The Jolt: Georgia Republicans go after Biden following Afghan airport attack

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

The deadly explosions that killed at least 13 U.S. soldiers and dozens of others outside Afghanistan’s airport triggered reaction from Georgia politicians that ranged from expressions of grief to calls for President Joe Biden to resign.

The harshest criticism, not surprisingly, came from Republicans seeking higher office, including the GOP candidates competing to challenge U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock.

“Americans are now sitting ducks,” said Latham Saddler, a former Navy SEAL who served in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

Gary Black, the state’s agriculture commissioner, said Biden and “his woke commanders trusted thugs.” He said the president should step down immediately.

Herschel Walker, who just filed his paperwork Tuesday to run, focused on American service members on Twitter.

“Heartbreaking to see the tragedies in Afghanistan,” he wrote. “Those American soldiers died as heroes and will be forever remembered in our hearts. My family is praying for the victims and their families and hope to see every American brought home soon and no more innocent lives lost.”

Democrats also expressed remorse, though they didn’t cast blame on Biden. U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff called it a “cowardly and despicable terrorist attack.”

The contrast in responses drew a parallel with how leading politicians responded to the swift Taliban takeover of Afghanistan last week, when the capital of Kabul fell shortly after U.S. troops withdrew.

There’s far more consensus, however, over the idea of rescuing the tens of thousands of Afghans who served as U.S. allies over the last two decades.

The state’s political leaders have expressed support for evacuating the Afghan allies, a position that Gov. Brian Kemp staked last week. He elaborated on his position during a stop on Thursday to tout tax breaks for the aviation industry.

Said Kemp:

“We owe it to those individuals to protect them. Whether we bring them here or not, I think it’s beside the point. If that’s done, they need to be properly vetted. But they don’t need to be allowed to be hunted down by a bunch of Talibani terrorists over in Afghanistan, nor do their families. If we do that, we will be in a bad place in future foreign conflicts.”

“I was open to supporting those that have protected our troops. You know, if you talk about people resettling, that’s a whole different argument that we would have to learn more about from the administration, where they’re going to put people, what the plan is, what the vetting process is … we need to take care of those who have supported our troops.”


The Georgia Department of Public Health sent out a press release Thursday urging Georgians to help reduce the strain on EMS and emergency departments across the state.

“The current surge in COVID cases throughout Georgia is stretching hospital and EMS personnel and resources to unprecedented levels,” DPH wrote, adding that many hospitals are “unable to provide normal emergency care to patients arriving by ambulance.”

The public statement showed the context behind Gov. Brian Kemp’s decision this week to deploy the National Guard to add staff for struggling Georgia hospitals.

Although the department stressed that Georgians should still call 911 in an emergency, it also noted that vaccination against the deadly virus “is our best tool to reducing the overwhelming strain” on the state’s healthcare system.


Burt Jones’ Supporters flocked to Butts County Thursday night as the state senator officially kicked off his campaign for the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor.

AJC reporter Maya T. Prabhu drove down for the event, where roughly 1,000 people filled the Idlewild Event Center just miles away from Jones’ hometown of Jackson.

The kickoff also doubled as a fundraiser and campaign staff said they temporarily ran out of the pledge cards that attendees could fill out as they entered the celebration.

Jones, a Republican state senator and wealthy oil executive, has increased his profile over the past nine months questioning the results of Georgia’s 2020 presidential election.

Framing himself as an underdog, he relayed stories of going from a walk-on football player at the University of Georgia to graduating on scholarship and as co-captain of the team and defeating an eight-year state Senate incumbent in the 2012 Republican primary.

“I quickly developed kind of an underdog mentality about myself and it follows me,” he said.

Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan said this spring that he will not a seek a second term. Jones will face Republican activist Jeanne Seaver in the primary and his colleague, state Senate President Pro Tem Butch Miller.

Several fellow state senators showed up at the Butts County bash, which featured barbecue and live music, and Jones said he expected the Republican caucus to split in its support.

“I mean there’ll be some with me and some with, you know, other folks, and that’s fine,” Jones said. “It is what it is, with no hard feelings here. So we’ll just move on and then maybe get where we’ll all be on the same team at the end of the day.”

While Jones can at least partly self-finance his campaign, Miller reported raising $2 million in the first two weeks after he announced his candidacy. Jones also is seeking the endorsement of former President Donald Trump. Trump released a statement last month ruling out endorsing Miller.

