Fallout from the new gun law -- and remembering Zell Miller's advice

The race for Gov. Nathan Deal's job may not pivot on the sweeping gun bill he signed into law on Wednesday, but it has implications for him and his rivals.

For Deal, it helps him shore up support with the right flank of the party, which had loudly advocated for the gun rights expansion after a similar bill stalled last year. Yet some gun rights lobbies argue that it doesn't go far enough, noting that a push to legalize the carrying of guns on campus and other broader expansions didn't make the cut.

"I don’t believe that giving up our freedoms makes us any safer. The crime rates in this country have proven that. As a leader, I will not rest until we are the freest nation on earth again. While Nathan touts this one bill, he purposely forgets to mention the failure of campus carry and other bills that protect our Second Amendment rights."

State Superintendent John Barge, another GOP rival, said he was "good" with the gun bill but said it took him a while to understand the ins-and-outs of the changes. He added: "I do think it is critical for the state to effectively communicate the nuances of the new law to the people of Georgia."

The new law could prove more troubling for Democratic state Sen. Jason Carter, but not for the reasons that might be expected.

Carter voted for the measure, as he has other gun measures during his tenure in the chamber, and proclaimed himself an NRA Democrat. And he told MSNBC this week that he believed he helped “make the bill better than it was when it first started."

On Wednesday, Carter offered us this statement explaining his vote. It sounds a lot like what Deal told us earlier this week:

"I support the Second Amendment, and I appreciate how important this issue is to many people across Georgia. Before I cast my vote, I worked across party lines to address the most pressing concerns that were raised regarding college campuses and to ensure that places of worship have a real choice on whether to allow guns on their properties."

Strategically, Carter may be following the path laid out by Zell Miller. When governor in the 1990s, Miller was encouraged to embrace various attempts at gun control -- and always refused. Here's a line from his 2003 book-length criticism of the national Democratic party:

"Southern voters may say they're for gun control, and they may well be for gun control, but they simply don't trust anybody who spends too much time talking about it. Bill Clinton understood that. Al Gore did not."

In Georgia, most statewide Democrats have since heeded Miller's advice. The real question is whether Carter's position will impact his national fundraising.


More on guns, but in the mine-is-bigger department: In 2012, U.S. Rep. John Barrow, D-Augusta, cut a highly effective campaign ad that showed off his family’s firearms.

Today, John Stone, one of the Republicans vying to take on Barrow, is one-upping the incumbent on weaponry – firing a cannon in this new TV spot, in which he also touts himself as “the only licensed firearms dealer in America running for Congress":

Stone says the above ad is airing district-wide, but he doesn’t have a lot of money to put behind it. Stone had $55,000 on hand at the end of March.


The better-funded 12th District Republican Rick Allen also is up with his first ad of the cycle, featuring President Obama. It may shock you to learn Obama is not portrayed favorably:

The key line:

“Obama’s big spending -- it burdens our children with debt. The Bible says that’s immoral. But as a businessman, I can help fix it.”

We’re told Allen is putting $10,669 behind the ad this week.


The all-GOP field of candidates for the 11th District congressional congress are unanimous in their call for cuts to the federal budget. But according to the Marietta Daily Journal, none of them want to see that shrinkage come at the expense of Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta.


WSB talk radio host Erick Erickson endorsed Karen Handel on his radio show Wednesday, reprising his support from her 2010 gubernatorial race and showcasing the schism among the network’s talkers.

Sean Hannity backs Jack Kingston and Herman Cain has said positive things about David Perdue.

“My heart is with Paul Broun,” Erickson said – but he feared that the GOP establishment would target him in a runoff. That, he said, leaves Handel:

“She’s not the establishment. She is a conservative. And in my view we’ve got to stop David Perdue more than anyone else. We’ve got to stop Perdue. We need someone with a business sense. We need someone who can throw Michelle Nunn off.

“We need someone who is a conservative. We need someone who is pro-life. And we need someone -- and this is key as well -- that conservatives can support and the establishment won’t pour money in against.”


For those of you who are weary of that Phil Gingrey ad showing him in a white smock and promising to repeal Obamacare when he gets to the U.S. Senate “or go home,” the Marietta congressman has a heart-tugger to replace it.

In 2005, Army Sgt. Paul Saylor was killed in Iraq. His body came home in a state of such advanced decomposition that a closed casket was required. Gingrey says he has worked to improve the mortuary treatment of U.S. casualties:


You can’t say that Art Gardner, the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate who has argued moderation on social issues, isn’t consistent. He wants Georgia’s GOP leadership to surrender in the face of that federal lawsuit challenging the state’s constitutional ban on gay marriage. From an email:

“My rationale is that the state is very likely to lose this suit and it is a waste of taxpayer money to fight it. In this time of tight budgets, the state can better use that money for other purposes. I am a fiscal conservative, what some might call a budget hawk, and throwing hard-earned tax dollars away on fighting this suit is unwise. Moreover, it is also time for the State of Georgia and the Republican Party to get ahead of this issue. We (the GOP) are the original civil rights party, the party of Lincoln, the party that strongly supported the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act.

“This suit presents our party with a golden opportunity to steer a bold new course, one that will set the state of Georgia and the Georgia GOP on an upward path. I call on my fellow members of the GOP to join me in supporting the suit and urging the Attorney General to not fight it.”


Over at Creative Loafing, Thomas Wheatley spots a payday wrinkle in the resume of David Perdue, the Republican businessman running for U.S. Senate:

According to his November 2013 campaign disclosure, Perdue was paid more than $5,000 to serve as a consultant for Community Choice Financial, an Ohio-based company whose website says it provides financial services to "unbanked and underbanked consumers" at more than 500 stores in 15 states and via the Internet in 24 states….

A Perdue campaign spokesman says the consulting gig was a "short-term" contract that "was not related to the company's payday lending services."


The FEC sent letters this week to several U.S. Senate candidates in Georgia, berating them for not filing their fundraising reports on time. The problem, as the Center for Public Integrity’s Dave Levinthal lays out, is “the FEC got it wrong.”

It’s a good look at how annoying the Senate’s paper filing system can be.


Denzel Washington and Samuel L. Jackson were among Michelle Nunn’s donors in the first quarter, Bloomberg’s Greg Giroux revealed, after sifting through the disclosure filed by the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate:

Other donors included 1988 Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis, former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and former House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt. Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California and her husband also made personal donations.

Prominent Georgians who gave to Nunn’s effort during the three-month period include Andrew Young, a former U.S. House member, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and Atlanta mayor, and Wyche Fowler, a former U.S. senator.


Politico magazine profiles our favorite multi-district congressional candidate, Allan Levene.


There was a televised debate of Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate on Wednesday night, but the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer reports that something was missing:

Not once did the three candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate say the name of front-runner Michelle Nunn during Wednesday night's televised debate at Columbus State University's downtown campus….

A week ago, Nunn was in Columbus for a campaign appearance at the Whitewater Express store less than a block from where the debate was held. Nunn was invited to the Columbus debate about three months ago, and her staff declined about a month ago, citing a scheduling conflict, organizers said.

Those who showed up: retired Army veteran Todd Robinson of Columbus, former state senator Steen Miles of Atlanta, and Branko “Dr. Rad” Radulovacki, the Atlanta psychiatrist.


Paging Randy Evans: David Pennington, the former mayor of Dalton and current GOP candidate for governor, is releasing his tax returns this morning -- fulfilling a promise made during last week's hijacked press conference at the state Capitol.

This time around, Pennington is holding his announcement at his campaign office and not outside the governor's office. Chalk that up to another lesson learned.

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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.