House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and House Speaker Paul Ryan, R- Wisc., attend a White House meeting with President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence in 2017. Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS
Photo: Olivier Douliery/TNS
Photo: Olivier Douliery/TNS

The Jolt: Signs that the knives are out for House Speaker Paul Ryan

At a conference in Colorado, the topic of dumping U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan before the November mid-terms was broached. From the Weekly Standard:

Fox News host Bret Baier asked Mulvaney what he thought of the idea that Ryan should step down and allow his likely successor, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, to become speaker this year.

"I've talked with Kevin about this privately but not as much publicly,” Mulvaney replied. “Wouldn't it be great to force a Democrat running in a tight race to have to put up or shut up about voting for Nancy Pelosi eight weeks before an election? That's a really, really good vote for us to force if we can figure out how to do it."

One likely obstacle: The current speaker of the House.

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The seven candidates for Georgia governor combined to spend about $13 million on TV and radio ads during this portion of the primary season. 

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, the GOP frontrunner, led the pack with about $4.3 million in air time. Another $1 million from Citizens for Georgia’s Future, a pro-Cagle outside group, helped boost his campaign. 

Secretary of State Brian Kemp spent the second-most with $1.6 million worth of ads. Two other rivals, former state Sen. Hunter Hill and executive Clay Tippins, have spent about $1 million each.

A fifth candidate, state Sen. Michael Williams, has spent scant money on radio ads in the race. 

On the Democratic side, Stacey Evans pumped in another $1.3 million, far outpacing the $500,000 or so her rival, Stacey Abrams, personally spent on ads. But a trio of third-party groups -- BlackPAC, PowerPAC Georgia and Emily’s List -- combined to spend nearly $2 million boosting her campaign. 

In all, about $9.1 million was spent on ads for the Republican campaigns, while Democrats have shelled out more than $3.6 million.

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A sign that there is precious little neutral ground in the GOP race for governor, courtesy of the Savannah Morning News:

Casey Cagle brought out many of the power players for his “fly-in” campaign visit [on Monday], from Steve Green and Mark Smith on the business side to Ron Stephens and Jesse Petrea on the lawmaker side. Most stood behind the lieutenant governor as he spoke to the cameras at a press conference.

One of Cagle’s main rivals, Brian Kemp, received a warm but must less high-profile welcome when he flew in shortly after Cagle left. Only a few hedged their bets and attended both visits.

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Talk about contrasting campaign strategies. Democrat Stacey Abrams held a big election-eve rally in Atlanta. Her opponent, former state Rep. Stacey Evans, had a lower-key event at Manuel’s Tavern where she slung beers with patrons. 

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In a sense, today is the starting gun for several down-ticket races that haven’t yet quite gotten their fair share of attention. This is particularly true of two six-year positions on the state Public Service Commission.

For District 5 seat, recently given up by Republican Stan Wise, we have GOP incumbent Tricia Pridemore and her primary challenger, John Hitchens. On the Democratic side, former state senator Doug Stoner is squaring off with Dawn Randolph.

Three Democrats are vying for the District 3 seat, currently held by Republican Chuck Eaton: Former state lawmaker John Noel; Johnny White, an IT consultant; and businesswoman Lindy Miller.

What’s to talk about? Plant Vogtle, of course. Again, from the Savannah Morning News:

Consumer, faith and green groups are asking what Georgia regulators talked about with Georgia Power behind closed doors in the days leading up to the Public Service Commission’s decision to continue the over-budget Plant Vogtle nuclear expansion project.

The Southern Environmental Law Center on behalf of Partnership for Southern Equity and Georgia Interfaith Power and Light, and the Barnes Law Group LLC on behalf of Georgia Watch, filed a motion earlier this month for limited discovery regarding the communications between the Georgia Public Service Commission and Georgia Power Company. Under the Commission’s own rules, such secret communications are not permitted after the close of public hearings.

Yeah, that law firm mentioned is the one headed up by former Gov. Roy Barnes.

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This may be more than premature, but an arm of the White House has already struck coins celebrating the meeting between President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong-un. From the New York Times:

The coins, issued by the White House Communications Agency, a military unit assigned to the president, feature likenesses of the two leaders, referring to Mr. Kim as “Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un.”

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Memorial Day, which falls next Monday, will have an emphasis on the ailing U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who is battling both cancer and President Donald Trump. Much has already been said about a White House aide’s callous observation about the conflict: “It doesn’t matter. He’s dying anyway.” A New Yorker examination includes this:

The dispute comes at a moment when McCain is grappling, publicly and poignantly, with what it means to come up against the limits of time in the Trump era. He is eighty-one and in a decisive battle with brain cancer, as he acknowledges frankly in a new book, “The Restless Wave,” written with Mark Salter, and in an HBO documentary, “John McCain: For Whom the Bell Tolls.” (It will air on Memorial Day.) The worst part of the aide’s remark was the suggestion that it wasn’t only McCain’s vote that doesn’t matter but also his voice—that his legacy would dissipate. And the comment was made in the context of a fight that, for McCain, is closely tied to that legacy.

One of McCain’s close friends in the Senate was Max Cleland. The former Georgia senator has sent along this photo from his collection of papers at Stetson University in Florida:

It looks to have been taken upon Cleland’s arrival in 1997, and is of the six Vietnam veterans in the U.S. Senate. From left to right: Bob Kerrey of Nebraska; Chuck Hagel of Nebraska; John Kerry of Massachusetts; Chuck Robb of Virginia; and McCain. That’s Cleland in the front.

McCain is the last Vietnam veteran serving in Congress.

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