The Jolt: Georgia Democrats have more resources, more to defend in 2022

201021-Atlanta- Rev. Raphael Warnock holds a press conference before voting Wednesday morning, October 21, 2020 at State Farm Arena in downtown Atlanta. Ben Gray for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Ben Gray

Credit: Ben Gray

201021-Atlanta- Rev. Raphael Warnock holds a press conference before voting Wednesday morning, October 21, 2020 at State Farm Arena in downtown Atlanta. Ben Gray for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Georgia Democrats are used to mostly playing offense. This cycle they’ll need to play both sides of the court, defending U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock’s seat while also trying to flip other statewide races. And they’re amassing the resources to do it.

Consider this: At this stage in the 2018 cycle, the state party had about $420,000 in cash on hand. Now, the party has roughly $1.7 million in the bank.

State Democrats have also beefed up their staffing from five employees in early 2018 to 27 in 2022. That includes new positions like a director of digital organizing and deputies targeting Black, Asian-American and Latinx voters.

The party had organized just 95 active county committees in early 2018 and 117 in early 2020. Now it has 130 active county committees. And it’s ramped up small-dollar contributors, netting 58,000 donors who gave an average of $26.

Democrats also have more to defend than they did in 2018, when the party boasted just four U.S. House members, 18 state senators and 62 state representatives.

Now Democrats hold both U.S. Senate seats, six U.S. House seats, 22 state Senate seats and 77 state House seats.


Lisa Cook, the Georgia native who is in line to become the first Black woman nominated to the Federal Reserve Board, will appear before the U.S. Senate Banking Committee this morning for a nomination hearing.

Both of Georgia’s senators, Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, are members of the committee and will likely share supportive comments during the meeting. In a written statement sent ahead of the hearing, Cook shares how her life story contributed to her philosophy on economic and monetary policy.

“My convictions were shaped by my upbringing in Milledgeville, Georgia,” she wrote. “It was the desegregating South, and both sides of my family were promoting nonviolent change alongside our family friend, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. While my sisters, Pamela and Melanie, and I were integrating our schools and pools, my parents were integrating their places of work.”

The hearing starts at 8:45 a.m. and can be streamed here.


POSTED: After a year in office, President Joe Biden has seen his approval rating tumble among Black voters, and that change could spell trouble for Democrats in the midterms.

A poll conducted in late January by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution found that 60% of Black voters in Georgia approved of how Biden is doing his job. That was a 20-point drop from an AJC poll in May.

Interviews with voters suggest the reasons behind Biden’s lagging approval ratings among Black voters — and the overall electorate — vary.

Softening support among Black voters creates real issues for Democrats, who worry the lag in enthusiasm and growing discontent will only make it harder for them to retain control of Congress after the November midterms.

However, frustration with Biden doesn’t appear to have weakened Black support for Democratic candidates on Georgia’s ballot, including gubernatorial hopeful Stacey Abrams and U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock.


UNDER THE GOLD DOME, Thursday, Feb. 3:

  • 8:00 a.m.: Committee meetings begin;
  • 10:00 a.m.: The House gavels in;
  • 10:00 a.m.: The Senate convenes.


In case you missed the state Capitol action Wednesday:

  • The Senate passed SB 369, a bill to make elections for the Gwinnett County Board of Education nonpartisan, by a vote of 32-21. The bill from state Sen. Clint Dixon, R-Buford, passed over the objections of Gwinnett’s Democrat-led delegation;
  • The House is expected to consider a separate Gwinnett County bill from state Rep. Bonnie Rich Thursday to approve new district boundaries for Gwinnett Board of Commissioners;
  • The House Governmental Affairs Committee passed cityhood referenda measures for “the City of Lost Mountain” and “the City of Vinings” in Cobb County.


Vernon Watch continues: Former Democrat Vernon Jones went on a radio show early Wednesday to declare that he was going to stay in the race for governor despite the long odds.

A few hours later, though, he added an important caveat to that message.

“My priority is — and has been since Day One — is to do whatever it takes to defeat Brian Kemp whose cowardice nearly cost us our country,” he wrote on social media. “I will always stand with President Trump in anywhere I serve.”

His advisers emphasized that last phrase: “Anywhere I serve.”

Let’s boil down what that means: Jones is still expected to drop out of the race for governor at Donald Trump’s urging and run for a U.S. House seat, perhaps with the former president’s endorsement.

