U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson is stepping down from office at the end of 2019 as he struggles with Parkinson's disease. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/TNS)
Photo: Curtis Compton/TNS
Photo: Curtis Compton/TNS

The Jolt: Running for office on borrowed money

The results of third-quarter fundraising for federal candidates have begun to flow. The picture is still incomplete in many races. Nonetheless, we’ve poked through a few this morning.

In the Republican race for the right to challenge U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath, D-Marietta:

-- Former congresswoman Karen Handel has raised $700,779.39. Of that $125,441.72 came from PACs and other committees, including the campaign accounts of U.S. Rep. Austin Scott, R-Tifton, former congressman Tom Price, and House Speaker David Ralston. Handel has $630,883 in cash on hand.

-- Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Second Amendment enthusiast, attracted $125,441.72 in contributions. She’s loaned herself $500,000, but so far hasn’t spent much of it. Her cash on hand stands at $498,408.82.

-- Nicole Rodden has raised $69,329.53, and loaned herself $98,511.71. Her cash on hand: $31,254.12

-- State Sen. Brandon Beach reports $359,067.05 in contributions, $7,500 in contributions from PACs and other committees, and another $8,400 from his own pocket -- $2,800 for the primary, primary runoff and general election.

On the Republican side of the Seventh District race to replace U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall, it’s worth comparing two of the top women candidates:

-- State Sen. Renee Unterman reports $202,906.41 in contributions and a personal loan of $602,840.89. Her cash on hand: $770,864.41

-- Businesswoman Lynne Homrich has raised $419,921.15. She’s also loaned herself $250,000. Her cash on hand: $436,881.09.

Among Democratic challengers to U.S. Sen. David Perdue:

-- Former Columbus mayor Teresa Tomlinson reported contributions $900,921.38. Her cash on hand: $289,589.92.

-- Sarah Riggs Amico, a trucking executive and former candidate for lieutenant governor, has raised $310,918.30, and loaned herself another $400,000. Her cash on hand: $425,738.76

-- Jon Ossoff, the documentarian and former congressional candidate, reported $810,711.35 in contributions and what is apparently a transfer from his congressional account of $532,791.70. His cash on hand: $1,294,318.88

-- Clarkston Mayor Ted Terry’s report has yet to surface.

Meanwhile, Republican incumbent David Perdue reported $5,434,646 in contributions, and another $1,970,200 from PACs and other committees. His cash on hand stands at $6,307,239.81.

There’s a definite trend in the numbers above – a proliferation of personal loans by candidates to juice their campaigns. We’ve talked to a number of those involved. The prospect of a second U.S. Senate campaign in Georgia to replace Republican Johnny Isakson – on top of a presidential contest – has definitely made raising cash more difficult, they tell us.


This could come in handy: U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, reports about $1.4 million in his campaign coffers - money that he could use for a potential U.S. Senate campaign. He’s the only sitting congressman so far to submit his resume to Gov. Kemp’s office for Republican Johnny Isakson’s U.S. Senate seat.


Earlier today, one of your Insiders told you that Matt Lieberman, the only announced Democrat in the race for U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson’s seat, has floated a YouTube video that spoofs the shotgun ad that Republican Brian Kemp ran during his primary contest for governor.

You can watch it here, but it’s worth focusing on the cultural shift that this exchange between Lieberman and “Jack” represents among Democrats:

Lieberman: What do you think of a military-style weapon like this – should a civilian like me be able to buy one at the store?

Jack: Hell, no.

Lieberman: Hell, no?

Jack: I’m sorry. Heck, no.

Lieberman: You were right the first time. Hell no. By the way, this is a toy. I don’t own a gun.

Somebody will surely tell us if we’re wrong, but this may be the first time that the phrase “I don’t own a gun” has shown up in a contest for statewide office:


Sarah Riggs Amico, a Democratic candidate in Senate Race No. 1, has landed the endorsement of a local chapter of the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers. She’s touting each of these endorsements, since courting labor is a major part of her strategy in the crowded primary. Here’s an earlier piece about why seeking union support is the backbone of her campaign. 


U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has decided to hold off on a formal House vote to authorize the chamber's impeachment inquiry. Politico.com reports that vulnerable freshman Democrats were largely opposed to a floor vote, "with some lawmakers fearing that the American public would confuse a vote authorizing an impeachment inquiry as actually impeaching Trump." 

Pelosi's move could be helpful to Lucy McBath of Marietta, Georgia's only freshman lawmaker, who's been under fire from Republicans for her cautious approach to the impeachment debate. McBath voted to advance the House Judiciary Committee's probe before the Ukraine saga burst into public view, and she's since said she stands by the investigation -- while stopping short of advocating for outright impeachment. 

Republicans such as Collins have slammed Pelosi for breaking with past precedent on impeachment and not greenlighting a floor vote.

"@SpeakerPelosi’s press conference further reveals that she intends to keep her partisan “impeachment” push in the shadows, where she and @RepAdamSchiff can keep the truth and their unfair tactics hidden from public scrutiny," Collins tweeted Tuesday. 


Ashley Bell is getting a big White House promotion. The former Hall County commissioner is taking on a new role as a policy adviser for entrepreneurship and innovation in the White House's Office of American Innovation.

In the new role, Bell will work with federal, state and local economic development agencies, as well as private sector investors, to help grow small businesses through the White House's "opportunity zones." Bell will also work with the White House's HBCU initiative and others to "create a robust pipeline of entrepreneurs leaving college or re-entering the workforce." 

Bell will make the formal announcement at an event at the Russell Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Atlanta this afternoon. We're told he'll also keep his current job as a regional director for the U.S. Small Business Administration in Atlanta. 


The Georgia NAACP has elected the youngest state president in the organization’s history. James “Major” Woodall, 25, recently became the group’s new leader. Woodall was an NAACP official in Bulloch County, where he is from, and a graduate of the Morehouse School of Religion. He’s now pastor of Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church in Marietta. 


U.S. Rep. Jody Hice, R-Monroe, a senior member of the House Freedom Caucus, is nonetheless slated to score a victory later today when the chamber is expected to consider and approve his bill to curtail the federal benefits provided to former U.S. presidents after they leave office.

The measure would limit their future pensions, the annuities provided to surviving spouses, and their annual allowances. “In recent years, former presidents have had no shortage of lucrative opportunities upon leaving office,” Hice said when he introduced the bill earlier this year. “Despite this, taxpayers are still footing the bill for the official expenditures of former commanders-in-chief."

Hice's bill is bipartisan - and co-sponsored by Elijah Cummings, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee with whom Hice has tangled on the panel’s Trump investigations. Who said bipartisanship is totally dead? 


The Washington Post Magazine has a profile of Andrew Aydin, the aide to U.S. Rep. John Lewis who helped author the Atlanta Democrat’s award-winning graphic novels, “March.” The pair is reportedly working on a sequel about Lewis’ run for Congress in 1986.

This could get interesting. That bitter contest, against then-state Sen. Julian Bond, created a schism in black Atlanta.

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