In a tweet, Abrams said “2020 is definitely on the table.”

The Jolt: Democrats contemplate a Stacey Abrams-less race for U.S. Senate

Former Columbus mayor takes first step toward candidacy

Democrats in Washington and Georgia are making contingency plans for a U.S. Senate race here that doesn’t include Stacey Abrams.

Former Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson announced this morning that she has filed the paperwork to explore a 2020 challenge to U.S. Sen. David Perdue.

Tomlinson said she’s been “standing down” as she waits for Abrams to decide “because, obviously, I support Stacey.” But she also said that no one on her team has been paid for weeks, and that she doesn’t want to violate Federal Election Commission regulations.

“Stacey deserves more time to consider this, particularly with her book tour being extended, and I needed to file for the exploratory committee,” Tomlinson told one of your Insiders. “We’re all hovering around the same objective of making sure a Democrat wins – and we’ll know by the end of April.”

In the span of 48 hours, on Wednesday and Thursday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, in charge of candidate recruitment, met first with Tomlinson, then Abrams.

It was Abrams’ third session with Schumer. Many Democrats see the Georgia race to unseat U.S. Sen. David Perdue, a Republican with close times to President Donald Trump, as crucial to winning control of the chamber in 2020. Raising cash will be key, but to raise cash you need a candidate. From Politico.com:

[Abrams] initially intended to decide on a Senate run by the end of March, but that timeline has slipped as she has toured the country, which has allowed her to develop a national political network. She said she would decide "as soon as possible" — but called it a self-imposed deadline and declined to give a specific date for announcing whether she would challenge first-term GOP Sen. David Perdue…

Yet at the same time, Abrams – who has been on a media blitz this week, hawking a new paperback edition of her book – also continues to explore a bid for president with a far different timetable:

"My responsibility is to analyze it, decide if that's the job for me and how I can win," she added. "I believe based on my understanding of the contours of how to run a presidential race, September is actually an appropriate date."

But a 2020 race for U.S. Senate won’t wait until September. Hence Tomlinson’s meeting with Schumer, which was confirmed by Chuck Williams of WRLB in Columbus. More Democratic candidates are expected, including Sarah Riggs Amico, the former candidate for lieutenant governor.

Tomlinson will be with on GPB’s “Political Rewind” with host Bill Nigut at 2 p.m. today.

Former Columbus mayor Teresa Tomlinson/AJC file

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You know that 71-year-old Wilton Gregory, who heads the Catholic archdiocese of Atlanta, will be the next archbishop of Washington. The Washington Post explains why the religious world is abuzz:

The appointment of Gregory to replace Cardinal Donald Wuerl ranks among the most important leadership decisions of Pope Francis’s papacy. It positions Gregory, the only living African American U.S. archbishop, to become one of the most visible black voices in the U.S. capital.

Given that D.C. archbishops are traditionally named cardinals, Gregory is on a path to become the first black American to receive the title, which would give him the right to vote for pope.

But the move also is designed to stabilize a reeling archdiocese that has become symbolic of the church’s failures to fully contend with clerical sexual abuse. Gregory’s two predecessors, Wuerl and former cardinal Theodore McCarrick, had become embroiled in scandal — although in very different ways.

At his Thursday debut in D.C., Gregory promised to stay out of the political fray – as he often did in Atlanta. As archbishop here, Gregory withdrew Catholic support for “religious liberty” legislation, amid criticism that such measures were intended to discriminate against gays and lesbians.

Which means many will be watching to see who replaces Gregory in Atlanta.

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Jamie Dupree of WSB Radio fame tells us that some Republicans in Washington aren’t thrilled with President Donald Trump’s intention to nominate former GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain to a seat on the Federal Reserve board.

Dupree pointed to this Politico.com piece, quoting U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney:

In an interview, the Utah Republican senator brushed off the prospect of Trump following through and officially nominating Cain: “I doubt that will be a nomination. But if it were a nomination, you can bet [what] the interest rates he would be pushing for.”

“If Herman Cain were on the Fed, you’d know the interest rate would soon be 9-9-9,” Romney said in an interview on Thursday afternoon.

That was the mnemonic device used by Cain during his 2012 campaign, to highlight his economic plan. The piece also notes that Cain abandoned his presidential ambitions when confronted with sexual harassment claims – which could resurface in Senate confirmation hearings.

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Among the first volley of measures that Gov. Brian Kemp signed into law this week was a Republican-backed bill to create a needle exchange program designed to reduce HIV rates in Georgia. 

House Bill 217 creates a syringe initiative that allows people who inject drugs to trade their used needles for clean ones. Health officials say these programs help reduce the spread of dangerous diseases. 

Patrick Saunders at Project Q lists the new law among a range of accomplishments for the LGBTQ community in Georgia that also includes the failure of “religious liberty” legislation and hate crimes legislation that passed the House. From his piece:

Jeff Graham, executive director of Georgia Equality, said the session was “much better on LGBTQ issues than we thought it was going to be.”“Definitely in the House, you could see the influence of the number of Democrats that won in seats [in 2018] that nobody expected they would win, and how that really allowed for the voices of moderate Republicans to come forward, especially on LGBT issues,” he told Project Q Atlanta. “That’s why you saw that vote on the hate crimes bill come out the way it did.”

The hate crimes bill, which passed the House, was the first legislative acknowledgement of the LGBT community as a class deserving protection from discrimination. The bill did not move in the Senate.

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