The Jolt: David Perdue staffs up with seasoned GOP operatives ... and Kemp allies

News and analysis from the politics team at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Former Senator David Perdue (R-GA) speaks at the Georgia GOP State Convention in Jekyll Island, Georgia on June 5th, 2021. Nathan Posner for the Atlanta-Journal-Constitution

Credit: Nathan Posner

Credit: Nathan Posner

Former Senator David Perdue (R-GA) speaks at the Georgia GOP State Convention in Jekyll Island, Georgia on June 5th, 2021. Nathan Posner for the Atlanta-Journal-Constitution

Former U.S. Sen. David Perdue has loaded his campaign for governor with experienced operatives, including several strategists who were once allied with GOP incumbent Brian Kemp.

It’s an indication that the former senator’s bid to unseat Kemp will be a professional operation not to be taken lightly.

Perdue’s close aide, Austin Chambers, was tapped as the general consultant for the campaign. And Heath Thompson was hired as Perdue’s TV media strategist.

Chambers worked to boost Kemp’s campaign through the Republican Governors Association in 2018. Thompson was a consultant for Kemp in the 2018 campaign.

The campaign manager is also a familiar name in Kemp World. Taylor Brown, who ran then-U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler’s campaign shortly after Kemp appointed her to the office, will serve in that role for Perdue.

Other hires include: Tony Fabrizio as a consultant and pollster; Jenni Sweat as communications director; McKenzie Vaughn as finance director; Sarah Collins as campaign deputy director; Jonathan Salazar as field director; and Taylor Crowe as political director.

The staff is a mix of Perdue veterans and newcomers to his orbit. We’re told several field staffers from Glenn Youngkin’s winning campaign for governor in Virginia are on the ground in Georgia, and to expect more hires to come.


Newly installed Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens took his oath of office Monday afternoon on the field of a brisk Bobby Dodd Stadium, where the new mayor noted he had once worked as an usher during Georgia Tech football games as a student there.

In his inaugural speech, Dickens pledged to work “from can’t see morning to can’t see evening to ensure that this city is safe, is clean, and equitable for all of its citizens.”

He also pinpointed public safety as his top priority and said he’d spend his first 100 days “laser focused on reducing crime with a particular emphasis on balancing our safety and justice. We will beat back the scourge of crime.”

And he made it clear that stopping the Buckhead secession movement will get his early attention, too.

“We don’t need separate cities,” he said. “We must be one city with one bright future.”


One day after having her Twitter account permanently shuttered, U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene also received a one-day suspension from Facebook.

The suspension came after the Rome Republican posted some of the same COVID-19 vaccine misinformation that got her banned from Twitter.

While Facebook said the post violated its Community Standards and blocked her access for 24 hours, the company says its policies don’t allow for deleting her account altogether.

Former President Donald Trump put out a statement Monday night saying the two popular social media networks were being unfair to Greene’s supporters and encouraging a boycott of these services.

“Keep fighting, Marjorie,” he wrote.


Republican Chris West is amassing early support for his bid to unseat Democratic U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop in southwest Georgia.

The Thomasville attorney raised more than $100,000 in two weeks. He also is holding a Jan. 25 fundraiser in his hometown that includes dozens of hosts.


Credit: Fil

icon to expand image

Credit: Fil


The Cobb GOP candlelight vigil for insurrectionists isn’t the only “homage to treason” on Jan. 6. A group called Look Ahead America will have a ceremony at Hobgood Park in Woodstock at 6 p.m. on Thursday.


Along with Mayor Dickens’ swearing in, Monday’s inaugural event at Bobby Dodd Stadium included oaths of office for new City Council President Doug Shipman, the entire Atlanta City Council, and the judges of the Atlanta Municipal Court.

Spotted in the audience were former Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed, U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, Georgia Tech president Angel Cabrera, U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath, and U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams, whose district covers much of the city.

Former Atlanta mayors Shirley Franklin and Keisha Lance Bottoms were both on stage and on the program speaking ahead of Dickens.


Atlanta City Council President Doug Shipman’s first day in office included one of his biggest jobs-- naming the members and chairs of the council’s seven committees.

The AJC’s J.D. Capelouto has the list of chairs.


Former Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms is the subject of a New York magazine article that attempts to get to the root causes of her decision not to run for a second term.

The article focuses on the many challenges Bottoms faced during her tenure, including the ransomware attack and COVID-19, before focusing more intensely on the rising crime that coincided with protests over policing and social justice.

Bottoms also gave a clue about her own thinking when she opted out of running for reelection.

“My assessment has not been any different than Simone Biles’s or Naomi Osaka’s or Calvin Ridley’s, any number of other people who said, ‘I’m putting my emotional and mental health first,’ " she said.


The Omicron variant of COVID-19 has gotten a reputation as a less severe form of the virus, but Georgia’s hospital systems are reporting newly severe capacity issues nonetheless.

The Augusta Chronicle reports that University Hospital’s “prompt care” locations limited their hours for new patient visits because of an influx of people seeking testing and treatment.

And the Rome News-Tribune reports vaccination rates in that region lag the state and national averages.

Only 43% of the population of Floyd County is fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and just 32% have received a booster shot.

That's slightly higher than other counties in the region. Bartow, Chattooga, Gordon and Polk have yet to break or have barely broken the 40% vaccination threshold.

According to CDC data, 62% of the approximately 330 million people in the U.S. are fully vaccinated. Only a third of the population has also received a booster vaccination. In Georgia, 53% of the population is fully vaccinated, with 30% having received a booster dose.

- Rome News-Tribune


Nabilah Islam, a Democrat in Gwinnett County, will run for a newly drawn open state Senate seat there, she tells your Insiders.

Already running for that seat is state Rep. Beth Moore.

It’s not the 32-year-old activist’s first run for office. She finished in third place with 12% of the vote in 2020 in the Democratic primary for the 7th Congressional District seat that U.S. Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux won.


Atlanta City Councilman Matt Westmoreland came out as a member of the LGBTQ+ community in a message he shared on Instagram and Twitter. He later specified to the Saporta Report that he identifies as gay.

Westmoreland, who recently won a third term on the council, said he decided to speak out both to serve as an example to young people and also to overcome his own fears.

He joins three other openly LGBTQ members on the board, including Liliana Bakhtiari, Alex Wan, and Keisha Waites, according to Project Q.


From the personnel department, Politico Playbook reports U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff has a new press secretary. Daniela Campos heads to the Georgian’s Senate office after a stint as press secretary to U.S. Rep. Sylvia Garcia’s (D-Texas).

Jake Best, Ossoff’s communications director, continues to oversee the press shop.

Politico also notes that U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock has a new press Secretary, Elena Radding. She comes to his office after serving in a similar role for U.S. Rep. Jim Himes of Connecticut.


With Mayor Andre Dickens’ swearing in, his high school alma mater, Benjamin Mays High School, gets a hat tip for producing multiple future Atlanta leaders.

Along with Dickens, Mays alumnae Atlanta City Councilwoman Marci Collier Overstreet (class of ‘83) was also on stage Monday for the city’s inaugural events.

Other #gapol names you’d recognize as products of the southwest Atlanta high school are former Atlanta city council president Caesar Mitchell (class of ‘86), former Atlanta city council member and U.S. Rep. Kwanza Hall (president of the class of ‘89), and Cabral Franklin, the late son of Mayor Shirley Franklin who was a leading Democratic strategist in his own right.

On Monday, Hall told your Insiders of Dickens’ swearing in: “It’s a great day for Benjamin Mays High School and Atlanta!”


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