An inside look at attacks Democrats are testing against Brian Kemp
Georgia GOP confronts alternate poll facts
We got an inside look at Democrats’ campaign message testing when one of our treasured tipsters was selected as a panelist by a pro-Stacey Abrams group to weigh in on potential hits against Gov. Brian Kemp.
Some of the messages have already made their way into the lifeblood of Abrams’ campaign, such as the line: “Brian Kemp doesn’t care about all Georgians, he cares about himself.”
Another attack the group is testing is the focus of Abrams’ most recent campaign ad: “Brian Kemp is taking us backwards and preventing Georgia from building for the future.”
Others offer hints of attacks that Abrams or her allies could soon roll out.
Among the lines being tested is a critique of the “$1.5 billion in tax handouts to failing electric truck maker Rivian,” in an echo of a favorite David Perdue broadside.
Another criticizes Kemp for taking campaign contributions from Pruitt Health, the local nursing home giant that recently agreed to pay $4.2 million to resolve a federal case alleging it billed Medicare and Medicaid for home health services that weren’t eligible for reimbursement.
Has the machinery of the Georgia GOP ever been so detached from the real preferences of average Republican voters?
More than a week after the GOP primaries, we’re still asking that question. So are our friends at Peach Pundit, who wrote about the “complete disconnect” between activists and voters.
Just days before the May 24 vote, Georgia GOP second vice-chair Brant Frost V sent out results of a straw poll of more than 3,400 delegates and alternates. Frost’s takeaway: “Trump slate leads by large margin.”
The poll’s findings had U.S. Rep. Jody Hice issuing a beatdown to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. John Gordon led Attorney General Chris Carr by more than 40 points.
Patrick Witt had 54% of the vote against Insurance Commissioner John King. And David Perdue was nearly 20 points ahead of Gov. Brian Kemp.
This alternate reality, of course, was not to be. Each of the incumbents demolished their Trump-backed challengers, who spent most of their time inside the bubble of GOP activist meetings and events leading up to Election Day.
But the straw poll helps explain how Kemp could be booed at the biggest activist meeting of all-- the GOP state party convention, with Raffensperger censured – while GOP voters resoundingly rewarded them with outright victories. Even with crossover voters wading in, the margins of victory tell us the barometer for Republican elections is no longer the Georgia GOP.
Take a listen to the Georgia politics week that was with our Friday edition of the Politically Georgia podcast.
Today we’re looking at Democrats’ November playbook using Herschel Walker’s words against him, along with Walker’s interview with Fox 5′s Russ Spencer, which yielded lots of new territory.
And of course, our weekly scorecard of who’s up and who’s down.
Listen here or at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or Stitcher.
There has been no love lost for Herschel Walker in his hometown of Wrightsville, Ga., where had a packed house this week for his latest campaign event.
The statewide Republican outlier last Tuesday was state Sen. Burt Jones, who managed to earn Donald Trump’s blessing, earn support from the party’s grassroots and win a major bloc of regular GOP voters.
He benefited from shrewd campaign work from a pair of consultants: Billy Kirkland, a former Trump administration official who was his general consultant, and Stephen Lawson, an ex-Kelly Loeffler deputy who once worked for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
The two not only helped guide Jones to victory amid a tough night for Trump’s endorsees, they also ran Tyler Harper’s campaign for agriculture commissioner.
Harper was the only Republican in an open statewide race who didn’t draw a GOP challenger, in part because of his campaign’s effort to box out rivals from entering the race by soaking up endorsements and donors early.
Posted: Now the official Democratic nominee for governor, Stacey Abrams is trying to shape the rest of the party’s ticket with a trio of endorsements in down-ballot contests.
The Special Grand Jury convened by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has begun hearing witness testimony in its inquiry into possible election interference charges against former president Donald Trump.
Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger was on hand to testify Thursday at the Fulton County Courthouse, where the AJC’s Tamar Hallerman spotted Raffensperger walking in, but the proceedings inside are kept strictly secret.
