The Jolt: McBath stalls as ‘frontline’ Democrats endorse impeachment

From left, Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-Fla.), Rep. Lucy McBath (D-Ga.) and Rep. Xochitl Torres Small (D-N.M.) join other members of the House of Representatives in observing a moment of silence at the Capitol on Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019, to mark the 18th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks. (Erin Schaff/The New York Times)



From left, Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-Fla.), Rep. Lucy McBath (D-Ga.) and Rep. Xochitl Torres Small (D-N.M.) join other members of the House of Representatives in observing a moment of silence at the Capitol on Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019, to mark the 18th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks. (Erin Schaff/The New York Times)

Let's take stock of the last 24 hours.

When yesterday’s Jolt was published, not a single Georgia congressman had endorsed opening an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.

By the time we left the office for the evening, four out of five of the state's U.S. House Democrats – Hank Johnson of Lithonia, John Lewis of Atlanta, Sanford Bishop of Albany and David Scott of Atlanta – were on the record in favor of one.

A watershed moment was Lewis' fiery noontime speech from the well of the House, but just as momentous was the stream of "frontline" Democrats who began vouching for impeachment over the preceding day.

Those are the most politically vulnerable Democrats, the ones Speaker Nancy Pelosi had spent months trying to shield from politically damaging votes.

Take Lizzie Fletcher, a political newcomer who capitalized on suburban resentment of Trump to flip a Houston-area House district last fall:

More than half of those 40-some frontliners came out in support of an impeachment probe by the end of Tuesday. One Democrat who wasn’t on the list: U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath of Marietta.

Her office didn't respond to inquiries throughout the day, and McBath herself outright ignored questions from one of your Insiders and WSB Radio's Jamie Dupree on Tuesday afternoon as she exited a closed-door Democratic strategy meeting surrounded by a trio of aides.

McBath’s upset victory in the 6th Congressional District was the Democratic Party of Georgia’s crowning achievement in last year’s midterms. But it was also by a very narrow margin, and GOP groups have reminded McBath over and over again that she will pay for supporting impeachment in a district Trump carried three years ago.

That was less of a problem earlier this month, when McBath could line up behind Pelosi and push for additional investigating. But new details about Trump pressing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate the Biden family were enough to turn the bulk of her colleagues, leaving McBath standing on flimsier political ground.

What’s clear is no matter what McBath decides, her Republican opponents will peg her as a Pelosi pawn and impeachment sympathizer.

“Today, she should have the courage to be honest with the people of GA6 and admit what we’ve known all along … she supports impeaching the President and overturning the will of the people,” said Republican Karen Handel, the woman McBath defeated in November who is trying to win back the seat.

Update: McBath's office got in touch after we first published this story.

They pointed to McBath's vote earlier this month that formalized the parameters of the House Judiciary Committee's impeachment inquiry and said nothing has changed. From a McBath spokesman:

“As she has continued to say from the beginning – the Judiciary Committee’s investigation has always been to find the facts for the American people. The Congresswoman voted to formalize the impeachment inquiry process on September 12th and continues to support the responsibility of this Congress to uncover the truth and defend the Constitution.”

The resolution McBath supported gives committee staff the authority to question witnesses, allows the panel to examine sensitive evidence behind closed doors, and grants Trump’s counsel the right to respond to testimony in writing. What it didn’t do, McBath’s staff and campaign emphasized to us at the time, was commit McBath to the larger question of impeachment.


McBath will go on the record later today when the House votes on a resolution demanding the White House release the whistleblower complaint detailing Trump's phone call with Zelensky. The vote is a symbolic one - the White House is said to be preparing the document for Capitol Hill - but it's a first step.

The Senate quietly passed its own version of the resolution on Tuesday. The vote was unanimous.


In the neighboring 7th District, Republicans are trying to make Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux regret her decision to reverse course and support impeachment.

GOP candidate Lynn Homrich’s campaign said it sent out a robo-call to more than 50,000 voters in the district, which spans parts of Gwinnett and Forsyth counties, targeting Bourdeaux.

You can listen here, and follow along with the transcript:

Hello, this is Lynne Homrich. I’m a Conservative Republican running to represent you in Congress. I am calling because today, far-left Democrat and candidate for Congress Carolyn Bourdeaux joined Nancy Pelosi in supporting the impeachment of President Trump.

We need to fight back. Press 1 to join me in fighting for results over resistance.

In Congress I'll stand with President Trump against far left attacks. Visit or Press 1 now to join me in standing with President Trump.


Carolyn Bourdeaux wasn't the only 7th District Democrat to voice support for impeachment on Tuesday for the first time.

State Sen. Zahra Karinshak, the most recent contender to get into the race, posted on Facebook that she backs House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s decision to seek an impeachment probe.

