U.S. Sen. David Perdue has renewed his call to put off Congress’ annual August recess until it shows some progress on spending bills and in confirming President Donald Trump’s nominees. The Republican senator from Georgia and other senators did the same last year, and they got U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to agree. JOHN SPINK/JSPINK@AJC.COM

Capitol Recap: Perdue sends a message: Work comes before recess

If you don’t work, you really can’t take a break.

That’s basically the message U.S. Sen. David Perdue is sending to Congress.

He wants to see more of President Donald Trump’s nominees move through the confirmation pipeline and says there also needs to be some progress made on spending bills. Only then should Congress take its annual August recess.

“We are willing to do whatever is necessary to get these confirmations done and debate funding bills now,” Perdue said at a press conference this past week. “We have 12 weeks left. We have 12 funding bills.”

Perdue and several GOP colleagues made a similar push last summer and got U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to go along. That picked up the pace on Senate confirmations, although the budget process never really kicked into a higher gear.

Confirmations are currently a particularly active battleground between Republicans and Democrats. Republicans say the Democrats have slowed down the process. Democrats don’t deny it, but they also say Republicans did much the same during the Obama administration.

Caught in the middle of the skirmish are a couple of Georgians up for jobs in the Trump administration: Atlanta attorney Randy Evans, who has been nominated to become the U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg; and former U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, whom the president picked for a slot on the Amtrak Board of Directors.

Naturally, Trump supports Perdue’s new effort, as do a number of conservative advocacy groups, including FreedomWorks and the Tea Party Patriots led by Georgia’s Jenny Beth Martin.

Perdue, who has been one of Trump’s more vocal supporters in the Senate, is also adopting some of the president’s tactics. He’s got a new slogan and hastag, #MakeCongressWorkAgain. No word yet on hats, but they might go well with a denim jacket.

No means no help from the top: They nicknamed him Dr. No.

Now they're trying to blow up his island — actually, it’s the desk on the floor of the state House from which Republican state Rep. Matt Gurtler has launched a nay vote 40 percent of the time over the past two legislative sessions.

All that negativity has harshed the mellow of GOP leadership. State House Speaker David Ralston and an assortment of chairmen and other legislative leaders have pitched in $13,700, so far, to support the campaign of Gurtler’s challenger in the party primary on May 22, Mickey Cummings.

Now, it appears that Gov. Nathan Deal is getting involved.

On his Facebook page, Cummings has listed the governor as a guest for a fundraiser Wednesday in Blairsville.

For his part, Gurtler is saying he’s trying to be his own man.

“They want someone they can control and who will be a yes man and do their bidding,” Gurtler said. “A legislator who exercises their independent legislative judgment is not something they like too much, and sticking to your values, convictions and Republican principles is something that is in short supply at the Capitol.”

Big-screen showdown: “Religious liberty” and business are playing leading roles in a state Senate race rooted in the home to the state's film industry.

State Sen. Marty Harbin, a Republican from Tyrone who has backed religious liberty legislation, is facing off against first-time candidate Tricia Stearns.

Stearns is trying to capitalize on Harbin’s opposition to tax incentives for the film industry. It’s a huge local issue, since the district is home to Pinewood Studios, the most successful movie/TV operation in the state.

People are buying tickets for this one.

As of March 31, Harbin had raised $33,665 for the campaign and had $7,471 in cash on hand. At that point, Stearns had pulled in $9,847 and had $6,069 still in the bank.

Since then, the pace has quickened.

Chris Clack, the head of the Georgia Chamber, held a fundraiser for Stearns on April 16. After that, she raised an additional $3,447, including $1,000 from the Georgia Chamber PAC and $1,447 in in-kind contributions from the Metro Atlanta Chamber PAC.

Harbin pulled in even more money, $6,500. Of that, $4,500 came from fellow Republican senators.

Candidates, endorsements, etc.:

Former U.S. Sen. Max Cleland is backing John Noel, a former state lawmaker and energy-efficiency specialist, in the Democratic race for a Public Service Commission seat currently held by Republican Chuck Eaton. The two other Democrats in the contest are businesswoman Lindy Miller and Johnny White, an information technology specialist.

Democrat Lucy McBath, a gun control advocate, is picking up endorsements and cash from like-minded individuals and groups in support of her campaign in the 6th Congressional District. Former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly, announced their support for McBath, whose son was killed in 2012 when a man fired a gun into a car in Jacksonville, Fla., in a dispute over music. Everytown for Gun Safety, a group McBath served as a spokeswoman, contributed more than $200,000 to her campaign.

— Republican Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s campaign for governor won the backing of GeorgiaCarry.org, which portrays itself as a stronger supporter of gun rights than the National Rifle Association. It’s high-caliber support for Kemp, who didn’t even give up fighting for the NRA’s endorsement after it had already announced it was siding with Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle in the May 22 GOP primary.

GeorgiaCarry.org also took the unusual step of specifically singling out for scorn another GOP candidate for governor, Hunter Hill.

— Hill did win the endorsement of Texas U.S. Sen Ted Cruz. The possibility is being dangled that Cruz, who ran for president in 2016, could visit the state later this month to help Hill, whom the senator called a “conservative of conviction.”

State Sen. Michael Williams says that Citizens for Trump, a grass-roots organization, is backing his campaign for the GOP nomination for governor. Williams was a co-chairman of Trump’s presidential campaign in Georgia.

The Georgia Academy of Family Physicians PAC is placing bets in both the Democratic and Republican races for governor. It announced that it’s endorsing both Democrat Stacey Abrams and Cagle. In a press release, the group said, “While coming from dramatically different political philosophies, both Ms. Abrams and Mr. Cagle support Medicaid waivers to cover more Georgians, state funding of family medicine residency programs and Medicare payment parity for family physicians who take care of Medicaid patients.”

New contributors to Abrams' campaign include Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax and the San Francisco-based tech company Yelp.

Democrat Stacey Evans, Abrams’ opponent in the Democratic primary, has taken in donations from former U.S. Rep. Buddy Darden and Macon District Attorney David Cooke.

— A number of his former colleagues still in the state Senate are backing Rick Jeffares in the Republican contest for lieutenant governor. Among them are John Albers, Brandon Beach, Matt Brass, Steve Gooch, Burt Jones, John F. Kennedy, Blake Tillery and Lindsey Tippins. Brian Strickland, who filled Jeffares’ seat when he left the Senate to concentrate on his campaign, is also supporting him. The Senate support for Jeffares is notable because another candidate in the three-way GOP race is a former president pro tem of the chamber, state Sen. David Shafer. The third candidate is former state Rep. Geoff Duncan.

— Shafer did gain endorsements from state Labor Commissioner Mark Butler and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, which comes with a couple of bonuses. Huckabee won Georgia’s Republican presidential primary in 2008. He’s also the father of White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, giving Shafer a connection to Trump, who commands a high approval rating with the state’s Republicans.

Actres Alyssa Milano has returned to Georgia’s political scene. According to 11Alive/WXIA, she is helping Democrat Richard Dien Winfield raise money in the 10th Congressional District. For $250, you get a signed head shot of the star of “Who’s the Boss?” For $2,000, she’ll accompany you to a sporting event. Writer and civil rights activist Shaun King and actor Bradley Whitford are also helping raise money for Winfield, a University of Georgia philosophy professor and one of five candidates eyeing the seat now held by U.S. Rep. Jody Hice, R-Monroe.

Milano’s most recent foray in Georgia politics was her support for Democrat Jon Ossoff, who lost last year’s special election in the 6th Congressional District to Karen Handel. During that campaign, Milano helped deliver voters to the polls.