The Jolt: Gov. Brian Kemp censured by two county Republican parties

Gov. Brian Kemp’s footing might be firmer among fellow Republicans, but he still has plenty of work to do to shore up the grassroots GOP base.

That’s the takeaway from a round of GOP meetings in recent days that saw Kemp get a standing ovation at a Cobb County GOP breakfast, but also receive overwhelming votes by GOP activists in Murray and Whitfield counties to censure the first-term Republican.

The North Georgia Republicans say Kemp “stood by and did nothing” to help then-President Donald Trump overturn his election defeat.

“Governor Kemp’s inaction angered Republican voters, many of whom refused to vote in the January 5th runoff and Kemp helped cost the Republicans two Senate seats,” read the Whitfield County resolution.

There were also votes to censure Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan for his refusal to preside over the state Senate during a vote on sweeping voting restrictions, and another calling for Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to resign.

“Raffensperger and his subordinates frequently gave media interviews that criticized and undermined the efforts of President Trump and the Georgia Republican Party fighting election fraud,” read the Whitfield resolution.

(Your daily reminder that there was no evidence of widespread election fraud and that Georgia’s election results were upheld by three separate tallies.)

These are the first of what are likely to be many resolutions adopted by local GOP activists expressing their displeasure with Kemp and other state officials. The governor’s critics have distributed sample language to local officials across the state.

The bigger question is whether these efforts will gain traction at the state GOP meeting in June, when hundreds of conservative activists gather to elect the party’s next leader and set the agenda for the 2022 race.

Recall that then-Gov. Nathan Deal also faced a censure movement in 2016 after he vetoed religious freedom legislation popular with the base. But the effort against Deal never gained enough momentum to reach a full floor debate.

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NEW: State Sen. Jen Jordan announced Wednesday morning she will run for Georgia attorney general in 2022 against Attorney General Chris Carr.

With her announcement, the Sandy Springs Democrat also opens up the competitive Metro Atlanta state Senate seat previously held by Republican Hunter Hill.

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Georgia U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock and Rep. Hank Johnson were among members of the Congressional Black Caucus who met with President Joe Biden in the Oval Office on Tuesday.

In the meeting, the group laid out its priorities, including access to health care, closing the wealth gap, and improving education. They also raised their intense concerns about criminal justice and policing reforms and advocated for a Black woman to be the next Supreme Court justice. They also called for a commission on reparations.

Afterward, the roughly dozen lawmakers who met with Biden spoke to the press. When a question was raised about Senate Republicans using the filibuster to block the passage of election laws, such as the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, Warnock said the group felt reassured that it was a priority for the president, too.

“Voting rights are preservative of all other rights,” Warnock, an Atlanta Democrat, said. “He gets that, and he understands that while we are working on a whole range of issues from healthcare to vaccinations to infrastructure, we can both work on infrastructure and the infrastructure of our democracy at the same time.”

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Believe it or not, negative attack ads are already flying against 2022 candidates, including false attacks.

PolitiFact flags a recent one against U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock related to boycotts against Georgia companies and events:

“An online ad by the National Republican Senatorial Committee suggests that Warnock supports boycotts of Georgia to protest the state's new voting law, and uses a clip from a CNN interview.

The ad ignores statements Warnock made in the interview and later, where he expressed his hope that businesses would speak out about the law, but continue doing business with Georgia. He did not call for any sort of boycott.

“We rate this statement False."

- PolitiFact

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Even as Georgia legislators debated a law making it a violation to distribute food and water directly to people standing in voting lines, lawmakers were enjoying free drinks and meals from lobbyists, the AJC’s James Salzer reports.

“On the day the Georgia House gave final passage to a bill that would ban volunteers from providing food and water to people waiting in line to vote, Statehouse lobbyists spent almost $8,400 feeding lawmakers, according to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution analysis of ethics reports.

“It was almost double that on the final day of the 2021 legislative session, March 31, when dozens of lobbyists chipped in about $16,000 for food and drinks for lawmakers as they worked until midnight passing bills at a sometimes frantic pace.

“While those numbers might sound big, an AJC review of reports filed with the state ethics commission showed less money was spent by lobbyists during the 2021 session — dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic and voting debate — than in any recent year. By a lot."

