PG A.M.: Redrawn Congressional map sparks chaos among Georgia Democrats

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

Almost as soon as U.S. District Judge Steve Jones tossed out Georgia’s political maps and ordered an overhaul with more majority-Black districts, key Democrats predicted the redistricting would harm them, not help them.

On Friday, the GOP majority’s plans to restructure the boundaries came into full view with a proposed U.S. House map that adds a new majority-Black district in west Atlanta at the expense of Democratic U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath’s Gwinnett-based seat.

The proposal, almost certain to pass the General Assembly this week, follows the unveiling of two GOP legislative maps that draw seven new majority-Black districts in the state House and state Senate. The maps pair three sets of Democratic House lawmakers against each other and weaken other Democratic incumbents.

The congressional map released Friday would split McBath’s current district between two Democratic and two GOP incumbents, in what she called another “blatant attempt to make me lose my seat.” McBath’s previous district was also redrawn in 2021, leading her to challenge fellow Democratic U.S. Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux in a bitter primary last year.

U.S. Rep. David Scott, D-Atlanta, says he had no plans to retire anytime soon. (Hyosub Shin/Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: Hyosub Shin/AJC

icon to expand image

Credit: Hyosub Shin/AJC

Democrats say they’re optimistic the judge will reject the U.S. House map. They note his ruling specifically called for an “additional” majority-Black district in west metro Atlanta — not just a reshuffling. But Republicans appear to be playing the long game.

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals could render the final verdict on the state’s maps, and Republicans like their odds there. The court leans conservative, with seven judges appointed by Republican presidents, including six by Donald Trump.

If the maps hold, there’s already speculation where the four metro Atlanta Democratic Congressional incumbents will run. Some see McBath, who lives in Marietta, aiming for the new 13th, which was redrawn to form a backward “C” along the east side of Atlanta.

In that scenario, U.S. Reps. Hank Johnson of Lithonia and Nikema Williams of Atlanta remain in their current districts, while U.S. Rep. David Scott — who has insisted he won’t retire — could run for a neighboring district seat in west Atlanta. Scott is an Atlanta resident.

But other Democrats may join the fray. Cobb County Commissioner Jerica Richardson, who previously announced a longshot bid in a GOP-leaning district, is tight-lipped about her next move.

“My hope is that they will see the error of their ways and fix these maps again before the judge’s Dec. 8 deadline,” she said of Republicans. “If they do not, then I would support further legal challenges until the core message of the judge’s order is fulfilled.”

***

LISTEN UP. The “Politically Georgia” radio show team opens the week by analyzing the redistricting special session, former President Donald Trump’s legal arguments in the Fulton County election interference case and the latest happenings on Capitol Hill. Two of Georgia’s foremost political experts, Emory professor Andra Gillespie and University of Georgia professor Audrey Haynes, join the panel.

“Politically Georgia” airs live at 10 a.m. on WABE 90.1 FM and livestreams at AJC.com and WABE.org. The show posts as a podcast each weekday around 1 p.m. Listen and subscribe at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

***

A sole Republican voted with Democrats to oppose the GOP’s redrawing of state Senate lines: Sen. Mike Dugan, R-Carrollton, a former top leader in the chamber. (Arvin Temkar/arvin.temkar@ajc.com)

Credit: Arvin Temkar/AJC

icon to expand image

Credit: Arvin Temkar/AJC

DUGAN DECLINES. A sole Republican voted with Democrats to oppose the GOP’s redrawing of state Senate lines: Sen. Mike Dugan, a former top leader in the chamber.

He wrote a lengthy treatise on his “no” vote, which objected to dividing Carroll County, long a core part of his district. Dugan wrote that carving up Carroll could have easily been avoided, but that his suggested alternatives were “rejected out of hand.”

“If my perspectives had been taken seriously by the committee, this situation could have and would have been better resolved. I was given no forewarning of how massive this split was until the map was shown to me in front of an entire group,” he wrote, adding that he was told his revisions were ignored “a few moments” before the committee met.

“To say I was disappointed is an understatement,” Dugan wrote. “This is politics at its ugliest.”

We’d say Dugan was treated like a Democrat, but that’s not the case. Most Democrats weren’t told about their new districts until after the maps were released. Democrats also didn’t have old intraparty scores to be settled.

Dugan served four years as the Senate majority leader under Senate president pro tem Butch Miller. Following the 2022 election, in which Miller lost a bid for lieutenant governor to Burt Jones, Dugan was passed over for the president pro tem spot and not included in the new Senate leadership.

***

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

Credit: Casey Sykes for the AJC

icon to expand image

Credit: Casey Sykes for the AJC

UNDER THE GOLD DOME:

  • 9 a.m.: The House Reapportionment and Redistricting Committee meets.
  • 9 a.m.: The Senate Reapportionment and Redistricting Committee meets to consider the redrawn congressional map, among other items.
  • 1 p.m.: The House gavels in.
  • 2 p.m.: The Senate convenes.

