08/06/2019 -- Atlanta, Georgia -- United States Senator David Perdue (R-GA) speaks with media following a talk at the Kiwanis Atlanta Club luncheon meeting at the Loudermilk Conference Center in downtown Atlanta, Tuesday, August 6, 2019. (Alyssa Pointer/alyssa.pointer@ajc.com)
Photo: Alyssa Pointer
Photo: Alyssa Pointer

The Jolt: David Perdue expresses ‘concerns’ about red-flag legislation

In an attempt to formulate a response to the weekend massacres in Dayton and El Paso, some Republican senators are coalescing around “red flag” legislation that would empower judges to order the seizure of weapons from people deemed dangerous to themselves or others.

U.S. Sen. David Perdue isn’t likely to be one of them. The Georgia Republican sat for a roundtable discussion with reporters on Wednesday, to talk about guns and other topics.

Moving slightly beyond remarks made earlier in the week, the Republican expressed doubts about “red flag” legislation. “I haven’t seen it. Let me take a look at it when we get to see some legislation,” he said. “To say I’m for ‘red flag’ -- that would be an overstatement because of concerns I have about due process.”

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Even “red flag” legislation won’t be enough to satisfy many Democrats. According to the New York Times, U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, says any gun-related legislation moving through the Senate must be accompanied by a House bill that background checks on all firearm purchases.

Early this week, President Donald Trump indicated some support for broadening background checks, but that has changed. From the Washington Post:

NRA chief executive Wayne LaPierre spoke with Trump on Tuesday after the president expressed support for a background check bill and told him it would not be popular among Trump’s supporters, according to officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to freely discuss internal talks. LaPierre also argued against the bill’s merits, the officials said.

The NRA, which opposes the legislation sponsored by Sens. Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.) and Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.), declined to comment.

On Wednesday, before leaving for El Paso and Dayton, Trump said this about legislation to strengthen a national system of background checks, again according to the Washington Post:

“I can tell you there is no political appetite for that at this moment,” the Republican president said. “You can do your own polling, and there’s no political appetite from the standpoint of a legislature.”

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Meanwhile, Channel 2 Action News reports that Carolyn Meadows, the president of the NRA, has upped security at her east Cobb County home in the aftermath of the El Paso and Dayton massacres. A Cobb sheriff’s patrol car was spotted outside her home. Meadows – or the NRA – is picking up the tab for the off-duty officers.

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We’ve written before about the National Republican Campaign Committee’s newish mandate to be ruthless against frontline Democratic opponents.

Freshman U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath, D-Marietta, has been a favorite target of the GOP’s campaign arm, but an exchange on Wednesday brought discourse into particularly unpleasant territory.

It started after this weekend’s twin mass shootings, when McBath sent a fundraising notice that slammed GOP opponents Karen Handel and Marjorie Taylor Greene for rejecting several prominent gun control proposals.

“Unfortunately, my opponents trying to take my seat in Georgia’s Sixth District have been as cynical as it gets,” the fundraising email stated.

The NRCC then fired off a reply: “Lucy McBath is so desperate to win election she’s resorted to politicizing a tragedy for a quick buck.”

McBath, you may remember, first got involved in politics after her son was fatally shot in 2012, following a dispute over his music in a gas station parking lot.

NRCC’s commentary prompted swift social media backlash from progressives such MSNBC host Chris Hayes, as well as from McBath herself. “Let’s get something straight: I lost my only son to gun violence. I now dedicate all of my love for Jordan towards our fight for gun safety,” McBath tweeted in a post that also included a link to her fundraising page.

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But back to that journalist roundtable with U.S. Sen. David Perdue:

-- Asked for a favorite Democratic colleague, Perdue mentioned U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and U.S. Rep. David Scott of Atlanta. He called Scott “one of the more reasonable guys I work with” and an “American hero.”

-- Perdue had scathing remarks for the Democratic field lining up to challenge him. “Whoever they have is probably going to end up being a rubber stamp for this outrageous radical socialist agenda we’re hearing the presidential candidates talk about publicly,” he said.

Of Clarkston Mayor Ted Terry’s call for him to tone down the rhetoric about socialism, Perdue was even more biting, ticking off the dates of socialist revolutions in other parts of the world: “Of course he wants to lower the rhetoric on the socialist thing. He wants to fool everybody. That’s the same siren’s song that’s been used in other places in history.”

