The Jolt: Hail to our Chief, Jim Galloway

January 14, 2021 Atlanta - Jim Galloway, AJC political columnist, is recognized and honored as Rep. Calvin Smyre (left) and David Ralston, Speaker of the House, look in the House Chambers during the 4th day of the 2021 legislative session at the Georgia State Capitol building on Thursday, January 14, 2021. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)
January 14, 2021 Atlanta - Jim Galloway, AJC political columnist, is recognized and honored as Rep. Calvin Smyre (left) and David Ralston, Speaker of the House, look in the House Chambers during the 4th day of the 2021 legislative session at the Georgia State Capitol building on Thursday, January 14, 2021. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

On Thursday, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s newsroom celebrated Jim Galloway’s retirement after more than 41 years with the newspaper.

Governors, U.S. senators, judges, strategists and current and former colleagues shared memories and offered their gratitude for Jim’s career at the AJC. There were plenty of belly laughs, more than a few tears and even a rap in his honor.

(His fellow Insiders regaled him with sappy speeches, but we’ll spare you those details.)

Hours earlier, the Georgia Senate and House commended Jim for his singular role in state politics, as a reporter, a columnist and the founding editor of the Political Insider blog.

In the Senate, Pro Tem Butch Miller praised Jim as an iconic journalist. In the House, Speaker David Ralston and Dean Calvin Smyre praised him as a legend.

“I did not always agree with him, or like even, some of his reporting,” said Ralston. “And that’s the way it should be. Because we have a job to do -- and these men and women have a job to do.”

Jim thanked the leaders in response. “They have proven Mark Twain right - there is no greater gift a person can receive than the ability to pen his own funeral while he’s still alive.”

Watch it here, and join us in thanking Jim for a lifetime of service.

Among the many legacies Jim leaves is, of course, the Jolt, which he created and helmed for all of you every morning.

The remaining Insiders will work to uphold Jim’s vision for this space as the very best source for Georgia political news and insight anywhere on the web.

Hail to you, Chief.

***

“This is the dream.” Those are the words Sen.-elect Raphael Warnock finished many-a-stump speech with during his 2020 campaign.

The pastor from Martin Luther King Jr.’s pulpit at Ebenezer Baptist Church was inviting his supporters to imagine that Georgia, which once kept its Black and Jewish citizens from fully participating in society, could elect a Black man and Jewish man to represent them in the U.S. Senate in 2020.

The Dream will be on full display this weekend as Ebenezer and the King Center celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend.

As he does every year, Warnock will offer the MLK Shabbat sermon tonight to the Temple, Atlanta’s oldest Jewish congregation where fellow Sen.-elect Jon Ossoff was Bar Mitzvahed.

And on Monday, Warnock will be back in the pulpit at Ebenezer for its annual MLK celebration. The event has long been a place for governors, senators and leaders of both parties to visit and promise to work toward Dr. King’s Beloved Community.

Now one of Georgia’s top leaders himself, Warnock will be doing the welcoming- not just the visiting- and heading to Washington next week to become a U.S. senator.

***

On the question of when exactly Ossoff and Warnock will be sworn into the Senate, Georgia election official Gabriel Sterling offered some insight yesterday on Twitter, noting that the deadline for counties to certify their results is today at 5:00.

Once certified, and after Monday’s federal holiday, Gov. Brian Kemp will then sign off on the results and pass them on to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to be transmitted to the Senate.

Shorter answer: Look for two new senators from Georgia some time next week.

***

As the new senators settle into their roles, they’ll soon learn that despite the bluster in the Capitol, bi-partisan bills frequently emerge from Georgia’s congressional delegation, especially on projects related to the state.

But Politico reports some Democratic lawmakers, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, are contemplating a plan to punish Republicans who challenged Biden’s win by keeping bills they co-sponsor “from seeing the light of day.”

We’re not sure how that would work for a state like Georgia, where six of the eight Republicans in the delegation objected to Biden’s victory. Of the veteran lawmakers among them, all have had their names on bi-partisan legislation of benefit to their districts.

