(Melissa Lyttle/The New York Times)

Capitol Recap: Immigration has a campaign moment in Georgia gov race

It was a week when Democrats and Republicans fought over whether somebody should quit a job and what’s the financially responsible thing to do, but immigration also had its chance to shine in the Georgia governor’s race.

Democrat Stacey Abrams favors allowing “dream kids,” the young immigrants who have been shielded from deportation by the Obama-era Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals program, known to many as DACA, to attend any of Georgia’s public colleges and universities. That’s counter to the state Board of Regents’ policy blocking their admission to some schools, including the University of Georgia and Georgia Tech.

Abrams also says such students, who were children when they were brought to the country illegally, should be able to receive the HOPE scholarship.

“There are those who say, ‘You shouldn’t do that because there are tax dollars (involved),’ ” Abrams told a crowd in Dalton, according to The Chattanooga Times Free Press. “The reality is, it’s paid for by the lottery. I promise you: Everybody plays the lottery. So everyone deserves to benefit from it.”

Later in the week, Abrams said her policy would live up to the “legal obligation” under the state constitution to provide an education for every child.

Said Abrams: “My point is simply this: I want to follow the lead of Texas and other states that have said if you graduate from our high schools, if you’re part of our community, you should continue to get education and continue to be a productive citizen.”

Republican Brian Kemp responded that he “won’t reward illegal behavior with handouts, perks and scholarships as law-abiding Georgians work to make ends meet.”

Abrams answered Kemp’s response by saying the students are not a burden on the system but an asset.

“We’re talking about students who will invest in our state,” she said. “My position is this: Dreamers are part of our community, and I want them to be lifted up.”

Lawsuits are still being debated in state and federal courts on whether DACA-protected immigrants can attend all public colleges in Georgia and whether they are eligible for HOPE scholarships.

Staying up late: Can it be long before she performs in Carpool Karaoke?

Abrams fulfilled her duties as a late-night television guest this past week when she pitched her book, “Minority Leader.”

This time, it was on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show,” and her campaign for governor also came up.

Abrams discussed her approach to the election, including her effort to bring out voters — particularly disenchanted African-Americans — who often take a pass when it’s time to cast ballots.

“You’re either at the table or you’re on the menu,” Abrams said.

She added: “I’m going to win this election because I revere the right to vote. … For me, the real important piece of this — and I think why people get confused — I want every vote. But I’m going to center the vote on those who are the least likely to vote — and that tends to be people of color.”

Abrams made a similar case during a visit in late June on “Late Night With Seth Meyers,” and she’s also appeared on “Full Frontal With Samantha Bee.”

That still leaves Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel and James Corden, who likes to sing inside cars with guests of the show. Abrams may want to warm up the vocal chords.

Schooling, Libertarian-style: Ted Metz, the Libertarian candidate for governor, would like to see education improve in Georgia.

He suggests a rather broad curriculum.

“We should be providing our youth with reasoning skills that enable true discernment, not enabling them to pass federally-mandated tests,” Metz said in a press release. “Education should be based off factual and truthful science and history, and be balanced with health and nutrition, physical fitness, classic philosophy, math, logic, art, theater, music and vocational training to produce happy, healthy, motivated citizens.”

Enthusiasm vs. barriers: Nationally, Democrats may be seeing high levels of enthusiasm, thanks at least in part to Donald Trump’s presidency, Jon Ossoff says, but other barriers could block success in the midterms.

The New Yorker contacted Ossoff to discuss the past week’s close special election in Ohio.

He, of course, has had a close-up look at special elections, having lost last year’s race in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District, the most expensive U.S. House race in history. Ossoff was the top vote-getter in the first round of balloting, but he fell to Republican Karen Handel in a runoff.

“This presidency has put a huge number of districts in play. Democratic enthusiasm is sky-high. That’s made these races competitive,” Ossoff said. “But in heavily gerrymandered districts, where Democratic candidates are still running uphill, that’s not always quite enough. In a way, it’s not that complicated.”

But even the losses could have a positive long-term effect for his party, he said.

“There’s real party-building that happens when competitive campaigns unfold in districts that haven’t recently been so,” Ossoff said. In the 6th, he said, “an army of battle-hardened volunteers and activists” is now in place.

Those volunteers and activists face a new test in November, when Democrat Lucy McBath — whom Ossoff has endorsed — makes a run at Handel.

He cares about health care: Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich has a healthy respect for health as an issue.

The former Georgia congressman, writing on the Fox News website, called it the “moral and economic” issue of the midterm elections.

Gingrich noted “a long tradition” in the GOP to avoid the subject and said “consultants assert ‘it isn’t our topic.’ “

That kind of aversion has hurt Republican efforts, though, Gingrich said. For instance, GOP plans to repeal and replace Obamacare failed because “Republicans lacked a coherent plan to replace.”

If the party does something to improve health care, Gingrich said, it could be a great opportunity.

“A Republican party that hides from the challenge of modernizing the health system is a party which has conceded a huge part of the political playing field to the left,” he wrote. “Conversely, a Republican party that can explain common-sense improvements that will empower Americans to have longer lives, better health, greater convenience, more choices, and lower costs in health care is a party that can easily demolish the left’s arguments.”

If you were to seek an argument, Georgia might be the place to do it.

Andy Miller with Georgia Health News reports that WalletHub ranked Georgia 43rd among states on health care issues.

Here’s how the state rated on some key issues:

  • Number of physicians per person: 41st.
  • Percentage of insured children: 43rd.
  • Percentage of insured adults: 48th.

Counterprogramming could be peachy:State Sen. Josh McKoon, R-Columbus, noted in a Facebook post that the episode of Sacha Baron Cohen’s “Who is America?” that forced Republican Jason Spencer's early exit from the Legislature featured a Georgia peach in the closing credits.

That means Georgia taxpayers contributed coin toward Spencer’s downfall through tax credits the state allots to the film and television industry for locating operations in Georgia.

“I hope as long as Georgia is subsidizing film and television production anyway,” McKoon wrote, “that we can get conservative voices to take advantage of the program.”

This could influence voters: U.S. Rep. Tom Graves’ re-election bid probably got easier this past week.

The Chattanooga Times Free Press reported that the Republican from Ranger’s opponent, Democrat Steven Lamar Foster, was convicted of driving under the influence in Whitfield County Superior Court.

Foster already made headlines when it was revealed he had been investigated by the Army in connection with the theft of military boats and was the owner of an “adults only, clothing-optional lifestyle retreat” in North Georgia.

Sentencing is on Monday.

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