-- Pressed on the timeline for Hurricane Michael relief reaching Georgia farmers, Perdue said “we’re on the cusp of the money beginning to move.” State and federal officials have approved block grants that give authorities flexibility to spend the money, but “getting it through the bureaucracy is not immediate.”

-- Asked by WABE’s Emma Hurt the advice he wished Donald Trump would take, Perdue said he’s urged the president to limit his tweets to those that focused on his accomplishments. “He loves America and that doesn’t come through when he’s counterpunching the media in Washington. Tell America what’s working and why.”

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The alliance of personnel has been there for a long, long time, but the Democratic Party of Georgia and the voting rights group founded by Stacey Abrams have formally teamed up to launch a high-dollar effort to flip the Republican-controlled state House.

The Legislative Victory Fund, unveiled Wednesday, is a joint initiative of the Fair Fight PAC and the state party, focused on winning 16 Republican seats in next year’s election. Republicans now hold a 105-75 advantage in the chamber.

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On that topic: Democrat Shea Roberts put out a note Wednesday, scheduling her campaign kick-off for Aug. 18. Roberts will try again to knock off state Rep. Deborah Silcox, R-Sandy Springs.

Guns were on Roberts’ mind in the announcement:

We shouldn't have to send our kids to school and worry about whether or not they'll come home. We should be able to go anywhere in our community and feel safe. It's been a year since Parkland, and nothing has been done.

Silcox beat Roberts 52 to 48% in 2018, but in the race for governor, Stacey Abrams carried House District 52 by 52% -- which is why the seat has been targeted by Democrats.

Moreover, Silcox has been promised GOP primary opposition because she voted – and spoke against – HB 481, the anti-abortion “heartbeat” bill that is now Georgia law.

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The Marietta Daily Journal is out with a map of six census tracts – two in Cobb County and four in Fulton – with increased risks of cancer, possibly because of a medical sterilization facility near Smyrna that uses ethylene oxide, a cancer-causing chemical.

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Former Columbus mayor Teresa Tomlinson, now a Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, endorsed the elimination of the Senate’s legislative filibuster on Wednesday.

Tomlinson said her opinion was different two years ago because the procedure – which allows a minority of 41 senators to block legislation – “historically encouraged consensus and deliberation.”

“Today, however, it has been weaponized against the American people. So, the filibuster must go,” said Tomlinson in response to a Twitter question about reviving the Voting Rights Act. “We will have to scrap the current Senate rules and come up with new rules that encourage deliberative, effective action on the people’s business.”

Killing the filibuster has been a growing topic of the debate ever since both parties began chipping away at the procedure to speed confirmation of judicial and executive branch nominees in recent years. But party leaders so far have refused to touch the reining in the filibuster as it applies to actual legislation.

Republican incumbent David Perdue, up for reelection next year, has in the past said he was open to reexamining the Senate rules, given how gridlocked Capitol Hill has become in recent years. "Quite frankly, I don’t think the founders ever meant the rules to allow anybody the ability to totally shut down the United States Senate," Perdue told one of your Insiders in 2017.

Tomlinson’s primary opponent Ted Terry has not ruled out scrapping the legislative filibuster, but said he was worried doing so could be a "slippery slope to more hyper-partisanship.” When it comes to reforming the Senate, he said he was more focused on securing representation for the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Native Americans. 

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A “dark money” group claiming to represent doctors and patients spent $2.3 million on TV ads from late July through mid-August. OpenSecrets.org reported that the group spent about $460,000 on ads targeting U.S. Sen. David Perdue -- more money than any other senator. From the story: 

Its ads urge vulnerable senators to reject a proposal meant to cut down on expensive surprise medical bills. Doctor Patient Unity, an obscure group that doesn’t list its members or disclose its funding, was incorporated in Virginia on July 23. Just a few days later, it ran its first TV ads during CNN’s broadcast of the Democratic presidential debate, a preview of the multi-million dollar ad blitz that would soon follow. 

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In endorsement news, the Georgia Life Alliance has issued “pro-life” credentials to three Republicans in  a crowded race to fill the seat vacated by former state Rep. David Stover, R-Newnan. The trio: Philip Singleton, Marcy Westmoreland Sakrison; and Nina Blackwelder. A special election is scheduled for Sept. 3.

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