Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., flanked by Rep. Buddy Carter R-Ga., left, and Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., right, leads a meeting with the Georgia Ports Authority and the Army Corps of Engineers to request full funding for the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project in the 2020 federal budget, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Photo: HANDOUT/The Associated Press
Photo: HANDOUT/The Associated Press

The Jolt: ‘Retired’ and ‘dead’ are two different things

Television has been unkind to two U.S. senators from Georgia in the last 36 hours.

But just for the record: Johnny Isakson is still alive and kicking. And while David Perdue did in fact go to China, he did not leave the Trump reservation.

We’ll begin with Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ appearance on ABC’s “The View.” The topic was bipartisanship, and the inquisitor was Meghan McCain, daughter of the late U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. The exchange:

Sanders: I have conservative friends that I like and respect, but Trump --

McCain: Any in Congress, in the Senate? I’m generally curious about bipartisanship.

Sanders: Johnny Isakson of Georgia, who’s recently retired.

McCain: I was like, he’s retiring.

Sanders: Your dad was somebody I worked with.

McCain: But they’re dead and –

Sanders: Johnny is not dead.

McCain: I know, but he’s leaving.

Sanders eventually got around to naming Lamar Alexander of Tennessee as a U.S. Senate colleague he can work with.

A few hours earlier, on Tuesday night, FOX Business Network’s Lou Dobbs all but accused U.S. Sen. David Perdue and Republican colleague Steve Daines of Montana of sabotaging President Donald Trump’s trade fight with China:

Dobbs: Two Republican U.S. senators are in Beijing tonight, and they may well be undercutting U.S. and China trade negotiations. A U.S. delegation – well, they’re a self-styled delegation, that is, they’re just comprised of Steve Daines and David Perdue….

The two senators would hardly make, at least in my opinion, ideal emissaries under any circumstance. Because both have a significant history of outsourcing American jobs.

The Twitterverse erupted, and Perdue was quickly called everything but a child of God. On Wednesday, the jet-lagged senator was required to explain that Trump was a lao pengyou, and that he went to Beijing as a display of solidarity.

At nearly the same time, Trump voiced his approval of the senators’ visit. “I knew about the meeting. I approved of the meeting. All they did was say we really have bipartisan support,” Trump said.

After the president weighed in, Dobbs offered this correction via Twitter:

Correcting last night's report on Senators Perdue and Daines meeting with China's Vice Premier Liu on trade and security. President Trump approved the trip. And Senator Daines denies he was involved in outsourcing of P&G jobs to China in the 1990s. #MAGA #AmericaFirst #Dobbs

***

The Task Force on Healthcare Access and Cost, a group appointed by Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, will hold a first meeting in the state Capitol today. Duncan is marking the occasion with an op-ed in today’s AJC. Read it here.

As might be expected, the words “Medicaid expansion” do not appear. But this sentence caught our eye:

However, the actual wait time for one specialty – ob/gyn doctors – had grown to 39 days in 2017, illustrating the need for more physicians to see Georgia patients.

The ACLU has filed a federal lawsuit seeking to prevent Georgia’s new anti-abortion “heartbeat” law from going into effect on Jan. 1. The law would bar abortions after six weeks, roughly speaking. That’s 42 days -- again, more or less.

A first hearing before U.S. District Judge Steve C. Jones is scheduled for Sept. 23. to stop the law from going into effect while the case makes its way through the court system. A hearing on that request is scheduled for Sept. 23.

You gotta wonder if that sentence from the lieutenant governor will be introduced as evidence that the “heartbeat” law amounts to a complete ban on abortion.

***

Another day brings another incomplete take on Georgia politics from a national outlet. The latest piece ran in the National Journal focused on the struggle to find “high quality” Senate candidates to run for the seat.

Some party leaders are worried that none of the three candidates challenging U.S. Sen. David Perdue have struck fear in his heart yet. That also will change now that a second Senate seat has opened up.

This is what Harry Reid believes. “I think the world of Johnny Isakson — I’m sorry his illness is necessitating his stepping down as a senator — I think the double opportunity we have in Georgia gives us a real strong chance now to become a majority in the Senate,” the former Senate majority leader from Nevada told Roll Call earlier this week.

But we’ll quibble with the National Journal’s argument that Georgia’s ideal candidate “is a moderate business leader of color who can appeal to the state’s growing suburbanites without alienating its rural voters.”

That is indeed one approach. Some Georgia Democrats do envision a centrist type waging battle for Sen. Johnny Isakson’s seat while a more liberal contender dukes it out against David Perdue -- a strategy built around the lack of a Democratic primary in the contest for Isakson’s seat.

But strategists also need to consider the issues that Democrats Stacey Abrams and Lucy McBath leaned on in 2018, to great success: Gun control. Medicaid expansion. Decriminalizing marijuana. Advocating for expanded voting rights.

While Abrams has ruled out joining Senate race No. 2, McBath is actively considering it. You can tell because other Democrats are positioning themselves for her Sixth District seat.

Two potential candidates we’ve heard so far: State Sen. Sally Harrell of Atlanta and state Rep. Josh McLaurin of Sandy Springs. Both were also interested in running for the seat in the 2017 special election before Jon Ossoff consolidated Democratic support.

***

We told you there was more coming. On Wednesday, Teresa Tomlinson unveiled an endorsement from former Atlanta mayor and U.N. ambassador Andrew Young. This morning, Tomlinson, a Democratic candidate in U.S. Senate race No. 1, is showing off support expressed by slugger Hank Aaron:

“Billye and I are supporting Teresa Tomlinson for U.S. Senate. I know a power hitter when I see one. Teresa has the fight to stop the dysfunction in D.C. and make it work for Georgians.” - Hank Aaron

***

In case you missed it yesterday, Georgia’s eight pending military construction projects were spared from cuts under a Trump administration plan to finance the president’s signature border wall by shifting Pentagon funds. One hundred twenty seven others were not.

***

Over at the Daily Report, Katheryn Tucker has picked up on the two different strategies John Barrow and Sara Doyle have employed in their bids for a spot on the Georgia Supreme Court.

Barrow, a former congressman, was the Democratic nominee for secretary of state last year. Doyle currently is a judge on the Georgia Court of Appeals. Writes Tucker:

Barrow has twice released long lists of backers, many of whom, but not all, are stalwart Democrats, while Doyle said doing the same for her would be inappropriate in her current job…

Doyle has refrained from publicly naming supporters because of her current job. She said she wouldn’t want to name as supporters lawyers arguing before her on the Court of Appeals.

“I think it’s awkward for me as a sitting judge,” Doyle said. “It puts lawyers in an awkward position.”

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.

X