Matt Lieberman is an entrepreneur, author and former educator. He’s also the son of former U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman. AJC file

The Jolt: Son of Joe Lieberman contemplates a run for U.S. Senate in Georgia

So far, the dominant themes of the Democratic side of the 2020 U.S. Senate contest in Georgia has been its slow formation and leftward drift, even as Republican incumbent David Perdue rakes in boatloads of campaign cash.

Former Columbus mayor Teresa Tomlinson waited until May 1 to make her formal entry, delayed in part by Stacey Abrams’ deliberations about her future. Clarkston Mayor Ted Terry jumped in last week, promising to carry the progressive flag.

But now we’re hearing of another potential contender who could further diversify the Democratic field. 

Matt Lieberman is an entrepreneur, author and former educator. He’s also the son of former U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman, who served as Al Gore’s running mate in the 2000 presidential contest but was an independent by the end of his political career.

We’re told that Lieberman is seriously considering a bid, telling friends he’s “fed up” with Perdue. Lieberman would be the second child of a former senator in a row to challenge Perdue. Michelle Nunn, daughter of Georgia’s Sam Nunn, was the Democratic nominee in 2014.

A graduate of Yale College and Yale Law School, Lieberman was the founder of one of the nation’s first homelessness voucher programs in New Haven and in 2000 was an adviser and surrogate to the Gore-Lieberman campaign. He also advised and campaigned for his father.

He and his family moved to Atlanta in 2005 to serve as the head of a Jewish day school and, two years later, started a group benefits consultant firm and later two tech startups. He wrote a novel in 2018 called “Lucius” focusing on race and friendship in the South.

We’re not sure Lieberman’s timetable. Sarah Riggs Amico, who lost a bid for lieutenant governor last year, is expected to enter soon.

One thing worth noting: Eight months after Abrams’ strong showing in the race for governor, the U.S. Senate race has attracted no prominent African-American candidate.

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Active left-leaning voters got pinged with a blitz of text messages over the weekend from Democratic Party of Georgia officials with a demanding request: Run for city office

It was part of a “shock” program intended to blanket supporters with appeals to run for office - and offer immediate state party help if they were interested. 

The party is devoting more resources to contest municipal races this year, as we told you earlier this month, even though those contests are nonpartisan. 

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In something of the same vein: We’ve told you that three Republicans had signed up as candidates in the Sept. 3 special election to replace state Rep. David Stover, R-Newnan, who recently resigned his seat.

The race now has its first Democrat. Peachtree City library administrator Jill Prouty has announced her intention to run for House District 71. We don’t know of any member of the current Legislature with that occupation. From the press release:

“Librarianship is a rewarding career. I get to serve people from all walks of life every single day," Prouty said. " Public libraries are truly the great equalizer in our society.” 

The special election is scheduled for the day after Labor Day, and is formally non-partisan. Which means that if no one clears 50 percent plus one, the two leading candidates advance to a runoff.

It’s a formula that could benefit an underdog Democrat.

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If you’re a longtime subscriber to the AJC, you’ll remember Charlie Seabrook as a top-notch environmental reporter. He’s retired now, but still at it. From a weekend post on his Facebook page:

A company known as Twin Pines Minerals on Friday applied to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for permits to open a vast strip mine next to the beautiful, world famous Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia.

So far, the company has purchased 7,764 acres on the southern edge of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge and supposedly is planning to buy more land. From my limited knowledge of the hydrology (plumbing) of the Okefenokee, a strip mine of this magnitude next to the swamp, in my opinion, has the potential of harming the swamp’s intricate drainage.

This is already being called the Second Battle of the Okefenokee. A similar proposal 20 years ago by DuPont to open a strip mine on thousands of acres next to the swamp motivated the formation of a coalition of environmental organizations to halt the proposal.

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On Sunday, our AJC colleague Jeremy Turley found no signs of President Donald Trump’s promised move to unleash ICE in Atlanta:

The stillness meant that agents from Immigration Customs and Enforcement were not rounding up unauthorized immigrants in the heavily Latino neighborhood. By early Sunday evening, there also wasn’t any other evidence that large-scale enforcement raids expected to begin this weekend in 10 major cities were underway in metro Atlanta.

Still, the threat of detention left pews in houses of worship and corridors in shopping malls emptier than usual as many immigrants illegally in the country opted to stay home.

Which makes the suspicion that Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms expressed late Friday on MSNBC’s “MTP Daily” more relevant, not less. Said Bottoms:

“It makes me wonder what distraction we’re working on this week. There are many conversations he would rather us not have right now, whether it be the labor secretary or whether it be Iran or any number of other issues facing this country – real issues…..”

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Two attention-worthy pieces in today’s AJC:

-- An arm of the Veterans Affairs Department in Atlanta eliminated 208,272 applications from across the country for health care early this year amid efforts to shrink a massive backlog of requests, saying they were missing signatures or information about military service and income, according to our AJC colleague Jeremy Redmon. Veterans groups say the VA should have done more to communicate with the veterans before closing their applications, some of which date back to 1998.

--- James Salzer, the AJC’s state Capitol reporter and editor says Georgia Republicans have recovered financially from last year’s close call in the race for governor. The Georgia GOP and the political action committees for the party’s majority caucuses raised more than $1.3 million during the past five months, much of it since the 2019 legislative session ended.

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A shakeup in lobbyist world: Brad Alexander and Russ Pennington are joining Brandon Hembree, Lewis Massey and John Watson to start a new lobbying firm called Impact Public Affairs.

The firm brings together some of the most influential people in state politics: Alexander is a former top aide to Casey Cagle, Watson just ended his term as Georgia GOP chair and Massey was secretary of state.

(Alexander sent word that he’ll still be doing some work for his former firm, McGuireWoods, on national and multi-state strategy work outside Georgia.) 

Meanwhile, Zach Johnson also left McGuireWoods to join Barnes & Thornburg. An early supporter of Gov. Brian Kemp, Johnson joins a team that includes Murphy Talmadge and Steve Weizenecker. 

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Democrat Nabilah Islam had her second consecutive six-figure fundraising quarter when she reported raising about $110,000 over the last three months, mostly through small-dollar donations.

The Seventh District congressional candidate has raised about $250,000. It’s not immediately clear how much money she has in the bank. 

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