The Jolt: Two Georgia fights for Congress, in two different versions of suburbia

FILE - In this Monday, Aug. 3, 2020, file photo, President Donald Trump listens during a meeting with U.S. tech workers, before signing an Executive Order on hiring American workers, in the Cabinet Room of the White House, in Washington. The massive losses Trump has claimed on tax returns were reportedly due at least in part to huge deductions he took against the income his businesses had before and after he became president. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Credit: Alex Brandon

Credit: Alex Brandon

In the aftermath of Tuesday night’s hot mess of a presidential debate in Cleveland, we mentioned the adverse impact that President Donald Trump’s performance might have on the GOP effort to reclaim the Sixth District from U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath, D-Marietta.

Trump’s rejection of racial diversity programs, his call for far-right Proud Boys “to stand back and stand by,” and his framing of American suburbs as as would-be targets for destruction under a Joe Biden administration – all were cited as statements that might be interpreted harshly by women voters desperately needed by Republican Karen Handel.

But the Sixth District is only one of two hotly contested U.S. House races in Georgia. The other is the neighboring Seventh District, comprised of Gwinnett County and a slice of neighboring Forsyth County.

Question: So why wouldn’t Trump’s comments reverberate in the Seventh as well? Answer: They probably will, but in a different way.

If you poke through the GeorgiaVotes.com website, where Ryan Anderson is currently tracking absentee ballot applications, you’ll see that despite their proximity, the Sixth and Seventh are shaping up to be entirely different contests.

By gender and age, applications for ballots in the two congressional districts are nearly identical. Fifty-five percent are women, 38% are under 50, and 61% are over 50.

But in the Sixth, anchored by north Fulton but also including portions of Cobb and DeKalb counties, 70% of those requesting absentee ballots are white.

In the Seventh, only 48% of the voters requesting absentee ballots are white – 18% are Black, 13% are Asian, 5% are Hispanic, and 15% list their ethnicity as “other.” Much voting has yet to occur, and these stats are for applications, not ballots cast. But as of this morning, Gwinnett’s voting pool appears to be majority-minority.

In the Sixth District, white voters clearly hold sway. Toss in the fact that the Sixth also has the highest per-capita rate of college graduates of any CD in the state, and the situation becomes obvious.

The Sixth District is ground zero for the battle over white, college-educated female voters in Georgia. They are the demographic group that has most recently swung against Trump, and so are considered by Republican strategists as the most persuadable, potential returnees.

And that’s why the president’s debate conduct may have affected that congressional race more than any other.

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Judge Amy Coney Barrett, President Donald Trumps nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court, meets with Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Shawn Thew/Pool via AP)

Credit: Shawn Thew

Credit: Shawn Thew

Asked about President Donald Trump’s failure to denounce white supremacists during Tuesday night’s debate, U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler didn’t hesitate to defend him.

Her full quote on Wednesday, according to video posted by a New York-based news site: ""He has been very clear that there is no place for racism in this country. So I think we just have to look at his words and his actions and to understand that he has done more to lift up African-Americans than any president in recent history."

Georgia Sen. David Perdue released a similar statement to WXIA-TV: “The president has repeatedly denounced hate groups. In Atlanta last Friday, we heard President Trump designate the KKK and Antifa as terrorist organizations. He also called for lynching to be a federal hate crime.”

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All about the black robes: Vice President Mike Pence told hundreds of activists at the Faith and Freedom Coalition conference in metro Atlanta that Donald Trump is “the most pro-life president in American history,” invoking the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to a vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court.

This morning brings another tidbit about the nomination: The Wall Street Journal reports Barrett disclosed that Trump had offered her the nomination just days after Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died, “a timeline that suggests the week of suspense before the pick was publicly revealed was largely for show.”

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The vice president had an interesting group of Republicans waiting for him on the airport tarmac when he arrived.

Gov. Brian Kemp was first in line, as usual. But behind him were two candidates in close races. State Rep. Rick Williams represents a Milledgeville-based district that’s one of Georgia’s closest state legislative contests.

And David Jenkins is the GOP nominee to unseat House Minority Leader Bob Trammell -- the top down-ticket legislative target for Georgia Republicans in this cycle.

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FILE- In this June 10, 2020, file photo, Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., asks questions during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. A pair of new high-profile endorsements are adding fuel to an already contentious special election for a U.S. Senate seat in Georgia. Former Gov. Nathan Deal has endorsed Republican Rep. Doug Collins in his bid to unseat Sen. Kelly Loeffler, a fellow Republican. Former president Jimmy Carter endorsed Democrat Raphael Warnock in the race. (Greg Nash/Pool Photo via AP)

Credit: Greg Nash

Credit: Greg Nash

Senate candidate Doug Collins was not one of the five Republicans to vote Wednesday against a resolution affirming U.S. House support for a peaceful transfer of power in the federal government -- should it be necessary after the Nov. 3 presidential election.

