also seeing an uptick in vehicle exports, new customers have chosen Georgia Ports, and we have increased capacity for existing customers,” Lynch said. “Additionally, manufacturers are working to raise dealership stocks from the current 14-day inventories to 30 days’ worth of vehicles.”

About 9,000 import vehicles were diverted to Brunswick from Baltimore last month, as well as another 1,000 units of heavy equipment. Heavy machinery exports were up by 500 units compared to Brunswick’s monthly average of 246 units for this fiscal year.

“We are expecting the impact of diverted cargo to taper off in June, as the Port of Baltimore works to fully restore service,” Lynch said.

Meanwhile, the Port of Savannah moved 441,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) of containerized cargo in April, an increase of 8%, or more than 32,000 TEUs compared to the same month last year. It was the ports authority’s third busiest April on record after 2021 and 2022.

Import loads reached 211,900 TEUs, up 8.3% compared to April of last year. Export loads accounted for 122,500 TEUs last month, an increase of 3.6%.

Biden challenges Morehouse grads to fight for democracy

ATLANTA – President Joe Biden challenged more than 400 Morehouse College graduates Sunday to fight for freedom and democracy against the forces of divisiveness threatening America.

“You’re all future leaders,” Biden said during the 140th commencement ceremony at the historically Black college in Atlanta. “You’ll face complications and tough moments. … [But] we’re expecting a lot from you.”

Biden’s 27-minute keynote address to the Morehouse Class of 2024 marked the Democrat’s first public appearance on a college campus since an outbreak of student protests across the country criticizing his approach to Israel’s war in Gaza.

“I support peaceful non-violent protest,” he told the students. “Your voices should be heard and, I promise you, I hear them.”

At the same time, the president defended his administration’s policies toward the Middle Eastern war.

“It’s a humanitarian crisis,” he said. “That’s why I’ve called for an immediate ceasefire. … I’m working to make sure we get a two-state solution, the only solution.”

Biden praised members of the Class of 2024 for navigating successfully through the pandemic at the start of their college careers.

“The pandemic robbed you of so much,” he said. “Some of you lost loved ones. … You missed your high-school graduations.”

Even as those incoming Morehouse freshmen were being forced to cope with Zoom classes and meeting their fellow students for the first time while wearing masks, they also had to deal with what the murder of George Floyd, a Black man, by a white police officer in Minneapolis meant for democracy in America, Biden said.

“What is democracy if Black men are being murdered in the street?” he said. “Democracy is still the way to call out poison and root out white supremacy.”

With Biden’s rematch with Republican former President Donald Trump looming just months away, the president listed a series of his administration’s accomplishments aimed at improving the lives of Black Americans, including cutting child poverty in half by expanding the federal child tax credit, removing lead from water systems, reducing prescription drug prices, and investing a record $16 billion in Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

The president criticized Republicans for attacking diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), banning books, and erasing the important role Blacks have played in American history.

“They don’t see you in the future of America, but they’re wrong,” Biden told the students. “We know Black history is American history.”

Republicans responded to Biden’s appearance on the Morehouse campus by slamming the administration’s record with Black America.

“Biden is the one person restraining Black economic growth,” said U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., who dropped out of the Republican presidential contest late last year and now is seeking to become Trump’s running mate.

“While Biden failed, President Donald Trump delivered. During Trump’s presidency, we had the strongest, most powerful, and most inclusive economy in my lifetime. More Black voters are moving to the Great Opportunity Party (GOP) because of Donald Trump and our success.”

The one sign of protest during Sunday’s ceremony was a lone graduate who stood at the back, with his back turned to the president and his right fist raised.

Biden received an honorary doctorate from Morehouse President David Thomas at the end of Sunday’s address.

Postmaster general promises steps to fix Georgia mail processing delays

U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy

ATLANTA – U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy Friday outlined a series to steps the postal service is taking to improve service at a regional mail processing center in Palmetto.

In a letter to U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff, D-Ga., DeJoy announced that more than 100 personnel from across the postal service have been sent to the Atlanta Regional Processing and Distribution Center (RPDC) “to work onsite to identify and rectify bottlenecks, conduct quality assurance, ensure Atlanta personnel are adhering to the new procedures, and ensure the timely processing and dispatch of mail and packages.”

The federal agency also will revise transportation schedules between the regional center and other local processing centers to increase local trips, add processing capacity at the local centers, and shift cross-country volume away from the Atlanta facility until service stabilizes, DeJoy wrote.

A postal service restructuring plan launched at Atlanta and Richmond, Va., earlier this year aimed at stopping the agency from bleeding red ink resulted in massive delays in mail processing. At a Senate committee hearing last month, Ossoff revealed that only 36% of inbound mail handled by the Palmetto center was being delivered on time as of the end of February.

“The postal service is in the middle of a major new investment in our Georgia operations,” DeJoy wrote Friday. “Unfortunately, the initiation of the Atlanta RPDC led to a significant drop in performance, which was unanticipated.

“To address this challenge in a purposeful and deliberative manner, we will continue to devote substantial time, resources, and attention until the facility and network improvements are performing to the intended specifications.”

DeJoy had announced earlier this week that the postal service would call a pause in implementing the restructuring plan at least until next year to allow time to get a handle on the problems. However, that raised questions as to whether that pause would affect the processing delays already being experienced in Georgia.

Ossoff released a statement earlier Friday criticizing DeJoy for failing to provide updates the senator had requested regarding on-time mail delivery for Georgia families and businesses.

“I will continue fighting for the Georgians suffering from the postmaster general’s failure,” Ossoff vowed in a statement he released after receiving the letter.