Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle named state Sen. Burt Jones, who earlier this year proposed giving the state more control over Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, to head a study committee that will look at the state taking over more control of the airport. JOHN SPINK / JSPINK@AJC.COM

Capitol Recap: Proponent of Atlanta airport takeover to lead study

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle announced his appointments to a committee tasked with studying the potential control of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport by a state authority, and it looks like this idea could already be building speed on the runway.

Cagle, who is running against Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp in the July 24 GOP runoff for governor, tapped state Sen. Burt Jones as the chairman of the committee.

Jones not only proposed Senate Resolution 882 to create the committee, he did it after his earlier bid to transfer some control of the airport to the state, Senate Bill 379, ran into resistance from, among others, the governor’s office.

Jones’ resolution cites Hartsfield-Jackson as “an invaluable resource” to Georgia’s economy and adds that a state authority “might best protect the citizens of the State of Georgia.”

What’s left to study?

The resolution says it needs to be determined “what federal laws and regulations must be complied with in order to accomplish a transfer of the airport to an authority and what financial obligations must be considered in making such a decision.”

The airport’s biggest tenant, Delta Air Lines, sees no benefits from a state takeover.

“No question that the issues around corruption and some of the political challenges of managing a large municipal commercial operation require further improvement,” Delta CEO Ed Bastian said. “I’m not certain why the state is not going to have the same issues on that that the city has.”

Of course, Delta and Cagle have clashed before, and the wounds are still fresh.

During this year’s legislative session — after Delta severed ties with the National Rifle Association following the mass shooting at a Parkland, Fla., high school — Cagle led the effort that killed a proposed tax break on jet fuel that would have meant about $40 million a year to the airline.

Tariff turmoil: President Donald Trump was speaking about tariffs in Minnesota, but the message could not have been louder in metro Atlanta.

The subject was Trump’s suggestion of a 25 percent tariff on imported luxury vehicles.

“You look at the European Union. They put up barriers so that we can’t sell our farm products. And yet they sell Mercedes, and BMWs, and the cars come in by the millions, and we hardly tax them at all,” the president said. “They don’t take our cars, and if they do, the tax is massive.

“So they’re basically saying, we’re going to sell you millions of cars, and by the way, you’re not going to sell us any. Not going to work that way anymore, folks.”

Metro Atlanta is home to the North American headquarters for two such luxury brands, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche.

Windows for early voting: In metro Atlanta, the most difficult place to vote early appears to be Cobb County.

That’s based on numbers The Marietta Daily Journal says it received from Michael Owens, the chairman of the county’s Democratic Party.

The most striking figures would be this comparison Owens put together of hours of advanced voting for May’s primary in four of the region’s core counties:

  • Cobb: 343 hours.
  • Gwinnett: 708 hours.
  • DeKalb: 999 hours.
  • Fulton: 3,853 hours

Cobb also trailed its neighbors in terms of elections budget for fiscal 2018. It has set aside $3.18 million. Fulton leads the pack at $9.1 million, followed by Gwinnett at $7.9 million and DeKalb at $4.3 million.

The best comparisons are probably Cobb, with 473,358 registered voters, against DeKalb and its 471,302 registered voters.

DeKalb also faces complaints about early voting. Check out this paragraph from Jonathan Grant's Brambleman website:

The DeKalb County Board of Elections voted 4-0 (Leona Perry absent) to open only one early voting location for the July 24 runoffs: The Memorial Drive office. So there will be no early voting in DeKalb’s 6th Congressional District precincts despite the runoff between Lucy McBath and Kevin Abel — nothing like the widespread early voting locations for last year’s runoff between Jon Ossoff and Karen Handel.

Cagle and Cobb: The distinction between early votes and Election Day ballots may not be Cagle’s biggest concern in Cobb. Right now, he just wants to demonstrate he has support in the county for his campaign for governor.

He recently trumpeted the endorsement of Smyrna Mayor Max Bacon.

That came only a day after he rolled out similar support from Marietta Mayor Steve “Thunder” Tumlin.

The press release included a quote from Tumlin crowing about Cagle’s deeper support in the land of the Big Chicken: “I understand Casey has earned many endorsements from local leaders including Sheriff Neil Warren, retired Sheriff Bill Hutson, and Senator Kay Kirkpatrick.”

It’s well known now, however, that Cagle lost one of his biggest fans in Cobbstate Sen. Lindsey Tippins.

Tippins and Cagle had once worked very closely in the Senate, with the senator serving as the chairman of the Education Committee in the chamber Cagle headed. Their partnership came to an end, however, over how Cagle came to support charter school legislation and a big boost in private school scholarship tax credits that the lieutenant governor — during a conversation secretly recorded by Tippins’ nephew, former GOP candidate for governor Clay Tippins — described as bad public policy in a “thousand different ways.”

Best defense is a strong offense: Honor Defense has friends in high places in the state's Republican Party.

The gun manufacturer and dealer was dropped by its credit card processor.

Kemp announced he had Honor Defense’s back.

Cagle quickly followed up with a press conference with Honor Defense owner Gary Ramey in attendance.

Cagle, like Kemp, promised to sponsor legislation to prohibit financial service companies from refusing to service gun manufacturers.

Campaign exit: A GOP leader, after she posted anti-gay comments in social media, has left the campaign to regain an Athens-area legislative seat that Republicans lost during last year’s special elections.

Project Q reports that Joan Rhoden, who heads the Conservative Republican Women of Northeast Georgia, posted on the second anniversary of the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla., that “homosexuals” spread propaganda and she characterized being gay as a disease.

Houston Gaines, who’s making his second bid in House District 117, told Flagpole that Rhoden had stepped down from his campaign’s leadership committee. He said it would “prevent any distractions from accomplishing our singular goal of winning back this seat.”

Another way to look at it:Last week's report that Democrats attracted twice as many new or infrequent voters in May’s primary than Republicans, according to figures from Democratic operative Chris Huttman, generated a response from a GOP counterpart, Todd Rehm.

Rehm, the editor of, said primary voters aren’t necessarily a reliable predictor of turnout in a general election.

“My primary finding,” Rehm wrote, “is that substantially identical percentages of 2018 Republican Primary voters (96.70%) had voted in the 2016 General Election as 2018 Democratic Primary voters (96.03%). Unless these voters changed their party preference in the last two years, which is possible, the ‘new’ Democratic Primary voters won’t add appreciably to the 2018 General Election numbers for their party.”

Candidates, endorsements, etc.:

— The Family Policy Alliance, a partner of Focus on the Family that supports “religious liberty,” school choice and anti-abortion measures, is backing Kemp.

— Cagle, meanwhile, now has the support of the Police Benevolent Association of Georgia, a group that claims 13,000 law enforcement officers as members.

— For the May GOP primary, the Georgia Hunting and Fishing Federation backed former state Sen. Rick Jeffares in the race for lieutenant governor. For the July 24 GOP runoff, it is endorsing state Sen. David Shafer over former state Rep. Geoff Duncan.

— Former Vice President Joe Biden has endorsed Stacey Abrams, the Democratic nominee for governor.

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