Former Georgia congresswoman Karen Handel/The Resurgence

The Jolt: Karen Handel and the dog that didn’t bark on Saturday

The two-day Buckhead gathering of Erick Erickson’s Resurgent crowd attracted names like Vice President Mike Pence, U.S. Sen. David Perdue and Gov. Brian Kemp, but Saturday’s appearance by former Sixth District congresswoman Karen Handel was also worth noting.

For what was said, and for what was not said. Watch here.

Handel was the first guest in the post-lunch session. Erickson was upfront about his bias in her favor. “She and husband have been friends for decades,” he said – and promised to invite all Sixth and Seventh District GOP candidates to be on his WSB Radio program after Labor Day.

Before she came onstage, Erickson explained Handel’s 2018 defeat at the hands of Democrat Lucy McBath, who first rose to prominence as an anti-gun violence activist:

“In 2018, outside national Republican groups told all of the candidates in Georgia, including Brian Kemp and Geoff Duncan and Karen Handel and Rob Woodall: ‘Don’t worry about the suburbs, we’ve got your ground game.’ They never showed up.

“It was a disaster made by the outside Republican groups who lied to the president and lied to the candidates. I don’t know where the money went, but it did not go to putting boots on the ground and winning the suburbs.”

In the past, other Georgia Republicans have placed the onus elsewhere. Specifically, on the state GOP’s efforts to back up Gov. Brian Kemp’s emphasis on rural voters. Handel quickly explained that she wasn’t willing to get tangled up in that argument:

“In regards to ’18, let me make something abundantly clear. Having a Governor Abrams was a non-starter. So if we had to have a little pause to get Brian Kemp elected, that’s fine.”

Together, Erickson and Handel leaned on the Republican effort to portray McBath as a resident of Tennessee. Following President Donald Trump’s example, Handel dubbed her “ol’ Rocky Top.”

The Democratic congresswoman’s husband lives there, and the National Republican Congressional Committee has made a misfire or two in trying to establish that McBath’s legal residence is there, too.

“Where has Lucy McBath been filing her income taxes over the last decade?” Handel asked.

Erickson blamed the media for not taking this issue seriously, but residency is a complicated legal matter, best settled by a judge. Handel has so far made no move to file a lawsuit to settle the issue, though as a resident of the Sixth District she would surely have the standing to do so.

Handel also accused McBath of hypocrisy. Her first example:

“[McBath] told everyone she wants common-sense gun control. Yet, a few weeks ago, she held a press conference and called on America to be a ‘gun free’ society.”

The remark was made in June. McBath’s staff quickly confessed a verbal gaffe, saying the congresswoman’s text read “gun violence-free society.” Also from the Handel interview:

“Something that I’ve observed with any number of newly elected Democrats is that they are extremely interested in national celebrity. Being a member of Congress, it’s not about going around the country and being on MSNBC all the time and trying to build your national celebrity credibility.

“It’s not about a single issue, and it’s certainly not about special interests. It’s about being an extension of the people in your district every single day.”

What’s remarkable about this exchange is what wasn’t said – the dog that didn’t bark.

In El Paso, a 21-year-old white supremacist began killing Walmart shoppers with his AK-47 at 10:30 a.m. Saturday – 11:30 a.m. in Georgia. Handel spoke in the early afternoon, about 1:30 p.m. Saturday, according to the agenda.

Just prior to Handel’s appearance, Erickson made a brief reference to McBath’s activism, sparked by the murder of her son, but made no reference to what had just happened in El Paso, then or while Handel was onstage. Handel didn’t, either.

Erickson wrote in a blog post he didn’t learn of the mass shooting until after the dinner, and that cellphone and Wi-fi coverage was spotty in the Grand Hyatt hotel ballroom.

He added that the “reason the subject did not come up is because I did not know about the issue and the news did not break nationally for several hours” and included screen shots of breaking news alerts on his phone that popped after Handel’s appearance.

