The Jolt: Chris Carr launches reelection bid in top-tier Attorney General race

News and analysis from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
 Attorney General of Georgia Chris Carr Speaks at a press conference at the Capitol on Saturday, April 3, 2021.  STEVE SCHAEFER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Attorney General of Georgia Chris Carr Speaks at a press conference at the Capitol on Saturday, April 3, 2021. STEVE SCHAEFER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

It was a Who’s Who of Georgia’s Republican old guard Monday night at the Omni Hotel at the Battery, where GOP heavyweights lined up to show their support for incumbent Attorney General Chris Carr -- with their presence and their wallets.

The fundraiser was co-hosted by former Gov. Nathan Deal and former U.S. Sens. Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson. Isakson, who retired from the Senate in 2019 because of health complications, didn’t attend.

Deal first appointed Carr as economic development commissioner in 2013 and then attorney general in 2016, so the two have a long history. The former governor, looking spry in a sharp grey suit, likened the upcoming campaign season to cattle farming, the AJC’s Maya Prabhu reports.

“In the cattle business, you brand your cattle,” Deal said. “You also cull cattle. And the ones you cull are the ones when they see your pickup truck drive in the field, that cow throws her tail up in the air and her head in the air and she snorts and she starts running for the woods – not that we’ve got any political candidates like that. But it’s a pretty good analogy.”

For the non-ranchers among you, that’s a warning of a possible stampede off the farm if the GOP herd has some rabble-rousers on the inside.

Carr is facing a tough general election fight next November, with two Democrats already in the race to challenge him – state Sen. Jen Jordan and former prosecutor Charlie Bailey. It was Bailey who almost bested Carr in 2018, capturing nearly 49% of the vote.

No fellow Republicans have yet announced plans to challenge Carr, who briefly considered a run for U.S. Senate before opting for re-election instead.

In his remarks, Carr focused on fighting crime around the state as AG and touted his ties to the former giants of the Georgia GOP who hosted his official campaign kickoff.

If there was a theme it was “protecting lives and protecting livelihoods” — a phrase he invoked several times.

Along with his time with Deal, Carr also served as Isakson’s chief of staff in the Senate and worked with Chambliss while he was there.

“These are three individuals that I emulate, that I want to be like and I’ve tried to be like over the past five years and will continue to do,” Carr said. “Because I think the legacy that they have left, the legacy of success for this state, is something that needs to continue.”

Campaign insiders said Monday night’s event brought in about $300,000. Among the donors in the room were Don Balfour, the former state Senate powerbroker. When Carr files his final fundraising total at the end of June, they expect his biggest single-quarter haul in his five-plus years in office.

He also rightly pointed out the scrutiny he is facing, though he didn’t mention the reason for some of the attention. He was chair of the Republican Attorneys General Association earlier this year when its fundraising arm paid for a robocall urging Republican activists to attend the pro-Trump January 6th rally in Washington and then to march to the Capitol to “stop the steal.”

Carr later resigned his position as chairman of RAGA over the episode, but not his membership.

“I hate to tell you all this but we were the center of the universe in 2020, and we’re probably going to be in 2022 as well,” Carr said.

“Brian Kemp was the top target for the Democratic Governors Association. Raphael Warnock is the top target for the Republican Senatorial Committee. And you’re looking at the top target for the Democratic attorneys general.”


The line of the night might have gone to former Gov. Nathan Deal, who said he got so tired of people asking him if he missed politics he had to come up with a snappy comeback.

“I thank God he got me out of Egypt before he sent the plagues.”


Former Democratic U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney was widely condemned by diplomats, Jewish groups and a bipartisan group of lawmakers Monday for a tweet that blamed “Zionists” for the Sept. 11 attacks perpetrated by Al-Qaeda terrorists.

Anat Sultan-Dadon, the Israeli consul general based in Atlanta, called McKinney’s message “an outrageous expression” of anti-Semitism.

“This is not merely an enraging blood libel. This is dangerous,” she said. “No matter where you stand, such virulent hate must be unequivocally condemned by all.”

And Dov Wilker of the American Jewish Committee said her remarks are a disgrace to the memory of the 3,000 people murdered by Al Qaeda terrorists in 2001.

“She should have her Twitter account and any other social media profiles suspended,” said Wilker. “This type of hatred does not belong in our society and especially not in Georgia.”

U.S. Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., echoed that in a tweet.

“This is antisemitic. It is hateful. It is misguided and ignorant. This post, and posts like it, need to be handled immediately by @Twitter,” he wrote.

McKinney became defined by her anti-Semitic and anti-Israel rhetoric during her six terms in the U.S. House and her failed 2008 bid for the presidency.

Her tweet on Monday brought new calls on social media to strip her name from the stretch of Memorial Drive on Atlanta’s east side that honors her.


