The Jolt: Perdue, Kemp pushing looser gun restrictions in GOP contest

News and analysis from the politics team at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
A man purchases a gun at a store in Glendale California. AFP PHOTO/GABRIEL BOUYS

A man purchases a gun at a store in Glendale California. AFP PHOTO/GABRIEL BOUYS

Just two weeks after David Perdue entered the race for governor, his attempts to outflank incumbent Brian Kemp are kicking into a new gear with a promise to pass a “constitutional carry” gun proposal if he’s elected governor.

Perdue’s campaign didn’t specify what potential legislation should include, but he said in a statement to the AJC, “As governor, I’ll work with the state Legislature to finally enact constitutional carry. Georgia needs a bold leader who will make waves to get things done – not a career politician who hasn’t delivered.”

Constitutional carry, known by gun safety advocates as “permitless carry,” generally allows gun owners to carry concealed weapons without a permit.

Georgians are currently required to have a Weapons Carry License to carry a concealed weapon. The process requires a valid Georgia ID, fingerprinting, a background check, and that the owner be at least 21 (with some exceptions).

Kemp famously made gun rights a top issue in his 2018 campaign with multiple ads that included him with shotguns. He endorsed constitutional carry during his first run for governor, but it’s stalled in the Legislature. State Sen. Jason Anvitarte is among the GOP legislators who pushed the pending measure in 2021.

Kemp’s campaign said the governor would also push the “important” measure in next year’s legislative session, yet another indication of how Perdue’s challenge will trigger new debates over hot-button cultural issues.

Kemp spokesman Cody Hall also mocked Perdue’s recent social media posts featuring the former senator casually chatting with customers in gun stores around Georgia.

“Stopping by a few gun stores in designer clothes and sending out a panicked statement before Christmas isn’t going to convince hardworking Georgians that David Perdue gives a rip about 2nd Amendment rights,” tweeted Hall.

Democrats, meanwhile, sounded the alarm.

“We need leaders who promote safe gun ownership,” said state Rep. Mike Wilensky, D-Dunwoody. “This isn’t it.”.


The top leaders of Georgia’s five largest counties are unifying against a proposal from state Sen. Pro Tem Butch Miller to ban all absentee ballot drop boxes in Georgia, according to our AJC colleague Mark Niesse.

In a joint statement released this morning, Fulton Chairman Robb Pitts, Gwinnett Chairwoman Nicole Love Hendrickson, Cobb Chairwoman Lisa Cupid, DeKalb CEO Michael Thurmond and Clayton Chairman Jeffrey Turner, all Democrats, wrote, “While COVID-19 might have first inspired drop boxes, their use by hundreds of thousands of Georgians demonstrates their utility once the pandemic is over.”

The county leaders said the Miller proposal, “does nothing to help the voters of Georgia or the elections process. We hope that the members of the Georgia General Assembly will see through it and ensure it never becomes law.”

Miller, a Republican running for lieutenant governor, filed his bill to be considered in the next session of the General Assembly, which starts in January. Legislators already limited the number, location and hours for drop boxes with Georgia’s new voting law, which passed earlier this year.


Atlanta Mayor-elect Andre Dickens announced Monday that he has tested positive for the coronavirus, days after he attended a party in Atlanta alongside Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock.

The AJC’s Wilborn Nobles reports that Dickens said he is fully vaccinated and is uncertain where or when he was exposed. He urged anyone who has come into contact with him during the past week to get tested and to quarantine until they’ve received a negative test result.


In the newly drawn 7th Congressional District, internal polling for U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath’s campaign shows the 6th District incumbent in a commanding position against 7th District Congresswoman Carolyn Bourdeaux in a Democratic primary.

The poll, conducted for 20/20 insight by Chris Huttman, shows McBath at about 41%, Bordeaux at roughly 19%, and state Rep. Donna McLeod with about 4% of the potential vote. The margin of error in the poll of 333 likely Democratic voters was 5.4%.

The survey also had positive takeaways for McBath and Bourdeaux, who both rated as well-known and well-liked by voters, with McBath finishing about 10 points stronger on both measurements.

As always, take these results with a grain of salt, as we do with all internal polling provided by campaigns.

Huttman also did the polling for mayor-elect Andre Dickens, which proved reliably predictive.


