The Jolt: Georgia Rep. Ferguson raises major cash and his profile

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

Credit: AJC

Credit: AJC

U.S. Rep. Drew Ferguson is the highest-ranking Georgia lawmaker in the House Republican Conference, serving as the chief deputy to GOP Whip Steve Scalise. That gives Ferguson a role in corralling and counting members ahead of votes.

And that could allow Ferguson to move up in the ranks if the GOP retakes control of that chamber after the midterms, which is widely predicted.

Ferguson has already been showing that he can fill a major duty that comes with a higher profile by raising cash for the party. He has already collected $1.6 million for the party’s campaign arm for House races, including a $100,000 transfer this month.

The West Point resident is a tried-and-true conservative and frequent critic of President Joe Biden and his policies. However, he was among the minority of Republican members who did not choose to contest Biden’s electoral college vote in contested states on Jan. 6.


In yesterday’s Jolt, we highlighted a GOP memo that outlined a line of attack against U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock: Namely, that he and other Democrats rejected a GOP amendment that would have barred incarcerated people from receiving stimulus checks.

State Democrats countered that GOP frontrunner Herschel Walker could face similar criticism. He tweeted his support for stimulus checks that passed in December 2020 under then-President Donald Trump that had the same provisions.

As CNN reported in March of last year, the Trump-backed law authorizing the checks did not include “any language prohibiting prisoners from getting relief funding.”


Speaking of GOP memos, we got hold of one from conservative-leaning Guidant Polling and Strategy that echoes our AJC poll of statewide races this week.

It showed Gov. Brian Kemp with a commanding lead over former U.S. Sen. David Perdue in the GOP primary. And it pegged state Sen. Burt Jones with a 20-13 lead over Senate GOP leader Butch Miller.

Check it out here.


U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff held his first hearing as chair of the Senate’s powerful Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations this week, examining systemic abuses and failures of private housing contractors that provide and manage housing for active duty military and their families-- including at Ft. Gordon outside of Augusta.

He later hit up a slate of broadcast TV cable news shows, including appearing with Fox News’ Bret Baier to talk about what he heard.


In the 10th Congressional District race, we told you earlier this week that Vernon Jones has paid for two consultants, former New York Police Chief Bernie Kerik and former Democratic state Rep. Frank Redding, who each pled guilty in federal court to separate offenses in the past.

It turns out Jones isn’t the only one in the race whose consultants have had run-ins with the law.

Trucking executive Mike Collins includes the Wiregrass Group among his advisers in the GOP primary there.

That’s the firm of Brandon Phillips, the GOP strategist who resigned from Donald Trump’s Georgia campaign in 2016 after his criminal record came to light. WSB reported at the time that Phillips had pled guilty to a charge of criminal trespassing eight years earlier.


Today in Washington:

  • U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock has advocated for suspending the federal gas tax to lower prices at the pump, we aren’t sure if that will be part of the legislative package that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Leader Chuck Schumer and other Democratic leaders will unveil during a press conference later this morning. It starts at 9:45 a.m.;
  • The House is expected to vote today on a bill that already passed in the Senate and would make it easier for Ukraine to obtain military equipment in its fight against Russia. After that, the House will recess until May 9. Yes, that is another break after a two-week holiday recess and just three workdays.
  • The White House is releasing a new report that criticizes the tax plan floated by U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, who is leading the Republican Party’s campaign arm for Senate races. Scott’s plan would raise taxes on over 58% of small business owners in Georgia, the White House says.


A group of voters challenging U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s ability to run for re-election has filed an amended complaint with the state, as expected. The updated filing references a text message she sent to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows that was made public last week and shows Greene encouraging him to look into invoking martial law.

During a hearing on the voters’ challenge just a few days prior, Greene has said she didn’t remember if she had brought up the topic of martial law with then-President Donald Trump or his allies.

