The Jolt: GOP Senate candidates won’t follow Trump on McConnell bashing

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

There’s little appetite among national Republicans to back former President Donald Trump’s attempt to depose Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell. And that’s holding true among Georgia Republican Senate contenders, too.

After The Wall Street Journal reported that Trump is trying to sideline McConnell from his leadership post in 2022, we checked in with the four GOP Senate candidates who could be voting on leadership posts if they were to win next year.

None endorsed the effort, echoing GOP incumbents in Washington, but none stood up to defend the Kentucky senator’s leadership either.

Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black’s campaign spokesman said Black “doesn’t give a rat’s patootie who the Senate leader is, as long as it’s a Republican.”

Latham Saddler said he’s singularly focused on defeating U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock.

Kelvin King’s campaign pointedly noted he’s never met McConnell but that he’ll back the “strongest leader with the capability and the vision to get our country moving in the right direction again.”

And Herschel Walker’s aides declined comment, keeping with a pattern of staying mum on most key issues in the opening weeks of his campaign.

Trump may have more sway with Georgia Republican voters on the issue. But as far as Senate candidates go, he’s 0-for-four.


Herschel Walker hasn’t weighed in on many issues, but he showed support for performer Nikki Minaj after her false tweet about the coronavirus vaccine went viral.

On Friday, the Senate candidate encouraged Minaj and others to keep being “inquisitive” about the vaccine in a tweet. Minaj last week made a head-scratching post about swollen testicles and a canceled wedding that went instantly viral.

(His campaign had no comment when asked if he had been vaccinated or if he was encouraging others to do so.)


Lawmakers on Georgia’s coast are raising objections to language in Democrats’ $3.5 trillion reconciliation package that could open the door to offshore wind farms near Tybee Island, Jekyll Island, and other areas near the coast.

The Brunswick News has more:

When state Sen. Sheila McNeill scans the Atlantic from the shores of the Golden Isles, she expects a clear view of the ocean's horizon.

The Brunswick Republican neither expects nor desires a view marred by giant energy-producing wind turbines.

There is that possibility, however, following recent actions by the Natural Resources Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives. In a vote split along party lines, Democrats supported incentives favorable to the establishment of wind farms off the coasts of Georgia, Florida and the Carolinas as part of the proposed $3.5 trillion spending bill.

Committee Democrats added wind farms to the bill in response to President Joe Biden's call for clean, carbon-free energy. Among other things, the bill would direct the U.S. Department of Interior to hold lease sales for offshore windmills.

- The Brunswick News


POSTED: A study funded by those who oppose Buckhead cityhood has found allowing the neighborhood to split from Atlanta would cost the city between $80 million and $116 million in annual net revenues. But the biggest loss would come to Atlanta Public Schools, which could lose $232 million annually, according to the study commissioned by the Buckhead Coalition and reported by the AJC’s Ben Brasch.


Senate candidate Gary Black has added more endorsements to his ledger. The Republican netted 55 state legislative supporters, with 44 from the House and 11 from the Senate.

They include House Majority Leader Jon Burns, Majority Whip Matt Hatchett, the top House appropriator, Terry England, and Senate Appropriations chairman Blake Tillery.

Earlier, Black unveiled endorsements from former Gov. Nathan Deal, former U.S. Rep. Doug Collins and dozens of county sheriffs.


Georgia House Democrats plan to hold a caucus hearing on Thursday on the alarming conditions in state prisons in Georgia, following the Justice Department’s announcement of an investigation.

The hearing will be led by state Reps. Josh McLaurin and Kim Schofield, who have both been outspoken critics of the growing humanitarian challenges at state prisons.

Data from the state says 29 people died of suicide while held in Georgia prisons in 2020. That was nearly triple the total in 2017 and gave Georgia one of the highest rates in the nation. And advocates say 44 suspected or confirmed homicides have been carried out at Georgia prisons since the start of 2020.


