November 8, 2019 Marietta: President Donald Trump is greeted by Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and First Lady Marty Kemp as he arrives at Dobbins AFB on Friday, November 8, 2019, in Marietta. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com
Photo: ccompton@ajc.com/Curtis Compton
Photo: ccompton@ajc.com/Curtis Compton

The Jolt: The reading material Doug Collins might have carried aboard Air Force One

One of your Insiders has a follow this morning on the pressure that supporters, including President Donald Trump, have begun to put on Gov. Brian Kemp to name U.S. Rep. Doug Collins as a U.S. Senate replacement for the retiring Johnny Isakson:

After months of quiet jockeying for Gov. Brian Kemp’s appointment to an open U.S. Senate seat, Collins’ allies have embarked on a full-scale campaign to pressure the Republican to reward one of Trump’s fiercest defenders in the U.S. House.

The ramp-up seeks to force Kemp’s hand after a new favorite has emerged in the race for the coveted post: Kelly Loeffler, a financial executive and co-owner of Atlanta’s WNBA franchise, applied for the seat just before a Monday deadline.

Within the AJC article is a link to a McLaughlin & Associates poll memo addressed to Collins, extolling the support the congressman can muster within the Georgia GOP base. It’s worth noting that McLaughlin & Associates is the polling firm used by the Trump re-election campaign. Nathan Deal also used the firm in his gubernatorial campaigns.

The memo, first obtained by Politico.com, is dated Nov. 8, which is important. That’s the day that Collins and the Perdue cousins flew down to Atlanta with Trump on Air Force One, for a series of fundraisers and an effort to boost the president’s support among African-American voters.

Given the timing, one presumes that Trump was the memo’s chief audience. It was on the ride from the airport to downtown Atlanta when the president first pressed Kemp to give Collins the jobs. A phone call from the president to Kemp came on Wednesday.

But the memo also tells you that Collins has been in heavy campaign mode for some time – probably since Isakson announced his retirement in late August. The memo has no crosstabs or other data points. Its purpose is to persuade, not prove. Also worth noting: The impeachment of Trump is at the core of Collins’ argument: A taste:

Doug Collins has been President Trump’s top defender in Congress and has repeatedly fought against the Democrats attempts to embarrass and impeach President Trump.” Knowing this, four out of every five of the voters that we polled then say that they would be 80% MORE favorable to Doug Collins. 66% said much more favorable and only 5% said less favorable…

[A]s the leader of the Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee who has exposed and embarrassed the Democrats attempts to impeach President Trump as immoral and dishonest, Doug Collins selection to the US Senate would send a message to the entire country to end this phony impeachment now. He would electrify President Trump’s base in Georgia and help lead us to victory next November. Only Doug Collins can do that.

The memo is based on polling of Georgia GOP primary voters – which is also its limitation. Collins’ first appearance on a ballot as an incumbent U.S. senator -- or a GOP challenger -- would be in a “jungle” election that will likely include other Republicans and Democrats. Held concurrent with a presidential election, it will not have the same dynamics of a Georgia GOP primary. Read the entire memo here. Or stroll through it below:


Also in this morning’s AJC piece 
is this quote from former Georgia congressman Jack Kingston of Savannah, who has submitted his name to Kemp for consideration:

“I can’t imagine how difficult of a decision this is for the governor,” said Kingston, who ran for Senate in 2014 and applied with Kemp for the job recently.

“You’ve got friends, donors, national operatives, the president all calling. We should be praying for the governor – everybody in America is going to be second-guessing him.” 

The former congressman also spoke to Politico.com:

[Kingston] said he had not spoken to Kemp and had been counseled not to crowd the governor on the looming decision.

Kingston said he would consider running for the seat in 2020 if he’s not appointed, but added that he would be unlikely to challenge Collins because their politics are "well aligned."

A Wall Street Journal account of the Kemp-Collins eruption also includes this bit of intelligence:

Ms. Loeffler has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars in recent years to the Republican National Committee, which is helping to re-elect the president. And this month she gave $100,000 to Trump Victory, a joint fundraising committee that is raising funds for the Trump campaign and the RNC, according to a person familiar with the contribution, which is too recent to appear in federal filings.

***

Another poll brings more disconcerting news for U.S. Sen. David Perdue.

A week after an Atlanta Journal-Constitution survey showed a plurality of voters -- roughly 41% -- were open to voting for a Democrat in the Senate race, a new poll conducted by SurveyUSA for 11Alive also shows the first-term Republican in a vulnerable spot.

The Survey USA poll found 40% of likely Georgia voters“certain” to back Perdue, and 37% are “certain” to vote for the Democratic opponent. About 14% say they need to know the nominee before they can make up their mind. 

The generic Democrat wins moderates by a 2-to-1 clip, while Perdue holds about 86% of his Republican base. 

***

But here’s some good news for U.S. Sen. David Perdue: Reinforcements are coming.

The conservative Americans for Prosperity Action group has launched a digital ad urging Republicans to “support another successful term” for Perdue. The ad will run on Facebook and Google starting Friday. 

Stephen Allison, the group’s senior adviser, said Perdue has “shown that he trusts the people of Georgia to make their own decisions, without someone from Washington telling them what to do.”

***

President Donald Trump has signed into law a bill to keep government funded through December 20, avoiding a shutdown that would have occurred Thursday if Congress had not approved a deal.

However, a majority of Georgia’s Republican members of Congress voted against the continuing resolution.

The Democrat-controlled House approved the stop-gap funding in a 231-192 vote on Tuesday that was largely along party lines. All nine of Georgia’s GOP House members voted “no.” Ten Democrats also cast dissenting votes, including the four progressive freshmen members known as the “Squad.”

When the bill came to the Senate for a vote on Thursday, the divide was less partisan. The final vote of 74-20 included many Republicans joining Democrats in supporting the bridge funding. Remember that in this chamber, the GOP holds a majority. 

Georgia’s two senators, both Republicans, were split. Sen. Johnny Isakson was a “yes.” Sen. David Perdue voted “no.”

***

A pro-charter-school organization was behind a protest during U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s campaign stop at Clark Atlanta University on Thursday. As Warren began her speech, the activists revealed their matching shirts and chanted loudly.

The Powerful Parent Network raised over $16,000 on GoFundMe to stage protest in Atlanta and elsewhere, but many of the top donors are anonymous. Journalists looking into some of the organizers have discovered ties to other pro-charter organizations. Warren appears to be the only candidate targeted thus far by the network.

After an impromptu yet passionate plea from U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley, a Warren surrogate, the group quieted down and allowed Warren to finish her speech. Afterward, she fulfilled a promise to meet with the group.

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