PG A.M.: New court-ordered congressional seat could be revealed today

Your daily jolt of news and analysis from the AJC politics team
Lawyer Bryan Sells points at the Democrats’ proposed redistricting map during the second day of a Reapportionment and Redistricting Committee hearing at the Georgia State Capitol on Thursday, Nov. 30, 2023. (Miguel Martinez/miguel.martinezjimenez@ajc.com)

Credit: Miguel Martinez/AJC

Credit: Miguel Martinez/AJC

Lawyer Bryan Sells points at the Democrats’ proposed redistricting map during the second day of a Reapportionment and Redistricting Committee hearing at the Georgia State Capitol on Thursday, Nov. 30, 2023. (Miguel Martinez/miguel.martinezjimenez@ajc.com)

Welcome to Politically Georgia, your essential morning briefing from the AJC’s politics team. As a subscriber, you can receive this briefing as a newsletter every weekday, or read it here on ajc.com. Anyone can also sign up for the P.M. Update for a review of the day’s top politics stories, and listen to the accompanying radio show on WABE or podcast on Apple, Spotify and elsewhere.

By day’s end, Georgia Republican lawmakers are expected to release a new version of a congressional district map that could affect the balance of power in the U.S. House.

The proposal would be the third and final new map of a court-ordered redistricting session that began Wednesday. Legislators unveiled State House and Senate maps earlier this week.

U.S. District Judge Steve Jones ordered the General Assembly to draw a new majority-Black congressional district in west metro Atlanta after ruling the current political maps illegally dilute the voting power of Black Georgians.

The contours of the new districts lines are a closely-guarded secret under the Gold Dome, but one possible casualty is U.S. Rep. Rich McCormick, a Suwanee Republican who last year flipped a redrawn district previously held by Democratic U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath of Marietta.

McCormick’s victory followed the once-a-decade redistricting session of 2021 that saw the General Assembly’s GOP majority reshape the district to favor Republican candidates and gain an additional congressional seat. Of Georgia’s 14 House members, nine are Republicans.

The court-ordered revisions are expected to make Democrats more competitive in at least one district in the 2024 elections and threaten the GOP majority in the U.S. House. The Republicans hold a narrow five-seat advantage in the chamber, and with similar redistricting challenges in several other states potentially impacting more than a dozen posts, every district alteration could have broad consequences.

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U.S. Rep. Rich McCormick isn’t bemoaning the likely changes coming to his congressional district lines. (Nathan Posner for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Nathan Posner for the AJC

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Credit: Nathan Posner for the AJC

MCCORMICK ‘IN’ FOR 2024: U.S. Rep. Rich McCormick isn’t bemoaning the likely changes coming to his congressional district lines. The General Assembly is in special session to make court-order revisions to the U.S. House map to increase the influence of Black voters in metro Atlanta.

Black Georgians historically favor Democratic candidates, so changes to McCormick’s district complicate the Republican’s 2024 reelection chances. Yet the first-term congressman from Suwanee says he’s not afraid of competition.

“We’re not scared of a challenge. That’s what makes this exciting because we actually get to compare and contrast leadership styles, positivity, a future vision for this country, the state and this district,” he said in a Thursday interview.

“It doesn’t matter if I’m ahead by one point or by 20 points, it’s the same message,” he said. “We have to have a positive vision for the future based on letting people succeed by getting the government out of the way.”

McCormick noted that he outperformed former President Donald Trump in a narrow 2020 election loss to Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux. McCormick also received more votes than Senate GOP candidate Herschel Walker during his 2022 victory.

Asked whether he would seek another term regardless of how his district was shaped, McCormick didn’t hesitate.

“I’m in. I made a commitment, just like I did the last race,” he said. “Who knows what’s going to happen? But I’m in.”

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California Gov, Gavin Newsom (left), a Democrat, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican presidential candidate. (File photos)

Credit: File photos

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Credit: File photos

UNUSUAL DEBATE. U.S. Rep. Rich McCormick spoke to us after Thursday night’s Fox News debate between Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and California Gov. Gavin Newsom at an Alpharetta studio.

McCormick, a Suwanee physician, is the highest-ranking Republican in Georgia to endorse DeSantis so far, and he expressed confidence the Florida governor would gain traction.

“I hope tonight was a significant step in the right direction,” said McCormick.

Meanwhile, Gov. Brian Kemp didn’t exactly lay out the welcome mat for Newsom, noting that a California rule had banned state-funded travel to Georgia until recently.

“We’re glad Governor Newsom can get a firsthand look tonight in Alpharetta, Georgia at why Americans and businesses alike are fleeing California for states led by Republican governors!” the governor wrote on social media.

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STEP ONE, DONE. Committees in the Georgia House and Georgia Senate voted along party lines Thursday to approve the newly drawn maps for state House and state Senate districts. The maps were produced to comply with federal Judge Steve Jones’ order to create new majority Black districts to ensure Georgia’s elections comply with the Voting Rights Act.

