The Jolt: Kelly Loeffler begins her marketing push

Gov. Brian Kemp, Kelly Loeffler,  and UGA President Jere Morehead at Saturday’s LSU-UGA football game/Via University of Georgia

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Gov. Brian Kemp, Kelly Loeffler,  and UGA President Jere Morehead at Saturday’s LSU-UGA football game/Via University of Georgia

The selling of Kelly Loeffler as Georgia's next U.S. senator began in earnest over the weekend.

The cryptocurrency executive has begun calling lawmakers and activists on her personal phone, seeking advice and input from a crowd not entirely familiar with her. Loeffler has also been lining up staff for both her official office and her campaign operation.

And she’s starting to schedule events both in Georgia and Washington, though details were still uncertain. Her Twitter account as “Senate-Designate Kelly Loeffler, set up in November, shows her following 21 GOP members of the U.S. Senate, President Donald Trump, and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue.

"Surprised and delighted to get a call from our new (in 2020) US Senator Kelly Loeffler! She's going to do well," wrote Virginia Galloway on her Facebook page Saturday evening.

This was an important call. Galloway is the regional director for the Faith and Freedom Coalition, the conservative Christian group founded by Ralph Reed. During those awkward weeks when President Donald Trump was pushing for U.S. Rep. Doug Collins to fill the Senate seat being given up by Johnny Isakson, Galloway and her organization were extremely quiet.

It’s entirely possible that Loeffler made the call to Galloway from Mercedes-Benz Stadium -- which would have distracted her from the 37-10 disembowelment that the LSU Tigers gave to the Georgia Bulldogs.

The university posted a picture of her, Gov. Brian Kemp and school president Jere Morehead still smiling about an hour into the game. We're told she was an invited guest of the school.

"That's fun. I bet it's her first Georgia game," tweeted state Sen. Jen Jordan, a potential Democratic challenger. "Next up, a trip to rural Georgia!"

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So far, Kelly Loeffler has been spared any extended questioning by journalists, but some serious questions await her. For instance there is the intersection of her business interests, and those of her husband, with legislation she'll be acting upon in the U.S. Senate come January. So noted the Wall Street Journal as the weekend broke:

Last year, she became CEO of a digital-currencies trading and storage project that faced repeated delays in winning regulatory approval. Her husband, Jeffrey Sprecher, is the CEO of ICE. Sprecher owns a 1.12% stake in ICE, which is worth around $580 million based on the company's current market capitalization.

In the Senate, the Republican Loeffler will face votes that affect her husband's company and touch on issues she dealt with intimately while running the cryptocurrency project, known as Bakkt. Congress will soon move to reauthorize the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, setting the charter for how the regulator oversees exchanges, clearinghouses and trading firms that fall under its jurisdiction.

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U.S. Rep. Tom Graves is making it crystal clear that he's not interested in challenging Gov. Brian Kemp's pick for the U.S. Senate.

After checking out the AJC's Politically Georgia podcast, which referred to the speculation surrounding his abrupt plans to retire, he tweeted the following:

“Thanks for the shout-out, Greg. No need for speculation. I’m really retiring (for real).”

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But the question of who might replace Tom Graves in Congress just got a little more interesting -- in a way that would please former Georgia congresswoman Karen Handel:

Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene appears on the verge of dropping out of the race for Georgia's Sixth Congressional District - and competing instead for the soon-to-be-vacated seat two districts over.

The political newcomer told grassroots activists at a GOP breakfast over the weekend that her "phone started ringing off the hook" after U.S. Rep. Tom Graves abruptly announced last week that he wouldn't stand for another term.

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ACLU Georgia and several other groups are holding a town hall meeting this evening to spotlight doings at the Cobb County jail, which they say has been on lockdown since September. Seven inmates have died there over the last year. The 7 p.m. event will be at Life Church, 1839 Powder Springs Road in Marietta.

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Stacey Abrams will join the Democratic Governors Association for an announcement on Monday. And no, it won't involve a 2020 run. We're not certain about the details, but suspect it involves another expansion of her voter protection operation.

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The U.S. House has moved forward with legislation to restore parts of the Voting Rights Act struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013.

U.S. Rep. John Lewis, the Atlanta civil rights leader, took on the symbolic role of gaveling the mostly party-lines vote to a close on Friday.

U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath of Marietta, evoked childhood memories in speaking in favor of the bill. From an earlier post:

She said she watched her father pursue protections for minority voters as the head of the Illinois Branch of the NAACP.

"When it comes to voting rights, my father's work is still unfinished," McBath, a Democrat who lives in Marietta, said. "And today, I am so proud we are taking an important step toward completing that work."

McBath said she was a child in a stroller during the 1963 March on Washington. 

U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, opposed the measure, but graciously allowed Democrats to use some of his allotted time to speak in favor of the legislation.

The Voting Rights Restoration Act now joins roughly 400 other bills passed in the House -- but with no action in the Senate.

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A long-awaited Justice Department inspector general's report examining the FBI's investigation into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia is expected to be released Monday. With it has come a look at how FBI Director Chris Wray, the former Atlanta attorney, is handling his job. From the Wall Street Journal:

Where Mr. Comey embraced a public persona, Mr. Wray has continued to maintain an unassuming and detail-oriented persona, bent on avoiding the spotlight and keeping the FBI out of the political fray as much as possible, according to about a dozen of his current and former associates…. Numerous associates compared his style with that of Robert Mueller, who led the FBI from 2001 to 2013 and with his trademark taciturn demeanor.

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Budding number-cruncher Niles Francis is using 2018 elections data to identify the Georgia House districts most vulnerable to flipping parties 2020.

He said he'll add to his Twitter thread periodically, but the first two seats he highlighted are held by House Democrat Leader Bob Trammell of Luthersville, the only member of his party representing a district also won by Gov. Brian Kemp, and state Rep. Brett Harrell, a Republican from Gwinnett County, who ran unopposed in 2018 but saw 56% of voters side with Stacey Abrams for governor.

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Another election wrapped up over the weekend. And again, former Atlanta Braves outfielder Dale Murphy was not inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame -- despite a plea from his wife Nancy Murphy on her Facebook page. It included these lines:

I've seen an argument recently emerge against his induction—that his performance declined at the end of his career. Yes, his last couple of years were rough... but what few knew at that time (remember we lived in the generation when we got all our news from the newspaper—no social media that dispersed every detail of a professional athlete's career) and even fewer know now is that Dale had MRSA on top of a serious blood infection that ate up his knee and created the very real and frightening concern that he might lose his leg.

He wanted so badly to come back from it all—to play again. He was hyper-focused on his recovery and worked hard every single day because he was hopeful that he could still contribute to a team and wanted to earn the money he was being paid.

That certainly isn't the negative "decline" many sports writers and social media commenters have made it out to be. I watched him rehab through pain and discouragement because of the deep sense of integrity and loyalty and commitment that is part of the Dale Murphy we all know and love. That, to me, is a huge positive—his desire to keep playing. It wasn't a decline. It was a terrible health crisis in his life that eventually ended his career.