The AJC’s Ben Brasch has a look at the tricky balancing act facing Willis, who is working through a massive case backlog she inherited from her predecessor, Paul Howard, as well as new cases of violent crime coming in for investigation and prosecution every day.
Hours before President Joe Biden gave a prime time address about gun violence declaring “enough is enough,” the U.S. House Judiciary Committee moved forward a broad gun control package with a party-line vote on Thursday. Georgia U.S. Reps. Lucy McBath and Hank Johnson are both members of the committee and voted with the other Democrats in favor of the measure.
But we took particular note of remarks by McBath, D-Marietta, when the discussion turned to “red flag” laws that would allow judges to remove firearms from people deemed a potential danger to themselves or others.
Georgia law currently stipulates that people cannot carry a firearm if they’ve been hospitalized as an inpatient in any mental hospital or alcohol or drug treatment center in the last five years, been adjudicated mentally incompetent to stand trial, or been adjudicated not guilty by reason of insanity.
McBath pushed back on Republicans who said such legislation was an abuse of civil rights and would do nothing to prevent gun violence.
“Walk a day in my shoes. Don’t you dare ever sit here and try to just hypothetically scare people with scenarios and fear-mongering. Don’t you dare. The American people deserve far better than this, and they deserve to have their lives cared for — which you seem to know nothing about.”
Positions on gun policy vary widely inside the Georgia delegation. But even the hometown newspaper for gun store owner U.S. Rep. Andrew Clyde is saying enough is enough and calling for a hard look at “red flag” laws.
A reader flagged for us this extraordinary editorial from The Gainesville Times’ editorial board over the weekend asking, “Are we going to do something this time?”:
“Somewhere in the middle there has to be an answer with which the children can live. But it’s clear at this point that no one seems really serious about finding it, because we’ve obviously had plenty of opportunities to do so and have failed.”
Today in Washington:
The House and the Senate are out.
President Joe Biden is in Delaware where he plans to deliver remarks on the May jobs report.
The U.S. House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol attack will hold its first public hearing in primetime next Thursday, June 9.
The committee has not announced who it has invited to testify, but the 8 p.m. start time will guarantee maximum exposure.
A news release said the committee “will present previously unseen material documenting January 6th, receive witness testimony, preview additional hearings, and provide the American people a summary of its findings about the coordinated, multi-step effort to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election and prevent the transfer of power.”
The Republican-led North Carolina state Senate voted overwhelmingly Thursday to approve Medicaid expansion in the state after more than 10 years of blocking the effort.
The Raleigh News & Observer writes the bill will have an uphill battle in the state House, but that the bill’s Senate passage came only after several Republicans dropped their objections:
Hise said that for him and many other Republicans, their minds changed because of a combination of issues. The law is on more stable footing federally, after Republicans in Washington failed to repeal the Affordable Care Act. At the local level, the state's Medicaid system is on better financial footing. The state could stand to receive $1.5 billion from the federal government in exchange for expanding Medicaid. And a number of regulatory reforms that Republicans have chased for years are tacked onto the bill as well.
- Raleigh News & Observer
Republican lieutenant governor hopeful Jeanne Seaver has asked the Secretary of State’s office for a hand recount of her race, our AJC colleague Maya T. Prabhu has learned.
Seaver, who finished last in the four-way race with about 7.5% of the 1.1 million ballots cast in the GOP primary last week, sent a letter on Thursday to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger asking for the recount and citing issues with ballots in DeKalb County.
A DeKalb County commission race has made headlines for the past week after elections officials said a programming error led to an inaccurate tallying of election night votes. A hand recount altered the results in the race, the AJC reported Wednesday.
Seaver, a Savannah resident and longtime GOP activist, said the DeKalb race is evidence that there are issues with the state’s Dominion voting machines.
Burt Jones, a state senator who’s been endorsed by former President Donald Trump, won last week’s primary – avoiding a runoff – when he received just over 50% of the votes cast.
As always, Swing State Georgia readers are some of our favorite tipsters. Send your best scoop, gossip and insider info to email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.