Then-Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor and Nevada Assemblywoman Lucy Flores, left, introduces Vice President Joe Biden at a get-out-the-vote rally at a union hall 2014 in Las Vegas. Ethan Miller/Getty Images/TNS
Photo: Ethan Miller/TNS
Photo: Ethan Miller/TNS

The Jolt: The topic was Joe Biden. ‘We can’t have perfection as a litmus test,’ said Stacey Abrams 

On Wednesday afternoon, in a two-minute, straight-to-camera video, former Vice President Joe Biden promised to put more physical distance between himself and the women he encounters while campaigning.

“I’ll be much more mindful. That is my responsibility, my responsibility, and I’ll meet it. But I’ll always believe governing, quite frankly, and life, for that matter, is about connecting -- about connecting with people. That won’t change,” said Biden, who has not yet formally announced his Democratic presidential run.

Last week, Lucy Flores, a former Nevada legislator, stated that she felt uncomfortable after Biden allegedly held her shoulders and kissed her head in 2014. That has prompted several more women to come forward with similar stories.

Biden’s video was Tweeted out only a few hours before the taping of an appearance by Democrat Stacey Abrams on CBS’ “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.”

Given past talk of a Biden-Abrams ticket, we thought her appearance might produce some news. We were wrong. “There is absolutely no news that I would like to make this evening,” Abrams said. And she did not, except to blush when Colbert read a racy passage from one of the romance novels she wrote under the name of Selena Montgomery.

But this morning, Abrams couldn’t avoid the topic of Biden on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” Said Abrams:

“I am friends with Lucy Flores and I appreciate her bringing her story forward. I also have deep respect for Vice President Joe Biden. We cannot have perfection as a litmus test.

“The responsibility of leaders is to not be perfect, but to be accountable, to say, ‘I made a mistake, I understand it, and here’s what I’m going to do to reform as I move forward.’ And I think we’ve seen Joe Biden doing that. “The vice president has acknowledged the discomfort that he has caused. He has created context for why that is his behavior, and he has affirmed that he will do something different going forward.

“And I think that’s what we should be looking for, because we’re going to find out things about everybody running for office, whether it’s for the presidency or the school board….”

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Joe Biden also received some support from another one of Atlanta’s top Democrats. Shortly after the video hit, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms posted a photo of her and the former vice president smiling, foreheads touching each other, with the Twitter message:

“Everyone’s experience is their own. As for mine, I found my introduction and interaction with @JoeBiden to be genuine and endearing.”

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Speaking of Abrams, the voting rights group she started began airing a TV ad late Wednesday that slams Republican state lawmakers for adopting legislation that would outlaw most abortions, and replace the state’s voting machines with a costly new system. Watch it here.

Gov. Brian Kemp quietly announced late in the day that he had signed House Bill 316, the measure to authorize the purchase of those touch-screen voting machines.

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Gov. Brian Kemp and Attorney General Chris Carr have joined officials from more than a dozen other states in a letter to the U.S. Justice Department, objecting to a recent federal opinion declaring that online state lotteries are illegal under a federal law called the Wire Act.

The letter was sent in March. Notably, Georgia hasn’t joined a federal lawsuit filed by the New Hampshire Lottery in February. Fifteen other states are supporting that action. 

State lottery operators worry that popular multi-state games like Powerball and Mega Millions would be hobbled by the Justice Department’s opinion. Ticket sales and game details are transmitted through online servers that in many cases cross state lines.
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Over at Larry Sabato’s “Crystal Ball,” Emory University political scientist Alan Abramowitz has a first look, with many caveats, at how his prediction model sees the 2020 presidential contest and President Donald Trump’s chances of a second term. A taste:

Given a net approval rating of -10, approximately where Trump’s approval rating has been stuck for most of the past year, and real GDP growth of between 1% to 2%, in line with most recent economic forecasts, the model predicts that he would receive between 263 and 283 electoral votes. Of course, it takes 270 electoral votes to win.

There are a few caveats that need to be mentioned at this point. First, this model is based on a very limited number of elections. Despite its apparent accuracy, therefore, any predictions should be taken with a grain of salt. Second, it is not certain that President Trump will receive he same first-term boost as his predecessors.

In other words, the race will likely be a close one.

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In case there was any doubt that Democrats would zero in on health care in next year’s congressional races, look no further than this new pro-U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath web ad underwritten by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee:


It highlights a bill the House passed along party lines on Wednesday, condemning the Trump administration’s anti-Obamacare strategy:

 McBath, D-Marietta, made protecting the 2010 health care law and coverage for pre-existing conditions a core tenet of her campaign in last year’s Sixth District congressional race, as did Carolyn Bourdeaux in the neighboring Seventh District. Both are likely to revive the message – as well as their own personal stories about interacting with the health care system, McBath as a breast cancer survivor and Bourdeaux as a caretaker of sick parents – in the months ahead. 

There’s also Trump’s push for a vote on an Obamacare replacement plan before the 2020 elections, which he recently walked back. Many Democrats view that as a political gift.

Republicans, meanwhile, are gearing up to use progressives’ ‘Medicare For All’ push as a wedge issue for Democrats. Karen Handel’s introductory ad briefly mentioned it, and we’re likely to see Republicans up and down the ballot trash what they see as Democrats’ “socialist” agenda. 

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Carolyn Bourdeaux will announce today that her Democratic campaign raised more than $350,000 in the seven weeks since she announced her comeback bid for the Seventh District congressional seat. We have yet to see details, but her team said the money came from more than 1,000 individual contributors and no corporate PACs.

Nabilah Islam, one of Bourdeaux’s primary opponents, said she pulled in more than $100,000 during the first fundraising quarter. 

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U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, R-Pooler, is calling for Georgia to be excluded from the Trump administration's offshore drilling plans. Carter wrote to acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt on Wednesday, citing the Georgia House's passage of a resolution opposing energy exploration off the state's coastline. 

"Elected representatives of Georgia have voted, and I believe that the federal government should respect the people of Georgia to make this critical decision for themselves," wrote Carter, who asked that Georgia be removed from the agency's offshore energy plans until "the concerns of the legislature are addressed."

GOP leaders last month tapped Carter to serve on House Democrats' recently-revived climate change panel.

***

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue will be back in Georgia over the next few days. The former governor will attend the American Peanut Association’s annual gala this evening in Albany and headline a legislative breakfast at Fort Valley State University on Friday morning. Then he’ll drop in on his department’s beagle training facility in Newnan, which yes, is a real thing.

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