U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., at a campaign stop in Mason City, Iowa, earlier this week. The stop was her first in the state as a presidential candidate seeking the 2020 Democratic nomination. Scott Olson/Getty Images
Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images
Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

The Jolt: Amy Klobuchar’s ATL fundraiser raises hackles among Stacey Abrams supporters

Newly announced Democratic presidential candidate and blizzard survivor Amy Klobuchar, the U.S. senator from Minnesota, has a fundraiser in Atlanta on Friday at the home of Gordon Giffin, the former U.S. ambassador to Canada.

Many supporters of Stacey Abrams are expressing private displeasure.

Atop the invitation for the fundraiser are the names of several Georgia Democrats who weren’t on board with Abrams during last year’s gubernatorial primary, including former Gov. Roy Barnes.

Barnes initially backed Stacey Evans, a former state lawmaker from their shared turf of Cobb County -- although the former governor eventually embraced Abrams’ candidacy. (That fact becomes important in an item below.)

One national Democrat operative with deep ties to Georgia, who didn’t want to be identified by name, criticized Klobuchar for holding her first event in the state with “Georgia’s old guard of failed Democratic moderates.” 

“If you’re running for president and making your Georgia debut, you embrace Abrams, you embrace the new Democratic voter coalition and you don’t treat the state like an ATM,” the operator said.

The latter was a reference to the fact that Klobuchar is holding only a fundraiser -- and not a public event -- in Georgia. Her campaign has not responded to requests for comment.

By contrast, last Saturday, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass, held a very public rally in Gwinnett County -- and then went to dinner with Abrams. 

***

Speaking of the former Democratic governor: The Daily Report says that one of the state’s more awkward courtroom pairings has come to an end. Roy Barnes and John Salter, Barnes’ law partner and son-in-law, have quietly withdrawn as legal representatives of Secretary of State Brian Kemp, now Governor Kemp, in a federal voting rights lawsuit.

Fifteen months ago, the Barnes firm replaced the newly appointed Attorney General Chris Carr as chief defender against accusations that the secretary of state had allowed state’s electronic elections system to deteriorate to the point that it endangered accurate results.

“I definitely don’t see eye to eye with Governor Barnes on a lot of issues, but I think anyone would tell you he’s a damn good lawyer,” Kemp said at the time. He was then one of several Republican candidates for governor.

Last June, while still representing Kemp, Governor Barnes endorsed fellow Democrat Stacey Abrams over his client in the race for governor. (See? We told you it would prove important.)

The new defense attorneys in the lawsuit, according to the Daily Report: Vincent Russo, a partner at Atlanta’s The Robbins Firm, who served as counsel to Kemp’s gubernatorial campaign; and Bryan Tyson, a partner at Atlanta’s Strickland Brockington Lewis.

It’s worth noting that the case was worth $250 an hour to Barnes. We don’t anticipate Republican lawyers settling for less.

***

Another bit of Roy Barnes news: Our AJC colleague Matt Kempner reported earlier this week that a Fulton County judge has awarded class-action status to a long-running lawsuit claiming Georgia Power overcharged customers for more than a decade. The status means the case now covers virtually all of the company’s 2.5 million customers statewide, a somewhat rare sweep against Georgia’s largest utility.

The suit involves another odd-couple political pairing. It was filed by former state House Speaker Glenn Richardson, a Republican, and joined by Barnes, who is clearly a Democrat.

***

The Faith and Freedom Coalition’s annual legislative luncheon on Tuesday attracted hundreds of participants - perhaps 500 people crowded the Depot. Most of the big names in GOP politics were in attendance.

Gov. Brian Kemp, Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan and Attorney General Chris Carr all gave speeches that were well regarded by the crowd but offered little in the way of news. 

So did House Speaker David Ralston, who used a variation of his Fannin County speech -- without the warnings about ideological purity. 

There was plenty of promises to oppose abortion rights legislation and a talk headlined by author Alex Berenson, whose book explores a possible link between drug use and mental illness.

What was missing, however, was any concerted effort to talk up “religious liberty” legislation -- long a priority for the group -- and any overt mention of casinos and gambling.

***

Some interesting transitional politics here: The Marietta Daily Journal reports that state Rep. David Wilkerson, the Democratic chairman of the Cobb County legislative delegation, has a suggestion for Gov. Brian Kemp. Name Joyette Holmes, a Republican and African-American currently serving as the county’s chief magistrate court judge, as a replacement for Vic Reynolds, the former Cobb County district attorney.

Reynolds was recently sworn in as the new GBI director.

With Holmes as DA, Wilkerson said he’d be more likely to support legislation authored by state Rep. John Carson, R-Marietta, to make Holmes current position a nonpartisan one.

***

Former U.S. House speaker and Georgia congressman Newt Gingrich has a new weekly podcast. “Newt’s World” seeks to mull “all aspects of our society.” “From history to health, national security to science, Newt’s World, offers stories, conversations, and context to uncover new perspectives, knowledge, and insight,” according to a podcast promo.

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