The Week: A campaign ends and another one takes its place



The Atlanta mayor’s race, all those other municipal runoffs and special elections to the Legislature — sooooo Tuesday.

The spotlight quickly turns to November, when voters return to the polls to select among a field of candidates for governor, Congress and any number of other jobs that come with introductions to “the honorable” this and “the honorable” that.

Some of the glare from that spotlight fell this past week on Republican U.S. Reps. Karen Handel and Rob Woodall, who made the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's list of targets for the midterm elections. Specifically, the DCCC singled them out for their support of the GOP tax plan now working its way through the final stages of passage in Congress with a goal of landing on President Donald Trump's desk in time for Christmas.

The DCCC’s attention probably doesn’t keep Handel and Woodall up at night — most likely, they will use it as a fundraising tool.

But it does signal new attention on their congressional districts in Atlanta’s northern suburbs — the 6th and the 7th — that were until only recently conceded as solid Republican territory.

Handel is gearing up for another tough fight in the 6th after surviving a heated battle earlier this year against Democrat Jon Ossoff to replace Tom Price. Since then, the pressure has also been building in the neighboring 7th, where as many as a dozen candidates could try to unseat Woodall.

Gingrich is backing Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines’ efforts to punish competitors based in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

Delta says three of its Persian Gulf rivals — Etihad, Emirates and Qatar Airways — receive subsidies from their governments that give them an unfair advantage. Joining Delta in this complaint are U.S. carriers United and American Airlines.

Georgia U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson tried to insert language in the GOP Senate tax plan to require the Middle East airlines to pay U.S. taxes. Congressional scorekeepers put the figure at about $200 million in additional federal revenue.

But to avoid rules that would make a filibuster possible, Isakson’s proposal was cut from the Senate bill hours before the final vote. That was a relief to some other businesses, including Sandy Springs-based UPS, that feared retaliatory action by the Persian Gulf countries.

Gingrich wrote in The Washington Examiner that the Trump administration should meet with Qatar and the United Arab Emirates to “address grievances” raised by Delta and others.

“If free and fair trade is to continue to expand in the 21st century, those of us who advocate robust international commerce free of government interference must be willing to stand up for U.S. workers when other countries are not playing by the rules,” Gingrich wrote.

And if Qatar and the United Arab Emirates do not come to the table, Gingrich said, the Trump administration should bar the Persian Gulf airlines from adding new routes to the U.S. until they do.

Supporters of the Gainesville Republican said he has the 19 votes needed to become the Senate’s president pro tem. It’s the second-most-powerful job in that chamber.

The Senate’s 37 Republicans will vote next week to name a replacement for Sen. David Shafer of Duluth, who is running for lieutenant governor.

Also seeking the position is Senate Majority Leader Bill Cowsert of Athens.

Miller also ran for the job in 2014, losing out to Shafer by one vote. If he wins this time, the governor, lieutenant governor and Senate president pro tem will all be from the same city.

  • A new contender: A Democrat has officially joined the race for lieutenant governor, which until now had only three Republican candidates: Shafer, former state Sen. Rick Jeffares and former state Rep. Geoff Duncan.

Sarah Riggs Amico is the executive chairman of Jack Cooper Holdings Corp., a trucking and logistics firm run by her father, Michael Riggs.

The company, which Riggs bought in 2008 during the Great Recession, has flourished under the family’s leadership, growing from 120 employees to more than 3,000.

Amico, who studied at Harvard University’s business school, speaks proudly about how the company continued to pay for its employees’ health care when many advised it to cut back.

As lieutenant governor, she says she would expand access to rural health care and advocate for more apprenticeships and vocational education programs.

Jeffares has decided to resign so he can concentrate on his run for lieutenant governor.

A special election is set for Jan. 9 to fill his McDonough-based seat, and it already has attracted a couple of contenders. Republican Brian Strickland, who represented much of the same territory in the state House, announced his bid for the seat Jeffares vacated. So did Democrat Phyllis Hatcher, whose first bid for office ended last year in a second-place showing in a runoff for a seat on the Rockdale County Commission.

Strickland’s aims to move to the Senate have also made it necessary for another vote on Jan. 9 to fill his seat in the state House.

“I think you have to send a signal,” Lewis said, explaining why he joined 57 other House Democrats in the vote. “You have to send a sign that it’s time for him to go.”

A spokesman for U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Albany, said removal proceedings would be “premature” given the investigations now underway probing Russian meddling in last year’s election and any possible connections to the president and his campaign. U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Lithonia, agreed.

  • Targeting a "scourge": An Atlanta Journal-Constitution report on how some doctors abused their privileges, furthering the opioid crisis, apparently caught the attention of former state Rep. Stacey Evans, who is currently pursuing the Democratic nomination for governor.

On Twitter, Evans noted that the crisis has gripped her home county of Catoosa and wrote: “In the Legislature, I worked to curb abuses in the system, authoring bills to stop the scourge. When I’m governor, we’ll finish what we started.”

  • Candidates, endorsements, etc.:

— The Republican Liberty Caucus endorsed Shafer's bid for lieutenant governor.

— U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, headlined a fundraiser for Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle's gubernatorial campaign.

— Three GOP heavyweights in Cobb County are backing Tricia Pridemore's campaign for a soon-to-be vacant state Public Service Commission post: Solicitor Barry Morgan, District Attorney Vic Reynolds and Sheriff Neil Warren.

The week in Georgia politics

Here's a look at some of the political and government stories that The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's staff broke online during the past week. To see more of them, go to