The Jolt: Even the Georgia General Assembly has Bulldog Fever

News and analysis from the politics team at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
1/9/22 - Indianapolis - Except for the center logo, the field appears to be ready at the scene of the 2022 College Football Playoff National Championship  between the Georgia Bulldogs and the Alabama Crimson Tide at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on Sunday, January 9, 2022.   Bob Andres /



1/9/22 - Indianapolis - Except for the center logo, the field appears to be ready at the scene of the 2022 College Football Playoff National Championship between the Georgia Bulldogs and the Alabama Crimson Tide at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on Sunday, January 9, 2022. Bob Andres /

Good morning from the opening day of the 2022 Georgia General Assembly, where lawmakers gaveled in and quickly gaveled out Monday morning to send the chambers’ many UGA fans on their way to Indianapolis for tonight’s national championship football game.

With a “Go dawgs!” and a rendition of “Glory, glory to old Georgia,” the House adjourned just after 9:00 a.m..

Among the super-fans headed to the game tonight are Gov. Brian Kemp, House Speaker David Ralston, Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, and many, many others. We’ll have Insider eyes on the action, as well.

Although we reported that Senate president pro tem Butch Miller would be with Bulldog nation, he will, in fact, remain in Atlanta collecting signatures for his bill to eliminate drop boxes in future elections.

The House and Senate are expected to be in recess Tuesday as leaders make their way back to Atlanta, with the schedule back on track early Wednesday with the Georgia Chamber’s annual Eggs & Issues breakfast. Gov Brian Kemp will then deliver his State of the State address Thursday morning.

We’ve got a look ahead at the top players to watch, key issues, and everything else you need to know as the session gets underway.

Lawmakers, staff and lobbyists were back in person Sunday night for the Wild Hog Supper at the Georgia Freight Depot.

The event is the traditional kickoff for the legislative session and last night featured Agriculture Commissioner (and U.S. Senate hopeful) Gary Black and Georgia House Speaker David Ralston.

One notable VIP in the crowd: Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens, making the rounds as the General Assembly prepares to consider a cityhood effort to split the Buckhead neighborhood away from Atlanta.

We’re told the mayor and Speaker Ralston connected and had a “pleasant, brief conversation.”

Along with Buckhead cityhood and the required state budget, look for the General Assembly to take up legislation to loosen gun restrictions, add more changes to state election laws, address “parental involvement in school,” and other hot button issues at the start of the election year.

With multiple lawmakers seeking statewide office, look also for bills on additional abortion restrictions, Critical Race Theory, and changes to the state income tax.

Now barred from fundraising until the end of the session, with the new exception of leadership PACs, lawmakers will be looking to at least raise their profiles if they can’t be raising campaign funds.



  • 8:30 a.m.: The House gavels in for a brief session;
  • 10:00 a.m.: The Senate convenes to do the same.


One Georgia fan who won’t be in Indianapolis may be the best known of all-- U.S. Senate candidate Herschel Walker.

We’re told the Heisman trophy winner and star of the 1980 UGA national championship team will watch the game from his home in Atlanta.


Speaking of Herschel Walker, we’ve noticed the Senate hopeful continuing to make media appearances from his home in Texas from time to time, including last week for Doug Flutie’s Sirius XM radio show and a Tweet he posted New Year’s Day.

Walker’s spokeswoman tells us he spent most of the Christmas holiday in his hometown of Wrightsville, but flew to Texas for a few days to see family.


One lawmaker to expect Monday in the Capitol is state Rep. Calvin Smyre, the Democrat from Columbus who has been nominated by President Joe Biden to be U.S. ambassador to the Dominican Republic.

Smyre tells us his nomination is moving through the confirmation process in the U.S. Senate, but he expects to have time to be in the chamber for at least part of one last session before shipping out to the Caribbean.


President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will visit Atlanta Tuesday to push for federal voting rights legislation from the campuses of Clark Atlanta University and Morehouse College.

They will also make a stop at the King Center on Auburn Avenue to lay a wreath in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King, with a visit then planned for Ebenezer Baptist Church nearby.

But the visit comes over the objections of some local voting rights groups, which put out a strongly worded statement last week warning the White House not to use Atlanta as a backdrop “without signs of real, tangible work,” too.

That leaves a question mark for Biden and Harris about the reception they’ll get from the same activists who helped Democrats carry Georgia in 2020 and win two U.S. Senate seats in 2021.

As of Sunday night, the White House had not reached out to the leaders of the New Georgia Project, Black Voters Matter or the other groups that signed the statement.

If Biden and Harris’ speech doesn’t have the deliverables that Democrats have been asking, their visit to Atlanta could leave some Black voters even more frustrated with them as the midterm elections approach.


POSTED: Atlanta attorney Charlie Bailey has dropped his bid for attorney general and will run instead for lieutenant governor.

With Bailey’s move, state Sen. Jen Jordan will now become the presumptive Democratic nominee to challenge AG Chris Carr.

Bailey told one of your Insiders that party leaders had encouraged him to swap races, but the Democratic field for the LG spot is already filling up.

Already in the race for the Democrats are state Rep. Erick Allen of Smyrna; state Rep. Derrick Jackson of Tyrone; Bryan Miller, grandson of former Gov. Zell Miller; and state Rep. Renitta Shannon of Decatur.


State Sen. Jen Jordan announced Monday that she has raised more than $1.3 million this cycle for her challenge to Georgia attorney general Chris Carr.

The Atlanta Democrat now has more than $1 million cash-on-hand heading into the 2022 legislative session.


Two Georgia attorneys who were deep in the weeds of former President Donald Trump’s Stop the Steal effort hosted a fundraiser last week for high-ranking Georgia judges, WSB’TV’s Justin Gray reports.

From Gray:

The invite to the fundraiser for three sitting Georgia Supreme Court Justices and three Appeals Court judges says it is hosted by Brad Carver and Alex Kaufman.

On the infamous January 2020 phone call between Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, Alex Kaufman is the “Alex" referred to by White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows as one of the “attorneys that represent the President" listening in on the call.

Brad Carver was one of the separate slates of GOP electors hoping to be counted by the US House of Representatives instead of the rightful, legal electors chosen by Georgia voters.


The judges’ campaigns referred Gray to newly retired former Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Harold Melton, who defended the fundraiser.

“Because somebody took a position in court doesn’t mean we banish that person from civic engagement,” Melton said.


Gov. Brian Kemp has tapped Ana Maria Martinez to a state court judgeship in DeKalb County.

Martinez is the president of the Latino Law Foundation and one of the first Latinas to serve on the judicial bench in Georgia.


The U.S. House is scheduled to reconvene this evening for a quorum call to kick off 2022, but the Omicron variant is having an effect inside the Capitol just as it is everywhere else.

Lawmakers are announcing new coronavirus infections, although most are vaccinated and reporting mild symptoms, if any. Sunday, New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said she had tested positive.

Mask mandates are still in force, and the House physician has now recommended offices return to working remotely as much as possible.

The Senate is in session this week, too, with much of the focus on confirming more of President Joe Biden’s appointments.

We’ll also be looking to see if Sen. Joe Manchin shows any openness to relaxing filibuster rules in order to pass voting legislation, and if senators can find a compromise on the Build Back Better climate change and social services legislation.


From the personnel department, U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock’s campaign is staffing up, with Sarafina Chitika coming on board as campaign press secretary.

Chitika is an alumn of the Atlanta Girls’ School, Harvard University, and the Elizabeth Warren for President campaign.


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