Herschel Walker didn’t direct gas giveaway, Super PAC says
Study shows GOP voters sunk Trump candidates - not Democrats
Over the weekend, we brought you the story about how a pro-Herschel Walker outside group’s $25 gas card giveaway sparked legal questions and fueled outrage among the Republican’s critics.
Democrats noted that the state’s new election law bans organizations from handing out water and food to waiting voters as they line up at the polls. Republicans wondered why the same critics weren’t howling when Fair Fight Action — the political powerhouse founded by Stacey Abrams — paid off the medical debt of thousands of Georgians.
We took note of another angle from Georgia state Rep. Stacey Evans, an Atlanta Democrat who ran for governor in 2018.
“How about we all just agree that helping people is a good thing, and that people are smart enough to know they can still vote for whoever they want. Paying off medical debt, gas cards, or bottles of water. Let’s not discourage anyone from helping others, please and thanks.”
While some Democrats questioned the legality of giving away gas to potential voters, there’s no doubt at all about the illegality of a federal candidate, in this case Herschel Walker, coordinating or directing the activities of a Super PAC supporting him, which would be strictly barred by federal law.
That seemed to be the case when a video surfaced of Angela Stanton-King telling gas customers at the Super PAC’s giveaway on Saturday, “Herschel Walker decided, ‘You know what, we’re going to do this free gas giveaway for the community. I want them to know I care. I’m coming with free gas vouchers for everyone.’”
A spokesman for 34N22 said that, despite what Stanton-King said, Walker did not direct or help plan the event. He also said that Stanton-King, who was a failed 2020 Republican candidate for Congress, is a volunteer and holds no formal role in the Super PAC.
A spokeswoman for Walker said he did not know about the event before it happened.
The fallout continues inside the Republican Party over Donald Trump's losses in last month's Republican Primary in Georgia. Greg Bluestein writes the rift could hamper GOP fundraising efforts, and might even spur an attempt to get rid of Georgia GOP Chairman David Shafer, who was seen as supporting Trump’s candidates for Governor and other offices - going directly against Gov. Brian Kemp.
Interviews with more than a dozen senior GOP officials, each who spoke anonymously for fear of retribution, revealed a lack of confidence in Shafer’s leadership and worries that he could damage Republican attempts to unify ahead of a challenging November election.
Stacey Abrams will kick her campaign into a different gear with a high school graduation party featuring Baby Tate at an Atlanta venue later this afternoon.
Expect the event to surface not just Abrams’ push to register and mobilize new, young voters who couldn’t cast ballots in 2018 but also sharpen the Democrat’s support for forgiving student loan debt.
White House officials are floating proposals to cancel $10,000 in student debt per borrower for most Americans. The Washington Post’s James Hohmann asserts that Abrams and Democratic U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock played a large role in the White House’s focus on the initiative.
In an episode last week on the Bulwark podcast, host Charlie Sykes asked Hohmann why President Joe Biden might embrace the idea.
James Hohmann: I've asked, I've repeatedly asked people. And I've asked a lot of people in the White House this question, and essentially the answer is that this is the fault of Stacey Abrams and Raphael Warnock.
Charlie Sykes: What?
James Hohmann: Stacey Abrams has been browbeating the White House on this, and says that this is the only way she could win — that this is going to be a base turnout election. This isn't about persuading people in the middle, it's about getting the base to turn out. And the base isn't going to turn out if they don't do this, and that they have all sorts of stats about how a lot of graduates from HBCUs have all this debt.
- The Bulwark Podcast
The word “fault’ caught our eyes, but we don’t doubt that Abrams and Warnock both have clout in the White House as high-profile 2022 candidates. Warnock in particular has made student loan forgiveness a staple of his re-election bid.
He recently pressed Biden personally on the need to forgive student loan debt and over the weekend said he’ll “continue pushing (the president) to deliver real change — now, not later.”
U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock will soon take time away from his regular Senate and campaign schedules for several appearances related to his new memoir, A Way out of No Way, which is scheduled for release next week.
