The Jolt: Jon Ossoff’s and Raphael Warnock’s water-at-the-polls bill doused, for now

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

The U.S. Senate Rules Committee deadlocked on Democrats’ signature voting rights bill Tuesday after a marathon session to consider dozens of amendments to the measure.

Senators voted along party lines, 9 to 9, on the For the People Act, the sweeping, 800-page federal elections bill known as S1. The bill would create new national standards for federal elections, along with a major overhaul of campaign finance rules and significant changes to states’ redistricting processes.

While Republicans called the bill “a solution in search of a problem,” Georgia U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff told his colleagues on the committee that new election laws like Georgia’s are designed to assuage Trump supporters, who have been misled about fraud in the 2020 election, and passed by leaders to “shift the scales in favor of their party.”

Ossoff also introduced an amendment from him and U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock to prevent states from banning the distribution of food and water at polling sites.

Before his colleagues voted on what he called a “common sense” proposal, Ossoff talked about meeting a caregiver for an 87-year-old Georgian, who had to wait for hours in line to vote in 2020 with her oxygen tank and wheelchair.

The Ossoff amendment also failed on a party-line, 9-9 vote, but Warnock and Ossoff have separately introduced the measure as a stand-alone bill in the Senate.

Despite the tie vote on S.1, the legislation isn’t necessarily finished. Under Senate rules, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer can still bring the bill to the Senate floor for consideration.

He has also indicated he could change the Senate’s filibuster rules to get to a vote for S1, since it’s unlikely that 10 Republicans would vote with Democrats to end an expected GOP filibuster of the bill.

In response to the committee vote, Warnock tweeted, “This is a 911 emergency for our democracy. We have to pass federal voting rights legislation, no matter what—and we won’t stop pushing until the #ForThePeopleAct gets a vote on the Senate floor.”


The state’s higher education system is restarting the complicated process of finding a new chancellor after a series of setbacks related to a behind-the-scenes push to put Sonny Perdue in the sought-after post.

Our AJC colleague Eric Stirgus has the rundown on the decision to find a new executive search firm to help to select the next University System of Georgia chancellor after the last company that abruptly quit.

If no candidate for the position is selected by June 30, the 19-member board is set to appoint an acting chancellor, who would steer the university system until a permanent replacement is found.

What’s clear is that the search to replace retiring Chancellor Steve Wrigley just got a lot more hairy.

What’s less clear is what this means for Perdue, the two-term governor and former Agriculture secretary who is still believed to be a serious contender for the job.

There’s reason for both supporters and opponents of Perdue to be buoyed by the developments, though the entire process is shrouded in what Regents-watchers have dubbed the “fog of bore” -- punctuated by a three-hour closed-door meeting on Tuesday.

The anti-Perdue faction strongly opposes the idea of a political appointee at the helm of the state’s crown jewels and worries that it would be harder to recruit top-notch applicants to premier university jobs with him in charge.

But Perdue supporters among the Regents and in other corners of state government say the former governor’s chances are still alive -- it just might take longer than they initially expected.

With the additional lead time, they hope they can line up more support among the Regents -- and guarantee Perdue a chance to make his case during interviews with the new search firm, a crucial part of the process put on hold in April.

The back-and-forth takes us back to the original question we asked in April: How badly do Perdue’s allies want him overseeing Georgia’s universities?


Here’s the latest on the political fallout from the shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline caused by a cyberattack:

  • On Tuesday, Gov. Brian Kemp temporarily suspended the state’s gas tax, lowering fuel prices by 20-30 cents per gallon to offset increases at the pumps.
  • The White House has issued a temporary waiver that allows states, including Georgia, to temporarily use noncompliant fuel in an effort to boost available supply. Trucking standards were also relaxed to allow drivers to work longer hours with heavier loads.
  • The U.S. Department of Transportation has begun the process of waiving the Jones Act to allow foreign-flagged vessels to deliver fuel to places experiencing shortages.
  • Colonial pipeline, the Alpharetta-based company, said it hopes to have the pipeline back in service by the end of the week.


Gov. Brian Kemp and Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan did a statewide flyaround Tuesday, with stops in Columbus, Valdosta, and Augusta to highlight local wins in the state’s new $27.2 billion budget, which Kemp signed earlier this week.

In Columbus, Kemp announced new funding for Sickle Cell Anemia research, named in honor of the Dean of the state House, Rep. Calvin Smyre.


House Democrats Tuesday blocked Georgia U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter from leading an effort to pass an opioid addiction bill because Carter also voted earlier this year to block the Electoral College votes of Pennsylvania for Joe Biden for president.

According to Politico’s Olivia Beavers, Carter then voted against the bill, as did many Republicans who voted no in solidarity with Carter.

The Fairness in Orphan Drug Exclusivity Act was expected to be a bipartisan and noncontroversial bill, but it failed to win a two-thirds vote 250-168, with all eight Republicans in Georgia’s delegation voting “no.”

