Andrew Young poses for a photo with the participants at the end of the Hank Aaron Invitational at SunTrust Park in Atlanta August 2, 2019. STEVE SCHAEFER / SPECIAL TO THE AJC
Photo: Steve Schaefer
Photo: Steve Schaefer

The Jolt: Andrew Young endorses Teresa Tomlinson in Senate race No. 1

In U.S. Senate race No. 1, Democrat Teresa Tomlinson emerged from Labor Day weekend with the first major endorsement of the campaign – from former Atlanta and U.N. ambassador Andrew Young. The quote from this morning’s press release:

“Carolyn and I fully support Teresa Tomlinson as the next U.S. senator from Georgia, and we ask all Georgians to do the same. In this moment, Teresa is the change we need to see in Washington, D.C.”

The campaign hinted there were more to come.

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Over the weekend, Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank picked a fight with Democrats who have chosen to stay out of U.S. Senate races. Both Montana Gov. Steve Bullock and former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke are in the Democratic presidential contest. Then there is Stacey Abrams. Writes Milbank:

This is an all-hands-on-deck moment not just for Democrats but for American democracy. If the anti-Trump majority doesn’t prevail next year and resoundingly repudiate the hatred, isolation and drift toward autocracy, it won’t much matter what happens later. Abrams, Bullock and O’Rourke owe it to the country to end the reign of President Trump’s enablers in the Senate…

[Abrams} has said it would be “arrogant” to think she’s the only Democrat who could win a Senate seat in Georgia. Yet it appears she’s holding out for a vice-presidential nomination. “I would be honored,” she told WBUR’s “On Point” on Tuesday.

We have an interesting difference in political perspective here. Milbank’s is a D.C.-centric, inside-the-Beltway perspective: Do this one big thing, and the nation will be saved.

Abrams’ approach might be called more granular. First, let us toss out the notion that she is “holding out” for a vice-presidential nomination. If we were asked to be a vice-presidential nominee, we would say we’d be honored, too. It’s only polite.

Now to business: The most important 2020 race in Georgia won’t be for Senate race No. 1 or No. 2. It will be for control of the state House, without which Democrats will have no say-so in the redistricting that follows the 2020 census. Abrams has established a partnership with the Georgia Democratic party on that front.

Then there is the historical precedent. Every advancement toward equality for African-Americans, from the Civil War to the civil rights movement, has been countered with a backlash. The venue for those fights has been the federal court system. This is why Abrams and her crew have put a multi-million dollar focus on voting rights.

Then there is the fact that the Georgia Constitution, the governor is an all-powerful creature. Cast your mind back to 2002, when Sonny Perdue became the first Republican in modern state history elected to that spot. It is a transformational position. This is the job that Abrams wants.

The question for Democrats is how they prefer their change -- from the top down, or bottom up. In Milbanks’ world, Trump is the force behind a constitutional crisis. In Abrams’ world, he’s a symptom.

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On that note: Today will end what’s likely to be a first round of voting in the special election to fill the legislative seat vacated by state Rep. David Stover, R-Newnan. Three Republicans and a Democrat are vying for the likely Oct. 1 runoff. The Newnan Times-Herald indicates that survival for the top two candidates could come down to a few hundred votes. As of mid-afternoon Friday, 1,623 early votes had been cast, and 147 absentee ballots returned.

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We’re sending up prayers for the brave soul in Birmingham office of the National Weather Service who thought it important to correct President Donald Trump’s Twitter warning that Hurricane Dorian could impact Alabama. From that daring employee:

Alabama will NOT see any impacts from #Dorian. We repeat, no impacts from Hurricane #Dorian will be felt across Alabama. The system will remain too far east. #alwx

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Over at the Saporta Report, Tom Baxter notes the generational shift that the pending retirement of U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson represents. These lines stand out:

He’s the last Georgia politician save for Sonny Perdue who has been around long enough to have tangled with Tom Murphy. He will also be, probably, the last Republican U.S. senator to stand in the well and say that anyone who badmouthed John McCain should get a whipping.

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We would like to see some pollster test the response to this question: “Do you agree, or do you disagree, that a certain number of mass killings are acceptable in order to protect the current interpretation of the Second Amendment and an individual’s right to high-capacity firearms?

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Georgia’s new vote-tallying system has picked up a powerful supporter: Former Secretary of State Cathy Cox, a Democrat who is now dean of Mercer University’s law school. 

In a Marietta Daily Journal op-ed, Cox wrote that she felt a sense of “deja vu” watching the Georgia debate this year since she went through a similar process after the 2000 presidential election. That process led to a statewide system of touchscreen machines that replaced the patchwork of voting devices that caused the loss of about 94,000 votes in that election. 

This year’s fight came after a razor-thin midterm vote that pitted the state’s top elections officials against a Democrat who accused him of being the architect of voter suppression.

Cox said the new $107 million system for 30,000 machines that print out paper ballots will give voters the “extra security that comes with a paper ballot, while the ‘ballot-marking’ touch-screen computer will ensure ballots are marked correctly.”

She pronounced herself “impressed” with the system after Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger gave her a closeup look last week. She continued:  

That’s why every experienced county election officials who studied voting systems on last year’s SAFE Commission voted in favor of upgrading to a new touch-screen system like the one now being readied for use.

I’m proud that we led the nation in 2002 to correct the election problems we found in Georgia, and I’m equally pleased that we are here, again, ready to lead the nation in assuring that accurate and secure voting is still a top priority in our state. Faith in our democracy depends on trust in our elections.

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The expert judge overseeing the Florida-Georgia water rights case for the U.S. Supreme Court is hitting the accelerator. Paul Kelly, the case's New Mexico-based "special master," has rescheduled oral arguments for Oct. 17, a full two months earlier than initially announced.

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