Former Democratic candidate for governor Stacey Abrams traveled to Hollywood this week to meet film executives and others in the industry who oppose Georgia’s new anti-abortion “heartbeat” law. She told them that a boycott is not the right way to protest against the new abortion restrictions that will take effect in January. KENT D. JOHNSON/kdjohnson@ajc.com
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Jolt: Stacey Abrams goes Hollywood with talent agency deal

Could a saga about voting rights in Georgia be headed to the silver screen?

Stacey Abrams has signed a deal with United Talent Agency, one of the entertainment industry’s biggest firms. And the Hollywood Reporter said one of the entertainment projects she’ll work on will be focused on voting rights. 

Said Abrams:

"As the 'Hollywood of the South,' Georgia's film and entertainment industry is a central part of our economy and our culture. This partnership will allow me to provide my perspective as a Georgian, an author, a politician and an entrepreneur while working on projects in a vibrant and thriving Georgia industry."

As film executives and actors threatened boycotts of Georgia over the anti-abortion law, Abrams trekked to Los Angeles in June to urge film executives to resist the “moral pull” to punish the state.

And she recently celebrated the decision to hold the Nov. 20 Democratic presidential debate at Tyler Perry Studios in southwest Atlanta rather than, say, a metro Atlanta suburb. 

A series of tweets prompted by our AJC colleague Mark Niesse’s story about the roughly 300,000 voter registrations that could be canceled served as a reminder that the partisan fighting over voting rights and last year’s election is not over.

U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris tweeted this week that “if it wasn’t for voter suppression tactics like this, we’d be calling @staceyabrams governor. This is an attack on our democracy.”

Abrams thanked the presidential candidate last night, saying she “understands that voter suppression no longer exemplified by billy clubs and hoses. It begins with removing voters from the rolls or preventing their registration.”

Republicans rushed to defend the voter purge process. Georgia GOP chair David Shafer said Abrams and other Democrats were “ridiculous” to claim voter suppression “when voters who have moved away or died” are removed.

“An updated voter roll protects the integrity of our elections by preventing fraudulent ballots from being cast,” he said. 

***

That same fight spilled over into the aftermath of the Georgia Supreme Court’s decision Thursday to uphold last year’s result in the race for lieutenant governor despite inexplicably low vote totals.

Sarah Riggs Amico, the runner-up who is now running for the U.S. Senate, said the irregularities in the lieutenant governor’s race will motivate her to expand voting rights and fight “widespread voter suppression” if she’s elected.

“Good grief!” shot back John Porter, a top aide to Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan. “@SarahRiggsAmico what’s your excuse going to be when you finish 3rd in the DEM primary next year?”

***

Georgia House Speaker David Ralston has turned into an issue in a special election to replace state Rep. David Stover, R-Newnan. Stover was one of 10 GOP legislators who pushed earlier this year for Ralston to step down as speaker after an Atlanta Journal-Constitution/Channel 2 Action News investigation into his use of legislative privileges to delay court cases for his clients. Erick Erickson, a well-known pundit and Ralston critic, is backing Phillip Singleton in Tuesday’s election, saying he, too, will press for Ralston’s ouster. Ralston has given money to another candidate, Marcy Westmoreland Sakrison. BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

House Speaker David Ralston released a slate of new committee assignments last night that punished one of his most outspoken critics.

He removed state Rep. David Clark, a Buford Republican who spearheaded the effort to oust the speaker, as chairman of the Interstate Cooperation Committee.

Clark was one of 10 lawmakers who sponsored a resolution that called on Ralston to resign over allegations he abused his power to delay criminal cases for his legal clients.

In another move, Ralston assigned Democratic state Rep. Scott Holcomb to a subcommittee that controls the purse-strings of the state’s public safety budget.

Holcomb worked with the chamber’s Republican leadership to resolve a huge backlog of untested rape kits, and he’s raised concerns about inadequate funding for the program.

***

As your two D.C. insiders wrote yesterday, all five of Georgia’s U.S. House Democrats voted in favor of formalizing their party’s impeachment inquiry. 

It’s worth noting, though, that none have stepped as far as some of their Democratic colleagues who’ve said they’ve seen enough to warrant President Trump’s removal.

One congressional hopeful who has is Nabilah Islam. The Democratic activist, who’s running to the left of most of her 7th District competition, said Trump’s White House tenure “will forever be a stain on the history of our great nation.” 

“Now that procedures have been established, I urge Congress to move swiftly and vigorously so that we may cleanse the highest office in our land and return dignity to the office of the President,” she said.

***

It’s now looking less and less likely that the House will be wrapping up its impeachment proceedings before the end of the year.

Which means that Gov. Brian Kemp’s pick to replace the retiring U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson on Jan. 1 may have a tough vote to take very early in their D.C. tenure.

Our friend Niels Lesniewski at Roll Call has this interesting history lesson about what happens when a new senator gets thrown into an impeachment process.

***

There are several reasons why Georgia’s nine Republican lawmakers weren’t going to entertain yesterday’s impeachment inquiry. Here’s one very, very big one

***

Gov. Brian Kemp unveiled a plan Thursday that would invest more than $300 million in public money into reinsurance — money that would be paid to insurance companies and meant to trickle down and lower premium prices. The plan would also require the state to build its own online system that would guide residents to private web brokers who could sell them insurance.

Back in Georgia, Republicans couldn’t help but draw a line between the impeachment vote in Congress and Gov. Brian Kemp’s new healthcare waiver proposal back in Atlanta.

“Look at the juxtaposition,” said state Sen. Larry Walker III. “On the day Congress votes on impeachment, in Georgia we’re taking a bipartisan approach that will benefit residents and provide access to healthcare.” 

***

A group of anti-abortion Democrats is planning to hold a rally outside of the presidential debate at Tyler Perry Studios. Yes, there are still anti-abortion Democrats. 

***

Tia Mitchell, our newest Insider, has this tidbit from her first week on Capitol Hill: 

U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Atlanta, said he was delighted to wake up Thursday morning to the news that the Washington Nationals had won the World Series.

Lewis is a fan – he attended a Nationals game during the regular season – but he also buys into the superstition that the winner of the title can predict the outcome of the presidential election.

“My philosophy is, when the National League is doing well the Democrats will do well,” Lewis told us.

Lewis is not alone in a belief that National League wins correlation to Democrats winning in the White House and that American League wins bode well for Republicans. There is even research by the Society for American Baseball Research, although it found that any links over the years have been purely coincidental. 

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