The Jolt: Georgia GOP U.S. House candidate to headline rally backing Jan. 6 rioters

News and analysis from the politics team at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Courtesy Mike Collins for Congress

Courtesy Mike Collins for Congress

U.S. Capitol Police are on heightened alert ahead of a rally planned this weekend in Washington to support people imprisoned and charged with participating in the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.

We told you last week that far-right conservatives, including U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Andrew Clyde, are steering clear of it.

In fact, organizers of Saturday’s “Justice for J6” event have so far announced just two speakers, both little-known congressional candidates. One hails from Washington state, and the other is Georgia’s Mike Collins, who is running in a crowded GOP primary for the seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Jody Hice.

Collins is planning to launch his campaign on Thursday night, and the political consultant corresponding with the press about the kickoff is Matt Braynard. Braynard is also a former staffer in former President Donald Trump’s campaign and the main organizer behind the “Justice for J6” event.

“We applaud @MikeCollinsGA for his courage to speak at our September 18th Rally at the US Capitol,” he wrote on Twitter Tuesday.

Collins’ team later confirmed the candidate’s participation.

Law enforcement officials expect the crowd to be much smaller than the one that rioted inside the Capitol on Jan. 6, but they say they are also are prepping for the worst-case scenario.

Security fencing is going back up around the Capitol complex and elected officials have been briefed about the potential for violence, not just from those who back the insurrectionists but in clashes with counter-protesters, as well.

The same group behind Saturday’s event is planning a similar pro-January 6 rally in Georgia, scheduled for the state Capitol on September 25.


The Fulton County Commission could tap former Atlanta City Council president Cathy Woolard as the next chairwoman of the troubled elections board. And Republicans are up in arms.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger issued some of the most forceful comments, saying he’d seek to remove the entire county’s election board under the new elections law that narrowly passed the Legislature.

He and other critics noted that she has lobbied for Fair Fight Action, the voting rights group founded by Democrat Stacey Abrams after her election defeat.

“Appointing such a blatantly partisan and conflicted individual, who is literally on Stacey Abrams’s payroll, will do incredible damage to the already terrible reputation Fulton has for running elections,” said Raffensperger in a statement.

While Woolard hasn’t commented, her allies have defended the potential appointment.

State Rep. Josh McLaurin, D-Sandy Springs, mocked Raffensperger for arguing she’s conflicted because of her lobbying work by drawing a line between Brian Kemp’s refusal to step down as secretary of state during his run for governor.

“How does that compare to Kemp overseeing his own election in 2018, my dude??” he tweeted.


As COVID continues to rip through Georgia communities and fill its hospitals past critical capacity, Charlie Hayslett over at Trouble in God’s Country cross references data that shows the strong correlation between a county’s politics and its vaccination rates. The finding: the most Republican counties in the state are suffering the most and are vaccinated the least.

As of this past Friday, the 129 counties that sided with Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election had significantly higher Covid-19 case rates and death rates — and much lower vaccination rates — than the 30 counties that went for Joe Biden.

Some raw numbers: Covid-19 data published Friday, September 10th, by the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) tells us that the Trump counties had suffered 1,077 more deaths than the Biden counties while vaccinating nearly 800,000 fewer people. Perhaps even worse for the Trump counties, their combined 14-day case rate — a measure of current rather than long-term trends — is a solid 41 percent higher than the rate in the Biden counties.

- Trouble in God's Country


Trailing in the latest AJC poll, City Councilman Andre Dickens is looking to make a splash in the race for Atlanta mayor with his debut campaign ad. And his campaign is putting $400,000 behind the spot, giving him the largest current ad buy of any candidates in the crowded contest.

The councilman introduces himself to voters as a “mayor to make Atlanta safe,” echoing the poll results that showed crime is by far the most important issue in the race.

“I ran for city council against corruption – and won. I created a high-tech job training program that’s helped hundreds,” he said. “My safe streets plan balances safety and justice while tackling root causes of crime.”

Watch it below:


Democratic U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath issued a forceful defense of the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure plan at a virtual town hall Tuesday night, calling it a chance to “invest in America’s future and bring it up to the 21st Century.”

McBath, whose suburban district could be significantly redrawn later this year, said Tuesday that the infrastructure plan is the “number one policy issue” that constituents are calling her office about right now.

During the roughly 45-minute call, McBath highlighted work across party lines, including bipartisan measures to provide protections to veterans in bankruptcy, boost incentives for certain inventors, and secure $500 million for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The focus on consensus – one of the first initiatives she mentioned was a legislative alliance with Republican U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter for CDC funding – is a reflection of the dual challenges she faces.

State lawmakers could try to lump her into a Democratic primary with U.S. Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux, a more centrist lawmaker who represents a neighboring Gwinnett-based district.

And she’s also facing several Republican challengers confident the district will get drawn to be safer GOP territory. The contenders include military veteran Harold Earls, former ethics chair Jake Evans and former state Rep. Meagan Hanson.


Georgia’s Raphael Warnock was among eight Democratic senators who forged a new compromise voting and election bill, a final effort to create a proposal that can get enough support from Republicans to avoid a filibuster.

Congressional scholar Norm Ornstein wrote in the Atlantic that the bill “could save democracy.”

But a compromise among progressive and moderate Democrats is still unlikely to win over Republicans. Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell met with West Virginia’s Joe Manchin Tuesday, and, according to the New York Times, left the meeting saying Democrats want to “appoint themselves a national Board of Elections on steroids.”

So why did Democrats participate in this exercise?

If the Manchin-approved path of moderation is tossed to the side by Republicans, progressives and voting rights activists can then push to eliminate or alter the Senate’s filibuster rules as the only path left to pass legislation fundamental to their efforts.

But all of that is down the line. For right now, Democrats have a compromise bill to shop as an effort to reach bipartisan support on access to the polls.


The new compromise voting bill has elements of S.1, Democrats’ previous voting proposal known as the For the People Act. But it eliminates some of its more controversial elements, including requiring non-partisan commissions for redistricting and a broad expansion to public financing for Congressional races.

The new proposal also has language not found in S. 1 and that speaks directly to recent state laws, including Georgia’s, which Democrats warn would endanger voting rights altogether. For example, the bill would make it harder for states to remove local elections officials and it says states cannot ban people from passing out water or food to voters standing in line.

Some of Georgia’s highest-profile voting rights activists were quick to sign on. Stacey Abrams issued a news release saying the measure had her “strong support.”

Ditto from Stephanie Jackson Ali, Policy Director at The New Georgia Project Action Fund.

“While this legislation is not as robust as the For the People the Act, it does include important provisions to protect our democracy, including measures to establish minimum standards for early voting, curb gerrymandering and make Election Day a national holiday,” she said in a news release.


Shan Cooper, the executive director of the Atlanta Committee for Progress, has been elected vice chair of the Georgia Historical Society’s Board of Curators. Cooper will be the first woman of color to fill the role and will complete the unexpired term of the late Pete Correll.

The Savannah-based non-profit research institution is the oldest continuous historical society in the South. It has become a leading voice in telling the full scope of Georgia history, including its roles in slavery and the Civil Rights era.


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