Jack Kingston hits the airwaves -- but stays away from the 'C' word

We are about to find out what difference a million dollars or so can make in the Republican race for U.S. Senate.

Jack Kingston’s first television advertising salvo, launched today, is a soft biographical ad that features old photos, talk of his family and work experience – but leaves out his two decades in Congress.

But even there, the fearful “C” word – Congress – is never used.

The Kingston campaign – which already reserved nearly $1.3 million of ad time – said the spot will air statewide on broadcast and cable television. The specific size of the buy was not revealed.

Kingston will get a dose of free media at 6:30 p.m. today, when he shows up on CNN’s “Crossfire” with his old friend Newt Gingrich – himself a former member of “C” from Georgia. And remember that Gingrich won 47 percent of the vote in the state’s 2012 Republican presidential primary.

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So far as we can tell, Art Gardner was the only candidate in the Republican field for U.S. Senate who spoke up Wednesday on those “religious freedom” bills in the Legislature. And he did it before Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer. In part:

“There is a tremendous potential that these bills will embolden people to discriminate against others on a variety of bases and we all ought to be concerned about that.  The first that comes to mind for most folks is that gays will be the subject of discrimination couched in terms of a religious conviction. 

“Unmarried couples could also face discrimination, as might interracial couples.  Down the road, some faiths might discriminate against people of other faiths.  This is unwise, unwarranted and bad for business.”

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Over at the Crystal Ball, Emory University political scientist Alan Abramowitz says Democratic control of the U.S. Senate is at a tipping point – and it’s not because of the Affordable Care Act or President Barack Obama’s approval ratings:

“All of these issues may have an impact on the Senate elections. But the Democrats’ biggest problem this year is that they were so successful in the 2008 Senate elections. While Barack Obama was capturing the White House in 2008, Democrats gained eight net seats in the Senate, winning 20 of the 35 seats at stake.

"Now Democrats must defend all of the seats that they won six years ago, including several in states that usually support Republicans. Of the Democratic seats up for grabs this year, seven are in states that were carried by Mitt Romney in 2012, including six that Romney won by a double-digit margin. In contrast, Republicans are only defending one seat in a state that was carried by Obama in 2012 -- Sen. Susan Collins’ seat in Maine. And Collins is so popular that she isn’t a credible Democratic target."

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The White House is striking back at liberal critics of its nominees for Georgia’s federal judge vacancies.

After U.S. Rep. David Scott, D-Atlanta, went on Roland Martin’s radio show to blast President Barack Obama for “the level of disrespect” to the black community, White House counsel Kathryn Ruemmler did a rare interview with the left-leaning Huffington Post to defend the picks.

The message is that, given Republican Sens. Johnny Isakson’s and Saxby Chambliss’ ability to pocket veto nominees, the White House had no choice but to pick state Court of Appeals Judge Michael Boggs – whose record has come under the most scrutiny. But he ain’t so bad, the counselor said. From the Post:

"Do we work with Republican senators to find a compromise, or should we leave the seats vacant?" Ruemmler asked in an interview with The Huffington Post. "We believe it would be grossly irresponsible for the president to leave these seats vacant."  …

"The blue-slip rule for judicial nominees has been more problematic than the filibuster because it can act as a silent, unaccountable veto," Ruemmler said, reiterating that getting some nominees confirmed is better than none. "Given this constraint, our choice is clear."

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State Rep. Chuck Sims, R-Ambrose, who was twice charged with DUI last year, is calling it quits, according to the Douglas Enterprise. The Coffee County newspaper quotes the legislator:

“I know you will understand that my business and my family need me more now than ever, and it’s just time I retire from the state legislature and come home. I have been doing this for 18 years and it’s been a blast.” 

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We told you on Wednesday that Michael Williams, who is challenging state Sen. Jack Murphy, R-Cumming, in the GOP primary, received an anonymous package that included a past bankruptcy filing, some divorce records, and a promise that all would be revealed if he ran.

Murphy has replied with a campaign missive, saying it has naught to do with him:

“While I am unaware of the circumstances surrounding this alleged and likely mythical mail package, I have been deeply disturbed by my opponent’s recent conduct and his personal history.  Allow me to share some facts.

“As you well know, the recent economic downturn hit me pretty hard, as it did many people throughout my district and our state.  I did not declare bankruptcy.  I have paid all my debts and lived up to all my obligations.  There have been radicals in my community and liberals in the media who have tried to turn this into something nefarious.  It’s clearly not.

“My opponent though has some very serious questions swirling around him that need to be answered.  He has declared bankruptcy and has not been living up to his personal obligations in many ways.  Yet, he miraculously has $150,000 of his own money to spend on a political campaign?  That’s not just puzzling.  It’s simply wrong.”

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Chances of Atlanta hosting the 2016 Democratic National Convention could be riding on the fortunes of the party's candidates this year -- so says state party chair DuBose Porter.

Porter told us that the DNC recently called him to let him know that Atlanta was one of 34 cities that received letters gauging interest in hosting the bash. He sees Columbus, Ohio as an early frontrunner. Says Porter:

"Ohio is aggressively pursuing it being the swing state that it is. I talk about the short game and the long game, a lot may depend on what happens in this election cycle. And our long game is to put Georgia in play in the presidential race."

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State Sen. Jason Carter, the Democratic candidate for governor, quietly slipped out of the Senate chamber before his colleagues voted to create the new city of Lakeside -- and that didn't escape the notice of Gov. Nathan Deal's campaign spokeswoman:

The reponse from Carter's camp:

But the debate did put Carter, who represents a chunk of DeKalb, in a bind. Lakeside is one of three new proposed DeKalb cities pending before lawmakers, and its borders overlap with the proposed city of Tucker.

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State Superintendent John Barge -- whose new slogan is "Georgia's Next Governor" -- rolled out a new immigration platform. He wants lawmakers to consider granting drivers' licenses to those who live in Georgia without legal permission. He views it as a safety concern.

From Barge's website:

"We should look at the potential of providing an unauthorized immigrant drivers’ license that does not permit the user to enter federal buildings or clear security at airports, but it does allow them to drive legally and to obtain the proper insurance. This will improve safety on our roads without simultaneously creating a pathway to legal residency."

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Lest you think David Pennington is getting cold feet in his bid to oust Governor Deal, he plans to resign his seat as Dalton's mayor on Monday and qualify to run for governor the next day.

His campaign spokesman Michael Mule said the candidate is barred from serving as Dalton's mayor and running for state office, so he's going out with a bang a day early.

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Former state lawmaker Donna Sheldon, a Republican candidate in the 10th District race to replace U.S. Rep. Paul Broun of Athens, today received the endorsement of Charlotte Nash, chairman of the Gwinnett County Commission. Nash says Sheldon is unlike the man she would replace. From the press release:

“Donna approaches issues and problems with the aim of helping the situation by seeking solutions, not just making political hay by ranting and raving.  She is a problem solver, not a bomb thrower.  She is not boastful about her many accomplishments.”

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Common Cause Georgia this morning expressed its disappointment with a new interpretation of last year’s legislative cap on gifts from lobbyists:

It will be much easier to get around the $75 gift cap than we even originally feared. Lobbyists can buy lavish dinners exceeding the gift cap for one single legislator in many cases, just like the good old daysway back in 2013. The reason, "caucuses" can now include as few as two legislators.  So it only takes two to tango, but what's worse, only two have to be invited to tango - if only one can show up, then it can still be a solo dance to unlimited lobbyist spending.  With this, an already weak law turns into a further mockery.

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