Former state ethics head Jake Evans has heard the rumors that he’ll drop his congressional campaign and challenge Attorney General Chris Carr in the GOP primary instead.

And he wants you to know that’s not happening. While he’s been encouraged to run against Carr, he said he’s “all in for Congress and that won’t be changing.”

Evans is one of a handful of Republicans running for the redrawn 6th District, which was configured to be so friendly to conservatives that Democratic U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath shifted to the neighboring 7th District.


POSTED: Georgia Democrats are not happy that U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin said he could not support President Joe Biden’s $1.7 trillion social spending and climate change bill.

But some expressed optimism that parts of the plan can still be salvaged when Congress returns after the new year, even as Manchin hinted he may soon return to the negotiating table.

Meanwhile, the Democratic National Committee unveiled a new billboard in Atlanta to promote the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill to holiday travelers hitting the road for Christmas and New Year’s Day.

The billboard, located near the junction of I-285 and I-85 south of Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, will be up for one month.


The Democratic Party of Georgia has a message to go with its 17-page “Victory Report,” which highlights the party’s wins in the last year and lays out its plans ahead: 2020 was no “miracle.”

“These victories are neither a fluke nor simply demographic destiny, but instead the result of years of building and a relentless commitment to the vision of uplifting every voter, protecting every vote and organizing year round to empower the diverse coalitions that make up Georgia,” the Democrats write.

When it comes to 2022, the party says it’ll bolster its year-round organizing program, reup targeted outreach to diverse communities, invest in more voter-protection initiatives and broaden turnout efforts.


Lincoln County, near Augusta, is proposing reducing its seven election precincts to a single location, The Augusta Chronicle reports. The move is opposed by civil rights and voting rights groups.


The move was made possible after the Georgia General Assembly passed legislation earlier this year disbanding the Lincoln County Board of Elections. The chief sponsor of Senate bills 282 and 283 was Sen. Lee Anderson, R-Grovetown, whose district includes Lincoln County. The newly-appointed board agreed to move forward with the “consolidation" plan and was expected to vote on it last week, but appeared to lack a quorum, several said.

- The Augusta Chronicle


Michelle Schreiner, a psychologist, will run for the state House district being vacated by state Rep. Bee Nguyen as Nguyen prepares for her run for Secretary of State.

Schreiner, who is originally from Puerto Rico, wrote on Twitter, “This seat has been held by strong women leaders @staceyabrams and @BeeForGeorgia . Now I’m ready to fight for the community we love.”


Nabilah Islam ran as the progressive alternative to Carolyn Bourdeaux in last year’s 7th District Democratic primary. Don’t be surprised if she seeks out an open state Senate seat in next year’s election.

Islam is expected to run for the vacant Gwinnett-based seat, which was drawn as Democratic-leaning territory. State Rep. Beth Moore, D-Peachtree Corners, is also in the contest.

Islam finished third in the 7th District primary with 12% of the vote, while Bourdeaux avoided a runoff with 53% of the vote.


Former President Donald Trump has endorsed U.S. Rep. Andrew Clyde’s re-election bid in Georgia’s 9th Congressional District, effectively scuttling a potential primary challenge.

Clyde has decided to run in the northeast Georgia territory as an incumbent, despite his home being drawn into the neighboring 10th District.

Clyde, a veteran, is a conservative Republican who made his name as a gun store owner and victor of a legal battle with the IRS. He has also downplayed the Jan. 6 attack by saying some in the violent mob were simply tourists.

“As a gun store owner, he understands the importance of our beloved Second Amendment, and will always defend it,” Trump wrote of Clyde. “He has a proven record of standing up for our Country.”


The congratulations rolled in for U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff and his wife, Dr. Alisha Kramer, who announced the birth of their baby girl Monday.

Mom and baby Eva Beth are doing well, Ossoff said when announcing the birth on Twitter.

The couple chose to keep Dr. Kramer’s pregnancy private, and they also are not releasing photos of the newborn.

Among the well wishers for Baby Ossoff were U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, Secretary of Energy Jennifer Grandholm and the Delta flight attendant who staffed Ossoff’s flight home to Atlanta from D.C. Friday morning just before his daughter was born.


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