The Jolt: Republicans will ‘pay the price’ for anti-abortion law, Democrats vow
News and analysis from the politics team at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
People march in the street during a protest against the Supreme Court's ruling in the Dobbs v Jackson Women's Health Organization on June 25, 2022, in Atlanta, Georgia. The Court's decision in the Dobbs v Jackson Women's Health case overturns the landmark 50-year-old Roe v Wade case, removing a federal right to an abortion. (Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images/TNS)
Georgians woke up to a new political landscape on Thursday after a federal appeals court’s ruling cleared the way for a state law that bans most abortions after about six weeks to immediately take effect.
Democrats vowed to channel fury over the abortion restrictions into electoral energy, with talk of a surge to the polls, fresh legal challenges to the 2019 law and strategic defiance of its provisions.
“The reality is this is a gift for us,” said Democratic state Sen. Sheikh Rahman. “This will energize voters in ways we can’t imagine.”
Stacey Abrams launched a new TV ad assailing Gov. Brian Kemp for championing “extreme” limits. U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock promised to “never back away” from the fight to preserve abortion rights.
And down-ticket Democrats pledged the abortion law would be a game-changer in November. State Sen. Jen Jordan, the party’s nominee for attorney general, said incumbent Chris Carr would “pay the price” in November.
Democrats have made similar predictions before, though polls show that high inflation and economic uncertainty remain the most pressing issue for Georgia voters in November.
State Rep. Bee Nguyen, the Democratic nominee for secretary of state, said the restrictions are also an economic issue because they bar women from making decisions about when to build or expand their families.
Nguyen pointed to studies that show the earlier women have children, the less likely they are to graduate from high school or attend college.
“Make no mistake: women, girls, and families will suffer from the injustice of this law -- both from a healthcare standpoint and an economic standpoint,” she said.
Conservatives predicted their own surge at the polls in November. Cole Muzio of Frontline Policy Action, which advocated for the 2019 law, said abortion opponents have a “moral imperative” to back Kemp.
“This election, with lives on the line, everything comes down to the ballot box,” said Muzio. “The court is clear: states can protect life as they see fit.”
LISTEN UP. We posted a special edition of the Politically Georgia podcast bright and early this morning with a look at the massive practical and political implications of Georgia’s new abortion law.
DODGEBALL. At a campaign stop in Athens, Republican Senate hopeful Herschel Walker wouldn’t say whether he’d vote to write same-sex marriage into law as the U.S. Senate considers that possibility.
“We need to worry about what’s happening right now. Right now this economy is failing.”
And after weeks of speculation, Walker said that he would debate U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock on Oct. 16, “if we negotiate and we got everything right.”
Translation: Walker has not agreed to any debates yet.
On Thursday, Walker’s campaign aide said he’s “ready and willing to debate” but that he wants to ensure that “voters are the first priority.”
“Any debate we agree to must have a fair and equitable format and unbiased moderator,” said spokeswoman Mallory Blount. “If we can get that, voters will see the deep contrast between Sen. Warnock, who works for Joe Biden, and Herschel Walker, who will work for the people of Georgia.”
Translation: Walker has still not agreed to any debates.
Credit: Miguel Martinez
Credit: Miguel Martinez
Asked whether he would support a national abortion ban if he was elected and the U.S. Senate flipped to Republican control, Walker said: ”There’s not a national ban on abortion right now and I think that’s a problem. I’m pro-life and I’m not going to make an excuse for it.”
Pressed on whether he would vote for a federal ban if it came up Walker wouldn’t take a stance.
“Well, I think that’s an ‘if’ and I think that’s not what we don’t we need to worry about. We need to worry about right now there’s not a national ban on abortion.”
Walker has said he opposes abortion in all cases, with no exceptions for rape, incest or the life of the mother.
QUASH PIT. Republican Burt Jones is headed to court this afternoon to try to disqualify Fulton District Attorney Fani Willis from an inquiry into his role as a sham GOP elector.
The Republican nominee for lieutenant governor filed the motion after Willis indicated he could face criminal charges for taking part in the fake GOP elector scheme.