Still, there’s another reason the topic would have been a tricky one. Here’s a paragraph that Erickson wrote on Sunday, after the Dayton massacre hit home -- which might help explain why:

“There’s really no reason for any Republican to engage on this issue or on gun control because if they do not agree 100% with the left, they’ll just be labeled a bigots, white nationalists, and enablers of mass murderers.”

***

In another tidbit from the Resurgent conference, House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, R-N.C., suggested that U.S. Rep. Jody Hice, R-Monroe, should become the conservative group’s next leader.

The moment came after Hice described the “intensity of the hatred” directed at Freedom Caucus members by other Republicans in Washington. 

“You learn early on. You’re either going to be loved by your people back home and by the American people and hated in Washington or you’re going to be loved in Washington and basically hated by everybody who voted to send you to Washington,” Hice said.

“The Freedom Caucus has elevated to a position of unbelievable influence in Washington and as a result we’re tremendously hated,” he added, to laughs. “I’m telling you – you just have to be there to experience it.”

A few moments later, Rep. Mark Meadows – the caucus chair who was also on stage – chimed in with his endorsement of Hice.

“I think he needs to be the next chairman of the Freedom Caucus – what do you think?” as the crowd hooted its approval. Watch it here.

Hice, who helps shape the Freedom Caucus’ communications strategy, wasbooted off the influential House Armed Services Committee by GOP leaders in January because of his votes against several leadership priorities. 

***

Over the weekend, Mary Norwood, the former mayoral candidate who now chairs the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods, posted a list of gangs active in the city of Atlanta. Over at Georgiapol.com, George Chidi quickly took it apart:

Here’s a check people should use when reposting something that’s probably too good to be true: copy the first couple of lines into Google and see where it’s been.

How old is this list? This particular bit of nonsense began circulating on an Angelfire (!) page in 2005. It’s since been reposted elsewhere by people who couldn’t tell a Crip from a Blood with a color chart.

Never mind the Bowen Homes references (torn down in 2009); I knew it was out of date when I saw the Black Mafia Family on it. BMF was a notorious cocaine-dealing syndicate which famously took out a billboard declaring “The World is BMF’s” before federal indictments took down the group in 2005.

Norwood has since deleted the list. “In light of the emphasis on the list rather than the impact that criminal activity has on ALL Atlantans, I have removed it from my page.” Norwood wrote on Facebook.

***

Now that Guam has picked a caucus date, we now have a time for each Democratic presidential primary or caucus in 2020. 

Our friend Allan Keiter from 270toWin notes that Georgia’s March 24 contest is somewhat near the middle -- 31 of the 57 contests will be held before Georgia’s vote, 25 after. 

Roughly 65% of the total pledged delegates will have also been allotted before Georgia’s primary.

(If you’re wondering why there are 57 total primaries, that number includes the 50 states, the District of Columbia, five U.S. territories and Democrats Abroad.)

***

President Donald Trump’s strategy for wooing African Americans in 2020 hinges on convincing voters to ignore his recent tweets about black lawmakers such as U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings and focus on the economy and legislative accomplishments.More from Politico:

The campaign’s pitch to African Americans is simple: Ignore the president’s words and instead focus on his policies, the state of the economy, the low unemployment rate, the passage of criminal justice reform and the creation of Opportunity Zones, which are meant to bolster investment in underserved or poorer cities.

The piece quotes Sandy Springs businessman Bruce LeVell, theformer Sixth District candidate who led Trump’s National Diversity Coalition in 2016:

“Don’t get caught up in the emotions; pay attention to the numbers, not the he said, she said. I think black male voters, especially, will be a game changer for President Trump’s reelection,” LeVell said.

***

An eagle-eyed reader pointed out to us that former East Point Mayor Jannquell Peters has filed papers to explore a congressional bid in Southwest Atlanta’s 13th District. Peters is the third Democrat to mull a primary challenge to incumbent U.S. Rep. David Scott. Former Cobb County Democratic County Chairman Michael Owens entered the race in May, and another candidate, Amber L. Hunter, filed paperwork in January but has not been a visible force so far.

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