Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., center, hugs Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., after Sanders walked up to the podium to speak during a campaign event Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020, in Marshalltown, Iowa. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Photo: Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP
Photo: Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

The Jolt: A GOP push for Bernie Sanders in South Carolina

This afternoon, a group of county GOP chairs in upstate South Carolina will launch an effort to push idled Republican voters into the state’s Feb. 29 Democratic presidential primary, hoping to boost the fortunes of Bernie Sanders. From the Charleston Post and Courier:

The Republican plan to impact the Democratic race, emerging just weeks before the “First in the South” primary, has two goals: Boost the candidate who the Republicans believe presents the weakest general election threat to President Donald Trump and pressure Democrats to support closing state primaries in the future.

Like Georgia, South Carolina has open primaries. And Georgia GOP, the South Carolina GOP has deep-sixed all primary challenges to Trump. So it could be tried here, too. More:

“People have been waiting and waiting for 2020 to come along to vote for Trump, and now they can’t” because of the cancelled GOP primary, [Greenville GOP chairman Nate] Leupp said. “But they can still help Trump. And it helps the Upstate’s cause of registration by party and closed primaries, so it’s a win-win for any conservative Republican.”

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The conflict over the state’s $28 billion spending plan is about to bring this year’s legislative session to a halt. We’re told that, pending an agreement between House and Senate negotiators, the Legislature will go into recess after today -- and won’t convene again until Feb. 18.

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Meanwhile, the war over “religious liberty” legislation is about to erupt in the state Capitol. Again.

State Sen. Marty Harbin, R-Tyrone, on Tuesday introduced Senate Bill 368, intended to offer legal protection to faith-based adoption agencies Georgia that refuse to engage with same-sex couples or with religious beliefs they disagree with.

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Here’s something that you should know: The formal reactions to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address on Tuesday, from Georgia Democrats and Georgia Republicans alike, began popping up in journalistic inboxes hours before the ceremony began.

Which is to say that few -- if any -- of your members of Congress stepped beyond scripted talking points last night, with Republican giving high marks and several Democrats boycotting the address -- among them U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson of Lithonia.

This was Trump’s third SOTU speech. But given its re-election year timing, it was the sequel to his “American carnage” inauguration speech. “The years of economic decay are over,” Trump said Monday.

U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler told your Washington Insider that she enjoyed attending her first SOTU, but said it was marred when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tore up her copy of the speech after Trump finished. Pelosi later called Trump’s address a “manifesto of mistruths presented in page after page.”

Count Loeffler, a Georgia Republican, among those who believe it was in poor taste. “The end of the remarks and tearing up the speech was unnecessary,” she said. “This speech was a moment about American unity.”

Loeffler didn’t mention -- and perhaps missed -- Trump refusal to shake Pelosi’s outstretched hand as he handed her that copy of his speech.

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A guest of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was escorted out of the chamber after erupting over President Trump’s defense of the Second Amendment during his SOTU speech.

Fred Guttenberg, who lost his 14-year-old daughter after the 2018 mass shooting in Parkland, Fla., later apologized on Twitter:

Tonight was a rough night. I disrupted the State Of The Union and was detained because I let my emotions get the best of me. I simply want to be able to deal with the reality of gun violence and not have to listen to the lies about the 2A as happened tonight.

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Add a few more explosives to the “minefield” of ethics challenges that U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler could face with the news that her husband’s company is trying to buy the massive eBay online marketplace.

Loeffler is already under scrutiny over whether she’ll vote on measures or take stances that could help Atlanta-based Intercontinental Exchange, the financial platform that owns the New York Stock Exchange. A major new company could soon join the portfolio. 

The Wall Street Journal broke the news Tuesday that ICE, run by Loeffler’s husband Jeff Sprecher, has made a takeover offer for eBay that values the tech company at more than $30 billion. 

Though the company has struggled to keep pace with Amazon, its e-commerce site has steadily grown as it distances itself from its roots as an online auction site. 

The campaign of Loeffler’s Republican rival, U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, quickly tried to portray the multi-millionaire as out of touch. Collins strategist Dan McLagan sent a picture of an eBay auction he recently entered.

“I’m waiting to see if I’m the high bidder for a $40 turkey call on eBay. Loeffler is waiting to see if she’s the high bidder on eBay itself,” said McLagan, soon adding: “Hey! I won! Good luck, Kelly!”

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In politics, a picture can be worth a thousand worries. The above photo was taken at a Juliette, Ga., town hall meeting to discuss a Georgia Power coal ash pond and its impact on the local water supply. As you can see, the room was packed to the gills.

The photo was taken by longtime Democratic activist Seth Clark, who tells us that another meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday at the Forsyth, Ga., Presbyterian Church. Two bills dealing with coal ash storage standards are now before the Legislature: HB 756 and SB 297.

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We’ve told you about the state audits questioning the value of tax credits offered to film and TV production companies that do business in Georgia. And another study, commissioned by the state Department of Economic development to counter it.

J.C. Bradbury, a Kennesaw State University economist who has criticized the tax credit program, has published a critique of the DoED study. You can find it here. A taste:

Though the Meek Report acknowledges the existence of the strong body of research on film incentives and economic growth, it does not report the consensus findings of existing studies, which do not support the hypothesis that film incentives have a net positive impact on state economies.

Rather than use available records of direct spending on film production from state government agencies, the Meek Report concocts an estimate of direct spending using a dubious method that is not adequately described, nor does it appear to be sound. The estimated direct spending estimate is inconsistent with other available measures and is not credible.

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Stacey Abrams is on tap to appear on the HBO show “The Shop: Uninterrupted” on Friday. She’s among a cast of guests that also includes Megan Rapinoe, Whoopi Goldberg and Sue Bird. |

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The U.S. Senate is expected to vote at 4 p.m. today on the impeachment charges lodged against President Donald Trump. U.S. Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., both have said they will vote to acquit. So far, no Senate Republicans have said they will side with Democrats against the president.

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Sarah Rose over at GPB tells us that John Monds, a 2010 Georgia gubernatorial candidate, has announced that he will seek the Libertarian nomination for president. Monds was the first Libertarian candidate to receive more than 1 million votes at the state level during his failed 2008 campaign for Georgia public service commissioner.

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It’s a complicated topic, but over at the Saporta Report, David Pendered reports that the sea level rise predicted by a federal study could inundate land far inland of Apalachicola Bay by 2060 -- and wipe away gains Florida hopes to gain in its water war with Georgia.

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