Jimmy Carter: 'I'll be teaching Sunday School next week'

In many quarters of Georgia over the weekend, folks were grappling with the same question: What do you say to a 90-year-old former president/Nobel laureate/Carter Center founder who just found out he had cancer?

Our AJC colleague Matt Kempner ventured to the Carter Center on Saturday to find out. From his story:

"We so value what you do and hope you are 'back on track soon!'" a family from Venice Beach, Calif., wrote.

Elsewhere, Carter fans went for flashier symbols. The owners of Manuel's Tavern, that soon-to-be moved political hangout, put up the sign you see at the right.

"If you pray, please pray for him," Democratic operative Angelo Fuster sent his lengthy mailing list. "If you don’t pray, just send him positive thoughts."

Carter, meanwhile,

Exploreshowed up at Sunday services

at his local Maranatha Baptist Church. He had some parting words for our AJC colleague Jill Vejnoska:

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The recent changes in Gov. Nathan Deal's office has elevated a new class of women to higher posts.

Three men remain in three of the top slots - chief of staff Chris Riley, chief operating officer David Werner and legal counsel Ryan Teague - but a flurry of post-election departures have left openings that new appointees are filling.

The picture to the left features Erin Hames, the departing top education aide; Katie Childers, Deal's new chief policy adviser; Jen Talaber, Deal's new chief spokeswoman; Hayley Howell, the governor's Senate liaison; and Julia Taff Ayers, his new top external affairs aide.

Hames, we should note, isn't entirely leaving Deal's employ. From our AJC colleagues Ty Tagami and Molly Bloom's weekend piece:

Atlanta also hired Deal policy advisor Erin Hames, the architect of the opportunity district plan, to advise it on avoiding state takeover of schools. Hames will leave the governor's office at the end of the month but continue to consult with Deal's office and other groups on education issues.

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From Peach Pundit comes the news that Texas Sen. Ted Cruz won the Oglethorpe County GOP straw poll at a Saturday evening pancake dinner.

Cruz got 29 percent, while billionaire Donald Trump landed 13 percent. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush rounded out the top three with 12 percent.

A Floyd County GOP straw poll on the same weekend showed a very different result. Businesswoman Carly Fiorina took 21 percent and neurosurgeon Ben Carson had 18 percent. Cruz lagged behind at 13 percent.

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There's no word on whether her hubbie is coming with her, but Rick Perry's wife, Anita, is hosting an "meet and greet afternoon tea" in Marietta on Aug. 28.

There's no monetary request on the invite we saw, but Team Perry is certainly accepting any and all checks these days, considering that his staff is going without pay.

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In other SEC Primary news, Ohio Gov. John Kasich picks up the endorsement of Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley this morning. It's enough to detour Kasich to Birmingham before he heads to South Carolina for more early-state campaigning.

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U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson had what the Rome News-Tribune reported was perhaps the biggest applause line at the Floyd County Republican rally Saturday when talking about the Islamic State:

His comments drew long applause at the Republican gathering at the Tillman hangar at Richard B. Russell Regional Airport. "You can't do it by bombing them, you can't do it by cussing them, you can't do it by looking the other way, you've got to shoot them one at a time and get every one of them off the face of the earth."

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In Sunday's dead tree and premium edition, one of us took a deep dive into North Carolina's changing political scene, and how it might be a road map for Georgia. A taste:

"But it's also that the Obama people had enough money to capitalize on the change," Guillory said. "If they hadn't have spent the money, they wouldn't have found the votes."

Georgia Democrats say they are a similar nudge away from swing-state territory. Millions of dollars flowed in for a high-profile minority voter registration and turnout effort in 2014 that fell short, but a presidential campaign brings another level of attention and funding. ...

In fact, Georgia's population is more urban (75 percent to 66 percent, according to census data) and has a lower percentage of white voters (61 percent, to 71 percent in 2012) than North Carolina. But the percentage of whites voting Democratic has lately been in the 30s in North Carolina, while it has been in the 20s in Georgia.

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(Peach Pundit reprinted Robinson's farewell missive in full.)