The Jolt: Is Georgia ‘Blurple,’ ‘Rurple’ or Purple?

People cheer as President Joe Biden speaks during a rally at Infinite Energy Center, to mark his 100th day in office, Thursday, April 29, 2021, in Duluth, Ga. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
People cheer as President Joe Biden speaks during a rally at Infinite Energy Center, to mark his 100th day in office, Thursday, April 29, 2021, in Duluth, Ga. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Credit: Evan Vucci

Credit: Evan Vucci

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

Was Georgia’s past election cycle a Trump-fueled aberration in a still-Red state? A new normal of razor-tight seesawing political battles? Or the beginning of a slide toward becoming reliably blue?

In one scenario, Georgia voters could act like neighboring North Carolina or Florida, with perennially close races that tilt Republican. Another model could be Virginia’s, which is close to becoming a solid blue lock.

In Jolt shorthand, are we Blurple, Rurple, or Purple?

We caught up with Democratic National Committee chairman Jaime Harrison, a native South Carolinian, to ask him that question at President Joe Biden’s rally in Gwinnett County Thursday.

“I think Georgia will become the next Virginia. I really do believe that - I think that’s in the cards,” Harrison said.

He continued:

“Republicans are crowing about the Census, but I think they really should look at the numbers and the question is: Why are these states growing, and who are the people who are coming to the states? And it’s my argument that those folks are more Democratic than the existing electorate and, and if that’s the case then the politics of the states will change. And so, either the Republicans will continue to put their hands over their eyes and ears and mouths and think that they’re going to continue to control things. Or they better start moderating their politics a little more in order to fit a much more purple universe.”

Harrison said there’s no doubt Georgia will continue to be “front and center of the political discussion,” with U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock’s re-election bid and Gov. Brian Kemp’s battle for a second term in 2022. He ranked Georgia with Arizona, Nevada and New Hampshire as the states with the most competitive Senate races.

The Democratic success in Georgia, of course, has brought about more internal competition on the ballot. There are competitive primary races for multiple down-ticket seats that not long ago hardly attracted any attention. Harrison said the intraparty rivalries will help Democrats in the long run.

“It’s a good thing for a growing party to have some competition to figure out who you are and what you stand for and what you believe. And so I don’t think primaries a bad thing. I mean the candidates probably do,” he said with a chuckle.

“But I think one of the most important parts about our primaries is you keep the machinery moving. People are organizing, people are knocking on doors. And so when the primary stops, it’s not like you’re starting with a full ending. You are just building on the momentum and the energy that was already there. I’m very proud of how the Georgia Democratic Party is growing.”

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Gwinnett County isn’t Newt Country anymore. That was one big takeaway from President Joe Biden’s visit to Georgia Thursday.

After a swing through Plains to see his longtime pal, President Jimmy Carter, Biden picked a drive-in rally at Duluth’s Infinite Energy Center for this thank-you-Georgia victory lap.

Once the beating heart of the GOP’s 1990′s resurgence and later its lock on statewide power, Gwinnett County was also crucial to Biden’s Georgia win in 2020 when he won the county with 58% of the vote.

From the stage, Biden called out to every Democratic member of the Georgia congressional delegation who went to the event, including Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux.

The congresswoman represents the Gwinnett-based 7th district, but is expected to get a tough challenge from a reconfigured district (courtesy of Republicans), a strong GOP opponent, or possibly both.

Biden’s message to the Democrats in Duluth: “If you ever wonder if elections make a difference, just remember what you did here in Georgia.”

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The Washington Post’s Fact Checker took Stacey Abrams to task Thursday, giving her “two Pinocchio’s” for a statement she made during last week’s U.S. Senate hearing on voting rights.

During the hearing, Abrams said that Senate Bill 202, “actually eliminates hours of voting and mandates only a shortened period of time.”

Read the entire item for context, but in short, the Post ultimately ruled that Abrams’ language “misleadingly implies that voting is restricted” by the law.

Almost immediately, Abrams’ Fair Fight Action went up on Twitter with a six-point argument of why the Fact Checker was wrong about his facts on the bill. The group also blasted Glenn Kessler, the fact checker, with a fact check of his previous commentary on SB 202.

That hasn’t stopped Republican operatives from piling on, accusing Abrams of lying about the details of the bill.

For the record, SB 202 clearly contains restrictions on early voting, along with a one-day expansion of early weekend voting in mostly rural counties before general elections. There are provisions like that one that Republicans can pluck out to tell supporters it’s an expansion— and many others critics can point to that impose new obstacles. The polarizing messaging wars in many ways feels like the new standard for politics these days.

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You know we’re keeping our eyes peeled for the bills Gov. Brian Kemp will or won’t sign before the May 10th state-imposed deadline, when he must approve, veto or allow bills that were passed this legislative session to be enacted without his signature.

Look for news on that front Monday when Kemp is set to sign a package of six bills focused on adoption and foster care reform, as well as House Bill 534, the Assembly-passed measure targeting street racing, which has intensified this year.

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Conservationists and locals in South Georgia have been sounding the alarm about a titanium mine proposed near the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. Now Sens. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock are writing to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to share their concerns, too.

From the Savannah Morning News:

Alabama-based Twin Pines Minerals has applied to state regulators at the EPD for five permits needed before the company can mine for titanium and other heavy metals on more than 500 acres of ancient beach dunes called Trail Ridge in Charlton County. The site comes within three miles of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, a USFWS property….

The environmental review of the mining plan was disrupted last summer when the Trump administration loosened the regulation of many wetlands, or “waters of the U.S." (WOTUS), removing the need for the mining project to receive scrutiny from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The change put an “onerous burden" on Georgia's regulators, the senators wrote.

- The Savannah Morning News

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A scheduling note: Sen. Raphael Warnock’s statewide virtual town hall has been moved up from this evening to 11:00 am this morning. Look for the senator on his Twitter and Facebook pages and submit your questions for the man from Savannah (and now Atlanta) directly to his office.

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Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene is hitting the road with Rep. Matt Gaetz, for what is expected to be a nationwide RINO-shaming tour, calling out fellow Republicans deemed to be insufficiently conservative.

Gaetz is reportedly under federal investigation for sex trafficking a minor, but the congressman has denied the salacious allegations.

Politico has the details on their travels.

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Speaking of tours, Stacey Abrams will be on a totally different kind of tour this month as she goes cross-country, virtually, to sell her new legal thriller, While Justice Sleeps.

Abrams will Zoom into bookstores from New York to California, joined for each by notable hosts like Katie Couric and Robin Roberts. With a likely campaign on the horizon, expect those events to do double duty for exposure and fundraising later.

Her tour lists just one Georgia stop so far-- on May 18th at the Decatur Book Festival.

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Whether you like news from Greg Bluestein or about Greg Bluestein, the Red and Black has a gigantic write-up on one of its most prolific alumni. Enjoy.

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Your fun fact of the day, courtesy of a fellow word nerd in Gov. Brian Kemp’s office: If you look carefully at all communications from the Governor, the official font for all documents in the state is “Georgia.”

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As always, remember that Jolt readers are also some of our favorite tipsters. Send your very best political tips, scoops and gossip our way to patricia.murphy@ajc.com.

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