The Jolt: 2020 controversy dominates Georgia’s 2022 GOP governor’s race

News and analysis from the politics team at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
1/4/21 - Dalton, GA - President Donald Trump holds a rally in Dalton, GA, to campaign for Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler on the eve of the special election which will determine control of the U.S. Senate.   (Curtis Compton /

Credit: Curtis Compton /

Credit: Curtis Compton /

1/4/21 - Dalton, GA - President Donald Trump holds a rally in Dalton, GA, to campaign for Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler on the eve of the special election which will determine control of the U.S. Senate. (Curtis Compton /

It was only one week ago that former U.S. Sen. David Perdue jolted Georgia by formally declaring he would challenge Gov. Brian Kemp in the GOP primary.

And though he insisted in an interview with the AJC that he’s “trying to run a campaign not based on the past but on the future,” Perdue has centered the opening moves of his campaign on former President Donald Trump’s lies about election fraud.

He criticized Kemp for failing to call a special session to “fix” absentee ballot issues that hinged on a phony conspiracy theory that was quickly dismissed by courts. He said he wouldn’t have certified the state’s election, despite the state law that would have required him to do so.

And on Friday he filed a lawsuit that mirrored debunked claims from a conspiracy theorist seeking to inspect Fulton County’s absentee ballots. Never mind that election records indicate Perdue himself had enough confidence in the system that he voted by mail-in ballot.

Perdue’s string of false claims in his opening week also involve misinformation about a “consent decree” that has aides to Kemp and Democrat Stacey Abrams condemning in rare unison.

Forget 2022. The last election is still dominating the Trump crowd, much to the dismay of Republicans who indeed want to move on.

“You serious, @PerdueSenate?” Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan lamented on Twitter. “This is the exact same strategy that cost us conservatives control of the U.S. Senate.”


Politico has a look at the political dynamics in Georgia, looking specifically at the Republican General Assembly’s role in laying the groundwork for 2022.

Despite the (Democratic) party's victories atop the ballot, the inability to break the GOP's hold on the statehouse threatens to unravel it all.

“Everyone was celebrating Georgia going blue last year. And I was just kind of like, ‘Oh, no, we did not win the state Legislature. We're in trouble,'" said John Jackson, chair of the DeKalb County Democrats.

- Politico


A Georgia Republican legislator who has praised the Ku Klux Klan and glorified the Confederacy will not be seeking another term.

The Jackson Herald reported that state Rep. Tommy Benton, R-Jefferson, decided “it was time” after nearly two decades representing most of Jackson County in the Legislature.

In an interview with the AJC published in January 2016, Benton said the Klan “was not so much a racist thing but a vigilante thing to keep law and order.”

“It made a lot of people straighten up,” he said. “I’m not saying what they did was right. It’s just the way things were.”

Benton also suggested that criticism of the Confederate flag was a distraction from “black-on-black crime” and he sponsored bills to force the state to recognize Confederate Memorial Day, Robert E. Lee’s birthday and prohibit the moving of Confederate monuments.


POSTED: After fending off an effort by GOP state Sen. Clint Dixon to expand the number of commissioners on the Gwinnett County Commission, Democratic members of the commission say they now feel rushed by Democrats in the General Assembly to produce a proposal for new district maps for future elections.

The AJC’s Tyler Wilkins explains:

Legislators have been told that Gov. Brian Kemp wants all local redistricting maps to arrive on his desk for a signature before qualifying for elections begins in March, said Joel Wiggins, the county's lobbyist, setting a fire under the feet of commissioners, and lawmakers, to expedite the process.

"This is a bunch of crap," said Commissioner Jasper Watkins in reference to the delay of crafting a new map. “I'm getting so sick and tired of not knowing... What do we have? What can we do? And why can't we do it?"

- The Atlanta Journal-Constitution


The Georgia ethics commission voted to refer a case involving a Democratic candidate for secretary of state for a full investigation into whether he broke campaign finance laws for a series of suspicious disclosures.

The ethics commission last week sent the case involving Manswell Peterson to the Law Department for an inquiry after The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on the bizarre pattern.

The long-shot candidate had reported raising nearly $319,000 for his 2022 bid. His report included only two itemized contributions, consisting of $850 in total. The other $318,000 listed on his form is credited to small-dollar donors who gave $100 or less and aren’t required by state law to be itemized.

He denied any wrongdoing in an interview and said he collected his donations from social media. Ethics officials said he didn’t appear at the agency’s meeting last week.


South Fulton city councilman Mark Baker has launched a challenge to U.S. Rep. David Scott in the Democratic primary for Georgia’s 13th Congressional District.

Scott has held his seat since 2003 but in recent years has faced criticism from some locals that he had not been not visible enough in his metro Atlanta district. Three people signed up to challenge him in the 2020 primary, but he won without the need for a runoff.

Scott currently serves as chairman of the U.S. House Agriculture Committee.


The Rome News Tribune has a Q&A feature with several candidates running against U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene.

Marcus Flowers, an Army veteran and a Democrat, tells the paper he decided to run for Congress because of January 6th.

“When I watched police officers beaten with the American flag and saw the Confederate battle flag paraded through our Capitol, I resigned my post as a government official the next day.”

Rome City Commissioner Wendy Davis, also a Democrat, said she’s running because, “Every day that Rep. Greene is in office, she puts this community at risk through both action and inaction.”

Holly McCormack, a Ringgold business owner running as a Democrat, said, “I have raised my children to treat everyone with kindness and respect. When Congresswoman Greene took office, it was apparent those are not values she leads with.”


Georgia’s U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock is leading the effort to rename the Atlanta VA Medical Center after U.S. Sen. Max Cleland, who died last month.

The AJC’s Chris Quinn reports that U.S. Sen Jon Ossoff has also signed onto the bill in that chamber and that U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams, an Atlanta Democrat, is taking the lead in the House in the effort to rename the facility the Joseph Maxwell Cleland Atlanta Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

Cleland lost both legs and his right arm during the Vietnam War and served as the VA administrator under President Jimmy Carter. He later served as Georgia Secretary of State, U.S. Senator, and the head of the American Battle Monuments Commission, overseeing American military cemeteries around the world.

All six House Democrats in the Georgia delegation, along with Republican U.S. Reps. Rick Allen, Austin Scott, Jody Hice, Buddy Carter and Drew Ferguson co-sponsored the legislation.


President Joe Biden will posthumously award the Medal of Honor to Sgt. 1st Class Alwyn Cashe in a White House ceremony Thursday.

The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer reports that Cashe, a soldier from Fort Benning, will be the first Black service member to receive the highest military honor for fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan. He was killed in 2005 after rescuing six fellow soldiers and an interpreter from a burning vehicle in Iraq.

A delegation from Ft. Benning has worked since then to find an appropriate way to honor Cashe.


Looking for the perfect stocking stuffer? The National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum is now selling two different bobbleheads of the late Congressman John Lewis, one with a younger Lewis wearing his signature trench coat, while the older version features the congressman in a blue suit and his arms crossed.

The Bobblehead Hall of Fame says that 10% of each sale will go to support the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tenn.


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