***

U.S. Reps. Hank Johnson (pictured), Lucy McBath and Nikema Williams, who represent metro Atlanta districts, penned a letter to the Federal Emergency Management Agency requesting an an additional year to spend $6.9 million in grant money related to feeding and sheltering those individuals. (Nathan Posner for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Nathan Posner for the AJC

icon to expand image

Credit: Nathan Posner for the AJC

MORE TIME NEEDED. Atlanta has absorbed more than 46,000 migrants from the U.S.-Mexico border since early 2021, and federal lawmakers have asked the government for an additional year to spend $6.9 million in grant money related to feeding and sheltering those individuals.

The AJC’s Lautaro Grinspan reports Democratic U.S. Reps. Hank Johnson of Lithonia, Lucy McBath of Marietta and Nikema Williams of Atlanta penned a letter to the Federal Emergency Management Agency requesting the extension.

The city currently has until Dec. 31 to spend the allocation. The grant money is meant to cover shelter, food, transportation and acute medical care, among other services, and migrants are only eligible to receive services within the first 45 days of their release from immigration custody.

***

SANTOS EXPELLED. For only the sixth time in history, a member of the U.S. House has been kicked out by fellow members.

The House voted to expel New York Republican George Santos on Friday by a 311-114 margin. House GOP lawmakers split roughly in half on the decision, and so did those in Georgia’s delegation.

Five of the state’s nine Republicans voted against the resolution. They were joined by Rep. Nikema Williams of Atlanta, who was one of just two Democrats to vote no.

Williams said afterward that she does not consider Santos fit to serve in Congress but also doesn’t think members of Congress should have determined his fate.

“I don’t think he is worthy of serving in this body, however, that is not my role to decide that,” she said. “That is for the people of his district to decide. This is the people’s House.”

***

NEW KENNEDY ALLY. Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the Democrat-turned-independent candidate for president, has made frequent trips to Georgia during his campaign.

But a recent visit to a shelter helmed by Angela Stanton-King, the conservative activist, has paved the way to a deeper alliance. Stanton-King endorsed Kennedy’s campaign.

Angela Stanton-King, founder of Auntie Angie’s House posed for a portrait on Friday, March 24, 2023. Stanton-King created the residence for single mothers in crisis to receive housing and assistance for up to two years. (Natrice Miller/natrice.miller@ajc.com)

Credit: Natrice Miller/AJC

icon to expand image

Credit: Natrice Miller/AJC

What makes that surprising is until recently, King was considered an ally of former President Donald Trump, who is seeking a return to the White House. Trump pardoned King in 2020. She had been convicted in 2004 on federal conspiracy charges for her role in a car theft ring.

She later joined other Black Trump supporters for a visit to the Oval Office, where they prayed over him.

Stanton-King is the goddaughter of Martin Luther King Jr.’s niece, Alveda King. Stanton-King is not related to the civil rights icon, nor is her husband, who shares the same famous last name.

***

TODAY IN WASHINGTON:

  • President Joe Biden has no public events scheduled.
  • The House has no votes scheduled until Tuesday.
  • The Senate has a confirmation vote lined up.

***

The U.S. Postal Service has reversed its decision to move the main post office in Gainesville, which frustrated U.S. Rep. Andrew Clyde, R-Athens. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

Credit: AP

icon to expand image

Credit: AP

YOU’VE GOT MAIL. The U.S. Postal Service has reversed its decision to move the main post office in Gainesville, leading the local congressman to call foul.

U.S. Rep. Andrew Clyde, a Republican who represents northeast Georgia and lives near Athens, went public with his frustrations last week. He said the decision not to relocate the Green Street post office provides another example of the federal government’s refusal to listen to local concerns.

“For decades, Gainesville residents and local leaders have advocated for relocating the Green Street post office — a move the USPS supported back in 2018,” Clyde said in a statement. “Yet after years of inaction on this matter, the USPS unilaterally decided to reverse course and retain the location. This severely misguided determination completely disregards our community’s position, plans, and thoughtful proposals.”

The USPS website still touts that 2018 decision to relocate the Gainesville post office to a yet-to-be-determined site. Officials have advocated for the move for decades, citing traffic concerns along Green Street, according to The Gainesville Times. Green Street is a historic thoroughfare and, according to a description from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, is home to “one of the finest relatively untouched group examples of Neo-classical architecture in North Georgia.”

Gainesville Mayor Sam Couvillon told WDUN the city learned about the change in plans from Clyde.

“As the local community, we should have some say, some input in the matter, in which we’ve had little to no say here in the last few years,” Couvillon told the radio station.

***

Pretzel and Pepper call Alex Enlow their person. Enlow is the communications director for U.S. Rep. Austin Scott. (Courtesy photo)

Credit: Courtesy photo

icon to expand image

Credit: Courtesy photo

DOG OF THE DAY. It’s time to meet Pretzel and Pepper Enlow, the Washington, D.C.-based guinea pigs who call Alex Enlow their person.

Enlow is the communications director for veteran U.S. Rep. Austin Scott, R-Tifton, which tangentially makes Pretzel and Pepper Capitol Hill power pigs.

When they’re not wielding their influence, a reliable source tells us the pigs also enjoy eating carrots, taking naps and snuggling.

Pretzel and Pepper, we salute you. You’re our Dogs 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.

***

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.