Minority Leader Sen. Gloria Butler reads the Democrat redistricting proposal maps documents during the second day of the Special Legislature Session of the Reapportionment and Redistricting Committee meeting on Thursday, Nov. 30, 2023. (Miguel Martinez /miguel.martinezjimenez@ajc.com)

Credit: Miguel Martinez/AJC

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Credit: Miguel Martinez/AJC

As Mark Niesse and Maya T. Prabhu report, the new maps result in five additional majority-Black House districts and two more majority-Black Senate districts. But the revisions also minimize Democratic gains and in several cases draw sitting Democrats into potential primary battles against each other in 2024, along with two Republicans.

Democrats said the new maps fail to meet Jones’ standards.

We’ll know soon enough. Look for floor votes today on the new House and Senate lines. Jones has set Dec. 8 as the maps submittal deadline.

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

Credit: Casey Sykes for the AJC

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Credit: Casey Sykes for the AJC

UNDER THE GOLD DOME:

  • 9 a.m.: House floor session begins.
  • 9 a.m.: The Senate convenes.
  • 1 p.m.: The House Reapportionment and Redistricting Committee meets.
  • 1:30 p.m.: The Senate Reapportionment and Redistricting Committee meets.

The House and Senate are scheduled to reconvene Monday.

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U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene on Thursday decided against moving forward on plans to force a second vote on impeaching Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. (Nathan Posner for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Nathan Posner for The AJC

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Credit: Nathan Posner for The AJC

IMPEACHMENT PAUSE. U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene on Thursday decided against moving forward on plans to force a second vote on impeaching Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. Democrats were prepared to do what they did the first time — get enough Republicans to join with them to refer the resolution to committee.

Greene, R-Rome, told reporters that House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., and Homeland Security Committee Chairman Rep. Mark Green, R-Tenn., assured her that they will see to it that Mayorkas is impeached. But they asked that the committee, of which Greene is a member, vote on the matter before it is brought to the House floor.

“We had good talks today, I’m satisfied with the plan and I’m happy to be involved seeing it through all the way to the end,” Greene said.

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SANTOS OUT? By lunchtime today, Rep. George Santos may no longer be a member of Congress.

A vote seeking to expel the New York Republican from the U.S. House is scheduled for this morning, with two-thirds support required for passage.

Although some top Republicans, including Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., have expressed reservations about removing a member who is charged with crimes but has not been convicted, a damning Ethics Committee report and Santos’ refusal to resign has convinced other GOP members that it’s time to force him out.

Most Republicans in Georgia’s delegation haven’t said publicly where they stand. As of Thursday afternoon, Rep. Austin Scott, R-Tifton, said he was still undecided.

So far, the only GOP lawmaker from Georgia to say that he will vote to expel Santos is Rep. Buddy Carter of Pooler.

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TODAY IN WASHINGTON:

  • President Joe Biden has no public events scheduled.
  • The House decides whether to expel Rep. George Santos, R-New York.
  • The Senate is done for the week.

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Lauren Kiefer is running for mayor of Brookhaven. (Courtesy photo)

Credit: Courtesy photo

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Credit: Courtesy photo

FIGHTING CITY HALL. The Georgia GOP is wading into an unusual contest: The nonpartisan Dec. 5 runoff for Brookhaven mayor pitting Councilman John Park against attorney Lauren Kiefer.

The GOP sent out scathing mailers accusing Kiefer of being a puppet of “far-left liberals of Atlanta” and a “dangerous extremist” in the race.

Kiefer said of the attacks that it’s “no surprise that they will lie about me.” She added: “It’s why we need change in Brookhaven.”

State GOP chair Josh McKoon suggested Kiefer opened the door to the criticism by aligning herself with unnamed Democrats.

“I can say that people that want to brag about all of their left wing pals can expect the Georgia Republican Party to take them at their word and let our folks know about it,” he said.

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Georgia quarterback Carson Beck (15) looks to pass during the fourth quarter against the Georgia Tech at Bobby Dodd Stadium, Saturday, November 25, 2023, in Atlanta. Georgia plays Alabama on Saturday. (Jason Getz/Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

Credit: Jason Getz/AJC

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Credit: Jason Getz/AJC

FRIENDLY WAGER. As the Georgia Bulldogs prepare to square off against the Alabama Crimson Tide in Saturday’s SEC Championship football game, members of Congress are each betting on their home state.

Team Georgia is represented by Reps. Nikema Williams, D-Atlanta, and Buddy Carter, R-Pooler. They have promised a Chick-fil-A lunch to Alabama Reps. Terri Sewell, a Democrat, and Robert Aderholt, a Republican, if Alabama pulls out the win.

The Georgia lawmakers will receive a feast from Alabama staple Dreamland Bar-B-Que if their team wins the game.

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DOG OF THE DAY. It’s been a week for lawmakers, lobbyists and journos, who have unexpectedly found themselves fighting Atlanta traffic to get back to the Capitol for a special session they hadn’t planned on.

So to make you all feel better, we give you Bilbo Gordon, the French bulldog who calls AJC subscriber Spencer Gordon his person. A reliable source tells us Bilbo is a bit of a haberdasher — this Easter Bunny get-up is just one part of his finery, which includes seersucker, a Frenchman’s outfit, and more.

Bilbo Gordon calls AJC subscriber Spencer Gordon his person. Here he is wearing his Easter best. (Courtesy photo)

Credit: Courtesy photo

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Credit: Courtesy photo

Bilbo, for having a face that could get us through any legislative session, you’re 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.