The latter issue is where it gets tricky. The 10th District would seem ripe territory for Jones, given the rural area’s deep conservative leanings and support for Trump.

But the crowded field of GOP candidates obviously doesn’t want Jones to shake the race up, and Republican operatives worked furiously behind the scenes to keep Trump on the sidelines here. It might work.

Jones’ other option would be running for the mostly suburban 6th District, which was redrawn from a swing territory to a safely Republican seat that stretches from Atlanta’s northern suburbs to Dawson County.

But the candidates in that race – including attorney Jake Evans, former state Rep. Meagan Hanson and Dr. Rich McCormick – also don’t want more competition in their race and are appealing to Trump to steer clear.

There’s no easy answer for Jones, who is polling in a distant third place in the governor’s race and has struggled to shake his past liberal voting record and controversial history.


Another member of the phony Trump Georgia elector slate has spoken out, telling the Columbus-Ledger Enquirer the Trump campaign asked him to do it, and he saw it as simply keeping the former president’s legal options open. More:

“Georgia Republican Party treasurer Joseph Brannan told the Ledger-Enquirer that his intention was not to subvert democracy, but to protect Trump’s legal rights after the former president and Georgia Republican Party chair David Shafer filed a lawsuit that alleged the election result was in doubt.

“There was enough to meet the initial standard to show there were (enough) ballots in dispute,” Brannan said. “This was being asked by the (Trump) campaign. So, if it preserved his legal rights, that made sense to me. …If Biden had a lawsuit pending and the Democratic electors filed paperwork to preserve his legal challenge, I would have had no issue.”


An interesting update from the Buckhead City wars: The Morgan County Citizen reports that the Atlanta law firm Taylor English has tentatively been retained to help the Town of Buckhead keep any other Georgia city from using the same name.

The owner of a local ranch told town leaders that the name “Buckhead” is important for his own marketing, and he wants to help defend it.

In response, Buckhead City Committee leader Bill White said, in part, “Talk of attorneys sounds aggressive and indeed unfriendly.” Indeed.


Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan is using his funding-through-tax-incentive approach in an attempt to bolster nonprofit organizations that aid young adults who have “aged out” of the foster care system.

Under his proposal, sponsored by Athens Republican state Sen. Bill Cowsert, Georgians who donate up to $2,500 to qualified organizations that assist those in foster care who’ve turned 18 and have legally become an adult will be eligible for a tax credit equal to the amount of money donated. The program would be capped at $20 million per year.

Donations would be used for expenses such as a young adult’s college or technical school tuition, housing and medical costs.

Duncan said his oldest son has made friends in recent years with young adults who have gone through the foster care system.

“So, by being able to put these organizations in a better position to help, what they do is they build trust with those kids that lasts longer than one meal or one night or one week,” Duncan told our AJC colleague Maya T. Prabhu.

“They literally wrap their arms around them and help them fill those skill gaps on jobs or housing or food. They build a real relationship a lot like a parent would.”

The legislation, Senate Bill 370, received unanimous approval from the Senate Finance Committee yesterday.

It’s the second such program Duncan has championed this year. During the same meeting, the panel approved Senate Bill 361, which would create a new $100 million-a-year state tax credit allowing Georgians and corporations to target taxes they would normally pay into the state treasury to support local law enforcement.


U.S. Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux has chosen Duluth to locate her re-election campaign headquarters, and a grand opening will be held on Saturday.

“The office will serve as the focal point for organizing in the 7th district’s deeply diverse communities,” the campaign said in a media advisory.

Bourdeaux’s seat was drawn in a way that made it likely for a Democrat to win, and now she faces a primary challenge from fellow incumbent Lucy McBath who switched from the neighboring 6th District.


If you were listening to Marth Zoller’s show on WDUN radio Wednesday, you heard an all-star lineup, starting with Gov. Brian Kemp.

After that was his new nemesis and GOP primary challenger, former Sen. David Perdue. And then came Perdue’s own 2020 dragon slayer, U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff, whom Kemp recently described as a “33-year-old nobody” during an interview where he slammed Perdue’s chances of winning statewide this year after losing to Ossoff in 2021.

Each of the gentlemen appeared separately, but we’ve put in a call to the request line to see if they could be on simultaneously next time.


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