The Jolt: No ‘domino effect’ from election bill in Georgia, yet

Gov. Brian Kemp signs into law voting rights bill SB202 on Thursday behind closed doors at the Georgia Capitol.

Credit: Gov. Brian Kemp's office

Credit: Gov. Brian Kemp's office

Gov. Brian Kemp signs into law voting rights bill SB202 on Thursday behind closed doors at the Georgia Capitol.

The economic fallout of Georgia’s new election law still hasn’t amounted to the “domino effect” that Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms predicted, but we’re watching some key developments this week to see if that changes.

The first is whether other major productions leave Georgia after Will Smith announced that “Emancipation,” his movie about the story of a runaway slave, won’t film in the state in protest of the election rewrite.

The state officials we’ve spoken with suggest there won’t be a wave of departures, though there could be a few projects that publicly — or more quietly — bolt Georgia.

The second is whether a potential boycott movement by influential faith leaders, upset that major Georgia firms haven’t more forcefully opposed the overhaul, moves forward.

Last week, Bishop Reginald Jackson of the AME Sixth Episcopal District pushed back his decision until he had a chance to meet with powerful executives.

That virtual meeting is set to take place Tuesday afternoon, and involves leaders of Aflac, Coca-Cola, Cox (the parent company of the AJC), Delta Air Lines and Microsoft.

The bishop said he spoke with executives with Coke and Delta two weeks ago shortly before they came out against the law, specifically telling the beverage giant’s leader that the measure “puts our democracy at risk.”

“We think it’s not only about suppressing the vote of Black and brown voters, we also believe it’s racist and it seeks to turn back the time to Jim Crow,” he told Coke chief executive James Quincey, adding that it was “based on a lie” that the vote was rigged.

We’re told Jackson, an ally of the Fair Fight group founded by Stacey Abrams, will deliver a similar message on Tuesday with a forceful plea to business leaders to “exercise corporate responsibility and take appropriate action against” the Georgia law and proposed restrictions in other states.

One takeaway of the bishop’s prepared remarks: The more corporations that oppose SB202, the harder it is for supporters of the law to seek revenge against them for speaking out.


Election bills aren’t the only measures putting states at risk of boycotts right now.

The NCAA on Monday issued a statement that state laws restricting transgender participation in youth sports will be part of the criteria for choosing future event venues.

“When determining where championships are held, NCAA policy directs that only locations where hosts can commit to providing an environment that is safe, healthy and free of discrimination should be selected,” the NCAA wrote.

The Georgia General Assembly considered, but did not pass, a bill this year that would have restricted transgender participation in some youth sports.

A tipster flagged a tweet from Florida state Rep. Carlos Smith, warning of possible NCAA losses there if the state House passed its transgender sports bill in a vote scheduled for Tuesday.


It’s Election Day in several Georgia counties around the state and an early test of some of the new rules included in Senate Bill 202, the state’s election overhaul.

Most of the law went into effect on March 31, the night Gov. Brain Kemp signed the measure, including the prohibition on distributing food and water directly to voters within 150 feet of a polling station.

A few more technical provisions will require time to implement and will go into effect July 1, including the use of new security paper for ballots and the new identification requirement for absentee ballots and applications.

Look for David Wickert’s full story later this morning on


The race to represent metro Atlanta’s northern suburbs in Congress began in earnest last week when Harold Earls, a West Point graduate and YouTube star, entered the GOP race against Democratic incumbent Lucy McBath.

His announcement caught Republicans off guard, since it remains unclear how Congressional districts will be drawn — and whether the Republican-controlled Legislature will make McBath’s district more competitive or instead target neighboring Democratic Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux.

Earls took the same tack that other would-be competitors are likely to adopt: He said he plans to challenge McBath, but would compete against Bourdeaux if her district was made more friendly to the GOP.

Earls’ entry was accompanied by social media criticism of his campaign launch video, which prominently features images of Earls in uniform, military funerals and military memorials, including Arlington National Cemetery.