“My GOP colleagues just voted against allowing new treatments for opioid use disorder because they weren’t named leaders on the bill,” Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Pennsylvania, wrote on Twitter after the vote. “They voted against certifying a fair election after an insurrection because their guy didn’t win. What are they voting for? Their ego?”

Carter also lamented the outcome of the measure.

“Tonight Democrats chose partisan political games and their Trump Derangement Syndrome over advancing what should have been bipartisan legislation in a bipartisan way,” Carter wrote. “I refuse to apologize for standing up for my values and I’ll never stop fighting to make sure hardworking Georgians are heard on the floor of the House.”

Elections officials and the courts have confirmed that Biden won the election in Pennsylvania and other states, including Georgia, and broadly rejected claims of fraud or mismanagement made by Trump supporters.


Former President Donald Trump’s endorsement of GOP chair David Shafer might have spared Shafer from a high-caliber opponent.

Jason Shepherd, the former Cobb GOP chair, announced earlier this year he would challenge Shafer with a platform of building a more robust party infrastructure to reverse the GOP statewide losses of the 2020 cycle.

But that was before Trump weighed in on the race. Now, Shepherd tells us his friends are pushing him to run for 11th District GOP chair instead. He hasn’t yet made up his mind, though the clock is ticking: Party rules say he has until Saturday to decide.


Charlie Bailey, the Democratic runner-up to Attorney General Chris Carr in 2018, posed a question to Carr on Twitter a few hours after the Republican announced a re-election bid Tuesday.

“RAGA spent $3.3 million attacking me in 2018 to get @ChrisCarr_Ga his narrow win. Now he has left RAGA because he wants voters to forget the role he played funding and organizing the Jan. 6 insurrection. My question for AG Carr: Will you take their help again?”

Although Carr said earlier this year he was unaware of the group’s role in encouraging Trump supporters to march to the Capitol after Trump’s Jan. 6 the “Stop the Steal” rally, look for RAGA and its fundraising arm, the Rule of Law Defense fund, to play a prominent role in Democrats’ attacks on Carr through the 2022 campaign.

We’ll note here that Carr did not announce his departure from RAGA in April. Rather, he announced he would step down as the group’s chairman and as a member of the executive committee of the national organization.


Look for U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock to talk about ideas to improve Georgia’s economic outlook at today’s Senate Commerce Committee meeting. The agenda includes discussion about the Endless Frontier Act, a bill that would boost American investment in science and technology innovation.

Warnock has said the legislation could serve as a platform to grow Atlanta’s role as a technology hub by investing in STEM programs at the state’s colleges and universities, particularly its historically black institutions. He also plans to lobby for an amendment to the bill to increase funding for production of semiconductors in Georgia.

Wednesday’s markup starts at 10:00 am.


Charlie Hayslett at Trouble in God’s Country drills down on data that reveals what he describes as “two profoundly different tribes” inside the GOP base in Georgia -- namely the very wealthy exurban voters and the very poor rural voters that the party must continue to unite to win in the future.

The party's exurban territories — in counties like Forsyth, Oconee, Cherokee and others — are literally among the most economically prosperous, best educated and least dependent on government resources in the nation. After covering its 2018 Medicaid, Peachcare and Food Stamp costs, Forsyth County alone left $1.5 billion-with-a-b on the federal table.

From the gnat line south, however, the GOP's rural territory is devolving into third world status. That includes the two most Republican counties in the state, Glascock and Brantley, which, respectively, gave Trump 90.2 and 89.6 percent of their 2020 votes. They also both came up short in covering their 2018 public healthcare and Food Stamp costs — Brantley by more than $1 million, Glascock by $1.6 million.

The two counties were among 48 Middle and South Georgia counties with populations of fewer than 20,000 people that went for Trump, most of them heavily. Combined, their Medicaid, Peachcare and Food Stamp costs burned up 96.6 percent of the federal taxes they owed — $622 million out of $643.6 million.

- Trouble in God's Country


Congratulations to friend of the Jolt, Martha Zoller, master of radio at Gainesville’s WDUN who will also become a master of politics this Friday, literally.

Zoller graduates this week from the University of Georgia with a master’s degree in political science after a five-year odyssey of balancing classes with life as a Senate aide, political strategist, media personality and mom.

To the multi-taskers and lifelong learners among you like Zoller, we salute you!


A new podcast called “The Suburban Women Problem” is launching Wednesday to give -- you guessed it -- suburban women who are uncomfortable with the GOP’s Trump-ian tilt a “safe space to change their minds.”

It’s hosted by three suburban moms in battleground states-- Democratic state Rep. Jasmine Clark, a microbiologist who flipped a suburban seat in the Georgia state Legislature; Rachel Vindman, the Virginia-based wife of retired Army officer Alexander Vindman; and Amanda Weinstein, a professor, Air Force veteran and wife of a Democratic state representative in Ohio, who bolted the GOP upset with the party’s shift.

Look for it on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.


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