The Jolt: Tomlinson says of her Senate Democratic rivals — ‘this isn’t their race’

News and analysis from the AJC’s political team
June 6, 2019 - Atlanta - Former Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson, who is a candidate for the U.S. Senate, spoke with media before the session. DNC hosts its African American Leadership Council (AALC) Summit in Atlanta.  . This year's featured speakers will include 2020 presidential candidates Senator Cory Booker and Mayor Pete Buttigieg.  Bob Andres /

Credit: Bob Andres

Credit: Bob Andres

June 6, 2019 - Atlanta - Former Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson, who is a candidate for the U.S. Senate, spoke with media before the session. DNC hosts its African American Leadership Council (AALC) Summit in Atlanta. . This year's featured speakers will include 2020 presidential candidates Senator Cory Booker and Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Bob Andres /

The Democratic race against U.S. Sen. David Perdue has so far been shaped by hard-edged attacks on the Republican incumbent and little internal infighting – at least publicly. That's fast changing.

At a stop in Brunswick this week, former Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson said her two Democratic rivals – Sarah Riggs Amico and Jon Ossoff – shouldn't be viewed in the same lens as her bid.

She acknowledged that she supported Ossoff's bid for Georgia's 6th District in 2017 and Amico's campaign for lieutenant governor a year later "because I want Democrats in office." And then:

"But with all the respect I have for them, this isn't their race. But I'm going to tell you why. With the respect I have for them, I'm going to tell you why. You can't beat an incumbent senator unless you have won hard-fought elections. Unless you have governed and governed well. Unless you had a body of accomplishment and experience. So I'm going to talk to you about the fact that I've won two hard-fought elections."

Tomlinson, who has made similar recent remarks, is veering from a Democratic approach that focused mostly on Perdue and President Donald Trump – and little on squabbling with her rivals. That was on display at a recent Senate forum where the top candidates didn't offer a single unkind word to each other.

Tomlinson recently rebooted her message after a shakeup of her campaign staff, and she opened the year trailing Ossoff but leading Amico in the latest round of fundraising.


These words sparked quite an extended social media drama: "We took it as the president preparing to offer Kelly Loeffler a job she's more suited for."

That's what U.S. Rep. Doug Collins' spokesman Dan McLagan said about President Donald Trump's suggestion that he was trying to find a "very good" solution to avoid an all-out Republican fight with U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler.

Soon, her allies were all over social media characterizing the comments as sexist and insulting. Here's an example from Matt Whitlock of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which backs Loeffler:

"Imagine suggesting that one of the most successful business leaders in Georgia and sitting U.S. Senator is 'less suited' for her job than an unaccomplished and entitled Representative who has never won more than 200K votes. With a straight face."

So did U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, who wrote that Loeffler “is perfectly ‘suited for’ the Senate. She’s a true conservative.”

Collins' allies soon took up his cause, including U.S. Rep. Kerry Armstrong, R-N.D. He wrote on Twitter:

"Exactly how many elections has she won? 'Unaccomplished and entitled' are adjectives usually associated with donor appointments, not impeachment floor managers. To be fair I don't know her and have nothing against her, but the water cooler consultants might want to sit this out."

McLagan, too, chimed in with his assessment:

"I see the social justice warriors at NRSC are trying to play the gender card. Right from the playbook of the Left. I am referring to a Mitt Romney Republican being unsuitable to carry the GOP banner in GA."

To which Whitlock sent screen-grabs of Collins' support for Romney in 2012, when he was the Republican presidential nominee.

Drama, drama.


The Rev. Raphael Warnock is gaining traction in his push to unite Democrats behind his U.S. Senate bid.

He picked up endorsements on Thursday from several current and former state lawmakers, including state Reps. David Dreyer, Bee Nguyen and Renitta Shannon, state Sen. Elena Parent and Jason Carter, the party’s 2014 gubernatorial nominee.

Two other Democrats are competing against Warnock in the "jungle" special election free-for-all for Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler's seat: Former U.S. Attorney Ed Tarver, who filed his paperwork this week, and Matt Lieberman.


Two Georgia Democrats are among 107 members of the U.S. House who signed a letter denouncing President Donald Trump's new strategy for the Middle East.

U.S. Reps. John Lewis, D-Atlanta, and Hank Johnson, D-Lithonian, both signed the letter, which outlines Democrats' concerns about the policy that would allow Israel to annex portions of Palestinian land. The plan was rejected by the European Union, and former President Jimmy Carter also voiced concerns.

“Of utmost concern, your proposal effectively paves the way for permanent occupation of the West Bank,” the letter says. “It endorses unilateral annexation oflsraeli settlements, as well as the Jordan Valley.”


U.S. Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue are making the case for the U.S. Army to place its new leadership headquarters at Fort Benning, the Columbus-based news station WRBL reported.

The senators sent a letter to Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy that said Fort Benning had the personnel and support facilities already in place to make it an ideal spot. The base along the Georgia-Alabama line is among the three finalists in the Army’s search for a new headquarters.

The Army Corps headquarters are expected to require 600 to 700 new employees, including senior staff.

The other two finalists are Fort Knox in Kentucky and New York’s Fort Drum.

(This item has been updated to remove erroneous references to the Army Corps of Engineers, a division unrelated to the headquarters search.)


State Rep. Kevin Tanner has elaborated on his plans to run for Doug Collins seat in the U.S. House.

Tanner, a Republican from Dawnsonville, is the second state legislator to run to replace Collins, who gave up his seat to run against U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler. State Sen. John Wilkinson of Toccoa was the first.

Tanner is chairman of the Transportation Committee, and he’s got an interesting mix of people supporting his bid: Allies of both former Gov. Nathan Deal and current Gov. Brian Kemp, whose interests in north Georgia don’t often align.

Here is more from awesomely named Dahlonenga Nugget newspaper:

Tanner said the opportunity to run for a seat in Congress was "not something I looked for or expected. It's a big step."

He said he received numerous visits, calls and emails from across the region urging him to run.

"I've been blessed to get to know some really outstanding people in North Georgia over the last 30 years. I feel good about the support and commitment of many across the region," he said.