Hand and his wife, Taylor County Republican Party chair Mandy Robinson-Hand, were each sentenced to 20 days in jail and six months of probation in January after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge of illegally demonstrating in the U.S. Capitol. They also agreed to pay $500 in restitution.
On his campaign website, Hand acknowledges that he and his wife participated in the pro-Donald Trump mob that stormed the Capitol and that they were “later arrested for nonviolent protest participation.”
“Despite facing petty misdemeanor charges of picketing, they remain devoted to their values and continue to advocate for their beliefs and freedoms,” reads the site.
The Thomasville Times-Enterprise reported that Hand addressed his conviction at a recent Thomasville GOP meeting and insisted he did nothing wrong.
“Yes, I was at the Capitol on Jan. 6. Yes, me and my wife walked inside of our Capitol on Jan. 6 holding hands,” Hand said. “We did no damage, no harm, no ill-will. We were there to protest an election that was stolen from us.”
The election wasn’t stolen. Multiple investigations and recounts have confirmed the President Joe Biden’s narrow 2020 election win in Georgia, which made him the first Democrat to carry the state since 1992.
Bishop, an Albany Democrat, became a top GOP target in 2022 after redistricting made the Democratic-leaning district slightly more competitive. Bishop defeated Republican Chris West in the 2022 general election. West has not said whether he will run again.
Hand’s campaign makes a working-class pitch to southwest Georgia voters. He dubs himself a “constitutionalist” and said he would prioritize energy independence. “Stick it to the man, hire Hand,” he says.
He might not be the only Jan. 6 rioter on the ballot. Jacob Chansley, who donned a horned fur hat and face paint to assault the Capitol, filed paperwork this week to run as a Libertarian in an Arizona-based U.S. House seat.
SCOTT OUT. In the end, U.S. Sen. Tim Scott’s message of faith and optimism fell flat. The South Carolina Republican surprised even his own campaign staff Sunday when he announced on Fox News he would suspend his campaign — and then made it clear he didn’t want to serve as anyone else’s running mate.
Scott said he was heeding the call of voters who told him “not now” as he failed to gain traction in polls, endorsements or media attention. Despite early fundraising successes, his poll numbers stagnated and he never scored an elusive “breakout” moment.
The death knell for his campaign might have been last week’s presidential debate in Miami, where Scott made more news for bringing a girlfriend to the showdown than anything he said on the debate stage.
Scott, who made several stops in Georgia in the runup to the campaign, polled in the single digits in most public polls in the state. He also attracted few key endorsements in Georgia aside from state Sen. Jason Anavitarte, a Dallas resident and one of the top GOP lawmakers in the Senate.
So what now? Former President Donald Trump still dominates the race, and Scott indicated he wouldn’t endorse any of the remaining candidates. But his departure could give more oxygen to the three top Trump rivals still standing: Chris Christie, Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley.
PAPER BALLOT SUIT. A judge has set a January trial date for a lawsuit challenging Georgia’s electronic voting system. But U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg’s 135-page order also suggests there’s room for a late compromise to avert a legal showdown.
“The Court cannot wave a magic wand in this case to address the varied challenges to our democracy and election system in recent years, including those presented in this case,” she wrote in a ruling Friday.
“But reasonable, timely discussion and compromise in this case, coupled with prompt, informed legislative action, might certainly make a difference that benefits the parties and the public.”
The order sets a Jan. 9 trial and is the latest development in a lawsuit filed by activists seeking a return to hand-marked paper ballots — and to get rid of the electronic voting machines.
Credit: J. Scott Applewhite/AP
Credit: J. Scott Applewhite/AP
FUTURE FRIENDS. The first annual Isakson Symposium on Political Civility kicked off in Athens on Friday with a Democrat and a Republican, naturally, talking about the spirit of compromise embodied by the late U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, a Georgia Republican.
U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Missouri, joined U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., for a conversation on how to fix what’s broken in Washington, particularly the partisan brawling that has made finding compromise more difficult. Manchin recently announced his retirement from the Senate, a move that sparked a flurry of speculation that he might mount a third-party bid for president in 2024.
