Democratic candidate for governor Stacey Abrams during an editorial board meeting at the Atlanta Journal=Constitution on Friday. ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM
Photo: Alyssa Pointer
Photo: Alyssa Pointer

The Jolt: Stacey Abrams lays claim to Nathan Deal’s legacy

As the weekend began, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams stopped by the offices of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

We’ve spun a number of pieces off her conversation with the newspaper’s editors and reporters:

-- While earlier this year she was critical of an election-year cut to the state income tax rate approved by the Legislature, Abrams said Friday she wouldn’t attempt to reverse the decision if elected.

-- She slammed Republican rival Brian Kemp’s $600 million plan to raise the pay of public school teachers by $5,000 a year. “He cannot be trusted and you cannot verify that he’s going to do it,” Abrams said.

-- She weighed in on the Brett Kavanaugh hearing the previous day, with predictable comments – but also promised to increase scrutiny of sexual harassment within state government.

Finally, we’ve told you that Kemp has been using Gov. Nathan Deal’s name on the stump far more than that of President Donald Trump. But in her AJC interview, Abrams indicated she would challenge her Republican rival as the candidate most likely to uphold the legacy of Gov. Nathan Deal, a Republican who has benefitted from healthy support among Democratic voters. Said Abrams:

“Gov. Deal is conservative and those that try to cast him as a moderate misread him. But he’s a pragmatist. And it’s that pragmatism that led him to be willing to work across the aisle but also to push back on his own people. I don’t believe Brian would do the same. He’s signaled pretty strongly he has no interest in truly continuing the legacy of criminal justice reform …”

Abrams pointed to some fundamental disagreements with Deal on a range of other policy issues, including his refusal to expand Medicaid, before pivoting to more praise for the governor’s handling of social welfare issues for children. Said Abrams:

“I have not seen demonstrated by a Secretary Kemp the competence or the capacity to do the work that I’ve seen Governor Deal do. And I think if you look at the most promising parts of his legacy, including on transportation, I’m the natural inheritor ... But there’s more work to be done that he’s refused to do. And I intend to do it.”

***

After Thursday’s U.S. Senate hearing on Brett Kavanaugh and the university professor accusing the Supreme Court nominee of sexual assault while they were teenagers, we couldn’t resist a post by WSB Radio’s Jamie Dupree, a native DCer, that included these lines:

We are one and two years older than Kavanaugh, running around the same streets as the President’s Supreme Court nominee; we know all the names of the schools where Kavanaugh and his friends went, all the country clubs, and more.

In many ways, it’s a local story for us – not a Supreme Court story. One of the dads on my kid’s baseball team was a classmate and friend of Kavanaugh in high school. Another guy I know was friends with the Blasey family.

***

U.S. Rep. Barry Loudermilk’s Democratic opponent was forced to walk back comments about Stone Mountain last week after appearing to play down the motivations of Confederates in the Civil War and Germans in World War II.

It started after Flynn Broady, who is challenging the two-term Republican in the Cherokee and Bartow-based 11th District, in an apparent attempt to court more conservative voters, told the Marietta Daily Journal that he opposed the removal of Stone Mountain’s massive bas relief carving, and characterized the Confederate cause as one of home and hearth rather than a defense of chattel slavery. Broady then cited German soldiers during World War II as another example. He told the newspaper:

“Most … German soldiers were not Nazis. They were Germans who were protecting their land, and so can you sit there and demean all of their soldiers? No, you can’t, because they were doing a job that they were asked to do by their country,” Broady said.

The uproar on social media was swift, prompting the Cobb County assistant solicitor general to quickly post a lengthy apology to his Facebook account:

Patriotism as I was discussing it, pertains to the love of one’s country and willingness to serve in the military to defend the principles for which the country stands. In no way, was I attempting to justify or condone the Holocaust or slavery.”

The episode did win Broady one prominent defender – at least temporarily.

Jason Shepherd, the chairman of the Cobb County GOP, told the Daily Journal he once worked with Broady in the solicitor general’s office and vouched for his patriotism. He then used the opportunity to jab the opposing party for fixating on political correctness.

“His apology speaks of tolerance, but there does not seem to me to have been much tolerance concerning his words,” Shepherd told the paper.

***

Speaking of Barry Loudermilk, the Cassville Republican recently dropped his bid to run the Republican Study Committee, an influential conservative group on Capitol Hill that was once led by Georgians Tom Price and Rob Woodall. Loudermilk’s office said the lawmaker “chose to focus on his committee assignments and policy.” 

The Hill newspaper, which first reported the news, said there are two candidates still vying for the position. 

*** 

Our colleagues at WSB-TV highlighted some curious political signs featuring Donald Trump, Brian Kemp and a hammer and sickle that have popped up in pockets of Kirkwood, Old Fourth Ward and the midtown section of the Beltline. 

The supposed underwriters? “The Republican Socialist Party of Georgia.” 

*** 

Former U.S. House speaker Newt Gingrich has some harsh words for Stacey Abrams in a Fox News editorial focusing on her out-of-state fundraising. From his piece:

I urge all Georgians to think very seriously about this big choice election. You can either have a governor who will be beholden to radical liberal elites who financed her campaign – or Brian Kemp, a governor who will exclusively serve the People of Georgia.

***

Georgia lawmakers split along partisan lines on Friday as the U.S. House narrowly cleared the GOP’s “tax reform 2.0,” a package of bills that would permanently extend the tax law’s rate cuts for individuals. The Senate is not expected to take up the measure, which comes with a $600 billion price tag, but expect Republican incumbents to talk about it on the campaign trail this fall. 

***

Former Maryland governor and presidential candidate Martin O’Malley swung through town this weekend, where he helped campaign for Democratic congressional challengers Carolyn Bourdeaux and Lucy McBath in the northern suburbs, as well as attorney general hopeful Charlie Bailey. 

***

You say you’d do anything to win her. But would you give her the 35th Congressional District in Texas, which runs 100 miles from Austin to San Antonio, or Michigan’s 14th, which stretches in a lightning zigzag from Pontiac to Detroit?

A tax-exempt political organization calling itself OMG WTF is selling jewelry in the shape of the most gerrymandered districts in the United States, to raise awareness of the district-packing that occurs after every U.S. census. From its website:

Because in 2021, new lines will be drawn for 2022-2030. So if you’d like to turn these pendants into relics, vote for governors who can veto Congressional lines so that they no longer resemble our jewelry.

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