An excerpt from the new complaint:

First, it further undermines Greene’s credibility. Greene’s testimony at the hearing that she could not remember discussing martial law with anyone was already dubious. This text with President Trump’s Chief of Staff makes her testimony even more incredible because it seems like the kind of message with the kind of recipient that a reasonable person testifying truthfully would remember.

Second, the text sheds light on the meaning of her pre-January 6 statements. Eleven days after the failed insurrection, Greene was still fighting against the peaceful transfer of power by advocating extra-legal means. This text, like her statements on January 5, shows the lengths to which she was willing to go to help Mr. Trump remain in power.


In the state’s only toss-up congressional seat, District 2 in southwest Georgia, candidates in the Republican primary are starting to go at it.

Wayne Johnson, who worked for the U.S. Department of Education under President Donald Trump’s administration, has taken out ads in the form of a comic mocking rival Jeremy Hunt. The ad depicts Hunt parachuting into the district; Hunt lived in metro Atlanta until around the time he decided to run for Congress.

In another move by Johnson’s campaign, the former Trump administration official said Thursday he would file a lawsuit against the Biden Administration if it attempts to cancel student loan debt through executive action.

“The White House, the Department of Justice and the Department of Education all know that any unilateral or broad form of student loan debt cancellation requires full Congressional approval,” said Johnson.


The state House races are heating up ahead of the May 24 primary and one we’re watching in particular is House District 90. That was Stacey Abrams’ district when she served as House minority leader and is currently represented by state Rep. Bee Nguyen, who is running for secretary of state.

Last month, the Abrams-founded Fair Fight made HD90 candidate Bentley Hudgins its first endorsement in the 2022 cycle, calling Hudgins, “The clear choice in the election for any Georgian concerned about protecting voting rights.”

That was seen as a clear reference to Saira Draper, the former head of the voter protection initiative at the Democratic Party of Georgia, who is also in the race.

Now a high-profile group of Democratic state lawmakers have come out in favor of Draper, including state Sen. Elena Parent, state Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver, and House Minority Whip Dave Wilkerson.

DeKalb County District Attorney Sherry Boston also endorsed Draper, saying she, “Speaks truth to power, even when it’s painful.”

Abrams has not endorsed anyone in the race herself.


In endorsement news:

  • Georgia AFL-CIO, a coalition of labor organizations, has endorsed state Rep. Bee Nguyen for Georgia Secretary of State and state Sen. Jen Jordan for Attorney General;
  • The Collective PAC, a political committee dedicated to helping more Black people get elected to office, has backed U.S. Reps. Sanford Bishop and Nikema Williams in their reelection bids;
  • Marc McMain, running in a crowded Republican primary in Georgia’s 10th Congressional District, released a bunch endorsements, including Walton County Commissioners Bo Warren, Mark Banks and Timmy Shelnutt and Barrow County Commissioners Billy Parks and Ben Hendricks;
  • Georgia Conservation Voters, a left- leaning political group, is backing Chandra Farley for state Public Service Commission, District 3.


We have featured bow-tied Public Service Commissioner Tim Echols in the “pages” of the Jolt several times. In case you missed it, Echols wrote a piece in the AJC earlier this week laying out the many disruptions ahead for energy markets in Georgia, and what might replace them for us all in the future.


In memoriam: Former Georgia U.S. Rep. James “J.” Roy Rowland Jr., a Wrightsville native, died Monday at the age of 96. Rowland was a medical doctor by trade but began his political career in 1976 representing Middle Georgia in the state House before being elected to Congress in 1982. A Democrat, he served there for 12 years.

Rowland also earned a Bronze Star for his service to the Army during World War II, and he was known for championing veterans during his time in office.

U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop led a tribute to Rowland on the House floor Wednesday as dean of the state’s delegation.

“He was courageous in his convictions and a steadfast advocate for better healthcare for all Americans — especially our military veterans,” Bishop said. “... “He led a distinguished and honorable life and he will be greatly missed. My thoughts and prayers go out to his wife, Luella, his children, and his entire family.”

Click here for his full obituary and information on funeral services.


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.