The Jolt: Confederate history enters a Georgia U.S. Senate race

It’s very likely that Confederate history may have just become part of a U.S. Senate race in Georgia. From today’s AJC:

Congress has pushed through legislation in veto-proof votes to rename military facilities now honoring Confederate figures.

The National Defense Authorization Act won approval this week in both the Democratic-controlled House and the Republican-controlled Senate. Lawmakers approved the measure even after President Donald Trump said he would veto any proposal that included a requirement that military bases be renamed.

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The House approved a separate measure on Tuesday, 295-to-125. The Senate version of a $740 billion defense bill was approved late Thursday on a 86-to-14 vote.

Both bills instruct the Pentagon to come up with new names for the 10 problematic bases named after Confederate military leaders. The Senate allows three years to make the changes, while the House bill demands the process be finished within one year.

In the Senate, only four Republicans voted against the measure. None of them were David Perdue or Kelly Loeffler of Georgia. Both pointed to spending that benefited military bases in the state. Loeffler specifically pointed to language that prohibits the retirement of the A-10 aircraft at Moody Air Force Base near Valdosta, but deep in her press release was this:

“...I oppose the provision dealing with the naming of military bases and am committed to working with the president to remove it from the final bill.”

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Perdue is a member of the Armed Services Committee that signed off amending the bill to include language renaming Forts Benning and Gordon in Georgia -- both named for Confederate generals.

On Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Doug Collins of Gainesville, who seeks to oust Loeffler from her Senate seat in November, was one of seven (six Republicans) Georgia members to vote against the House measure. But he was the only one to condemn the renaming of military bases:

“Congressman Collins believes that erasing our nation’s history by renaming military bases, monuments and statues is a slippery slope, and we have to draw the line somewhere,” a spokeswoman for the Gainesville representative said.

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That puts Collins more visibly Trump’s side of the issue -- and Loeffler somewhat on the other. Earlier this month, via Twitter, the president said his administration “will not even consider the renaming of these Magnificent and Fabled Military Installations.”

“Our history as the Greatest Nation in the World will not be tampered with,” Trump said.

Collins isn’t likely to give Loeffler a pass on press release objection.. But while he may now be preparing to jab Loeffler on Confederate history, she can point to his vote against defense spending.

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U.S. Rep. Jody Hice, R-Monroe, was among five Georgia Republicans who joined Doug Collins in a Tuesday vote against the House version of a massive defense spending bill.

Hice did not mention the renaming of two Georgia military bases as a cause in the press release that followed. But he is not above trolling Democrats on the topic.

Hice has signed onto a resolution introduced by U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, that would require Congress to ban any political organization or party that has ever held a public position in support of slavery or the Confederacy.

The Democratic party, in other words. From Gohmert:

“Since people are demanding we rid ourselves of the entities, symbols, and reminders of the repugnant aspects of our past, then the time has come for Democrats to acknowledge their party’s loathsome and bigoted past, and consider changing their party name to something that isn’t so blatantly and offensively tied to slavery, Jim Crow, discrimination, and the Ku Klux Klan.”

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From Plains, Ga., Jeff Hullinger of 11Alive reports that former President Jimmy Carter may have taught his last Sunday school class. From the TV station’s website:

Hope for resumption remains in Plains, Ga., but for now the Covid-19 pandemic, combined with the challenge of advancing age for the nation's oldest living president, has become too much.

“You have to convince him, he cannot teach Sunday school,” said Kim Fuller, the eldest daughter of Carter’s late brother. “I told him, ‘Uncle Jimmy, I don’t think you need to teach Sunday school,’ and he said ‘Okay.’”

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John Lewis’ funeral procession will include stops in Selma, Troy and Montgomery, Ala., before his funeral and burial in Atlanta at 11 a.m. next Thursday.

He will lie in state or repose at each locale, allowing members of the public — masks required — to file past his casket.

We don’t know much more about the funeral, to be held at historic Ebenezer Baptist Church. This is Lewis’ home church once pastored by Martin Luther King Jr. and now led by Senate candidate and pastor, the Rev. Raphael Warnock.

But we do know that a host of other events, services and a final trip across Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge are planned. More here.

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In yesterday’s Jolt, we told you about the lingering resentment among some Democrats toward the hasty process to tap a candidate to succeed Rep. John Lewis.

Maya Dillard Smith, the unsuccessful U.S. Senate candidate and one of the organizers of the backlash, is promoting a press conference today at 10 a.m. to take aim at the insider vote that led to Nikema Williams’ nomination.

They’ve dubbed their movement the “John Lewis Coalition for Democracy.” Among the speakers is Lacey Delayne, who said the late congressman would have wanted voters to “have a say in who would take over representing us.”

The crux of the argument: State law required the party to determine whether it would replace Lewis on the ballot by Monday afternoon, but it didn’t explicitly say officials needed to specify a name by that deadline.

However, this campaign so far has not drawn much reaction from party leaders. And it is unclear if rank-and-file Democrats in Congressional District 5 are as concerned with the process.

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A Fulton County Superior Court judge on Thursday ordered Gov. Brian Kemp and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms into mediation over their legal dispute about how to best respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

Even so, the Democratic-dominated legislative delegation from Fulton County late Thursday sided with Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms -- and against the court action initiated by the governor. “The lawsuit threatens Georgians’ lives,” a collective statement says.

The declaration also asserts that the lawsuit is a drain on taxpayer dollars and is “politically motivated” because the state targeted Bottoms rather than other mayors that adopted mask mandates.

As we’ve noted before, state attorneys say they singled out Atlanta because the city also pushed a “phase one” revival of coronavirus restrictions, but Bottoms’ rising national prominence surely factored into the decision as well.

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U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler has pledged to pump in at least $20 million of her own fortune into her race. But she’s still actively raising cash.

We got hold of an invite for an August event at the home of Regina and Steve Hennessy, the auto retailer who lives down the street from her estate. She’s charging $1,000 to attend and $5,600 to host.

Among the hosts are many in Georgia’s executive class: Jim Borders, Pete Correll, Jay Davis, Doug Hertz, Harold Reynolds, John Rice, Steve Selig and Ben Tarbutton.

Also listed: former U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, uber-connected lobbyist Jay Morgan and Guy Millner, a former GOP nominee for governor and U.S. Senate.

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Yet another sign that the U.S. Senate race between Republican incumbent David Perdue and Democrat Jon Ossoff is tightening: The well-respected Cook Political Report shifted its rating of the Georgia contest from “leans Republican” to “toss-up.”

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President Donald Trump has cancelled plans to move the Republican National Convention to Jacksonville, citing a recent uptick in Florida of COVID-19 cases. Business meetings will still be held in Charlotte, N.C., the original convention location.

Although a handful of Georgia Republicans had told your Insiders they planned to attend the convention, they were cagey about whether that meant trips to Charlotte, Jacksonville or both.

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Everytown for Gun Safety’s political arm is spending $500,000 on a digital ad campaign in support of U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath’s re-election campaign and key state House seats that Democrats hope to flip.

McBath once worked for the gun control organization, and its support was a key component of her 2018 victory. She faces a rematch against Karen Handel in November. The ads will appear as people stream video on Univision, Hulu, YouTube and similar platforms.

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