The Jolt: Can Stacey Abrams’ policies beat Brian Kemp’s record?

News and analysis from the politics team at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

In the last few weeks, Stacey Abrams has put out a dizzying array of proposals for her bid for governor.

She’s highlighted a detailed criminal justice plan, called for a $1 billion tax refund, promised to hike the salaries of teachers and local law enforcement officials, and pressed for a gas tax break through the year’s end.

She’s pledged to ease college debt, expand Medicaid, roll back abortion restrictions and repeal pro-gun expansions. More policies are expected within days, including a package involving affordable housing.

Gov. Brian Kemp has answered each rollout with criticism of his opponent’s plans – and crickets about his own promises. He’s yet to announce a second-term agenda, running instead on his first-term record. That will change, as Kemp plans to detail specific items within weeks. But for now, it’s created a gap Abrams hopes to exploit.

“Brian Kemp still doesn’t have a single plan on his website for what he intends to do for the state of Georgia,” Abrams tweeted this week. That echoed an earlier interview with your insiders that accused Kemp of trying to “coast” to a second term.

Ahead in the polls, Kemp feels no urgency to unveil sweeping proposals in July. His Republican allies say he should stay the course.

“A leader’s track record is more important than their website, especially over the last four years,” said Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan.

Chris Riley, who was Gov. Nathan Deal’s top aide for two terms, said Kemp’s focus on the economy, public safety and education is apparent to voters.

“I can’t think of a stronger agenda for a second term than to maintain that exact focus.”


WATER WAR. Normally, a selection to the State Soil and Water Conservation Commission wouldn’t merit much attention. But Gov. Brian Kemp’s decision to reappoint Vikki Consiglio to the commission raised eyebrows this week.

That’s because Consiglio is one of 16 fake GOP electors who have been informed they could face criminal charges in the Fulton County special grand jury’s investigation into Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

Two days after the GOP electors cast their ballots for Trump, despite his loss, Consiglio posted a group photo to social media from inside the room at the Capitol where they met with the caption: “History in the making.”

Kemp’s office said the commission is not a political body and her experience is “commensurate with the qualifications for that role.” Consiglio is executive director of the Georgia Utility Contractors Association and was elected in 2014 as supervisor of Henry County’s conservation board.


HERSCHEL HELPER. Herschel Walker will hold a listening session with members of Statesboro law enforcement and former Treutlen County Probate Judge T.J. Hudson today.

Hudson’s name will be familiar to Georgia politics watchers, since he was one of Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s three GOP challengers in the May primary.

At a debate sponsored by the Atlanta Press Club, Hudson hammered Raffensperger, saying he was too busy doing national press in 2020 to help local elections workers in small communities like his own.

“I’m here to represent the people. I’m here to do what is right,” he said. “Clearly this guy is not.”

The AJC’s Bill Rankin also reported that just before Hudson announced his secretary of state bid in 2021, he signed a consent agreement with the state Judicial Qualifications Commission agreeing not to seek judicial office for seven years following an ethics allegation.

Walker’s campaign has said the listening session will be closed to press because of space constraints, but he will hold a media availability ahead of it, when Walker will likely be asked about his past claims of being in law enforcement himself.


WILLIS BLOCKED. In a huge victory for GOP state Sen. Burt Jones, Fulton Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney blocked Fulton District Attorney Fani Willis and her team from investigating Jones’ involvement in former President Donald Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 general election.

Our colleague Tamar Hallerman reported that Jones, the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor, successfully argued that a fundraiser Willis hosted for his opponent, Democratic Charlie Bailey, created an untenable conflict of interest.

The Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia will be tasked with naming an alternative to Willis to handle Jones’ portion of the case. Jones will no longer be classified as a target of the investigation until a different prosecutor reevaluates his role in the election, a step the executive director of the council indicated that won’t happen any time soon.

In the meantime, the judge also ruled Willis and her office can move forward with the larger investigation.


