Georgia’s Capitol

Capitol Recap: Georgia GOP sets the price at $10 million to hold House

How much is it worth to Republicans to hold their majority in the Georgia House?

The answer appears to be $10 million.

The GOP Majority Outreach has set a goal to spend that amount on roughly 30 of the most competitive House races. Thirty also happens to be the party’s edge in the House, with 105 Republicans to 75 Democrats in the chamber.

GOPMojo, as it’s called, also intends to register 200,000 new Republican voters ahead of the 2020 election.

It’s all a response to a Democratic effort called the Georgia House Majority Project targeting 16 seats where a Republican won last year with less than 58% of the vote. Democrats got excited after picking up 11 state House seats in last year’s election, most of them coming from the Atlanta suburbs. But an analysis by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution determined that it’s unlikely Democrats will be able to run the table to win all 16 seats — while also defending the seats they already have — to gain the slimmest of majorities.

House Speaker David Ralston is a force behind GOPMojo. A fund he backs, the Georgia House Republican Trust, quietly launched the program in May. At the wheel is veteran Republican operative Jay Walker, who helped orchestrate the party’s takeover of the House and state Senate after Sonny Perdue’s upset in the 2002 governor’s race. GOP strategist Karl Rove is advising.

GOPMojo “will point out the clear choice Georgians have between moving forward in the right direction with strong leadership or making the sharp leftward lurch today’s Democratic Party represents,” Ralston said.

Most of the money the House Republican Trust raises comes from statehouse lobbyists, professional or business associations that lobby at the Capitol, and others with a keen interest in legislation or state funding.

Competition for the House comes at a key time.

In addition to the usual advantages that come with being the majority party, the 2020 elections will also determine who will have influence in redistricting the following year.

The fight will likely focus on suburban women, who ditched Republicans in the 2018 midterms. Democrats think President Donald Trump’s name on the ballot, along with the new restrictions on abortion that will take effect Jan. 1, will help sway women their way.

Just you wait: A Georgia GOP official recently gave birth to a dispute that could take decades to settle.

The subject was fertility.

Brant Frost V, the second vice chairman of the Georgia Republican Party, said the GOP has a “fertility advantage.”

Frost, speaking at a recent Oconee County GOP meeting, linked his case to the Democratic Party’s general support of abortion rights and Republicans’ opposition to abortion.

“The other side has a culture of death. We have a culture of life,” Frost said. “Christian and conservative women have a 35% fertility advantage over Democrat women, And the more conservative a woman is, the more likely she is to be married and have lots of kids.”

That seems like a big number, although some of his sources would say it’s a little conservative in measuring future little conservatives.

Frost told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that in his Oconee speech, he meant to use statistics from a 2006 ABC story that quoted a political scientist who said the gap between conservative and liberal birth rates is closer to 40%. He pointed to a story on Fatherly.com and cited a book on the growth of religious communities in the U.S. called “Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth?”

He predicted that in two or three decades we could see “an explosion, a reawakening” of conservative values.

While Republicans occupy every statewide office in Georgia and the party controls majorities in both chambers of the Legislature, Frost seemed to think that Democrats hold the power. That’s going to change, though.

“They’ve done everything. They’ve got the institutions. They’ve got the universities. They’ve got Hollywood. They’ve got big tech. They’ve got everything,” Frost said. “But they forgot one little thing: They forgot to reproduce. They forgot to have babies. And we didn’t. And in 20 years, we’re going to inherit those institutions.”

Frost drew a rebuke from Georgia’s Democratic Party.

“Brant Frost said out loud what the Georgia GOP has already made clear with their backward policy agenda — they only value women for their ability to reproduce,” Democratic spokeswoman Maggie Chambers said. “Georgia women know their worth and will show up to vote them out.”

He’s white, he’s proud, he’s out of the race: Donnie Bolena, who was running as a Republican in the 6th Congressional District, has halted his candidacy after he says local and state GOP officials pressured him to quit.

You see, Bolena had declared himself a white nationalist.

In a 22-minute Facebook video, Bolena — wearing a red Trump re-election cap — announced that he was withdrawing from the race, saying: “Some of it was self-inflicted. Some of it wasn’t.”

A couple of days earlier, Bolena had made his declaration. In his withdrawal post, he described how it happened:

“I said I was a proud white nationalist. Due to the shootings that happened in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, I was very aggravated and very mad at the way the liberal media comes after conservatives,” Bolena said. “It comes after our Second Amendment.”

Bolena says CNN got wind of the earlier post, although it hasn’t published anything about it. Apparently, in Bolena’s telling, others also heard about it.

He alleges that Trump’s re-election campaign contacted the Georgia Republican Party, which then pressed Bolena to make his exit.

“I was told, ‘Donnie, if you stay in it, and CNN breaks this story, you’re going to hurt President Trump, and you’re going to hurt District 6, and you’re going to hurt the country. They will use this to destroy every Republican,” he said.

Bolena doesn’t seem to understand why what he said could be problematic.

“Has anybody ever looked up the word ‘nationalism’?” he asked. “It’s not a bad word. But now, the liberal media has made it a bad word. I said I’m a white nationalist. Which means I’m a white man. I’m a proud white man. And I’m a nationalist. I still don’t think that’s a bad word. I think every American should be a nationalist.”

In case you’re wondering, he said more:

“I said this to the chairman when I talked to him this morning. I said, ‘I am so sick of being at attacked for being white.’ Why are white people apologizing for being white? What is wrong with them.

“I don’t see no black people out there apologizing for being black. And I don’t see no Asian people out there apologizing for being Asian,” Bolena said. “I don’t get it.”

And then he said more:

“That’s what I wanted to do in Congress. I wanted to be a guy with a voice for the people. I wanted to say: ‘It’s OK if you don’t want to accept homosexuality. You don’t have to. And it’s OK if you like being white. You should. And it’s OK if you want to be a nationalist. You’re not doing anything wrong.’ If we go out and say that, the liberal media pounces on us, and I get called a racist.”

Georgia Republican Party Chairman David Shafer, when asked to confirm Bolena’s account of the events, declined to comment.

Another race, another contender: While the 6th Congressional District has lost a candidate, the neighboring 7th District just added another name — and it poses potential showdown at the ballot box over Georgia’s new anti-abortion law.

State Sen. Zahra Karinshak, who holds the Duluth-based seat Shafer one filled, entered the race to replace outgoing U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall, R-Lawrenceville.

Karinshak was a leading Senate Democrat in the fight against the new law, House Bill 481, which would ban abortion once cardiac activity has been detected in the womb, about six weeks into a pregnancy and before many women know they are pregnant.

A driving force in the Senate in support of HB 481 was state Sen. Renee Unterman of Buford, who is now running for the Republican nomination in the 7th District.

Candidates, endorsements, etc.:

— Zulma Lopez announced that she will be running against state Rep. Michele Henson of Stone Mountain in the Democratic primary in House District 86. Lopez, a lawyer, is married to Dax Lopez, a DeKalb County state judge with Republican connections. He’s best known, probably, for a job he didn’t get, a federal judgeship. His nomination ran into opposition from Republican U.S. Sen. David Perdue and others over his ties to the nonpartisan Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials.

— Lauren “Bubba” McDonald said the annual Georgia Chamber congressional luncheon this past week in Macon that he will seek another six-year term on the Public Service Commission in 2020.

— Shaun King, an activist with Black Lives Matter, has endorsed Clarkston Mayor Ted Terry, one of two Democrats running for the U.S. Senate. The other is former Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson.

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