The Jolt: The ‘sassiest’ state House race in west Georgia

Front page of the Sept. 5-6 edition of the Douglas Sentinel/Angela Mayfield

Credit: Douglas Sentinel/Angela Mayfield

Credit: Douglas Sentinel/Angela Mayfield

Angela Mayfield bills herself as a “West Georgia sass machine.” And until the other day, she was also a relatively low-profile Democratic candidate competing in a Republican-leaning state House district.

That changed when a reporter for the Douglas County Sentinel dug up some foul-mouthed tweets she had sent over the last few years. Among them was one that evoked memories of candidate Donald Trump’s lewd Access Hollywood recording.

Mayfield, who is challenging state Rep. Micah Gravley of Douglasville, didn’t apologize for her choice of words, as she revealed in a lengthy Twitter thread. And it led to this above-the-fold headline: “Candidate stands by vulgar tweets.”

To which Mayfield responded:

“I’m tired of tater tot legislators who care more about the health and welfare of Confederate statues, than Black mothers and babies. My mother, @BrendaForCocoa, follows me here, so everything I say, I say in front of my Mama. Underestimate me again.”

We caught up with Mayfield over the Labor Day holiday, and she said the newspaper’s “backfire was glorious.” She had amassed around $50,000 in campaign contributions within hours of the Twitter thread. By Tuesday, she said she was at $125,000.

The sass didn’t stop there. On Sunday, Mayfield responded to a Twitter challenge that asked: “White people. What would you say is the whitest thing about you?” To which Mayfield replied:

My great-great grandfather murdered three police officers who interfered with his moonshining operation. He said he would kill them, tracked them down, and then shot all three. There were witnesses.

Killed three cops, and was pardoned by the governor of Tennessee.

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We have two pieces of voting news: In the first, Blake Aued, news editor of Flagpole magazine in Athens, announced on Sunday that his household had been nominated for purging from the state’s voter registration list:

My wife and I both got notices a couple weeks ago that we were being moved to inactive status. We vote in every election and have lived at the same address for 7 years.

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That Twitter message got an near-immediate reply from Gabriel Sterling, chief operating officer for Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger:

I checked on it. You were sent a confirmation notice b/c the county got returned mail from you at your address. Following the law the county sent a confirmation notice that wasn’t returned & you were moved to inactive. Your 6/9 vote made you active again. You can check at MVP.

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Secondly, our AJC colleague Mark Niesse reports that Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has appealed a federal judge’s ruling that absentee ballots postmarked by Election Day should be counted:

The case will be considered by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals after U.S. District Judge Eleanor Ross last week nullified a Georgia law requiring absentee ballots to be received at county election offices by 7 p.m. on Election Day.

Attorneys for Raffensperger wrote that the coronavirus pandemic doesn’t justify altering election rules so near the time when voters will begin receiving absentee ballots late this month.

“Changing the deadline to return absentee ballots will introduce delay and confusion in the election process. This, in turn, risks delaying the Electoral College process and disenfranchising voters in Georgia, including preventing voters from casting ballots in runoff elections,” according to a motion Friday to stay Ross’ preliminary injunction while the appeal is pending.

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The four-candidate line-up competing to succeed Nikema Williams as a state senator includes a veteran marketing whiz, the son of the Democrat who long held the seat, and a near-perennial legislative contender.

We’ve told you already that Sonya Halpern qualified to represent the Atlanta-based district, a seat that came open when Williams was tapped to replace the late U.S. Rep. John Lewis on the November ballot.

Halpern is a former advertising and marketing executive with a knack for organizing and fundraising who sent word she’ll have about $75,000 in her election account for the Nov. 3 vote -- the same day as the general election. If no candidate receives 50% of the vote, the runoff is Dec. 1.

Zan Fort qualified a few days later. The son of former state Sen. Vincent Fort -- who vacated the seat in 2017 to run for Atlanta mayor, Zan Fort said he’ll echo his father’s support for labor unions, expanding Medicaid and other liberal causes.

“Having a father like mine, there’s no other way to grow up other than to have progressive ideals,” he said.

His father, Vincent, was also on the line when we talked. “He’s smarter than his dad, he’s better looking than his dad, and he’s not as grumpy as his dad,” the elder Fort said.

Replied Fort the Younger: “One thing my dad is not: He’s not a liar.”

Also in the running are JoAnna Potts, who lists herself as a chief executive, and Linda Pritchett, who has waged several unsuccessful campaigns for state House and Senate seats over the last decade. Pritchett came closest in 2017, narrowly losing to Williams in a runoff.

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GOP candidate Marjorie Taylor Greene stoked controversy again last week when she posted a photo on her Facebook page that showed her holding a rifle next to photos of three members of the so-called “Squad” in Congress.

