PG A.M.: ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ premiere mocks Georgia’s election aftermath

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Larry David re-enacted Donald Trump's mugshot at the end of the first episode of the 12th and final season of HBO's satirical comedy "Curb Your Enthusiasm." HBO

Credit: HBO

Credit: HBO

Larry David re-enacted Donald Trump's mugshot at the end of the first episode of the 12th and final season of HBO's satirical comedy "Curb Your Enthusiasm." HBO

The season premiere of Larry David’s long-running hit TV show, “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” somehow managed to poke fun at a portion of Georgia’s 2021 election law and former President Donald Trump’s Fulton County mug shot in one fell swoop.

At the end of the episode, David was arrested for inadvertently breaking state law by providing water to a friend waiting in line to vote. “I was just being cordial!” David screams as he’s dragged away.

The episode ended with a scowling, spray-tanned mug shot of David, complete with Fulton County Sheriff Pat Labat’s insignia. The signoff was an homage to Trump’s arrest photo taken last August upon his surrender on election interference charges.

Georgia’s election law approved three years ago banned distributing refreshments to voters while they’re waiting in line, a measure supported by GOP lawmakers who said voters should be protected from outside influence. The law allows poll workers to set up self-service water receptacles.

While previous state law banned giving money or gifts to voters, it didn’t spell out whether that prohibition applied to distributing food and water. The law also prohibits soliciting votes within 150 feet of a polling location.

Ellia English, Larry David and Keyla Monterroso Mejia in a scene fictionally shot in Georgia during the 12th season debut of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" on HBO.  

Photograph by John Johnson/HBO

Credit: Photograph by John Johnson/HBO

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Credit: Photograph by John Johnson/HBO

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Lt. Gov. Burt Jones remains critical of Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis. (Natrice Miller/Natrice.miller@ajc.com)

Credit: Natrice Miller/AJC

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Credit: Natrice Miller/AJC

FIGHTING WORDS. Lt. Gov. Burt Jones could still be charged in Fulton County for boosting former President Donald Trump’s effort to overturn his 2020 election defeat. But that hasn’t stopped him from slamming District Attorney Fani Willis and the election interference case she brought against Trump and 18 others.

The latest example came in a lengthy interview that aired this weekend with “The Ben Burnett Show” podcast. Jones criticized Willis for engaging in a personal relationship with the special prosecutor she tapped to handle the case.

“That thing has been a complete circus. And I’m not even shy about it. For three years now, she’s used her office for nothing but self promotion and what looks like, based on these allegations that are out there, it looks like she’s been prosecuting for profit.”

He called Nathan Wade, the special prosecutor, Willis’ “special friend” and suspected the allegations of financial misconduct brought by a Trump co-defendant were the “tip of the iceberg of what they’ve spent down there.”

Willis acknowledged the relationship in a court filing last week but said she did nothing wrong.

Separately, our AJC colleague Mark Niesse reported that Jones allegedly sought access to election computers in Butts County after the 2020 election. It’s an effort that, if successful, would have been illegal, according to emails among state election officials that were shown in court.

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The campaign finance report for Democrat Jerica Richardson revealed she has a paltry $3,515.35 in her account, along with $3,000 in debt. (File photo)

Credit: AJC file photo

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Credit: AJC file photo

CASH CRUNCH. It’s hard enough to compete against a name-brand Democratic incumbent for a seat in Congress. It’s even harder with a near-empty campaign bank account.

That’s exactly the situation Cobb County Commissioner Jerica Richardson faces in her bid for a newly created U.S. House seat in west metro Atlanta. Her campaign finance report revealed she has a paltry $3,515.35 in her account, along with $3,000 in debt.

Compare that to her Democratic primary rival, U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath, who is seeking the seat after she was drawn out of her district for the second time in two years. McBath, a potential candidate for governor in 2026, has $1 million in her campaign coffers.

U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock has amassed a stockpile of $5.2 million more than a year after he defeated Republican Herschel Walker. (Olivia Bowdoin for the AJC).

Credit: Olivia Bowdoin for the AJC

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Credit: Olivia Bowdoin for the AJC

Some other notable reports:

  • U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff, an Atlanta Democrat who is up for another term in 2026, has about $3.2 million cash on hand.
  • U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock has amassed a stockpile of $5.2 million more than a year after he defeated Republican Herschel Walker. The Atlanta Democrat is not up for election until 2028.
  • U.S. Rep. Rich McCormick has about $390,000 in his account. The first-term Republican from Suwanee is in a safely conservative north Atlanta district, but he may have to look over his shoulder for a potential Donald Trump-backed challenger after he initially endorsed Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis over Trump for president in 2024.

