President Donald J. Trump enters his Keep America Great Rally on September 16, 2019 at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. The rally marks President Trump's first trip to New Mexico as president and the start of his three-day trip to the western U.S. states. (Photo by Cengiz Yar/Getty Images)

The Jolt: A hint that Johnny Isakson’s replacement will be no Johnny Isakson

Brian Kemp has said he has “no timeline” to appoint a successor to U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., but on Monday the governor elaborated on his thinking during a visit to a Hitachi plant in Monroe. Kemp told Richard Elliott of Channel 2 Action News that his administration is “just now getting into the process.” Said Kemp: 

“We’re being very methodical, obviously hearing from a lot of people that have interest or think to recommend someone to me. There’s a deep, deep bench from us to pull from.”

Asked whether he will insist on a candidate who would commit to run in 2022 for a full six-year term, Kemp hedged: “I really wouldn’t want to lay that line in the sand just yet. I’m still very open to a lot of different options.”

That said, it’s highly unlikely Kemp would appoint a placeholder. For starters, doing so would deprive his party of the benefits of incumbency in a “jungle” special election in November 2020. It would also trigger the same sort of wide-open battle on the Republican side that Democrats already face.

Another thing that’s becoming clear is that the governor is unlikely to pick someone in the mold of the fellow who’s being replaced. As we’ve noted before, U.S. Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., has his own requirements. “The partner that I want is someone who can take this fight passionately to the voters,” he said.

Last night, at a rally in New Mexico, another interested party might have weighed in. The Associated Press focused on the economic message:

President Donald Trump made a pocketbook appeal for reelection in the Democratic-leaning state of New Mexico on Monday, telling voters that his energy policies have made the state wealthier and warning that the gains could disappear if the proposal known as the Green New Deal takes effect.

But Breitbart.com focused on the president’s emphasis on Republican party purity – the Trump variety:

President Donald Trump boasted Monday that he was continuing to drain the swamp in Washington, DC, particularly among “RINO” Republicans.

“I hate to say this, but we have some Republicans, they are not good. You call them a RINO, they are RINOs, they’re RINOs or worse,” Trump said, referring to Republicans derided as “Republicans In Name Only” because of their political alliances in Washington…

“They are pretty much on respirators. They are gasping for air,” he said. “But we do have some bad people that you wouldn’t believe.”

The crowd shouted out the name of U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, who has been critical of the president. Trump pretended he didn’t hear.

But Trump could just as well have been pointing at the senior senator from Georgia. Isakson has rarely opposed Trump with his vote, but has called out the president for his continued criticism of the late John McCain, and has quietly out-maneuvered Trump on VA related issues.

Some of you have noted that the state Constitution gives the governor the sole authority to appoint Isakson’s replacement. And that is true. But if you think the choice is solely his, you’re forgetting the presidential Tweet that gave Kemp a landslide victory in the 2018 GOP runoff for governor.

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On Monday morning, we told you that U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Lithonia, would have a central role in any House Democratic probe of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. U.S. Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, has since pumped the brakes on such an investigation, telling WNYC that “we have our hands full with impeaching the president right now.” But it now looks like another Georgian could find himself in the middle of the Kavanaugh circus, per Politico:

Nadler said his first move to investigate Kavanaugh would come next month, when FBI Director Christopher Wray appears for a previously scheduled hearing that will now feature a significant focus on the Supreme Court justice's past — and whether the FBI's background check was thorough enough. Nadler said his panel's primary focus would be determining whether Kavanaugh lied to the Senate.

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Leave it to a social media algorithm to remind us about the anniversary of a political alliance that would reshape Georgia politics.

Five years ago this week, David Perdue went to Manhattan to detail his path from Fortune 500 CEO to surprise GOP nominee for U.S. Senate with real estate mogul-turned-reality star Donald Trump, who was then mulling a political run of his own. “Just met with David Perdue,” Trump tweeted after the meeting. “He’s a fantastic guy who will fight hard against ObamaCare. He will win!”

The rest is history. Perdue has seen his profile rise as one of Capitol Hill’s most prominent “Trumpsplainers,” and the New Yorker’s ascent has also helped boost the fortunes of Perdue’s inner circle, including first cousin Sonny Perdue, campaign hand Nick Ayers and Gov. Brian Kemp.

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U.S. Senate candidate Jon Ossoff said he supports the proposal of U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, a Democratic presidential candidate, to set up a committee to study reparations, taking a similar stance as several of his Democratic rivals. Ossoff, the former Sixth District candidate, told WAOK radio host Rashad Richey he was “100 percent” for Booker’s measure.

“There is a debt unpaid,” he said. “I think it’s a very, very difficult question how to pay it.”

Two other Democratic challengers to Republican incumbent David Perdue – Clarkston Mayor Ted Terry and former Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson – also support HR 40, which would create a commission to assess the effects of slavery, Jim Crow and other forms of codified discrimination on African-Americans. 

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The U.S. Senate campaign of Teresa Tomlinson, the former mayor of Columbus, this morning rolled out an endorsement from state Sen. Emanuel Jones, D-Decatur. From the press release:

“When I think about the current dysfunction taking place in Washington, D.C., I know that Mayor Tomlinson is the choice to resolve it.”

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The Medical Association of Georgia has picked one of its own in the very crowded Republican field to replace Rob Woodall in the Seventh District congressional contest. The influential physicians’ group endorsed emergency room doctor Rich McCormick as the “ideal candidate to tackle the health care system’s complex challenges,” said Rutledge Forney, the group's president. McCormick, a physician at Gwinnett Medical Center and veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps and Navy, is a MAG member.

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On the same topic, there’s an interesting name on the invitation for a Sept. 24 fundraiser for Rich McCormick: Dr. Marc Unterman, the ex-husband of state Sen. Renee Unterman, who another Republican running for the Seventh District seat.

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Judicial contests are funny things. One campaigns by not campaigning. On Saturday, the Georgia Bulldogs will host Notre Dame. Without mentioning that he is a candidate for the Georgia Supreme Court seat soon to be vacated by Robert Benham, former congressman John Barrow issued this blanket invitation:

If you’re in the vicinity of our nation’s capital — the Bulldawg Nation, that is — for The Big Game this Saturday, please stop by our place for a visit. The Kickoff is set for 8 pm, and things will kick off at my house at 3.

As usual, Bloody Marys and ham sandwiches will be served until we run out — if you want anything else feel free to bring it with you.

There’s plenty of on-street parking available. We’re 1-and-a-half miles from Sanford Stadium by foot, which is close enough to walk if you want to.

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