U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene brought her roadshow with fellow Republican colleague Matt Gaetz to Dalton last night, and it went about how you’d expect for the embattled duo. (Gaetz is under federal investigation for sex trafficking, while Greene was roundly condemned this week for equating proof of vaccination to Nazi terror tactics.)
Greene rolled up in her preferred mode of transportation - a Humvee - to cheers from a crowd of about 400 people at the town’s convention center. She promptly went into pure Donald-Trump mode.
She started by taking aim at the two dozen or so reporters on hand, some from far-right outlets. Like Trump, she took particular delight in attacking CNN.
That was only the start of her channelling the former president, whom she hailed as the unquestioned leader of the party. Next, she launched into a recitation of his dishonest claims about widespread election fraud in Georgia.
“We’ve got to clear something up: Who won the presidential race on November 3 for Georgia?” The crowd bellowed Trump’s name in response.
Greene told them as taxpayers, they have the right to demand another tally of votes. “If you want an audit, then you deserve an audit,” she said of the stalled push to review Georgia’s election results once again.
The election results have already been upheld in three separate, taxpayer-funded recounts, including an audit of 15,000 absentee ballot signatures since November.
And even after getting hammered this week by Republican leaders for comparing vaccine mandates to the murderous Nazi regime, she doubled down by comparing Democrats to Nazis.
“You know, Nazis were the National Socialist Party,” she said. “Just like the Democrats are now a National Socialist Party.”
Some other notes from the event:
- It drew a decent crowd of a few hundred people, but it wasn’t the standing-room-only affair some predicted. There was plenty of space to move around, and many in the crowd streamed out the doorways early.
- U.S. Rep. Jody Hice, now a candidate for secretary of state, introduced Greene. But in June of last year, Hice rescinded his endorsement of Greene after earlier racist and xenophobic comments surfaced. “In the midst of these difficult times, it is more important than ever before that we have leaders in Washington who can heal our nation, not divide it further,” he said at the time.
- Among those spotted in the crowd were Mike Collins, who was narrowly defeated by Hice in the 2014 GOP runoff. Collins is now looking to replace Hice in Congress, though a crowded field is only just now starting to crystallize.
A Superior Court judge has postponed a hearing that would have set in motion a review of ballots from Georgia’s 2020 election.
Here is the latest on the case from the AJC’s David Wickert and Mark Niesse:
“This is nothing more than a circus that's being put on by those who promote the ‘big lie' " that Trump won the election, Fulton Commission Chairman Robb Pitts said. “Where does it end? The votes have been counted. The elections have been certified. It's over."
Kurt Hilbert, the attorney representing the tea party group, said only a forensic inspection of the ballots will reveal the truth about the 2020 election.
“There should be nothing to hide," Hilbert said. “Tea Party Patriots, the citizens of Georgia and the former president have a right to know exactly what happened and how many ballots were illegally cast and counted."
A report in Politico recently raised a possibility we hadn’t heard before -- that “some have quietly begun whispering that (U.S. Rep. Carolyn) Bourdeaux should look into a run for lieutenant governor.”
It turns out that Bourdeaux has also never heard of that possibility before.
“That came out of left field,” she told one of your Insiders. “I am very focused on the Seventh District. Very, very focused.”
With the search for a new leader for Georgia’s higher education system postponed, we’ve been trying to figure out which candidates have been floated other than Sonny Perdue.
One name we’ve been able to confirm in the highly-secretive process: Cecil Staton has been recommended by state Sen. John Albers for the coveted gig.
It’s not surprising his name is out there. A former Republican state senator, Staton has served as a vice-chancellor for the state university system and was interim president of Valdosta State University.
Staton served a three-year tenure as East Carolina University’s chancellor, stepping down in March 2019 amid mixed reviews from donors and faculty.
He’s now president of AAHOA, which is billed as the foremost advocate for America’s hotel owners. It’s not immediately clear if Staton’s interested, but Albers said his “great resume and experience” merit consideration.
