The Jolt: Stacey Abrams hitting campaign trail, but not in Georgia

News and analysis from the politics team at The Atlanta Journal Constitution
12/15/2020 —  Atlanta, Georgia — Former Democratic Georgia Gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams speaks during a “Get Ready to Vote” rally for Georgia Democrat U.S. Senator candidate Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff at Pratt-Pullman Yard in Atlanta’s Kirkwood neighborhood, Tuesday, December 15, 2020.  (Alyssa Pointer /

Credit: Alyssa Pointer/AJC

Credit: Alyssa Pointer/AJC

12/15/2020 — Atlanta, Georgia — Former Democratic Georgia Gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams speaks during a “Get Ready to Vote” rally for Georgia Democrat U.S. Senator candidate Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff at Pratt-Pullman Yard in Atlanta’s Kirkwood neighborhood, Tuesday, December 15, 2020. (Alyssa Pointer /

Even in the middle of her cross-country book tour, Stacey Abrams is making plenty of campaign news. But it’s not happening in Georgia.

The Georgia Democrat has already headlined fundraising emails for former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s comeback bid and touted his campaign to the media. Now she’s set to hit the campaign trail on Sunday with McAuliffe at “souls to the polls” events to mobilize Black voters.

Abrams also responded over the weekend to Donald Trump’s bizarre endorsement at his Georgia rally in September, in which he said he would have preferred if the Democrat defeated Gov. Brian Kemp in 2018

“It’s irrelevant,” she told CNN. “His posture is not relevant to the work that I’m doing or to the positions I take. My responsibility is to do what I can to ensure that no matter who you are, and no matter who you choose, that you have the freedom to vote in the United States.”

Abrams also dinged Kemp in a weekend tweet, when she noted that Georgia has achieved the unfortunate distinction of being the top state for new HIV infections, “for which there is no vaccine.”

Kemp was hounded several weeks ago for referring to the “HIV vaccine” several times in an appearance. Of course there is no vaccine for HIV. The governor’s staff said he misspoke and meant to say “HPV” vaccine.


Herschel Walker will announce Monday that he raised a whopping $3.7 million in the first five weeks of his campaign for U.S. Senate.

His team reports the money came in from 50,000 individual donors in all 50 states, at an average of $100,000 per day.

To put those numbers in perspective, fellow Republican Senate hopeful Gary Black reported raising $703,000 during his first quarter in the race. Black’s donations came in from 670 donors, with all but 50 of those donors in Georgia.

On the other side of the aisle, incumbent U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock reported raising $7 million in the second quarter of this year, with $10.5 million cash-on-hand.

In a statement, Walker said, “We are grateful for every cent and look forward to continuing to travel across this great state and shaking hands with real Georgians and hearing about issues facing their communities.”

We’ll point out here that although Walker references “continuing to” shake hands with real Georgians, we have yet to see the former UGA footballer in traditional public campaign events. While he spoke briefly at former President Trump’s rally in Perry and has done private get-togethers around the state, he has also been out of state for at least one speaking engagement he scheduled before deciding on a Senate run.

And while he’s done multiple national interviews with Fox News hosts, he’s spoken only occasionally to local media in Georgia since declaring for Senate more than a month ago.

We’re told he’ll be out and about in the state in more public settings soon, and will keep you posted when he does.


Early voting in the Atlanta mayor’s race is just one day away. So Sunday night’s final debate ahead of the deadline featured plenty of fireworks and sound-offs.

Our AJC colleague Tamar Hallerman has a blow-by-blow of the action: “Atlanta’s five leading mayoral candidates tangled over crime, public safety and the fate of the city jail in a televised debate Sunday that at times turned testy over contenders’ records on ethics, corruption and financial stewardship.”

The full write-up is at


The Daily Beast has some of the details in Brad Raffensperger’s forthcoming book, “Integrity Counts,” ahead of its Nov. 2 release, which includes the secretary of state’s best guess at what provoked former President Donald Trump to call him and demand he “find” the votes to overturn his defeat.

In an appearance on Cavuto Live on Jan. 2, Raffensperger once again vouched for the veracity of Joe Biden’s victory in Georgia, noting every tally of the race upheld the Democrat’s narrow win.

“We did an audit of the race,” Raffensperger said on Cavuto Live. “President Trump still lost. Then we did a full recount. President Trump still lost.”

From the Daily Beast:

That declaration seems to have caught the president's attention. The book recalls how Trump immediately sought to speak with Raffensperger and had his chief of staff, Mark Meadows, reach out to Raffensperger's deputy, Jordan Fuchs.

Fuchs alerted Raffensperger as he drove back from the remote TV studio in northeast Atlanta that the president wanted to speak with him. He took the call from the president that afternoon at his kitchen counter. On one end of the call was the secretary of state, his deputy, and the department's top lawyer. On the other was the president, his chief of staff, and several of his lawyers.

