PG A.M.: Biden-Trump presidential election rematch heats up in Georgia

Your daily jolt of news and analysis from the AJC politics team

President Joe Biden is ratcheting up his campaign’s ground game in Georgia, while former President Donald Trump aims to rev up his fundraising in the battleground state.

Biden’s campaign announced Friday the hiring of nine additional staffers in Georgia and plans to open seven offices across the state this month. It gives him an early organizational edge in the state over Trump, who has one senior staffer so far devoted to his campaign in Georgia.

Trump, meanwhile, plans a high-dollar fundraiser on Wednesday in Atlanta hosted by a lengthy list of prominent Republicans, including Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus as well as former U.S. Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue. The two Republicans were ousted from the Senate in runoffs following the 2020 election, which Trump lost to Biden.

Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus is among those hosting a fundraiser in Atlanta for former President Donald Trump.

Credit: Hyosub Shin/AJC

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Credit: Hyosub Shin/AJC

Loeffler was on hand in Florida over the weekend at a Palm Beach fundraising dinner where Trump’s campaign said it raised $50.5 million. That’s the kind of event they need to replicate as the Trump camp works to close the gap with Biden, who holds a major fundraising advantage.

According to The New York Times, a portion of Trump’s remarks focused on immigration, when he lamented that the United States did not have more immigrants coming from “nice countries,” like Denmark and Switzerland.

“Trump 47,” Loeffler posted on social media alongside a picture of her giving a Trump-style “thumbs up” next to the former president and her husband, Jeff Sprecher.

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In the series finale of "Curb Your Enthusiasm," Jerry Seinfeld (left) appears with Larry David (right).

Credit: HBO

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Credit: HBO

GUILTY. In the final episode of HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” a Fulton County jury convicts the uber-curmudgeon Larry David of breaking Georgia’s election law by giving out water to a voter in the searing heat.

But in a twist, David is released from a jail cell after the judge determines a juror violated a sequester order. Jerry Seinfeld breaks the news to David, sparing viewers of a repeat of the much-maligned “Seinfeld” finale the two wrote to end the popular sitcom in 1998.

Meanwhile, Georgia’s real-life Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger penned a letter to David a few days ago gently advising him to curb his attacks on the 2021 law.

“We apologize if you didn’t receive celebrity treatment at the local jail,” Raffensperger wrote in a letter obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution through a public records request. “I’m afraid they’ve gotten used to bigger stars. It’s the TMZ of mugshots.”

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Brian K. Pritchard is resisting calls for his resignation as first vice-chair of the Georgia GOP.

Credit: Hyosub Shin/AJC

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Credit: Hyosub Shin/AJC

PRITCHARD WATCH. The embattled first vice-chair of the Georgia GOP is ramping up his attacks on the organization’s leadership amid a growing number of calls for him to step down.

State party chair Josh McKoon is among a host of Republicans pressing for Brian Pritchard to resign after a judge found that he voted illegally nine times in 2008. A May hearing of state GOP leaders has been scheduled to advance his ouster.

Pritchard has earlier said he isn’t giving up without a fight. Over the weekend, he claimed the Georgia GOP is a part of the “swamp” and that he’s a threat to party leaders.

“Folks, it’s time to look behind the curtain, it’s time for a forensic audit of GAGOPinc,” he wrote on social media. “How many back room deals are happening…..?”

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U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Rome, seeks to oust House Speaker Mike Johnson.

Credit: Nathan Posner for The AJC

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Credit: Nathan Posner for The AJC

GREENE’S TEAM. The most prominent voice pushing to oust Brian Pritchard is U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Rome.

But Pritchard is small potatoes compared to the big fish Greene has been threatening to oust in Washington, namely U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La. Our pal Jamie DuPree has been chronicling Greene’s communication, or lack thereof, with Speaker Johnson as she threatens to bring a motion to vacate Johnson from the speaker’s chair.

The Wall Street Journal’s Molly Ball had a deep dive Saturday into Greene’s journey from “problem child to teacher’s pet and back again in the space of a scant two terms in Congress,” alluding to Greene’s alliance with former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and her current standoff with Johnson.

If the drama seems far afield from representing the people in her 14th Congressional District, Greene said her constituents stop her in the grocery store and hardware store frequently to complain about Johnson’s “betrayal.”

They’ll get to do more than that tonight when the congresswoman holds a town hall to hear from them directly.

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Athens-Clarke County Mayor Kelly Girtz is a guest today on the "Politically Georgia" show.

Credit: Austin Steele for the AJC

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Credit: Austin Steele for the AJC

LISTEN UP. Tune in to the “Politically Georgia” radio show today when GOP strategist Heath Garrett joins to discuss how Republicans are handling abortion at the ballot box. Later, Athens-Clarke County Mayor Kelly Girtz provides an update on how Athens is faring in the wake of recent tensions there.