In a new Jolt feature, we have a direct message from one statewide candidate to another possible rival, conveyed here for the first time.
It’s from Senate President Pro Tem Butch Miller, with a message about the depth of his support for Donald Trump. GOP state Sen. Burt Jones, a potential rival for LG, questioned Miller’s loyalty to the former president.
Here it goes:
Burt hasn’t even decided what he’s running for and we’re already seeing the political games. He can try to twist my words but I’ll talk straight to Georgians on where I stand: President Trump is the undisputed leader of the Republican Party, and I’d welcome the chance to earn his support over a shrimp cocktail at Mar-a-Lago or a hotdog at the Varsity.
I have a proven record of advancing the conservative agenda here in Georgia just like Trump did in Washington: strong immigration enforcement, the heartbeat bill, the largest tax cut in state history, expansion of gun rights and strong support for law enforcement.
I campaigned for Trump, I voted for him and I’d proudly support him again. When I’m LG, he’ll know he has a fighter in his corner. Like this year when I stepped up to get our election reform DONE, I’ll be doing the hard work advancing the Make America Great Again agenda – not on CNN bashing him or playing political games from the sidelines.
The last year forced some innovations in politics that likely are here to stay.
One is at Georgia WIN List, the Georgia PAC that elects pro-choice Democratic women, which began having Zoom calls for its candidates in the absence of public events or meet-and-greets. One was so popular it attracted 1,000 viewers.
Melita Easters hosting 30 weekly programs for candidates through the election and kept them going as weekly online programs during the state Legislative session.
Another is scheduled today at noon with five Democratic lawmakers discussing post-COVID policies for education, health care and social services: State Sen. Sonya Halpern, state Sen. Kim Jackson, state Rep Mary Robichaux, Rep. Rebecca Mitchell, and state Rep Shelly Hutchinson.
Atlanta’s City Council races are filling up. Nathan Clubb is running for the District 1 seat being vacated by longtime Councilwoman Carla Smith.
Clubb is active in a number of local neighborhood groups, but it’s his day job leading transparency and accountability audits for the Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts that could come in handy at City Hall if Clubb wins his race.
As the week draws to a close, we remember several high-profile leaders who left their mark on Georgia politics and the state itself.
Pete Correll, a powerhouse in Georgia business and philanthropy circles, died at the age of 80. From his obit:
“He was a moving force in the rescue of the financially failing Grady Memorial Hospital, was cited by President Bill Clinton in 1995 for lessons learned from him when he was governor of Arkansas about doing well and doing right. Correll led Georgia-Pacific and was a philanthropist who left fingerprints around the state. He was called on by mayors, business leaders, and friends for help for a particular reason.”
Also this week, Virginia’s former U.S. Sen. John Warner passed away. The dashing Warner was once married to Elizabeth Taylor, but it was his partnership with Georgia’s former U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn that left its mark in Georgia in the form of beefed-up military installations and bipartisan support for Nunn’s work on national security.
Finally, Clayton County Commissioner Sonna Singleton Gregory died Thursday after a lengthy bout with ovarian cancer.
“She lost her battle and will be deeply missed,” Clayton Commission Chairman Jeff Turner told the AJC’s Leon Stafford. “She was a champion for women to get checked for ovarian cancer.”
Gregory had been a member of the commission since 2007 and in January was elected to serve as vice chairwoman.
Your Insiders are taking Monday off for the Memorial Day holiday. The Jolt will return on Tuesday.
But for some light holiday reading, enjoy this piece on the Godot-esque waiting games Georgia pols are playing while they look for signs the biggest names out there-- Stacey Abrams and Herschel Walker-- could get into races at the top of the ticket.
Also, the Political Insider’s Sunday column is up now about Georgia’s upcoming redistricting process, which could leave some “like a squashed mosquito,” and so is Jamie Dupree’s Saturday column on the pace in DC, which has stalled after a fast start to the year.
As always, Jolt readers are some of our favorite tipsters. Send your best scoop, gossip and insider info to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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