The Jolt: Voting rights heads to Senate floor for likely defeat

News and information from the politics team at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

One day after voting rights activists spoke out on the holiday to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the U.S. Senate will gavel in to take up a top priority for Georgia U.S. Sens. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff-- Democrats’ latest voting rights bill.

A vote could come as early as Tuesday and will most certainly be blocked by Republicans with a filibuster. That is when Democrats could move to a historic vote to change the Senate’s rules to debate and pass the bill with just 50 votes. But with opposition from all 50 Senate Republicans and Democratic U.S. Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema on board, they won’t have the 50 votes to do it.

Family members of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. marched in Washington on Monday to celebrate the King holiday, while The King Center hosted official events in Atlanta.

Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, even paid for Black-owned food trucks to serve lunch for local volunteers.

But the most watched moment of MLK Day may have gone to a speech in Washington by Yolanda Renee King, the civil rights icon’s 13-year-old granddaughter (her father is Martin Luther King III). She banged on the wooden lectern as she called on Manchin and Sinema to support rules changes that will allow Democrats to pass federal voting legislation.

“For all the elected leaders out there who are Tweeting, posting and celebrating my grandfather, Dr. King, my message is simple: Do not celebrate-- legislate,” she said.



- 9:00 a.m.: House and Senate committees meet on budget and appropriations and continue throughout the day.

- The House and Senate chambers are in recess for the week of budget hearings.


A review of Senate candidate Herschel Walker’s Instagram account shows he follows several accounts with links to racy material.

One of the accounts has a name not suitable for a family newsletter. Several others also have accounts on OnlyFans, a social media platform popular with porn stars.

Some of the accounts he followed also were affiliated with the Ultimate Fighting Championship and may have overlapped with Walker when he was competing in the sports league.

“This is stupid. He follows or is followed by tens of thousands of people,” said campaign manager Scott Paradise.

Herschel Walker’s campaign condemns bigotry, protesters want his thoughts on vaccine

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The campaign of Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black, Walker’s top GOP rival, linked the social media activity to broader questions about Walker’s past.

“Stalking, and domestic abuse are disqualifying by themselves but a porn addiction would be a significant third strike. That’s just handing the Senate to the Democrats,” said Black spokesman Dan McLagan.

“While personally sad, it’s definitely conduct unbecoming of a candidate for elected office.”


We told you last week that Bill White, the leader of the Buckhead City separatist movement, was appointed in 2020 to the Georgia state Board of Corrections by Gov. Brian Kemp, less than two years after White relocated to Atlanta from New York City.

In an Instagram post Monday night, White defended his qualifications for the board, which oversees the Georgia Department of Corrections, and released several photos of his swearing in with Kemp at the State Capitol. He also included a photo alongside two state prisoners and offered plenty of praise for the governor.

“I am in AWE of how tough on crime Gov Kemp, Commissioner Ward and their team is but also how innovative they are to ensure those released never end up back in jail.”


Speaking of Bill White, the fight over Buckhead City is increasingly feeling like a fight about Bill White himself.

An anti-Buckhead City mailer delivered to Buckhead residents’ homes last week featured large images of the New York transplant with the headlines, “Can we really trust BILL WHITE?” and “Don’t let fast talking New Yorkers destroy Atlanta.”

White slammed the piece as an “anonymous unsigned garbage mailer.”

Not coincidentally, Buckhead City quickly put out a video about, you guessed it, Bill White, which he posted to Instagram.

“Our movement is a meteor,” he says in the video. “And meteors either do one of two things. They either shine brightly or they smash into something and blow it up.”


A pro-Herschel Walker outside group, 34N22, launched a statewide billboard campaign on Tuesday tying U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock to President Joe Biden’s policies and Atlanta’s crime rate.

“Inflation hurts families,” read one of them.

“Crime is killing Atlanta,” said another.

“Gas prices are insane,” read the third.

Each included the same hashtag: “Warnock isn’t working.”


