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On Monday, we told you of the controversial Democratic plan to clear the field for uncontested primaries for U.S. Senate and perhaps governor in 2014. On Tuesday, we learned just how hard that might be.

An Atlanta Press Club event on the future of the Democratic Party took a testy turn when several panelists took aim at party chairman Mike Berlon's strategies. My AJC colleague Greg Bluestein was in the audience.

Stephen Anthony, a Georgia State University lecturer and former executive director of the state party, questioned Berlon's idea of publicly seeking to clear the field for primaries. (He said it should've been done behind closed doors).

Anthony also criticized the party for failing to find a Democrat to run against state Rep. Doug McKillip, a Republican convert who lost to a fellow GOP candidate to whom Democrats gave their tacit support.

"That sums up how far Democrats have gone," Anthony said.

Then it was Bryan Long's turn to beat up on Berlon. Long is the head of the upstart Better Georgia group, which uses guerrilla tactics to target GOP policies.

Long said his analysis showed in 2012 that "we've never seen fewer Democrats on the ballot in Georgia." He, too, panned Berlon over the McKillip saga, saying the party essentially did its best to elect a Republican.

Berlon rose to his defense. He said millions of dollars flowed through the organization during the decades when Democrats ruled the state, but leaders "didn't do a damn thing to build the party." Then came the 2002 upset of Democrat Roy Barnes.

"2002 came and there was nothing left but smoke and ruin. I'm trying to do my very best with limited resources for the party that's not in power," he said.

"I appreciate the criticism from here and here," he said, pointing to either side of him. "But I don't think either of these organizations understand what we're doing."

Anthony quickly cut in. When he left the state party in 1998, he said, it was enjoying a surplus and electoral success from the first-term election of Barnes, whose loyalists took control of the party apparatus.

"I apologize," Berlon responded, raising his arms in mock defeat. "I blame Roy Barnes."

After the panel was over, the tension seemed to dissipate, as panelists joked with each other.

"We're a big family," said Berlon. "And sometimes we fight."

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With a May 16 fundraiser, House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, and Majority Leader Larry O’Neal, R-Bonaire, have put themselves squarely behind state Rep. Edward Lindsey’s GOP bid for the 11th District congressional seat now held by Phil Gingrey. Admittance to the Georgia Club event will cost you $250, unless you’d like to impress the House leaders with a $2,600 sponsorship.

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The retirement of Max Baucus, D-Mont., may do more than put control of the U.S. Senate in play next year. From the Washington Post:

The announcement could mark the beginning of one of the most consequential periods in Baucus’s long public career, because he pledged to devote the rest of his time in Washington to pursuing a comprehensive rewrite of the federal tax code, a long-shot effort that many see as key to breaking the fiscal gridlock that has paralyzed Washington in recent years.

That paralysis of taxes and spending has been a central feature of Obama’s presidency, and Baucus said that when the president called him Tuesday about his retirement, Baucus quickly turned the discussion to tax reform.

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Just wait until she says, “Newt, you ignorant slut.” Politico reports that CNN may attempt to relaunch “Crossfire,” the famous one-on-one debate show that was endlessly spoofed in the early days of “SNL.”  Word is that the cable news network is negotiating with former Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich and former Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter.

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A sign of progress, perhaps? This invitation was just posted on the Facebook page of the Cherokee County Republican Party:

Would anyone be interested in a CCRP Cinco de Mayo get together? Not an official meeting but just a gathering of anyone who would like to get together.

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The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer reports that your favorite cream-filled snack food will be back on shelves and in your arteries by this summer:

The facility at 1969 Victory Drive, known as the Dolly Madison Bakery, is scheduled to be up and running again by July, Hostess Brands LLC Chief Executive Officer Michael J. Cramer said during a press conference at the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce.

“Safely, you should be able to buy Twinkies by the end of July,” Cramer said. “I think we will be cranking them out here and a couple of other places around the country.”

The Columbus plant will initially employ 200 people but could create more than 300 jobs eventually, he said. The snack-cake factory had about 420 on its payroll when it closed last November.

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The AJC’s Politifact Georgia today takes a look at a claim by a spokeswoman for a teachers’ organization, who said, "Schools in some states are spending up to 100 days a year doing test-prep or actual testing."

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