Democratic state Sen. Jen Jordan rails against a bill that would outlaw most abortions in Georgia. Photo by Bob Andres
Photo: Bob Andres/Bob Andres/bandres@ajc.com
Photo: Bob Andres/Bob Andres/bandres@ajc.com

The Jolt: A state lawmaker explains her support for Michael Bloomberg

We’ve told you that the Democratic presidential campaign of Michael Bloomberg is doing some heavy courting of DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond. And that U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath, who has benefitted from Bloomberg’s anti-gun violence campaign, endorsed him last week.

But another political figure has endorsed the former New York mayor as well: State Sen. Jen Jordan, D-Atlanta, whose 2017 election has – like McBath’s victory the next year – come to symbolize the dissatisfaction of women voters in suburban Atlanta with the direction of GOP politics.

Yes, she is bothered by Bloomberg’s “stop-and-frisk” policy that targeted millions of young men of color. “I get why people are uncomfortable, and that’s really downplaying it,” Jordan said in a phone interview on Sunday. “He’s a former mayor of New York. He has a way of talking and dealing with people that will be interesting to watch, in terms of a national debate.”

Jordan’s support comes down to three factors:

-- The impact that having Bernie Sanders as the Democratic nominee could have on races in Georgia, in a contest that could determine whether Democrats have a seat at the table during the 2021 redistricting process. The “socialist” tag matters, according to Jordan. “From my perspective, if Bernie Sanders were at the top of the ticket in Georgia, it would be devastating down ballot, in one of the most important years for down-ballot races,” she said. Democrats are currently 16 seats away from control of the state House.

-- Then there’s the money that Bloomberg is spending here ahead of Georgia’s March 24 primary. “The thing that drew me to Bloomberg was the investment in infrastructure he was making here. Nobody ever does that for us – the staffers, the offices, the issue ads,” she said. “He’s the only one on the ground here doing that.”

Jordan acknowledged that Bloomberg’s unique strategy to replace former Vice President Joe Biden may not pay off.

“It’s concerning about Biden. Can he pull it out? Absolutely. But for right now, it is helpful to us here in the state to have Michael Bloomberg spending money, to hire people and to have issue ads,” she said. “It lifts everybody up.”

-- Jordan said she realizes that “stop-and-frisk” is a deal-breaking issue for many Democrats. But she also notes that Bloomberg has “turned the gun violence thing into a real movement.” Then there’s climate change.

“These are all real issues in our community, and he’s one of the few people who’s put his money where his mouth is,” she said.

***

As the long weekend broke, former deputy attorney general Sally Yates, formerly of Atlanta, had an op-ed in the Washington Post. It was a history lesson on that wall of separation between the White House and U.S. Department of Justice – the one that she and many others say President Donald Trump and Attorney General Bill Barr are now tearing down. Wrote Yates:

After the Watergate scandal, Attorney General Griffin Bell sought to reestablish Justice’s independence and ensure that the department would be “recognized by all citizens as a neutral zone, in which neither favor nor pressure nor politics is permitted to influence the administration of the law.” The nation had lost faith in the Justice Department and the rule of law, so during the Carter administration Bell instituted strict limits on communications between the White House and Justice to prevent any “outside interference in reaching professional judgment on legal matters.”

Backing up Yates was Keith Mason, who served as chief of staff for Gov. Zell Miller back in the day. He sent us the link to a 1979 article in the Washington Post that examined Bell’s legacy as he exited the Carter administration. A taste:

In the past two decades the Justice Department has been strongly tied to the White House. Robert Kennedy, John Mitchell, Richard Kleindienst -- each was a presidential campaign manager, or close to it, who became the top law enforcement official in the nation. The dangers of that arrangement were clearly demonstrated by Watergate. And in 1977 the worry was that the Justice Department, after a period of relative neutrality under Edward Levi, would once again become politicized under Griffin Bell. The marston affair seemed to confirm that fear.

But as Bell prepares to leave the Justice Department now, he is proud of the fact that he has erected a giant barrier between his department and the White House. Whether the Justice department will be as independent after Bell leaves remains to be seen.

***

The other day, U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler posted a picture of herself in a camo blouse and orange safety vest, with a shotgun over one shoulder. One of her critics quickly discovered she couldn’t have been using the weaponry to hunt.

The Republican incumbent doesn’t have a Georgia hunting license, according to an Open Records Act request obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. 

The request was filed by American Bridge, a left-leaning group that’s working to unseat the financial executive -- even as she attempts to boost her conservative credentials and fend off a challenge from Republican U.S. Rep. Doug Collins. 

Zach Hudson, a spokesman for American Bridge, said she’s “trying to portray herself as a hunter when the record shows she’s never even had a hunting license.” 

Loeffler’s campaign declined to comment. 

***

Whoops. The Democratic presidential campaign of U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts is casting a wide net -- so wide that Dan Coats, the head of President Donald Trump’s operation in Georgia, received a text message urging him to attend her Nevada town hall.

***

A few ICYMI items:

-- An Insider’s look at the pursuit of black voters by an all-white field of Democratic candidates in the U.S. Senate race against Republican incumbent David Perdue.

-- A Wall Street Journal video that focuses on eight rural Georgia voters – all African-American – and what they think of the 2020 presidential contest.

-- A New York Times piece on the fact that, of nearly 2,000 men and women have served in the U.S. Senate, only 10 have been black. It’s a message that former federal prosecutor Ed Tarver and the Rev. Raphael Warnock, both candidates in the race to unseat U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler, are no doubt pondering.

***

Already posted: U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, predicts that President Donald Trump won’t take a side in his bid to unseat Kelly Loeffler, appointed last month to the seat vacated by U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson.

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