110605 Atlanta - The newly expanded Dream ownership group now includes Kelly Loeffler, left, and Mary Brock, right, cheering their team in 2nd half action against New York at Philips Arena in Atlanta on Sunday, June 5, 2011. Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com
Photo: Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com
Photo: Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

The Jolt: A Donald Trump media ally takes aim at Kelly Loeffler

The rest of the nation might be shutting down in anticipation of a Thanksgiving Day respite, but those in mortal combat over Georgia’s Senate Race No. 2 apparently intend to keep their loins girded.

You already know of last week’s development: U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, took public his bid for a gubernatorial appointment to fill the U.S. Senate seat that will be vacated by Johnny Isakson. News of a phone call from President Donald Trump to Gov. Brian Kemp for the same purpose was revealed.

All of this was in response, we presume, to a last-minute entry into the picture by Kelly Loeffler, co-owner of the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream and CEO of Bakkt, a bitcoin trading and a storage platform owned by the Atlanta-based Intercontinental Exchange.

As the weekend broke, the ultra-conservative Breitbart.com weighed in with a piece topped by wordy headline that left little to the imagination: “ ‘A Country Club Republican’: Conservatives Sound the Alarm over Kelly Loeffler’s Potential Senate Appointment, Ties to Planned Parenthood, Stacey Abrams.”

According to the Breitbart piece, Loeffler’s tie to Abrams consists of the fact that last August, Abrams joined the WNBA players’ union. Which would put Abrams in opposition to Loeffler’s management role, but never mind.

The link to Planned Parenthood is a WNBA promotion in which a portion of ticket sales were to be donated to six non-profit causes. Planned Parenthood was one of them. But this sounds like Loeffler’s most egregious sin:

“Loeffler donated $750,000 during the 2012 presidential election to Romney super PAC Restore Our Future. The financial executive has also donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to former Speaker Ryan’s political campaigns and PACs. Now, when the question of her potential Senate appointment has come to media attention, Loeffler donated $100,000 to Trump Victory, a joint fundraising committee that is raising funds for the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee[.]

Yet Kemp may have some GOP allies closer to home. On Sunday, an unsigned editorial popped up on the Marietta Daily Journal website, calling Loeffler’s entry “a game changer.” The editorial has yet to see print, but includes these lines:

Loeffler apparently holds strong conservative, pro-Trump views, saying in a letter to Gov. Kemp accompanying her application: “If chosen, I will stand with President Trump, Senator David Perdue, and you to Keep America Great. Together, we will grow jobs, strengthen the border, shutdown drug cartels and human traffickers, lower healthcare costs, and protect our national interests — at home and abroad.” That could become her campaign theme if she is appointed and wins the advantage of running as the incumbent for the last two years of Isakson’s term.

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Over at Trouble in God’s County, political demographer Charlie Hayslett has unearthed a fascinating statistic that shows how Georgia’s electorate is running into two separate corners. He looked at two gubernatorial contests separated by three decades:

[I]n 1990, 60 percent was the ceiling in 103 of the state’s 159 counties – the most either Miller or Isakson got in any of those counties. In 2018, 60 percent was the floor in 105 counties – the least either Kemp or Abrams got.

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In case you missed it, former Vice President Joe Biden floated both Stacey Abrams and Sally Yates (the latter is the former acting U.S. attorney general from Atlanta) as potential running mates at a campaign stop in Iowa over the weekend, though not by name. More from the Des Moines Register:

"I could start naming people but the press will think that’s who I picked," he said, before obliquely referring to several potential candidates.

His list included "the former assistant attorney general who got fired," referring to Sally Yates; "the woman who should have been the governor of Georgia," referring to Stacey Abrams; and "the two senators from the state of New Hampshire," referring to U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan.

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Over the weekend, Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis quickly backed former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s nascent campaign for president. “Our state motto is ‘Wisdom, Justice & Moderation.’ Mike will bring those qualities to the debate when it is desperately needed.”

One more Georgia politician who will be watched when it comes to Bloomberg’s candidacy is U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath, D-Marietta, who benefited from a hefty investment from Bloomberg’s gun control group in 2018.

McBath commemorated the seven-year anniversary of her son’s murder on Saturday by posting a tribute to him on Twitter. Jordan Davis’ shooting death spurred his mother’s advocacy work and ultimately her political career.

In a five-part thread addressed to Jordan, McBath wrote about her grief following the shooting and how it ultimately motivated her to become a gun control activist.

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State Rep. Karla Drenner, the first openly LGBTQ member of the Georgia Legislature, told Project Q that she backs Pete Buttigieg’s bid for president.

“He has my support. He is a breath of fresh air, he has a plan and our nation needs someone with skills to reunite our divided nation,” she said of Buttigieg. “I believe he can be that bridge.”

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Earlier this month, on the same day that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan visited the White House, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham quashed a Senate resolution condemning the Armenian genocide committed by Turkey in the early 20th century.

Last week, as Axios and several other news outlets noted, it was U.S. Sen. David Perdue’s turn to block a similar effort in the chamber. “It’s passage … would undermine the administration’s commitment to overcome real challenges in our bilateral relationship with Turkey,” Perdue said. Click here for the C-SPAN video.

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Over at the Newnan Times-Herald, Laurel Huster has this interesting tidbit on the decline in the vaccination rate of Georgia 5-year-olds over the last decade:

Georgia’s vaccination rate for MMR, DTap, Varicella, Hepatitus B and Polio among kindergartners decreased by 6 percentage points, the largest decline of any state.

In the 2009-2010 school year in Georgia, 99.6 percent of kindergartners were fully vaccinated, while for the 2018-19 school year, 93.6 percent were, according to the CDC.

Which reminded us of some info we didn’t get to earlier this month, reported by the Marietta Daily Journal:

State Rep. Teri Anulewicz, D-Smyrna, filed a bill in the Georgia General Assembly at the start of this year that would, if passed, give unvaccinated 16 and 17-year-olds the ability to choose to be immunized without parental consent against a dozen “preventable” diseases including measles.

At present, those under 18 years of age are at the whim of their parents or legal guardians when it comes to this.

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On a similar note, the Campaign for Sustainable Rx Pricing, which describes itself as a broad-based coalition pushing for lower drug prices, has targeted Georgia and several other states with hot U.S. Senate contests next year.

The group wants U.S. Sen. David Perdue to support a reform measure before the Christmas/New Year’s adjournment, and is offering up a statewide poll to convince him that the water’s safe. Click here for details, but among the poll points:

-- In Georgia, nearly 65 percent of survey respondents lay blame for “the rising price of prescription drugs” at the feet of pharmaceutical companies.

-- 90 percent of Georgia voters view prescription drug prices as “very important” or “somewhat important” among every issue confronting Americans.

-- Approaching 70 percent of voters in Georgia support The Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act of 2019 – compared to just 5 percent who oppose it. That includes more than 65 percent of voters across every ideology (69 percent of conservatives, 66 percent of moderates and 81 percent of liberals).

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Little-known Seventh District congressional candidate Mark Gonsalves plans to air a 30-minute infomercial on broadcast TV markets starting on Saturday. The program will run mostly in the early morning hours on Atlanta’s Fox, NBC and CBS affiliates. He’ll address a Congress that “has been dysfunctional the past 20 years under both Democrat and Republican rule.” Check it out here. 

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