Georgia’s state Capitol

Capitol Recap: Cobb Dem no fan of new Dem policy on incumbents

As a former chairman of the Cobb County Democratic Party, Michael Owens could be considered an insider.

But a new Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee policy seems aimed at keeping Owens and his ilk on the outside.

The DCCC is blacklisting political consultants who work with anybody waging a primary challenge against an incumbent Democrat.

Owens is such a challenger, running against U.S. Rep. David Scott, D-Atlanta, in Georgia’s 13th Congressional District.

Part of the case Owens is trying to make to voters is that Scott is not Democratic enough.

He has accused Scott of aligning too closely with top Georgia Republicans, such as U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and U.S. Sen. David Perdue.

Owens said “several of the big Democratic consulting firms and top consultants across the country” had expressed an interest in working with his campaign.

“But I think that once the DCCC made it clear that they were going to aggressively enforce the policy, the calls from those consultants ceased and a few we were in discussions with stopped returning our calls,” he said.

The former Marine said the policy won’t stop him from running. But Owens will have to stick with a Georgia-based staff to make his run.

Owens said he expected the DCCC to side with Scott, but he also questions why it would put its finger on the scale in a primary.

“I’m fully supportive of the DCCC effort in flipping seats,” Owens said. “However, I don’t understand why this policy is necessary, especially in solid blue districts. The DCCC should promote democracy and not stifle it. As it relates to Democratic primary elections like mine, the voters of the district should decide who their next congressperson is, not the DCCC.”

Looking for a new majority: An “independent” group aims to flip 16 GOP seats in the state House to give Democrats a majority in that chamber.

Democrats are hoping to build on their successes in November, when they gained about a dozen seats in the Georgia Legislature, most of them in Atlanta’s northern suburbs.

Even with those victories, however, Republicans hold a 105-75 advantage in the House.

The strategy of the Georgia House Majority Project is to focus on 15 House seats that Republicans won in November with less than 55 percent of the vote. It’s an “independent expenditure group,” meaning it cannot legally coordinate with political campaigns but can still spend money promoting candidates and attacking their rivals. The group intends to flood the vulnerable districts with digital ads, direct mail and voter outreach efforts.

One seat on its list is held by state Rep. Ed Setzler, R-Acworth. He is the author of House Bill 481, Georgia’s new anti-abortion “heartbeat” law.

Democrats are hoping fallout over the new abortion restrictions, which would ban the procedure in most cases at six weeks into a pregnancy and before many women know they are pregnant, will propel them to new gains in the House. HB 481 cleared the House by a vote of 92-78, one more than the 91 needed to pass legislation in that chamber.

A number of Hollywood figures and studios have responded to HB 481 with warnings that if it goes into effect they could cease to work in Georgia, despite the lucrative tax breaks the state gives for film and television productions made here.

The Georgia House Majority Project opposes any such boycott.

“Boycotts will only hurt hardworking Georgians,” said Bobby Kaple, the group’s finance director and a former newscaster who ran unsuccessfully last year in the state’s 6th Congressional District. “The kind of change we need happens at the ballot box in 2020 and requires us to stay and fight.”

The 7th District shuffle: Tracking the activities this past week in the congressional race covering parts of Forsyth and Gwinnett counties sounded a little bit like a Texas cage match: Two candidates went in, and one came out.

State Sen. Renee Unterman and U.S. Air Force veteran Ben Bullock both announced that they will be running as Republicans in the 7th Congressional District contest to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall, R-Lawrenceville.

Another military veteran, Harrison Floyd, said he was bowing out less than a month after he entered the race and more than 11 months before the GOP primary.

Unterman is perhaps the best-known candidate in a crowded GOP field. She was first elected to the state Senate in 2002 and served six years as chairwoman of the Senate Health Committee before it was taken away from her earlier this year.

Also this year, she ushered HB 481 through the Senate.

Bullock founded a real estate investment firm, and he says he can use his background in finance to “help tackle our national debt crisis, improve infrastructure, empower local businesses and bring more jobs” to the district.

In his introductory video, he also states, “Today we face a different kind of terror in the form of socialism.”

Socialism — to be precise, “democratic socialism” — had also been a major issue for Floyd.

In his video, the former Marine who had served in Iraq said, “I’ll fight socialists in Congress the same way I fought terrorists in the desert” while an image showed him firing a machine gun in combat.

The use of gunfire in the video drew immediate rebukes from a pair of Democrats running in the 7th District, Carolyn Bourdeaux and Nabilah Islam.

Now, Floyd is out. But he says he spoke recently with state Rep. Todd Jones, who he said is “considering running for the same reasons” that Floyd entered the contest.

“I might be the guy doing this in the future, but I’m getting out and putting my energy behind getting Todd to run,” Floyd said. “He will have the message and the resources to win and will serve us well.”

If Jones runs, he’ll have more than just Unterman and Bullock to contend with for the GOP nomination. Former Home Depot executive Lynne Homrich, former pro football player Joe Profit and emergency room physician Rich McCormick are also running as Republicans.

The Democratic side of the race is also crowded. Besides Bourdeaux and Islam, it features attorney Marqus Cole, former Fulton County Commission Chairman John Eaves and state Rep. Brenda Lopez Romero.

Tough talk: Over in the 6th Congressional District, it may not be a cage match, but the rhetoric is getting rough.

Former Republican U.S. Rep. Karen Handel broke out a nickname for the Democrat who beat her in November, U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath, calling her “Lying Lucy.”

Handel seized on McBath’s comments at a Capitol HIll press conference, where she called on the people there to “stand up for a gun-free society.”

The former congressman, referring to the current congresswoman, said, “She says she supports the Second Amendment — except when she doesn’t.”

A McBath campaign spokesman said she had “misspoke.”

“The prepared remarks read ‘gun violence-free society,’ ” Jake Orvis said. “Congresswoman McBath is focused on protecting the right of responsible gun owners while keeping their families and kids safe from gun violence.”

McBath became a national gun control advocate after her son was fatally shot in 2012. But that, she said, hasn’t affected her view on the right to bear arms.

“I am a strong supporter and proponent of the Second Amendment. Always have been,” McBath told The New Yorker in February. “It’s not about infringing upon the rights of people to own guns as gun enthusiasts or hunters, but what it is, is it is getting people to understand that we have to put in place common-sense measures. Just basic measures to keep guns out of the hands of individuals that should not have them.”

McBath introduced a “red flag” bill this past week that would temporarily prevent people from obtaining firearms if they pose a danger to themselves or others.

Earlier this year, the House approved another gun bill McBath proposed calling for a federal background check.

Handel’s comments prompted more harsh words from another Republican in the 6th District race — directed at McBath, but also Handel.

Nicole Rodden tweeted that McBath “should be held accountable for her record — but seriously, @karenhandel, name-calling? I’ll #takebackdistrict6 and defeat Rep. McBath on the issues.”

Another Republican entered the race this past week, and she also appears to be a tough talker.

Milton businesswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, in launching her bid, took aim mostly at Handel. The district’s Republican voters, she said, are “exhausted with Karen Handel.”

“She’s lost seven races in her entire political career. … She steps down from seats that she does win so she can campaign for something else,” Greene said. “Basically I would call her a professional campaigner, but she loses.”

Greene, who runs a commercial construction company, also called state Sen. Brandon Beach, a fourth Republican in the race, “just another government employee.”

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