The Jolt: Abrams’ announcement raises the national profile for Georgia’s midterms

News and analysis from the politics team at The Atlanta Journal Constitution
Stacey Abrams departs a rally for gubernatorial candidate, and former Virginia Governor, Terry McAullife (D-VA) on October 17th, 2021 in Fairfax, Virginia. (Nathan Posner for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Nathan Posner for the AJC

Credit: Nathan Posner for the AJC

Stacey Abrams departs a rally for gubernatorial candidate, and former Virginia Governor, Terry McAullife (D-VA) on October 17th, 2021 in Fairfax, Virginia. (Nathan Posner for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Welcome back to the center of the political universe, Georgia.

The Stacey Abrams rematch bid against Gov. Brian Kemp serves as a wakeup call to the rest of the nation that Georgia will be at the white-hot middle of attention in the midterms.

Not only is the Abrams-Kemp rivalry back in full force, but former U.S. Sen. David Perdue might join the contest, too, with Donald Trump’s support. The former president put out a statement shortly after Abrams’ announcement declaring that it will be harder to beat her with Kemp on the ballot.

“But some good Republican will run, and some good Republican will get my endorsement, and some good Republican will WIN!” Trump wrote.

The Cook Political Report announced that it had changed its rating of the gubernatorial race from “leans Republican” to “toss up.” An editor cited a potential primary challenge for Kemp as one of the reasons behind the shift, as well as the close 2018 contest between Kemp and Abrams.

That contest will compete for attention with U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, who has taken to calling himself one of the vulnerable Democratic incumbents on the ballot next year. Football great and Trump-endorsed Herschel Walker leads the GOP field.

Down-ticket, a fierce battle for lieutenant governor is underway after Geoff Duncan decided to forgo a second term so he could mold his vision of a “GOP 2.0″ without Trump.

There’s also a high-profile contest for the typically sleepy office of secretary of state, as Trump and his loyalists take aim at incumbent Brad Raffensperger.

And we haven’t even arrived yet at the battle between two rising Democratic stars in the suburbs after redistricting left U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath with an unwinnable district. She is now challenging Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux in the 7th District.


POSTED: A closer look at what’s next in the race for Georgia governor now that Stacey Abrams is in the contest. Read it here.


Rich McCormick’s campaign for the Republican nomination in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District is only a couple of days old but off to a rocky start.

Remember, the emergency room doctor and veteran announced Tuesday that he had switched from running in the 7th District, where a Republican is unlikely to win, to the 6th where there was already a crowded GOP primary.

McCormick said 28 sitting U.S. House members had endorsed him in his new race.

That isn’t the case.

Of the five Georgia Republicans listed as backing McCormick, only one actually has: U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter.

Representatives for the other four — Reps. Jody Hice, Andrew Clyde, Rick Allen and Marjorie Taylor Greene — all said McCormick’s statement is inaccurate. While they all supported him last year when he lost to Carolyn Bourdeaux in the 7th District, none of them endorsed McCormick in the 6th District primary. At most, they had phone calls with him and wished him well.

Once asked about the list of endorsements, McCormick’s campaign sent along this mea culpa:

“All of the names listed on the release offered their encouragement and support for my campaign in the 6th district,” he said. “If their intent wasn’t a full public endorsement, I’ll own that mistake as they talked directly to me. As a Marine, we were taught to be clear and own your mistakes. I’ll gladly do that here.”

The campaign hasn’t issued a correction to its inaccurate press release or updated the website. It still lists the 28 names, including the four we know have not endorsed for the 6th District contest.


Andre Dickens spent his first day as mayor-elect of Atlanta doing a literal victory lap, hitting several stops around the city to thank voters for their support.

The first stop of the day — the Buckhead Library — was a good strategic choice, since one of Dickens’ first and trickiest jobs will be to deflate the budding Buckhead City movement.

The Jolt spotted Dickens and a group of supporters waving to cars later in the day from the corner of a Publix parking lot in Southwest Atlanta. The smiling soon-to-be-mayor received honks of support from passing motorists, including a few Atlanta Police Department cars driving past.


Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis was among a group of prosecutors included in a lengthy New York Times piece about DA’s around the country reopening closed or stagnant cases related to police use-of-force.

Willis, who was elected with the support of the police union, told the Times, “I don’t define myself as a progressive prosecutor. I just define myself as doing what’s right.”


Since taking office in January, she has begun reviewing 50 use-of-force cases and seven death-in-custody cases going back to 2016 that her predecessor had not addressed; she has so far landed indictments in 13 of them. Six officers were indicted in November for a jailhouse death in 2018. They had allegedly shouted that it was “Taser Tuesday” as they tortured and killed Antonio May, 32, arrested for throwing rocks at a building.

“There were too many cases where nothing had been done,” said Ms. Willis, noting her office had also cleared more than 20 officers. “Where there is no courage, nothing happens.”


When the newly elected Atlanta City Council gavels in for the first time in 2022, there will be a few “firsts” happening in the room.

As one Jolt reader alerted us, it will be the first time the council has three LGBTQ members on board, with Alex Wan, Liliana Bakhtiari and Keisha Waites.

And with Bakhtiari and Amir Farokhi, the council will become the first with two Iranian Americans. Farokhi said on Twitter this sets Atlanta apart as the first and only legislative body in the country that can say that.


The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee held a nomination hearing for Victoria Calvert and Sarah Geraghty, two women selected by President Joe Biden to serve as federal judges in the Northern District of Georgia.

Calvert is a former King & Spalding attorney who has spent the last several years in the District Court’s Federal Defender program. Geraghty is senior counsel of the Southern Center for Human Rights.

Georgia’s U.S. Sens. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock recommended both women to Biden and Ossoff introduced them at Wednesday’s hearing.

Both Calvert and Geraghty were well received, although Louisiana Sen. John Kennedy asked whether Geraghty had called Gov. Brian Kemp a “pioneer of voter suppression.” She said she didn’t recall ever making such a comment.

Kennedy may be referencing this New York Times opinion piece. The phrase in question didn’t come from Geraghty but rather the essay’s author, although Geraghty is quoted about her work defending a Coffee County woman accused of voter fraud.

A committee vote will now be scheduled to advance the Georgians to the full Senate for confirmation.


Donald Trump’s poolside fundraiser for Senate candidate Herschel Walker attracted hundreds of donors at his Mar-A-Lago resort in Florida. We’re told by attendees Walker didn’t say much at the event, though he called Trump the “people’s president.”

Not surprisingly, it was Trump who drew the lion’s share of the attention. He promoted more false conspiracy theories about his election defeat and said “you’ll be very happy with what we’ll say about a third time,” indicating a 2024 run.

A tracker for a Democratic-leaning group recorded some video. Watch it here.


Georgia’s U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath gave a speech on the U.S. House floor Wednesday about the recent school shooting in Michigan that left four dead.

McBath, who rose to prominence as a gun control activist after her own son was murdered, focused on her colleagues in her remarks saying they should put themselves in the shoes of those affected by violence like the attack at Oxford High School.

“Do you have the courage to do that? To feel what it might be like to bury your own child?” she said.

Although she didn’t mention any specific legislation or policy changes, McBath said lawmakers should save children and protect families as opposed to doing nothing, which she described as “the courage to look away.”


Voters are beginning to return to their pre-pandemic norms if Atlanta’s mayoral runoff is any indication.

Data we obtained from the secretary of state’s office indicate that just about 2% of the roughly 85,000 ballots cast in this week’s contest were absentee by mail. Another 41% is early in-person and 57% of ballots were cast on Election Day.

That’s roughly consistent with voting patterns before the pandemic, officials said.


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