The state senator is arguing that Willis and one of her top deputies, Special Prosecutor Nathan Wade, have a conflict of interest because they supported Jones’ Democratic opponent Charlie Bailey.
He wants Willis, Wade and the entire Fulton DA’s office removed from the probe because they’re “affected by political motivations evident by their joint interest in the success of Charles Bailey’s political campaign.”
An attorney for Willis called Jones’ motion “meritless” and argued that Jones has failed to identify any issues that meet the legal criteria for disqualification.
Fulton Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney, who’s overseeing the special grand jury examining the matter, will hear arguments on Thursday afternoon. Our colleague Tamar Hallerman will be there.
ORDERED TO TESTIFY. Speaking of Fani Willis’ investigation, a judge ruled against Rudy Guiliani’s attempt to quash his subpoena when he failed to appear for a recent hearing.
Guiliani missed his date with New York State Supreme Court Justice Thomas Farber last week, so Farber ordered Giuliani to appear and testify before the Fulton grand jury beginning on Aug. 9, “and on any such other dates as this Court may order,” according to Tamar Hallerman’s report.
Guiliani was among several Trump insiders who challenged their subpoenas from the special grand jury investigating attempts to reverse the outcome of the 2020 general election.
CHANGEUP. Our friends at Axios note that an influx of immigrants who became U.S. citizens could play a key factor in Georgia’s 2022 election.
Just over 96,000 Georgia citizens naturalized between FY 2016 and 2020, eight times the margin of President Biden's 12,000-vote victory.
This year, a total of 116,000 citizens newly naturalized in Georgia since FY 2016 will have the opportunity to help decide control of the U.S. Senate — which swung to Democrats in 2020 after Sen. Jon Ossoff won his runoff by a margin of about 55,000.
BUT, BUT.... Former U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler doesn’t seem to be on board with the assumption that naturalized citizens are only Democratic voters.
Loeffler’s Greater Georgia is launching statewide TV and radio ads today asserting “liberal policies destroy the American dream” and encouraging people to register to vote in November.
In a statement announcing the ads, Loeffler also pointed to “open borders” as a major problem, saying liberal policies are “driving historic inflation, rampant crime and open borders - and putting the American Dream at risk.”
Loeffler has poured millions of her own money into Greater Georgia and is helping to fund Georgia United Action, a grassroots group focused on reaching conservative Hispanic voters ahead of the 2022 midterms.
TODAY IN WASHINGTON:
The U.S. House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot holds a primetime hearing, its final one in the current series. Tonight’s event will focus on the 187 minutes that lapsed between the building breach and President Donald Trump sending a tweet encouraging people to go home. And it will also cover activities at the White House in the days after the deadly insurrection.
The House this morning will take a vote on legislation that would create federal protections for access to contraception.
DEFENDING DANIEL DEFENSE. The CEO of a Georgia-based gun manufacturer whose firearm was used in a recent mass shooting has agreed to appear at an upcoming congressional hearing.
The U.S. House Oversight Committee says that Marty Daniel, CEO of Daniel Defense, will appear at the July 27 hearing, alongside the head of Sturm, Ruger & Company and representatives from two gun control organizations.
Mark Smith, the president and chief executive of Smith & Wesson Brands, was also invited but has not yet accepted.
An AR15-style rifle sold by Daniel Defense was used during the massacre in Uvalde, Texas, in May that killed 19 children and two teachers. The company is based in southeast Georgia.
D.C. GETS SLUTTY. Two Atlanta celebrities were on hand at the U.S. Capitol Wednesday as part of PETA’s annual Veggie Dog Lunch, an event that coincides with National Hotdog Day to encourage people to give up eating meat.
About 100 Congressional staffers picnicked on the steps of the Longworth House office building, while another 100 waited in line for Atlanta’s own Slutty Vegan “Big Dawg” meal of Beyond Meat bratwurst.
For dessert: “JD’s Vegan,” a new dairy-free ice cream from Atlanta-based music executive and rapper Jermaine Dupri.
Dupri posed for photos throughout the lunch hour with fans in front of a sign that read, “Feel the beets. Lose the meats.”
The meat-free music mogul told the Jolt, “I’ve been vegan for 19 years, so to see people embracing veganism like this is exciting to me.”