The Jolt: Another GOP censure roiling Republicans from the inside out

GOP activist Baoky Vu of Decatur. AIn this July photo, the Olympic rings and torch from the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta stand near the formerly named Centennial Olympic Stadium, now Turner Field, home of the Atlanta Braves baseball team in Atlanta. AP/David GoldmanJC file
GOP activist Baoky Vu of Decatur. AIn this July photo, the Olympic rings and torch from the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta stand near the formerly named Centennial Olympic Stadium, now Turner Field, home of the Atlanta Braves baseball team in Atlanta. AP/David GoldmanJC file

Credit: Jim Galloway

Credit: Jim Galloway

The Dekalb County Republican Party will decide this weekend whether to censure Baoky Vu, a Dekalb Republican and Vice Chairman of the DeKalb County Board of Registration and Elections, after Vu spoke out against the state’s new election law.

Dekalb Republicans will meet at their county convention this weekend and are expected to take a vote on a prepared censure resolution against Vu, which The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has obtained.

Although the resolution cites multiple complaints against Vu, the primary focus is on Vu’s decision to join a statement from the DeKalb County Board of Registration & Elections in February that called the election bills under consideration by the General Assembly “harmful legislation.”

“Baoky Vu was the sole ‘Republican’ that stood in solidarity with Democrats in DeKalb County undermining the efforts of all Georgia Republicans who tirelessly advocated for restoring election integrity during the Georgia General Assembly 2021 Legislative Session to pass the “Election Integrity Act of 2021,” the resolution reads.

It goes on to condemns Vu “for serving the interests of himself over all DeKalb and Georgia Republicans and The Republicans Party overall,” and calls on Vu to resign his position with the Elections board .

Vu is not expected to be at the convention, but has prepared a statement in his defense.

A portion of it reads, “Some Republicans have expressed fear that they won’t ever win big elections again, and rightfully so.... but it’s not because of actual widespread criminality. It is because ordinary Americans, including principled Republicans and many independents, refused to entertain the pathetic claims of widespread fraud and dangerous conspiracy theories propagated by their tax-cheating, draft-dodging RINO Presidential candidate after he lost this past November.”

He finishes, “While my time as a Board member of DeKalb’s Elections may be limited, I will not go quietly into that good night when our democracy is under assault.”

It’s not the first time Vu has gotten crosswise with local Republicans. In 2016, he made national headlines when he resigned his position as a GOP elector rather than cast his ballot for then-candidate Donald Trump.

This is also not the first censure resolution this year to be considered by a local Republican party over activists’ belief that some fellow Republicans failed to fight hard enough to give Trump a win in Georgia in 2020, even after the votes were counted.

Last weekend, the local Republican parties in Murray and Whitfield counties voted to censure Gov. Brian Kemp. The North Georgia Republicans said Kemp “stood by and did nothing” to help then-President Donald Trump overturn his election defeat.

Taken together, the censures set up a tense pre-election year ahead of 2022, when incumbent Republicans want to unify the party and win reelection, but the Trump-focused GOP base seems more interested in fighting over an election defeat that has come and gone.

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The pushback to former Gov. Sonny Perdue’s potential bid to lead the state’s higher education system has begun.

The AJC reported a month ago that the Republican is under serious consideration to take the helm of the University System of Georgia, sparking much discussion in higher education and political circles.

A group called “Students Against Sonny” is rallying opposition to the idea at Change.org, demanding that the Board of Regents pick a veteran educator and administrator over Perdue, the state’s first GOP governor since Reconstruction who just finished a stint as former President Donald Trump’s agriculture secretary.

From the group’s petition:

“He is completely inexperienced in education, and this appointment - though it shouldn’t be - is blatantly political. If appointed, Perdue would oversee 26 public colleges and universities with a $9.62 billion annual budget, 48,000 faculty and staff, and more than 333,000 students. If those numbers don’t alarm you, his voting record on Georgia education bills should.”

Both Kemp’s and Perdue’s teams declined to comment on the petition.

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First-quarter fundraising reports for federal candidates were due on Thursday, and Georgia’s Raphael Warnock and Marjorie Taylor Greene both posted impressive numbers. From the AJC:

“U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock raised more than $5.7 million between Jan. 6 and March 31, amassing what his campaign said is the highest off-year fundraising quarter in Georgia history. The Democrat reported $5.6 million in the bank as he prepares for a competitive 2022 race.

“Republican U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene likely won't have to worry about holding her deeply conservative northwest Georgia seat next year. But the freshman lawmaker raised $3.2 million during the quarter, sure to be one of the biggest takes in Congress.

“Greene, who has a history of racist and hateful remarks, boasted on social media that the same controversies that led her U.S. House colleagues to strip her of committee assignments also drove supporters across the nation to write her checks. She has $2.2 million available to spend."

- The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Read more here on the fundraising hauls reported by incumbent U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff, Reps. Lucy McBath and Carolyn Bourdeaux, as well as challenger Rich McCormick.

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It’s announcement day for former Democratic state Rep. Vernon Jones, who will formally declare his 2022 plan to run an insurgent GOP primary challenge against incumbent Republican Gov. Brian Kemp.

Jones will make it official Friday morning at his public announcement on Liberty Plaza, across the street from Kemp’s office in the Georgia state Capitol.

