The Jolt: GOP making Atlanta crime a Georgia election issue for 2022

News and analysis from the politics team at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Secretary of State Brian Kemp and Attorney General Chris Carr.

Secretary of State Brian Kemp and Attorney General Chris Carr.

“It’s no secret that our capital city has a serious crime problem.”

That’s how Gov. Brian Kemp opened a video message outlining how he will make a $5 million pot of emergency funds available to state law enforcement officers to target crime in metro Atlanta.

The governor’s swipe at Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, who recently announced she wasn’t standing for another term, isn’t just about their ongoing, intense rivalry — though they are still very much at odds with one another.

Instead, it telegraphs a key part of the GOP strategy to maintain power in the 2022 elections by presenting Republicans as law-and-order public safety champions who can help tackle rising crime rates.

The Kemp administration’s crackdown on human trafficking and street racing is a component of that. But the strategy extends to other Republicans looking to win back spurned suburbanites.

Attorney General Chris Carr, in a tough re-election battle, is stepping up efforts to target gang violence. Speaker David Ralston hopes to preserve the GOP’s narrowing edge in the state House by exploring legislation that could give state law enforcement new powers. Rank-and-file legislators far from Atlanta’s limits have seized on rising crime rates as a powerful political argument.

Atlanta’s crime rate is indeed on the rise. The number of homicides in the city surged in 2020, making it the deadliest year in decades. A spate of grisly shootings this year has led some intown residents to bolt for the burbs. Liberals and conservatives have pleaded for an improved police response, and it’s easy to draw a line between the demands for change and Bottoms’ decision not to run again.

Kemp, meanwhile, only seems more likely to emphasize public safety as an expected 2022 showdown with Stacey Abrams nears. Late last night, he tweeted a press release from the Department of Public Safety that listed hundreds of violations and dozens of impounded vehicles.


The alarming rise in violent crime in Buckhead is driving the idea of creating a new city out of the neighborhood.

But the “Buckhead City” effort recently picked up two high-profile opponents this week, J.D. Capelouto reports, in Ed Lindsey and Linda Klein. The two have formed the “Committee for a United Atlanta,” to oppose the idea.

Lindsey, a familiar face at the state Capitol, leads Dentons’ Georgia state government affairs team and is a former state legislator representing parts of Buckhead. Linda Klein is a well known Buckhead-based attorney and former president of the American Bar Association.

Klein squared off against leaders of the pro-city effort, the Buckhead Exploratory Committee, earlier this month on a neighborhood Zoom call when she raised questions about the future of schools and city services in the area. Klein said concerned would do better to work to influence the upcoming Atlanta mayor’s race instead and called the idea of forming a new city “the most expensive, slowest and least efficient solution” to reducing crime in Buckhead.

Bill White, a leader of the breakaway group, accused Klein of inaccuracies in her statement, but did not specify any inaccuracies, and insisted that the effort to create a new city will continue. “The divorce is final,” he said. “We are moving forward.”

Buckhead isn’t the only neighborhood in Metro Atlanta trying to go it alone. There are currently four separate efforts to create new cities in Cobb County.


Georgia U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz are bringing their cross-country “America First” tour to the Dalton Convention Center Thursday night.

So far, the two pro-pro-Trump Republicans have been to The Villages retirement community in Florida, as well as Maricopa County, Az., where state Senate Republicans have forced an unofficial review of the county’s 2020 presidential election results.

Gaetz, a Florida Republican currently under federal investigation for possible sex trafficking, announced the Dalton event on Twitter late Monday night.

“If you believe America is a wonderful nation, worthy of celebration, you belong with us. Come to the lovely home district of America First Champion Marjorie Taylor Greene.”

Anyone planning to head to Dalton can expect a heavy dose of pro-Trump, anti-Liz Cheney, election-conspiracy-theory themed rhetoric.

At the Florida event earlier this month, Greene declared, “Trump is the leader of the Republican Party!”

In Arizona Monday, Greene asked the crowd, “Who do you think won Arizona on Nov 3?” The crowd responded with chants of “Trump, Trump, Trump.”


Supporters of the proposed spaceport in southeast Georgia believe they are finally close to receiving a key federal approval to proceed, according to the AJC’s Maya T. Prabhu.

Camden County is pursuing the development of the spaceport on a 12,000-acre facility in Kingsland. Camden officials have been attempting since 2005 to secure a license from the FAA to move forward with the project. If all goes the county's way, rockets — carrying satellites, supplies and possibly people — could launch into orbit from the coast of Camden within two years, said Steve Howard, the county's administrator and Spaceport Camden project lead.

… But enthusiasm from local residents and property owners has been mixed. Most vocal have been owners of property on nearby Little Cumberland Island, over which rockets would launch. Cumberland Island National Seashore, a national park, also is in the launch path.

- The Atlanta Journal-Constitution


The Kia assembly plant in West Point will temporarily close later this week because the company is worried the assembly line will not have enough semiconductor chips to make new vehicles, the AJC’s Michael Kanell reports.

Georgia Sens. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock have been pushing Congress to expedite passage of a new law they say would address the shortage by investing $52 billion through the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors for America Act and by reducing American dependence on the Chinese supply chain.

“American dependence on foreign suppliers of semiconductors is a strategic vulnerability for both our national and economic security, and ongoing shortages of this vital technology are directly harming workers and businesses in Georgia by disrupting operations of the Kia plant in West Point,”Ossoff and Warnock wrote in a letter to Senate leaders shortly after the shutdown was announced.

The plant is scheduled to close on Thursday and Friday, creating a longer-than-usual holiday weekend.


Axios has compiled a list of the freshmen lawmakers most and least likely to add their names to legislation in Congress -- and Georgians appear near the top and bottom.

U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams, D-Atlanta, has co-sponsored or sponsored 222 pieces of legislation so far this year, making her the second-mostly likely freshmen member of Congress to lend her support to or author a bill.

On the other end of the spectrum is U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff, who has co-sponsored or sponsored 36 bills so far. That ranks him as the second-least likely freshmen senator to sign on to a bill this year.

Every member’s legislative strategy is different, but both Democrats have appeared frequently at public events in the state since being elected.


Our condolences to the family and loved ones of Marissa McCall Dodson, who passed away on Friday. Dodson was a frequent presence at the state Capitol as both policy director of the Southern Center for Human Rights and a prominent advocate on criminal justice issues.

Among those honoring her memory were state Rep. Bee Nguyen and Georgia NAACP President James Woodall, who posted this tribute on Twitter: “My heart is broken. You were a brave and powerful soul. To have been able to learn, grow and fight alongside you in such an intimate way was truly an honor of my lifetime.”

The Southern Center closed for the week to mourn the loss of Dodson.


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