The Jolt: With Stacey Abrams out, a Democratic race for U.S. Senate begins

Gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams links hands with Sarah Riggs Amico, the nominee for lieutenant governor, during a 2018 state Democrat convention. AJC file.

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Gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams links hands with Sarah Riggs Amico, the nominee for lieutenant governor, during a 2018 state Democrat convention. AJC file.

For weeks, Sarah Riggs Amico has used the same line to fend off those wondering if the Democrat might run for the U.S. Senate: "I'm not going to do anything until Stacey Abrams has made up her mind."

That time has come. And with Abrams out of the race, the former candidate for lieutenant governor now says she is “very seriously” considering a challenge to U.S. Sen. David Perdue.

“Part of it is to finish what we started last year,” she said. “We energized a lot of communities and voters who found a touch of hope for the first time in a while. We gave them something to vote for – not vote against.”

That said, don’t expect an immediate announcement from Amico.

Her advisers say she’s weighing how she can balance another statewide campaign with her business and family. She is executive chair of the Jack Cooper logistics and trucking firm and mother of two young daughters.

Still, she sounded like she’s more likely to run than not.

“There’s a lot of people who wonder if we completely lost our way. Dysfunction in Washington is a narrative that’s out there, but it’s not the complete story,” she said. “The point is what happens to people who are victimized by the dysfunction, the devastating impact that it has on Georgians all across the state.”

On Monday night, Amico offered a glimpse of what her campaign priorities might look like at a town hall gathering with state Rep. Michael Wilensky, D-Dunwoody, at a local restaurant.

Amico spoke of the voting anomalies in her unsuccessful 2018 race for lieutenant governor -- including a mysterious ballot drop-off of more than 100,000 votes. And she criticized Republican-backed legislation that switched to voting machines that don't rely on hand-marked ballots.

Amico was particularly critical of a measure that never surfaced during last year’s statewide races – the anti-abortion “heartbeat” bill that would outlaw most abortions after six weeks, before many women know they’re pregnant.

“You don’t have to be particularly pro-choice to realize it’s a bad bill. It was a real insight into what Republicans mean when they say local control,” she said “What they really mean is local control unless you disagree with them. It’s local control – unless it involves our uteruses.”

As the town hall ended, and Amico thanked Wilensky for hosting the community forum, she mentioned her potential Republican opponent for the first time.

“Correct me if I’m wrong,” she said, “but this is at least one more town hall than David Perdue has held this year.”


Then there is Teresa Tomlinson, the former mayor of Columbus. The Democrat launched a committee to explore a U.S. Senate run earlier this month, contingent on Stacey Abrams deciding against the race. This morning, Tomlinson wished Abrams well and announced she would formally enter the race on Wednesday.

Her likely message: “The Washington power structure isn’t working for us and if we keep sending the wrong people to Washington, it never will.”


For other possible Democratic challengers to U.S. Sen. David Perdue, the Republican incumbent, click here.


At 5:59 p.m. Monday, when Stacey Abrams was still a potential candidate for U.S. Senate, the quote factory that is the National Republican Senatorial Committee ominously warned of Abrams' friendly relations with U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., a Muslim who famously referred to President Donald Trump in distinctly Oedipal terms.

By 7:09 a.m. today, with Abrams out, the NRSC shifted its narrative, chiding Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., for letting such a fine candidate slip through his fingers:

"Stacey Abrams handed Chuck Schumer his most embarrassing recruiting fail of the cycle, leaving Georgia Democrats stuck with an assortment of second-tier candidates."


Call it "The Tuesday the Rabbi Ran for Mayor." Given the Passover assault on a Poway, Cal., synagogue and the general state of things, this press release falls into the "good news" category:

Rabbi Emeritus Larry Schlesinger today formally announced his candidacy for Mayor of Macon-Bibb, Ga.

Commissioner Schlesinger has served on the Macon City Council and then the Macon-Bibb Commission for the past 12 years.

His money quote: “Macon-Bibb certainly deserves a proven bridge-builder dedicated to fiscal responsibility.”

This video announcement can be found on his Facebook page. Schlesinger also fronts a band called "Rabbi and Friends." Macon is a music town, after all.


How's this for a birthday message? On Monday, state Senate Minority Leader Steve Henson, D-Tucker, bestowed the following Twitter message on his former Senate colleague, David Shafer. We've cleaned up the punctuation:

"Today is David Shafer's Birthday. He is running for GOP chair and shared this with us: 'Executive Suites of Fortune 500 are dominated by leftists, who have bought into the whole diversity culture.' I gather if he wins the GOP will remain anti-business and diversity."

Henson was apparently referring to comments made by Shafer to the Bartow County GOP on Saturday morning, which were picked up by the Daily Tribune News:

Heading into 2020, Shafer said Republicans across the state are undoubtedly in store for some ferocious political battles. 

"We've lost academia, higher education, we're starting to lose primary and high school as well, and the executive suites of the Fortune 500 companies are dominated by leftists, who have bought into the whole diversity culture that breeds the identity politics that I think is ripping the whole country apart," he said. "It's so clearly obvious that we're in trouble that we're going to have to do everything possible to stem the tide."


In Washington, senators will get moving today on the nomination of Steven Grimberg, the former federal prosecutor whom President Trump tapped earlier this month to fill the latest vacancy on the U.S. District Court in Atlanta. The Senate Judiciary Committee will hear testimony from Grimberg and three other judicial picks this morning.

Besides Grimberg, there's one other Georgia judicial pick awaiting Senate confirmation. DeKalb County Superior Court Judge J.P. Boulee was first nominated back in August.