The proposed city of Lakeside has an upper hand over the proposed city of Tucker, but Dekalb Republicans fear that creating Lakeside might spur county Democratic voters to turn out heavily this fall, as a backlash vote. Following the political right cross that Gov. Deal just took over his perceived handling of a winter storm, such a heavy Dekalb Democratic turnout might spell trouble for Deal and the GOP in the home county of presumed Democratic gubernatorial nominee Sen. Jason Carter.
Not that it looks like smooth sailing for the Lakeside effort. But advocates for incorporation have been proactive in proposing specific city limits and other details of creating a Lakeside municipality. That has opponents of Lakeside, and advocates for a city of Tucker, on the defensive.
The Senate bill is now in the Rules Committee, its final, formidable stop before getting a vote in the full Senate and then passing on to the House for consideration.
The bill almost died a committee death this week, but passed by one vote along party lines. Informed sources say the Senate committee that heard the bill was inclined early-on to postpone a vote. But some Democratic members of the committee unleashed with heated criticism of the bill, including comments with partisan and racial overtones. The committee adjourned for five minutes and the Republican senators returned, now newly determined to pass the bill as a reaction to the Democrats’ indignation.
Consideration of Tucker as a city is now in the hands of the Dekalb legislative delegation. That’s a contrast to the Lakeside bill, which is running a course of advancement through the regular legislative committee process.
Observers believe that unless the Tucker bill passes out of the delegation and at least reaches the House floor on a local calendar, then Lakeside could ultimately pass from the Senate before crossover day and become the only game in town.
Dekalb Sen. Fran Millar has been a tireless advocate for Lakeside and most in the Senate believe he will ultimately get a vote on his bill. However, there is growing concern among Republican leaders that passage of a bill to allow a public vote on creating a city of Lakeside — mostly white and affluent Lakeside– and a simultaneous failure to create a Tucker, would inflame DeKalb voters and could contribute to a much more motivated Democratic turnout in the fall elections. Recent polling suggests a Deal-Carter showdown might be much closer post-snowjam than before, and turnout in DeKalb would be critical to a Carter upset win.
Some believe leaders are beginning to wish that no cities be created in 2014. While DeKalb leaders would prefer no cities be created, most agree that Tucker would be their choice, given its longtime status as what many think is already a city. Plus the Tucker proposal would continue use of DeKalb police, which would not cut into the county’s current role as much.
As one top Senate leader put it, “I wish Lakeside and Tucker would work out their maps and let’s be done with it. Passing a Republican, white Lakeside looks bad in a gubernatorial year, but we sure can’t pass a more Democrat-leaning Tucker and leave Lakeside in the cold.”
The battle of the cities may end up becoming the legislature’s biggest hot potato when all is said and done.