The Jolt: Could Michael Thurmond be Democrats’ Plan B if Stacey Abrams doesn’t run?

News and analysis from the politics team at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
June 6, 2019 Atlanta - Dekalb County CEO Michael Thurmond speaks during the DNC’s IWillVote Gala at Flourish Atlanta on Thursday, June 6, 2019. White House hopefuls court Georgia: Presidential candidates swarmed Atlanta on Thursday for a convention geared at African-American strategists and a joint fundraiser featuring four of the best known Democratic contenders on the same stage. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

June 6, 2019 Atlanta - Dekalb County CEO Michael Thurmond speaks during the DNC’s IWillVote Gala at Flourish Atlanta on Thursday, June 6, 2019. White House hopefuls court Georgia: Presidential candidates swarmed Atlanta on Thursday for a convention geared at African-American strategists and a joint fundraiser featuring four of the best known Democratic contenders on the same stage. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

Will DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond run for governor on the Democratic ticket in 2022 if Stacey Abrams does not?

That was the question posed to him Friday on GPB’s Political Rewind with Bill Nigut during a conversation about when, or even if, Abrams will get into the race.

“I’m always interested,” Thurmond told Maria Saporta. “Hope springs eternal in every political heart, but we’ll see what the future brings.”

Although Abrams has been widely expected to seek a rematch against Gov. Brian Kemp in 2022, her continued silence on her plans has led to increased speculation inside the party about what they’d do if she had a last-minute change of heart.

But Abrams remains so dominant inside the party, no other Democrat has discussed running, until now.

Thurmond made clear he’d wait for an announcement from Abrams. “She has a right to make a decision and to challenge (Kemp) and I’m going to respect that.”

With one year left until Election Day in 2022, several antsy Democrats have reached out to Thurmond about a possible run, particularly in light of the fact that he’s been elected statewide three times as Georgia Labor Commissioner. He is also a former member of the state House and superintendent of DeKalb schools.

Most Democratic insiders – and Abrams allies – still believe she will run. Thurmond is not particularly close to Abrams and the two hold competing political philosophies.

On Friday, Thurmond said the GOP win in Virginia showed the need for Democrats to appeal to a broad coalition of progressives, moderates, and even disaffected Republicans to win statewide in Georgia. But Abrams has encouraged the party to embrace authentic liberal values.

As Greg has written recently, Abrams’ advocates are privately dismissing Virginia as an off-year anomaly, since Kemp and other Republicans GOP leaders won’t be able to keep former President Donald Trump at arm’s length as Glenn Youngkin did.

Kemp must contend, too, with the threat of a primary challenge from former U.S. Sen. David Perdue. If Perdue runs, both men would be drawn toward the party’s far-right flank and leave the nominee weakened for a run against the Democratic nominee, no matter who it is.



11:00 a.m.: The House gavels in;

1:00 p.m.: The Senate convenes;

1:00 p.m.: The House Legislative and Congressional Reapportionment Committee meets.

- Additional committees meeting throughout the day.


When a Georgia Senate committee voted Friday to advance a GOP version of the chamber’s political maps, it might as well have happened in the “dark of night.

That’s how state Sen. Elena Parent described a vote that took place as the Atlanta Braves parade roared by the Capitol, drawing nearly every ounce of Georgians’ attention, even as lawmakers gave initial approval for district lines that will affect policies in the state for the next decade.

The AJC’s Maya T. Prabhu was there to shine light on the process. She reports that the Senate Reapportionment and Redistricting Committee voted 9-4 to approve the proposed maps, just three days after they were released to the public.

The maps will now go to the full Senate for consideration, likely Tuesday, after a stop today in the Senate Rules Committee.


The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Democrats’ $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill with, yes, bipartisan support. In fact, without the 13 Republicans voting “aye” on the bill, it would have failed, since a half-dozen progressive Democrats voted no.

There was no crossover among Georgia’s delegation, however; all six Democrats were in favor of the bill and all eight Republicans opposed.

The progressives who voted against the infrastructure bill said they were unhappy that there was not also a final vote on the $1.9 trillion social spending and climate change package Friday night.

Although that didn’t happen, the House did take procedural votes on the measure and it will be back on the floor the week of Nov. 15 when Congress returns from its weeklong recess.

Tia has a full rundown of Friday night’s votes, including details of what’s in the infrastructure bill for Georgia and how members of our delegation reacted to all the action.


U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock is planning a series of meetings and events across the state this week to tout the results of the infrastructure bill for Georgia-- and to push for the social services bill still in the works.

Look for Warnock in Atlanta, Fayetteville, Macon, Milledgeville, Jefferson, and Commerce talking about those topics, as well as veterans issues as Veterans Day approaches Thursday.


U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff is doing some traveling of his own, but the senior senator from Georgia has been a little further afield.

Over the weekend, Ossoff spoke at the COP26 Climate Summit in Glasgow, Scotland.

“Human flourishing requires a healthy and livable habitat and that is the choice that is presented to humanity at this moment,” he said in his remarks.

Ossoff told the group that the U.S. Congress is poised to pass major legislation to reduce carbon emissions and accelerate the transition to renewable energy.


In Atlanta, City Council president Felicia Moore picked up the endorsements of a half-dozen Black lawmakers on Monday as she heads toward a Nov. 30 runoff for mayor against Councilman Andre Dickens.

Moore landed the support of Democratic state Reps. Roger Bruce, Park Cannon, Edna Jackson Sheila Jones and Dewey McClain. She also earned the blessing of state Sen. Emanuel Jones.

Each touted Moore’s record in public office and her ability to work with regional and state leaders – no small consideration in a state Capitol where Atlanta is now a favorite target of Republicans.


After Senate candidate Herschel Walker agreed to speak to the Cobb GOP, the interest was so overwhelming that organizers had to move the event from the local headquarters to a sprawling nearby church.

Roughly 400 people attended Walker’s speech on Sunday, where the former football star was introduced with the University of Georgia’s fight song.

He vowed to oppose efforts to “defund the police” – an idea also opposed by U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock – and bashed liberals for “distracting” people with talk of racism while they pass left-leaning legislation.

But he also largely steered clear of controversial topics, continuing a strategy of looking beyond the GOP primary to try to speak to the political middle.

In a sign of his focus on pocketbook issues, he attacked President Joe Biden on high gas prices, which he linked to the suspension of the Keystone Pipeline construction.

“And now what do we have? We have gas prices going out the roof. People can’t even go to the grocery stores no more to afford groceries,” Walker said.

“What we have to do is hold people accountable. It is time we hold people accountable for what they say and what they do.”

Our pal John Gillooly at the Marietta Daily Journal has the complete rundown.


Sad news from Middle Georgia, where former state Sen. Ross Tolleson has died, WMAX-TV reports.

The Perry native served in the state Senate from 2003 to 2015, including as chairman of the House Natural Resources and Environment Committee. He is widely credited with laying the groundwork for Georgia’s recent win at the U.S. Supreme Court in its battle over water rights.

Gov. Brian Kemp wrote on Twitter that he and his family are heartbroken at the news of Tolleson’s passing.


A Instagram story over the weekend turned heads in Georgia Republican circles among politicos looking for any clue indicating whether former U.S. Sen. David Perdue will dare challenge Gov. Brian Kemp.

The image was posted by Perdue aide Austin Chambers at a concert with Taylor Brown, one of the state’s top Republican strategists and a veteran of Kelly Loeffler’s campaign. The caption: “#TeamOutsiders.”


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