In the Miami audience last night, sitting with Dr. Jill Biden, was Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms – there at the invitation of the Biden campaign. Shortly afterwards, the mayor endorsed Biden's presidential run. From the Associated Press:
Bottoms says her decision came down to Biden's experience and her belief the former vice president is the candidate best positioned to beat President Donald Trump.
"For me, it was most important that we have a president who doesn't have to walk in the door and figure out where the light switch is, that we have somebody who can lead on Day One," said Bottoms
Bottoms, 49, dismissed concerns about Biden's remarks earlier this month, when he told supporters that the Senate "got things done" with "civility" when segregationists roamed the halls of Congress. Some critics saw his statement and subsequent responses as racially offensive and tone deaf from someone seeking to lead the modern Democratic Party.
"The larger context was that you have to work across the aisle with people you don't like, people you don't agree with," Bottoms said. "I do it each and every day as mayor of Atlanta in a red state."
Bottoms added that Biden's work on civil rights issues and his progressive resume demonstrate his commitment and that the remarks were blown out of proportion.
Contrast that with the reaction of Nikema Williams of Atlanta, who chairs the Democratic Party of Georgia. From her Facebook page:
So I've had fun tonight so far during the debate. But I'm now sitting in a hotel room in tears. That exchange with #SenatorHarris and #VPBiden broke me to hear him continue to defend his flawed position.
I see you #Kamala. Vice President #Biden was and is wrong. We have a fundamental difference in belief here....
As a black woman in the south, leading a State Democratic Party, I will make sure our party recognizes all the little Kamala's and Nikema's out there that deserve someone and a party to fight for them.
This primary is important y'all. Pay attention. Elections are about the future and I won't go back.
Joe Biden wasn't the only white Democrat wrestling with racial issues last night. But Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Ind., might have righted his campaign by faulting his own handling of his city's police force. The exchange:
Moderator: Your community of South Bend, Indiana, has recently been in uproar over an officer-involved shooting. The police force in South Bend is now 6% black in a city that is 26% black. Why has that not improved over your two terms as mayor?
Buttigieg: Because I couldn't get it done. My community is in anguish right now because of an officer-involved shooting, a black man, Eric Logan, killed by a white officer. And I'm not allowed to take sides until the investigation comes back. The officer said he was attacked with a knife, but he didn't have his body camera on. It's a mess. And we're hurting.
And I could walk you through all of the things that we have done as a community, all of the steps that we took, from bias training to de-escalation, but it didn't save the life of Eric Logan. And when I look into his mother's eyes, I have to face the fact that nothing that I say will bring him back.
They didn't get off on the best foot, but state Sen. Renee Unterman and Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan have become fast political friends since January. And this week, Unterman posted on social media that Duncan appeared at one of her campaign fundraisers for her Seventh District bid. His support brings more than a big-name backer. Duncan hails from Forsyth County - which also happens to account for about half the district.
On Thursday, we told you about Congress' game of border-funding chicken. Turns out the contest ended rather quickly.
After a little bit of back and forth on Thursday morning, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi agreed to advance the bipartisan Senate bill. That $4.6 billion measure ultimately passed 305 to 102, with much of the dissent coming from liberal Democrats. Every U.S. House member from Georgia who was in town voted for the package with the exception of one: Atlanta Democrat John Lewis.
Now that the $19.1 billion disaster relief bill is the law of the land, federal agencies are in the process of churning out the formulas, rulemakings and guidance that will determine where the money goes. That includes Sonny Perdue's Department of Agriculture, which is divvying up some $3 billion to account for crop and livestock losses from recent natural disasters.
That process could take weeks or months. With that in mind, a half-dozen Georgia lawmakers wrote to Perdue with some recommendations. Most are quite technical, but among them is a recommendation that the state Department of Agriculture, headed by Gary Black, help administer a block grant for timber and specialty crops damaged by Hurricane Michael.
One last bit of non-debate news: Georgia's state government reduced funding for higher education more than all but five other states between 2001 and 2017, according to a new report cited by the Athens Banner-Herald.