But Collins would have voted no had he been there, his spokesman said.

The House voted 397-5 to pass the resolution after President Donald Trump last week declined to commit to a peaceful transition should he lose the election. The Senate unanimously passed a similar resolution last week. The Collins campaign noted that this unanimity included U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler, whom Collins is attempting to oust. (U.S. Sen. David Perdue voted the same way.)

“It was a charade aimed at the president,” said Collins spokesman Dan McLagan. “Pure politics like what the Senate meekly passed and Kelly supported. Doug doesn’t do meek.”

In relatively graphic terms, the four-term congressman framed both resolutions as an unwarranted rebuke aimed at Trump.

“This was a gigantic middle-finger to President @realDonaldTrump and shame on @KLoeffler and the wallflowers in the Senate for aiding the Democrats' narrative,” Collins said in a tweet.

Granted, Collins' days in the House are coming to a close, and Senate race No. 2 is a hot one. But the fact that the congressman missed that vote rather dampens his criticism. Loeffler spokesman Stephen Lawson picked up on that thread.

“More laughable hypocrisy from a failed career politician who doesn’t even show up to work,” said Lawson. “The good thing for Georgians is that he’ll only be collecting his taxpayer-funded paycheck for another two months.”

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We’re down to 20 candidates in the race for the U.S. Senate seat held by Kelly Loeffler. A. Wayne Johnson dropped out of the contest today and endorsed U.S. Rep. Doug Collins. But Johnson’s name will remain on ballots.

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Gov. Brian Kemp greets Atlanta hip-hop star Killer Mike in his ceremonial office. Credit: Kemp's office.

The unlikely friendship between Gov. Brian Kemp and Killer Mike, the Atlanta rapper and liberal activist, took another step on Wednesday.

After the governor swung by Killer Mike’s Swag Shop barber shop for a quick haircut, the rapper -- a.k.a. Michael Render -- posted on Instagram about the fruits of their discussion earlier this month.

Render said the conversation has resulted in changes to a workforce development program for construction jobs that will aim some of its 70 open slots toward residents of economically-struggling communities, including the Atlanta ZIP code covering Killer Mike’s childhood home.

Render will also join a statewide campaign by Georgia’s tech school system to encourage more teenagers to apply for training earlier. “It’s paying off,” he said in the video, after thanking Kemp for connecting with his staffers and patrons during his visit.

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Gov. Brian Kemp called into WSB Radio this morning to chat with host Scott Slade about his decision to essentially stand pat in his latest executive order extending coronavirus restrictions.

“We need another week or two to continue to watch the data, which is trending excellent now … Just to make sure we’ve got past any potential Labor Day holiday weekend issues. We’d like to watch that for another week or two.”

On news that more than 10,000 jobs were created in Georgia during the first quarter of fiscal year 2021: “It’s still a very tough environment.”

On the integrity of the state’s election operation: “Even the Joe Biden campaign was sending people to a voter registration site that we created.”

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The Savannah Morning News reports that state Sen. Ben Watson, a Republican, is now assured of another term in the Legislature. Democratic challenger Kerri McGinty has dropped out of the Nov. 3 general election.

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Republican Rich McCormick and Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux are vying to succeed U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall in Georgia's 7th Congressional District.

The Democratic Party’s campaign arm for U.S. House candidates has launched separate ads targeting opposing candidates in two competitive metro Atlanta districts.

Republican Karen Handel, who is attempting to retake her seat from U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath, is the focus of a TV spot, which challenges her record on health care issues. (The Handel campaign says it misrepresents the facts.)

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is also running a radio ad in the Seventh District that accuses GOP candidate Rich McCormick, an ER physician, of playing down the effects of the coronavirus and failing to support recent protests against police brutality. It’s a follow-up to a TV ad with a similar theme.

That radio ad is playing on Black stations in hopes of boosting turnout for his Democratic opponent, Carolyn Bourdeaux. McCormick’s team points out that he is a graduate of the Morehouse College of Medicine. They said both ads ignore his long history of working in the Black community.

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On Tuesday, Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe declassified a Russian intelligence assessment that had been previously rejected by Democrats and Republicans on the Senate Intelligence Committee.

The assessment, first reported by Politico, claims that Hillary Clinton, as a Democratic candidate for president, personally approved an effort “to stir up a scandal against U.S. Presidential candidate Donald Trump by tying him to Putin and the Russians' hacking of the Democratic National Committee.”

Democrats denounced the claim as Russian disinformation, and even Ratcliffe said he couldn’t vouch for its accuracy.

Nonetheless, after FBI Director Christopher Wray declined to open a new investigation based on Ratcliffe’s memo, U.S. Rep. Doug Collins penned a letter Wednesday demanding Wray’s resignation.

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Happy birthday to President Jimmy Carter! The 96-year-old and oldest living president in U.S. history is planning to spend a quiet day at home in Plains.

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