A few more things we’re keeping an eye on this week in #gapol:

  • Monday: Stacey Abrams, the expected-but-not-declared Democratic candidate for Georgia governor, begins a two-month, cross-country book tour for While Justice Sleeps, her most recent novel. One of your Insiders will be in tonight’s audience in San Antonio. Story TK.
  • Wednesday: The state Senate Public Safety Committee holds a hearing on reversing crime trends in Atlanta;
  • Friday: The U.S. Court of Appeals is scheduled to review Georgia’s 2019 “heartbeat bill,” the law that bans abortion at roughly six weeks of pregnancy. The AJC’s Maya Prahbu looks ahead to the hearing today.
  • Saturday: Donald Trump will appear in Perry, Ga. at the Georgia National Fairgrounds.


Former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin has made her choice in the upcoming contest for the next city leader: anyone but Kasim Reed.

Franklin was once a supporter of Reed, her successor in the mayor’s office. But she became a vocal critic after a stream of federal investigations, indictments and other embarrassments for his administration.

She’s been critical of him for months, but she’s stepped up her critique in recent posts on Instagram. One includes a Sept. 8 screenshot of an article about scandals that enveloped the final years of Reed’s tenure. More recently, she included more pictures coverage of Reed’s past with the caption: “Fool me once but not twice. #anybodybutreed.”


Republican legislators drafting new maps for General Assembly districts will have to account for the dwindling population of some of Georgia’s most rural counties, the AJC’s Maya T. Prabhu writes.

The five state Senate and five state House districts that lost the most residents between 2010 and 2020 - about 68,000 residents - are in rural parts of the state, according to U.S. Census figures released last month. Meanwhile, the districts that have grown the most are all in metro areas near Atlanta, Augusta and Savannah.

House District 139, which encompasses Taylor, Macon and Dooley counties and parts of Peach County in central Georgia, lost 16% — or about 8,600 — of its residents in the past decade. Senate District 12, which includes all or parts of 11 counties in southwest Georgia, lost nearly 10% of its residents, about 16,000 people.

- The Atlanta Journal-Constitution


The Republican National Committee has opened an office in Gwinnett County in hopes of increasing outreach to people who identify as Asian Americans or Pacific Islanders.

Friday’s grand opening of the Georgia Asian Pacific American Community Center in Berkeley Lake near Duluth was headlined by RNC Co-Chair Tommy Hicks and state GOP Chairman David Shafer.

A spokesman for the RNC told one of your insiders that the party still has plans to make good on its promise to open a similar center targeting Black voters in the Atlanta area.


Saturday’s “Justice for J6” rally in Washington turned out to be mostly a dud with law enforcement, media and counter-protesters far outnumbering the people in attendance to support those arrested after storming the Capitol on Jan. 6.

But Georgia congressional candidate Mike Collins showed up as promised and delivered a keynote speech, describing those in jail awaiting trial on charges that they participated in the riot as “political prisoners.”

“I see people who are being held for nonviolent crimes, and they deserve their day in court,” he said. “They deserve to have their Sixth and Eighth amendments upheld, otherwise they are political prisoners and they are being used to suppress law-abiding American citizens from expressing their First Amendment rights.”

This “political prisoner” narrative has been embraced by the far right in an effort to both downplay the severity of the mob attack on Jan. 6 and gain sympathy for those who participated in the event because they believed former President Donald Trump’s falsehoods that the 2020 election was stolen from him.

One of your insiders noted that Collins’ and other speakers’ remarks about poor conditions inside prisons and jails and lack of due process for people charged with nonviolent crimes made them sound a lot like progressives on the issue of criminal justice reform.


In case you fell asleep before last night’s Emmy Awards wrapped up (and there’s nothing wrong with that), Stacey Abrams did not win an Emmy this year. She had been nominated for her work in a special animated episode of black-ish, but Maya Rudolph ultimately took home the prize during last week’s Creative Arts ceremony.


The September 17th edition of the Jolt listed Liliana Bakhtiari as having received Fair Fight’s endorsement in the race for Atlanta City Council, District 5.

Fair Fight has not endorsed in that race. The information was sent to us in error.


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