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SMITH FUNERAL. Hundreds of lawmakers, elected officials and state leaders will attend the funeral this morning of longtime state Rep. Richard Smith, an influential Columbus Republican who died last week at age 78.

The great Chuck Williams of WRBL interviewed House Speaker Jon Burns for an emotional send-off of Smith, who helped shape many of the state’s most important policies as chair of the House Rules Committee.

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Democrat Laura Murvartian plans to challenge state Rep. Scott Hilton, R-Peachtree Corners, (Natrice Miller/ natrice.miller@ajc.com)

Credit: Natrice Miller/AJC

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Credit: Natrice Miller/AJC

SWING DISTRICT. A swingy north Atlanta House district has flipped from Republican to Democrat and back to Republican in the past six years. And today, Democrat Laura Murvartian announced her campaign to try to take the seat back from Republican control.

Murvartian is challenging Republican state Rep. Scott Hilton, R-Peachtree Corners, for the Johns Creek-based district, the AJC’s Maya T. Prabhu reports.

Hilton, and all other legislators, are up for reelection this year.

Democrats have set their sights on the district as an opportunity to chip away at the Republican-controlled House.

Murtvartian, who serves as the executive director for nonprofit Arte GA, said Hilton’s conservatism doesn’t reflect the district.

She immigrated from the country from Mexico and worked as an executive for Fortune 500s before founding her nonprofit, which offers support to Latino professional creatives.

“I am ready to bring my business experience to the Gold Dome to negotiate a better deal for the people of Georgia,” she said in a press release announcing her run.

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PARTY BOSSES. Add Catoosa County to the list of deep-red counties where local Republicans are working to adopt rules that give party leaders the final say on whether candidates for county office are eligible to run as Republicans. Officials in Chattooga and Pickens counties have adopted similar rules.

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The Georgia State Capitol. (Casey Sykes for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Casey Sykes

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Credit: Casey Sykes

UNDER THE GOLD DOME:

  • The House and Senate are out of session for members to attend the funeral of the late state Rep. Richard Smith.
  • Both chambers will reconvene for Legislative Day 15 on Tuesday.

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State Rep. Esther Panitch, D-Sandy Springs, takes a selfie before Gov. Brian Kemp signs the antisemitism bill at the Capitol in Atlanta on Jan. 31, 2024. (Arvin Temkar/arvin.temkar@ajc.com)

Credit: Arvin Temkar/AJC

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Credit: Arvin Temkar/AJC

LISTEN UP. State Rep. Esther Panitch, D-Sandy Springs, joined the “Politically Georgia” radio show Friday to talk about her work with state Rep. John Carson, R-Marietta, to pass his bill to add antisemitism to Georgia’s hate crimes statute.

Later, the AJC’s Macon bureau chief Joe Kovac, Jr. called in to discuss his story on the family of Sgt. Kennedy Sanders, one of three Georgia reservists killed last Sunday in a drone attack in Jordan. Kovac was with the family when President Joe Biden called to offer his condolences.

Listen at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts. And listen to Monday’s show live at 10 a.m. on WABE 90.1 FM, at AJC.com and at WABE.org.

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 A crowd gathers in front of a large television showing results in the ballroom at the Democrats’ watch party in Columbia, on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024. (Travis Dove/The New York Times)

Credit: Travis Dove/The New York Times

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Credit: Travis Dove/The New York Times

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT. President Joe Biden cruised to an easy win in the South Carolina Democratic presidential primary Saturday. It was an early test of Black support for Biden in the president’s hand-picked first-in-the-nation contest for Democrats.

The result wasn’t close. Biden won 96.2% of the vote, compared to Marianne Williamson’s 2.1% and U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips’ 1.7%.

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Gov. Brian Kemp is taking the Biden administration to court. (Arvin Temkar/arvin.temkar@ajc.com)

Credit: Arvin Temkar/AJC

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Credit: Arvin Temkar/AJC

KEMP VS. BIDEN. Gov. Brian Kemp won’t challenge President Joe Biden on the election ballot this year but he is taking the Biden administration to court.

The AJC’s Greg Bluestein reports Kemp filed a lawsuit Friday regarding Georgia’s Medicaid waiver program, established by the Republican governor and the GOP-led General Assembly in 2019. Eligibility is contingent on participants meeting a work or activity requirement, a condition Biden opposes.

Kemp’s court filing seeks to extend the Georgia Pathways program through September 2028.

In addition to taking on Biden on Medicaid, Kemp traveled to the U.S.-Mexico border this weekend to show support for Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a fellow Republican, and his standoff with Biden over immigration policies.

