The Jolt: Gary Black, Lucy McBath pick up nods, Herschel Walker staying out of Kemp race

News and analysis from the politics team at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Who is Lucy McBath?

Who is Lucy McBath?

You can read plenty into a campaign based on endorsements. You can read just as much into decisions by big-name Republicans not to endorse anyone at all.

Let’s start with two endorsements that shouldn’t escape your radar. The first was former U.S. Rep. Doug Collins’ decision last night to back Gary Black’s Senate bid, even over new entrant Herschel Walker, in a show of support that caught the agriculture commissioner’s staff off guard.

Collins and Black have long been allies, so his endorsement was expected. It was the timing that was telling. Collins helped kick off Black’s biggest fundraiser, held at Black’s Commerce home, just days after Walker entered the Senate race.

It was also a rare moment when Collins deviated from Donald Trump, who favors Walker. And as we noted earlier this morning, Collins sent a pointed message to Walker without so much as mentioning his name.

“We need people who have the integrity Gary Black has,” said Collins, who came in third-place last year in the race that Raphael Warnock ultimately won. “I don’t care who else is running — I’m supporting Gary Black.”

The second endorsement yesterday, this time on the Democratic side, was less noticed but significant as well.

Stacey Abrams backed U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath’s re-election bid in the north Atlanta suburbs, saying that she has “not wavered on Georgia jobs and infrastructure, and she is a stalwart champion for our kids, for our democracy and more.”

Why is it so notable? Recall that McBath’s neighbor, U.S. Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux, drew the wrath of progressive groups -- and Abrams allies -- for joining other moderates with a stand that threatened to derail a $3.5 trillion social policy plan. She ultimately backed down and voted for the proposal.

Also keep in mind that Democrats are very aware that the Republican-controlled Legislature could seek to draw Bourdeaux and McBath into the same congressional district, pitting the two colleagues against each other.

That makes Abrams’ mention of McBath as someone who has “not wavered” on jobs and infrastructure all the more telling.

Now for the hard pass: Two nights ago, longshot party-switching Republican Vernon Jones tweeted out a picture with Senate candidate Herschel Walker with the hashtag “TakeGeorgiaBack.”

“We’re going to take it to the RINOs in 2022, and we’re going to take down those Liberals as well,” wrote Jones, a longtime Democratic official now trying to outflank Gov. Brian Kemp by remaking himself as a far-right conservative.

But Walker’s campaign quickly let it be known that the picture was no sign of support for Jones. In fact, we’re told that Walker was eating at the upscale Chops steakhouse in Buckhead when Jones “ambushed” him to take the picture.

A Walker spokeswoman said the GOP contender is “focused on his Senate campaign and is not getting involved in any other races this cycle.”

That above-the-fray stance is also a diss to Kemp, whom Walker backed in the 2018 general election contest against Stacey Abrams as the “clear choice for a stronger, safer and a more prosperous future.” This time, Walker’s staying away.


Speaking of Herschel Walker, he held a small fundraiser Tuesday morning that drew several notable Republicans, including Ralph Reed of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, conservative attorney Ray Smith and state Rep. Devan Seabaugh.

Attendees reported that Walker was expected to get Donald Trump’s endorsement “very soon,” which comes as no surprise given the former president’s outspoken attempts to nudge the football star into the race.


The Bitter Southerner posted an interview Tuesday with expected Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Stacey Abrams.

When she was asked about her political future, Abrams didn’t give any specifics on her plans in Georgia. “I have not decided what my next steps are politically, but I do intend one day, if the stars align, I do intend to one day run for president,” she said.

We were reminded just how heated a potential race between Abrams and Gov. Brian Kemp could become after one of your Insiders posted that Abrams interview to Twitter. Kemp’s campaign account responded: “.@staceyabrams is already running for President when she has yet to say a word about 13 American soldiers killed and hundreds of citizens left stranded in the wake of Joe Biden’s Afghanistan debacle.”


Be sure to see the front page of today’s AJC, where our editors have made their own statement about the effects of COVID-19 ripping through the state with a rare above-the-everything editorial with the headline: “Get Vaccinated. Save Lives.”


WSB-TV has the tragic news of a 13-year-old boy in Rome who died this week from COVID. His parents found him in bed Monday morning not breathing:

“He was a healthy young man, no health issues that were known," (Floyd County Coroner) Gene Proctor said. “We made a determination the boy died of respiratory failure directly related to COVID-19."