"These actions represent a serious breach to both our national security and the American people's trust," she wrote. "That's why I support House Democrats' decision to move forward with an impeachment inquiry — because no one is above the law."


One thought bubble as the House launches its impeachment inquiry: Gainesville Congressman Doug Collins will play a key role in Trump's defense as the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee.

We wonder if that will make it harder to convince Gov. Brian Kemp - and by extension Trump - to appoint him to U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson’s Senate seat.

Collins came out with a strongly-worded statement late Tuesday that mocked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s “false and feeble decree.”

There’s more:

"This is the first partisan 'impeachment' in the history of the Republic, and the real victims are the American people. They elected Donald Trump to be our president and their representatives to solve the border crisis and support a growing economy. Instead of accepting those facts, Democrats are sowing chaos, not producing legislative solutions. The chaos began in the Judiciary Committee, and now it's seeping into the rest of the House.” 


Add a few more potential Senate candidates to the list. State Sen. Tyler Harper, an Ocilla farmer, said he submitted his resume to Gov. Brian Kemp. So did former state Sen. Judson Hill, a Marietta attorney who ran unsuccessfully for 6th District in 2017. Check out the entire list here.


Our colleague Jamie Dupree passes along a key reminder about impeachment:

“The House does NOT have to vote to authorize an impeachment investigation in order for committees to investigate. Procedurally, a vote by the House to start impeachment is the way things usually would happen, but it’s not required. For example, the Senate Watergate committee (a special panel created by the Senate) held hearings for months before the House decided to start an official inquiry into Nixon.”


The Georgia Historical Society will dedicate a new Civil Rights Trail historical marker on Friday recognizing what became known as the Leesburg Stockade.

A brief history lesson: In 1963, a group of African-American teenage and pre-teen girls were arrested for protesting segregation in Americus and were imprisoned without charges for 45 days in a squalid Lee County building.

The marker addresses the role of the news media in the civil rights movement - namely, the pictures released nationwide of the “Stolen Girls” who were held captive there.

It will be the first marker on the Georgia Civil Rights Trail located in Lee County. Here’s what it will say:

"In July 1963, a group of adolescent African-American girls were incarcerated in the Lee County Stockade following arrest during the Civil Rights Movement. The girls were held in a single cell lacking proper plumbing, running water, bedding, and sanitary supplies. Because their families were not initially told their location and the girls never faced formal charges, they became known as the Leesburg Stockade Stolen Girls. Their plight was captured and shared through the photography of Danny Lyon of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). SNCC's distribution of the photos in Jet magazine and the SNCC newsletter, Student Voice, led to the girls' release in mid-September 1963. The use of photojournalism and mass media in the Movement allowed Americans on a broad scale to witness and empathize with the struggle for human and civil rights."


The Daily Beast reports that Elizabeth Warren's campaign plans to send resources to Georgia to not only boost her presidential bid but also aid Democrats in key downballot races. The news site quotes Warren's campaign manager Roger Lau, who details the Warren camp's investments:

"We're targeting our resources to invest in places that will be critical to keeping the House, taking back the U.S. Senate, and regaining ground in key state legislatures in 2020," Lau wrote. "That includes states like Illinois and California, where Democrats won a whole bunch of House seats in 2018 in close elections that we'll need to defend. It also includes states like Maine, which has a competitive Senate race and Georgia, where there will be two Senate seats up for election." 

That prompted a tart response from the Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC focused on defending GOP Senate seats. “We eagerly await Senator Warren's announcement to publicly campaign with Georgia's Democratic Senate candidates, and urge all Georgia Democrats to follow Senator Warren's leadership by adopting her platform in full,” said spokesman Jack Pandol.


Democratic Senate candidate Teresa Tomlinson took in more than $10,000 from a group of LGBTQ donors at a Midtown Atlanta fundraiser this month, according to Patrick Saunders of Project Q.

Saunders reports the former Columbus mayor's event attracted several prominent members of Atlanta's gay community along with City Councilman Amir Farokhi, who is straight.

She’s one of four Democrats who are competing to challenge U.S. Sen. David Perdue in 2020.


Speaking of Perdue, he and U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson will be compelled to weigh in on Trump's border emergency again today on the Senate floor. The two stood with the White House when the chamber voted on a resolution of disapproval in March. Since then, the Trump administration has moved to shift $3.6 billion in money previously earmarked for military construction projects to the border. None of that funding is being diverted from Georgia, and we're not expecting the state's senators to change their stances.


Congrats to Atlanta City Councilman Matt Westmoreland, who announced his engagement to Lauren Boswell yesterday.


The same goes to former Perdue communications director Caroline Vanvick, who was nominated by the White House to oversee communications, media affairs and public outreach for the Department of Housing and Urban Development.