The Jolt: Test for Kemp, Duncan and Raffensperger coming at next round of GOP meetings

News and analysis from the politics team at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Governor Brian Kemp holds a press conference at the state capitol in Atlanta, Ga. on April 20th, 2021 in response to African American religious leaders calling for a boycott of Home Depot over recent voting legislation in the state. PHOTO BY NATHAN POSNER

Credit: Nathan Posner

Combined ShapeCaption
Governor Brian Kemp holds a press conference at the state capitol in Atlanta, Ga. on April 20th, 2021 in response to African American religious leaders calling for a boycott of Home Depot over recent voting legislation in the state. PHOTO BY NATHAN POSNER

Credit: Nathan Posner

Credit: Nathan Posner

Another round of GOP grassroots gatherings, another test for top state Republican leaders. Well, sort of.

A few weeks ago, activists in more than a dozen county GOP groups voted to rebuke Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan. About a half-dozen “censured” Gov. Brian Kemp.

This weekend, the next level of Republican gatherings are scheduled: District meetings for the 14 congressional territories around the state.

And Donald Trump supporters could push new efforts to reprimand the Republican leaders for their perceived lack of loyalty to the former president.

But even Kemp’s opponents aren’t expecting much carnage, though resolutions aiming to punish him and other GOP officials have been submitted.

That’s because rebukes of leading political figures are harder to pass than those at the county-level. In 2016, amid widespread grassroots fury at then-Gov. Nathan Deal for a veto of the “religious liberty” measure, only one district GOP punished him.

Instead, expect the resolutions at the 14 districts to be more issue-oriented. Among the efforts we’re watching: Resolutions urging the end of a jet fuel tax break for Delta Air Lines after the company criticized the new election law.

Also on the radar: Former Cobb County GOP head Jason Shepherd must make a decision by Saturday whether to continue a longshot challenge to GOP chair David Shafer or run instead for 11th District GOP leader.

Shafer’s re-election bid got a likely impregnable boost earlier this year when Trump endorsed him, leading Shepherd to openly flirt with dropping down to a lower-profile position.


Georgia’s U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock gave more details into his thinking Thursday about the sweeping For the People Act and the more tailored John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.

Earlier this week Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a deciding vote for the Democratic majority, indicated that he is willing to move forward with the John Lewis Act but not the more comprehensive S1.

Shortly after Senate Democrats met to discuss the bills behind closed doors, Warnock told reporters he disagrees with Manchin’s approach.

“The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act builds for us a fire station to protect us against future fires, but the house of democracy as a result of these voter suppression bills all across the country is on fire right now,” Warnock said.

“With these voter purges in my state, any voter can challenge any number of voters on the legitimacy of their vote. State boards of election taking over local elections. For the People provides minimal standards for voting rights, and there’s nothing more basic than that.”


The U.S. House on Thursday approved a bill sponsored by U.S. Rep. Drew Ferguson that will aid in the development of behavioral intervention programs at communities.

H.R. 2877 won broad bipartisan support with a 323-93 vote. The “no” vote was also bipartisan. Georgia Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Rome, and Nikema Williams, D-Atlanta, both opposed the proposal.

Ferguson, R-West Point, in a statement after the vote said that the bill will allow various federal agencies to work together to develop mental health solutions for people in crisis.

“This straightforward bill works to provide local communities and educational systems with the tools that they need to help identify mental health needs before it’s too late…I can tell you that early intervention is vitally important,” he said.


You will recognize several of the names announced this week as a part of Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ new anti-violence working group.

The mayor has been dogged by criticism for the city’s spike in violent crime, including a 60% increase in homicides over this point in 2020.

In addition to former U.S. Attorney Sally Yates, the group includes Carol Tomé, Chief Executive Officer of UPS, Buckhead-based City Councilmember JP Matzigkeit, and Randall Slaughter, the retired Fire Chief from the Atlanta Fire Rescue Department.


One of 2020′s political flashpoints, namely the use of facemasks, may be fading into the rearview mirror.

