Brandon Beach vs Chip Rogers

Brandon Beach, sans hat

Brandon Beach wears a lot of hats. He’s president of the Greater North Fulton Chamber of Commerce and executive director of the North Fulton CID. He’s also a Georgia DOT commissioner. Behind the scenes Beach is arguably the most politically influential man in north Fulton. But he wants more.

Yesterday Beach announced his candidacy to run for State Senate in district 21. Redistricting changed this seat to include Milton and a large part of Alpharetta in addition to Cherokee County. What’s striking about Beach’s announcement is that he’ll square off against incumbent and Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers. This will be a fun race to watch for a number of reasons. Pass the popcorn!

In 2010 Beach ran for Senate against John Albers and David Belle Isle. He lost to the politically inexperienced Albers in a runoff despite far outspending him. After such a stinging defeat, why take on entrenched power and campaign in the unfamiliar grounds of Cherokee County? Maybe Beach knows something we don’t.

Here are the issues expected to dominate this campaign:

T-SPLOST and HOT lanes - Beach, wearing his Chamber of Commerce hat, has been raising funds for Citizens for Transportation Mobility as recently as this week. This group will lobby “educate” voters on the transportation project and the accompanying penny sales tax. Beach might also have to explain or distance himself from the proposed HOT lanes on GA400. None of these proposals are popular with voters, especially with the Tea Party. Beach can kiss their support goodbye before this campaign even begins.

Campaign money - Chip Rogers is sitting on a little over $300,000 cash in his campaign warchest. That’s a huge margin to overcome. But don’t count Beach out of the money game. He raised and spent nearly $175,000 on his 2010 race for Senate thanks to deep connections in the business community. Expect heavy media and direct mail campaigning in this race!

Chip Rogers

Rogers’ real estate dealings - Beach’s campaign announcement talks about “integrity” in leadership. Is this a foreshadow of a campaign tactic to come?

Rogers was a business partner with north Georgia Congressman Tom Graves in a real estate deal. Things went bad which lead to a default and an abandoned project. This issue dogged Graves when he ran for Congress in 2010. It’s worth noting that Graves had to win four elections in 2010 to claim his seat for good. The issue didn’t stick at all. Will Beach play this card against Rogers? Will it work? Or can Rogers fire back with Beach’s ethical missteps during the Avalon debate?

Charter schools - Rogers was one of several legislators to lobby in favor of the embattled, and now rejected, Fulton Science Academy. And if you think the FSAMS controversy was crazy, read up on a similar school in Rogers’ home of Cherokee County.

Additionally, Rogers pushed hard for the charter school constitutional amendment which will go before Georgia voters this year. It’s not clear if charter schools will become a campaign issue, but there are certainly strong feelings on all sides.

9 comments on this post.
  1. Georgia Pundit – Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 15, 2012:

    [...] Lee Guy at RootsInAlpharetta discusses some of the factors at play in the Chip Rogers v. Brandon Beach cage match for Senate District 21. T-SPLOST and HOT lanes - Beach, wearing his Chamber of Commerce hat, has been raising funds [...]

  2. Brian Davis:

    Lee,

    Once again like with Avalon you have gotten the facts wrong.

    I was at the HOT lane meeting at the Cottage School. GDOT was required to have this forum to get public feedback on all alternatives in order to be in compliance with Federal rules around money the Fed’s gave GA for 400.

    Also if you review Albers disclosures from 2010 his personal loans to the campaign (which he has not paid off yet) made him cash competitive with Beach.

    And finally CTM is the advocacy arm for the Transportation Referendum, it is a campaign and it looks like Beach was hosting a fundraiser for it. MAVEN is the educational effort and while you can sneer at that all you want the law is very clear, it is allowed and it is called education.

    I was in Brandon’s old district and cast my vote for Belle Isle last time. Like Brandon I got redistricted and will be casting my ballot for him this time around.

    Read Hatcher Hurd’s piece in the paper this week- look at all the good Brandon has done at GDOT and the Chamber, imagine what could happen if he was down fighting for us in the Senate.

  3. Lee:

    Brian,

    Please point out specifically where I got my facts wrong with the Progress Partners/Avalon issue.

    You are correct on the CTM/MAVEN issue. I confused the two. Another person pointed this out to me as well. But I think this proves my point even more. Beach is raising money for a group that is openly campaigning for T-SPLOST passage. It’s also worth mentioning that the North Fulton CID (under his leadership) is contributing to MAVEN.

    I bring all this up just say that I think it will be a campaign issue. As far as HOT lanes go… maybe he can explain the efforts he’s taking to KILL the HOT lane idea. I’ve not seen where he’s done that. I’d sing Brandon Beach’s praises if he can stop these on GA400 (and the I75 corridor).

    I don’t have a dog in this race and I don’t live in the district. I’m just handicapping this election based on the issues I see now. Beach has done a lot of great work in the business community. But I think there is a line that sometimes gets crossed or skirted. Someone should point out when that happens.

  4. Cool Papa Bell:

    You’ve barely seen the tip of the iceberg on the real estate deal. Rogers and Graves were not the only parties involved in the transaction.

    Fasten your seat belts.

  5. Brian Davis:

    Lee:

    Alpharetta hired Progress Partners to promote Economic Development. If Progress Partners/GNFCC did not promote and lobby for Avalon- a 700 million dollar development that will create thousands of jobs, they would be negligent. Clearly the counsel thought that way given the 7-0 vote.

    Wouldn’t you expect our local GDOT Board member to be for the T-Splost?

    I don’t know where Brandon stands on HOT lanes- but if they are for new capacity (new lanes) whats wrong with it?

  6. Lee:

    Brian,

    So where again were my facts wrong?

    If I remember from the agreement, one of the tasks for Progress Partners was to find a buyer for Prospect Park. That mission is accomplished. The agreement needs to be modified so that it better spells out what Progress Partners should NOT be doing, especially since Beach doesn’t seem to grasp this most simple of concepts… namely that you don’t use taxpayer funds to lobby. It’s elementary.

    I can’t wait for Mr Beach to explain to the voters why we need T-SPLOST and HOT lanes.

  7. Brian Davis:

    “Doesn’t seem to grasp this most simple of concepts… namely that you don’t use taxpayer funds to lobby. It’s elementary”

    Every government department at the county, state, federal level has “legislative liasons” that lobby for new laws, authority and money.

    Progress Partners helped find a buyer for Prospect Park, that buyer needed zoning changes made and so another entity The Chamber of Commerce stood up on behalf of there 2000 members in support of the changes- City Council agreed 7-0.

    All sounds good to me.

  8. Roscoe Coltrane:

    Why is everyone skipping over the real estate deal. Lexis Nexis or other records of response will shed more detail on how that loan money was not used to rehab or refurb any hotel- drive up 75 to Calhoun and have a look- it’s a gutted out shell of a property just as it was the day the money changed hands. How can people of such high position take money and then on the record blame the bank? I was thinking of trying that one myself, but wait… I have actual morals and values that I live by.

  9. Georgia Pundit – T-SPLOST the big loser at North Fulton Republican Party barbecueGeorgia Pundit:

    [...] Rogers was spotted wearing an anti-T-SPLOST sticker at the North Fulton GOP barbecue, while Beach raised money for the pro-T-SPLOST “education” campaign. [...]

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