The effort to unseat House Speaker David Ralston

March 3, 2014 Atlanta:CORRECTS TYPO House Speaker David Ralston is interviewed after signing up to run for re-election Monday morning at the Capitol. Ralston will lead a marathon session in the House Chamber today. Today is the last day for bills to pass either the House or Senate. Bills that do not clear at least one chamber today will not have a chance of passing this session. BRANT SANDERLIN /BSANDERLIN@AJC.COM House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, after signing up for re-election last month at the state Capitol. Brant Sanderlin, bsanderlin@ajc.com
March 3, 2014 Atlanta:CORRECTS TYPO House Speaker David Ralston is interviewed after signing up to run for re-election Monday morning at the Capitol. Ralston will lead a marathon session in the House Chamber today. Today is the last day for bills to pass either the House or Senate. Bills that do not clear at least one chamber today will not have a chance of passing this session. BRANT SANDERLIN /BSANDERLIN@AJC.COM House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, after signing up for re-election last month at the state Capitol. Brant Sanderlin, bsanderlin@ajc.com

Credit: Jim Galloway

Credit: Jim Galloway

We're picking up word that some cash is flowing through north Georgia in an attempt to foment revolution and the overthrow of House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge.

Consider the following paragraphs, penned by Debbie Dooley and Julianne Thompson of Atlanta Tea Patriots:

"Speaker Ralston killed the autism bill, the bill that would ban Common Core in Georgia, the religious freedom bill, the foster care bill, gutted the gun bill, gutted H.B. 707 that would help nullify Obamacare in Georgia. He also added $17 million in the budget to build a new parking deck for the new Falcons stadium…."

The missive is contained in a fax, so we don’t have a link. But it directs tea partyers to Sam Snider, the teacher and wrestling coach from Ellijay who is primarying the Republican speaker. More:

"There will be groups and people completely outside of Sam's campaign that will be making expenditures in the race. Sam has an excellent chance to defeat Ralston if we all work hard.

"If you would like to help Sam by volunterring to go door to door in the 7th District, your travel expenses, lodging and food will be paid."

Dooley confirmed authorship this morning. “Different factions are coming together to go after Speaker Ralston,” she said. But Dooley declined to elaborate on who was picking up the tab. Mostly, anyway.

She  pointed us to this full-page ad in today’s Time-Courier in Ellijay, paid for by Ray Boyd, a well-known funder of tea party causes:

Assuming that the speaker has the wherewithal to survive this challenge, this has all sorts of implications for next year's session of the Legislature.

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Lost in the 40-year retrospectives on Hammerin' Hank was the home run king's defense of President Barack Obama. In an interview with USA Today marking the anniversary of his record-breaking 715th career home run this week, Hank Aaron told sportswriter Bob Nightengale that he hangs on to some of the cruelest letters he received during that famous stretch.

When asked why, here's what he had to say:

"We can talk about baseball. Talk about politics. Sure, this country has a black president, but when you look at a black president, President Obama is left with his foot stuck in the mud from all of the Republicans with the way he's treated.

"We have moved in the right direction, and there have been improvements, but we still have a long ways to go in the country.

"The bigger difference is that back then they had hoods. Now they have neckties and starched shirts."

***

Over at the University of Virginia, Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball blog has reassessed Georgia's race for governor – as a result of last week's verdict in the wrongful firing lawsuit of the former head of Georgia's ethics commission. Sabato's crew has shifted the race from "likely Republican" to "leans Republican":

We're not yet willing to bet against the GOP holding the governorship and the Senate seat. It's a GOP year, plus the Peach State isn't at the tipping point to turning competitive purple. Thus, Republicans may well pull both chestnuts out of the fire. But our point is: They are playing with fire.

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Democrat Jason Carter's campaign for governor is sending yet another message that its rhetoric is fast shifting from education to ethics.

Carter has pounced in the aftermath of last week's ethics jury verdict, with press releases blasting Gov. Nathan Deal's "incompetence" and a press conference Tuesday calling for a review of the 2010 complaints at the center of that trial.

And now his campaign has unveiled a new website calling on voters to back an independent ethics commission and urge Deal to pay the $700,000 jury award from his campaign coffers.

***

 Jack Kingston stepped up his already pace-setting fundraising in the first quarter.

Kingston's Senate campaign reports this morning that he raised $1.1 million in the first three months of the year, his best report yet. He had $2.1 million on hand as of the beginning of the month, down from $3.4 million in January as Kingston unleashed a wave of advertising – including reserving time for the final weeks before the May 20 primary.

***

Michelle Nunn apparently is raising money in D.C. today. We know this because she was greeted by two camera-wielding trackers this morning. Witness the glamorous life of running for Senate:

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In an email to supporters, businessman David Perdue on Wednesday tried to downplay his comments about Karen Handel's education. Apparently her high school diploma trumps Michelle Nunn's master's degree in public administration from Harvard. Said Perdue:

"Although attacks from fellow Republicans were inevitable, I have said multiple times during this campaign that all of the Republican candidates running for U.S. Senate are better qualified to serve the people of Georgia than the Democrat. But who is our best candidate for November?"

***

The Democratic Party of Georgia, which last year barely had enough funds to buy a decent used car, has now pulled within financial range of the Georgia GOP.

Campaign finance reports show that Democrats have about $520,000 in cash on hand, while the state Republican apparatus has about $620,000. Both organizations are gearing up ahead of a busy election cycle, so expect their cash burn rate to speed up.

***

Let's present the following piece with two important caveats: No. 1, it's about post-election maneuvering seven months from now. No. 2, there were plenty of anonymously sourced reports that John Boehner's speakership was ending before this Congress commenced, but the revolt fizzled.

Anyway, National Journal's Tim Alberta resumes the Boehner watch with this today:

"The conservatives' exasperation with leadership is well known. And now, in discreet dinners at the Capitol Hill Club and in winding, hypothetical-laced email chains, they're trying to figure out what to do about it. Some say it's enough to coalesce behind—and start whipping votes for—a single conservative leadership candidate. Others want to cut a deal with Majority Leader Eric Cantor: We'll back you for speaker if you promise to bring aboard a conservative lieutenant.

"But there's a more audacious option on the table, according to conservatives involved in the deliberations. They say between 40 and 50 members have already committed verbally to electing a new speaker. If those numbers hold, organizers say, they could force Boehner to step aside as speaker in late November, when the incoming GOP conference meets for the first time, by showing him that he won't have the votes to be reelected in January."

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