The Jolt: Behind the WNBA fight that Kelly Loeffler sought

020708-Woodstock-U.S. Senator Kelly Loeffler greets supporters during a campaign event at the Tuscany Italian restaurant in Woodstock on Wednesday afternoon July 8, 2020. Ben Gray for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution



020708-Woodstock-U.S. Senator Kelly Loeffler greets supporters during a campaign event at the Tuscany Italian restaurant in Woodstock on Wednesday afternoon July 8, 2020. Ben Gray for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The fallout continues over U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler's tussle with the WNBA and the league's initiative to honor the Black Lives Matter movement.

The New York Times reports that the head of the WNBA player's union plans to meet with the commissioner soon to discuss reducing the Georgia Republican's role in the league. Loeffler has co-owned the Atlanta Dream since 2011.

It's getting personal. The NYT piece notes an ABC News interview with Layshia Clarendon, a guard for the New York Liberty:

"That's what we see so often with sports, with culture, with music, is that you're OK with Black people as long as they kind of stay in their place," Clarendon said.

Clarendon, who spent multiple seasons as a member of the Dream, lamented on Twitter that she had "shared a meal" with Loeffler and "stepped foot in her house."

It is important to remember that the outrage over Loeffler's letter was welcomed -- and in large part generated -- by her campaign as she faces a formidable challenge from Republican Doug Collins, a four-term congressman. From an AJC piece earlier this week:

Loeffler didn't stake her position to win over Democrats or even moderates. It was meant to rev up conservatives whose support she will need in the November special election, when she faces 20 candidates in a free-for-all election. Several GOP activists at her event said her remarks resonated with them.

"Everyone believes that black lives matter, but the movement is using the protests as an opportunity to shut down other voices," said Kerry Luedke, a Cherokee County Republican. "Sports shouldn't be a place for a political statement. And a sports team isn't the place to show specific political views."

In December, when named by Gov. Brian Kemp as a successor to U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, it was hoped that Loeffler would become a means of preventing the further erosion of suburban support for Georgia Republicans.

Clearly, that is no longer the case. It’s important to remember that the Loeffler race is a special election featuring 20 Republican, Democratic and independent rivals. Loeffler’s strategy appears to be aimed at capturing as much of the Trump base in Georgia on Nov. 3 as possible, in order to secure a berth in a Jan. 5 runoff.

Should her opponent be the Rev. Raphael Warnock or some other Democrat, Loeffler would then cross her fingers and hope the long-standing string of GOP victories in statewide runoffs can hold.


Leading this morning's print edition of the AJC:  The number of hospital beds available to treat critically ill patients is dropping across Georgia as COVID-19 hospitalizations soar past previous highs, raising alarms that time is running out to slow the spread of the virus before medical facilities reach crisis levels:

Statewide, 2,322 people are currently hospitalized for COVID-19, well past the April 24 peak of 1,906, noted Emory University infectious disease expert Carlos del Rio.


A rise of coronavirus on the coast: The Savannah Morning News reports that 18 of 500 officers on the city's police force have recently tested positive for COVID-19.


Already posted: Gov. Brian Kemp's office said Thursday that mask requirements adopted by Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and leaders of other Georgia cities are "unenforceable" but stopped short of threatening legal action to block them.


American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall, long a fixture in Georgia agriculture, is ill with COVID-19, according to The Fence Post, an ag web site:

Duvall met with Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on June 25 in Georgia, but a USDA spokesman said Perdue has been tested since that meeting and the test was negative.


The Atlanta-based U.S. Centers for Disease Control and prevention figures prominently in two national publications this morning. A Washington Post piece on the rift between the White House and the CDC begins like this:

The June 28 email to the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was ominous: A senior adviser to a top Health and Human Services Department official accused the CDC of "undermining the President" by putting out a report about the potential risks of the coronavirus to pregnant women.

But this is the passage in the Post article to worry about:

"There is a view the CDC is staffed with 'deep state' Democrats that are trying to tweak the administration," said one adviser who also spoke on the condition of anonymity to reveal private conversations.

White House officials, who see the president's reelection prospects tied to economic recovery, also say they've been deeply frustrated by what they view as career staffers at the agency determined "to keep things closed," according to a senior administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to reveal internal deliberations.

A report in this morning's New York Times goes in another direction, detailing an internal CDC debate that began in April over who should get a coronavirus vaccine first -- should one become available:

According to a preliminary plan, any approved vaccines would be offered to vital medical and national security officials first, and then to other essential workers and those considered at high risk — the elderly instead of children, people with underlying conditions instead of the relatively healthy.

Agency officials and the advisers are also considering what has become a contentious option: putting Black and Latino people, who have disproportionately fallen victim to Covid-19, ahead of others in the population.

In private meetings and a recent public session, the issue has provoked calls for racial justice. But some medical experts are not convinced there is a scientific basis for such an option, foresee court challenges or worry that prioritizing minority groups would erode public trust in vaccines at a time when immunization is seen as crucial to ending the pandemic.


For a glimpse of the challenges that state leaders face in containing the coronavirus, look no further than this Wall Street Journal investigation that outlines missteps at all levels of government amid the pandemic. Here's a taste:

The rising tide of coronavirus cases in the U.S. South and West, coming four months into the outbreak, emerged amid a patchwork of often confusing or conflicting rules across government that have proved inconsistent and often difficult to enforce, making the pandemic harder to halt.


Completely unexpected, breaking news here: President Donald Trump apparently won't be getting a warm welcome from Georgia Democrats when he arrives in Atlanta on Wednesday. Nikema Williams, the chair of the state Democratic party, greeted news of his visit with a scathing response that included this:

"While Donald Trump desperately attempts to spin his failed record to Georgians, voters are seeing the devastating effects of his failed record -- with more than 16,000 Georgians applying for unemployment just last week.

According to senior White House officials, Trump will tout his administration's transportation agenda and announce a policy change designed to speed infrastructure projects.


The other day, your Insiders took note that U.S. Sen. David Perdue's debut ads made no mention of President Donald Trump. So did former U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, whose tweet on the subject went viral:

"Breaking: @sendavidperdue has undergone surgery to separate himself from Trump and is now airing ads in Georgia that don't even MENTION Trump. No one has carried Trump's water with more enthusiasm than Perdue. And now he ghosts him. Like rats from a sinking ship...."


We told you on Thursday that the campaign of Marjorie Taylor Greene, the leading GOP candidate in the August runoff for the 14th District congressional seat, had fired off a cease-and-desist letter aimed at rival John Cowan, a Rome neurosurgeon.

Greene had charged that Cowan, in a 30-second video spot, had lied about her company's failure to use a federal program to ensure that none of her workers were in the US illegally. The Cowan campaign answered her quickly on Thursday with a letter of its own that included this:

"Contrary to your assertions that the advertisement 'falsely asserted that Taylor Commercial, Inc. was not found under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's E-Verify website,' the advertisement actually states — correctly — that Taylor Commercial did not use E-Verify while Ms. Greene was involved in leading the company. You concede this is correct, because your letter notes that Taylor Commercial began using E-Verify on August 4, 2010.

"Ms. Greene says on her campaign website that she purchased Taylor Commercial in 2002. And as you agree in your letter, Taylor Commercial did not enroll in E-Verify until August 4, 2010 (the E-Verify website indicates another enrollment for Taylor Commercial in June 2013).