In one more Buckhead development, Gov. Brian Kemp released an effusive statement supporting Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens’ decision to open a new Buckhead police precinct that’s a major part of the mayor’s effort to stave off cityhood.

“By putting boots on the ground and supporting our men and women in uniform, we’re making significant progress to secure the streets of Atlanta,” Kemp said.

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens stands with Atlanta Chief Police Rodney Bryant during the unveiling of the new Buckhead mini-precinct. Thursday, January 13, 2022. Miguel Martinez for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Miguel Martinez for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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Credit: Miguel Martinez for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Kemp added applause for the “public-private partnership and those involved – especially the dedicated law enforcement officials who will work out of the new precinct.”

The 10-year lease from Cousins Properties for the prime location will cost the city just $1 a year, city officials said.

Despite the good words for the added police presence, Kemp still hasn’t taken a stance on the Atlanta split – but is considered by Republicans likely to sign the measure to put the issue on a 2022 ballot referendum if it reaches his desk.


Every year for more than a decade, Raphael Warnock has spoken at The Temple in Atlanta on the Friday night of Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend in his capacity as senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church. The tradition is part of a longstanding partnership between the two congregations and the Black and Jewish communities in Atlanta.

On Friday night, Warnock was back at The Temple again, although speaking virtually from the pulpit at Ebenezer for the annual event.

As a part of his sermon, Warnock spoke about Jan. 5th and 6th, when he was elected as the first Black senator from Georgia and the U.S. Capitol was attacked less than 24 hours later.

“We are somewhere between the fears and the bigotry and the division of January 6 and the hope and the possibility of January 5. And, once again, a new generation of Americans, people of faith, have to decide who we are going to be and which direction will we go.”


The Libertarian Party of Georgia has tapped a full slate of statewide candidates for November’s election.

The slate was announced days after a federal appeals court reinstated Georgia’s steep requirements for third-party candidates, including Libertarians, to get on the ballot in U.S. House races.

The most notable names for 2022 include Shane Hazel, who won 2.23% of the vote in his 2020 run against former U.S. Sen. David Perdue. Because Perdue fell just short of the 50% mark (at 49.73%), he was forced into a 2021 runoff against now-U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff, which he lost.

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Along with Hazel, former state Rep. Ken Pullin, a former Republican who served one-term in the Legislature, will run for school superintendent as a Libertarian, while Ryan Graham, the chair of the state party, will run for LG.

Here’s the full slate:

  • US Senate - Chase Oliver
  • Governor - Shane Hazel
  • Lt. Governor - Ryan Graham
  • Secretary of State - Ted Metz
  • Attorney General - Martin Cowen
  • Commissioner of Agriculture - John Counts
  • Commissioner of Insurance - Danny Dolan
  • Commissioner of Labor - Christine Austin
  • Public Service Commissioner, District 2 - Colin McKinney


Savannah, Georgia’s oldest city, unveiled its first monument to a Black person over the weekend when the city dedicated a statue of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the Savannah Morning News reports. More:

Plans for the statue have been in the works for about a decade. Its unveiling marks Savannah's first monument dedicated to King, and, notably, the first honoring a Black individual.

In a city with a majority Black population, but few historical markers of their contributions, Mayor Van Johnson called this moment history in the making.

“For a city known for its history, we're still making history," said Johnson. “He fought the fights we are still fighting today."

- Savannah Morning News


Republican Mike Collins took in about $150,000 in the last fundraising quarter for his 10th District congressional campaign and will report roughly $750,000 in cash on hand. That includes a $400,000 loan from Collins to his campaign.

He’s one of the leading GOP contenders battling to succeed U.S. Rep. Jody Hice, who is running for secretary of state.


Lisa Cook, a Georgia native and alumna of Spelman College, has been nominated by President Joe Biden to serve on the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.

Cook, who grew up in Milledgeville, also earned degrees from Oxford University and University of California, Berkeley. She served on the White House Council of Economic Advisers under President Barack Obama.


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