The Jolt: Battle over delegates shows it’s still Trump’s Georgia GOP

December 5, 2020 Valdosta - President Donald Trump speaks during the Republican National Committee’s Victory Rally at the Valdosta Flying Services in Valdosta on Saturday, December 5, 2020. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)
December 5, 2020 Valdosta - President Donald Trump speaks during the Republican National Committee’s Victory Rally at the Valdosta Flying Services in Valdosta on Saturday, December 5, 2020. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Another pro-Trump wave washed over county GOP meetings over the weekend that will help shape the party’s direction headed toward the 2022 elections.

We’ve already told you how roughly a dozen county GOPs voted to “censure” Gov. Brian Kemp for refusing to illegally overturn former President Donald Trump’s election defeat.

He got off easy compared to Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, who was targeted by roughly two dozen censure resolutions, and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who faced calls to resign for defying Trump’s demands.

And the DeKalb GOP even went so far as to punish Baoky Vu, the longtime Republican activist and vice-chair of the county elections board who refuted the false claims of widespread voting fraud.

But another trend became clear in texts and messages we received from activists around the state: In a number of counties, establishment-friendly figures and those deemed insufficiently loyal to Trump were pushed out of important leadership positions and, in some cases, denied spots as a delegates to the state GOP convention.

Activists elected stridently pro-Trump slates to lead some of the state’s largest Republican groups, including in vote-rich Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton and Gwinnett counties.

And in a particularly tumultuous Fulton County GOP meeting, some of the most stalwart — and mainstream — Republican leaders were denied delegate slots to the 6th District convention, ostensibly because they weren’t at the meeting.

They include former U.S. Reps. Karen Handel and Tom Price, along with former state Rep. Betty Price. Tom Price, of course, served as Trump’s first Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Said one veteran activist of the Fulton fallout: “We are angry and loaded for bear.”

One Republican who was spotted at the Fulton meeting: former U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler, who gave remarks, but left before the voting began.

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FILE - In this Monday, March 29, 2021 file photo, Georgia State Rep. Park Cannon, D-Atlanta,, center, walks beside Martin Luther King, III, as she returns to the State Capitol in Atlanta. Georgia, faith leaders are asking corporate executives to condemn laws restricting voting access — or face a boycott. In Arizona and Texas, clergy have assembled outside the state capitols to decry what they view as voter-suppression measures targeting Black and Hispanic people. (AP Photo/Ben Gray, File)
FILE - In this Monday, March 29, 2021 file photo, Georgia State Rep. Park Cannon, D-Atlanta,, center, walks beside Martin Luther King, III, as she returns to the State Capitol in Atlanta. Georgia, faith leaders are asking corporate executives to condemn laws restricting voting access — or face a boycott. In Arizona and Texas, clergy have assembled outside the state capitols to decry what they view as voter-suppression measures targeting Black and Hispanic people. (AP Photo/Ben Gray, File)

Credit: Ben Gray

Credit: Ben Gray

FIRST IN THE JOLT: In case you needed any more proof that state Rep. Park Cannon’s national profile has soared since her controversial arrest: The Democrat is a nominee for a prestigious Emily’s List award.

The left-leaning group told your Insiders that Cannon is one of six nominees for the Gabrielle Giffords Rising Star Award, given each year to one of the nation’s most prominent game-changing politicians.

“Representative Park Cannon is a brave, bold, and inspiring leader who gives her all for the people of Georgia,” said Emily Cain, executive director of EMILY’s List.

Elected in 2016 at the age of 24, Cannon was the youngest and one of only three LGBTQ members in the Georgia House when she took office.

She gained national attention after she was arrested in March while knocking on Gov. Brian Kemp’s statehouse office door as he was delivering televised remarks about the state’s new election law.

Fulton County’s top prosecutor later announced she wouldn’t prosecute Cannon, who has since been a mainstay on cable TV shows assailing the new voting restrictions.

If Cannon wins the national award, she’ll be following in the footsteps of the 2014 recipient, Stacey Abrams.

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Fulton County's newly elected District Attorney Fani Willis speaks during an interview in a conference room at the Fulton County Courthouse in downtown Atlanta on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021.  (Jenni Girtman for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Fulton County's newly elected District Attorney Fani Willis speaks during an interview in a conference room at the Fulton County Courthouse in downtown Atlanta on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021. (Jenni Girtman for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Jenni Girtman

Credit: Jenni Girtman

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis made national headlines in February when she launched a criminal investigation into former President Donald Trump’s attempts to overturn Georgia’s 2020 election results.

On Monday night, she’ll headline an event closer to home when she endorses her former colleague, Charlie Bailey, for Georgia Attorney General. Bailey, now a trial attorney, has known Willis since the two worked together as assistant district attorneys in the Fulton DA’s office.

