AJC file

The Jolt: A GOP fundraiser keeps a focus on guns in Georgia

On Friday, nearly every statewide-elected Republican will be at a gun range in Smyrna for a fundraising event that’s sure to keep firearms front-and-center as a political issue in Georgia this week.

Sixty dollars will get participants three weapons – “rifle, pistol, revolver” – and five rounds for each. The president of the National Rifle Association will be there, organizers say.

The “marksmanship and BBQ reception” is an annual event sponsored by the 11th District GOP and was scheduled long before the massacres in El Paso and Dayton. But it comes at a time when Republicans are trying very hard not to talk about an issue that’s an overall losing topic in suburban Atlanta.

At a Saturday GOP rally in Rome, U.S. Rep. Barry Loudermilk of Cassville, was the lone speaker to fire back at Democrats who had already latched onto this week’s gun-range fundraiser.

Loudermilk is one of two political figures in Georgia who have license to talk about guns anytime, anywhere, by virtue of their personal experience. Both are members of Congress.

The fact that U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath, D-Marietta, lost a son to a murderer’s pistol has made it difficult for Republicans here and in Washington to attack her support for anti-gun violence legislation.

Loudermilk was on a ballfield in Alexandria, Va., in June 2017 when a shooter opened fire on a Republican baseball practice ahead of the annual congressional baseball game. Said Loudermilk on Saturday:

“Good intentions didn’t stop that shooting. A couple of police officers with ARs did,” he said, adding: “We have to be cautious about doing something for the sake of just doing something.”

***

We told you that, early Friday morning, former attorney general Sam Olens, a Republican, endorsed changes to Georgia’s gun laws. We failed to catch former U.S. senator Sam Nunn, speaking on CNN at about the same time, saying much the same thing. Said Nunn:

“I think all three branches of government are going to have to start using common sense. We’ve got tragedies every day unfolding, not just in the mass shootings, which are horrible, but also every day on the streets of America. People are in fear…

“This is no way for our country to conduct itself. Common sense to me means you basically limit the kind of killing power that we have on the streets now. The military-type weapons and the number of rounds in the magazine.

“You know, when I was 14 years old, I started hunting. I still hunt. I’ve had shotguns all my life. We’ve been required by state and federal law not to have more than three shells when you’re shooting migratory birds. And yet guns that are designed to kill people, military-type weapons, have up to a hundred bullets. So that’s what we’re seeing out there now.”

Nunn endorsed universal background checks, and said “red-flag” legislation should be considered. Furthermore:

“I also think that we shouldn’t believe that any of this is going to solve the problem immediately. There’s no magic wand. We need, I think, rather desperately to have the CDC and NIH to conduct research and tell us how we can make America safer from guns.”

“We certainly are not going to repeal the Second Amendment, but the Second Amendment doesn’t say you have to act stupid. You can have common sense, and that applies to all three branches of government.”

***

It’s always concerning when a political party endorses the silo-ing of communication, so that only the like-minded are allowed to weigh in. But it is apparently becoming part of Georgia GOP strategy.

At a local GOP meeting over the weekend, Oconee County Observations reported that party second vice-chair Brant Frost V urged the audience to use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and AllSocial.com - a conservative startup.

“Instagram, Facebook and Twitter -they’re all run by people who hate our guts,” said Frost, who contended that the major social media sites are biased against conservatives. “They can kick us off at any moment. We have to have a back-up plan.” 

Asked by one activist to summarize why conservatives should be on social media, Frost was curt.

“The chief goal is to wage guerrilla warfare in the social media world,” he said, suggesting Republicans may soon have to use code words if conservatives are censored. “We have to be able to disseminate information in our circles.”

***

Brant Frost IV has already made headlines this morning, with assertions that Republicans hold a “fertility advantage” over Democrats.

***

You already know that, with the apparent suicide of accused billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, the conspiracy train was quick to leave the station. President Donald Trump is among those who have hopped aboard one that targeted White House predecessor Bill Clinton.

Among Trump’s defenders were a former Georgia congressman. From the Daily Beast:

“The Clinton body count stuff is up there with Kennedy assassination conspiracy when it comes to political reading. It’s too juicy to ignore,” said former Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA), a current Trump surrogate, who added that he was being “tongue [in] cheek,” but that “I think the question is legit of how the hell does a high-profile perp on 24/7 watch knock himself off?”

As for the president’s signal-boost to the Clinton-related theory, Kingston said, “I think Trump is just stirring the plot. The left loves conspiracies as much as the right.”

***

Getting their mojo working: As Democrats step up plans to flip the Georgia House, state Republicans unveiled their own initiative Monday to keep the chamber in GOP hands. The GOP Majority Outreach – known as GOPMojo – has a goal of spending $10 million on roughly 30 of the state’s most competitive House seats to help Republicans defend a narrowing 105-75 advantage in the chamber.

