Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and U.S. Rep. David Scott, D-Atlanta, on the set of WAGA-TV's "Good Morning Atlanta."

The Jolt: Two Democrats, the Perdue cousins, and a spate of compliments

We’ve had an outbreak of bipartisanship in Georgia over the last few days. It appears to be contained. Epidemiologists are blaming the unvaccinated.

Last Friday, U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Albany, was at the annual Fort Valley State University “ham and egg legislative breakfast” with U.S. Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga. In fact, the former introduced the latter with these words:

“We have a friend for this state – but not only for this state, but for all the communities across our country and in our territories – in Senator David Perdue.

“He and Sen. [Johnny] Isakson introduced a bill on the Senate [side] to compliment the bill that [Rep. Austin] Scott and I have worked so hard to get passed through the House…to try to bring relief to all of these communities that have been so devastated.”

Bishop was on safe ground here. The topic, of course, was the frustrating fight in Congress for Hurricane Michael relief aimed at farm communities in southwest Georgia. Partisan sniping on that topic would be not only unseemly, but unwise – given that Bishop’s congressional district includes many of those devastated farms. Another factor: Many of his constituents are hardcore supporters of President Donald Trump.

On Monday, U.S. Rep. David Scott, D-Atlanta, was on WAGA-TV’s “Good Day Atlanta” to plug an annual job fair he hosts in College Park. By his side was Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, the former Republican governor.

The two served in the state Legislature together, when Sonny Perdue was still a Democrat. Scott even introduced Perdue at his Senate confirmation hearing to become a member of President Donald Trump’s cabinet.

Last year, we told you of Scott’s hard-fought effort to put millions of dollars in scholarship funding for historically black colleges and universities into the 2018 farm bill. Ultimately, the Atlanta congressman was successful.

On Monday, with Sonny Perdue at his side, Scott included both Perdue cousins in his victory lap:

‘What is so unique about that program is that Democrats and Republicans came together and accomplished that. And leading the way were Republicans and Democrats right here in Georgia…

“Sonny played a pivotal role in helping us get that $80 million. And Sen. David Perdue – I want to give him great recognition. He picked up the ball in the Senate…” 

We’d have to say that Scott’s effort is the more daring example of bipartisanship. The 13th Congressional District in northwest metro Atlanta isn’t Trump country – far from it. And we know that Michael Owens, the former chairman of the Cobb County Democratic party, is considering another primary challenge to Scott.

In the midst of what’s likely to be a bitter 2020 presidential contest, bipartisan cooperation can be easily twisted into bipartisan collaboration.

***

Stacey Abrams had a lot of fans in Athens at Monday’s taping of GPB’s “Political Rewind.” But the University of Georgia crowd went utterly silent when host Bill Nigut posed this question: How many of you think she should run for president?

On the other hand, those who thought the former Democratic candidate for governor should run for U.S. Senate or attempt a re-match with Brian Kemp were quite noisy. (The segment airs today at 2 p.m.)

***

Most of the early presidential polling has left out Stacey Abrams, who is still ruminating on a possible White House run. But in one of the few to name her, she’s gained some traction.

The Charleston Post & Courier reports that a new poll from California-based Change Research has the Georgia Democrat at 7 percent, tied with Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind. 

That’s far behind ex-Vice President Joe Biden, who leads the field with 32 percent, and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is at 14 percent. 

But it’s also right in line with U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris of California (10 percent), former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke (9 percent) and U.S. Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey. (9 percent).

And it’s far ahead of other candidates, including U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, both of whom received marginal support. 

***

Moments after lawmakers put the final touches on the anti-abortion “heartbeat bill,” the Democratic Party of Georgia released a target list of Republicans who voted for House Bill 481.

Now, the conservative Family Policy Alliance has announced its own slate of lawmakers it will seek to defeat: The list of a dozen lawmakers who voted against the measure includes two GOP legislators: state Reps. Deborah Silcox of Sandy Springs and Butch Parrish of Swainsboro.

The Democratic targets include House Minority Leader Bob Trammell of Luthersville. The others, all House Democrats:

-- Mary Frances Williams of Marietta;

-- Erick Allen of Smyrna;

-- Mary Robichaux of Roswell;

-- Angelika Kausche of Johns Creek;

-- Josh McLaurin of Sandy Springs;

-- Michael Wilensky of Dunwoody;

-- Beth Moore of Peachtree Corners;

-- and Greg Kennard of Lawrenceville.

***

We told you Monday about state Sen. Jen Jordan’s pending D.C. testimony against a federal bill to limit abortion access. You can stream her comments to the Senate Judiciary Committee here beginning at 10 a.m. today.

The Atlanta Democrat will be joined by one other abortion rights supporter, Valerie Peterson of Equal Opportunity Schools. They’ll be testifying against the federal legislation before the committee, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would limit most abortions after 20 weeks. The other witnesses include Melissa Ohden, founder of the Abortion Survivors Network; Dr. Donna Harrison, executive director of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists; and Catherine Glenn Foster, president and CEO of Americans United for Life.

***

WRLB-TV in Columbus reports that public/private funding “in excess of $25 million” has resulted in a decision by Mercer University to open a four-year medical school in Columbus. State funding will be a necessary ingredient. 

***

As Democrats have doubled down on their push to gain access to special counsel Robert Mueller’s unredacted Russian investigation, they've been met with some resistance from U.S. Rep. Doug Collins. The Gainesville lawmaker, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, has voted to release the full report but argued there are aspects of it, including some pertaining to the case’s grand jury information, that legally can’t be made public apart from formal judicial proceedings. 

But the four-term lawmaker surprised some on Monday when he called for Mueller to come and testify before the Judiciary Committee to answer questions about his investigation. From his Tweet:

“Democrats can cite no precedent for their demands for grand jury information from the #MuellerReport, but there’s a solution we should all be able to agree on: The Judiciary Committee should invite the Special Counsel to testify immediately.”

House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., quickly agreed.

It is the word “immediately” that jumps out in Collins’ suggestion.

Attorney General Bill Barr has vowed to send the committee a scrubbed version of the Mueller report by mid-April and is scheduled to come in to testify on May 2.

Republicans may want Barr to be able to respond to whatever Mueller has to say to members of Congress about the special counsel’s report. Collins suggested the week of April 22. Democrats may want Barr on the record first. 

Read more about Collins’ approach to the Russia investigation here.

***

Speaking of Doug Collins and the Mueller probe, the progressive political group Need to Impeach is financing billboards and digital ads in the Republican’s northeast Georgia congressional district urging him to “stop flip-flopping” and push for the release of the full report. Take a look for yourself:

Need to Impeach is the political group financed by California billionaire Tom Steyer, who briefly flirted with a presidential run and poured millions last year into a campaign to impeach Trump. Steyer even visited Atlanta as part of his push last spring. Of Collins, Steyer said he “has the power to stand up to this corrupt president and make his voice heard in favor of accountability.

“Instead, he is choosing to carry water for this lawless president's assault on the constitution.”

The group’s message will be on display on a pair of billboards in Dawsonville and in Facebook ads within the Ninth District for the next several weeks.

***

The Hill newspaper writes about the lengths Democratic presidential hopefuls are going to lock down U.S. Rep. John Lewis’ 2020 support. Perhaps remembering his 2008 experience, when he was required to un-endorse Hillary Clinton and back Barack Obama, the civil rights hero said he doesn’t plan on making an endorsement ahead of the primary.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.

X