On today's front page and premium site, you can find a piece on the "SEC primary" taking shape for March 1, 2016. One key passage:
Already, supporters say they are seeing ripple effects. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a potential GOP candidate who won Georgia’s 2008 primary, visited Georgia last week to meet with voters. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, another potential contender, met with Republican-leaning business leaders and donors last week in Atlanta. And state Republican officials expect a slew of presidential candidates at the party’s May convention in Athens.
"I think that idea is a gift from God. I think it was inspired out of heaven. You know, seriously I think it would be great. Here's what I think this means: It is the Southern states and the Midwestern states that really form the bulk of the presidential genesis in November.
"If there's a general election, if a Republican doesn't carry the heartland, he's not going to win. And so best to show where the heartland and the Southern and Midwestern states are early on in the process, because quite frankly it is not New York state or Connecticut that's going to determine the winner in the general election."
Here's the full interview, in which Huckabee also reveals his usual order at Waffle House.
As neighboring Alabama wrestles with the possible legalization of same-sex weddings, Georgia's fight over its gay marriage ban has taken a curious turn in the courts.
U.S. District Judge William Duffey's recent ruling allows the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals to accept an appeal of his order keeping the legal challenge to Georgia's same-sex marriage ban alive.
The folks at GA Voice explain why this unusual move is important:
This is significant because now the Lambda Legal attorneys may get the chance to argue that Georgia same-sex couples have the constitutional right to marry directly to the higher court, which includes Georgia, Florida and Alabama. Federal judges in Florida and, just last week, Alabama, have recently struck down their state’s same-sex marriage bans, ruling them unconstitutional.
The 11th Circuit is already weighing whether to extend a stay on a decision that found Alabama's constitutional and statutory ban on gay marriages violates the U.S. Constitution. And the appeals court is also reviewing a judge's decision that lifted Florida's ban.
Now the 11th Circuit has Georgia's restrictions in its hopper, too. That means there's a chance, however small, that it takes up Georgia's case before the Supreme Court can decide on marriage equality later this summer.
We told you over the weekend that DuBose Porter secured another four-year term leading the state Democratic party.
Next up is his counterpart, John Padgett, who faces his first inkling of opposition at his party's May convention.
Activist Alex Johnson announced his challenge to Padgett on Facebook. He says on his campaign website that the party hasn't done enough to reach out to new voters who could threaten the party's grip on power in Georgia.
Based on nationwide trends, if we don’t act now to make revolutionary efforts at outreach, Georgia will cease to be Republican within the next decade. Instead of simply focusing on getting so-called Republicans, regardless of their principles, re-elected, the Georgia GOP must stand by its principles. The GOP must do its duty ensure that the candidates that use the name Republican actually live up to the principles that the party membership espouses.
There's another serious scandal brewing at the Atlanta VA Medical Center. From Aaron Diamant at Channel 2 Action News:
There's now a local and federal investigation into how [Atlanta's] VA medical center handled the case of a Cobb County Marine veteran who killed her three children and then herself. ...
[VA records] indicate [Kisha] Holmes was flagged as a high risk for suicide "due to concern regarding possible self-directed violence" and that she should "be screened or assessed by provider staff." The same records show Holmes didn't show up to two mental health assessment appointments on Dec. 8 and Dec. 15.
Another patient record from December indicated Holmes was pregnant. ...
[When asked if VA contacted Holmes, the agency said it was] "deeply saddened to learn of the recent death of Veteran Kisha Holmes and her three children. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family. To protect the Veteran's privacy we cannot comment."
We suspect U.S. Senate VA committee chairman Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., will have a few questions about this.
Here's a fascinating nugget from a Politico piece on how Mitch McConnell is running the Senate. Writes Manu Raju:
The next day, [North Carolina Republican Richard] Burr pushed an amendment to reauthorize the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, but attaching it to the Keystone pipeline could have complicated its chances for quick passage in the House. So McConnell persuaded three GOP senators — Georgia’s David Perdue and Johnny Isakson, and Jerry Moran of Kansas — to flip their votes and oppose the Burr plan. It was defeated by one vote, though Burr received assurances it would come up again and Isakson now hopes McConnell will repay the favor.
“To accommodate the leader was the right thing to do,” Isakson said. “Hopefully, I got a chip in the barrel somewhere.”
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