The Jolt: That day when Sam Nunn didn’t meet Joe Biden

Vice President Joe Biden, second from left, talks with Sen. Sam Nunn, left, developer Tom Cousins and executive director of the East Lake Foundation, Carol Naughton at the East Lake Early Leaning Academy Tuesday March 4, 2014.
Vice President Joe Biden, second from left, talks with Sen. Sam Nunn, left, developer Tom Cousins and executive director of the East Lake Foundation, Carol Naughton at the East Lake Early Leaning Academy Tuesday March 4, 2014.

We’re told that a virtual fundraiser for Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, helmed by Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, raised roughly $1.3 million on Wednesday.

The event included one surprise -- an impromptu endorsement from former Senate colleague Sam Nunn, who had been listening in. When Biden called Nunn out by name, a moderator unmuted the Georgian.

“I called him a man of great compassion, great depth, who loves people and has a great deal of experience,” Nunn said Wednesday evening, confirming the incident. “I said he will appoint good people – he knows who the best people are – Democrats, independents, even some Republicans.”

Nunn said he stayed away from specific issues, except for this: “Joe will reach out to friends and allies and rebuild and repair relationships around the world.”

The endorsement wasn’t unexpected. Nunn and Biden were two of the most important Senate voices on foreign policy in the 1980s and ’90s. Both were elected to the chamber In November 1972.

One thing Nunn did not bring up in yesterday's fundraiser was that day shortly afterwards when he didn't meet the new Delaware senator. It was December. Nunn and his family had just moved into a rental in D.C., looking for more permanent digs.

Georgia’s senator-elect was given a tour of the Capitol that finished with a first look at the Senate gym. Nunn was told that he had just missed Biden, which was a disappointment. At 30, Biden was the youngest senator elected that year. Nunn, at 34, was the second youngest.

On the way back to his own family, Nunn heard on the radio that Biden’s wife Neila and 13-month-old daughter Naomi had been killed in a traffic accident. The two Biden boys, Beau and Hunter, had survived.

For Nunn, it’s one of those locked-in memories. “That kind of stuff stays with you,” he said.

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The Senate Democratic caucus had expected to meet today with state Labor Commissioner Mark Butler to discuss constituent complaints that their unemployment benefits weren't being processed.

The meeting was cancelled a few days ago. Senate Democratic caucus chair Gloria Butler sent out Butler’s excuse via Twitter last night:

Due to threats to protest at the commissioner’s personal residence by members of the Democratic caucus and the recent protests that almost started a riot at a GDOL location, we will be cancelling the meeting scheduled for Aug. 5, 2020 at 2 p.m.

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Butler said she knows of no threat to bring protestors to Butler’s abode – nor does she know of any “near riot.”

“I was disappointed that he cancelled the meeting. We should be working together, not apart,” Butler said. “All of the pictures that I saw, people were just standing, talking to each other. I haven’t seen anybody out of order.”

Democratic state lawmakers say they have been inundated with reports from unemployed residents who can’t get Labor Department employees to pick up the phone. They’ve been holding a series of gatherings outside Labor Department offices across metro Atlanta. The DOL office in Gwinnett was Wednesday’s target:

Georgians who say they've been denied unemployment benefits gather at a Department of Labor office in Gwinnett County on Wednesday/WSB-TV
Georgians who say they've been denied unemployment benefits gather at a Department of Labor office in Gwinnett County on Wednesday/WSB-TV

Credit: WSB-TV

Credit: WSB-TV

Lawmakers will hold one in Marietta this morning. “They’re not rallies, they’re press conferences. There weren’t any riots. There weren’t any near-riots,” said state Rep. Kim Scholfield, D-Atlanta. From a Labor Department statement posted on the WSB-TV website:

“We here at the Georgia Department of Labor are very disappointed in the actions of certain members of the Georgia State Legislature. After working with several Georgia legislators from both sides of the aisle, we implemented a process for these elected officials to forward information to our office regarding older claims.

“Ironically, some of the legislators present at today’s press conference have had their constituent issues personally handled by the men and women working inside the location they spoke in front of.”

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On the other hand, in the same WSB-TV report linked above, reporter Kristen Holloway quoted Butler, the labor commissioner, as saying he had slowed down applications for unemployment out of a suspicion that many of the increased requests for benefits might be fraudulent.

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Not much can bring U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler and arch-rival Doug Collins together. But a fundraiser for Republican congressional candidate Rich McCormick did the trick.