NO QUASH FOR HICE. Also on Monday, a federal judge ruled that U.S. Rep. Jody Hice cannot avoid testifying to the Fulton County special grand jury, despite filing a motion to quash his subpoena, the AJC’s Tamar Hallerman and Ben Brasch report.

Hice’s attorney had attempted to argue that any of his statements or actions surrounding the election were part of his duties as a member of Congress. The judge said that assertion could limit the scope of what the grand jury asks Hice, R-Greensboro, but it couldn’t prevent him from being questioned altogether.

Judge Leigh Martin May told attorneys for the District Attorney’s office to develop a framework for questions that can be posed to Hice, with the understanding that if they don’t reach an agreement the matter could end up back in court.


FERGUSON ON THE BORDER. U.S. Rep. Drew Ferguson joined with other Republican House members for a trip to the U.S.-Mexico border on Monday. The itinerary included meetings with local law enforcement, Border Patrol agents and business owners, along with a site visit to the border entry point in Eagle Pass, Texas.

Ferguson spoke during a press conference there, saying more should be done to combat the immigration crisis at the southern border.

“The hazards are real,” he said. “What’s happening to America is real. What’s happening to the folks that are crossing this border – many times they are victims. What’s shocking to me is how normal the chaos has become.”

Ferguson, R-West Point, is in line to rise in leadership if Republicans take control of the U.S. House after the midterm elections, which is expected. He currently serves as chief deputy whip.



  • U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff will chair a hearing of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations examining allegations of corruption and abuse at the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary. Last week Ossoff subpoenaed Bureau of Prisons Director Michael Carvajal, who is expected to testify.
  • President Joe Biden is still recovering at home from the coronavirus but working virtually.
  • Former President Donald Trump returns to Washington for the first time since leaving office to deliver remarks at the America First Policy Institute Summit. Former Vice President Mike Pence will also be in Washington Tuesday morning, delivering a separate speech at the Young America’s Foundation.


DANIEL ON DEFENSE. The CEO of Bryan County gun maker Daniel Defense has been called to testify Wednesday to the House Oversight Committee after one of its AR15-style rifles was used in the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas.

Ahead of the hearing, the Washington Post takes a deep dive into the company’s aggressive marketing tactics, including court documents related to an effort to capitalize off of anti-Democratic sentiment during the Obama administration.

“The rhetoric starts flying about, you know, guns and Second Amendment rights and things like that, that's going to cause consumers to take action," (a Daniel Defense executive) said in the deposition.

“Using slogans such as “Protecting Your Freedom," the firm shifted its marketing toward self-defense and personal liberty….

In what Hunter described in his deposition as the firm's “most effective" ad campaign, troops were shown carrying rifles made with Daniel Defense components, under the heading “Use What They Use."

- The Washington Post


GREENE WINS AGAIN. A Fulton County superior court judge has denied an appeal by a group of voters who wanted to reverse Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s decision allowing U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene to remain on the general election ballot.

Raffensperger followed the recommendation of an administrative court judge who said that the voters and their attorneys had not proven that Greene was an insurrectionist and there was no reason to disqualify her from the ballot.

They appealed to Superior Court Judge Christopher Brasher, who heard arguments on the case last week. Brasher notified the voters on Monday that their appeal was denied. A spokesman for the voters said they had not yet decided whether they will appeal to the Georgia Supreme Court.

Greene faces Democrat Marcus Flowers in the general election. Because the northwest Georgia district leans so heavily Republican, she is expected to win a second term easily.


COLUMBUS CONFAB. Mark your calendars for August 27 in Columbus, when the Democratic Party of Georgia will hold its statewide convention, True Blue 2022.

Bold-faced names on the schedule include Stacey Abrams, U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, and the Democratic nominees for constitutional executive offices, U.S. House, and state legislative seats.


AS ALWAYS, Jolt readers are some of our favorite tipsters. Send your best scoop, gossip and insider info to, and

Sign Up to receive the Morning Jolt & AJC Politics newsletters in your inbox.