Stacey Abrams used her first round of campaign stops Monday to sharpen a vow to expand Medicaid in Georgia and make healthcare more affordable. But it was a line about the array of nonprofits she founded – and attacks on Gov. Brian Kemp as “too lazy or too inept” to effectively lead Georgia – that really struck a nerve with Republicans.
“I did the work and now I want the job,” Abrams said to cheering supporters in west Atlanta last night, as cheers of “Stacey” broke out.
Kemp spokesman Tate Mitchell shot back that while the governor led Georgia through the pandemic, Abrams “spent her time chasing the covers of style magazines and running a shadow campaign for president.” He added: “Georgians know who’s who.”
The statewide tour was just part of a new phase in the Abrams campaign after months of behind-the-scenes fundraising and organizational work. Her campaign also put at least $1 million behind the first TV and digital ad of her election campaign, which aired for the first time Tuesday.
Watch it here.
The minute-long ad focuses on how Abrams has spent her time since her narrow defeat in 2018, including paying off the medical debt of 68,000 Georgians through her Fair Fight Action political organization.
“I was raised that when you don’t get what you want, you don’t give up. You try again. You try because it’s how things get better, it’s how the world moves forward,” she says in the spot. “I don’t quit because Georgians deserve leadership. And that’s what a leader does. That’s the job of governor.”
Abrams continues her statewide tour on Wednesday, but she won’t have the campaign trail to herself this week. Kemp will do his own multi-stop South Georgia swing starting Thursday, with events planned in Vidalia, Richmond Hill, Ludowici, Jesup, Waycross, Darien, St. Simon’s and St. Mary’s.
Another takeaway from the Stacey Abrams’ kickoff rally: She didn’t mention David Perdue’s name. Neither did Gov. Brian Kemp in his remarks shortly after qualifying last week. Both are trying to brush off the former U.S. senator’s Donald Trump-backed bid.
But just ignoring Perdue doesn’t mean he, or Donald Trump, is going away. Perdue heads to Mar-a-Lago later this week to try to fill up his campaign coffers ahead of his May primary challenge to Kemp. And Trump will be at a race track in Georgia next week stumping for his hand-picked slate, including Perdue.
UNDER THE GOLD DOME, Tuesday, March 15 (Crossover Day):
- 8:00 a.m.: Committee work begins;
- 10:00 a.m.: The House gavels in*;
- 10:00 a.m.: The Senate convenes.
* How late will the night go? We’re told GOP leaders have no interest in staying past midnight, but that hasn’t always correlated to leaving before midnight. Our best advice: Pack a snack.
Yes, today marks Crossover Day at the Georgia Legislature, the internal deadline for bills to clear at least one chamber to advance for further consideration.
While many of the most attention-grabbing proposals on education and firearms have already cleared that hurdle, we’re closely watching a handful of other measures, including:
- The late-breaking GOP-backed push in the House to overhaul election laws to allow anyone to inspect original paper ballots and empower the GBI to intervene in fraud investigations;
- Two separate Senate proposals to let voters decide whether to expand gambling in Georgia to allow horse racing;
- A House effort to speed up licenses for Georgia’s stalled medical marijuana program;
- A Senate measure to impose harsher penalties on people who commit crimes during protests.
You can keep tabs on all the issues on the AJC’s Live Bill Tracker tool.
U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath is weighing in against one of the highest profile bills moving through the Georgia Legislature, the proposal to let Georgians to carry concealed weapons without the license that’s currently required.
In an op-ed in the AJC, the Marietta Democrat writes about losing her son, Jordan, to gun violence and argues that weaker gun laws lead to more gun crimes and death.
In Washington, the stalled nomination of Georgia native Lisa Cook to the Federal Reserve Board just got even more complicated.
Although Cook has the votes to be confirmed, her nomination is part of a bloc nominees that includes Sarah Bloom Raskin, a former Treasury Department official whom Republicans oppose to be the Fed’s top banking regulator.
GOP senators boycotted a recent hearing where Democrats hoped to advance all the nominees at once, including Raskin, which left all five Fed nominations stuck in committee.
On Monday, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin announced that he will also oppose Raskin’s nomination because of her past support for climate change measures. Without a Republican willing to support her nomination, she won’t have the 50 votes needed to be confirmed.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reports Monday that the Biden administration stands behind Raskin and has no plans to withdraw her nomination.
“There’s enough support to move all five nominees through the committee,” Psaki said. “So, we think the Republicans should show up so that they can vote them through the committee.”
Senate Leader Chuck Schumer has taken the first procedural steps to confirm two nominees to the federal court based in Atlanta as soon as next week.
If confirmed by the Senate, Victoria Calvert would become the second Black female district judge for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia and would be the first former federal defender to serve in the role. Former human rights attorney Sarah Geraghty would also join the federal bench in the Northern District.
In endorsement news:
- Former Gov. Nathan Deal has endorsed GOP state Sen. Bruce Thompson for Labor Commissioner.
- Giffords PAC, a gun-control focused political group founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, backed Raphael Warnock in his U.S. Senate re-election bid. The endorsement is not a surprise, but the Giffords group is significant for the spending it usually puts behind its candidates.
- Alpharetta City councilmen Douglas DeRito and Donald Mitchell endorsed Jake Evans in the 6th Congressional District race, along with Mayor Pro Tem Dan Merkel.
Speaking of endorsements, while Donald Trump has made his pick in Georgia’s 10th Congressional District, we’re still waiting to see if he’ll endorse in the 6th District GOP primary ahead of the May contest.
Trump boosted Dr. Rich McCormick in 2020 after he won the GOP primary in the 7th District. But McCormick is now running in the 6th District along with Jake Evans, the son of former Trump ambassador and Mar-a-Lago regular Randy Evans.
The younger Evans has already gotten nods from other Trump officials, including Richard Grenell, Trump’s former ambassador to Germany, Kash Patel, a Trump-appointed Department of Defense official, Richard O’Brien, Trump’s former national security adviser, and Fox News’ Sean Hannity.
Trump could go with another candidate entirely, or no candidate at all. A nod from the former president could be especially helpful in the crowded GOP field, especially in the newly drawn district where Democratic backlash won’t be the same as 2020, when Trump lost the 6th by double digits.
The Washington Post is out with a lengthy feature on the overhaul at the Floyd County Board of Elections following the new election law approved last year by the Republican-led General Assembly.
The article traces events back to a controversy following the 2020 election, when 2,600 ballots in Floyd County went uncounted initially, something that then-President Donald Trump used to question the legitimacy of the statewide tally. Election workers were then subject to harassment, internal disputes and even death threats.
The entire article, which centers around the theme of majority-white, rural areas appointing Republicans to jobs that were previously held by people who came from Democratic or Black communities, is worth a read.
Finally, if you’re a lawmaker worried that your legislation will die on the vine after today’s Crossover Day session, take heart in the advice retiring Senate Rules Committee Chairman Jeff Mullis gave to state Sen. Kim Jackson Monday as she tried to move her anti-stalking bill through the committee.
Since Mullis was unfamiliar with the details of the Atlanta Democrat’s proposal, he suggested he work with her on the bill before moving it on for Senate floor consideration.
Seeing her concern that missing Tuesday’s deadline would doom it, a cheerful Mullis told her, “It’s not over because it doesn’t go today,” he said. “I’ll teach you some sneaky bastard tactics later.” When the hearing room erupted in laughter at his apparent candor, Mullis, in his last pre-Crossover hearing ever, said, “I apologize….Oh wait a minute, I don’t care!”
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