Stacey Abrams at a Democratic National Committee gala last week. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM
Photo: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC
Photo: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

The Jolt: Brian Kemp and Stacey Abrams act with a 2022 rematch in mind

We are only eight months past the 2018 race for governor, but the possibility of a rematch between Brian Kemp and Stacey Abrams appears to be dominating the decision-making of both players.

On Tuesday, Abrams was in Los Angeles – in the odd position of trying to preserve a longstanding, successful Republican initiative to bring Hollywood jobs to Georgia. Gov. Brian Kemp decided last month that the timing wasn’t right for his own visit, given the eruption over Georgia’s new “heartbeat” bill, which he had just signed into law.

In a strange way, Abrams the Democrat was acting as a surrogate for Kemp the Republican. Her trip to the West Coast was all about tamping down talk of a boycott by the movie and TV industry. But this is the line from Abrams that stood out in an after-the-fact AJC interview:

“My mission is to say, give us a few more years and see if we can do it right before you leave.”

One presumes that “few” means two-and-a-half. But before you fulminate about Abrams’ inability to get beyond the results of November 2018, consider this bit of Wednesday morning freshness:

Doraville Police Chief John King is expected to be named by Gov. Brian Kemp on Wednesday to replace suspended Georgia Insurance Commissioner Jim Beck, who last month was accused in a 38-count federal indictment of an elaborate scheme to steal $2 million from his former employer before winning the November election.

King has no experience in the field of insurance, but is a brigadier general in the Georgia National Guard and a native of Mexico. He would be the first Hispanic constitutional officer in state history – an important point given the demographic challenges facing the Georgia GOP. But it may not be the most important point. To continue:

[King] will replace Beck, pending adjudication of his case. King is expected to be a candidate for a full term in 2022, when Kemp will also be on the ballot as he runs for re-election. Kemp’s aides wanted to narrow his choice to candidates willing to be on the ticket that year.

It’s nice to see that Kemp and Abrams have something in common.

Gov. Brian Kemp at a 90th birthday party on Sunday for Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus. STEVE SCHAEFER / SPECIAL TO THE AJC
Photo: Steve Schaefer

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There is news, and then there’s the stuff that you always suspected to be true -- but didn’t know why. This piece from our colleague Mark Niesse falls into the latter category:

No matter where you live in Georgia, internet speeds are almost certainly slower than the federal government says they are.

An analysis of Georgia speed test results by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution found that internet speeds were about one-fourth as fast as those reported by the Federal Communications Commission. Internet speeds averaged about 6.3 megabits per second in Georgia from June to December 2017, far below the FCC’s estimate of 25 megabits per second.

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In Alabama, the state legislature has simply banned abortion, and intends to imprison doctors who perform the procedure. In Nevada and Illinois, state legislatures have repealed criminal penalties for abortion. Maine will now allow medical personnel other than doctors to perform abortions.

The Washington Post take on this disparity is a prediction that abortion is in the process of becoming the dominating issue of the 2020 election cycle. The New York Times has a longer view:

It is the first time in more than a century that all but one state legislature is dominated by a single party. Most legislative sessions have ended or are scheduled to end in a matter of days in capitals across the nation, and Republican-held states have rushed forward with conservative agendas as those controlled by Democrats have pushed through liberal ones.

Any hope that single-party control in the states might ease the tone of political discourse has not borne out. Lopsided party dominance has not brought resignation; instead of minority parties conceding that they lack the numbers to effectively fight back, the mood has grown more tense and vitriolic.

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Two days after admitting he hadn’t read the Russia report, U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall, R-Lawrenceville, expanded on his view of the Mueller probe.

In a Tuesday interview with CBS News, the retiring Republican congressman said the people “ought to be spending our time” focusing on the first part of the report, which explored the Russia attempt to interfere in the 2016 presidential contest:

“Russians did try to meddle, they just didn’t try to meddle with the partnership of the Trump administration. The Russians did try to meddle and we should hold every single one of those folks accountable. The Russians absolutely tried to meddle, and yet half of the Mueller report is focused on the Trump administration and what the Trump administration was doing after this counterintelligence investigation started. We should be concerned.”

Woodall said he didn’t have any questions for special counsel Robert Mueller. “He was assigned a job, and I think he did that job as well as he could,” he said.

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Earlier in the day, Rob Woodall’s 2018 opponent Carolyn Bourdeaux tweeted her Mueller report highlights – with corresponding page numbers – in response to the congressman’s original comments that he hadn’t read the document.

“Of course, no need to read a 448-page report when your conclusion was already predetermined by a 280 character Trump tweet,” tweeted the Democrat, who’s seeking the Seventh District seat again this year.

Bourdeaux has pushed for further congressional oversight since the Mueller report was released, but has stopped short of calling for impeachment. 

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Over at the Saporta Report, Tom Baxter explores agriculture chief Sonny Perdue’s deep loyalty to President Donald Trump.

The latest example came this week as the former Georgia governor has backed Trump’s claim that his new pact with Mexico includes a pledge for our southern neighbor to purchase large quantities of American agricultural goods.

“Once again, @realDonaldTrump has demonstrated the ability and willingness to solve pressing problems - not only persuading (Mexico) to work with (the U.S.) to solve the humanitarian crisis at the southern border but also insisting that our farmers have better access to Mexican markets #Winning,” Perdue tweeted over the weekend.

Mexico has vehemently denied making any such commodity pledge. 

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The Georgia delegation voted along straight party lines on Tuesday to pass a resolution allowing the House Judiciary Committee to take Attorney General Bill Barr and former White House Counsel Don McGahn to court. The resolution, which passed on a party-line vote of 229 to 191, is seeking to compel Barr and McGahn to comply with previous subpoenas related to the Russia report. 

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The Washington Post detailed the emotional scene at a closed House Democratic caucus meeting on Tuesday, as historian and filmmaker Henry Louis Gates Jr. described Rep. John Lewis’ reaction to seeing his great-great-grandfather’s voter registration card for the first time. The Atlanta Democrat broke down in tears, as did several others. From the Post:

“That was the last member of John Lewis’s family to vote until the work that [Lewis] did crossing that Edmund Pettus Bridge [in Selma, Ala.,] and all the work he did on voting rights,” said Democratic Caucus Vice Chair Katherine M. Clark (D-Mass.), referring to the infamous “Bloody Sunday” civil rights protest in which marchers — including then-organizer Lewis — were beaten by police. Clark described the emotional scene in the caucus at Democrats’ weekly news conference after the meeting.

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A funeral mass will be conducted at noon today for Lee Wysong, 106, at St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Roswell.

Wysong was well known in Republican circles for having led opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment in Georgia in the 1970s. For years, she ran Southern Porcelain, Inc. a manufacturer of industrial ceramics established by her husband Charles, who died in 1964.

One of her five children, Gordon Wysong, would go on to become a Cobb County commissioner.

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