Jones sent us a statement saying his focus is squarely on next year’s election — even as he took another jab at Raffensperger.
“Of course, nothing is as important as winning in 2024. On that we all agree. We cannot repeat the mess we saw in 2020,” Jones said. “To avoid that, and have safe and secure elections, we need a secretary of state who is interested in showing up to do his job and working alongside the Legislature.”
Credit: Natrice Miller/AJC
Credit: Natrice Miller/AJC
Raffensperger offered a biting response, with his top deputy, Jordan Fuchs, declaring Jones as “exactly what’s wrong with politics.”
“All bluster, no substance. Brad works every day for the people of Georgia,” she said. “Unlike Burt, Brad believes he works for the people of Georgia, which is why he spends his days around the state helping to solve real issues. That’s why Georgia has the most secure elections in the country.”
Meanwhile, Gov. Brian Kemp and other party leaders are imploring their members to focus on 2024 — even as Kemp, too, is considered a potential challenger to U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff in 2026. Politically Georgia’s Greg Bluestein reports the early positioning for a far-off election is not unusual, particularly in a political battleground such as Georgia.
MAYORS ON GUNS. As guests on a recent episode of the “Politically Georgia” radio show, Savannah Mayor Van Johnson and Athens-Clarke County Mayor Kelly Girtz both said the state’s gun policies make it harder for mayors to keep residents safe.
“You can’t crack down on crime if you’re not going to do anything about the guns and I think that is what the issue is, unfortunately,” said Johnson. “We’ll talk about gangs. We’ll talk about the results of the violent crime, but we don’t talk about the things that make the crime violent in the first place.”
Girtz and Johnson were among the 50 Georgia mayors who signed onto a recent letter to Gov. Brian Kemp asking him to put new gun safety and mental health measures in place. “We’re not against the Second Amendment, we’re just trying to protect second graders,” Johnson said.
Girtz, a former seventh grade teacher, called hearing about Lt. Gov. Burt Jones’ recent proposal to pay teachers $10,000 a year to carry firearms in schools “like stepping into an episode of ‘South Park.’”
“If I think about all the complexities of wrangling 25 13-year-olds and having to be a security guard at the same time, you’re taking that job beyond any human capacity,” he said. “I think that this is one of Lt. Gov. Jones’ many attempts at an early entrée into the 2026 governor’s race. I don’t take it seriously in the least.”
The “Politically Georgia” radio show airs at 10 a.m. each weekday on WABE 90.1 FM and WABE.org. Each episode posts as a podcast at 1 p.m. daily and is available via Apple Podcasts, Spotify or Google Podcasts.
IT’S BEEN A YEAR. Today marks the one-year anniversary of former Georgia Speaker David Ralston’s unexpected death.
In the year since Ralston died, Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones rose to become the state’s first female Speaker of the House before former House Majority Leader Jon Burns was elected to succeed Jones in January by a unanimous vote.
Burns largely kept the Ralston status quo going during his first session as speaker, with a familiar even-handed tone and tenor and much of Ralston’s top staff remaining in place. After the session ended, Burns brought in former state Rep. Terry England to be his new chief of staff. And Wednesday was the last day for longtime Ralston deputy Kaleb McMichen in the speaker’s office before heading to the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities.
Look for Burns to truly set his own course for the House in January and when the House gavels in for the special redistricting session, set to begin Nov. 29.
CHINA TRIP. A few weeks ago, we reported that U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff was expected to bring up concerns about China’s role in fentanyl trafficking during a delegation mission to the communist nation.
We’re told Ossoff directly raised the issue with Chinese President Xi Jinping. President Joe Biden and Xi announced a plan this week to curb illicit fentanyl production, which Ossoff welcomed with a note of caution.
“Promises and agreements are welcome, but action is required,” the Democrat said. “We’ll see if China acts to stem the flow of these deadly chemicals.”
LOW COUNTRY VIBES. Much of the focus in the 2024 presidential race remains on Iowa and New Hampshire, the first states on the election calendar. But South Carolina’s first-in-the-South primary, slated for Feb. 24, is often just as much of a bellwether — particularly this cycle, with the state’s former governor, Nikki Haley, running for the Republican nomination.
