U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi vowed Friday to protect Georgia’s most vulnerable Democratic lawmaker and flip another suburban Atlanta seat in next year’s election, even as the push for impeachment poses new challenges for her party’s candidates. In an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s editorial board, the California Democrat vehemently defended her recently-launched inquiry against President Donald Trump, framing it in sweeping Constitutional terms. (Video by Ryon Horne, Greg Bluestein and Tyson Horne)

The Jolt: As impeachment looms, Nancy Pelosi knows she’ll be a 2020 target

In 2017, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi played a starring role in Georgia special election for the Sixth District congressional seat, which ended in a runoff between Republican Karen Handel and Democrat Jon Ossoff.

The airwaves were plastered with Pelosi’s image. So were flyers and mailpieces circulating the district. The Congressional Leadership Fund even rented a trolley to circle a debate venue with a sign that read: “San Francisco <3 Jon Ossoff.”

The reason was obvious. An Atlanta Journal Constitution poll of Sixth District voters at the time found that 58% of likely voters view her unfavorably. Nationally, polls showed her favorability with Republicans hovered around 10%.

That Sixth District contest was just a preview for the 2018 midterm elections, when Republicans painted Pelosi as the bogeywoman-in-chief. 

And with impeachment likely to be the dominant topic in 2020, escalation is certain -- thought it may be hard to imagine anything worse than President Donald Trump accusing you of treason. (Yes, that happened last night.)

Even so, it’s worth noting that on Friday, Pelosi was in Atlanta for a U.S. Rep. John Lewis fundraiser, but had no similar event for Georgia’s newest member of Congress, Lucy McBath, who faces a tough re-election bid.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi speaks with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution s editorial board on Friday, Oct. 4, 2019. (Tyson Horne / tyson.horne@ajc.com)
Photo: Tyson Horne /TYSON.HORNE@AJC.COM

After her appearance at an editorial board meeting at the AJC’s offices, we asked Pelosi whether she was comfortable with Democrats who wanted to keep her at arms’ length in competitive districts. Said Pelosi:

“In the election in 2018, the Republicans had 137,000 ads describing me as a San Francisco liberal — which I probably am. It didn't work for them. We won 40 seats and took the majority. I say to my colleagues and my candidates: Just win, baby.”

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The most interesting political article of the morning may be Sports Illustrated’s look at the Atlanta Braves, Atlanta United, and their two very different success stories. A key paragraph:

Both teams, with their concurrent seasons, have attracted a phalanx of fans despite appealing to markedly different demographics in the same metropolitan area. But those who study Atlanta's history and its evolving urban geography suggest the two franchises' parallel successes reflect a broader American fissure that has been widening for decades. A 2019 study at the University of Maryland found that geopolitical divisions within states are more prevalent now than at any time since the years leading up to the Civil War—and Georgia, those researchers determined, was more polarized than all but one other state.

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A memorial service for former Cobb County Commission chairman Tim Lee, who led the effort to lure the Atlanta Braves north of the Chattahoochee River, was held Friday afternoon at the First United Methodist Church of Marietta.

Former Cobb GOP chairman Scott Johnson reports that at the service, as the family and honored guests left the sanctuary, the organist played one stanza of “Blessed Assurance, Jesus Is Mine,” followed by a rousing rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.”

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Gov. Brian Kemp’s appointment to the U.S. Senate - whoever that might be - always seemed destined to face a handful of GOP rivals no matter how strong his or her conservative credentials. 

We have some of the first evidence of that. Michael Jowers, who describes himself as a “fiscal conservative with a backbone” is a U.S. Army veteran and business owner with deep roots in south Georgia. 

His GOP campaign includes pledges to support term limits, Second Amendment rights, the wall on the U.S. border with Mexico and votes to “pull us out of Afghanistan and end needless wars.”

As far as we can tell, he’s not applied with Kemp’s office to be appointed to the seat. 

