Fact-checking Georgia's down ballot races

Voters will face several pages on their ballots – from U.S. Senator and governor down to local races – on Election Day this November. AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin/bsanderlin@ajc.com.
Voters will face several pages on their ballots – from U.S. Senator and governor down to local races – on Election Day this November. AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin/bsanderlin@ajc.com.

When voters head to the polls in November, there will be plenty of contests beyond the headline-grabbing races for Georgia’s next governor and U.S. Senator.

Though those contests haven’t grabbed the amount of ink or as those marquee races, PolitiFact Georgia has turned its attention to some of those down-ballot races.

Libertarian candidate on target with budget claim

Should either of the state’s top two races stay so tightly locked through Election Day that the major parties don’t capture more than half of the votes, the Libertarian candidates could force run-off elections.

Andrew Hunt and Amanda Swafford are the party’s hopefuls for governor and senator, respectively. But it was Libertarian and write-in candidate Jeff Amason, who is running for the state District 21 House, whose claim called out for the Truth-O-Meter.

"The state budget has increased almost $800 million a year in each of the last two years," Amason said Sept. 1 on the "The Monica Perez Show" on News 95.5 & AM 750 WSB. "You can only imagine what it might be in five years."

With concerns over state spending appearing in other races, PolitiFact Georgia turned to state budget documents to confirm the accuracy of Amason’s statement.

State spending grew from $18.5 billion in 2012 to $19.3 billion in 2013 and to $20.2 billion in 2014.

Drivers for the increases included jumps in public school enrollment and increases in Medicaid, the state’s health insurance program for children and pension costs, state budget documents showed.

We rated Amason's claim True.

Gender pay-gap raised in lieutenant governor’s race

Democrats from President Obama on down have emphasized the gender wage gap all year, in an apparent bid to woo female voters who tend to favor the party at the polls.

Connie Stokes, the Democratic candidate challenging GOP incumbent Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, raised the issue in a fundraising email in August but tripped up a bit on the complex issue.

"After serving in the state Senate for 10 years, it saddens me that women still do not get paid as much as men," Stokes wrote.

"There appears to be some discrepancy about the difference in the amount of money women are paid compared to men," she continued. "You know it does not matter what the difference is, women are paid less than men for the same work, period. "

Experts agree there is a gender-based wage gap. Looking at weekly wages, a 2011 Bureau of Labor Statistics report found women earned 81 percent of men's wages for all occupations. Yet differences in life choices --- such as occupational choices and hours worked --- can make simple comparisons tricky.

And while men earn more than women in nearly every field, the BLS report found women earn more than men in three jobs: food preparation/service, billing and posting clerks and store clerks.

That put Stokes’ claim accurate on one level but off on another. We rated it Half True.

Thomas Jefferson said, "The internet lies."

Pundits expect GOP congressional candidate Jody Hice to easily win the heavily Republican10th Congressional District in northeast Georgia over Democrat Ken Dious.

Hice has used the opportunity to showcase what he calls his Constitutional conservatism in part by posting quotes from political idol Thomas Jefferson on his Facebook and Twitter pages.

"That government is best which governs the least, because its people discipline themselves," reads one quote attributed to Jefferson, over the image of a waving American flag.

A reader asked PolitiFact Georgia to check out the quote.

According to the Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello in Virginia, the quote is one of the more common fakes attributed Jefferson pinging around the Internet (and in published reports dating back to 1853).

Historians long attributed the quote to Henry David Thoreau, who used a variation of it in his 1849 essay "Civil Disobedience" to argue that individuals should not let governments make them agents of injustice.

New research indicates, though, that Thoreau himself was likely quoting the magazine, The United States Magazine and Democratic Review, where the sentiment first appeared in 1837.

We rated Hice's claim False.