Stacey Abrams, left, talks with Sarah Riggs Amico, the former candidate for lieutenant governor, at last month’s state Democratic conventionSTEVE SCHAEFER / SPECIAL TO THE AJC
Photo: Steve Schaefer
Photo: Steve Schaefer

The Jolt: Stacey Abrams welcomes a GOP shift on Medicaid

We’ve got something of a theme this morning.

For years, Stacey Abrams and her fellow Democrats have assailed Republicans for their refusal to expand Medicaid under the auspices of the Affordable Care Act.

So she is taking the news that Gov. Brian Kemp is set to back legislation to allow “waivers” that could pave the way to a limited Medicaid expansion -- perhaps with work requirements and other conservative-friendly add-ons -- in stride.

She has her worries. At a stop on her “thank you” tour in Gwinnett County on Monday night, the former gubernatorial candidate drew applause when she described the idea of a waiver that could include work requirements as a “pale facsimile that only favors those who they deem to like.”

But she told reporters afterward that she’s heartened that Republicans are coming to terms with what they have long derided as Obamacare.

“I think they listened to communities that are losing jobs, losing opportunities, and people who are losing their lives,” she said. “I don’t care why they came to the party. I’m glad they finally showed up and I hope they finally do the right thing now that they’re here.”


Meanwhile, as posted earlier today, House Speaker David Ralston’s speech at a Saturday night dinner with Fannin County Republicans has surfaced. Ralston warned GOP hardliners not to put their suburban Atlanta colleagues in jeopardy with unnecessary votes on hot-button issues. A key quote:

“Stacey Abrams is coming. I don’t know whether she’s running against Sen. Perdue or Governor Kemp. But she is a serious opponent. They have other serious people out there,” he said. “We have to approach this challenge as if our future depends on it. Because it does.”


Then we have Gov. Brian Kemp, who -- like all other GOP candidates for governor last year -- has endorsed an effort to allow Georgians to carry concealed weaponry without a permit.

House Bill 2 would allow “constitutional carry” -- the term used by gun enthusiasts. We’ve reported that the measure’s two north Georgia authors, state Reps. Matt Gurtler, R-Tiger, and Colton Moore, R-Trenton, aren’t in good standing with Speaker David Ralston, and so that version of the measure isn’t likely to move.

Still, in an interview this week, Chelsea Beimfohr of 13MAZ in Macon asked Kemp if he would push for “constitutional carry.” His reply:

"I'm not really commenting on that. There’s all kinds of pieces of legislation that are in. I’ve said and I’ll continue to be a strong supporter of the Second Amendment. I hunt and I shoot and I carry. I won't just support, but I’ll advocate. We’ll see what the Legislature wants to roll out this year. My positions from the campaign have not changed."

Translation: The governor will not kick if the Legislature doesn’t send him a “constitutional carry” bill to sign.


More spare change from Stacey Abrams appearance in Gwinnett:

-- Abrams endorsed Gwinnett County’s MARTA referendum next month. Early voting starts Feb. 25. A bipartisan coalition is backing the measure -- but heavy Democratic participation could be crucial to passage.

-- Abrams also continued to use the tangle of litigation surrounding a state House seat in north Georgia, poised for a third try at a primary election, to build the case for bipartisan voting rights legislation. 

She invoked Dan Gasaway, a once and potentially future state lawmaker, as an example of a Republican who has been victimized by ballot access issues.

“He had to fight his party and the state to get democracy in his election,” she said. “This is not a partisan issue. This is a people issue. This is a democracy issue. This is our issue.” 


Word was spreading last night that a House-Senate conference committee had reached a compromise on border security that would move Washington past another federal government shutdown on Friday. President Donald Trump refused to comment on the development during last night’s rally in El Paso, Texas.

Count U.S. Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ranger, among those also doing some calculations. Graves’ reaction via Twitter: 

I haven’t signed off on the reported “deal” nor have I seen it. Based on the reports, I have concerns. Lots of questions too.


Carolyn Bourdeaux today will formally jump back into the Seventh District congressional race. The Georgia State public policy professor, who came 433 votes shy of defeating GOP incumbent Rob Woodall in November, intends to 2020 campaign paperwork with the Federal Election Commission today.

“In 2018, we started a movement that will not to stop. We are standing up for quality, affordable health care, a world-class education system, and a government that works for us,” the Democrat said. “And in 2020, I look forward to making that movement a reality for all of us.”

With Woodall retiring at the end of the current Congress, Bourdeaux enters the wide-open race with money in the bank, name recognition and a list of endorsements that includes Andrew Young, Max Cleland and Hank Johnson. But she likely won’t face a clear path to the Democratic nomination. Several state legislators are also eyeing the seat, which encompasses portions of Gwinnett and Forsyth counties. 


Over at the, WSB Radio host and former never-Trumper Erick Erickson is taking heat for endorsing, rather early in the process, the re-election of President Donald Trump. A taste:

I have ongoing concerns on tariffs, the national direction on North Korea, and other issues, but even with George W. Bush I had issues. No President is perfect. Some are badly flawed. In 2020, we’ll be asked to choose between a set of sinners and must decide which direction we want to go as a nation.

I chose a third path in 2016 and the nation decided otherwise. Now, as we head into 2020, it is clear the paths forward are still between the Republicans and Democrats. The path of opting out or protesting now to me seems irrelevant as we have a President who is no longer a hypothetical against any of a host of Democrats who too extreme for the nation.


Todd Rehm, editor of, has a good eye for this-day-in-history items.

In 1868, during Reconstruction, the state Capitol of Georgia was moved from Milledgeville to Atlanta. On Feb. 12, 1867, the editor of the Milledgeville Federal Union expressed dismay at the prospect:

"Atlanta is certainly a fast place in every sense of the word, and our friends in Atlanta are a fast people. They live fast and they die fast. They make money fast and they spend it fast. They build houses fast, and they burn them down fast... . They have the largest public buildings, and the most of them, and they pass the most resolutions of any people, ancient or modern. To a stranger the whole city seems to be running on wheels, and all of the inhabitants continually blowing off steam."

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