***

U.S. Rep. David Scott hosted his 15th annual health care fair on Saturday at Mundy’s Mill High School in Jonesboro. His Democratic primary challenger, former Cobb County party chair Michael Owens, used the event to launch a health care-oriented broadside at the incumbent. From his Facebook post:

Rep. Pramila Jayapal’s (WA07) HR 1384 recently gained its 117[th] House cosponsor, a majority of House Democrats, making it the House Democratic caucus’ official position on healthcare. Congressman Scott’s name isn’t on this list. With all of this focus on the crisis facing millions of Americans and thousands of Georgians, what is David Scott’s position? Host another Heath Fair.

Congressman Scott appears to be aligned with that very small wing of the Democratic Caucus that is committed to maintaining a system where the right of private insurance and prescription companies get to continue set the rules for American healthcare policy with the goal of ensuring their cut of the healthcare profit “pie.”

Congressman Scott defines the majority of his positions based on priorities set by his donors, almost all of whom do not live in our communities in the 13th district. David Scott’s pay to play politics are out of step with the majority of congressional Democrats, out of step with the majority of Americans, and out of step with his constituents in Georgia’s 13th congressional district.

So far, Scott’s tactic toward his challenger has been to ignore him. Several requests for a response to Owens’ attack went unanswered over the weekend.

***

Our AJC colleague James Salzer reports high-earners would get most of the relief from a second round of cuts to Georgia’s state income tax – which a GOP-led Legislature is likely to push for in 2020. From his piece:

“If you were to enact this second phase of tax cuts, the median taxpayer would get about $42,” said Danny Kanso, an analyst for the institute who last year worked on the tax legislation the General Assembly passed while serving as an aide to Republican Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle.

Households earning more than $500,000 a year, he said, would on average get almost $2,800 a year from the cut.

“This actually would not be a true tax cut for most people,” Kanso said. “It would be a very minor change that the state can’t afford.”

***

Taking a cue from the messaging used by GOP groups across the country, pro-David Perdue powers have constantly flung the socialist label at the incumbent's two Democratic opponents.

For the latest example, see the National Republican Senatorial Committee's new billboard off I-85 near Buckhead. The ad features a picture of former Columbus mayor Teresa Tomlinson next to two progressive members of the House's freshman class: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota.

"Too liberal for Georgia," it states. 

Tomlinson has been complimentary of “the Squad” -- four congresswomen of color who have been fiercely critical of President Trump and sought to push their Democratic colleagues to the left on issues like immigration and impeachment.

In response to the billboard, the Tomlinson campaign said Monday the “NRSC is scared they will lose the Georgia US Senate seat to Teresa Tomlinson, a proven woman leader, and from what we have seen and heard from the people of this great state as we travel around it, they should be.”

***

Speaking of Tomlinson, we're told she plans to participate in a panel event being arranged by the gun control group March for Our Lives at Eagles Nest Church in Roswell on Saturday. This comes as the gun control debate has intensified in the aftermath of last week’s shooting in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio. 

***

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren is making her second visit to Georgia since launching her campaign for president. The Massachusetts Democrat will speak at the Black Church PAC’s candidate lunch forum at the Georgia International Convention Center at noon on Saturday. 

***

Girding for battle: Sterigenics, the medical manufacturing firm, hired a state Capitol lobbyist on Friday as it prepares for legislative blowback. The company is facing protests and scrutiny after a medical sterilization plant it owns was linked to increased carcinogenic emissions. The lobbyist, Amy Hughes, works for a Savannah-based firm whose clients also include pipeline giant Kinder Morgan, which sought unsuccessfully to build a controversial 210-mile line across east Georgia.

***

A woman said to be a former Democratic candidate in Georgia's 10th Congressional District has accepted a plea deal in the killing of her husband/campaign treasurer, according to the Augusta Chronicle. The newspaper reports that Kellie Lynn Collins was sentenced to 30 years in prison after pleading guilty to voluntary manslaughter.

Collins briefly challenged Monroe Republican Jody Hice in 2018 before withdrawing from the race due to personal reasons, per the Chronicle. But she never qualified as a candidate. The FEC database also fails to turn up any reference to her.

***

Speaking of U.S. Rep. Jody Hice, R-Monroe, he was one of several GOP lawmakers to sign onto a letter to the House Ethics Committee urging an investigation into Texas colleague Joaquin Castro. The group said the Democrat violated the House's code of conduct when he tweeted the names of 44 Texans who donated to President Donald Trump's presidential campaign. "Posting a target list of private citizens simply for supporting his political opponent is antithetical to our principles and serves to suppress the free speech and free association rights of Americans," the group wrote. 

***

This piece from the Savannah Morning News caught our eye:

For the last five years the port of Savannah has been the U.S. leader in the export of fresh shark fins, a legal but controversial trade item essential for shark fin soup, an Asian delicacy.

Last year, more than 18,000 pounds of shark fins, valued at about $808,000 was exported from Savannah. All of it was shipped to Hong Kong. (While Savannah led in the value of shark fins exported, a larger amount of fins, at nearly 37,000 pounds, was shipped out of Galveston, Texas.)

The newspaper reports that four members of Congress from Georgia are backing a measure to ban U.S. participation in the trade: U.S. Reps. Sanford Bishop, D-Albany; Buddy Carter, R-Pooler; David Scott, D-Atlanta; Hank Johnson, D-Lithonia; and Rob Woodall, R-Lawrenceville.

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