Prime Minister Leo Varadkar of Ireland, President Donald J. Trump, and first lady Melania Trump pose with a bowl of shamrocks presented by Varadkar to Trump last week. Alex Edelman/Getty Images
Photo: Pool/Getty Images
Photo: Pool/Getty Images

The Jolt: Would an anti-Trump campaign be viable in Georgia?

They’ve all become frenetic for Donald Trump watchers, this weekend seemed more so than usual. There was this from the New York Times:

Facebook on Sunday faced a backlash about how it protects user data, as American and British lawmakers demanded that it explain how a political data firm with links to President Trump’s 2016 campaign was able to harvest private information from more than 50 million Facebook profiles without the social network’s alerting users.

And the usual stoking from the president himself, via Twitter:

Why does the Mueller team have 13 hardened Democrats, some big Crooked Hillary supporters, and Zero Republicans? Another Dem recently added...does anyone think this is fair? And yet, there is NO COLLUSION!

Which produced this, from the Washington Post:

President Trump escalated his assault on federal law enforcement agencies weekend while one of his attorneys argued that the controversial firing of a top FBI official was reason to end the Justice Department special counsel’s expansive Russia investigation.

But wait, there’s more: It seems like White House aides have been treated something like porn stars. From Ruth Marcus, columnist for the Washington Post:

In the early months of the administration, at the behest of now-President Trump, who was furious over leaks from within the White House, senior White House staff members were asked to, and did, sign nondisclosure agreements vowing not to reveal confidential information and exposing them to damages for any violation. Some balked at first but, pressed by then-Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and the White House Counsel’s Office, ultimately complied, concluding that the agreements would likely not be enforceable in any event.

Just last week, Democrat Conor Lamb won a Pennsylvania congressional seat by hewing to the center, and stepping carefully around voters who backed Trump in 2016, careful not to antagonize them. But another template might be developing. Well before dawn this morning, Bill Nigut, host of GPB’s “Political Rewind,” sent a link to this Politico.com piece from the Midwest:

In the state’s first primary election of the Trump era, the president has turned the race to be Illinois’ top lawyer upside down, with the traditional focus on consumer protection, law enforcement and legislation taking a backseat to promises to fight tooth-and-nail against Trump.

The eight Democrats running for the party nomination in this solidly Democratic state have tapped Trump as the boogeyman in campaign material, debates and TV ads, promising to serve as the tip of the spear in a war against the White House.

By no means would this apply to Georgia’s race for attorney general -- not now. Democrat Charlie Bailey is the only candidate challenging GOP incumbent Chris Carr.

But the tactic could be attempted in the Sixth District congressional race, where four Democrats are vying for the right to face down GOP incumbent Karen Handel. Then there’s the Seventh District race, where six attention-starved Democrats will compete to challenge U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall, R-Lawrenceville.

Also, remember that Georgia’s Democratic race for governor has become something of an experiment: Stacey Evans is running a more traditional campaign aimed at appealing to centrists and independents in a general election. Stacey Abrams has bet on Democratic intensity to carry her through not just a May 22 primary, but through the November election.

As that race tightens over the next two months, and if President Trump’s attacks on the Russia investigation escalate – which seems highly likely, an overtly anti-Trump campaign for governor in Georgia becomes more of a possibility. Abrams would be more likely to pull the trigger first. If she does, would Evans follow?

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U.S. District Judge Louis Sands Sr. of Albany on Saturday ruled that school district lines in Sumter County, home of former President Jimmy Carter, are intended to dampen the political clout of African-Americans, who make up 54 percent of the south Georgia county. Sands ordered an alternative map be drawn up by March 26, three days before the General Assembly adjourns.

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Vice President Mike Pence left Savannah unscathed on Saturday, after briefly joining the St. Patrick’s Day parade in that city. We came across this appropriate vignette in the next day’s Savannah Morning News:

Moon River Brewing Company Co-owner and Brewmaster John Pinkerton hung up rainbow LGBT pride flags in the second floor windows of the brewery on Saturday.

When he was finished, he left one of the windows open, and fellow Moon River Co-owner Greg Beeco stuck his head out.

“A few minutes later, these two secret service dudes come up and say ‘See that guy up on the roof over there? That’s our counter-sniper. They get a little edgy when they see people sticking their head out of windows, so could you close that for us?’” Pinkerton said.

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Vice President Mike Pence will next be seen in Georgia on Friday. He’s keynoting the Georgia GOP’s annual President’s Day fundraiser. The price for dinner at the Pence table: $50,000.

That day’s counterpoint will be provided by Sally Yates, the former acting U.S. attorney who was fired by President Donald Trump in 2017. Yates will be give the Edith House Lecture at the University of Georgia School of Law in Athens that afternoon. She’s an alumna.

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Atlanta’s Beltline project is fast becoming a victim of its own success. So says Ryan Gravel, the architect and urban planner who dreamed up the idea of converting a ribbon of railroad into parks, trails and transit.

It’s that third part -- transit -- where Gravel is airing his concerns. In his personal blog, he writes that a system of transit along the route was always key to its future. 

But more than a year after Atlanta voters approved a half-penny sales tax that raised $2.5 billion for transit, Gravel writes, “we’re still waiting for news on transit.” Writes Gravel on his own website:

“In addition to the line to Emory, our money is being committed to projects that have not had a single public meeting. And rumors are swirling that Beltline transit may not even make it into the plan – at least not much of it. If that’s true, it’s fair to wonder if MARTA and other decision-makers have been listening all these years. Or maybe they don’t remember. Or maybe they weren’t here at the time. Or maybe they don’t care.”

He called on Atlanta voters and leaders to press for defined transit plans, which he said were key to bringing more affordable housing along the route. He concludes: 

We know intuitively that without urgent investment in transit, the Beltline will become what everyone fears – a beautiful greenway flanked by gentrified neighborhoods for people who can afford the luxury of that choice. That’s not what we wanted. That’s not what we voted for. 

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Tucked into the Huffington Post’s recent must-read opus about Nick Ayers, the Georgia operative who now advises Vice President Mike Pence, is mention of a digital media firm that his web of companies launched.

The company is called BASK -- the A stands for “Ayers” -- and was paid millions of dollars for high-profile campaigns. That outfit is linked to a Georgia candidate for governor. 

The campaign of first-time candidate Clay Tippins has spent about $15,000 with the San Diego-based firm so far on digital media advertising, website hosting and consulting. 

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Bloomberg, meanwhile, has a profile of Ayers’ old boss, current agriculture chief Sonny Perdue, that details how he’s been able to avoid President Donald Trump’s ire after nearly a year on the job. The pithiest paragraph:

“In a year when almost everyone who works for the president is under intense criminal, civil or psychic stress, Sonny has come out pretty unscathed,” said Dan Glickman, agriculture secretary under President Bill Clinton and a Democrat who worked with Perdue at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington. “He’s a savvy politician achieving his goals in a very mercurial administration. I’d give him kudos for that.”

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Politico.com reports that an HIV/AIDS expert from Maryland is among the top candidates to replace Brenda Fitzgerald, former director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. The ex-Georgia public health commissioner resigned in January after the same D.C. news outlet detailed she traded in tobacco company stocks, which appeared to present a conflict of interest. 

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