The Republican stood by the use of the images. From Earls’ campaign:

“Arlington is not just part of my history, it’s part of our American history — a story that must be told. The sacrifices of our fallen and their families who fought for ALL of us should never be forgotten, and should inspire us to seek what unites us instead of this strangling divide so many have given into.”


Coming soon to an attack ad near you: U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock signed an email sent by the left-leaning advocacy group 3.14 Action that wrongly claimed Georgia’s recently passed Senate Bill 202 ended no-excuse absentee voting and restricted weekend voting. It does neither.

The email, reported by The Washington Post, was sent on March 30 -- five days after Gov. Brian Kemp signed a sweeping election rewrite into law that did not include those changes.

Warnock’s spokesman said the senator had signed off on the statement before Senate Bill 202 was passed, when those more restrictive provisions were still under consideration.


John King was a little-known police chief with no experience in the insurance industry when Gov. Brian Kemp named him the insurance commissioner in 2019.

Kemp tapped King to replace embattled commissioner Jim Beck after Beck was indicted on federal fraud charges (he has not pleaded guilty).

On Monday, King formally launched his campaign seeking a full term, running on a record as a reformer. During his campaign kickoff in Cartersville, he talked of the turnaround he orchestrated at the agency.

“I’ve never shied away from a challenge and I took this one with gusto. The agency was adrift,” he said. “The governor asked me to clean up the agency, and that’s what we did.”

King, a brigadier general in the U.S. Army National Guard, was the Doraville police chief when Kemp chose him as the state’s first Hispanic statewide officer.

He is expected to face a formidable Democratic challenge. State Rep. Matthew Wilson told the AJC last month he’s planning to run for the seat, and he would become the first openly LGBTQ statewide official if he wins.

King told a crowd of local officials in a Cartersville coffee shop he would slash insurance rates and continue to rebuild trust in the agency if he wins a full term.

“The governor asked me to clean up the agency, and that’s what we did,” said King. “My reputation and my name are all I’ve got. I’m a man of action and a man of service -- I don’t really want to learn to be a good politician.”


On the same day that Stonecrest leaders received a report about Mayor Jason Lary’s use of $6 million in coronavirus relief funds, the state senator who represents the city asked Gov. Brian Kemp to intervene.

Kemp has already signed a law that stripped Lary of much of his duties. Now, the AJC’s Zachary Hansen reports that Sen. Emanuel Jones has asked Kemp to remove Lary from office.


“Sen. Emanuel Jones (D-Decatur) said Monday he plans to provide the full investigative report to Kemp's office in addition to federal authorities. He previously called for the FBI and Department of Justice to investigate how the federal funds were spent, accusing Mayor Jason Lary of misusing the funds for their own personal gain.

“‘There's a whole bunch of money missing and someone needs to be held accountable,"' Jones said.

“Lary has previously denied Jones' accusations, claiming the state senator has a vendetta against him."

- The Atlanta Journal-Constitution


It’s official. A bill has been filed that would allow Buckhead to secede from Atlanta and form a new city in Fulton County.

Residents in favor of the proposal say they want to form their own police department and believe a new city would address their concerns over both crime and dollars spent on infrastructure, the AJC’s J.D. Capelouto reports.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and the influential Buckhead Coalition business group are both opposed to the proposal.

The next step is for the Buckhead Exploratory Committee to raise the money to have a feasibility study produced. If the General Assembly approves the bill, residents would have to vote on whether to establish the new town, which would be called “Buckhead City.”

Remember, there is already a Buckhead, Ga. in Morgan County.


State Rep. Mickey Stephens, D-Savannah, has formally announced his retirement from the state House of Representatives, the Savannah Morning News reports.

Stephens has been mostly sidelined from the General Assembly for the last two years because of a serious illness.

His wife, Gloria Stephens, spoke to the General Assembly this session when her husband managed to return to the Capitol for a final visit. She thanked his colleagues, especially Speaker David Ralston and Stephens’ House staff, for their support over the years.

A special election will now be held to fill Stephens’ seat.