The Jolt: Out-of-state bucks rolling in for Brad Raffensperger

12/14/2020 —  Atlanta, Georgia — Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger during a press conference at the Georgia State Capitol building in Atlanta, Monday, December 14, 2020.  (Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com)
12/14/2020 — Atlanta, Georgia — Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger during a press conference at the Georgia State Capitol building in Atlanta, Monday, December 14, 2020. (Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com)

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is getting an unexpected source of encouragement after defying former President Donald Trump’s demands to “find” enough votes to overturn the Georgia election.

The Georgia Republican has received about $23,000 in donations since the November election, the bulk of them from out-of-state. In fact, an analysis by our AJC colleague James Salzer found that he had received more contributions from Ohio ($5,350) than Georgia ($4,500).

We called a few of them to figure out their intent. Robert Drinkwater is a retired attorney from Madison, Miss., who has long voted Republican but isn’t sure where he fits ideologically in the Trump era. He said he was thankful for Raffensperger’s integrity.

“I respected him, and I wanted to tell him in a small way that I appreciated him,” Drinkwater said of his $100 donation. “That Georgia election could have gone differently if he had less integrity, and it would have been a crime if it had.”

John Rust, a Georgetown University economics professor, is a liberal Democrat in Maryland who said he saw Raffensperger as a “great patriot.”

“I disagree with a lot of things about Brad Raffensperger, but I sent him $500 and thanked him for standing up, doing the right thing and following the law,” he said. “And he sent me a postcard back thanking me for the contribution.”

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In case you missed it: Georgia, and specifically former President Donald Trump’s behavior toward Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, became a focal point during the second day of the impeachment trial.

House impeachment managers’ case is built largely upon allegations that Trump’s repeated insistence that the general election was stolen from him helped incite the Jan. 6 riots. There was no evidence of fraud or mismanagement to back up his weekslong campaign to reverse Joe Biden’s win.

Georgia U.S. Sens. Raphael Warnock and John Ossoff had been elected just the day prior to the insurrection but wouldn’t be sworn in for two weeks. Both spoke to the AJC about the impact of watching video of the violence that occurred in and around the Capitol that day.

Catch up here.

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The Republican Party’s campaign arm for the U.S. House is hoping to take back two toss-up Georgia seats in 2022 with a plan rooted, at least in part, on GOP legislators giving them an assist during redistricting.

The National Republican Congressional Committee’s target list includes 47 Democratic seats broken into three categories: “Battleground,” “Underperforming Democrats” and “Redistricting Watch.”

Georgia’s 7th Congressional District, which Carolyn Bourdeaux flipped from red to blue in 2020, is among the “battleground” seats that the GOP plans to win back.

The increasingly diverse electorate in the 7th makes it tough for a Republican to win with the current boundaries. Nevertheless, her opponent last year, the GOP’s Rich McCormick, has already begun laying the groundwork for a rematch.

U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath and seven other Democrats are labeled by the NRCC as “Underperforming.” McBath beat the GOP’s Karen Handel by 10 percentage points to defend her 6th Congressional District and would be seeking a third term in 2022.

Although no Georgia seats are among the “Redistricting Watch” group, with the GOP-controlled legislature in charge of redrawing every U.S. House members’ boundary lines later this year, you can bet they won’t be making it harder for their colleagues to win seats in 2022.

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This year’s class of U.S. House freshmen is having a hard time meeting each other, Roll Call’s Jim Saksa reports. That’s due to both COVID-19 restrictions and very real partisan tensions following the Jan. 6 breach of the U.S. Capitol.

The Roll Call report includes comments from U.S. Reps. Nikema Williams and Carolyn Bourdeaux:

“I haven't had much of an opportunity to interact with anyone," said Rep. Nikema Williams, a Georgia Democrat. “Usually that happens on the floor and in the cloakrooms and in the Speaker's Lobby, and all of that is off-limits because of COVID."

“We have tried to make up for that through phone calls, Zoom meetings" among Democrats, said Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux, another Georgian.

- Roll Call

Later in the report, Williams also spoke about the difficulty in making connections with Republicans, most of whom supported former President Donald Trump’s baseless claims of election fraud. Some GOP members have also been critical of last summer’s Black Lives Matter protests.

Williams told Roll Call she is determining which Republicans she wants to collaborate with on a case-by-case basis.

“I've taken the posture that I can work with anyone as long as our disagreements are not rooted in the denial of my humanity," the Georgia Democrat said. “And some people, based on their rhetoric and past actions, don't believe that me as a Black woman should be serving in this body."

- Roll Call

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The State Election Board voted Wednesday to pursue allegations that U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock and the New Georgia Project took longer than the time allowed to return more than 1,200 voter registration applications in 2019.

The board referred the case to Attorney General Chris Carr’s office for further investigation and potential prosecution, the AJC’s Mark Niesse reports.

Warnock is named as a respondent because he was listed as the organization’s CEO at the time of the incident, although the New Georgia Project later said its filings with the state were incorrect and he was actually the board chairman.

Warnock resigned as chairman of the New Georgia Project’s board on Jan. 28, 2020.

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Under the Gold Dome (Legislative Day 16):

  • 8:00 am: Committee meetings begin;
  • 9:30 am: The House convenes;
  • 10:00 am: The Senate convenes.

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POSTED: Concerns over chemical gas emissions from the Sterigenics plant in Cobb County haven’t gone away, reports the AJC’s Krystal Dixon:

“The Georgia Environmental Protection Division on Tuesday and Wednesday held public hearings on Sterigenics' request for a new air quality permit. Some of the same speakers attended both hearings and many echoed the same concern that Sterigenics could not be trusted and that the EPD was wrong to allow them to self-monitor their emissions from the plant.

Sterigenics has for decades been permitted to use ethylene oxide gas to sterilize medical equipment at its plant off Atlanta Road near Smyrna. But the company has been under heavy public scrutiny since 2019 when its emissions of the gas was flagged in a federal report on elevated cancer risk."

State Rep. Erik Allen (D-Smyrna) prefiled HB 3 this session to require companies like Sterigenics that release the dangerous gas to follow specific monitoring and reporting rules.

State Sen. Jen Jordan and a group of Cobb residents sued the state of Georgia in 2019 over Sterigenics’ monitoring and reporting of its ethylene oxide emissions.

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WDUN-radio host Martha Zoller is landing interviews with lawmakers who usually tell the media to take a hike.

The Gainesville-based conservative talker spoke earlier this week with U.S. Rep. Andrew Clyde after he made headlines for deliberately busting through new metal detectors outside the floor of the U.S. House.

And on Wednesday, Zoller spoke with the notorious U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene.

Clyde told Zoller about his experience helping to barricade the doors on the House floor on the day insurrectionists attacked the U.S. Capitol. And Greene detailed to Zoller why she considers her (sort of) mea culpa last week “freeing” and why she sees serving on House committees under Democratic leadership to be a waste of her time.

Greene was stripped of her committee assignments last week by Democrats for posing with an AR-15 next to a photo of three Democratic lawmakers, among many, many other high-profile incidents.

Both interviews are worth a listen.

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