Stacey Abrams, the Democratic runner-up in last year’s race to become Georgia’s governor, testified Tuesday at a U.S. House panel field hearing investigating allegations of suppression and intimidation in the 2018 vote. “When you have no faith in the system, you have no reason to participate in the system,” Abrams told the panel made up of Democratic lawmakers. KENT D. JOHNSON/kdjohnson@ajc.com
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Jolt: In TV blitz, Stacey Abrams nixes Biden pact and questions Beto’s appeal

Stacey Abrams hit the television circuit on Wednesday that generated dozens of headlines -- and catapulted the newly-released paperback edition of her book to No. 20 on Amazon’s charts. 

Here are some of the takeaways:

On “The View” she dismissed the prospect of teaming up with Joe Biden as his running-mate: “You don’t run for second place. If I’m going to enter a primary, then I’m going to enter a primary.”

She didn’t rule out joining a ticket, saying in the same appearance that she would be willing to serve as a running-mate “once a nominee was set.” 

On MSNBC, she said she believes race may have played a part in Beto O’Rourke’s surging candidacy for president and questioned why she another black Democratic gubernatorial contender, Andrew Gillum of Florida, were not “lifted up” in the same way after their defeats.

"I think race plays a part. I think region plays a part. I also think phenotype plays a part,” she said, using a scientific term for physical appearance. 

At a Bloomberg forum, she predicted she’ll win her next bid for office “because I will work harder than anyone has to make sure that every voice in the state of Georgia is actually heard."

And on CBS, she said her experience “transforming the electorate” in last year’s run shows she’s "just as capable of becoming the president of the United States as anyone running" right now.

***

The show of force by Georgia authorities at the state Capitol ahead of last week’s vote on the anti-abortion bill captured national attention. Documents obtained through a records request show how the state ramped up security.

The documents show about 100 Georgia State Troopers and officers were positioned under the Gold Dome at 6:30 a.m. Friday to handle crowd control “for the safety and security of the public, preservation of peace and the security of the state’s infrastructure” during a protest.

One detail of 13 officers assigned to an initial response team was given explicit instructions: Bring extra food. Bring flex-cuffs. And “prepare for a very long day.”

Several hundred demonstrators showed up for the peaceful demonstration – far fewer than some state officials expected.

***

Vendors intending to bid on Georgia’s $150 million (plus) plan to replace its current touch-screen voter system with another will be gathering at 10 a.m. today in the “Sloppy” Floyd towers adjacent to the state Capitol. The meeting is considered “mandatory” for those who want to play.

***

The Metro Atlanta Chamber gave its qualified support to elements of the  transportation “Frankenbill” that water down a state takeover attempt of Atlanta’s airport and restores a jet-fuel tax break for Delta Air Lines and other air carriers.

From Katie Kirkpatrick, the chamber’s chief policy officer:

"We appreciate the House Rules Committee for moving legislation that maintains the sales tax exemption on jet fuel while creating an excise tax to support investment in rural airports across the state. 

“The large number of direct flights to destinations across the globe serves as a key selling point for companies considering locating to Georgia – not to mention the benefit it provides daily to the businesses that call our state home. 

“Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport would be disadvantaged when it comes to attracting new direct flights without this important legislation becoming law, and North Carolina and Texas would assume a competitive advantage over Georgia. 

“We also support the sound approach that this bill takes to allow the City of Atlanta to retain possession of its airport.”

The massive bill, which has the support of  House leaders from both parties, was created Wednesday to replace one of the two airport takeover bills being considered at the state Capitol.

***

This kind of diplomacy actually matters. From the Wednesday press release:

The Georgia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations today commended the Georgia state Legislature for unanimously adopting a resolution that condemned Islamophobic bigotry, and expressed condolences to victims of anti-Muslim hate crimes, including the 50 people killed in a terrorist attack on two mosques in New Zealand.

***

Judging by the public pronouncements of Senate Democrats on Wednesday, little progress was made on the more than $13 billion Hurricane Michael relief bill being pushed by Georgia’s David Perdue and Johnny Isakson. 

Not only does Puerto Rico funding continue to be an issue, but Obamacare may be creeping into the mix as well.

Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., announced plans to try and attach an amendment to the measure that would block the Justice Department from supporting the federal lawsuit seeking to invalidate Obamacare. That could be a poison pill for Republicans in tough 2020 reelection battles and cause even more headaches for Georgia lawmakers seeking a quick resolution on the long-delayed natural disaster aid package

Meanwhile, Democrats continue to insist that more money for Puerto Rico be included in the final bill. Problem is President Trump won’t budge from the $600 million included in Perdue’s base proposal.

It’s looking increasingly likely that senators leave town for the week without a resolution. 

***

Over at Georgia Health News, Andy Miller tells of some machinations behind a do-gooder bill:

House Bill 264, as passed in that chamber, would require the 10 local EMS coordinating councils in the state to establish conflict-of-interest policies, barring council members connected to ambulance providers from voting on contracts. 

Council meetings would have to abide by the state’s open meeting laws. And the Georgia Department of Public Health would have to make recommendations to each council on setting clear accountability standards for its EMS zone.

The Senate Rules Committee on Monday stripped out the open meeting provision and the response time reporting requirements, as well as the accountability standards, from the EMS bill. The new version passed the Senate unanimously Tuesday.

***

Sixth District congressional candidate Karen Handel is rolling out another string of endorsements from her former House colleagues. She’s touting the support from the chamber’s top Republican brass, including Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Minority Whip Steve Scalise and Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney. Also on the list: predecessor Newt Gingrich. 

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