Former Vice President Joe Biden recently indicated a couple of Georgians were possible options for the vice president slot on the Democratic ticket in November 2020. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

Capitol Recap: Biden thinks Georgia may be a good place to find a veep

When former Vice President Joe Biden was in Atlanta for the Democratic presidential debate, he must have had potential running mates on his mind.

During a campaign stop in Iowa, he recently suggested a pair of Georgians as possible candidates for his old job: Stacey Abrams and Sally Yates.

He didn’t go into specifics, and he didn’t limit his options to just the two Georgians, The Des Moines Register reported.

“I could start naming people but the press will think that’s who I picked,” Biden said, and then — while eschewing names — he gave highly specific clues about who he thought were good options for No. 2 on the Democratic ticket.

There was “the former assistant attorney general who got fired.”

That would be Yates, who was the acting U.S. attorney general for the first 10 days President Donald Trump was in the White House. He fired her when she refused to defend his Muslim travel ban.

Yates is a surprise contender because she’s said repeatedly that she’s not interested in running for office. Instead, she has returned to the Atlanta law firm King & Spalding — her place of employment back in the 1980s — while also serving as a lecturer at Georgetown University.

And then Biden spoke of “the woman who should have been the governor of Georgia.”

That’s Abrams, who announced earlier this year that she would not run for president or the U.S. Senate, instead focusing her attention on taking her efforts to fight voter suppression to the national level.

But she’s always left the door ajar to a potential run for vice president. (Rumor has it that she and Biden sat down in March, before he launched his bid for the presidency, and talked about her joining him as a running mate at the very start of his campaign. Representatives for both of them have denied it.)

Biden also dangled as possibilities “the two senators from the state of New Hampshire.” That would be Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan. Each can also say on her resume that she was governor of the Granite State, a not-to-be-taken-for-granted state given its early placement on the primary trail.

And then there were five: Maya Dillard Smith plans to run a “people-powered campaign” for Republican U.S. Sen. David Perdue’s seat.

Dillard Smith is perhaps best known for stepping down in 2016 as head of the state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union in protest of the group’s support for controversial efforts to allow transgender people to use the restroom that matches their gender identity.

Now, she joins a crowded field of Democrats aiming for a battle with Perdue.

The other contenders are Sarah Riggs Amico, an executive and the party’s candidate last year for lieutenant governor; former 6th Congressional District hopeful Jon Ossoff; Clarkston Mayor Ted Terry; and former Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson.

“There’s a clear pathway to victory on behalf of everyday Georgians about our core values,” Dillard Smith said. “This is a campaign for the people.”

A poll about pills: Georgians have strong feelings about drug prices, according to a poll being circulated by the Campaign for Sustainable Rx Pricing.

Here are a few highlights:

  • In Georgia, nearly 65% of respondents blamed “the rising price of prescription drugs” on pharmaceutical companies.
  • 90% of Georgia voters say prescription drug prices are “very important” or “somewhat important” among issues that Americans face.
  • Nearly 70% or Georgia voters support the Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act of 2019, compared with 5% who oppose it. The measure appears to have strong appeal no matter the ideology — 69% of conservatives, 66% of moderates and 81% of liberals back the legislation.

So does the Campaign for Sustainable Rx Pricing, which is trying to persuade Perdue to support the measure before Congress takes its Christmas/New Year’s Day recess.

Shots, not: The vaccination rate for Georgia 5-year-olds has declined over the past decade. Laurel Huster with The Newnan Times-Herald recently showed just how much:

“Georgia’s vaccination rate for MMR, DTap, Varicella, Hepatitus B and Polio among kindergartners decreased by 6 percentage points, the largest decline of any state.

“In the 2009-2010 school year in Georgia, 99.6 percent of kindergartners were fully vaccinated, while for the 2018-19 school year, 93.6 percent were, according to the (Atlanta-based U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).”

Meanwhile, The Marietta Daily Journal reported that state Rep. Teri Anulewicz, D-Smyrna, has filed legislation that would give unvaccinated 16- and 17-year-olds “the ability to choose to be immunized without parental consent against a dozen ‘preventable’ diseases including measles.”

“At present,” the Daily Journal reported, “those under 18 years of age are at the whim of their parents or legal guardians when it comes to this.”

It was reported last month that 11 of the state's 18 cases of measles could be found in Cobb County.

Less than enthusiastic: MORE didn’t do enough for U.S. Rep. Doug Collins.

The Republican from Gainesville opposed the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2019, aka the MORE Act, when it came up for a vote before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee.

The bill to decriminalize marijuana would remove it from the federal government’s list of controlled substances — where it sits next to heroin and LSD, but oddly enough, not cocaine or methamphetamine. The legislation would also require federal courts to expunge previous convictions for certain cannabis-related offenses and authorize a 5% tax on sales of the drug.

Collins faulted Democrats for how the bill came to be, although he also said there are alternatives that he favors.

“The bill is nearly devoid of bipartisan support and it fails to address many critical issues surrounding the cultivation, distribution, sale and use of marijuana,” Collins said.

A majority of the panel felt differently, passing it on a vote of 24-10.

The two Georgia Democrats on the Judiciary Committee — U.S. Reps. Hank Johnson of Lithonia and Lucy McBath of Marietta — were among those who voted for the legislation.

Johnson is a co-sponsor of the bill. McBath said she supported it to encourage more research on the therapeutic uses of marijuana so additional states can decide whether to legalize the drug.

The bill could now receive a vote on the House floor. The Senate, however, is unlikely to take up the measure.

Two for Turkey: South Carolina Republican U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham was the first to quash a Senate resolution condemning the Armenian genocide that Turkey committed in 1915, when 1.5 million people were killed. Graham’s action came the same day Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited the White House.

When the matter came up again, Perdue took the reins, blocking the measure.

“Its passage … would undermine the (Trump) administration’s commitment to overcome real challenges in our bilateral relationship with Turkey,” Perdue said.

Candidates, endorsements, etc.:

— U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris picked up a half-dozen endorsements in her bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. Lining up behind the Californian are state Reps. Donna McLeod of Lawrenceville, “Able” Mable Thomas of Atlanta and Mike Wilensky of Dunwoody; state Sen. Valencia Seay of Riverdale; Lithonia Councilwoman Amelia Inman; and activist Lovely Dhillon.

— Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg quickly picked up an endorsement in his bid for the Democratic nomination for president. Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis threw his support behind Bloomberg.

— State Rep. Karla Drenner, the first openly LGBTQ member of the Georgia Legislature, told Project Q that she is backing South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s bid for the Democratic nomination for president.

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