The Jolt: David Clark a no-show at Capitol despite vow to return, untested

Georgia State Representative David Clark is removed from the state house chamber by Georgia State Trooper Justice after refusing to take Covid-19 tests in Atlanta, Georgia on January 26th. MANDATORY CREDIT: NATHAN POSNER
Caption
Georgia State Representative David Clark is removed from the state house chamber by Georgia State Trooper Justice after refusing to take Covid-19 tests in Atlanta, Georgia on January 26th. MANDATORY CREDIT: NATHAN POSNER

Credit: Nathan Posner

Credit: Nathan Posner

Voting bills, Greene grief, and wage hikes lead the day

State lawmakers were gearing up for more disruption at the Capitol from state Rep. David Clark, the Republican who vowed to return after he was ejected from the Georgia House floor Tuesday after refusing to get tested for COVID-19, despite a chamber-wide requirement to get screened for the disease twice a week.

Clark said Tuesday he’d be back at the Capitol on Wednesday - untested - to defy the “dictator” House Speaker David Ralston after his ouster.

“I’m not falling in line. They have no right to do this,” he told one of your Insiders Tuesday. “I’m going to show back up tomorrow and try to get in. I’m going to show up every day and work for my constituents.”

But he never showed up, nor did he return calls and texts seeking comment. He doesn’t have an office to use even if he did swing by the statehouse. Ralston let Clark know he won’t have a work space at the complex until he passes a COVID test.

Clark is already known in the House as a resident rabble rouser. He has called for Ralston’s resignation and run a failed bid for Speaker in his own short tenure and is the son-in-law of Sen. Brandon Beach (R-Alpharetta), the lawmaker who signed onto a vast federal lawsuit to challenge Georgia’s election results in favor of Donald Trump.

At the very moment that Clark was staging his germ-in Tuesday morning, Gov. Brian Kemp stood one floor below in the Capitol to begin a press conference on the state’s furious efforts to distribute enough coronavirus vaccines just to cover the first phase of vulnerable, elderly Georgians.

Some of those Georgians were sitting in the chamber with Clark Tuesday. The Georgia House of Representatives isn’t exactly full of college athletes. Many members are themselves older and occasionally frail. Several staff, custodians, and Capitol reporters also go home to families who are immunocompromised.

Clark’s own Buford district sits about 20 minutes away from Northeast Georgia Medical Center, where the AJC has reported doctors are so overwhelmed with COVID patients they’ve begun treating some in the facility’s gym.

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Shortly after Marjorie Taylor Greene won a runoff to put her on the cusp to Congress, she promised to be a “nightmare” for Democrats. We posited that she could pose bigger headaches to the GOP.

Well, that’s exactly what’s happening as Republicans try to regroup after former President Donald Trump riled up his Jan. 6 rally and ignited an insurrection based on the same false claims of voter fraud that Greene continues to promote.

The left-leaning Media Matters reported Tuesday that Greene once promoted the ridiculous QAnon claim that Hillary Clinton cut off and donned the face of a child.

Next, CNN reported that Greene liked comments on Facebook suggesting the execution of FBI agents and the death of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for treason.

U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock quickly denounced the comments as “extreme violent rhetoric” and said support for the comments from a member of Congress like Greene is “dangerous and unacceptable.”

And Axios reported it’s adding up to be trouble for Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who in 2019 stripped then-Rep. Steve King of his committee assignments after King wondered aloud why terms like “white supremacy” are wrong.

On the latest the Greene revelations, a spokesman for Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told Axios, “These comments are deeply disturbing and Leader McCarthy plans to have a conversation with the Congresswoman about them.”

Greene proudly announced yesterday she was appointed to the House Education and Workforce Committee. Could she soon face a similar fate as King? Her 14th district would be the worse for it.

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Calling all Jolt fans: We’re looking for your expert feedback. What do you like about the Jolt? What should we tweak to keep making it your essential a.m. read? Tell us at patricia.murphy@ajc.com. (Thanks to the many of you we’ve already heard from.)

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Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (right) is joined by Georgia Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan (left) and Georgia Speaker of the House David Ralston (center) before the start of a press conference at Liberty Plaza, across the street from the state Capitol building in Atlanta on Monday, April 20, 2020. During the presser, Gov. Kemp revealed that he planned to allow some small business owners to open back up by the end of the week. (ALYSSA POINTER / Alyssa.Pointer@AJC.com)
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Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (right) is joined by Georgia Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan (left) and Georgia Speaker of the House David Ralston (center) before the start of a press conference at Liberty Plaza, across the street from the state Capitol building in Atlanta on Monday, April 20, 2020. During the presser, Gov. Kemp revealed that he planned to allow some small business owners to open back up by the end of the week. (ALYSSA POINTER / Alyssa.Pointer@AJC.com)

When the “Big Three” in Georgia politics agree on a legislative proposal, it usually means the idea is on a glide path to becoming law. That’s now the case for the idea of requiring some form of ID for absentee ballots.

Gov. Brian Kemp and Speaker David Ralston endorsed the idea earlier this month. Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan followed suit on Tuesday, saying the best step toward “modernizing” elections in Georgia is “for us to just look for an opportunity to create a photo ID process.”

None of the three has endorsed more far-reaching proposals backed by some Senate Republicans like ending no-excuse absentee voting, signaling that that proposal is likely to stall out this year.

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Sen. Warnock says he’ll be an ‘impartial juror’ in 2nd impeachment trial of President Donald Trump
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Sen. Warnock says he’ll be an ‘impartial juror’ in 2nd impeachment trial of President Donald Trump

U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock took his first turn presiding over the Senate floor Tuesday morning and announced in the afternoon he’ll be a lead sponsor of S. 1, the Senate version of H.R. 1, which would expand voter rights and reform campaign finance laws.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Amy Klobuchar are also on the bill, but Warnock will be the Democrats’ point person. The high-profile assignment is most certainly designed to boost his resume and legislative chops as he prepares to run for re-election 2022.

The U.S. House passed a similar voting rights bill last session, but it stalled out in the Republican-led Senate. With Democrats now in charge of both chambers, the sweeping set of reforms is back as a top priority.

It’s also directly at odds with changes to voting being contemplated by GOP lawmakers at the state Capitol. While state-level Republicans are looking to remove drop boxes and add restrictions to mail-in voting, S. 1 expressly requires drop boxes and prohibits states from imposing restrictions on voters’ ability to vote by mail.

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Warnock and U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff signed onto a bill Tuesday that backs President Joe Biden’s plan to raise the federal minimum wage to $15.

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We’re told Democrat Nakita Hemingway plans to run for agriculture commissioner next year.

The Dacula resident describes herself as a farmer and small business owner and is the first Democrat this cycle to challenge Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black, a three-term Republican with a deep network of rural supporters.

Hemingway was narrowly defeated by state Rep. Chuck Efstration last year, and her agenda is set to include a call to legalize marijuana and promote urban farming.

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We are learning more about the committee assignments and leadership positions that will be held by the newest members of Georgia’s U.S. House delegation. Some highlights:

-U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath will serve as one of two vice chairs of the Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues;

-U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene announced she will serve on the House Education and Labor Committee;

-U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams will serve on the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress. Former Georgia Congressman Tom Graves was the committee’s original co-chairman.

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Under the Gold Dome today:

  • The House gavels in at 10 am;
  • The Senate convenes at 10 am;
  • Gov. Brian Kemp holds a press conference off site on human trafficking at 3:15;
  • House and Senate committee meetings throughout the day.