BATON ROUGE, LOUISIANA - NOVEMBER 16: Democratic incumbent Governor John Bel Edwards speaks to a crowd at the Renaissance Baton Rouge Hotel on November 16, 2019 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Gov. John Bel Edwards has reportedly been elected to a second term, defeating Republican businessman Eddie Rispone after being forced into a runoff election. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
Photo: Matt Sullivan/Getty Images
Photo: Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

The Jolt: Another suburban revolt, this time in Louisiana, bodes ill for GOP in metro Atlanta

One meaning of Democratic incumbent Gov. John Bel Edwards’ re-election victory over GOP businessman Eddie Rispone on Saturday rings clear.

When the suburbs of Cincinnati and Lexington, Richmond and Alexandria, and now Baton Rouge and New Orleans all turn blue within weeks of each other, it portends 2020 trouble for Republicans in metro Atlanta’s northern arc.

State Sen. Brandon Beach’s decision to pull out of the GOP contest for the right to face down U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath appears more sensible today than it did last week. And one wonders whether Louisiana may also factor into the calculus of Gov. Brian Kemp, who set a Monday deadline for applications for Johnny Isakson’s seat in the U.S. Senate.

Might Kemp be more inclined to select a woman from the suburbs who can help stanch the party’s bleeding? The run-off numbers in Cajun country can’t be denied. From The Advocate, a Louisiana news site:

Edwards won an astounding 57% of the vote in Jefferson Parish (Blanco won only 37% of the vote there against Bobby Jindal, the Republican candidate) and 40% of the vote in St. Tammany Parish (compared to only 26% for Blanco in 2003)...

Edwards’ vote in north Louisiana increased by 6 percentage points from the primary to the runoff, despite Trump’s visits to Monroe and Shreveport during the final 10 days of the campaign, said Edward Chervenak, who crunches political numbers in New Orleans.

Not only were Republicans less likely to vote for a candidate endorsed by President Donald Trump, but African-Americans voters were more motivated to turnout. From the New York Times:

"Forcing Trump down people’s throats in television, mail and radio produced a backlash among Democratic voters, especially African-Americans,” said Zac McCrary, a pollster on Mr. Edwards’s campaign, alluding to Mr. Rispone’s Trump-centric message. “The intense negatives outweigh the intense positives for Trump, which speaks to the turnout.”

State and local Democrats were more careful targeting their message, linking Mr. Rispone to Mr. Trump on radio stations with black audiences and in tailored mailers.

Over at The Resurgent, Erick Erickson makes two points worth considering. First, we now have two cases in which suburban voters have been selective their displeasure, discerning the Trump-like from the traditional conservative:

Like in Kentucky, the GOP swept the state except that race. That race was, in fairness, most closely identified with the President and some voters did react there. But this also gives a path forward for the GOP. Consider that in Louisiana, the state legislature is now the most conservative legislature it has ever had. The GOP disconnected from Trump did just fine in the state.

Secondly, the GOP has a substance abuse problem -- in that a party built around a single personality has no use for substantive policy that allows voters to think well of themselves:

Voters want a reason to vote for someone, not against someone else. President Trump needs to spend way more time giving voters reasons to vote for him, not just against the Democrats. The GOP needs to as well. The party seems out of ideas and that is in large part because the President can turn on a dime so no one wants to stake out a position on public policy.

Today’s example: To vape or not to vape?

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Much is going on this week, including visits today from Hillary Clinton, Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar. We’ve drafted a handy schedule of the events so you can keep track

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All eyes, of course, are cast toward Wednesday and the Democratic presidential debate. The massive attention about to rain down on Tyler Perry's acreage is something that probably hasn't been seen since 1971, when Fort MacPherson served as the military trial site for Capt. Ernest Medina, who had been implicated in the My Lai massacre in Vietnam three years earlier. His attorney was F. Lee Bailey, one of the most high-profile attorneys of his day. Medina was acquitted. Lt. William Calley, the only officer convicted, was tried at Fort Benning.

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Former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley spoke Sunday to a friendly crowd at the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta’s book festival, drawing frequent applause when she emphasized her support for Israel. 

She only touched on her relationship with President Donald Trump a few times, telling the audience how he needled her about supporting U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio’s presidential bid in 2016, and that she turned down an offer to become secretary of state job because she wanted him to pick someone with more experience. 

When asked about the nation’s partisan divide, she talked of the toxicity of social media. “I don’t think it’s just the president. The president needs to be more responsible, but it’s Republicans, it’s Democrats, it’s media it’s sports – everybody needs to do their part to be more responsible," she said.

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Last week, the U.S. Senate narrowly confirmed the nomination of Steven Menashi to the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals. All but one GOP senator backed him. And now a liberal group is targeting a handful of senators in swing states over their votes, including U.S. Sen. David Perdue of Georgia.

GOP senators in Arizona, Colorado, Iowa and North Carolina also are the subject of digital ads sponsored by People For the American Way. “Tell Republicans who voted for Menashi, you won’t get our votes in 2020,” is the closing message in the video.

Menashi’s appointment became controversial after he refused to answer questions about his work at the White House and the U.S. Department of Education and about his previous writings. Initially members of both parties were critical, but most Republicans eventually lined up behind him for the 51-41 vote on Thursday.

The Democratic Party of Georgia also issued a statement criticizing Perdue afterward.

“Menashi may be the latest reckless nominee that Perdue has voted to approve, but he is not the first — and likely won’t be the last,” the statement said. “Perdue hasn’t voted against a single judicial nominee under McConnell’s and Trump’s leadership, including five who were rated 'not qualified' by the American Bar Association.”

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Agriculture Secretary and part-time poet Sonny Perdue traveled to Kansas City, Mo., on Friday to tour the site where he chose to relocate two research agencies. Perdue has argued that the move will put the researchers closer to American farmers.

Critics, including the union that represents some of the affected employees, said the move was intended to force many of the researchers to quit. From the Kansas City Star:

Perdue on Friday toured a building at 805 Pennsylvania Ave. in downtown Kansas City that more than 500 employees working for the Economic Research Service and National Institute of Food and Agriculture eventually will call their headquarters. The USDA earlier this year announced that the agencies would move from Washington, D.C., to Kansas City.

“I think it will help farmers because it brings those researchers who make those decisions and analyses really closer to the heartland,” Perdue told reporters during the tour. “It gives them a feel of a fragrance of what a state like Kansas and Missouri do for agriculture. There’s a certain culture here and it influences your on-the-ground truthing ability rather than sitting some place that doesn’t have any agriculture.”

We all favor the enhancement of “on-the-ground truthing ability” in Washington, and so wonder who else should be dispatched to Kansas City.

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The Hartford Courant reports that Matt Lieberman traveled to Connecticut last week with his father, Joe, to raise money for his Georgia-based U.S. Senate campaign.

Tickets were as high as $2,800 for a lunchtime fundraiser in Hartford, and there was a second event at a home in New Haven, the newspaper said.

The younger Lieberman, a political newcomer, announced in October that he is running as a Democrat for the seat being vacated by U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, who is retiring at the end of the year. That special election will be held at the same time as the 2020 general election.

Joe Liberman served four terms in the U.S. Senate representing Connecticut and was Al Gore’s running mate in the 2000 presidential contest.

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