Protestors rally against Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh outside the Supreme Court in Washington, DC. on Thursday. Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The Jolt: Fishing for women voters glued to the Kavanaugh hearing

Officially, the U.S. Senate committee hearing that will feature Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, one of several women accusing him of sexual abuse, will begin at 10 a.m. today.

Unofficially, we’re already at the midpoint.

Which you can tell simply by watching the behavior of Stacey Abrams and Brian Kemp, the Democratic and Republican candidates for governor, respectively. Both are already playing to a wave of heightened attention from women voters.

Earlier this morning, we posted this, keying off a bit of Wednesday bragging from the Kemp camp:

Brian Kemp recently ended a bitter feud with the most prominent female Republican in the state Senate [there are only two] as he maneuvers his campaign to try to dent a gaping gender gap.

State Sen. Renee Unterman said Wednesday that she and Kemp traded apologies a few weeks ago after a “horrible” back-and-forth during his runoff against Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle.

She was referring to a July episode when Kemp’s campaign called for her to “seek immediate medical attention before she hurts herself or someone else” after Unterman, a Cagle supporter, urged prosecutors to investigate his campaign donations.

And you’ll recall a Tuesday post in which a Democratic pollster told us that, in certain state House and Senate districts in metro Atlanta, he was seeing a 21-point shift among women between the ages of 50 and 64, in favor of Democrats – compared to 2016.

But in political campaigns, the thing to watch is where candidates actually put their money, and what they’re saying when they do it.

Across a couple TV platforms last night, we saw an Abrams ad pushing back against attacks that as a state lawmaker she was soft on sex offenders. In her 30-second spot, a white male – “a former police officer” -- assured us that this wasn’t so. He was immediate followed by two white women – a “mom” and “teacher.” They delivered what was intended as the “Jake” counterpunch.

Says mom: “Brian Kemp pointed a gun at a teenager in his own ad.”

Adds the teacher: “Who does that?”

At perhaps 8:50 p.m. last night, we saw a warm, 30-second story about Kemp put out by the Republican Party of Georgia. The TV spot was missing specifics, but featured a young girl in need of a kidney transplant, and a mom who implied that Kemp had helped persuade her insurance company to cover the procedure.

It was an effective ad. But the venue was more important. We looked up to see what channel our significant other was watching. It was MSNBC – a network with a liberal tilt that, demographically, has become a favorite among women, particularly those between the ages of 25 to 54.

Think about that: On Wednesday night, a Republican candidate for governor of Georgia sought to touch base with women in the run-up to MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show.”

If you’re wondering how Thursday’s Kavanaugh hearing will impact Georgia politics, the answer is pretty simple. It already has.

***

Off the TV screen, Republican Brian Kemp’s message was more harsh. On Wednesday, he upped his barrage against Abrams over criminal justice policy.

Via Twitter, he slammed her plan to eliminate cash bail, saying it would “flood our streets with criminals and undermine public safety.” 

He linked to a WABE story on the first months of Atlanta’s new bail overhaul policy: 

Early numbers show the rate of people failing to return to court after being released without bail has doubled over the past year. But legal and community advocates say there are a few reasons the data on offer are flawed.

It’s been six months since Atlanta implemented an ordinance aimed at eliminating bail for a range of nonviolent traffic and nuisance offenses. But less than one month after it passed, a massive ransomware attack hit the city, which has hurt data collection.

***

Donald Trump Jr. and his steady, former Fox News figure Kimberly Guilfoyle, are headed to Athens to speak to the University of Georgia on Oct. 9. Don’t be surprised if Brian Kemp, the Republican candidate for governor, schedules his own event around their address. 

***

Stacey Abrams, his Democratic rival for governor, is getting more star support herself: John Legend, who recently completed the EGOT cycle, will host an Oct. 2 fundraising concert for the Democratic nominee for governor. Tickets start at $100. 

