The Jolt: Outrage after GOP warns Stacey Abrams is crossing ‘border’ for visit

News and analysis from the politics team at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Gubernatorial candidate  Stacey Abrams is scheduled to speak in Forsyth County on Sunday. Stephen B. Morton for the AJC)

Credit: Stephen B. Morton for the AJC

Credit: Stephen B. Morton for the AJC

Gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams is scheduled to speak in Forsyth County on Sunday. Stephen B. Morton for the AJC)

UPDATES: The party issued a statement saying it would no longer hold the rally.

“We will always strive to make choices that honor and protect Forsyth County,” party officials wrote, calling it a “proud and diverse county with conservative values.”

It added: “In the interest of all involved, we will err on the side of caution and withdraw our planned rally.”

Original post:

Democrats are venturing deep into Republican-friendly territory they might have once avoided. And in Forsyth County, local Republicans aren’t reacting kindly to that prospect.

After the Forsyth County Democratic Committee announced plans to welcome Stacey Abrams to a Sunday night barbecue dinner, the local GOP announced plans for protests with loaded language.

“This is a call to save and protect our neighborhoods, our communities and our county! The moment is at hand,” said a Forsyth County GOP flyer. “The designers of destructive radicalism and socialism are crossing over our county border and into Cumming this Sunday.”

Forsyth flyer

icon to expand image

Melissa Clink, who chairs the local Democratic party, blasted the “dangerous and embarrassing rhetoric” from their GOP counterparts and singled out the line noting Abrams is “crossing our border.”

“Forsyth County’s history of racial cleansing and being a documented sundown town make this line especially incendiary, disgusting and shameful.”

She’s referring to the racial cleansing in 1912 that forced the Black population of roughly 1,100 to flee Forsyth County.

Clink added: “You will not silence us. If anything, your actions will make us louder.”

We reached out to the Forsyth GOP but didn’t hear back.


LISTEN UP. It’s been another wild week in Georgia politics. Catch up on what you missed in the Friday edition of the Politically Georgia podcast. You’ll also hear our “Who’s Up, Who’s Down” segment and more great listening questions about Georgia politics from the Politically Georgia mail bag.

Listen and subscribe on Apple, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or Stitcher. And remember that you can call our hotline with #gapol questions, 24/7, at (770) 810-5297. We’ll do our best to answer them on the pod.


MORE WALKER ATTACK ADS. The ads flying back and forth in the U.S. Senate contest between U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock and Herschel Walker are getting increasingly negative and personal.

A new ad from the Democrats’ Senate Majority PAC, focusing again on Walker’s past history of violence, is no exception. The spot includes a local Texas news report of Walker threatening a shootout with police years ago, along with separate footage of Walker telling ABC News, “The thing is, I’m not going to shy away from violence.”

The Walker sound bite is from a 2008 “Nightline” interview that coincided with the publication of his book, in which he describes his diagnosis of dissociative identity disorder.

It’s at least the third Democratic ad focusing on Walker’s past violent behavior. Asked why Democrats are sending out multiple ads on the same issue in the same week, an operative said, “Georgians deserve to know who Herschel Walker is.”

Walker has responded that the threats against his ex-wife came during his mental health struggles, and that he has received treatment and moved on.


PLAN B. While Gov. Brian Kemp was campaigning in Athens, a left-leaning tracker asked him if he had the authority to ban Plan B, an emergency contraception known as the “morning-after pill,” now that the U.S. Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade.

Kemp was noncommittal in the audio, which you can catch here.

“Just depends on where the legislators are,” Kemp responded, adding that there’s “a lot of legalities.”

In a statement, Kemp spokesman Tate Mitchell said:

“The governor has never opposed access to contraception, and - despite the attempts of desperate Democrats and their media allies to spread a complete lie - the full audio proves the governor’s position remains the same.”


CHRISTIAN CONFERENCE. Gov. Brian Kemp doesn’t go out of his way these days to talk about the anti-abortion measure he signed into law, instead preferring to keep his campaign focus on the economy and crime.

But he deviated from that strategy slightly at the “Pray Vote Stand Summit” on Thursday at First Baptist Church Atlanta. The three-day event features speakers who tout anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQ views.

Gov. Brian Kemp spoke at the “Pray Vote Stand Summit” on Thursday at First Baptist Church Atlanta. (Bob Andres for the Atlanta Journal Constitution)

Credit: Bob Andres

icon to expand image

Credit: Bob Andres

Our GPB pal Riley Bunch covered the event. She reported that Kemp mentioned the law just once during his 12-minute speech and then quickly pivoted to other initiatives.

“We believe we need to protect life at many stages,” he said. “You know we passed the Heartbeat Bill here, but we’ve also done adoption reform. We have done foster care reform.”

In a write-up previewing the conference, our AJC colleague Shelia Poole noted that the Family Research Council, the conservative nonprofit that organized the event, has for years been on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s hate watch for its anti-LGBTQ ideology.


Fulton County Commission Chair Robb Pitts comments on the plan to help the Grady Memorial Hospital as Gov. Brian Kemp and others listen during a news conference at the Georgia Capitol in Atlanta on Thursday, September 15, 2022.   (Bob Andres for the Atlanta Journal Constitution)

Credit: Bob Andres

icon to expand image

Credit: Bob Andres

GRADY POLITICS. The state Capitol news conference Thursday to lay out Gov. Brian Kemp’s plan for a cash infusion to shore up Grady Memorial Hospital made for some tricky election-year politics.

Fulton County Commission chair Robb Pitts and DeKalb County chief executive Michael Thurmond are two of the metro region’s most prominent Democrats. They also lead the counties that jointly own Grady, which will soon become the city’s sole remaining high-level trauma center.