An invite lists the two Senate candidates as honorary hosts for an Aug. 18 fundraiser for the 7th District nominee’s campaign. Gov. Brian Kemp is listed, too, as are U.S. Sen. David Perdue and the rest of the GOP’s Washington delegation.

McCormick also made different sort of waves when his campaign slammed Marjorie Taylor Greene, a candidate for 14th District, for peddling a “horrific anti-Semitic conspiracy” when she made false accusations about George Soros.

Though McCormick has not endorsed either Greene or her runoff opponent John Cowan, he joined a chorus of other GOP officials who condemned her racist and xenophobic remarks.

“We hope she will apologize immediately,” said his spokesman, John Simpson.

That brought a rebuke from Carolyn Bourdeaux, his Democratic opponent, who said the words “ring hollow” and won’t be enough to distance himself from the fringe candidate.

Bourdeaux pointed out that his wife last year contributed $2,800 to Greene’s campaign — back when she was running for the 6th District — and that McCormick has falsely accused Soros of spending $20 million to fund the Black Lives Matter movement to incite violence.

“McCormick has refused to condemn Greene’s unhinged, bigoted conspiracy theories in the past -- now with 90 days until Election Day, he changes his tune,” she said, adding: “Rich McCormick has already shown us who he is. Believe him.”

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U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler highlighted reports that Stacey Abrams helped the WNBA player’s union come up with the remarkable show of defiance against her campaign for Senate, suggesting a new phase of attack.

That led to a stinging response from Doug Collins, who is always eager to remind audiences that Abrams and Loeffler appeared on court together in 2018.

“Gee, Kelly, when was the last time Stacey Abrams was this involved with the @WNBA?” read the retort. Which included a photo of Loeffler and Abrams, together at center court in 2018.

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You might remember Allen Buckley as the libertarian candidate in the 2016 contest for U.S. Senate. This year, he is running as an independent in the all-comers race for the U.S. Senate seat held by Republican Kelly Loeffler.

But on Wednesday, it was Republican rival Doug Collins -- another one of the 20 challengers faced by Loeffler -- who attracted Buckley's attention. Buckley had just received a fundraising email from Collins that included this:

“I took an oath of loyalty to President Trump and his agenda and it’s not written on a piece of paper . . .I can’t win without the help of patriots who are as loyal to President Trump as I am.”

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From Buckley’s response:

“The loyalty of Mr. Collins was evident when he defended Mr. Trump in the impeachment hearings. If Mr. Trump were flawless and always acted within the boundaries of the Constitution, perhaps a dual oath would work. But Mr. Trump has many flaws, including financial recklessness, little concern about the future and the environment, an unlikeable, selfish personality, and a failure to lead with respect to both the coronavirus situation and current racial unrest…

“We need a senator who stands with the president when he or she is in the right, and opposes him or her when he or she is in the wrong.”

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Over at Trouble in God’s Country, Charlie Hayslett has been tracking the coronavirus in rural Georgia:

One key story … is that Covid-19 is continuing to move tsunami-like across rural east-central Georgia. TIGC first reported in early July that the bug seemed to have finished savaging southwest Georgia and appeared to be moving, Sherman-like, eastward to the sea. The latest results make it clear that march is still underway.

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Hayslett’s maps tell the story, and are worth a look.

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U.S. Reps. Sanford Bishop and Tom Graves are ready to put their full support and fundraising ability, if needed, behind the effort to replace the statue of Alexander Stephens in the U.S. Capitol with one depicting the late U.S. Rep. John Lewis.

The two held a conference call with reporters on Wednesday, and said they want to ensure it is part of the agenda when the General Assembly convenes in January.

Bishop is the longest-serving member in Georgia’s congressional delegation. Graves, who is retiring at the end of the year, is the longest-serving Republican. The duo also addressed why some members of the delegation, including U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler and four GOP House members, didn’t sign onto the letter of support.

It wasn’t that their colleagues didn’t support the idea, Bishop said, but feared sparking resentment among state lawmakers -- who would be required to approve the switch.

“There was some reservation of thought they expressed about directing or asking the Legislature to do that -- which they thought was the legislative prerogative, and we should not get in their lane,” Bishop said.

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A new nonprofit launched in Atlanta with a goal of training center-right women to run for office.

The Women’s Public Leadership Network, co-founded by veteran operative Larissa Martinez, aims to build a national web of affiliates with the help of $500,000 in grant money. The Georgia branch is led by Karen Owen.

“It’s no secret that women remain underrepresented in political leadership, especially center-right women,” said Martinez. More information can be had here.

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