Gwinnett GOP urges senators to fight immigration bill

Last month, they booed U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss for his support of an immigration bill that offered amnesty.

Now, the Gwinnett GOP is encouraging Chambliss and fellow Sen. Johnny Isakson to fight the revival of the bill.

Gregory Howard, chairman of the local party, forwarded to the senators a resolution that party members unanimously approved Thursday.

"I have received well over a thousand e-mails, letters or calls in the last two months" on the topic, Howard said. "It's my job to lead from what I see coming from our grass-roots, from our members. It's our job to act in such a way to let our congressmen and senators know what we are hearing."

Both senators voted against the immigration proposal earlier this month, but officials have talked about reviving the plan.

Howard, who said his phone was ringing "off the hook" since he sent out an e-mail about the resolution Friday, said much of his feedback has come from people who are "fringe" members, not the ones who are deeply involved.

"It's touching our grass-roots," he said. "People are upset. They want our borders closed. ... I've never seen an issue that has drawn this kind of response. This is grass-roots leadership. We know there is an issue touching the public and we are letting them (the elected officials) know."

Ashley Nelson, Chambliss's deputy press secretary, said the feedback from voters is weighing on the senator's mind.

"Sen. Chambliss and Sen. Isakson conveyed to President Bush during his visit to Capitol Hill that what they are hearing from Georgians is this: They do not trust the federal government to implement the legislation," that is, enforce the borders, she said. "That is why the senators believe an emergency supplemental that would be implemented immediately to fund border security would go a long way to restoring credibility. This should be done and serve as a trigger before the immigration reform bill is called back up. ...

"As we move forward with this process, the senators will continue to listen to and dialogue with all Georgians on this issue, which is the most pressing domestic issue facing our country."

Balfour honored

Georgia Sen. Don Balfour was honored this month as one of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce's "Legislator of the Year."

Balfour, the Republican from Snellville who chairs the powerful Senate Rules Committee, was joined by two other senators and two representatives for the honor - the first for the organization's Government Affairs Council.

"Don Balfour may be the most pro-business senator," an unnamed chamber member was quoted in a press release. "Here's one senator who is willing to take bullets for his pro-business positions, without flinching, and with the courage to accept the consequences of his convictions."

Balfour is an executive for Waffle House and a member of the Georgia chamber's board of directors.

Political Notebook appears in the Thursday and Sunday editions of the Gwinnett Daily Post. Camie Young can be reached via e-mail at camie. young@gwinnettdailypost.com.