The Jolt: The Most Popular Republican in Georgia: Brad Raffensperger

12/14/2020 —  Atlanta, Georgia — Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger walks with his staff through the halls of the Georgia State Capitol building for a press conference in the building in Atlanta, Monday, December 14, 2020.  (Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com)
12/14/2020 — Atlanta, Georgia — Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger walks with his staff through the halls of the Georgia State Capitol building for a press conference in the building in Atlanta, Monday, December 14, 2020. (Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com)

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

Ossoff opening, Labor Commish rumblings, and MTG grumblings lead the day

Republicans are in trouble entering the 2022 election season. That’s the straightforward takeaway of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll published over the weekend.

Consider the fact that Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s 47% statewide approval rating topped that of Gov. Brian Kemp, former president Donald Trump, or even the statewide GOP, despite (or maybe because of) Raffensperger’s months-long cage match with Trump over Georgia’s election results.

The big rub for the number-crunching conservative: He’s more popular with Democrats, who give him a 60% approval rating, than he is with his own Republicans. Just 45% of GOP voters say they’re happy with the job Raff has done.

He’s said he plans to run in 2022 again but possible challengers include former state Rep. Vernon Jones, who recently formally switched to the GOP after months of stumping for Trump; and state Sen. Brandon Beach, an Alpharetta Republican recently demoted for supporting Trump’s lies about election fraud.

Here’s more from our report on the gathering storm for the state GOP:

On the cusp of a tough reelection battle, Gov. Brian Kemp's approval rating stands at just 42% — and his disapproval is at 51%. More than one-third of Republicans, 36%, disapprove of his performance. That's more than quadrupled from the 8% of Republicans who held a dim view of Kemp in the AJC's January 2020 poll.

Former President Donald Trump's standing is even worse. A solid majority of Georgians disapprove of the former president in the weeks since he left office, with 57% giving him an unfavorable rating, compared with just 40% who approved of his performance in the White House.

Though he continues to have strong support from his base, with 84% of Republicans backing him, it's a marked decline from the last AJC poll. That survey, conducted in September, found that 48% of Georgians and 95% of Republicans gave him a positive review.

The bad news for Republicans doesn't stop there. About 51% of Georgians have a favorable impression of Kemp's likely challenger, Democrat Stacey Abrams, including 10% of Republicans and 21% of conservatives.

U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock's standing ahead of a 2022 re-election bid is better. Roughly 54% of Georgians have a positive view of him while 37% see him in a negative light. Independents are evenly split over Warnock, and 13% of Republicans favor him.

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The Georgia General Assembly is back in session for Legislative Day 9 today.

  • The House gavels in at 10 am;
  • The Senate gavels in at 10 am;
  • Various committees meet throughout the day

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We’ve picked up word that state Sen. Bruce Thompson is preparing a possible run for state Labor Commissioner — a job now held by fellow Republican Mark Butler.

A few GOP insiders told us Thompson, a military veteran and insurance agent from the northwest Georgia city of White, was calling activists and donors about a potential bid.

He didn’t deny the buzz, telling us that he’s “open to serving the people and the state in the best capacity I can” whether it’s as chair of the Senate Economic Development Committee or another position.

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Trial lawyer David Schoen, one of two new attorneys on former President Donald Trump’s impeachment team after the implosion of his former, has deep ties to Atlanta.

Schoen, who has offices in Montgomery, Ala. and New York, lives in Toco Hills and has been involved with the Torah Day School of Atlanta and Yeshiva Ohr Yisrael -- two Jewish schools in Atlanta.

He told the AJC that disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein, who died in prison waiting for his sex trafficking trial, contacted him just days before his death. He also said Trump associate Roger Stone tried to hire him.

And he was quoted in a January article in the Atlanta Jewish Times about the impeachment of the former president. Said Schoen:

“I think that the impeachment was a terrible idea for the country. In his first speech after the election, President-elect Biden called for healing and unity. This impeachment reflects a very different agenda from that and will ensure even further polarization. I am disappointed that President-elect Biden failed to speak out against it. He might not have stopped it — and might not have wanted to stop it — but it would have been the statesmanlike thing to do and would have gone a long way.”

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The New York man who made ominous threats against U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock pleaded not guilty in federal court Friday, Reuters reports.

Prosecutors said Eduard Florea used the name “LoneWolfWar” on Parler, the right-wing social media safe space, to make threats before and during the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

During a search of the Proud Boys supporter’s home, police found more than 900 rounds of ammunition, 72 military-style combat knives, two hatchets and two swords, according to court papers.

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Helped Wanted. It seems U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff still hasn’t found the right fit for chief of staff. A tipster alerts us to the Ossoff job advertised in the Sunday New York Times classifieds reading: “Georgia senator sks Chief of Staff.” (Warnock has already hired his top staffer.)

May we humbly suggest an ad in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, as well? The senator may find more state-level expertise further South.

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Another one: Savannah is again looking for a new city manager, the Savannah Morning News reports.

After a previous pricey search for its top administrator failed to produce a successful candidate last spring, the city is once more trying to find someone who enough of the nine-member city council can agree on.

“What people may not recognize is I asked each candidate, ‘Would you come here on a five-four vote?’ All three said no.” said Mayor Van Johnson, explaining the challenge.

If you think you’ve got the chops to build consensus and lead city services for the gorgeous coastal jewel, apply within.

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Another job opening caught our eye in Oconee County, where the county’s Elections Director, Fran Leathers, is resigning effective Feb. 5. The Oconee Enterprise, always a must-read in the governor’s mansion, reports that Leathers is moving on to a job with Dominion Voting Systems.

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Today’s Marjorie Taylor Greene update comes courtesy of her 14th Congressional District.

Although the New York Times penned an editorial today calling Greene “beyond the pale,” it’s the 14th district’s residents whose opinions matter most in this spectacle.

In a weekend editorial, the Rome News-Tribune wrote of their congresswoman, “something has to be said.”

“We've tried to encourage our representative in Congress to be a voice for all of the 14th District's constituents. That plea has so far gone unheard…

“Our member of Congress needs to be in Washington, D.C., to make sure we're represented in the national conversation and make sure services are still provided to the 14th District.

“It's very likely the 14th District will get nothing from Congress over the next two years."

- Rome News-Tribune

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And speaking to the L.A. Times, state Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, the Rome Republican called Greene “extremely irresponsible” and said her “publicity stunts” would rob the 14th District of any power in Congress and make it harder to attract development and new business.

“The Republican Party in Georgia does have a minimum standard of behavior,” Hufstetler told the Times. “I don’t want to tell Congress what to do. But they certainly need to take care of this because it hurts the Republican Party.”

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And if you’re in bed by 8:30 every night like one of your Insiders, it’s possible you also missed the Saturday Night Live send up of both Greene cloaking the state in glory and Georgia’s wild political dynamics. Enjoy.

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