Carly Fiorina comes to Atlanta, and David Ralston makes a pilgrimage to New Jersey

The weather and a packed Capitol agenda kept us away, but John Roberts of Fox News made it to Carly Fiorina’s stop in Atlanta on Tuesday.

The visit by the former HP CEO and prospective 2016 GOP presidential candidate was arranged by Secretary of State Brian Kemp. Fiorina, Roberts reports, targeted former secretary of state Hillary Clinton:

Fiorina is the fourth Republican presidential possibility to come through Georgia in recent weeks, following former Florida governor Jeb Bush, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee.

Travel works the other way, too. We’ve picked up word that House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, led a small delegation of curious state lawmakers to New Jersey last month for a quiet dinner with Gov. Chris Christie. Attendees included state Rep. Matt Ramsey, R-Peachtree City and state Sen. Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga.

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He wasn't in the audience to hear it, but President Barack Obama had some praise for Gov. Nathan Deal's criminal justice reform in remarks to the National Governors Association on Monday. From a New York Times dispatch:

There is room for governors to work with the White House on elements of his agenda “even when Congress does not act or does not act fast enough,” Obama said.

He cited criminal justice changes as an example, noting that in Georgia, the Republican governor, Nathan Deal, has provided judges with alternatives to mandatory minimum sentences.

Here are his entire remarks:

"Keep in mind, though, even when Congress does not act, or does not act fast enough, I think we can still work together to make a difference.  And whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican, what I found is that the more specific we are on focusing on problems, the less concerned we are about politics, the more we get accomplished.

"Now, I’ll give you one specific example, and that’s in the criminal justice area.  Last year was the first time in 40 years that the federal incarceration rate and the crime rate went down at the same time.  First time in 40 years.  Let’s keep that progress going, and reform our criminal justice system in ways that protect our citizens and serves us all.  In Georgia, Governor Deal has given judges new alternatives to harsh mandatory minimum sentencing.  In Connecticut, Governor [Dan] Malloy announced his 'Second Chance Society' plan to help former prisoners rejoin their communities.  We want to be a partner in those efforts."

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Anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist has riled up so many GOP leaders over his opposition to a House transportation plan that Speaker David Ralston questioned whether he's breaking the law for not registering as a lobbyist.

Norquist's response came by way of tweet a few hours later:

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A U.S. House Democrat is investigating Judith Curry, the Georgia Tech researcher and a favorite of Republican climate skeptics.

Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., was riffing off of a New York Times story over the weekend that spotlighted fossil fuel industry donations -- including Southern Company -- to a Harvard-Smithsonian researcher.

In his letter to Georgia Tech president Bud Peterson, Grijalva requested all of Curry's funding sources and her pay. Wrote Grijalva, the top Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee:

"My colleagues and I cannot perform our duties if research and testimony provided to us is influenced by undisclosed financial relationships."

Curry believes humans are a contributing cause to global warming, but has testified in Congress that she believes there is considerable uncertainty and this is not an emergency policymakers must address with drastic changes.

Curry told us in an email: "At Georgia Tech, I have received no funding from any sources other than government funding agencies." She plans a more in-depth response on her blog.

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Erick Erickson of Redstate.com is accusing Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle of putting the stop on S.B. 63, the bill to let craft beer brewers sell their stuff where it’s made:

Multiple Republican Senators in Georgia’s General Assembly tell me that Cagle himself is personally obstructing the legislation and placing pressure on the Regulated Industries Committee to stall a vote on the bill. The committee is set to meet next Wednesday.

In an examination of 2014 campaign contributions via Follow the Money, Cagle received $130,756.57 in contributions from the alcoholic beverage industry, with the bulk of it from wholesalers opposed to the legislation. Cagle received more in 2014 from the alcoholic beverage industry than any other member of state legislature. In fact, roughly 20% of that money came from just one family — the Leebern family connected to Georgia Crown Distributing.

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The folks at Environment Georgia released a new report Tuesday delving into the political contributions and lobbying by the country's biggest known water polluters. The lobbying and contributions are from 2014, while EPA data pollution data is from 2012. The biggest one for Georgia:

BASF Corp’s Savannah facility alone dumped 890,400 pounds of toxic chemicals into the Savannah River basin. Its owner, BASF SE, spent $2,875,000 on lobbying in the same year, and $494,625 on campaign contributions.

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Atlanta Democratic U.S. Rep. John Lewis, in a pre-Selma-anniversary interview with USA Today, weighed in on the recent controversy involving former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani:

And he sees race as a factor in former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani's comment last week that Obama "doesn't love America" in the same way previous presidents have. "Ever since he's been president, people (have been) trying to take something from him that he's not American, that he was not born here," Lewis says in his distinctive slow, deep cadence. "But we must keep in mind that the scars and stains of racism are still deeply embedded in American society. We have a distance to go. We aren't there yet."

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Every now and then, we need to remind ourselves that there’s a hard-scrabble Georgia out there. Last night, 13MAZ in Macon did it for us:

When you dial 911, your call passes through a cell tower before getting to a dispatcher in a room that is normally filled with several computers and operators.

But in several Central Georgia counties, including Johnson, Wilkinson and Crawford, there are no formal 911 call centers with computer assisted dispatch systems.

Instead, the calls wind up at the Sheriff's Office where dispatchers write down your address and map out emergencies with paper and pushpins.

About the Author

Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
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