The Jolt: Gary Black attacks Herschel Walker’s immigration stance

News and analysis from the politics team at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black says onions harvested too early have resulted in inferior Vidalias with shorter shelf lives.

Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black says onions harvested too early have resulted in inferior Vidalias with shorter shelf lives.

In the harshest attack yet in the GOP race for U.S. Senate, Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black launched a radio ad accusing former football standout Herschel Walker of supporting “amnesty” for undocumented immigrants.

In the minute-long ad released today, Black invoked past remarks by Walker supporting a pathway to citizenship for millions in the country illegally. He hopes to exploit an opening against Walker in the race to unseat Sen. Raphael Warnock.

“Herschel Walker sides with Biden and Warnock – Herschel supports amnesty – and citizenship for illegals.”

He’s referring to Walker’s comments in USA Today in August 2015, when the paper wrote Walker “does not agree with Trump’s most controversial position: deporting the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S.. Walker said he would like to see a plan that enables immigrants to earn citizenship.”

In a statement published Monday, Walker’s campaign didn’t distance itself from his previous comments. Instead, the statement highlighted the need to secure the border to prevent a worsening “humanitarian and illegal immigration crisis.”

Walker has soaring name recognition and Trump’s endorsement, but Black hopes his hard-line immigration stance will offer the sort of red-meat policy that can attract the former president’s supporters.

In a statement accompanying the ad, Black’s campaign tied Walker’s position to his poultry business in Texas.

Spokesman Dan McLagan pointed to a poultry supplier for Walker’s chicken company that, according to media reports at the time, operated a plant raided by federal immigration authorities in 1995.

“Amnesty and citizenship are good for his bottom line but a disaster for America,” said McLagan.

But Walker spokeswoman Mallory Blount pointed out that the candidate’s company was founded in 2002, years after the raid. And his campaign pointed to Black’s support in 2011 of temporary work permits for certain farm workers who were in the country illegally if they met stringent requirements.

“So Team Herschel is attacking Gary for opposing citizenship and amnesty, and instead wanting fines, biometric IDs and restrictions to agricultural work for those who want to legally work in agriculture?” McLagan said in response.

“Herschel’s plan is simpler: get across the border and you get citizenship. OK — let’s have a debate.”


We now have a glimpse of the fight ahead in the General Assembly over the future of the Buckhead City movement-- and it’s not going to be pretty.

The lawmakers who represent Buckhead and the City of Atlanta are all Democrats and uniformly oppose creating a separate Buckhead City. At a Capitol press conference Monday, they listed the many ways they say splitting Atlanta apart could lead to statewide default, legislative “chaos,” and more crime in Buckhead, not less.

State Sen. Jen Jordan pointed to the public schools in Buckhead, which would still be owned and operated by APS, but Buckhead children would become ineligible to attend.

State Rep. Betsy Holland said she’d heard from law enforcement officials worried that pulling Buckhead funding out of Atlanta would hamstring the Atlanta Police Department and lead to more crime throughout the Metro region.

And state Sen. Sonya Halpern, who lives in Buckhead, said she was at the Publix on Peachtree Battle minutes before a fatal shooting there. “I understand the fear,” she said. But added that a new mayor, not a new city, should solve the crisis.

But the toughest words came from state Sen. Nan Orrock, a veteran lawmaker who warned not to assume all Republicans at the General Assembly will support a bill to deannex Buckhead.

“All of these legislators, regardless of party, understand the realities back in their districts and they wouldn’t want this bulldozer coming at them in their communities.”

And she had a word about Bill White, the newish New York transplant leading the Buckhead City effort, calling him, “some guy who moved here two years ago. I don’t know why he isn’t in New York dividing that up.”

In a lengthy response, White called the press conference “hyperbolic drivel and scaremongering.”


On Sunday, Stacey Abrams headed to Virginia to stump for former Gov. Terry McAuliffe. On Monday, her GOP rivals took to social media to critique her return to the campaign trail.