- The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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As expected, the U.S. House Ethics Committee denied U.S. Rep. Andrew Clyde’s request to drop the fines he faces for refusing to pass through metal detectors outside the House chamber. But that was part of his plan all along.

Immediately after his appeal was denied, the Athens Republican announced that he will take his case to the federal courts. He has now been cited twice for violating Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s policy requiring members to be scanned and now owes $15,000 in fines.

“This now provides the legal standing which I needed to challenge this unconstitutional resolution,” he said in a statement.

It’s not the first time Clyde has gone up against the government. In March of last year, he sued Athens-Clarke County after its shelter-in-place order shut down his local gun store. And in 2019, Clyde successfully lobbied to change the law that allowed the IRS to seize assets without evidence of wrongdoing.

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State Sen. John Albers, R-Roswell, has inked an op-ed in Newsweek, “The Fake News Outrage Over Georgia’s Voting Law Is Costing Jobs—Starting With Mine.”

In his opinion piece, Albers says that the outrage over Georgia’s election law is “based on a lie” and goes into detail about losing his job because of inaccurate tweets accusing him of supporting the most restrictive proposals to overhaul Georgia’s elections.

“The unreported truth is that I co-sponsored and voted for a bipartisan bill, Georgia Senate Bill 62...The bill even received numerous Democratic votes.”

But far from being the unreported truth, the AJC did indeed report in March that Albers co-sponsored SB 62.

“Albers walked out of the vote on his chamber’s most draconian elections bill, Senate Bill 241, which would have ended no-excuse absentee voting in Georgia.

“Instead, SB 62 would require that each ballot be printed with the name of its precinct. It passed the Senate 37 to 15 with the votes of four Democrats.”

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Congressman John Lewis’ final thoughts will be published in a book almost a year to the day after he died last July, the Associated Press reports.

“The book contains the late congressman’s final reflections after a lifetime on the front lines of the battle for America’s soul, focusing on the things that mattered most to him and sharing his hard-earned wisdom with the world one last time,” Grand Central Publishing told the AP.

The book, titled “Carry On,” includes anecdotes that Lewis shared with longtime editor Gretchen Young. Their final conversation was logged three weeks before he died of pancreatic cancer.

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A city-appointed Ethics panel will review a case against Valdosta Mayor Scott James Matheson Wednesday.

The three-member panel will weigh a complaint that claims Matheson has blurred the lines between his role as mayor and his career as a conservative talk radio host, the Valdosta Daily Times reports.

Matheson has hosted his radio show for 19 years, including the time, he points out, when he was elected mayor.

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The Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, a left-leaning Atlanta-based think tank, is losing its president.

Taifa Smith Butler, president and CEO of the group, will step down at the end of June to lead Demos, a New York-based think tank focused on economic and racial justice.

GBPI has been a leading state fiscal and policy research group for nearly two decades. It’s well known at the state Capitol, where its experts often testify before committees on a range of subjects, including tax, education, social services and health policy.

“Taifa’s leadership, people-centered vision and commitment to advancing prosperity throughout Georgia has transformed not just GPBI, but the way our state thinks about policy,” said Charles Johnson, chairman of the group’s board and Tuskegee University’s general counsel and vice president of external affairs.

Smith Butler said, “I am proud to have watched GBPI advance prosperity in our state over the last 10 years. We have learned from Georgians in every corner of our state that they are ready for a new era, one where our state’s leaders listen to the will of the people and prosperity is within reach for all.”

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POSTED: Big news for Georgia college students and their parents. The Georgia Board of Regents voted Tuesday to freeze tuition and fees at the current levels for the University System of Georgia’s 26 public colleges and universities for the upcoming school year.

It’s the fourth time in six years the Regents have voted not to increase tuition.

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Moving up. DeKalb County’s health director, Dr. Sandra Elizabeth Ford, has resigned to take a position in the Biden administration. The AJC’s Tyler Estep reports that she will work for the Domestic Policy Council led by Ambassador Susan Rice and her title will be “special assistant to the President for public health and science.”

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U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s father has died after a serious illness.

Robert Taylor founded the successful construction company Taylor Commercial in 1969. The Alpharetta company is now owned by his daughter, the congresswoman, and her husband.

Because of her father’s grave condition, Greene missed last weekend’s Republican National Committee events in Florida.

Our condolences go out to Rep. Greene and her family.

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