The Atlanta-based CDC announced Thursday that vaccinated people can resume normal activities without wearing a mask indoors or outdoors and may now discontinue social distancing guidelines.

Following the announcement, both Cobb County Schools and Marietta City Schools said they would end mask mandates for fully vaccinated students and staff.

Separately, Atlanta-based Delta Airlines will require future employees to be vaccinated for COVID-19, the AJC’s Kelly Yamanouchi writes.

Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian said Thursday during a CNN interview that he plans to require that new hires for the company be vaccinated for COVID-19.

Among existing employees, “I'm not going to mandate and force people if they have some specific reason why they don't want to get vaccinated," Bastian said during an interview with CNN's Richard Quest. “One caveat to that — any person joining Delta in the future we're going to mandate they be vaccinated before they can sign up with the company."

- The Atlanta Journal-Constitution


The New York Times reports that Alpharetta-based Colonial Pipeline got operations back online yesterday by paying $5 million to cyberhackers -- in the form of 75 Bitcoin.

President Joe Biden said the ransomware attack is proof that the country needs upgraded infrastructure like the sort he has proposed in his mostly general $2.1 trillion infrastructure measure.

“I cannot dictate that the private companies do certain things relative to cybersecurity,” the president told reporters. But he said that “I think it’s becoming clear to everyone that we have to do more than being done now and the federal government can be significant value added.”


State Rep. Bee Nguyen is profiled in The Washington Post’s Lily vertical for women. The Atlanta Democrat is running to challenge Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in 2022.

Nguyen details why she’s running, what doubts she had going into the race, and the first steps she’d take if she wins, including expanding non-English documents for voting, business loans and worker trainings.


But ultimately, Nguyen knew none of the policies she envisioned are possible if Georgians can't first trust that their votes will be counted. She recalled the lack of Republican pushback in the statehouse as Trump pushed conspiracy theories about Georgia's election results; how an election that saw remarkable turnout from voters of color was deemed fraudulent.

Nguyen saw those claims as attempts to erode democracy itself, in Georgia and beyond.

“Everything is at stake."

- The Lily


The Savannah Morning News has a fascinating look into how that gigantic Amazon fulfillment center ended up in Chatham County, where it’s expected to employ 1,000 people when it opens in 2022.

Adam van Brimmer writes that Amazon reached out to the Savannah Economic Development Authority just 10 months ago, where they found a ready location, pre-set infrastructure and favorable, but not free, tax treatment. Amazon even started construction before the deal closed.

More details:

“The Georgia Ports Authority, which assembled and purchased the parcels that make up the Chatham County Development Site in 2002, lured Mitsubishi to the site in 2009 with a $1-a-year land lease deal, contingent on Mitsubishi meeting contractual agreements in regards to employment and investment.

Conversely, Amazon purchased 380 acres for its fulfillment center through its capital partner, USAA. The $62.7 million transaction closed Friday. SEDA and the state will fund the construction of a new four-lane road and roundabout to connect the site to Pine Barren Road and Dean Forest Road."

- Savannah Morning News


Georgia U.S. Rep. Andrew Clyde declined on Thursday to clarify to reporters his remarks denying an insurrection happened at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

Meanwhile, activists from the Lumpkin chapter of Indivisible, a left-leaning organization, showed up at his office to give a staffer to the Athens Republican a handout titled, “The Handy Guide to Tourist or Terrorist?”

Clyde said during a committee meeting on Wednesday said that most of the video he saw was of people calmly entering the Capitol no differently than tourists.

He’ll be a guest on Martha Zoller’s WDUN radio show Friday, so we’ll listen for him to make news then.


If you are flying in or out of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport this weekend, you’ll notice the external canopies illuminated in blue.

It’s an honor for longtime Atlanta City Council member C.T. Martin, who died Saturday.

Martin played a key role in expanding the airport, including its fifth runway. He also worked to integrate some of Atlanta’s most segregated neighborhoods.