Oprah Winfrey attends a May commencement ceremony in Los Angeles.
Photo: Leon Bennett/Getty Images
Photo: Leon Bennett/Getty Images

The Jolt: Oprah coming to Georgia for Stacey Abrams

Never mind that Obama guy, or Mike Pence, or President T.

Oprah will be in town Thursday to stump for Democrat Stacey Abrams in what could be the final week of Georgia’s race for governor.

And it looks like the billionaire talk-show icon will be targeting the votes of suburban women and African-Americans, the two demographic caches that Abrams needs to survive next Tuesday.

The Abrams campaign confirmed the news this morning. A pair of “town hall conversations” have been scheduled, one for 12:30 p.m. at the Cobb Civic Center in Marietta, and at 4 p.m. at the Porter Sanford III Performing Arts Center in Decatur.

A good portion of Cobb County is in the Sixth District, where Democrat Lucy McBath is challenging GOP incumbent Karen Handel for a congressional seat. DeKalb County represents Georgia’s largest trove of African-American votes in the state.

Oprah will be stealing at least part of the limelight from Vice President Mike Pence, who will be spending much of Thursday with Republican Brian Kemp on a trek through rural Georgia.

Former President Barack Obama will be on the Morehouse College campus in Atlanta for Abrams on Friday, while President Donald Trump will make a Sunday stop in Macon for Kemp.

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Sunday will bring a visible reminder of Donald Trump’s support for Brian Kemp when the president jets into Macon on Air Force One to urge a cheering crowd to vote for the Republican. 

But that doesn’t mean the GOP candidate for governor is latching on to Trump’s rhetoric.

Even with the race will featuring dueling visits from Trump and former President Barack Obama, Kemp is currently steering clear of most of the president’s last-ditch maneuvering to rev up conservatives. 

Kemp is not talking of the caravan of migrants trekking through Mexico toward the U.S., or the 5,200 soldiers that Trump announced he would send to the border with Mexico.

And on Tuesday, he ducked any reference to Trump’s plan to end birthright citizenship for children of noncitizens by executive order. Many legal experts say the president has no ability to do this without amending the U.S. Constitution and its 14th Amendment. 

“I hadn’t really looked at the executive order yet, so I don’t really know what it means,” Kemp said. 

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One group that is following Trump’s lead is the National Republican Congressional Committee. The House GOP’s campaign arm, which recently shelled out $1.4 million to shore up incumbent Karen Handel in the Sixth District congressional race, is out with a new attack ad linking Democratic challenger Lucy McBath to immigration policies the president has warned about on his Twitter feed as of late. 

The spot features images of people climbing a border wall, protesters holding an “Abolish ICE” sign and men wearing bandanas over their faces. In the words of a female narrator: 

“McBath’s radical backers support open borders and abolishing ICE, leaving us defenseless against the surge of illegal immigrants.”

Nancy Pelosi and Jon Ossoff also make cameos. Watch it here:

Note the NRCC’s careful use of the phrase “radical backers support.” McBath herself has not endorsed some of the policies embraced by more liberal members of the Democratic Party, including the abolition of ICE and “Medicare for all.”

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One other thing worth noting about the above spot. By our count, it (remarkably) marks Pelosi’s first appearance in a Sixth District television ad this year. The California Democrat was omnipresence in last year’s special election runoff between Jon Ossoff and Karen Handel. 

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House Democrats, meanwhile, are also jumping into the Sixth District race. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee quietly spent a little more than $133,000 in anti-Handel ads yesterday, according to federal filings. The investment is relatively small, and we have yet to see the spots, but they could be a sign the DCCC is feeling good about McBath’s chances -- or at least want to get under the GOP’s skin.

The DCCC had boosted its organizational support of McBath back in August but until now had yet to spend any money on outside advertisements in the race.

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Throughout their head-to-head match-up in one of two races for seats on the state Public Service Commission, Republican incumbent Chuck Eaton and Democrat Lindy Miller have had dueling messages.

Eaton has bragged that Georgians enjoy one of the lowest electric utility rates in the country. Miller argues that their monthly power bills are among the highest. What our AJC colleagues Matt Kempner Anastaciah Ondieki found starts like this:

It used to be that millions of Georgians got a bargain on their monthly electric bills, paying Georgia Power residential rates that were nearly 10 percent lower than the national average.

But in the last decade most of that advantage has slipped away. The average rate residential customers pay the state’s largest utility has risen faster than the national average, according to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution analysis of federal data.

Meanwhile: We last saw John Hitchins in May, when the Republican attempted a primary challenge newly incumbent Public Service Commissioner Tricia Pridemore. Hitchins was backed by Debbie Dooley, the tea partyer who has morphed into a conservative environmentalist (and who still supports Donald Trump.)

Hitchins is now throwing what weight he has behind the two Democrats making PSC bids – Dawn Randolph, who is challenging Pridemore; and the aforementioned Miller in her race against Eaton. Both contests have Libertarian candidates as well, and so could result in runoffs.

Another wrinkle in the fight over power bills in Georgia: Former Gov. Roy Barnes will appear before a Fulton Fulton County Superior Court judge this morning to argue the appeal of the PSC decision earlier this year to allow Georgia Power to continue the construction of those two new nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle. Barnes is representing GeorgiaWatch, Interfaith Power and Light and Southern Partnership for Equity. 

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