- The Daily Beast

And you know the rest …


Politico’s Marc Caputo has this line in a profile of the secretary of state over the weekend: “If Raffensperger isn’t Trump’s top GOP nemesis, he’s close to it.”

That might be true, though Trump may not see it that way. Although Trump has frequently panned Raffensperger, he devoted more attention at his rally last month in Perry attacking Gov. Brian Kemp.

But as Caputo noted, Raffensperger is the only Georgia Republican set to be on the 2022 ballot “who refuses to shut up and take” Trump’s incessant attacks.

Also in the piece was this quote from former U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland that caught our eyes, which reveals just how embedded Trump’s false “rigged election” claims have become in the GOP electorate-- and how much of a role that narrative will play in 2022:

“The last internal poll I saw said that 87 percent of Republican primary voters felt like the election was stolen,” said Westmoreland. “With those kinds of numbers, I don’t see Brad getting through the primary.”


POSTED: Georgia State School Board member Butch Mosely has died a the age of 80. Our colleague, Asia Simone Burns, wrote about the state leaders, including Gov. Brian Kemp, grieving Mosely’s passing.

Kemp, who appointed Mosely to the board in 2019, wrote that he and his family are “heartbroken.”

“Butch dedicated his career to putting students and teachers first, and our state is better for his service,” Kemp added.


Georgia U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock has added his name to a letter signed by 15 other Democratic senators assailing the treatment of Haitian refugees in U.S. detention. The letter is addressed to both Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

“Ensuring the integrity of the U.S. borders is of the utmost importance, and is not incompatible with the fundamental duty to respect the dignity, humanity and rights of all individuals seeking entry to the United States,” the senators wrote.

The letter requests a new special envoy for Haiti to be appointed to fill the vacancy created when Daniel Foote stepped down after learning about the deportation of Haitians at the Texas border.

State Rep. Calvin Smyre will eventually be a part of the mix in the region, once he’s confirmed by the U.S. Senate to be U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic.


One of Marjorie Taylor Greene’s opponents in next year’s GOP primary in the 14th Congressional District is criticizing mailers sent from Greene’s D.C. office that look more like campaign communications.

The mailers in question praise Greene’s longshot attempt to impeach President Joe Biden and were produced and mailed using taxpayer dollars through the U.S. House of Representatives.

Jennifer Strahan, who announced last month she is running against Greene, issued a news release calling the flyers a violation of congressional rules because they are less about Greene’s work in the district and more akin to campaign communication.

“Congresswoman Greene should reimburse taxpayers for this blatant waste of tax money to promote her campaign in violation of congressional rules,” she said.

As of this writing, we have no knowledge of any formal complaints being filed against Greene regarding the mailers, which we’re told had to be reviewed by House of Representatives staff in advance. Guidance about the use of franked congressional mail says discussion about pending legislation, which Greene’s articles of impeachment technically are, is allowed.


All eight of the Republicans representing Georgia in the U.S. House have signed a letter saying they will oppose any attempt by President Joe Biden to implement COVID-19 vaccine mandates in schools or colleges.

U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, a pharmacist by trade, took the lead on the lawmakers’ letter to Education Secretary Miguel Cardona. It says that the decision to get vaccinated should be left up to families and their doctors.

The letter also paints a rosy picture of Georgia’s efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

Georgia ranks 42nd in the nation for vaccination rates, according to CDC data.

“States like Georgia have led the way in protecting lives and livelihoods through a thoughtful, balanced approach,” they wrote. “Since the beginning of the pandemic, Georgia has prioritized a safe reopening of schools while maintaining individual freedom and protecting patient privacy.”

Democratic U.S. Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux was not happy with her colleagues’ position and said she expected more from Carter, in particular.

“In case you forgot: K-12 and college students are already required to get other vaccines,” the Suwanee representative wrote on Twitter. “Adding one more to the list that saves lives, helps the economy, and gets us out of the pandemic quicker seems like something a pharmacist like you should be all for.”


If you are following “Buckhead City” developments as closely as we are, you’ll be interested in three items over the weekend:

  • First, an op-ed from Bill White, the leader of the Buckhead City Committee, in the AJC’s Sunday pages. In it, White makes his case for moving forward with the effort to carve the Buckhead neighborhood out of Atlanta to make its own city.
  • In a separate AJC op-ed, Dave Wilkinson, the CEO of the Atlanta Police Foundation, sees things very differently, particularly when it comes to promises that a new city would significantly reduce crime in the area.
  • Finally, the New York Post has a profile of White, including the details that Aretha Franklin performed at his wedding, he wears a 1977 New York Yankees championship ring he says George Steinbrenner gave him, and White’s response to that $1 million settlement he signed with the state of New York in connection with an illegal fundraising scheme.


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