10/07/2019 -- Decatur, Georgia -- DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond speaks during a presser to introduce newly appointed DeKalb County Police Chief Mirtha Ramos at the Manuel J. Maloof Auditorium, Monday, October 7, 2019. (Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal Constitution)
Photo: Alyssa Pointer/alyssa.pointer@ajc.com
Photo: Alyssa Pointer/alyssa.pointer@ajc.com

The Jolt: Michael Thurmond will seek re-election as DeKalb CEO, forgoing U.S. Senate bid 

Michael Thurmond has decided to seek re-election as DeKalb County CEO, ruling out a bid for U.S. Senate.

“At a time when the DeKalb CEO is doing a phenomenal job in DeKalb County – we just passed a $1.3 billion budget, dealing with sewers. You’ve got to continue doing the work of the people,” Thurmond confidante Tharon Johnson said this morning in a phone call. “I think that’s going to be the best place for him at this time, in the near future, and not in the U.S. Senate.”

That leaves the Rev. Raphael Warnock, pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church; former federal prosecutor Ed Tarver of Augusta; and educator Matt Lieberman as Democratic challengers to U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler in an all-comers election in November.

Qualifying for the DeKalb post, as well as the U.S. Senate race, begins next week, forcing Thurmond’s hand.

Thurmond, 67, was the first African-American in modern Georgia history to win a statewide election without first being appointed to an office – as state labor commissioner in 1998. And DeKalb has more Democratic voters than any county in the state. Those two factors alone made Thurmond a topic of speculation as soon as U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson announced his imminent retirement last September. (Thurmond ran against Isakson in 2010.)

But Stacey Abrams, now a primary but unofficial force in the state Democratic party, quickly endorsed Warnock upon his entry into the contest. As did the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, under the control of U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

Thurmond is finishing his first term as CEO in a county that had experience more than a decade of misgovernment. He’s essentially going the way of Shirley Franklin, whose tenure as mayor of Atlanta was largely devoted to rebuilding the city’s neglected infrastructure.

But his decision to opt out of a U.S. Senate bid may have been made easier by the recent rise of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont as the frontrunner in the Democratic presidential contest. Many Georgia Democrats believe Sanders could dampen their chances of carrying the state in the presidential contest, which in turn could impact Georgia’s two U.S. Senate contests.

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After more than a century of stalling, with only four dissenting votes, the U.S. House voted Wednesday to make lynching a federal crime.

The Senate passed a version of the bill last year. Once the two versions are blended, the legislation will be sent to President Donald Trump for his signature.

U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, whose state had the second-highest number of lynchings between 1877 and 1950, was among those voting for the bill – but not before praising House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., for backing it. The same Nadler with whom he fought during last year’s impeachment inquiry.

Collins did have one criticism of the legislation, which bears the name of Emmett Till – that it wasn’t tough enough. Said the congressman:

“I would have liked to have made it more clear and more to the point. I believe HR 35 will ensure that those who engage in mob violence that results in death are dealt with appropriately in the federal system.

“I think it would have been more appropriate to actually have placed a certain penalty in this bill as well, such as a defined number of years for committing this offense -- since the justice for such a heinous act should be swift and certain. They should know what they're getting….I think this is something we could look for in the future.”

As stated above, the Senate passed its own version of the bill in 2018 – which means Collins may have just issued a challenge on the topic to U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler. Have a look at Collins’ remarks here:

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The Brunswick News reports that state Sen. William Ligon, the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, announced late Wednesday that he would not seek re-election. From the newspaper:

Cody Smith, a Camden County businessman running for the Republican nomination for Ligon’s seat, is the only new candidate who’s filed campaign finance disclosure reports ahead of the official qualifying period.

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Task & Purpose, a website aimed at members of the military and veterans, says a spokesman confirmed Wednesday that Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger has ordered all Confederate-related paraphernalia to be removed from Marine Corps installations.

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Donald Trump’s re-election campaign says it is opening 15 centers nationwide to help build the president’s support among African Americans.

One of those Black Voices for Trump communities centers is planned for Atlanta. Other cities include Miami, Tampa, Charlotte and Detroit. Also on the list is Milwaukee, where the Democratic National Convention will be held this summer.

“This administration has delivered record-low minority unemployment rates, criminal justice reform, school choice, and the largest investment in HBCUs ever,” Trump campaign adviser Katrina Pierson said in a statement. “Our Black Voices for Trump Community Centers will make sure that Black Americans hear the facts about President Trump, directly from our campaign.”

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The campaign arm for House Republicans is catching heat for an election stunt targeting U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath and other Democrats who received support from Michael Bloomberg.

It started when Bloomberg appeared to stop himself before saying during Tuesday’s night’s debate that he "bought" House Democrats 21 seats in Congress. The National Republican Congressional Committee came up with a tactic to highlight how McBath and several other incumbents benefitted from Bloomberg support.

“McBath’s selling price last cycle was $4,447,558,” the group said, referencing the money Bloomberg and his organizations spent supporting the Marietta Democrat’s campaign. “While her 2020 listing price is TBD, her endorsement of Bloomberg indicates McBath can once again be bought.”

To drive the message further, the NRCC announced that it had mailed a “for sale” sign to McBath. The organization’s spokeswoman, Camille Gallo, even posted a picture on Twitter.

The replies were overwhelmingly negative, some saying the stunt was racist. 

“Ah, a Black Woman for sale sign...DURING Black History month no less. This is just peak. PEAK,” actress Reagan Gomez-Preston tweeted.

None of Gallo’s posts targeted at other Democrats of various races gained as much traction. She was unapologetic when asked to respond to her social media critics.

“If you have an issue with Mike Bloomberg saying he bought 40 members of Congress, including Lucy McBath, take it up with him,” she said.

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One of our former Insiders passed along a tidbit about a Georgia lawmaker from one of his most recent stories. Daniel Malloy, a top Ozy editor, was profiling South Carolina state Rep. JA Moore when he talked about a trip to Taiwan.

Moore was pointing to presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg’s appeal beyond Democrats when he told of a run-in with Georgia state Rep. Trey Kelley, R-Cedartown, at a Seattle airport. Here’s the rest:

“He’s the one who whipped up the votes on the abortion bill. That Trey Kelley. Good guy. ... He’s like 32, just a phenomenal guy. We’re walking up texting, me and Trey talking about how good the trip was. I consider him a good friend. We are talking and chopping it up and I'm on my phone and he says ‘JA, look up, look up!’ I said, 'What, man, what the hell?' And it was Pete walking towards us. And Trey freaked out. And I said 'Hey Pete.' And he said, 'JA what are you doing here?' And we had like a 5-10 minute conversation. Trey’s mouth was on the floor. And I introduce him to Pete and as soon as [Buttigieg] walked away, he called his wife, Trey did, and was like freaking out.”

We can safely report that Kelley, one of the top Republicans in the Georgia House, will not be voting for Buttigieg. He’s one of President Donald Trump’s key supporters in Georgia. 

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