The Jolt: Georgia pols bet big on Braves

House Speaker David Ralston watches as Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms addresses the House. The Georgia General Assembly continued with the second legislative day of the 2020 session. Bob Andres / bandres@ajc.com
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House Speaker David Ralston watches as Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms addresses the House. The Georgia General Assembly continued with the second legislative day of the 2020 session. Bob Andres / bandres@ajc.com

News and analysis from the politics team at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Braves captured Game One of the World Series last night, and the team’s nervous fan base heaved a sigh of relief. That included a few Georgia politicians who had more than pride on the line.

Longtime Braves fan House Speaker David Ralston bet his Texan counterpart, Dade Phelan, a box of peaches, peanuts and Blue Ridge apples on a Braves victory. Phelan countered by wagering BBQ from a joint near his southeast Texas home, tamales from Delia’s and a pecan pie from a Houston bakery.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms put a bit more up for grabs in her wager with Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner. If the Astros win, Turner gets a Braves jersey, peach cobbler from Paschal’s, a case of Cherry Coke Zero, beer from Best End Brewing Company and a hammer from Home Depot.

And when the Braves prevail, Bottoms gets brisket fried rice and pork ribs from Blood Brothers BBQ, a case of H-Town Pils from St. Arnold’s Brewery and tamales and lemonade from Irma’s Original.

We haven’t seen any bet yet from Gov. Brian Kemp with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott – whom he just visited a few weeks ago during a trip to the U.S. border – but it reminds us of our favorite wager during his administration.

In November 2019, Kemp promised Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis he would venture down to the Everglades to hunt for pythons that have plagued the nature preserve if Georgia lost to Florida in the annual gridiron grudge match. A few weeks earlier, trappers had captured an 18-foot long Burmese python in the swamp.

And DeSantis agreed to head to south Georgia to track down feral hogs that have ravaged the state’s farmland if Florida lost. The outcome? Georgia won 24-17, holding off a furious Gator comeback. Meanwhile, we’ve got no word on whether DeSantis ever caught Hogzilla.

Since the Georgia-Florida game happens to be this weekend, should we expect a Python v. Hog rematch? We’ll check our sources and report back.

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If there’s anyone who won’t be relieved until after the World Series has finished and he’s tucked back into his own bed, it’s Rob Manfred, the commissioner of Major League Baseball.

It was Manfred who made the decision in April to pull the All-Star Game out of the Braves’ home field at Truist Park in protest of Georgia’s new election law, SB 202, calling it “the best way to demonstrate our values as a sport.”

Here’s what Manfred had to say yesterday when asked about the decision in hindsight:

“We always have tried to be apolitical. Obviously there was a notable exception this year. I think our desire is to try to avoid another exception to that general rule. We have a fan base that’s diverse, has different points of view and we’d like to keep the focus on the field, on the game.”

Manfred and much of Braves Country may want to keep the focus on the field, but, based on the feedback we heard during the game last night, Republican leaders in Georgia are not at all ready to forgive and forget.

And neither are many Texans, who are still steamed at Manfred for his management of the Houston Astros’ sign-stealing cheating scandal, which Astros fans say singled their team out for something many teams were guilty of.

The Wall Street Journal calls a win for either team, complete with Manfred handing a trophy to a city he’d wrangled with recently, a “hellish proposition.”

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The U.S. House passed a bill Tuesday from U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath to reauthorize and expand funding for families affected by domestic violence. Nine Republicans joined the Democratic caucus on the vote, although no Georgia GOPers supported the measure.

“I have seen too many families in my home state of Georgia suffer at the hands of domestic and family violence,” McBath said during a floor speech ahead of the vote. “We must protect these families and families all across the nation.”

The bill includes “technological abuse,” including online intimidation, in the areas of domestic violence and abuse it seeks to prevent and respond to. Advocates say that’s an important designation that’s often overlooked.

That legislation now heads over to the U.S. Senate for approval.

McBath will also have a gun control measure in front of the House Judiciary Committee today.

That legislation would create a federal “red flag” law allowing families or law enforcement to ask a judge to temporarily remove firearms from people who have been deemed a danger to themselves or others, mirroring laws that currently exist in Washington and 19 states.

McBath, who lost her teenage son to gun violence in 2012, said in a news release that she wants the bill to help prevent other families from experiencing that same kind of pain.

“It is our responsibility to prevent this suffering, to bring an end to this constant heartbreak. With this bill, we act to help those in crisis,” McBath said.

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Herschel Walker picked up a huge endorsement Wednesday morning when GOP Senate Leader Mitch McConnell officially backed Walker’s Senate bid.

McConnell had been initially cool to the former footballer’s first run for office. With the Senate minority leader now on board, Walker now has a full spectrum of high-level support, from former President Donald Trump in the far right to McConnell, in the heart of the establishment.

In a statement McConnell said, “I am happy to endorse Herschel Walker for U.S. Senate in Georgia. Herschel is the only one who can unite the party, defeat Senator Warnock, and help us take back the Senate. I look forward to working with Herschel in Washington to get the job done.”

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A damning report from the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic found that the high-profile “Food Box Program,” launched during the Trump administration, was mismanaged and resulted in underqualified companies receiving contracts worth nearly $96 million.

The program, ostensibly meant to provide food to needy families during the pandemic, was created and administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture under Secretary Sonny Perdue. The Subcommittee wrote in a recent report that the program lacked appropriate structure and oversight.

It also found that the Administration used the program to score political points. The boxes included a letter signed by Trump, who was running for re-election at the time.

In a statement, U.S. Rep. James Clyburn, the third-ranking Democrat in the House, said the program “was marred by a structure that prioritized industry over families, by contracting practices that prioritized cutting corners over competence, and by decisions that prioritized politics over the public good.”

In October of last year, Perdue was ordered to reimburse the government for a trip announcing an extension of the food program after his speech included comments backing President Donald Trump’s re-election.

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel determined that was a violation of the Hatch Act, a federal law that prevents government officials from using their office to endorse candidates or engage in political activity.

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POSTED: Greg and Tia write on the a distinct possibility that redistricting next month could leave U.S. Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux, U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath, or both in search of friendlier territory to run in come 2022:

Two rising Georgia Democratic stars could go from allies to rivals in 2022, depending on how Republicans redraw the new congressional map. That's because no matter how the lines are drawn during a legislative session that starts next week, U.S. Reps. Carolyn Bourdeaux and Lucy McBath will be in the political crosshairs of the Republican majority.

The two Democrats are among the most vulnerable in the nation after each flipped Republican-held House seats in the last two election cycles, and now state lawmakers are certain to reshape at least one of their districts to add more conservative voters -- and potentially cripple their re-election chances.

- The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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In honor of the Braves title run, we’d like to give a shout-out to two Friends of the Jolt, Joe Alterman and Micah Lapidus, who composed “Keep Swinging,” a tribute to Hank Aaron to help you get in the mood for Game Two tonight. Go Braves!

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As always, Jolt readers are some of our favorite tipsters. Send your best scoop, gossip and insider info to patricia.murphy@ajc.com, tia.mitchell@ajc.com and greg.bluestein@ajc.com.

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