***

In the race for attorney general, Republican incumbent Chris Carr is acknowledging Democratic rival Charlie Bailey with an attack mailer that’s hitting GOP-voting households. Among the charges:

“Bailey has said if elected he will call for a partisan investigation of a political adversary.”

“Adversary” rather than “opponent.” This was strange phrasing, so we went to the footnotes for specifics, and now understand.

The June 15 piece in the AJC looked at reactions to the news that, in a secret recording, Cagle “pushed legislation he described as bad a ‘thousand different ways’ just to undercut another candidate’s fundraising opportunities.”

The article included this line:

Charlie Bailey, the party's nominee for attorney general, said he would investigate whether Cagle violated state bribery laws if he were elected.

Now, given his party affiliation, maybe you could call Cagle a “political adversary” of Bailey. But what’s really missing from the allegation is that the lede of this particular article focuses on the fact that state Sen. Bill Heath and state Rep. Susan Holmes – both supporters of Brian Kemp, who was then facing Cagle in a runoff – had asked the U.S. attorney to investigate the Cagle matter.

But that’s something that the guy now at the top of the GOP ticket would rather not come up in late September.

This flyer doesn’t come directly from Carr, but from an entity calling itself “Peachtree Prosperity,” with an address of 1747 Pennsylvania Ave., NW., Washington D.C., Suit 800.” Which just happens to be the address of the Republican Attorneys General Association.

Carr sits on the organization’s executive committee.

***

U.S. House members have no role in the confirmation of Supreme Court justices, but the Democratic opponents of U.S. Reps. Rob Woodall and Karen Handel are still trying to tie them to the embattled Brett Kavanaugh. Carolyn Bourdeaux, the GSU professor challenging Woodall in the Seventh District, said Wednesday that the four-term incumbent should demand that President Donald Trump withdraw Kavanaugh’s nomination, now that three women have come forward alleging sexual assault.

That came shortly after Handel’s opponent, Lucy McBath, echoed Democratic calls for an FBI investigation.

Both Handel and Woodall tweeted words of support when Kavanaugh was first nominated in July, but have publicly stayed silent since the assault allegations emerged. A secret recording of Handel at a recent Cobb County Republican Women’s Club event captured her decrying a “rush to judgment” on Kavanaugh.

***

A U.S. House panel is looking to interview former acting Attorney General Sally Yates as part of its probe of the Justice Department’s actions in 2016 and 2017. The GOP chairmen of the House Judiciary and Oversight committees recently sent letters requesting to interview to the longtime Georgia lawyer, as well as ex-FBI Director James Comey and former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, according to Politico. The trio played parts in signing off on applications to surveil ex-Trump campaign aide Carter Page starting in late 2016, an action that sowed the seeds for the department’s Russia investigation.

***

The advocacy group behind a constitutional amendment to create a new set of rights for crime victims is set to blanket the airwaves statewide with TV ads. The spot, which you can find here, portrays a victim worried about coming into contact with the criminal who attacked her. The amendment would require that crime victims have a right to information about their assailant’s case, such as court hearings and changes in custody status. 

***

Is this like praying for more rain? 

***

On Wednesday night, the House cleared an $855 billion government spending package, sending the must-pass bill to the president’s desk. All but one Georgia lawmaker backed the legislation, which passed 361-61. Monroe Republican Jody Hice said he voted against the bill -- which provides year-long funding to the Pentagon and departments of Education, Labor and Health, as well as temporary funds for a slew of other government agencies – because it put so many programs on autopilot until December. 

“This is no way to run the government and it has to stop," he said. "This perpetual cycle is an unfortunate testament to a dysfunctional budget process that continues to drive our national debt in the wrong direction while ceding on conservative priorities, including pro-life initiatives and the border wall.” He said he was also uncomfortable with the Pentagon spending being coupled with funding for other programs, which has become a common practice in recent years. 

***

Never miss a minute of what’s happening in Georgia Politics. Subscribe to PoliticallyGeorgia.com

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.

X