Tom Perez, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, in a 2017 file photo. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM
Photo: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC/hshin@ajc.com
Photo: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC/hshin@ajc.com

The Jolt: Dem chair says Ellison abuse claims won’t sully November chances

Tom Perez, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, was in Atlanta again on Wednesday, this time addressing a small group of Hispanic and Latino voters, talking up Stacey Abrams and talking down Brian Kemp. From our AJC colleague Amanda Coyne:

Perez, alternating between English and Spanish, advised them to defy what he called efforts to increase voter suppression by Secretary of State Brian Kemp, the Republican candidate for governor…

“He’s a voter suppression expert,” Perez said. “As long as you have people like Brian Kemp in charge, people who like to demonize others in charge, that’s the direction you’ll be going in.”

But Perez also made news on another front. From the Associated Press:

The head of the Democratic Party insisted Wednesday that allegations of domestic abuse against his second-in-command would not hurt his party ahead of this fall’s midterm elections.

Yet four days after the first public accusation of physical and emotional abuse emerged against Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison, other would-be allies across the nation were far less certain. And President Donald Trump’s supporters, including a nascent group led by former White House counselor Steve Bannon, are ready to pounce.

Many of the Democratic Party’s most influential figures and outside groups avoided the issue as the political world privately pondered whether Ellison — the deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee who just won his party’s nomination for Minnesota’s attorney general — could survive a prospective scandal in the #MeToo era.

DNC Chairman Tom Perez addressed the situation directly only when pressed by reporters as he campaigned Wednesday in Georgia.

The DNC boss said he takes “very seriously” any accusation of domestic abuse, but downplayed the political fallout.

“Democrats have been winning everywhere,” Perez said. “That, I think, continues.”

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Georgia’s race for governor has gotten more competitive in the eyes of University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato.

His Crystal Ball analysis shifted the race from “likely Republican” to “leans Republican.” He writes that he’s still skeptical that Democrat Stacey Abrams can defeat Republican Brian Kemp, but:

Georgia is a racially-polarized and right-leaning state, which to us probably gives an edge to Kemp, who is white and conservative, over Abrams, who is black and liberal. But the potential for strong black turnout and a poor environment for Republicans hurting Kemp suggests that our Likely Republican rating is probably too bearish for Abrams.

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Alas, next Tuesday won’t be the first time gubernatorial candidates Stacey Abrams and Brian Kemp share a stage. Both will be at the Georgia Chamber’s annual congressional luncheon in Macon next Tuesday, and both will address a set of questions on their economic policies. But they’ll do so separately, we’re told.

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In Wednesday’s print column on Plant Vogtle and whether the effort to build two new nuclear-powered generating units has become “too big to fail,” we alluded to a statement that Tim Echols, a member of the state Public Service Commission, recently made on GPB’s “Political Rewind.”

Echols pointed to four similar nuclear projects in China. “Four separate units are working now as we speak, and that gives us a lot of confidence that this is not some kind of theory anymore,” he said.

But actually, only one of those Chinese reactors is online and generating power. Echols sent this note:

“I should have said ‘one is fully operational’ and the others are in various phases of ‘fuel loading.’ To be clear, you can't fuel load until the plant is completely finished and I was attempting to communicate to listeners that construction over there was done.”

***

File this under “Aw, shucks, ma’am, we’re just doing our jobs.” During an interview with GPB Radio’s Ricky Bevington, Atlanta City Council President Felicia Moore was asked why so much bad news is suddenly erupting from City Hall. Said Moore:

“Currently, and this is something that I think many people don't understand, all of the things that you're seeing that are coming out right now are as a result of investigative news reporting.

“The media is now being able to get open records requests that they had asked for, and they're doing their job and they're reporting things. So that's where a lot of this is coming from. And I think the FBI is feeding off of it.”

***

In case you’ve forgotten, the Washington Post has a reminder today of why former Atlanta prosecutor Sally Yates had made President Donald Trump’s list of those who may be unworthy of a security clearance:

Yates was the second-in-command at the Justice Department under Obama and led the department before Attorney General Jeff Sessions was confirmed. That meant she was in charge when Trump signed his first travel ban. Yates refused to defend the ban, and Trump fired her.

Since then, she, too, has been a critic of Trump’s. After his meeting with Putin, she criticized Trump on Twitter.

“Our President today not only chose a tyrant over his own Intel community, he chose Russia’s interests over the country he is sworn to protect,” she wrote. “All Americans should raise their voices. Let the world know what we stand for.”

***

Former Georgia congressman Buddy Darden sent word Wednesday that Powell Moore had passed.

Moore, 80, was once considered one of the most influential Georgia Republicans in Washington. A graduate of the UGA j-school, Moore was on the White House staffs of Presidents Nixon and Ford in the ‘70s, then returned under President Reagan in 1981. He served as chief of staff for U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson, R-Tenn., from 1998 to 2001.

Moore died on Monday. No services have been announced.

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