The boy was a student at Coosa Middle School in Rome. The school system released a statement to Channel 2 Action News:

“The loss of a child, at any time, under any circumstances, is a tragedy. We are heartbroken that COVID-19 has taken the life of a child. We extend our deepest sympathy to this child's family and all others who have lost a loved one to this virus."



Macon-Bibb County Schools announced Tuesday that it will move all schools in the system to virtual learning for two weeks after Labor Day.

Superintendent Dr. Curtis Jones told The Macon Telegraph:

“I am very confident our schools are safe. I believe the measures we put in place with requiring masks, socially distancing with the distance the CDC recommends, and frequent handwashing all help keep us safe. I also recognize community spread is very high; and I believe in some cases the students are bringing COVID-19 into the schools, and maybe it is spreading that way.”

Three schools and two classed in the Macon-Bibb system had already moved to virtual learning because of the amount of quarantined students.


After the final American troops departed Afghanistan Monday night, U.S. Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux released a statement remembering the 74 Georgians who lost their lives over the course of the war there. The Suwannee Democrats also said that 20 years of American engagement with the Afghan people “left a mark on their country for the better.”

But Bourdeaux added this ding on the Biden Administration:

“We must also acknowledge that the withdrawal was poorly executed. In the coming months, Congress must conduct a thorough review of what went wrong, and those responsible must be held accountable. American leadership depends on our allies trusting us to do what we say.”


U.S. Rep. Drew Ferguson, R-West Point, has joined the bipartisan effort to posthumously award the Congressional Gold Medal to the 13 service members who died last week in the bombing at the airport in Kabul as American forces worked to evacuate U.S. nationals and allies.

The measure is co-sponsored so far by 163 members of the House, including Georgia’s U.S. Reps. Marjorie Taylor Green, Barry Loudermilk, Jody Hice, Rick Allen, Buddy Carter, and Lucy McBath.

“These American heroes answered the call of duty to defend our nation, our allies, and our freedoms,” Ferguson said in a statement. “They made the ultimate sacrifice to ensure safe passage and evacuation for thousands of innocent American civilians and Afghan allies on the ground in a dangerous and impossible situation.”


We told you last month about a federal decision related to Illinois U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly, who was barred by the Federal Election Commission from raising money for state and local campaigns in her appointed position as the chairwoman of the Illinois Democratic Party.

We had been waiting for that decision because Rep. Kelly’s position with the Illinois party is nearly identical to the role that U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams occupies in Georgia-- both serving in Congress and chairing the state Democratic Party.

The Democratic Party of Georgia did not comment on the specific FEC ruling at the time.

But we confirmed this week that Williams is also limiting her fundraising efforts for the party to federal elections (U.S. House, Senate and White House) and will not be fundraising for state and local races, including what’s expected to be a nationally watched race for governor.


POSTED: Former Sen. Kelly Loeffler may be out of office, but she’s not out of Georgia politics, as one of your Insiders reports:

(Loeffler's GOP get-out-the-vote organization) Greater Georgia kicked off a “Red Belt Blitz" in Bartow, Cherokee, Floyd, Forsyth and Hall counties, a six-figure initiative that's part of a broader goal to motivate 100,000 additional conservative voters ahead of the 2022 election.

“It's an unprecedented effort we haven't had on our side," said Loeffler. “We've seen the left out-register us in the 2020 cycle. That's why it's important for us to put our resources and efforts toward this new voter registration effort."

The blitz targets some of the state's most booming counties, all GOP strongholds key to the party's 2022 fortunes. Newly released U.S. Census data showed that Forsyth grew by 43% over the last decade, making it one of the fastest growing large counties in the nation.

- The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Some of the counties that Loeffler’s targeting are also in the same area where Republicans failed to turn out for the Senate runoff elections in January and ultimately cost Republicans control of the U.S. Senate.


The Georgia House Democratic Caucus is holding a press conference this morning to urge Gov. Brian Kemp to take more steps to contain the pandemic, including a statewide mask mandate and a “unified virtual learning infrastructure” to lessen disruptions to schools.


This could be confusing: State Rep. Matthew Wilson is the biggest Democratic name in the race for insurance commissioner, and his bid to be Georgia’s first openly LGBTQ statewide officials has earned national attention.

But recently he’s Democratic drawn competition from Derrick Wilson, an insurance adjuster from Gwinnett County whose last name surely forces the other Wilson to rethink his campaign literature.

Matthew Wilson’s materials, of course, prominently feature WILSON in his visuals.


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