A recent poll by Winthrop University offered insights on where Palmetto State voters stand. Former President Donald Trump is the front-runner, just as he is in Iowa and New Hampshire, with 52% support. Haley is second at 17%, five percentage points ahead of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
The poll surveyed 1,655 registered South Carolina voters and was conducted between Nov. 4 and Nov. 12. Other interesting poll takeaways included:
- President Joe Biden holds a dismal 31% approval rating among all voters surveyed.
- Haley’s favorability ratings far exceed Trump (59% for Haley compared to 45% for Trump) in a survey of all voters yet Trump bests her with Republicans only (77% to 71%).
SENATE SIGN OFF. The U.S. Senate on Wednesday approved legislation funding some federal agencies through Jan. 19 and others until Feb. 2.
That passage gives President Joe Biden plenty of time to sign the bill into law before current government funding runs out at midnight on Friday.
Georgia U.S. Sens. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock voted in favor of the measure. The final Senate vote was bipartisan with 87 senators in favor; 10 Republicans and one Democrat were opposed.
ANOTHER HOUSE FLOP. Even with the prospect of a government shutdown pushed off until after the new year thanks to a temporary funding measure, the U.S. House tried and failed Wednesday to move forward with one of the 12 appropriations bills.
Nineteen Republicans joined with Democrats to stall out the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies appropriations bill by defeating a procedural vote that would have allowed debate on the legislation. None of the 19 opponents were from Georgia.
The revolt led Republican Speaker Mike Johnson of Louisiana to send members home for the Thanksgiving recess a day early. The hope is the long break will cool tempers after Wednesday’s floor chaos and high-profile dust-ups between members on Tuesday.
MTG’S FENCE. A federal judge has denied U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s request for a man convicted of sending her threatening voicemails to pay for a security fence at her home in northwest Georgia, the Associated Press reported.
Joseph Morelli pleaded guilty in February to threatening Greene, a conservative Republican, in several calls he made in 2022 to her office in Washington, D.C. The New Yorker was sentenced to three months in prison.
Greene asked for restitution of $65,257 for the construction of the fence and another $1,375 for reconfiguring security cameras at her home in Rome. U.S. District Judge Brenda Kay Sannes rejected the request, saying money that Greene’s campaign expended is not the same thing as property loss that would be eligible for restitution.
Last week, a different man was arrested after threatening to kill Greene during two calls he made to her Washington, D.C. office. Sean Patrick Cirillo, a Macon resident, made his first appearance in court Monday and was assigned a public defender, and court records indicate he is being held without bail.
TODAY IN WASHINGTON:
‘I FEEL GOOD.’ Augusta voters felt good enough about the need for a modernized James Brown Arena to approve a 0.5% sales tax to fund its construction on Election Day. The referendum passed with 66% of the vote, and the new tax will generate $433 million to renovate the facility that opened in 1980.
Augusta and Richmond County have been attempting to advance the project for several years now. Voters rejected a referendum seeking to replace the James Brown Arena, named for the Augusta native and soul music icon, in 2021. The local government moved forward with a plan to update the neighboring Bell Auditorium earlier this year at a cost of $900,000.
The renovated arena will include seating for 10,500 and is expected to open in fall 2026.
ENDGAME? A group of small Georgia business owners journeyed to Washington, D.C., this week to oppose a federal plan for stricter bank capital requirements.
They are part of a “Stop the Squeeze” campaign opposing a proposed banking rule known as Basel III Endgame. Regulators say the requirement is crucial to ensuring the stability of big banks but small business leaders argue the rule would reduce their ability to borrow money for investment.
DOG OF THE DAY. Meet Tillamook Stout, an Atlanta original named for the Oregon cheese.
Tillamook is the rescue pup who calls self-proclaimed “Day-One Jolt subscriber” Amy Stout her person. Amy not only reads the Jolt every day, she is also the chair of an Atlanta Neighborhood Planning Unit. So while Amy is connecting her neighbors to Atlanta’s government, Tillamook is connecting to Atlanta’s dog delights, including the occasional snow flurry.
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.
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