Along with Willis’ support, Bailey will pick up endorsements from Cobb County District Attorney Flynn Broady and Douglas County DA Dalia Racine.

Bailey narrowly lost his 2018 challenge to Republican Attorney General Chris Carr. But before he can get to rematch, he will also face a suddenly competitive Democratic primary against state Sen. Jen Jordan, who announced her run for AG last week.

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The Democratic Party of Illinois is seeking an opinion from the Federal Election Commission about how its chair, U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly, should manage her dual role fundraising for the state party while also serving as a congresswoman subject to federal campaign finance laws.

The goings-on of an Illinois lawmaker may not seem relevant to Georgia. But in her lawyers’ letter to the FEC, they cite U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams and her position as chair of the Democratic Party of Georgia as precedent for Kelly’s concurrent jobs.

The FEC opinion is expected within 30 days.

In a statement to your Insiders for story on Williams’ dual roles, Sachin Varghese, the Democratic Party of Georgia’s general counsel, said the organization has ensured Williams is following the rules.

“With regard to Congresswoman Williams’ position as chairwoman, the DPG is complying with all applicable law,” Varghese said in a statement. “Day-to-day operations of the DPG are the responsibility of executive director Scott Hogan.”

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FILE - In this Feb. 5, 2021, file photo, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. Congressional leaders have always faced rebels in their ranks. But Reps. Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene are presenting top House Republicans with a test of how to handle a new breed of Trump-era, social media-savvy firebrands. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)
FILE - In this Feb. 5, 2021, file photo, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. Congressional leaders have always faced rebels in their ranks. But Reps. Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene are presenting top House Republicans with a test of how to handle a new breed of Trump-era, social media-savvy firebrands. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

Credit: Susan Walsh

Credit: Susan Walsh

Georgia Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene has proven to be a fundraising juggernaut, raising more money than nearly every other U.S. House member except two of its highest-ranking members.

And our AJC analysis shows a clear connection between the dollars flowing to her campaign and her many controversies. The bigger the national uproar she’s been a part of, the more money she raised.

So Greene may be in line for another spike in donations after Punchbowl News revealed that Greene and other ultra-conservative lawmakers were launching the pro-Trump “America First Caucus.”

In a recruiting document leaked to Punchbowl, the caucus describes itself as based on “common respect for uniquely Anglo-Saxon political traditions” and calls for “a return to an architectural style that befits the progeny of European architecture.”

It also said its goal is to “follow in the footsteps of President Trump.”

The uproar over the document was so loud that House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy put out a statement condemning it.

“The Republican Party is the party of Lincoln & the party of more opportunity for all Americans—not nativist dog whistles,” he wrote.

On Friday Greene’s spokesman said in a statement the caucus would be announced “very soon.” By Saturday, he said, “The Congresswoman wants to make clear that she is not launching anything.”

The congresswoman herself posted a long thread on Twitter where she distanced herself from the document, saying it was a “draft proposal from an outside group that I hadn’t read.”

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Speaking of Greene, two prominent Georgia Democrats have endorsed military veteran Marcus Flowers’ longshot challenge to Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene next year.

Former U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young said he was impressed with Flowers’ ability to “sit across the table from people with different agendas, listen, build trust, persuade and ultimately get things done.”

And former U.S. Sen. Max Cleland called Flowers the “embodiment of a true patriot.”

“I’m supporting him because he’s tested and delivers. Marcus sat across the table and negotiated with Afghan warlords, so I know he can deliver in Washington.”

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Georgia Reps. Lucy McBath and Carolyn Bourdeaux were among the Democratic incumbents in line to receive $5,000 checks from U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s political action committee. Bourdeaux was one of three members in a swing seat who either declined or pledged to return the money, according to Politico.

Usually, that kind of cash is welcome and indicates that a member has the support of his or her colleagues in the U.S. House. But AOC, a self-described Democratic Socialist, can be toxic for lawmakers running in districts where they need moderates and independents to remain in office.

Such is the case for Bourdeaux and McBath, whose districts are already considered among the most competitive in the country- and could become even more so after Republicans redraw congressional lines in redistricting later this year.

No word yet on whether McBath will keep the donation, which appeared in her most recent fundraising report.

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For your calendar: Mastercard will be hosting a series of events and workshops in Atlanta on Wednesday with a goal of helping to close the racial wealth and opportunity gap for Black communities.

It’s part of the financial giant’s $500 million commitment to address these issues in Atlanta and other cities across the U.S. You can find more details about the events here, including one at 10:30 a.m. and another at 7 p.m.

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