So they had good reason to stand beside Kemp as he announced he would direct $130 million to the hospital to add nearly 200 beds — even though it undercut Stacey Abrams’ argument that the governor’s move is a half-measure.

Each Democrat played it very differently. Pitts, who won his post with help from north Fulton Republicans, used the event to highlight his call for a new hospital in the southern half of the county and praise bipartisanship.

“What you see here today is three leaders of three governments: The state of Georgia, DeKalb County and Fulton County coming together to solve a problem that impacts our mutual constituents.”

Thurmond called on politicians to use the moment to “transcend the political divide” and explore new ways to target the gun violence that has led to the need for more trauma units in Atlanta.

“I hope these health care leaders and political leaders will also embrace strategies that will allow us to need fewer trauma facilities, that will allow us to have fewer patients suffering,” he said.


NOT-LANTA ADS. Gov. Brian Kemp’s TV ad spending is keeping pace with Stacey Abrams in nearly every Georgia media market except the costliest: Atlanta.

To borrow a phrase from our friend, Charlie Hayslett, Kemp’s ad focus right now is on “Notlanta.”

And the governor has a new 30-second spot this morning running in Notlanta that ends with a narrator claiming that Abrams is a “typical politician we can’t trust.”


THE “REAL” RAFFENSPERGER. With polls showing Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger up by double digits over his Democratic challenger, state Rep. Bee Nguyen, Democrats want to convince those voters they don’t know the “real Brad Raffensperger.”

But instead of hammering Raffensperger’s work in office, a new ad (yes — more ads!), from the state Democratic Party focuses on the Republican’s position on abortion.

It’s based on a 2016 candidate questionnaire Raffensperger filled out for the Georgia Life Alliance, on which he checked a box to indicate all abortions should be illegal, with no exceptions.

With polling that shows Georgia’s new restrictive abortion law in unpopular with a majority of Georgia voters, Democrats are working to tie the issue to offices up and down the ballot, even the usually voting-and-business focused secretary of state’s race.



  • President Joe Biden is meeting in the Oval Office with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.
  • Biden also will meet at the White House with the families of WNBA star Brittney Griner and security executive Paul Whelan, who are both detained in Russia.
  • The U.S. House and Senate are out until Monday.


U.S. Rep Marjorie Taylor Greene Greene spent more than $92,000 in campaign cash to purchase an SUV that she uses for politicking around Georgia. (Daniel Varnado/For the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Daniel Varnado

icon to expand image

Credit: Daniel Varnado

RAISE IT, SPEND IT. Earlier this week, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution published an in-depth piece explaining how U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s polarizing nature has made her election among the most expensive contests nationally even though the district itself is considered safe for Republicans.

The piece also revealed how the majority of Greene and Marcus Flowers’ campaign expenditures are focused on raising more dollars and not used to speak directly to voters in northwest Georgia. But there are other line items that have also raised eyebrows.

Greene spent more than $92,000 in campaign cash to purchase an SUV that she uses for politicking around Georgia.

“Due to the massive amount of death and security threats directed towards Congresswoman Greene, it was determined a dedicated campaign vehicle with a supplemental security package was warranted for travel,” her campaign told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Democrat Flowers, who will face Greene in November, also appears to be driving a new car paid for with campaign cash in the form of $779 monthly financing payments. His campaign did not respond to questions about these automobile expenses.

Flowers also is paying himself a salary of roughly $5,000 a month, also using campaign funds. The Federal Election Commission has ruled challengers can pay themselves from campaign donations.


PRISON DEATHS. The Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, chaired by U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff, has a hearing scheduled for Tuesday on uncounted inmate deaths in federal facilities.

“This 10-month bipartisan investigation of deaths in America’s prisons and jails has revealed shocking long-term gaps in federal oversight, including hundreds of uncounted deaths in 2021 alone,” Ossoff said in a statement. The hearing will include testimony from the Department of Justice, as well as family members of inmates who have died in custody.

Previously, the committee held a hearing focused on allegations of misconduct and poor management at the federal penitentiary in Atlanta. Tuesday’s hearing will have a national focus, although Georgia facilities are included in the report.


BISHOP ON THE AIR. U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, who is defending his 2nd Congressional District seat against Republican challenger Chris West, is airing his first TV ad of the campaign.

The 30-second spot features law enforcement officers, including the sheriffs in Crisp and Sumter counties, who speak of Bishop’s success securing federal dollars for community policing, school safety and hiring new officers.

“And Sanford will never defund the police,” Sumter Sheriff Eric Bryant says in the ad.



  • Former U.S. Attorney Bobby Christine, who filled the federal prosecutor role after Byung “BJay” Pak was forced out, has been subpoenaed to testify before the grand jury.
  • District Attorney Fani Willis told The Washington Post that her investigators have evidence of serious crimes and she believes some targets of the investigation could do jail time. “The allegations are very serious. If indicted and convicted, people are facing prison sentences,” she said.


ANCESTRAL HOMECOMING. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland will join U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff for a visit to Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park in Macon on Saturday.

Her visit is a part of a weekend of programming and events in and around Macon to mark the 30th annual Ocmulgee Indigenous Celebration.

In addition to Haaland, who is the first Native American to serve as Interior Secretary, more than 300 members of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation will travel from Oklahoma to Middle Georgia for the events, which honor the tribe’s ancestral home.

Ossoff has been involved in the effort to make Ocmulgee a national park and preserve, alongside U.S. Reps. Austin Scott and Sanford Bishop.

The new park, if created, would protect thousands of acres from development and preserve local lands for hunting and fishing. It would include the existing Ocmulgee Mounds, the Bond Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, and other areas along the Ocmulgee River. In 2019, Congress authorized a National Parks Service study on the matter.


AS ALWAYS, Jolt readers are some of our favorite tipsters. Send your best scoop, gossip and insider info to, and