The event wasn’t all politics — Isakson’s former top advisor, Heath Garrett, announced that the Isakson Center for Neurological Disease Research has raised more than $57 million since the senator’s death from Parkinson’s Disease.
COUNTDOWN TO SHUTDOWN. House Speaker Mike Johnson on Saturday released his plan to temporarily fund the government and avoid a Friday shutdown. Depending on who you ask, the Louisiana Republican’s proposal is either an outside-the-box, innovative solution or a useless gimmick that will only waste time.
The speaker wants to fund the government at current levels through a continuing resolution, or CR, but in a two-step approach: several spending bills would be extended until Jan. 19, while the remaining ones would be funded until Feb. 2.
Congress has never used this method before, and it’s not clear Johnson has the votes to test the plan.
House Republicans are mixed in their reaction as Johnson prepares to bring the proposal to the floor as soon as Tuesday. U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, on Friday’s episode of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s “Politically Georgia” radio show and podcast, said he was open to this two-step approach.
“It hasn’t been tried before, so we don’t know how it would work,” the Pooler Republican said. “But at the same time, I think it’s worth a try. Yes, it’s gonna take a little managing.”
Count U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene among the conservatives who give Johnson’s plan a thumbs-down. She did so mainly because it includes no cuts to existing spending for Ukraine and no new funding to limit migration at the southern border or to continue investigations of President Joe Biden and his administration.
“I voted NO to both CRs before and I’m voting NO to this clean CR,” the Rome Republican wrote on social media. “We need to finish approps and the Senate needs to do their job. NO MONEY TO UKRAINE! CLOSE THE BORDER! STOP THE WEAPONIZED GOVERNMENT!”
It is unclear if Senate Democrats would be willing to consider Johnson’s unconventional approach. The White House reacted strongly against the proposal over the weekend.
“This proposal is just a recipe for more Republican chaos and more shutdowns — full stop,” press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, is leading the formulation of a straightforward, or “clean,” continuing resolution. But he would need the cooperation of Republicans to move quickly on that measure.
Credit: Miguel Martinez/AJC
Credit: Miguel Martinez/AJC
TODAY IN WASHINGTON:
- President Joe Biden celebrates at the White House with the Las Vegas Golden Knights, winners of the 2023 Stanley Cup. He will also meet with Indonesian President Joko Widodo.
- The U.S. House could vote as soon as today on a bill introduced by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Rome, to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
- The U.S. Senate holds a confirmation vote this evening and takes a procedural vote on a bill that could be used to temporarily fund the government.
- Adrianne Todman, deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, is in Albany to highlight the Biden Administration’s policies to increase affordable housing in rural areas.
TWO STEPS FORWARD, ONE BACK. Georgia’s budding electric vehicle sector has seen a mix of news in recent days, with EV manufacturer Rivian moving closer to going vertical on its factory planned near Atlanta while Commerce-based EV battery maker SK Innovations announced production cuts.
Rivian, based in California, finalized an agreement to build a $5 billion factory on an 1,800-acre site an hour east of Atlanta. The deal’s close came on the heels of Rivian increasing production goals for its existing plant in Illinois, hinting at growing demand for its products, including SUVs to be assembled in Georgia.
As for SK, the South Korean company will furlough workers as it slows production to meet demand. SK makes batteries for Ford and Volkswagen. The AJC’s Michael E. Kanell and Zachary Hansen report that SK officials remain bullish on the EV industry and building batteries in Georgia.
Rivian and SK are among several EV and clean energy-related economic development projects announced in Georgia in recent years. Gov. Brian Kemp has made establishing the state as a hub for the sector a priority throughout his tenure.
DOG OF THE DAY. Meet Rosa and Luther Edelstein, two DeKalb County rescue pups named for Civil Rights-era icons.
A reliable source tells us that Rosa, a khaki-colored pit bull, is “the sweetest girl” while Luther just aspires to be better. Both call AJC devotee Ken Edelstein their person and they all live in Atlanta.
Send us your dogs of any political persuasion and location, and cats on a cat-by-cat basis, to firstname.lastname@example.org, or DM us at @MurphyAJC.
AS ALWAYS, Jolt readers are some of our favorite tipsters. Send your best scoop, gossip and insider info to email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.