The Jolt: Marjorie Taylor Greene’s Iowa trip fuels speculation of presidential hopes

200829-Rome-Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican running to represent Georgia’s 14th congressional district, talks with supporters Saturday morning August 29, 2020 at a political rally at the Rome fairgrounds. Ben Gray for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Caption
200829-Rome-Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican running to represent Georgia’s 14th congressional district, talks with supporters Saturday morning August 29, 2020 at a political rally at the Rome fairgrounds. Ben Gray for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Ben Gray

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

U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene has not said anything about wanting to be president. But she has been traveling across the nation with a fellow conservative, raising big cash and increasing her profile as a far-right firebrand.

And now, Bloomberg reporter Jennifer Jacobs tells us that Greene is headed to the Iowa State Fair.

Such a visit is considered a traditional early stop for presidential aspirants or politicians kicking the tires to see what a run for the highest elected office might look like.

Going to the Iowa State Fair doesn’t mean that Greene is running for president in 2024. But attending the event is something a presidential hopeful would do.

Jacobs wrote she isn’t sure if Greene is on the program to speak. And she didn’t hear back from Greene’s representatives when she asked. Your Insiders also didn’t get a response when we attempted to follow up on our own.

Greene, a Rome Republican, is a staunch defender of former President Donald Trump, and her controversies in Congress have endeared her to MAGA Republicans who could hold great sway in a primary.

That could help Greene in a competition where she is up against other Trump acolytes like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. But Greene’s decision could also depend on whether Trump himself decides to run.

For right now, we’ll just call it a trip to Iowa.

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No one can even be sure yet what the boundaries will be for two swing congressional seats in suburban Atlanta currently held by Democrats. But the behind-the-scenes gamesmanship to defeat Reps. Carolyn Bourdeaux and Lucy McBath is intensifying.

Here are just some of the recent developments:

  • The Congressional Leadership Fund, the super PAC aligned with House GOP leaders, launched new ads this morning in Bourdeaux’s district blaming the first-term Democrat for the rise in crime in metro Atlanta.

It’s part of a broader effort by Republicans to link Democrats to an uptick in homicides and other violent crimes, though congressional lawmakers have little impact on local law enforcement policies. Bourdeaux also never supported the “defund the police” movement.

  • Republican Jake Evans, a former state ethics chair challenging McBath, staked out his anti-abortion position in a Georgia Life Alliance questionnaire.

The first-time candidate said he would allow abortions only when the mother’s life is in danger and said he didn’t believe in exceptions in cases of rape or incest. That’s a departure from former U.S. Rep. Karen Handel, who carved out those circumstances when she filled out a similar questionnaire in 2017.

In case you were wondering, physician Rich McCormick, Bourdeaux’s GOP challenger, told the alliance in 2020 that he would ban abortions in all circumstances with no exceptions.

  • Harold Earls, another GOP contender in the race for McBath’s 6th District, received a letter from the Federal Elections Commission that threatens “an audit or enforcement action” over questionable contributions to his campaign.

The July 29 letter highlights three contributions totaling roughly $40,000 from a joint fundraising committee called “Team Earls” that was transferred to his campaign account. Earls’ campaign didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

UPDATE: A day later, Earls posted this video responding to the FEC letter on his YouTube channel:

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A pro-Joe Biden group unveiled a volley of ads today that will air in Georgia promoting the president’s agenda – and thanking U.S. Sens. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock for making it possible.

The ad from Building Back Better focuses on Biden’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and the $1.9 trillion stimulus measure. Here’s a glimpse.

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Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan wants to send a message to the Georgia Senate that he’s no lame duck.

Duncan opted against another run for Georgia’s No. 2 job to promote his vision of a post-Donald Trump GOP.

But he’s putting his political capital behind a proposal for a $250 million state tax credit that essentially allows Georgians to direct taxes they would normally pay into the state treasury to law enforcement instead.

He’s out with an op-ed in Fox News pitching the plan as the antithesis of the “defund the police” slogan. Here’s a snippet:

Most importantly, this proposal is something everyone should be able to rally around, left, right and center. Now that everyone outside of the far left agrees that defunding the police is the wrong approach, let’s think about how we refund our law enforcement agencies without adding to the debt or raising taxes. Allowing private citizens to play a role is a common-sense step forward, and a win-win for everyone.

We’re also interested in another section, where Duncan shoots down the idea of a separate city of Buckhead, a notion some conservatives are pushing to help combat Atlanta’s struggles with crime. From the op-ed:

The realities of creating a new city are cumbersome, divisive and will have little to no effect on the growing crime issue in the Buckhead community if the overall city of Atlanta does not take the necessary steps to make its streets safer. Criminals will still find their way to Buckhead despite the change in mailing address.

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Georgia U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff has mostly allowed his counterpart, Raphael Warnock, to have the spotlight when it comes to the issue of voting rights and whether Congress should pass federal legislation to counter Georgia’s new election law.

But Ossoff has introduced his own voting proposal that he says would protect American citizens’ right to vote and allow them to directly challenge state laws that make it tougher to cast ballots. Ossoff’s bill could make it harder for courts to reject challenges to state elections law the way the Supreme Court did most recently in an Arizona case.

“The right to vote is fundamental; people bled and died to secure it,” Ossoff told CNN to unveil the proposal Wednesday. “And that’s why this week I’m introducing the Right to Vote Act.”

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Augusta native Chavonda Jacobs-Young has been nominated by President Joe Biden to serve as the Department of Agriculture’s undersecretary for research, education and economics. In other words, Jacobs-Young is the USDA’s chief scientist.

Prior to this promotion, Jacobs-Young served as administrator of the USDA’s primary in-house scientific research agency.

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How’s this for bipartisanship? Former Govs. Roy Barnes and Nathan Deal will serve as co-chairs of a $150 million fundraising campaign for a northwest Georgia health and social services organization.

The goal is to help Healthy Foundations Georgia raise enough money to build a 374-acre campus in Walker County. Phase one of the project includes a 400-bed healthcare facility for veterans and first responders.

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As always, Jolt readers are some of our favorite tipsters. Send your best scoop, gossip and insider info to patricia.murphy@ajc.com, tia.mitchell@ajc.com and greg.bluestein@ajc.com.