Gov. Brian Kemp is launching the statewide kickoff for his campaign on July 10 at an interesting locale. It won’t be in his hometown of Athens, nor in densely populated, TV-friendly metro Atlanta, or even his favored stomping grounds of coastal Georgia.

Instead, Kemp is headed for the Georgia National Fairgrounds in Perry, blazing hot in the summer and the beating heart of the state’s agriculture industry.

Perry is also the backyard of former Gov. Sonny Perdue, who was most recently Donald Trump’s top official at the USDA and is still angling to be the next chancellor of Georgia’s higher education system, with Kemp’s support...


The Wall Street Journal editorial board has weighed in against the recent Department of Justice lawsuit against Georgia.

In the editorial, the board also came to the defense of Georgia House Speaker David Ralston, whose interview with FYN (Fetch Your News) in April of 2020 is cited by the DOJ as evidence that the legislature passed SB 202 with “knowledge of the disproportionate effect” the bill would have on Black voters.

As proof of animus, the feds point to an interview by House Speaker David Ralston, who said that mass mail voting could “drive up turnout" and be “extremely devastating to Republicans."

The lawsuit doesn't mention that in the same interview Mr. Ralston cited “a multitude of reasons why vote by mail, in my view, is not acceptable." One, security: “You send a ballot application into a home on a mass scale, as has been proposed to do, and you don't know who's going to vote the ballot." Two, privacy, in case election officials mass-mailed ballots with “personal data" already filled out. In any case, last year's emergency measures in a 100-year pandemic are not a reasonable baseline today.

- The Wall Street Journal

A final point from the wide-ranging editorial: Georgia’s election officials “refused to indulge (Donald Trump’s) unsupported claims that voter fraud cost him the election.”

In other words, Joe Biden won Georgia- and the state’s GOP election officials rightly defended the results after he did.


For more proof that the fight over voting-- in Georgia and around the country-- has only just begun, U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar announced Monday that the Senate Rules Committee will hold its first field hearing in 20 years later this month in Atlanta.

The Rules Committee oversees legislation related to voting and elections. Klobuchar chairs the committee, which also includes Georgia’s U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff.

From the announcement about the July 19 event:

“At the hearing, witnesses will testify about recently enacted legislation to restrict voting in the state and the need for basic federal standards to protect the freedom to vote.”


The U.S. House passed two bills Monday night to give American firms an edge over China in science, technology and manufacturing.

Both votes were bipartisan, with the majority of Republicans siding with Democrats to pass the bills. Along with all of Georgia’s Democrats, Georgia’s GOP U.S. Reps. Drew Ferguson, Buddy Carter, and Austin Scott also voted for the bills.

U.S. Reps. Rick Allen, Andrew Clyde, Marjorie Taylor Greene and Barry Loudermilk were among nearly 70 Republicans who voted against both measures. U.S. Rep. Jody Hice missed the votes.

The Senate passed a different version of its science and technology innovation bill earlier this month.

One crucial difference for Georgia: the House bills don’t include the word “semiconductor.” Sens. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff worked to add language to the Senate bill to boost semiconductor production in the U.S..

That would address recent supply chain issues at American car plants, including the Kia facility in West Point. Ossoff will be at the Kia plant Wednesday.

Look for the two chambers to appoint conferees to hammer out the differences between the bills soon.


Jamie Dupree reports in his Regular Order morning briefing that the House will take up a bill this week to remove Confederate statues from the U.S. Capitol, including Georgia’s statue of Alexander Hamilton Stephens.

Stephens was a former Georgia governor, U.S. House member, and the vice president of the Confederacy.

As Jamie reports, it takes a federal law to change the collection of the statues that are placed on display throughout the Capitol.

Each state sends two sculptures. Georgia’s other statue is of medical pioneer Crawford Long.


Judge Alvin Wong from the Dekalb County State Court will make history when he takes over as president of the Council of State Court Judges of Georgia this week.

From the Fulton County Daily report:

Wong's election marks the first time an Asian American has served as president of any judicial council in Georgia.

“When 130 of your peers ask you to serve, it's an honor," Wong said upon being elected at the annual Council of State Court Judges meeting held in May.

- Fulton County Daily Report


In case you missed last night’s hearing of the House and Senate redistricting committees, Democratic state Sen. Elena Parent live-tweeted nearly all of the proceedings. We didn’t see a Republican counterpart, but flag it for us if you do and we’ll post it here.


Not bad work, if you can get it. Our AJC colleague Eric Sturgis reports that the new president of Georgia State University will make a base salary of $706,700, plus $200,000 in deferred compensation and an annual allowance of $43,300.

And that doesn’t include a $125,000 signing bonus for M. Brian Blake as he prepares to take over the state’s largest institution of higher education on Aug. 9.

Salaries at the state’s three other research institutions range from $900,000 to $1.2 million and we’re happy to report your Insiders are ready to sign up in any such capacity if our services are needed.


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