Former U.S. Sen. David Perdue headlined the Jones’ event.

“Burt loves his country, he loves his family, he loves God,” Perdue said as he brought Jones up to the stage. “This is a godly man, a business guy, he’s an outsider to the big political structure in Washington and somebody that we can trust.”

But Perdue also headlined Miller’s campaign kickoff in Gainesville earlier this summer. When asked, Perdue declined to say if his appearance at Jones’ event was an endorsement.

“I’m not going to answer that tonight,” Perdue said. “I’m here supporting a good friend.”


“Good luck.” That’s what U.S. Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux had to say Thursday to the Gwinnett County Democratic Party when asked about the upcoming redistricting process.

Republicans could seek to make life more difficult for Bourdeaux, who flipped a district that now spans parts of Gwinnett and Forsyth counties. But U.S. Census data shows her diverse district has to shrink significantly, making it harder to refashion it as a safe GOP seat.

Said Bourdeaux:

“My district, more than any other one in the state, has grown dramatically. We have 94,000 more citizens in this district than the average one in Georgia. The Republicans are going to have to find some place to put those people. Good luck. We’re gearing up for a huge fight on that front.”

Along with questions about redrawing maps, Bordeaux has gotten an earful this week from progressive activists angry with her move to join nine centrist House Democrats to prioritize the $1.3 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill on the House calendar over the still-in-the-works House budget blueprint.

The details might have been mundane, but the blowback hasn’t been. We’ve got a new piece up this morning with the steaming liberals who say they feel betrayed.


Atlanta’s shifting demographics, born out in recently released data from the 2020 census, will have impact on this year’s mayoral race.More from the AJC’s J.D. Capelouto, Emily Merwin DiRico and John Perry:

Among the findings: Atlanta grew by 71,400 people from 2010 to 2020. But the number of new white residents far outpaced Black population growth. Atlanta recorded an influx of almost 36,000 additional white residents in the last 10 years, compared to just 6,700 more Black residents. The city’s Hispanic and Asian populations grew by 8,000 and 8,100, respectively.

Black residents, the data showed, are no longer the majority in Atlanta, though they are still the largest racial group, making up 47% of the population. And with more than 100,000 Atlantans added to the voter rolls since the last mayoral election, campaigns are facing a different landscape than they did in 2017 as they ramp up crucial ground-game campaigns and get-out-the-vote efforts.


In endorsement news:

* State Sen. Butch Miller picked up certification from the anti-abortion Georgia Life Alliance. Miller, who is running for lieutenant governor, said he was “proud to be the only candidate in my race to earn the certification.”

* U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene said she is “thrilled” to back Herschel Walker in the GOP primary for Georgia’s Senate seat.

* Fair Fight Action, the voter advocacy group founded by Stacey Abrams, has endorsed Alaina Reaves in her bid for a seat on the Clayton County Commission.


Former Atlanta attorney and current conspiracy theorist Lin Wood is among several attorneys who attempted to overturn presidential election results and have been referred for possible disbarment in Michigan, the AJC’s David Wickert reports.

On Wednesday, Judge Linda Parker of the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Michigan referred nine attorneys for disciplinary action for what she called “a historic and profound abuse of the judicial process." Among them were Wood and Sidney Powell, who also brought a lawsuit that sought to overturn presidential election results in Georgia.

Like dozens of lawsuits in Georgia and other swing states that Democrat Joe Biden won, the Michigan lawsuit made unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud and accused state officials of committing a scheme “to fraudulently and illegally manipulate the vote count to make certain the election of Joe Biden as President of the United States."

- The Atlanta Journal-Constitution


Because it’s Friday, we always like to send you into the weekend with a little light reading:

  • Jamie Dupree’s Washington Insider column focused on Democrats in Congress as they start to forge the specifics of the social services spending inside the of the $3.5 trillion budget proposal;
  • Patricia Murphy’s Political Insider column Wednesday included an interview with Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux after she defied House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on the House budget;
  • Sunday’s Political Insider is a dispatch from Wrightsville, Ga., the hometown of newly declared Senate candidate Herschel Walker.
  • Finally, here is U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter’s hometown newspaper’s helpful suggestion for him: “Check the elastic in those stretchy sweatpants, Earl Carter, because you are going to have to run to hold onto your U.S. House seat this time.”


As always, Jolt readers are some of our favorite tipsters. Send your best scoop, gossip and insider info to, and