State Rep. Matt Gurtler, R-Tiger. BOB ANDRES /BANDRES@AJC.COM
Photo: Bob Andres/
Photo: Bob Andres/

The Jolt: Nathan Deal joins effort to oust House Republican

Last month, we were the first to tell you that House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, was helping to bankroll Mickey Cummings, a Republican primary challenger to state Rep. Matt Gurtler of Tiger, has become the Dr. No of the House.

Our AJC colleague Mark Neisse has followed up with a piece in today’s print edition that includes this:

“They want someone they can control and who will be a yes man and do their bidding,” Gurtler said. “A legislator who exercises their independent legislative judgment is not something they like too much, and sticking to your values, convictions and Republican principles is something that is in short supply at the Capitol.”

The donations from House leaders, totaling $13,700 so far, send a message that they want Gurtler out.

But there’s an even newer wrinkle to this story. Cummings, the manager of a farmers market, has a fundraiser in Blairsville scheduled for next Wednesday. On his Facebook page, he has Gov. Nathan Deal listed as a guest.

Incumbent governors rarely dip into contests like this. On the other hand, Deal is now a fellow who never again will be required to go to a Georgia GOP convention.


On Wednesday, Brian Kemp literally fired up another TV ad in his campaign to survive the May 22 Republican primary for governor. His new spot features explosions, more firearms and a pick-up truck in which he sort of promises to round up “criminal illegals” all by himself. Watch here:

We were talking to a Kemp ally, who made this point: If the “Jake” ad, in which the secretary of state conducts a shotgun interrogation of a supposed suitor to one of his daughters, hadn’t worked – then he wouldn’t have put up this follow-up.

Moreover, look what Kemp is doing. He’s harnessing that GOP anger we saw in Tuesday’s primaries in North Carolina, West Virginia, North Carolina and Ohio – without coming across as angry himself. If you’re Hunter Hill or even Casey Cagle, it might be time to worry.


The endorsement train lumbers on:

-- Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who carried Georgia in the 2008 GOP race for president, has endorsed David Shafer in the Republican contest for lieutenant governor – citing the latter’s positions on “religious liberty” issues.

As endorsements go, this is significant – and not just because of Huckabee’s political past. His daughter, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, is the face of the Donald Trump administration in D.C.

-- The GOP gubernatorial campaign of Michael Williams says it has received the endorsement of Citizens for Trump, a grassroots organization. Williams was a co-chair of Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign in Georgia.


The Democratic National Committee has sent requests for proposals to Atlanta and seven other cities last month that have expressed interest in hosting the party’s 2020 nominating convention. 

Atlanta’s stiff competition includes Birmingham, Houston, New York, San Francisco and Miami Beach. Both New York and Birmingham were considered but passed over in 2016. 


One overlooked facet of Tuesday’s Democratic primaries in North Carolina: Two incumbent sheriffs were defeated. In each case, cooperation with federal immigration authorities was the issue that hurt.

In Mecklenburg County, homicide detective Garry McFadden beat incumbent Irwin Carmichael – who actually finished third in that contest.

In Durham County, challenger Clarence Birkhead beat incumbent Mike Andrews, and will become that county’s first African-American sheriff.

There was no Republican candidate in either race.


E&E News has a story about Bleckley County tree farmers Earl and Wanda Barrs, longtime allies of Sonny Perdue who helped coordinate EPA administrator Scott Pruitt’s secretive visit to a nearby elementary school last month. The trade publication reports that the Barrs benefitted from a new EPA policy that declares that burning biomass such as wood for energy is carbon neutral.


Unfortunately, Georgia doesn’t have a Department of Tourism. If it did, someone would be worried about this Canadian Broadcasting Co. piece on a young lady who spent some time in an Adel, Ga., hoosegow:

[Emily] Nield handed over her Ontario driver's licence, but wasn't prepared for the officer's reaction.

"She kept saying, 'No, Canadian licences are not accepted,'" said Nield. "I was flabbergasted. I just kept saying this can't be right — a Canadian licence is always valid."


Members of a key committee blessed U.S. Rep. Doug Collins’ revamped prison reform bill yesterday, teeing it up for a final vote on the House floor. The Gainesville Republican, presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner and their Democratic allies tweaked the legislation recently in order to win enough support to advance it through the House Judiciary Committee, the panel Collins hopes to lead next year.

The bipartisan measure has the backing of House leaders but faces resistance in the Senate, where powerful lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are insistent that sentencing reform efforts are also tacked onto the effort, a no-go with the White House. Collins’ effort is not dissimilar from anti-recidivism efforts undertaken in Georgia.


The online news site Axios compares the tenures of former Georgia congressman Tom Price and his successor as head of the Department of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar. A taste:

Azar and Price do have one big thing in common: using the regulatory powers at their disposal to chip away at the Affordable Care Act, and presiding over efforts to roll back Medicaid. But underneath those shared goals are big differences in their leadership style and their other priorities.


Alyssa Milano is dipping her toe into Georgia politics once again. 11Alive/WXIA reports the actress and activist is helping Democrat Richard Dien Winfield raise money in the 10th District congressional contest. Donors who fork over $250 will receive a signed headshot of the actress, the station reports, while $1,000 buys you dinner and $2,000 attendance at a sporting event with her. Milano also got involved in last year’s 6th District special election in support of Jon Ossoff, driving voters to the polls while she shot a pilot in Atlanta.

Winfield, who is facing off against two Democrats in this month’s primary, is a philosophy professor at the University of Georgia who fashions himself as a Bernie Sanders-style progressive candidate. He’s one of five candidates looking to unseat incumbent U.S. Rep. Jody Hice, R-Monroe, this fall. Writer and civil rights activist Shaun King and actor Bradley Whitford are also helping Winfield raise money.


We told you former U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, who once headed up the chamber’s intelligence committee, was back before the panel on Wednesday to introduce Gina Haspel at her confirmation hearing to lead the CIA. From the Associated Press:

Chambliss says he traveled overseas extensively during his time on the committee, and never were lawmakers "less than significantly impressed by the leadership" she provided to the CIA.

He says criticism from some of her work at the CIA's counterterrorism center is "very troubling." He says responsibility for the center's work rested with the commander in chief of the United States and senior CIA leaders, "not Gina Haspel."


It’s not every day you see David Perdue and Elizabeth Warren’s names in the same press release. The Georgia Republican and Massachusetts Democrat, both members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, are co-sponsoring a bill together aimed at bolstering sexual assault treatment in the military. "As the Department of Defense works to prevent assault within its ranks, this effort will help us improve medical research, best practices, and treatments for our service members,” Perdue said. 


Several Georgia lawmakers took over the House floor for an hour yesterday to pay tribute to the late Zell Miller. Check it out here.