The Jolt: Georgia Democrats’ top executive plans to step down

News and analysis from the politics team at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Scott Hogan, executive director of the Democratic Party of Georgia, (left) poses with Jill Biden and Stacey Abrams during a campaign event in Decatur in October 2020. Photo courtesy of Biden campaign.

Scott Hogan, executive director of the Democratic Party of Georgia, (left) poses with Jill Biden and Stacey Abrams during a campaign event in Decatur in October 2020. Photo courtesy of Biden campaign.

Georgia Democrats are retooling for the 2022 campaign.

The party’s executive director, credited alongside chairwoman Nikema Williams for leading the organization’s 2020 strategy, is transitioning out of the role. Scott Hogan will stay on as a senior adviser and help pick his successor.

Hogan, a veteran of the Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton campaigns, was hired in June 2019 after running statewide campaigns in South Carolina and Utah in the previous cycle.

Though he was a constant presence on the campaign trail, Hogan preferred the behind-the-scenes role leading the party’s fundraising strategy, helping to develop messaging and allocating resources during the epic 2020 election.

He’ll depart as the executive director who helmed the Democratic party during a campaign that resulted in Georgia flipping blue in a presidential race for the first time since 1992 and then Democratic sweeps in the U.S. Senate runoffs.

“There are several heroines & heroes in GA who literally saved our Democracy. @hoganscott18 is in the top tier of that list,” said Jaime Harrison, the chair of the Democratic National Committee.

It was one of several personnel moves by the party. Krystal Spencer was hired as a deputy organizing director, Rebecca Galanti promoted to Communications Director and James Jelin named the Digital Director.


It’s been a bizarre start to the Jewish New Year for the state’s most venerable Jewish publication.

The Atlanta Jewish Times came under fire from left-leaning activists for posting a feature story about far-right Republican Vernon Jones, the party-switching former Democrat challenging Gov. Brian Kemp in the GOP primary.

The critics said the outlet shouldn’t have published a warm-and-fuzzy story about Jones, who is Black, because he consorted with Holocaust deniers and white supremacists as he tried to rebrand himself as a Donald Trump loyalist in 2020.

“Consciously allowing an ally of white supremacists and extremists to cleanse his public image through a prominent Jewish outlet during the High Holidays is really despicable behavior, and enables far-right antisemitism,” wrote Marisa Pyle, an organizer with Fair Fight Action, the voting rights group started by Stacey Abrams.

About 90 minutes after Pyle’s post, the outlet’s editor Kaylene Ladinsky removed the story about Jones. In a statement late Wednesday, she said the essay was “published by mistake.” Here’s the rest of the statement:

“It is our policy not to publish politically driven opinion pieces such as this one, especially from anyone this controversial. As of 7:05 p.m. the article has been taken down from our site. It would have been done sooner, but we had to wait until the Holy Day was complete. The AJT is a bi-partisan news source and we do not support white supremacists, nor extremists. We apologize for any confusion our mistake may have caused to our readers.”

Georgia gubernatorial candidate Vernon Jones makes a speech during the 17th annual Floyd County GOP Rally at the Coosa Valley Fairgrounds on Saturday, Aug. 7, 2021 in Rome. (Photo: Troy Stolt / Chattanooga Times Free Press)

Credit: Troy Stolt/Chattanooga Times Fre

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Credit: Troy Stolt/Chattanooga Times Fre


Are you sure about that? That is the gist of a letter the Federal Election Commission sent to U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s husband Perry, her campaign treasurer.

The letter asks him to certify that $3.5 million reported in small-dollar donations during the first six months of the year were all correctly logged. If any of the donors surpassed $200 in the aggregate, the letter says, then detailed information about the contributor needs to be disclosed.

Perry Greene was given about a month to either provide the information for any donors who meet the threshold or send back correspondence confirming that all of unitemized donations were from people who contributed less than $200.

We will point out that Greene, a Rome Republican, overall raised $4.8 million during this period by drawing from a vast social media following. Her support spiked nationally after Democrats stripped her of her congressional committees, and it is possible that most of her donors stuck to smaller amounts that don’t require itemizing.


Speaking of Marjorie Taylor Greene, we wanted to log a couple of other developments involving her that broke on Wednesday:

-Politico reported that neither Greene nor fellow conservative U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn are expected to participate in a rally planned for Sept. 18 in support of people imprisoned and charged with participating in the Jan. 6 rally.

Both Greene and Cawthorn received VIP invites to the “Justice for J6” rally, but their spokesmen have said they have no plans to attend. Congressional leaders and security officials are on high alert regarding the event.

-Greene received a third fine for violating mask requirements on the U.S. House floor. She did not appeal, and her paycheck was docked $2,500.

We don’t find the fine or the decision not to fight it surprising since Greene has already filed suit against Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other House staff based on her $500 citation for an earlier offense. We expect her attorneys instead to file new motions adding the latest incident to her pending case.


September 3, 2021 Atlanta: Medical workers move between buildings at Grady Memorial Hospital in downtown Atlanta on Friday, Sept. 3, 2021 as the COVID-19 cases in Georgia continue to rise, the Governor has deployed National Guard medical staff to Georgia hospitals. Gov. Brian Kemp had planned to announce next month who would be receiving shares of the $4.8 billion that Congress voted to send Georgia’s way in COVID-19 relief money. That will now have to wait until early next year. In the United States, more than 39.5 million cases have been reported, according to Johns Hopkins University, and more than 644,000 people have died from the virus in the U.S. (John Spink /


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POSTED: Grady Memorial Hospital, Georgia’s largest safety net hospital, announced Wednesday that it will suspend all non-urgent surgeries because it is overwhelmed with COVID patients, the vast majority of whom are unvaccinated.

Piedmont and Wellstar health systems said they will do the same at the most strained hospitals in their systems.

