Former President Donald Trump still holds a special place for Gov. Brian Kemp in the deepest, darkest corners of his heart. But at least he has more company.
The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman reported late Monday that Trump is restless and ready to return to politics after just five days in political exile — and his “deepest hostility” is reserved for Kemp. His aides, the Times added, “expect he will expend the most energy trying to damage Mr. Kemp’s re-election bid.”
That re-election campaign, as we told you yesterday, is well underway behind the scenes. And though we’ve heard plenty of names, it’s still not clear which other well-financed Republicans could line up to challenge him, particularly with a Senate race up for grabs.
If there’s a silver lining for Team Kemp it’s that a growing list of other Republicans have incurred Trump’s wrath of late.
There are the 10 U.S. House Republicans who voted to support the Democratic-led push to impeach him for inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol. There are the Senate Republicans who are ruminating a vote to impeach him during the trial next month.
And then there are the enemies to be added to the list — those who challenge pro-Trump candidates like Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the former Trump spokeswoman who just entered the Arkansas race for governor.
Speaking of Donald Trump supporters seeking office, we’re hearing that former state Rep. Vernon Jones is holding conference calls with Republican activists throughout the state preparing his run for a yet-to-be announced office.
Jones, a former Democratic chief executive of DeKalb County who formally switched parties this month, has floated the idea of challenging Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. But he may take another shot at the U.S. Senate.
Jones’ statewide appeal has yet to be proven as a Republican, but we can attest to his popularity at Trump rallies, at least. Lines for selfies with the lanky legislator were a frequent sight, as were Trump fans asking him, “When are you going to run?”
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Now back to business....
After 2020′s mixed results for the GOP, friend of the Jolt, Martha Zoller, is writing a series of columns for WDUN about the way forward for Republicans in the state.
Zoller’s radio show is a must-do for Republican candidates and she’s run for office herself. She also worked on staff for several years for former Sen. David Perdue, which is why this passage in Zoller’s latest piece -- jumped out:
“In the last election, candidates had scripted events to their supporters and sometimes would not let people know you were in a town, until you left it. Some of my most productive meetings have been with people who disagreed with me because it makes you stronger in your own values. There are people who do not like this open view. The right and the left for these opinions have chewed me out but I know it is the right path to heal our nation and our party."
It’s hard to argue with that logic. We know which Republicans didn’t follow that advice in 2020 and how it worked out for them. Stay tuned to see if it’s embraced in 2022. Zoller also had several ideas for changes to absentee voting that Republicans will want to read, too.
POSTED: The next statewide elections may be in 2022. But look for a red-hot race for mayor of Atlanta in 2021.
Although Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has gotten loads of national attention as an early supporter of President Joe Biden, she’s faced criticism at home as Atlanta has struggled to control its share of a deadly nationwide spike in violent crime.
Bottoms will likely face several challengers in her reelection bid. It looks like one could be City Council President Felicia Moore, who filed fundraising documents with the state last week.
J.D. Capelouto notes it’s not uncommon for Atlanta City Council presidents to launch bids for mayor. “The last five council presidents before Moore — including Ceasar Mitchell, Lisa Borders and Cathy Woolard — have all run for mayor. None were successful.”
Under the Gold Dome today:
*The House gavels into session at 10 am;
* The Senate gavels in at 10 am;
* The House Appropriations Committee hears from its subcommittees on recommendations for the midyear and FY 2022 Budget.
*Gov. Kemp holds a press conference on COVID-19 vaccinations.
One item on the House docket: A morning order from Rep. Mike Wilensky (D-Dunwoody) to honor Sen. Jon Ossoff as the state’s first Jewish senator. Wilensky is also Jewish.
Expect human trafficking to return as an issue of interest this session. Gov. Brian Kemp joined First Lady Marty Kemp at a press conference Monday to announce their plans for two bills to combat the criminal practice this session.
The first would allow survivors of trafficking to privately, rather than publicly, petition their local Superior Court for a legal change of name to protect their identities.
The second would allow survivors to sue their traffickers and their accomplices for civil damages in Georgia courts. The statute targets people who profit from trafficking and applies to anyone who knew or should have known that their profits resulted from human trafficking, which involves kidnapping and slavery and frequently targets children.
The march of Confederate statues away from public settings continues, this time in Dalton, where the Dalton Daily Citizen-News reports the statue of Confederate Gen. Joseph E. Johnston will move from a prominent corner in downtown Dalton to the Huff House, which served as one of Johnston’s headquarters during the Civil War.
The move comes after sometimes heated protests that culminated with a statement from the Dalton chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy “respectfully request(ing) that all parties stand down to prevent further disruption, disunity or harm.”
It’s a sign of the changing times, even in the conservative northwest corner of the state represented by U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene.
Finally, the funeral for Braves legend and Atlanta icon Hank Aaron will be at 1:00 this afternoon. Former President Bill Clinton and former Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig are scheduled to attend.
Of the many tributes to Aarom that poured in, Bill Rankin’s stands out describing the elation he felt as a boy, watching alongside his father, as his childhood hero hit that record-setting homer. Writes Rankin, “It was one of the happiest moments of my life.”
Thank you, Hank Aaron, for all of the joy you gave us while you were here.
Credit: Ben Hendren for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Credit: John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com