Jones may or may not have the backing of former President Donald Trump, who routinely praised Jones during his many Georgia rallies leading up to his November 2020 defeat in the state.

Your Insiders will be on hand for the Jones announcement and will report back.

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A bill that would increase the number of Supreme Court justices by four was introduced in both chambers of Congress Thursday, and Georgia U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson is one of the primary sponsors.

President Joe Biden recently signed an executive order creating a commission to study potential reforms for the high court. But the group of Democrats decided not to wait for the commission’s report before drafting legislation that Republicans immediately decried as “court-packing.”

Johnson, D-Lithonia, said the bill would restore balance to the court that is currently composed of six members appointed by Republican presidents and three by Democrats.

“It’s time that we start thinking about the Supreme Court like we think about the rest of the federal government and consider whether and how its current composition allows it to effectively do what we need it to do — efficiently and effectively administer justice and uphold the rule of law,” he said in a press release announcing the proposal.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi quickly downplayed the measure, telling reports she has no plans for bringing it to the floor for a vote. She said she wanted to give the president’s commission a chance to review the issue.

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Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, the former Emory professor who organized the weekend call of the country’s leading CEO’s condemning the Georgia election bill, has written an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal about what he was thinking as he galvanized action against the law.

“In 1962, Atlanta's mayor dubbed it “the city too busy to hate." Two years later, when Martin Luther King won the Nobel Peace Prize, Coke's CEO warned Atlanta leaders to honor King on his return or risk the company's relocation. This year, when the CEOs of Coke and Delta followed these footsteps, the state GOP threatened them for their free speech with boycotts and retaliatory tax punishment. Talk about cancel culture!

“Amid such threats last week, I contacted 120 CEOs to meet last weekend for a rapid-response crisis caucus. Ninety of them called in—from finance to pharmaceuticals, transportation to technology, manufacturing to healthcare, retail to professional services. Despite favoring a range of solutions, their spirit was defiant against politicians trying to muzzle them. They rallied to support one another, especially those with the courage to have stood up first, as well as to fortify their roles in ensuring the harmonious society and functioning democracy that vibrant markets need."

- Wall Street Journal

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Georgia U.S. Rep. Drew Ferguson never heard back from Delta CEO Ed Bastian after asked him to detail his opposition to Senate Bill 202, the state’s new election law.

Ferguson’s Newnan-based district includes a number of Delta employees, so he says he’s giving it one more try, sending another letter to Bastian with the same questions.

‘I can only take your silence to mean that either you still have yet to read the bill and as such do not yet understand how negligent your comments were or that your silence serves as a tacit admission that you stand by your irresponsible, pandering rhetoric,” Ferguson wrote.

Ferguson was not among the Georgia members of Congress in January who voted to overturn the 2020 election results.

We’ll let you know if Bastian writes back.

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Senate Republicans voted to proceed to debate a bill intended to address violence against Asian-Americans. Most GOP senators sided with Democrats in the 92-6 procedural vote on Wednesday. But senators also went home for the weekend without taking a final vote on the measure, which became a priority for Democrats after the Atlanta area spa shootings resulted in the death of eight people, including six Asian women.

Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock co-sponsored the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, or S. 937. This week, he and primary sponsor, Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono, wrote a letter to colleagues encouraging them to support the measure.

“Let us send a clear message that hate, bigotry, and anti-Asian sentiment have no place in our country,” they wrote. “Let this painful moment in our history also be remembered as a time when the United States Senate stood in solidarity with those affected by these acts of hate and violence, and acted to address this hate and prevent acts of violence like this from happening again.”

Senators are working on amendments ahead of final passage of the bill, which also needs to pass in the House. Likely changes include new language that no longer ties the hate-crimes legislation to the coronavirus pandemic.

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Antwan Lang, a member of the Chatham County Board of Elections, will run for the state House seat vacated by former Rep. Mickey Stephens, the Savannah Morning News reports.

The Democrat from Savannah became the youngest elected official in Chatham County in 2018 when he won a seat on the BOE at 24-years-old. Stephens retired earlier this week after a lengthy illness.

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Speaking of campaign launches, Latham Saddler got his run against U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock off to a high-profile start with appearance on Fox News Channel with Bret Baier Thursday night.

Saddler gave a rundown of his Georgia roots and military background (he served as a navy SEAL).

When asked if he’ll seek the endorsement of former President Donald Trump, who has been teasing UGA football legend Herschel Walker for the race, Saddler said, “For me right now, my North Star is hitting the ground in Georgia and seeking the endorsement of Georgians here on the ground.”

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Coffee County has a new elections supervisor after the county was unable to certify its results of the statewide recount of the 2020 presidential election.

WALB News 10, Albany TV news, reports that two former county elections officials resigned in February for falsifying time reports.

The Secretary of State’s office opened an investigation into Coffee County’s performance after it failed to certify its recount results. At the time, the county reported a discrepancy of 50 votes, but did not resolve the discrepancy.

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Look for an announcement from Gov. Brian Kemp today about progress on extending broadband service to Middle Georgia.

In February, Kemp announced a plan with Georgia power companies to build high-speed internet lines that will reach 80,000 homes and businesses in Middle Georgia, a major inroad into rural areas that lack online access.

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We’re sending our best to WSB-TV’s Jovita Moore, who will undergo surgery Friday to remove two small brain tumors. We look forward to seeing her back in the anchor chair soon.

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