Johnny Isakson says Dax Lopez deserves a hearing: 'I believe in the Constitution'

If you’re a Republican incumbent running for re-election, the most dangerous shoals to navigate may be those Saturday morning meetings of GOP activists.

King has been very hot about President Barack Obama’s appointment of DeKalb County State Court Judge Dax Lopez, a Republican, because of Lopez’ past membership on the board of the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials. Some Republicans have begun pushing back.

King sent us the sound clip of his exchange with Isakson. We’ve transcribed much of it here:

A moderator attempted to step in at this point, but the senator waved her off.

Isakson: “Let me answer the man’s question. I think everybody appointed to the bench -- and I want you to listen to this very closely. You believe in our constitutional system, don’t you?”

King: “I do, sir.”

Isakson: “Do you believe in your right to appear before a jury of your peers? I believe a judge deserves the same right to be studied and vetted and asked questions and deposed as any other American. If that happens we’ll get the right information….”

Isakson said he had not made his decision on how he’ll vote if or when the Lopez nomination gets to the floor.

U.S. Sen. David Perdue was at Sunday night’s Wild Hog Supper to kick off this year’s session of the Legislature. He echoed much of what Isakson said:

"It's a very serious issue. We're about to appoint a judge that will probably be there in a decade or two. This is a very important nomination for me, and I'm going to be very deliberate and very careful. I've met with the candidate, and we're going to be talking about it when I get back up there. We should be making a decision on that in the next week or two, honestly."

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Add U.S. Sen. David Perdue's name to the ranks of federal lawmakers worried about a state-level version of the First Amendment Defense Act.

"I think it's a federal issue because you have to have a standardized federal approach. That's kind of where we ended up. I understand why a state would want to get in and do that," said Perdue. "But you can imagine if you have 50 different versions, how you control that over 50 states?"

Perdue is among the federal sponsors of the bill, which some supporters say is intended to protect those who do not want to issue marriage licenses based on their religious beliefs. A parallel version of that legislation is set to be proposed in Georgia by state Sen. Greg Kirk.

Isakson aired his concerns about the approach last week.

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Two names keep popping up on the list of the most likely contenders to run to replace the retiring Rep. Lynn Westmoreland:  State Sen. Mike Crane and state Rep. Matt Ramsey.

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One of the more interesting Wild Hog Supper scenes we witnessed was a conversation between Gov. Nathan Deal and Clarkston Mayor Ted Terry.

Terry, who leads a DeKalb County city with deep international roots, was one of the most vocal critics of Deal's policy opposing Syrian refugees. Deal reversed the stance last week after an opinion by Attorney General Sam Olens that it was not defensible in court.

After a few minutes of back-and-forth, Terry reports that Deal invited him for a sit-down in the office. That should be fun.

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We're ready for the session. Are you?

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Todd Rehm was at the Saturday meeting of the Gwinnett County GOP. He quoted state Sen. Renee Unterman, R-Buford, giving this happy news: "We're scheduled to get out [of session] by March 24. It's gonna be 'turn and burn.'"

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The Georgia presidential primary formally gets underway on Tuesday. That, according to Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s calendar, is the earliest day for a registered voter to mail in an absentee ballot for the March 1 contest.

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The reports aren't due for a few more weeks, but Public Service Commissioner Tim Echols reports he's raised more than $200,000 for his reelection campaign. He faces a Republican rival in Michelle Miller, a middle Georgia businesswoman and activist, who has been pounding the pavement.

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Perhaps you noticed that Charlie Harper walked away from PeachPundit.com last week, taking most of that website’s stable of contributors with him.

Harper is starting a new Internet venture:

GeorgiaPol.com strives to be “the” media hub for news, analysis, opinion, and discussion of politics and policy in the state of Georgia. Hopefully that’s a vision that is sufficiently broad, strategically focused, and necessarily flexible enough for us to be what we want to be today, and will need to be in the future….”

What makes GeorgiaPol different from the voice-of-conservatives PeachPundit? From what we can tell, a wider ideological framework:

“We” are a group individuals that represent the political spectrum in Georgia. Our background ideologies range from an Occupy Atlanta organizer to a Freedom Caucus apologist.

Clayton Wagar, one of the few writers left at PeachPundit, wondered out loud about the website’s future:

Friday’s walkout was unexpected but not surprising. I wish Charlie and the contributors all the best with their new venture, and I have no doubt they will continue to carry on the fine work they’ve put in at Peach Pundit over the years.

For the time being, things will be kind of slow around here. I’ve already had several folks reach out and offer suggestions. If you’ve got one for me, please let me know at clayton@peachpundit.com.

In the meantime, I beg your indulgence as we figure out just what the next chapter of Peach Pundit looks like.

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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.
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