“We need strong conservative Christians to go on the offense against these socialists who want to rip our country apart,” the 14th District congressional candidate wrote.

The post is still live, but the photo is no longer visible on her page. Greene later posted a video about the dustup in which she holds up a copy of the flyer. By that time, several national media outlets had written articles about the controversy and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, via her campaign Twitter account, suggested that Republican leaders should condemn Greene for the post.

It is hard, perhaps fruitless, to keep up with Greene’s Twitter eruptions. This morning:

Children should not wear masks, it’s unhealthy for their psychological, emotional, and educational growth. Especially boys, forcing boys to wear masks is emasculating. Masculinity isn’t toxic nor dangerous. Dem Socialism and shut downs are.

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And so Greene has teed up this question for Gov. Brian Kemp, who toured the state on a “mask-up” campaign this weekend: “Governor, Ms. Greene says wearing a mask makes you less of a man. Is she right?”

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U.S. Rep. Doug Collins is defending President Donald Trump’s record on the U.S. military and veterans after a blistering article in The Atlantic said that the president had repeatedly disparaged service members and appeared not to grasp the sacrifices made by those who were killed and wounded.

“The left wing media is a greater threat to our democracy than any foreign nation could ever dream,” Collins wrote on Twitter, linking to the post.

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Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has tapped a 15-person advisory board to help with his transition -- should he win the November election. The group includes a Georgian likely to serve in his administration.

Former acting U.S. attorney general Sally Quillian Yates joins former presidential candidate and ex-South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg and ex-national security adviser Susan Rice on the team laying the groundwork for a Biden presidency, CNN reports.

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Starting today, Club for Growth is running new digital ads supporting Republican nominee Rich McCormick and targeting voters in the Seventh Congressional District.

The spots are part of a $3 million effort by the conservative organization in support of a half-dozen candidates across the country. The group also has reserved $10 million in broadcast TV time.

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Our AJC colleague Maureen Downey reports on a lawmaker who wants to make permanent a concession made by the state Board of Regents to the coronavirus:

State Rep. David Wilkerson, D-Powder Springs, plans to introduce a bill during the 2021 legislative session to remove the SAT and ACT requirement to earn a Zell Miller Scholarship.

“With SAT and ACT exams being canceled across the country, it is time to revisit the 2011 decision to have a testing requirement for the Zell Miller scholarship,” said Wilkerson in a statement. “A student who graduated high school with a 3.7 GPA has already demonstrated academic excellence. A three-hour test should not be more important than 12 years’ worth of classroom work.”

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The only surprise is that someone has finally generated specific numbers: The National Collegiate Athletic Association’s long-standing policy prohibiting profit-sharing with college athletes effectively allows wealthy white students to profit off the labor of poor Black ones, according to the Washington Post:

Much of the money generated by football and basketball programs is spent on salaries for coaches and administrators and on the construction of lavish facilities for the teams. But millions of dollars also flow each year to such “nonrevenue” sports as tennis, sailing and crew, which don’t generate substantial revenue and hence are reliant on the substantial profits from football and basketball to sustain them financially.

The students playing those sports tend to be Whiter and hail from wealthier neighborhoods than those who play football and basketball. Black students constitute nearly 60 percent of the rosters of football and basketball teams, and just 11 percent of the rosters of all other sports. Similar racial dynamics are apparent among coaches. Football and basketball players also came from neighborhoods with higher rates of poverty and lower incomes than students in other sports.

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The Post report is based on this paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research.

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Avid listeners of the latest Political Life podcast will notice a familiar voice. Howard Franklin, the veteran Democratic strategist, is featured in a segment about Georgia’s increasingly competitive politics. Check it out here.

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In endorsement news:

-- State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler is backing U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler’s campaign. He was one of the few Republican statewide officials still on the sidelines.

-- Democratic Senate nominee Jon Ossoff has endorsed Dana Barrett’s bid for Congress. She’s challenging Rep. Barry Loudermilk.

-- The Georgia chapters of the AFL-CIO and the United Food & Commercial Workers are the latest unions to endorse Carolyn Bourdeaux in the Seventh District congressional contest.

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Auburn University has named its student center after Harold Melton, chief justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia and the first person of color elected as the university’s student body president. (He served from 1987 to 1988. Auburn was established in 1856.)

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Your Insiders are usually the ones asking candidates questions on your behalf, but now is a chance for you to submit questions of your own.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution will be publishing Q&As with Georgia candidates for the U.S. Senate and key U.S. House seats. And we’ve set up a form to allow readers to suggest questions and topics that we may ask or use in future coverage.

What issues are most important to you? And what would you ask candidates if you had the chance? Visit this link to submit your ideas.

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