By David Pendered

A team of well known consultants, who have deep political connections with both parties, was named today to run the transportation sales tax political campaign for all of Georgia – outside metro Atlanta.

This story has been updated.

The team was announced this afternoon by the Georgia Transportation Alliance, which is affiliated with the Georgia Chamber of Commerce. The alliance is not publicly involved with the metro Atlanta campaign for the 1 percent sales tax for transportation.

This announcement puts the statewide campaign ahead of that in metro Atlanta, which does not have a lead consultant to coordinate the campaign to urge voters to support a 1 percent sales tax to pay for $6.14 billion in regional transportation improvements.

In related news, a proposal to change the date of the referendum on the sales tax has progressed in the state Legislature, according to a report in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The AJC reports the House Transportation Committee approved a plan to move the referendum to the ballot in November 2012, from July 2012. Next steps for House Bill 3EX include a vote in the full House, then votes in a Senate committee followed by the full Senate, and on to the governor. Gov. Nathan Deal has indicated that he supports changing the date.

The statewide consulting team includes:

  • Heath Garrett – principal political strategist with The Stephens and Schriefer Group, and an advocate of Cobb County’s penny sales tax that was approved earlier this year;
  • Chris Carpenter – founder of the Peachtree Battle Group, and Roy Barnes’ campaign manager in the 2010 bid for governor;
  • Chip Lake – political consultant with Glendale Strategies, former chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, and a former campaign consultant to Westmoreland and Reps. Tom Price and Phil Gingrey;
  • Cabral Franklin– listed as “of counsel” with Carpenter’s firm, where his biography says he worked in 2010 with the state Democratic Party’s coordinated campaign, and the campaigns for Atlanta Mayor Shirley Frankln, his mother, and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed; Franklin’s wife, Candace Franklin, is one of three fund raisers retained for the transportation sales tax campaign in metro Atlanta.

The statewide transportation alliance also named its pollsters. They are:

  • John McLaughlin – CEO and partner of McLaughlin & Associates;
  • Cornell Belcher – president of Brilliant Corners Research and Strategies.

Check back for updates.

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written...

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