More from the AJC’s Carrie Teegardin and Helena Oliviero:

“Patients seriously ill with COVID-19 made up 34% of the state’s hospitalized patients as of Wednesday, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health. The vast majority of the 5,935 COVID-19 patients in Georgia hospitals are unvaccinated.

The current COVID patient loads statewide now exceed the previous pandemic peak reached in January, forcing hospitals back into crisis mode as they try to handle the ongoing flood of patients when their emergency departments and intensive care units are already full.

Grady Memorial Hospital went on a “total diversion” status over the weekend to try to steer ambulance traffic elsewhere because it was so crowded. But every other hospital was full, too, Haupert said, so Grady continued to care for the flood of patients coming in by ambulance, car or on foot.


How to get the unvaccinated holdouts to get vaccinated against COVID-19 is a pressing concern for public health officials.

State Rep. Ron Stephens, a Republican and a pharmacist, wrote an op-ed for the Savannah Morning News publicly pleading with the unvaxxed to get their jabs — if for no other reason than to help Savannah area hospitals that are crushed with COVID-19 patients.

“We recently surpassed over 1 million total COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic, and the delta variant continues to spread across Georgia and the rest of the country at an alarming rate. With hospitalizations increasing and case numbers rising in every corner of the state, I call upon anyone eligible to go out and receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

Protecting our community and securing our future starts with us. While it is nice to know that our local medical workers have our back and will continue to provide care for all patients, we cannot keep pinning our hopes of a return to normal on them. We must do our part instead and get vaccinated so that we can finally end the pandemic and put this ugly chapter behind us.”


Following the opening of the 2020 Georgia General Assembly, Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan held a press conference to discuss his priorities for the 2020 legislative session and take questions on January 13, 2020 in Atlanta. (Bob Andres/Atlanta Journal Constitution/TNS)

Credit: TNS

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Credit: TNS

Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan doesn’t have a reelection campaign to worry about, so he’s had plenty of time to do press selling his new book.

On Wednesday Morning, Duncan went into what is usually enemy territory for conservative Republicans, MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” to dole out some advice his fellow Republicans in Georgia seem highly unlikely to appreciate.

After Mika Brezenski and Joe Scarborourgh introduced the title of Duncan’s book, “GOP 2.0. How the 2020 election can lead to a better way forward for America’s conservative party,” Brezenski said, “That would be nice. What does that look like?”

Said Duncan: “It starts by taking our medicine and realizing that Donald Trump lost the election because he missed a layup and he’s blamed everyone in the stadium for missing that layup. We’ve got to move on from here and stop complaining about the past.”

The Georgia Tech grad was also asked about UGA footballer Herschel Walker’s entrance into the Senate race. Duncan said he doesn’t know anything about Walker’s politics, other than the fact that he’s gotten Trump’s endorsement.

“It takes more than Donald Trump’s endorsement to win an election. Just ask Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue.”

Duncan elaborated on that theme in an op-ed in the Washington Examiner posted earlier Thursday:

Is Walker going to run as a conservative Republican or a Trump Republican? The latter might prove enough to win a GOP primary in 2022, but it’s a proven recipe for defeat in the general election in Georgia.

We have seen firsthand Republican Senate candidates seek office offering nothing more than a promise to support Trump and his agenda. It doesn’t work. Just ask former Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue.

During last year’s Senate run-offs, both Loeffler and Perdue ran as extensions of Trump and effectively hired him as their campaign manager. They embraced his baseless conspiracy theories about election fraud and denigrated the importance of voting along the way. They failed to offer their own vision for the country.

Both ignored the Atlanta suburbs, where the population is growing, and focused on driving out the base in more rural parts of the state. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out that you need to take your message to the places with the most voters to win a majority. As a result, Georgia now has two liberals representing us in the U.S. Senate, and Republican Mitch McConnell is the minority, rather than majority, leader.


State Rep. Burt Jones is the focus of a state ethics complaint, which alleges that Jones began to campaign for lieutenant governor before he officially declared himself to be a candidate for the job.

The complaint from Dalton attorney Daniel Laird, III points to a July 8 tweet from Jones, which thanks volunteers and posts photos of a video shoot.

“It was a long day, but ya’ll were great,” he wrote.

The scenes from the photos are the same as a video that Jones posted when he launched his LG campaign August 10. He filed for the job on Aug. 6.

Laird cites a state advisory opinion that says a candidate for a public office cannot solicit or accept in-kind contributions, nor make campaign expenditures, prior to filing for that office.

A spokesman for Jones’ campaign told the AJC that as of the July 7th video shoot, Jones knew he would be running for something in 2022 but did not know which office he’d be running for. So, he would not have needed to create a new campaign beyond his existing state Senate campaign, the spokesman said.

We’ll keep you posted on any further developments.


Republican Senate candidate Latham Saddler and his campaign manager have parted ways. We’re told that the split between Saddler and Alex Meyer was amicable, and that Meyer is departing for a job closer to his Mississippi home.


Stacey Abrams’ new children’s book, “Stacey’s Extraordinary Words,” will be published in late December. The cover art, a young girl with red ribbons in her pigtails competing in a spelling bee, was released on Wednesday.

According to the publisher’s blurb, the main character is chosen to compete in s bee and has to overcome her own fears and self-doubt.

Stacey will learn that win or lose . . her words are powerful, and sometimes perseverance is the most important word of all.

Abrams’ most recent book, a political thriller novel, became a bestseller. Meanwhile, still no word on whether she is running for Georgia governor in 2022.


Raphael Warnock is a senator and pastor. Now he can add “crossword clue” to the list, too.

In Tuesday’s edition of USA Today, the clue for “SEN” was “Raphael Warnock, e.g. (Abbr.).”


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