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Another fellow running for U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson’s seat regardless of whom Gov. Brian Kemp picks is Al Bartell. He reports that, though he has been on past ballots as a Republican, he intends to run as an independent. Bartell says he’ll kick off his campaign with a public apology for U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. He’s an Air Force veteran of that era.

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Then there’s a potential dark-horse contender who wants to be Gov. Brian Kemp’s pick for U.S. Senate: Paulding County school board member Jason Anavitarte, who submitted his resume to Kemp last week. 

Anavitarte, a key Hispanic figure in Georgia Republican politics, has the support of another prominent personality. Erick Erickson sung Anavitarte’s praises on his show last week. 

***

Jewish Insider’s interview with Democrat Jon Ossoff dives into foreign policy issues we haven’t heard Georgia’s Senate hopefuls discuss yet, including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and the U.S.’ relationship with Saudi Arabia. A taste:

Ossoff, who is hoping to be only the second Jewish American from the South directly elected to Senate, told JI his “Jewish heritage has influenced my worldview profoundly… My relatives who are Holocaust survivors, my ancestors who fled pogroms in Eastern Europe, I think I have a heightened awareness of dangers of authoritarianism and antisemitism.”

He argued that, if elected, he could play “a constructive role in supporting negotiations” between Israel and the Palestinians as “a Jewish-American United States senator with a strong background in foreign policy and defense policy.”

However, Ossoff was “deeply pessimistic that any of the parties including the United States are serious about pursuing [a two-state solution].” In his view, “the two-state solution is on life support.”

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Georgia operative Richard McDaniel was fired by U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren after what her presidential campaign described as “multiple complaints regarding inappropriate behavior.”

McDaniel, a veteran of many high-profile Democratic campaigns, was Warren’s national organizing director, which involved directing the presidential contender’s field operations and voter outreach programs. 

We reached out to McDaniel and didn’t hear back. He told The New York Times that “departing at this time is in the best interest of both parties.”

“I would never intentionally engage in any behavior inconsistent with the campaign or my own values,” McDaniel told the newspaper. “If others feel that I have, I understand it is important to listen even when you disagree. I wish the campaign and my colleagues well.”

Though it drew no connection, a Washington Post report on the topic included this paragraph:

[McDaniel] recently hosted a happy hour for Warren’s campaign supporters to get to know one another at a pub in Atlanta. At that event he led a group of about 60 in a chants supporting the campaign.

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United States Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue speaks with media during a presser following a tour of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Detector Dog Training Facility in Newnan, Friday, April 5, 2019. (ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)
Photo: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue is launching a monthly podcast. On “The Sonnyside of the Farm,” the former governor plans to discuss the “issues facing America’s farmers, ranchers, producers, and foresters today,” per his department’s press release. His first interview is with former White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

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Fred Bentley Sr., in 2012, shows a copy the book, Historic Kennesaw - 1887-2012 Celebrating 125 Years. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM
Photo: HYOSUB SHIN / hshin@ajc.com

Cobb County attorney and former state lawmaker Fred “Bow Tie” Bentley Sr. died at his home last week. He was 92. A memorial service will be held at Roswell Street Baptist Church in Marietta on Oct. 26 at 2 p.m.

Bentley was a rare book collector and a founder of Kennesaw State University. Over the years he also acted as the city attorney for many of Cobb County’s municipalities.

Bentley was working for Kennesaw in 1982, when Mayor Darvin Purdy demanded that his city answer a ban on handguns by Morton Grove, Ill. The mayor wanted an ordinance that required the head of every household in Kennesaw to own a firearm. But the city didn’t want to waste money on the lawsuit that would surely follow.

Bentley Sr., assisted by his law school student son, “Red” Fred Bentley Jr., crafted an ordinance so filled with exemptions that it was, in essence, a legal slice of Swiss cheese.

Yes, you must own a gun in Kennesaw. Unless you don’t want to.

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