One that caught our eye was a video that captured Abrams mistakenly saying McAuliffe was running for governor of Georgia rather than Virginia.

“If we believe that Terry McAuliffe should be the next governor of Georgia,” Abrams said at the rally, before launching into an argument for her fellow Democrat’s comeback bid in Virginia.

That drew a response from the campaign of Gov. Brian Kemp, which is treating Abrams as if she’s already launched a rematch campaign.

Kemp spokesman Tate Mitchell noted a 2018 misstatement from Abrams during her statewide campaign, when she erroneously mentioned a “Glasgow County” in Georgia. No such county exists, though Glascock County does. She meant to refer to the tiny community of Glasgow in Thomas County, which had been hit hard by Hurricane Michael.

“Unfortunately for Stacey, Terry McAuliffe’s far-left policies wouldn’t sell any better in Georgia than her own,” tweeted Mitchell. “But maybe her and Terry can run in Glasgow County!”


U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams has introduced legislation to name the main post office in Atlanta after Congressman John Lewis, her predecessor in office. Rep. Buddy Carter, a Republican, is also assisting in the effort which, according to congressional rules, will require the support of Georgia’s entire delegation.

The House bill already has more than 100 cosponsors, Williams’ office says, and Sen. Raphael Warnock is introducing companion legislation in that chamber. In a news release, Williams said the post office at 3900 Crown Road Southwest in Hapeville would see it’s official name changed to the “John R. Lewis Post Office Building.”


Georgia U.S. Sens. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock have both signed onto a letter requesting information from the Justice Department on how the federal government will protect local elections workers.

The letter, signed by 17 other Democratic senators, asks Attorney General Merrick Garland to update lawmakers on work done by the department’s Election Threats Task Force, which was created in July.

The letter also asks for the Justice Department to provide statistics broken down by state on threats to election workers, as well as the outcome of investigations of those threats. In Georgia and especially in metro Atlanta, election workers all the way up to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger faced threats of intimidation and violence surrounding the 2020 general election.


The Republican National Committee is planning to open its first Black American Engagement Center in Georgia on Wednesday evening in College Park.

Ronna McDaniel, RNC chairwoman, and Paris Dennard, who serves as the RNC’s national spokesman and director of Black media affairs are both scheduled to deliver remarks. The goal of the center is to engage with Black voters and other underserved communities ahead of the 2022 midterms.

An outreach center for Asian American and Pacific Islander voters opened in September.


Former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell died on Monday due to complications from COVID-19. Although he was fully vaccinated, Powell was immunocompromised and, at 84-years-old, at high-risk for the virus’s most severe effects.

His death sparked an outpouring of response, including from Georgia members of Congress:

U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock: “When I think of Sec. Powell, I think of a trailblazer, barrier-breaker, soldier & patriot who dedicated his life in service to our country.”

U.S. Rep. Jody Hice: “Colin Powell was an American patriot who dedicated his life in service to our republic. As both a soldier and statesman, Powell’s many selfless sacrifices on behalf of America serve as an example to us all.”

U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop: “He was a trailblazer, most notably the first African American to serve as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the first to serve as U.S. Secretary of State. He was a battle-hardened warrior who knew the value of leading with diplomacy. He was an inspiration and beacon of hope to generations of service members who followed him — especially Black Soldiers who saw in him the possibility of their own potential.”

U.S. Rep. Austin Scott: “Sec. Powell dedicated his life to service to our country, and his life and leadership will continue to inspire Americans for generations to come.”


Gov. Brian Kemp has a new policy director.

He tapped Brad Bohannon, a high-level Lottery staffer, on Monday to serve as his office’s director of government affairs and policy. That role was previously filled by Lauren Curry, who was recently promoted to be the state’s chief operating officer.


As always, Jolt readers are some of our favorite tipsters. Send your best scoop, gossip and insider info to, and

Sign Up to receive the Morning Jolt & AJC Politics newsletters in your inbox.