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., arrives to meet reporters following a caucus meeting, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2024. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Credit: J. Scott Applewhite/AP

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Credit: J. Scott Applewhite/AP

BORDER SECURITY BILL. The text of the bipartisan Senate legislation intended to drastically reduce immigration at the U.S.-Mexico border in exchange for funding for Israel and Ukraine was released Sunday night.

Senate leaders on both sides of the aisle and President Joe Biden said they are ready to move forward with turning the measure into law. An initial procedural vote is scheduled for Wednesday and could indicate how much support among conservative Republicans the bill has in the Senate.

In the House, however, Republicans hold a slim majority and continue to pour cold water on the agreement. Speaker Mike Johnson, R-Louisiana, will instead introduce a stand-alone measure that allocates $17.6 billion to Israel with nothing else attached.

Still, Democrats and even some Republicans are uneasy with providing help to Israel without also assisting Ukraine. So it’s unclear if the new Israel funding measure has the votes.

Also, the House is expected to vote this week on whether to impeach U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. He has been directly involved in the Senate negotiations on border security, but that hasn’t stopped House Republicans from insisting on his removal from office. Chief among them is U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Rome.

It’s unclear if Republicans in the House have the votes to pass these articles of impeachment. If more than two GOP lawmakers are opposed — and there already is one — the measure is likely to fail.

There may be some Republicans who personally don’t agree with impeaching Mayorkas but will support the bill because they know the issue is popular among their base. Even if Mayorkas is impeached, the Senate is unlikely to remove him from office.

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President Joe Biden has no public events scheduled today. (Stephanie Scarbrough/AP)

Credit: Stephanie Scarbrough/AP

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Credit: Stephanie Scarbrough/AP

TODAY IN WASHINGTON:

  • President Joe Biden has no public events on his schedule.
  • The U.S. House votes on non-controversial legislation.
  • The House Rules Committee discusses whether to send articles of impeachment against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to the floor.
  • The Senate has judicial confirmations lined up.

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Georgia Ports Authority's terminals comprise the third-largest port complex in the nation. (Stephen B. Morton/Georgia Port Authority via AP)

Credit: Georgia Port Authority via AP

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Credit: Georgia Port Authority via AP

PORTSIDE. Savannah-area officials and residents were abuzz over the weekend regarding revelations that the Georgia Ports Authority led efforts to squash the building of a privately owned cargo container terminal along the Savannah River. The facility site is downriver from the authority’s terminals, which comprise the third-largest port complex in the nation, and emails suggest authority leaders considered it a potential threat to their business.

The Ports Authority’s actions have been labeled government overreach by the private port site’s owner. The authority is a self-funded state entity with a vision statement that says it exists “to promote trade and economic development for our state,” not to monopolize container business along the shipping channel, the private port owner pointed out.

The site’s location has attracted plenty of conversation since your insider Adam Van Brimmer published the stories last Friday. The port terminal’s address is advantageous in that it is east of downtown Savannah and the Talmadge Bridge, which is too low for some ships to pass under and is due for replacement — at a 10-figure cost — sometime in the future. Yet the locale also means any truck and rail traffic related to the private terminal’s operation would have to pass through the city’s center en route to interstate highways and major rail lines.

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JUDICIAL VACANCY. For the second time, President Joe Biden will have the opportunity to fill a vacancy on the federal appeals court based in Atlanta.

The AJC’s Rosie Manins writes that Judge Charles R. Wilson, the longest-serving judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, has notified the White House of his plan to vacate his seat upon his successor’s confirmation. That could take months, if it happens at all before the end of Biden’s term, and Wilson will continue to serve as a full-time judge until at least the end of the year.

Once a new judge is in place, Wilson plans to take senior status where he handles a reduced caseload.

Biden previously appointed and the Senate narrowly confirmed Judge Nancy Abudu to the 11th Circuit, which hears appeals cases in Florida, Georgia and Alabama.

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George Brodrick is the first dog of Watkinsville, Georgia. Among his duties are guarding the yard of Mayor Brian Brodrick from local squirrels. (Courtesy photo)

Credit: Courtesy photo

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Credit: Courtesy photo

DOG OF THE DAY: We always enjoy spotlighting local celebrities in this item, so let’s meet George Brodrick, the first dog of Watkinsville, Georgia.

This dashing springer spaniel isn’t just window dressing for the administration. Along with his ceremonial duties, which mostly consist of being handsome in photos, George’s primary role is guarding the yard of Mayor Brian Brodrick from squirrels, chipmunks and “not much else.” He calls the Brodrick family his people, but we call him our Dog of the Day.

Send us your dogs of any political persuasion and location, and cats on a cat-by-cat basis, to patricia.murphy@ajc.com, or DM us at @MurphyAJC.

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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.