Stacey Abrams’ self-imposed deadline to announce whether she’ll run for U.S. Senate in 2020 is fast approaching. Like, tomorrow.
The Democrat has said she will decide by the end of April - i.e., Tuesday. Aides and allies say they have no indication that’s changed.
Most Georgia Democrats we’ve contacted expect her to bow out of the race against U.S. Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., but leave open the possibility of a White House run.
In or out, Abrams’ decision is sorely needed for a field that’s remained stagnant as she’s weighed her options.
Only one candidate, former Columbus mayor Teresa Tomlinson, has jumped in the race -- on the condition that Abrams isn’t running. Which must make fundraising somewhat awkward.
Why do we expect Abrams’ decision on Tuesday rather than today? Her voting rights group, Fair Fight Action, has a court hearing Monday afternoon -- on that vast lawsuit challenging Georgia’s voting system. Abrams might not want to steal its thunder.
On the same note, state Sen. Jen Jordan, D-Atlanta, on Sunday opted out of the U.S. Senate picture.
In a series of tweets, Jordan said this year’s legislative session taught her that “we need more leaders in the General Assembly who are willing to fight for women, children, teachers, & doctors.”
She concludes: “As for the United States Senate race, whether Stacey Abrams or Teresa Tomlinson (or someone else) is the Democratic nominee, I will stand with her to make sure that we stop putting politics over the people of this state and this country.”
Check out our latest list of who’s running, who’s thinking about running and who is out of the race to challenge U.S. Sen. David Perdue.
The New York Times has an extended Q&A with Stacey Abrams, talking about everything from her postponement of romantic relationships to socialism. Here’s what she said about the latter:
“I’m a capitalist. I believe in our capital markets. I believe they need to be heavily regulated. I believe that avarice when left to its own devices is corrosive and that it will always outweigh conscience in our marketplace.
“And I think if you talk to business owners like myself, they will tell you they believe in regulation. It’s a question of: Do the regulations make sense? I would argue that what is often cast as contrast is really a question of delivery system.
“I believe, for example, that health care is a right and not a privilege. But I believe in the private marketplace and that it should exist for the delivery of health care. I don’t see that as in conflict with the idea of having access to Medicare for all who would like to buy into that system.”
We are at an interesting cultural moment in the South. On Friday, Gov. Brian Kemp signed Senate Bill 77, a measure intended to make it more difficult to remove Confederate monuments and increase penalties for their defacement.
But the Chattanooga Times Free Press notes that Kemp did so without a single mention of the Civil War or the Confederacy:
“It is true that there are monuments in our history that do not reflect our values, he said, during a ceremony in front of Gordon Lee High School. “We cannot erase them from our history. We must learn from them. These monuments and markers remind us of how far we’ve come not only as a state but as a country.”
…During his speech, Kemp never mentioned the Civil War by name. Instead, he discussed military veterans of the world wars, as well as wars in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq. He also said the law protects monuments that honor first responders and civil rights leaders.
The signing ceremony occurred in Chickamauga, Ga., at Gordon Lee High School, next to the Gordon Lee Mansion, a brick structure built by slaves in the 1840s.
Abortion rights groups have declared they intend to target Republicans state lawmakers who voted for HB 481, the “heartbeat” bill -- and even those who walked on the legislation.
An anti-abortion group says it will provide a shield for those vulnerable lawmakers, many of whom are in north metro Atlanta.
Joshua Edmonds of Georgia Life Alliance says his group plans to “recruit 1,000 leaders across the state to help raise $1 million dollars and knock on 1 million doors in support of our pro-life elected officials.”
Edmonds said he will reveal more details at the state GOP convention next month in Savannah.
We told you last week of a Democratic effort to make Attorney General Chris Carr own HB 481. A letter from state Sen. Jen. Jordan, D-Atlanta, asked Carr to declare whether he thought the “heartbeat” bill -- which has yet to be signed by Gov. Brian Kemp, to be constitutional.