***

Already posted: President-elect Joe Biden has nominated Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms to serve as the Democratic National Committee’s vice chair for civic engagement and voter protection.

***

Yesterday also marked Gov. Brian Kemp’s  State of the State address, in which he called for a new, more collaborative tone in the state Capitol, and although he didn’t say it, among state Republicans.

“Let’s clear away the conspiracy theories and the division,” Kemp said. “Let’s focus on the bountiful harvests to come.”

With the state still in the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic, Kemp said he’ll push for increased funding for education. He said also he won’t recommend any budget cuts or tax increases.

Nowhere in the speech: Any mention of changes to voting laws in the state, one of the issues certain to be introduced and debated this session.

***

The early Democratic response to Republican proposals to change voting laws has been a swift and clear, “No.”

From the Senate Democratic Caucus chairwoman Elena Parent in the Capitol yesterday:

“We will see again and again in this building efforts to manipulate (voting rights) so that those who are in power can retain power. One must ask, what are they afraid of?”

***

Over in the New York Times’ Deal Book, Andrew Ross Sorkin notes that among the many companies pausing donations from its PAC after last week’s Capitol attack is Intercontinental Exchange. Its C.E.O. is Jeffrey Sprecher, who of course, is married to former Sen. Kelly Loeffler

Sorkin raises a thorny question for the company:

As companies across the U.S. condemn the attack on the Capitol and try to distance themselves from Republicans who challenged the election result, one may have a harder time than most separating itself from the controversy: Intercontinental Exchange, or ICE, the parent company of the New York Stock Exchange.

Its C.E.O. is Jeffrey Sprecher, who is married to Senator Kelly Loeffler, the Georgia Republican who lost her seat in last week's runoff election. Ms. Loeffler ran as an unabashed supporter of President Trump, and up until the mob stormed the Capitol she planned to object to the Electoral College count."

So here are the questions of the day: Should this matter to companies like AT&T, Morgan Stanley and Walmart that are listed on the N.Y.S.E. and that condemned the violence at the Capitol and halted political donations? What about private companies looking for an exchange to list their shares?

- New York Times

***

Some Democratic members of Congress have said they suspect some of their Republican colleagues aided last week’s insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by giving far-right activists private tours the day before.

Those allegations have been thrown around with few specifics, and no names named. But that hasn’t stopped folks from speculating and spreading rumors on social media about member, including Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene.

So we asked Greene’s spokesman, “Did she give, facilitate or authorize any tours of the Capitol or Capitol grounds on Jan. 5?”

The response, which came within minutes: “No. Absolutely not.”

Meanwhile, AJC colleagues Chris Joyner and Jeremy Redmon have a deep dive on some of the Georgians who traveled to Washington for last week’s protests and the conspiracy theories and far-right rhetoric that fueled them.

***

Congress is still picking up the pieces from that violent and bloody riot. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer noted on social media that a placard outside his office honoring the life of Georgia Congressman John Lewis was among the items vandalized.

A duplicate is now in place.

“Insurrectionists may have torn down our memorial of our dear John Lewis, but they can’t tear down his legacy or stop us from working to achieve equality for all,” Hoyer wrote on Twitter. “The memorial is standing once again outside my office!”

***

We’re not sure what Republican strategist Chip Lake has up his sleeve, but he was aiming a string of nasty tweets toward his former boss, Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, last night.

Lake and Duncan have a fraught history: Lake quit as Duncan’s top aide and chief adviser not long after the lieutenant governor sided with Gov. Brian Kemp’s pick of Kelly Loeffler for the Senate seat. Lake ended up the chief consultant for her bitter rival, Rep. Doug Collins.

Anyway, the bad blood has boiled over. In a series of tweets late Thursday, Lake questioned Duncan’s integrity and leveled accusations about his narrow 2018 runoff win over David Shafer, who is now the state party chair.

We checked in with Lake yesterday, and he texted something he would later tweet: “I wasn’t the one that lectured Georgians today about ‘honesty and integrity’ ahead of Kemp’s State of the State speech.”

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