He’ll be at New York’s 92nd Street Y and at Ebenezer Baptist Church’s own bookstore for events later this month.
The top two vote-getters in the Republican primary in Georgia’s 6th District — attorney Jake Evans and emergency room physician Rich McCormick — are each accusing the other of faking their conservative chops as they campaign ahead of the June 21 runoff.
Evans claims McCormick’s list of endorsements is riddled with moderates and he maligns donations raised from the American Medical Association, the largest advocacy organization for doctors that Evans says is too liberal.
But McCormick’s campaign says the attacks are just a distraction from the real controversy: An Evans’ essay published in a 2015 law review, which Evans said originated as an assignment in 2012, that McCormick describes as a “manifesto” that illuminates Evans’ true political leanings.
Evans says that accusation a desperate tactic by McCormick to distract from the fact that his campaign is backed by liberal special interest groups.
Expect the jockeying for the title of “most conservative candidate” to play out during today’s Atlanta Press Club debate between Jake Evans and Rich McCormick.
They are among the candidates in three congressional runoffs and four statewide contests that will be facing off in debates today.
But look for two of the debates to feature just one candidate and one empty lectern after Democratic lieutenant governor candidate Kwanza Hall and Democratic insurance commissioner candidate Raphael Baker both declined to appear Monday, per WABE’s Rahul Bali.
Hall failed to respond to multiple inquiries about why he won’t be at the debate against fellow Democrat Charlie Bailey. Hall also failed to appear at the first Atlanta Press Club debate for Democrats in the race earlier this year.
Though Hall was the leading vote-getter in the May primary, Stacey Abrams and other party leaders have thrown their support behind Bailey in the June 21st runoff, when turnout is expected to be low.
Hall previously served in Congress for about six weeks in 2020 after he won the race to fill out the late U.S. Rep. John Lewis’ unfinished final term.
Gov. Brian Kemp appointed former U.S. District Judge William Duffey to serve as chairman of the State Election Board on Friday.
The AJC’s Mark Niesse writes that Duffey is filling a seat left vacant for more than a year since Georgia’s voting law removed Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger as the head of the board.
Duffey served as a judge in the Northern District of Georgia from 2004, when he was appointed by President George W. Bush, until his retirement in 2018. Before that, he was the U.S. attorney in the Atlanta-based district.
Along with Duffey, the five-member board now has three Republicans and one Democrat.
Vernon Jones, who is the Donald Trump-endorsed candidate in the GOP runoff in Georgia’s 10th Congressional District, is hosting a news conference this morning to call for an end to Georgia’s open primary voting.
Georgia law allows voters to select a Democratic, Republican or nonpartisan ballot in primary elections, since Georgians do not register to vote by party.
Predictably Donald Trump and his supporters have blamed crossover votes from Democratic voters for the blowout losses of several of the former president’s endorsees, including Gov. Brian Kemp.
Voter data suggest that about 67,000 people who cast ballots in the GOP primary last month also voted in the Democratic primary in 2020.
Some Kemp allies have argued that many of those were actually reliable Republican voters until Trump came along and drove them to vote for Joe Biden in 2020.
And they note that Kemp’s 52-point demolition of David Perdue would have happened with or without those crossover voters.
The exception would seem to be Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who notched an 18-point victory over U.S. Rep. Jody Hice, but cleared an outright win by about 55,000 votes.
Although we spoke with plenty of Democrats who crossed over to vote for Raffensperger, a new analysis of primary voting patterns before 2022 by the Washington Post backs up the argument that reliable Republican voters, who strayed in 2020 to cast a ballot in the Democratic primary, made the difference in the Raffensperger race, too.
Today in Washington:
The Senate is back this evening working through nominations.
The House has one more day of recess before a busy week focused on debate on gun control and the first hearing of the Jan. 6 Committee.
President Joe Biden has no public events on his schedule.
POSTED: The state of Georgia has agreed to pay a $3 million settlement after the death of 3-year-old twins while they were in Georgia’s foster care system, the AJC’s Asia Simone Burns reported. The full and alarming story is well worth your time.