The Jolt: A poll that undercuts Stacey Abrams’s chances as Joe Biden’s veep pick

With the Democratic presidential contest at an end, presumptive nominee Joe Biden has turned his attention to potential running mates. One trial balloon was raised on Tuesday by Steve Phillips, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and a fan of Stacey Abrams. From his New York Times op-ed:

Of the potential nominees, only Ms. Abrams outperformed Mr. Obama in her state, winning the 18-to-29-year-old vote in Georgia by nearly 30 points; Mr. Obama lost that group by three points. Only Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, another common name on potential V.P. lists, equaled Mr. Obama's performance with young voters in her state. The other contenders for whom there is data underperformed Mr. Obama in their most recent competitive race by significant margins.

But a Politico/Morning Consult poll released this morning indicates that voters "overwhelmingly" want to see someone with "governing experience" – and put less importance on gender or ethnicity. That's not a formula that would benefit Abrams, who lost her 2018 bid for governor in Georgia – but did serve seven years as minority leader in the state House. From

The survey — conducted just after Bernie Sanders dropped out of the 2020 presidential race, making Biden the Democrats' presumptive presidential nominee — found that about two-thirds of voters said it was important Biden choose a running mate with legislative and executive experience. While Biden has vowed to select a woman to join him on the ticket, only 29 percent of voters said it was important for Biden to choose a woman, while 22 percent said it was important that he choose a person of color.

Among Democrats, about 8 in 10 said it was important that Biden's vice-presidential selection have legislative and executive experience. Meanwhile, about half of Democrats said it's important for Biden's running mate to be younger than him (77 years old) and for his pick to be a woman.

Elle Magazine, meanwhile, is out with a feature on Abrams this morning where she makes her pitch for the job. From the piece:

"I would be an excellent running mate. I have the capacity to attract voters by motivating typically ignored communities. I have a strong history of executive and management experience in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors.

"I've spent 25 years in independent study of foreign policy. I am ready to help advance an agenda of restoring America's place in the world. If I am selected, I am prepared and excited to serve." 

Note the phrase “independent study of foreign policy” -- an attempt to shore up what might be one of her weaker selling points for the running-mate spot.


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This morning, the AJC's Carrie Teegardin and Alan Judd have a gobsmacking piece on the lack of timely public health data in Georgia. It begins like this:

Georgia's public health agency counts just one confirmed diagnosis of the novel coronavirus — and only one death — at an Augusta nursing home.

Windermere Health and Rehabilitation Center, however, acknowledges a much grimmer toll. The facility says 74 residents and 20 staff members have tested positive for the virus — and four residents have died.

An echo of the same theme can be found in these paragraphs from the Macon Telegraph:

Health officials who oversee 13 Middle Georgia counties are unable to provide information about the origin, patterns and spread of the new coronavirus, citing the number of cases and limited staff.

The North Central Health District covers 13 counties, including Macon-Bibb, Houston and Peach. NCHD Public Information Officer Michael Hokanson said the district is not able to do full investigations into county outbreaks — known as contact tracing — and now asks people who test positive for COVID-19 to warn people with whom they've come into contact.


Count U.S. Sen. David Perdue among those who don't think the nation's economy will be up and running in one fell swoop.

In a pair of radio interviews on Tuesday, Perdue spoke of a “transition phase” that wouldn’t begin until authorities are sure the number of COVID-19 patients is on the downswing. That is currently projected to occur in late April in Georgia, he said.

"We have some hospitals around the Southeast that don't have any COVID-19 patients, but because of the shelter-in-place, they're shut down -- they can't do elective surgeries and so forth," he said in an interview on WJRB (95.1 FM) in Young Harris. "I believe we can re-open some of those -- dedicate certain hospitals to COVID-19 patients and keep going."

One thought about that approach: A lack of COVID-19 patients doesn’t necessarily correlate to an absence of coronavirus infections. That’s why ramping up viral testing is so important.

In a session with WGAC (580 AM) in Augusta, Perdue also said he last spoke to President Donald Trump about the economic recovery on Saturday.


A split Georgia ethics commission on Tuesday backed a 30-year-old state law that bans state lawmakers from raising campaign money until a legislative session is over, according to our AJC colleague James Salzer. 

One suspects this might have made the decision easier:

The House and Senate Republican caucus political action committees and GOP legislative leaders have more than $3 million in their campaign accounts and will commit some of their resources to help their incumbents beat back challenges.

However, about two-thirds of state lawmakers being challenged in June are Democrats, who don't have such resources.


Furious Democrats are eager to punish state Rep. Vernon Jones, D-Lithonia, who on Tuesday endorsed President Donald Trump's re-election bid. But that anger will need to be balanced with this consideration:

Though the impulse to sanction Jones might be hard for Democrats to resist, it could yield long-term challenges if the two-term lawmaker holds on to his seat in November. Democrats are battling to flip 16 seats in the 180-member chamber to gain control and might need every member they can get.


We're sensing a theme, at least among physicians with political ambitions.

Dr. Rich McCormick released a TV ad on Wednesday that highlights his work as an emergency room physician, a particularly important background amid a coronavirus pandemic. "A conservative leader who's ready, right now," the narrator intones as stethoscope-filled shots fill the screen. Watch it here.

McCormick, one of a jumble of Republicans running for Georgia’s Seventh District, is the second GOP doctor in as many days to release an ad invoking his medical background.

Earlier this week, John Cowan, a Rome neurosurgeon running for an open northwest Georgia seat, released an ad featuring him marching through a hospital and, later, at a gun range.


U.S. Sen. David Perdue has amassed a campaign war chest of $9 million to boost his re-election bid in November, after collecting roughly $1.6 million from donors over the first three months of the year. (We've got a rolling list of campaign finance info going here.)

Perdue has also unveiled new members of his re-election campaign as November nears.

Paul Bennecke, the veteran Georgia operative, will return as his general consultant and Ben Fry will serve as his campaign manager. Fred Davis, the adsmith who helped craft Perdue’s jean-jacketed image in 2014, is back on his 2020 campaign.

Other key figures include McKenzie Vaughn, a former Republican Governors Association official who will serve as Perdue’s finance chief; pollster Chris Perkins of Ragnar Research and Sarah Collins, a finance consultant who has worked with Ralph Reed and Newt Gingrich.

His message will be honed by two media gurus. John Burke, who most recently led an outside group promoting Perdue’s bid, will be his communications director. And Casey Black, who was Perdue’s press secretary the last two years, is now his campaign’s senior spokeswoman.


The University System of Georgia's Board of Regents has approved a special professorship focused on Parkinson's disease research and named after former U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson.

Gov. Brian Kemp announced the creation of the John H. "Johnny" Isakson Chair for Parkinson's Research at the University of Georgia during a celebration for the retired senator in January. The university told the Board of Regents that it has raised $1.6 million for the position and plans to hire someone who will focus on technology and innovation in their research and teachings on Parkinson's and other brain disorders.

Isakson has shied away from the spotlight since stepping down in December, but he posted a message of gratitude to Kemp and the university on Tuesday via his Twitter account.

"Actions like this provide hope for a brighter tomorrow and bring us closer to finding a cure," he wrote.


In endorsement news:

-- Mark Gonsalves, running in a crowded GOP primary in the Seventh Congressional District, has endorsed U.S. Rep. Doug Collins’ campaign against incumbent U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler.

-- Former state Sen. Floyd Griffin endorsed Teresa Tomlinson’s Democratic campaign for Georgia’s U.S. Senate contest No. 2.