Listen live at 10 a.m. on 90.1 FM, at AJC.com and at WABE.org.

If you missed Friday’s show, AJC Editor-in-Chief Leroy Chapman joined as guest co-host to speak with former Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan about the recent No Labels announcement that it won’t field a candidate in 2024.

Also, the AJC’s Zachary Hansen looked at the policy battles over electric vehicles — and how it could affect Georgia’s growing EV economy.

Listen on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

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State lawmakers introduced more than 2,000 bills in the two-year legislative cycle that ended last month, most of which died before the final gavel.

Credit: Arvin Temkar/AJC

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Credit: Arvin Temkar/AJC

GOLD DOME REDUX. More than 700 bills passed the Georgia General Assembly in the session that closed March 28. The AJC’s Phoebe Quinton, the politics team’s data reporter, found that almost half of those measures dealt with taxes, the courts and how government — and especially elections — operates. Her analysis published this morning.

From the piece:

Many of the bills passed in the 2023-2024 cycle do not have statewide implications and apply only to a specific local government or state district. This is the case among the more than 100 bills addressing matters related to the government, such as bills updating city charters, resetting the districts for city councils, and establishing anti-nepotism requirements for future mayors and council members in some towns.

- The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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The Georgia Capitol complex in Atlanta is getting a big money makeover.

Credit: Arvin Temkar/AJC

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Credit: Arvin Temkar/AJC

CAPITOL CONSTRUCTION. Speaking of activity under Georgia’s Gold Dome, the Capitol makeover funded by lawmakers in the recently concluded session is to begin this summer. The AJC’s Maya T. Prabhu reports the $400 million project kicks off with the demolition of two small office buildings.

The renovations will update the mechanical systems and accessibility systems in the Capitol, which opened in 1889. Plans also call for a new eight-floor legislative office building just north of the Gold Dome.

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TODAY IN WASHINGTON:

  • President Joe Biden travels to Madison, Wisconsin to discuss lowering costs and student loan debt for Americans.
  • The Senate is back in action today after a two-week Easter recess. The House returns tomorrow.

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An aerial view of the Port of Brunswick.

Credit: Courtesy of the Georgia Ports Authority

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Credit: Courtesy of the Georgia Ports Authority

PORT PROJECTIONS. As salvage crews in Baltimore clear debris from the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse, Georgia’s ports will absorb 17,000 units that were bound for the Maryland docks in April. The AJC’s Michael E. Kanell reports much of that additional traffic will be in wheeled vehicle cargo, such as automobiles, unloading at the Port of Brunswick.

Baltimore and Brunswick are the two busiest ports for autos on the East Coast.

Meanwhile, Maryland’s governor predicted over the weekend the Port of Baltimore will reopen by late May. The port has been closed since a cargo ship leaving the facility lost power while underway and struck the bridge, causing a collapse that killed six construction workers performing maintenance on the span.

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James Washington, the president and general manager of The Atlanta Voice, died last week.

Credit: Courtesy photo

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Credit: Courtesy photo

SAD NEWS. We’re sending our condolences to the many friends and family of James Washington, the president and general manager of The Atlanta Voice, who died last week following a battle with cancer.

Our colleague Rebecca McCarthy shares that Black newspapers around the country carried the news of his passing, and many called him a trailblazer for the Black press.

“He led with love,” said Itoro Umontuen, managing editor of The Atlanta Voice.

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Wildlife officials returned 34 rescued sea turtles to the Atlantic Ocean last week at Jekyll Island.

Credit: Courtesy of Jekyll Island Authority

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Credit: Courtesy of Jekyll Island Authority

DOG OF THE DAY. We pet owners wouldn’t dream of releasing our animal family members into the wild. Yet last week 34 sea turtles went back into the surf off Jekyll Island in what is believed to be the largest-ever release of shelled reptiles in Georgia.

The Savannah Morning News’ John Deem has the backstory, including the skinny on the man who transported the turtles to Georgia from facilities in the Northeast, where they’d been treated for “cold-stunning,” or turtle hypothermia.

Godspeed to those flippered friends. And we’re still looking to write about your pup in Politically Georgia. Send us your dogs of any political persuasion, and cats on a cat-by-cat basis, to patricia.murphy@ajc.com, or DM us at @MurphyAJC. Horizontal photos are especially welcome.

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AS ALWAYS, Politically Georgia readers are some of our favorite tipsters. Send your best scoop, gossip and insider info to greg.bluestein@ajc.com, tia.mitchell@ajc.com, patricia.murphy@ajc.com and adam.vanbrimmer@ajc.com.