HOUSTON, TEXAS - SEPTEMBER 12: Democratic presidential candidates South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) interact during the Democratic Presidential Debate at Texas Southern University's Health and PE Center on September 12, 2019 in Houston, Texas. Ten Democratic presidential hopefuls were chosen from the larger field of candidates to participate in the debate hosted by ABC News in partnership with Univision. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images
Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

The Jolt: Democratic presidential candidates will debate in the Oprah Winfrey sound stage

While President Donald Trump held Atlanta traffic in an iron grip on Friday afternoon, state Democratic party chair Nikema Williams was on the set of GPB’s “Political Rewind,” offering a few details about next week’s presidential debate.

How to get a ticket to the event wasn’t one of them.

As you should know by now, the 10-candidate (so far) debate will be held Nov. 20 on the grounds of Tyler Perry’s 330-acre studio complex, which boasts 12 sound stages – named after African-American actors such as Denzel Washington and Sidney Poitier.

“We’re going to be on the Oprah Winfrey sound stage,” Williams said.

But there is that matter of tickets. How many will be available? The state party chairman didn’t know.

“This is still being built. It wasn’t set up to handle presidential debates. So all of the logistics are still being built out. We don’t even have a cap number on capacity yet,” Williams said.

The location of the debate, sponsored by MSNBC and the Washington Post, was only made official last week. That the event is nine days away isn’t necessarily a reason to panic.

Fast builds are what sound stages are all about.

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Some final notes about President Donald Trump’s visit to Atlanta on Friday:

-- An official with the Trump campaign said a fundraiser at The Whitley attracted more than 300 donors and raised roughly $3.5 million to be split between his operation, the Republican National Committee and U.S. Sen. David Perdue’s re-election apparatus.

-- Perdue’s Democratic opponents didn’t take the day off. Jon Ossoff attracted more than 200 people to his happy hour at Manuel’s Tavern with an online invite that spoofed Trump’s event. And several of Teresa Tomlinson’s staffers joined a protest of Trump’s speech to help voters check their registration status and make sure their records weren’t purged.

-- Trump didn’t endorse any potential candidate for U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson’s seat. He didn’t have much to say about the race at all, in fact, beside saying that Gov. Brian Kemp should have an appointment “very soon.” He did lavish praise on U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, one of the best-known applicants, as he trumpeted each of the Republican officials who accompanied him.

-- When it came time for the president to cede the microphone to a black Republican official, he didn’t turn to Herman Cain, Alveda King or another famous Georgian. He shifted the spotlight to Kelvin King, a U.S. Air Force veteran and small business owner who praised Trump’s economic agenda - and seemed ready for a political run of his own.

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WABE (90.1FM) and partner APM say they have gone through list of 310,000 to-be-purged voters released by the secretary of state, and have found 294 voters whose registrations shouldn’t be erased.

The news outlets reported that Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s office has confirmed that those voters shouldn’t have been on the list, and won’t be cancelled out.

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Eleven of Jeff Sessions' former GOP colleagues are backing his run for U.S. Senate in Alabama, according to Politico. Georgia’s Johnny Isakson is among the signatories. His counterpart, David Perdue, is not.

Sessions, of course, drew criticism from President Donald Trump while serving as his attorney general and ultimately resigned at the president’s request. However, Trump has indicated that -- at least for now -- he will remain neutral in the Republican contest.

But with Trump at the Alabama-LSU football game on Saturday was U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne, another Republican running to challenge Democratic incumbent Doug Jones next year.

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Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin’s refusal to concede the race to a Democratic challenger who is leading him by roughly 5,000 votes is leading some Republicans to draw a comparison to Stacey Abrams and the 2018 election.

Bevin has cited “significant irregularities” without citing evidence, prompting election specialists and his critics to demand an accounting of what he means. From NPR:

Bevin isn't the first politician to question the results of a race after the fact, and occasionally, if infrequently, those concerns have been founded in reality.

After the 2018 midterms, then-Florida Gov. Rick Scott alluded to "rampant voter fraud" that was never borne out in his Senate race.

Democrats also have continued to blame the results of the Georgia gubernatorial election on election administration issues that they say suppressed turnout.

And in North Carolina, an election for a House seat did end up being nullified because of an absentee ballot scheme.

This might be a fact of tight post-election politics in a polarized era. City Councilwoman Mary Norwood waited weeks to concede the Atlanta mayor’s race in 2017 to Keisha Lance Bottoms. And Donald Trump claimed without evidence that “millions” of people voted illegally even though he won.

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Our AJC colleague Bill Torpy is out there with a piece on the end of Dunwoody as a sanctuary city for Republicans.

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Over at fortnightly.com, state Public Service Commission member Tim Echols, a Republican, is warning Washington not to do what Georgia did. The lede:

A battle is currently brewing between members of Congress to either terminate or expand the current $7,500 electric vehicle tax credit. They should learn from Georgia which in 2015 repealed the state’s robust electric car tax credit, and penalized electric car buyers with a fee. The move led to a nearly ninety percent drop in new electric car registrations and cost Georgia income, jobs and cleaner air.

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Metro Atlanta’s traffic problems in a nutshell – via the Marietta Daily Journal:

People in Cobb County think that transportation is the metro area’s biggest issue and that public transit is the best way to address it. But they are not willing to pay more in taxes to finance their own solution, according to the results of an annual survey the Atlanta Regional Commission released Friday.

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Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue’s Republican colleagues are crediting him with keeping beleaguered farmers in President Donald Trump’s camp. From the Washington Post:

Perdue said Thursday he was “hopeful” that the pending trade deal would “supplant any type of farm aid needed in 2020.” But a third round of aid could be crucial to shoring up Trump’s support in rural America as the election looms, analysts say.

In more than two years in office, Perdue, a former Georgia governor, has perfected the art of flattering the president — a must for any high-ranking Trump official. He spent more time in a recent podcast with Trump’s former press secretary Sarah Sanders lauding Trump than discussing farmer woes. Trump has said that what he doesn’t know about farming, “Sonny teaches me.”

***

Republicans in the U.S. House want to expand the scope of the impeachment inquiry, sharing a list of eight people they requested to add to the roster of witnesses, including former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, and the whistleblower whose complaint has been key to the investigation.

But it doesn’t appear that the Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, who is overseeing the probe, is willing to give Republicans a chance to shift attention away from President Donald Trump. The Washington Post reports:

 The GOP demands were met with immediate skepticism from House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), who warned against “sham investigations” of the Bidens and other issues in a clear signal that many of the witnesses were unlikely to be called.

The clash came as Democrats prepare to enter a new phase of the impeachment inquiry with public hearings beginning Wednesday, which will focus on Trump’s alleged efforts to pressure Ukrainian officials to dig up dirt on Joe Biden and other Democrats in exchange for military aid or a White House visit by the Ukrainian president. Witnesses who have testified out of public view have largely corroborated the whistleblower’s initial allegations.

Remember that the probe enters a new phase on Wednesday, when the first open hearings will be held. The major networks, both broadcast and cable, plan to carry the questioning live.

To that end, WSB Radio’s Jamie Dupree reports that Republicans added U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan to the Intelligence Committee to beef up their ability to defend Trump. Jordan replaces an Arkansas Republican who rarely attended any of the closed door depositions in recent weeks.

And one final word on impeachment from NPR’s Tamara Keith, who used now-available public records to corroborate nearly every allegation in the anonymous whistleblowers letter. Read her annotated version here.

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