The Jolt: While Kemp and Perdue battle, Stacey Abrams wishes you, ‘Merry Christmas’

News and analysis from the politics team at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Former candidate for governor Stacey Abrams speaks at Brown Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church during Selma's re-enactment of Bloody Sunday on Sunday, March 1, 2020, in Selma, Ala.  Curtis Compton

Credit: Curtis Compton / AJC

Credit: Curtis Compton / AJC

Former candidate for governor Stacey Abrams speaks at Brown Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church during Selma's re-enactment of Bloody Sunday on Sunday, March 1, 2020, in Selma, Ala. Curtis Compton

While Gov. Brian Kemp and former U.S. Sen. David Perdue batter each other with scathing attacks, Democrat Stacey Abrams keeps trying to stay above the fray.

The latest example of that comes this morning, with a new radio ad that wishes Georgians a “Merry Christmas.” It continues:

The past year has been too hard for too many. But I have faith… faith that with the right leadership we can build a Georgia where all have the opportunity to thrive. Next year and beyond, regardless of your zip code, your background or access to power, I’ll be fighting for you.

The ad will air statewide for 10 days, and will play mostly on Black, gospel and rural radio stations. Some of the stations have conservative-leaning audiences, a reminder that Abrams can afford to branch out beyond her base without a Democratic primary to worry about.

Also, we took note of the explicit mention of “Merry Christmas.” It was a favorite attack line of Perdue in 2020 to claim that Democrats are trying to ban that phrase. Abrams, the daughter of two Methodist ministers, has no such hesitancy.

Oh, and one more thing: Just like her rollout ad, this one also doesn’t mention her Republican opponents by name.

It’s so positive, in fact, it may remind you of the days when a pair of puppy ads from now-Sen. Raphael Warnock proved that keeping it positive can get you elected in Georgia, especially if your opponents spend most of election season slinging mud at each other.


U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin broke the hearts of many of his fellow Democrats when he announced on Fox News Sunday that he will not vote for the $1.7 trillion social spending and climate change bill passed in the House, effectively killing any chance of it passing in the Senate.

In the process, Manchin confirmed the worst fears of progressives who were always wary of the strategy of decoupling the $1.7 trillion Build Back Better bill from the bipartisan $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill.

Georgia’s U.S. Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux was among the moderate House members that pushed to separate the two measures and pass infrastructure first. She released a statement Sunday saying she hopes Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, will return to the table to continue working on the House version of Build Back Better.

“That version was fully paid for and aligned with Senator Manchin’s initial criteria for the bill while also keeping our commitment to support working American families, expand access to affordable health care, lower prescription drug costs, invest in our children, and get serious about the dangers posed by climate change,” the Suwanee Democrat wrote. “Walking away from this negotiation is unacceptable.”

Other Georgia Democrats stayed mum on the subject, while a few were more heavy handed in their criticism of Manchin.

“Unlike the Grinch who tried to steal Christmas but had a change of heart, @Sen_JoeManchin appears hellbent on stopping the monthly tax cut, lower costs and environmental protections that tens of millions of American families support and deserve,” U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Lithonia, wrote on Twitter. “This comes as a heavy blow as we celebrate the holiday season. Shame on @Sen_JoeManchin.”

State Rep. Donna McLeod, a candidate for the 7th Congressional District seat running against Bourdeaux, wrote on her account that Manchin “hijacked the people’s agenda” by prioritizing the infrastructure bill over Build Back Better.


While Democrats try to get Build Back Better back on track, they’re still knee-deep in pushing out the news about what Georgians can expect to see from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill once its fully in place.

On Friday, U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff sent out the list of Georgia airports set to receive funding for upgrades through the new law.

The list includes $92 million for Hartsfield Jackson International Airport, $5.4 million for Savannah Hilton Head International Airport, $2.7 million for Augusta Regional Airport at Bush Field, and about $1 million each for airports in Albany, Columbus, Valdosta, Brunswick, and Macon, plus awards for dozens more that that you may or may not have heard of.


U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter was among the elected officials who participated in a roundtable with Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg in Savannah on Friday to discuss strategies for solving supply chain issues.

Years ago, that wouldn’t have raised an eyebrow. But in today’s hyper-partisan political atmosphere, Georgia Republicans generally avoid sharing the stage with members of President Joe Biden’s administration.

Carter, R-Pooler, said he thought it was important to put partisanship aside and work on ways to support the Port of Savannah.

“I have worked throughout my career, both in the state legislature and while I’ve been a member of Congress, trying to improve the Georgia Ports Authority, and I’ll continue to do that,” he said. “And I’ll work with Democrats, Republicans or whoever.”

Carter said he doesn’t think his vote against the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill contradicts his interest in supporting Savannah’s ports. He said the bill, which was passed with the support of some Republicans but none from Georgia, will increase the deficit, and he also disagrees with the portions focused on addressing climate change.


As the Omicron variant moves quickly through the U.S., Politico is up with a lead item this morning quoting infectious disease experts ripping the Atlanta-based CDC for gaps in data collection nearly two years into the pandemic.

The headline says it all: “It’s embarrassing.”


DeKalb County residents are invited to participate in one of two virtual town halls with members of the state legislative delegation to mark the start of the 2022 session.

State Rep. Karla Drenner, D-Avondale Estates, and State Sen. Emanuel Jones, D-Decatur, are the delegation co-chairs and the hosts of the town halls. They and other lawmakers will answer questions from constituents. Both meetings will be held via Zoom, and pre-registration is required. The sessions will take place on Jan. 8 at 9:30 a.m. and Jan. 11 at 7 p.m..


In endorsement news, Georgia state Rep. Karen Bennett, D-Stone Mountain, has endorsed U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath in Georgia’s 7th Congressional District Democratic primary. Bennett is the past chairwoman of the Legislative Black Caucus.


The Rome News-Tribune is continuing its Q&A series with the many challengers to U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene in the 14th Congressional District.

Among her Republican challengers are Air Force veteran and former E.R. doctor Charles Lutin and business owner Jennifer Strahan.

Lutin did not sugarcoat his reason for getting in the race: “I decided to run when I recently traveled around the US and got tired of apologizing for our loud, foul-mouthed, ignorant, and unbalanced congresswoman from Georgia.”

Strahan said she’s running because Greene isn’t interested in legislating or leading. “We need substantive leaders who can have adult conversations and take on these challenges, not social media celebrities who accomplish nothing.”


If you missed our coverage on Sunday about the late U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, below is a collection of remembrances and past coverage that help illuminate his life and legacy.

  • Patricia Murphy’s reflection on Sunday on the example that Isakson and John Lewis left behind.
  • Greg Bluestein’s tribute to the Isakson Way in Georgia politics that was published this morning.
  • Tia’s article from 2019 when Congressman John Lewis embraced Isakson on the House floor as part of a tribute to the retiring senator.
  • A 2019 column by Jim Galloway about how Zell Miller, once Isakson’s foe, resuscitated his political career.
  • A 2019 story by Tamar Hallerman that captured the way Isakson operated in Washington.
  • A 2019 story by Hallerman as he prepared to step down that highlighted how he served as the backstop whenever Georgia’s priorities were at risk.
  • A 2016 story by Bluestein about how Isakson remained unapologetic about working with the left even as the GOP tilted increasingly to the right.
  • Oh, and this piece from Bluestein in 2015 included this quote from former Democratic Gov. Roy Barnes: “Even Democrats like me like Isakson. If all Republicans were like Johnny, I would be a Republican.”


And be sure to tune in to a special-edition of the AJC’s Politically Georgia podcast on the life and legacy of Johnny Isakson. You can find it here.


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