The attorney general’s office responded on Friday with a polite “No, thank you” over the signature of Carr’s No. 2, Dennis Dunn, the chief deputy attorney general. In part:
“It is the constitutional and statutory duty of the Attorney General to defend statues that are enacted by the General Assembly and signed into law. It is also the long-standing practice of this office not to opine on the constitutionality of either pending legislation or state statues given those obligations that come with the office.
“Finally, given the threat of litigation on the very question that you have presented, it would be inappropriate for this office to provide the opinion you have requested.”
Another Democrat braved Fox News this morning. Sarah Riggs Amico, the former nominee for lieutenant governor in Georgia, appeared with GOP strategist Matt Braynard to debate Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris’ opposition to right-to-work laws. Said Amico:
“Senator Harris is actually on the right side of this. I think the overwhelming, 64 percent of voters in Missouri, who overturned their right-to-work law last year, showed that she is on the right track….
“The data is very consistent, that these right-to-work laws tremendously diminish membership in right-to-work states.”
A left-leaning watchdog group is going to federal court to compel the office of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to hand over communications among the former Georgia governor, U.S. Sen. David Perdue and Florida sugar barons. American Oversight sued the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Thursday, pushing for records related to Sonny Perdue's business interests, communications with his first cousin and work with the Florida-based Fanjul family, which oversees a business empire that includes Domino Sugar.
It’s unclear what exactly compelled the filing, but there are a few connections worth pointing out. It took Sonny Perdue longer than many other Cabinet picks to begin the Senate confirmation process as he untied himself from his extensive business interests, which included agribusiness components. David Perdue is a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, which helps oversee USDA and writes the sugar subsidy-setting farm bill.
The latter was not a major issue by the time the legislation arrived in the Senate last year, but the industry worked overtime to kill a House amendment to reduce sugar prices. Perdue’s Senate campaign received $21,600 from members of the Fanjul family in 2017 and 2018.
Spokespeople for both Perdue cousins said they could not comment because of the pending litigation.
This isn’t the first time American Oversight, which has ties to the Obama administration and senior Capitol Hill Democrats, has gone after Sonny Perdue. The public records litigation shop also pressured the department for the secretary’s calendars, which USDA eventually released. (American Oversight can’t directly request records from David Perdue, since Congress is exempt from the Freedom of Information Act.) Family ties is an issue that’s high on the group’s mind: it also requested communications between Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and the office of her husband, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Former acting Attorney General Sally Yates stepped back into the public spotlight yesterday, telling NBC News that if Donald Trump weren’t president, he’d likely be indicted for obstruction of justice. The ex- U.S. attorney for Atlanta said she previously prosecuted obstruction cases “on far, far less evidence” than what was included in special counsel Robert Mueller’s report. Here’s what she said on “Meet the Press”:
“I think special counsel Mueller did a very fair job in going through all 10 instances and laying out both the facts that established he had committed the crime of obstruction, but also pointing out the defenses, both legal and factual. But there are several incidents that he described to which special counsel Mueller really couldn't point to any significant factual or legal defenses."
We haven’t heard much from Yates since she quashed Democratic hopes that she’d challenge David Perdue in 2020. She became a household name overnight when Trump fired her in January 2017 for refusing to enforce his travel ban. Yates has since returned to private practice in Atlanta.
Former U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar, the Indiana Republican who joined with Georgia's Sam Nunn to craft a landmark denuclearization agreement with Russia, died on Sunday. Nunn said Lugar, 87, was "an extraordinary statesman who made the world a safer and better place." "I have lost a wonderful friend and trusted partner," the former Georgia senator said.
U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., spent part of his congressional recess in Iraq, where he met with local political leaders, U.S. diplomats and Georgia service members stationed there. The Republican traveled to Baghdad, Taji and Erbil with Maine Independent Angus King and Democrat Tammy Duckworth, the Illinois veteran who marked her return to the country for the first time since she nearly died there during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2004. She lost both her legs and partial use of her right arm after the Blackhawk helicopter she was flying was shot down. It was Isakson’s fourth trip to the country.