Georgia 2018: Hunter Hill carries Cobb GOP straw poll of race for governor

The Fourth of July celebration put on by the Cobb County GOP has traditionally been one of the largest in metro Atlanta.

Three of the four Republican candidates for governor attended the Tuesday afternoon affair: Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, Secretary of State Brian Kemp, and state Sen. Mike Williams of Forsyth County. State Sen. Hunter Hill of Atlanta was on the coast, but sent a surrogate.

U.S. Rep. Karen Handel, R-Roswell, was there to thank east Cobb, which handed her a Sixth District victory last month. U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, still feeling the after-effects of back surgery, put his cane in a corner and walked up the stairs without assistance. The point was made.

A few notes from the gathering:

-- In a straw poll of 255 GOP activists, Hunter Hill came in first with 40 percent of the vote. Not bad for a fellow who wasn’t there, but Hill does have roots in Cobb. Secretary of State Brian Kemp came in second (33 percent), followed by Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle (15 percent) and state Sen. Michael Williams (12 percent). U.S. Rep. Barry Loudermilk received one write-in vote. His wife was also in attendance.

-- State Sen. David Shafer of Duluth, the president pro tem of the Senate, won the straw poll vote for lieutenant governor with 61 percent of the vote.

-- State Rep. Buzz Brockway of Lawrenceville won the straw poll vote for secretary of state, with 43 percent.

-- Even though he hasn’t declared, state Sen. Josh McKoon of Columbus received 18 votes in the straw poll for secretary of state. That could change on Thursday, with a formal announcement.

“The person that brought that rifle and shot 70 rounds at Republicans, trying to kill Republicans, was a radicalized American – radicalized with extreme ideology to the point that he wanted to take human life. This is the point that we’re at. We’re winning, and that’s the reason we’re under attack.”

-- More than one Republican woman noted that, as you can see by the photo above, huge candidate banners have become something of a manhood measurement in the race for governor.


Our AJC colleague Rodney Ho has a post on Jared Yates Sexton, the assistant professor of creative writing at Georgia Southern University, who tracked that CNN/Donald Trump/Wrestlemania video to a Reddit user famous for his anti-Semitic rants. Sexton says he’s been getting death threats and worse.


State Rep. Ronnie Mabra, a Democrat from Fayetteville, has sent a note to supporters, letting them know that he’s decided not to run for lieutenant governor. But he is doing something else:

Though I am not returning to elected office at this time, I am actively working to support progressive candidates who share my passion and vision for Georgia.  This is why I am supporting Stacey Evans for governor and have agreed to serve as her campaign treasurer.


Over at Reporter Newspapers, Dyana Bagby talked to a certain state lawmaker about his opposition to a statue in memory of the “comfort women” forced into prostitution by the Japanese during World War II:

State Rep. Tom Taylor (R-Dunwoody) said in an interview that he contacted Brookhaven city officials because he believed the memorial could hurt future business dealings with Japan. He also said that activists donating the memorial to the city are wanting to “drive a wedge” between Japan and Korea.


“This is a small group of Korean-American activists pushing this [memorial] all across Georgia and finally got a city to take the bait,” Taylor said.


“This is a political group that basically wants to drive a wedge between Japan and Korea,” he said.


As you might have heard, a Colorado government watchdog group is suing the state of Georgia over its electronic voting system, arguing that the results from last month's Sixth District special election should be thrown out because of insecurities in the system. A key paragraph from the AP report:

The suit cites the work of private cybersecurity researcher Logan Lamb, who discovered last August that a misconfigured server had left Georgia's 6.7 million voter records and other sensitive files exposed to hackers. The complaint also notes that seven months after Lamb made that discovery, another researcher was able to do the same.

Don't look for this to get any traction. Judges are very, very reluctant to overturn election results without direct evidence of tampering. Never mind the fact that the entire Sixth District might riot if told a do-over was necessary.


A new federal spending bill drafted by Ranger Republican Tom Graves aims to bar the IRS from enforcing one of the core tenants of Obamacare: the individual mandate. The New York Times has more:

The plan is separate from Republican efforts to repeal the health care law, and appears more likely to be adopted because it would be written into the annual spending bill for the Treasury and the I.R.S.

But it has a similar purpose: to weaken the health law that President Trump and Republicans in Congress want to dismantle.

Graves was able to slip the provision into the bill given his new role as chairman of the House subcommittee that funds the IRS.


Many senators are back home during this July 4th recess and answering questions about the GOP health care overhaul. David Perdue, on the other hand, spent the holiday weekend doing something much different.

The military newspaper Stars and Stripes reports that the first-term Republican celebrated Independence Day in Afghanistan yesterday with U.S. servicemembers.

Perdue traveled with a few of his colleagues on the Senate Armed Services Committee, including Republicans John McCain and Lindsey Graham and Democrat Elizabeth Warren.

Per the AP, the group met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Gen. John Nicholson, the Army’s top commander there, and visited Pakistan over the holiday weekend.

The trip came less than a week after the Armed Services committee advanced a new defense policy bill last week. Perdue's office highlighted some of the legislation's Georgia-related provisions here.


President Donald Trump will get his long-anticipated sit-down with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday. In suggesting an agenda for him, the Washington Post gave former Georgia senator Sam Nunn a shout-out:

The leaders ought to discuss the Syrian conflict with an eye toward avoiding direct hostilities, even as Washington and Moscow pursue dramatically different military goals. Trump should at least try to persuade Putin to acknowledge the need for a government not headed by Bashar al-Assad and a region not dominated by Iran.


Trump might also fruitfully bring up an idea floated recently by former Democratic senator Sam Nunn and former Russian foreign minister Igor Ivanov, among others, to restart broader Russian-American military-to-military communication. It would also be in the interest of both countries to resume cooperation on nuclear nonproliferation and to resolve the standoff over the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

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About the Author

Tamar Hallerman
Tamar Hallerman
Tamar Hallerman is a senior reporter for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's enterprise team, where she covers public policy.