The Jolt: Why Georgia could be the next Iowa

Former Gov. Howard Dean (D-VT) reenacts his Iowa Caucus "Dean Scream" moment during closing remarks on the second day of the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center, July 26, 2016 in Philadelphia. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

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Former Gov. Howard Dean (D-VT) reenacts his Iowa Caucus "Dean Scream" moment during closing remarks on the second day of the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center, July 26, 2016 in Philadelphia. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Fani’s targets, Lin Wood’s Bar cracks & Hank Johnson’s FAIR Act lead the day

Outgoing Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez breathed new life into the debate over the lineup of 2024 early-voting states with an interview with The New York Times.

Perez said the “status quo is clearly unacceptable” after the disastrous Iowa Caucuses never produced a winner the AP could declare and the New Hampshire primary served up a predictable reminder of how the overwhelmingly white state doesn’t reflect today’s Democratic coalition.

“A diverse state or states need to be first,” Perez said. “The difference between going first and going third is really important. We know the importance of momentum in Democratic primaries.”

That got the attention of Democratic party leaders in Georgia, who have long framed the state as a reflection on the party’s national electorate. U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams, the state party’s chair, has long advocated for a regional primary system.

“I operate in a system that was not designed for me or for people who look like me,” she said in a November 2019 piece in the Dallas Morning News exploring a scheduling overhaul.

She said the DNC was in need of a “long-term vision of how do we make sure that our party is reflective of the people that we represent.”

Look for Williams and others to argue that answering that question involves putting Georgia and other Southern states, where Black voters dominate the Democratic electorate, front-and-center.

Republicans would not be bound by the Democrats’ calendar, but we’re confident Georgia GOP leaders could make their case, too.


Under the Gold Dome:

  • The state House and Senate are in recess until Tuesday.
  • 2:30 pm: Gov. Brian Kemp signs the amended 2021 budget at the Capitol.


We told you Friday that Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis was about to become the most watched local prosecutor in the nation after she made it known she was launching an investigation into former president Donald Trump for possible election interference.

It didn’t take long for Willis’ profile to rise.

The New York Times, Bloomberg, the AP, and Vogue have all gone up with profiles of Willis since then.

The most noteworthy is the Times, which spoke with Willis, who made clear she’s not focused solely on Trump in her investigation.

In addition to Trump’s call to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, she’s also looking into Sen. Lindsey Graham and his call to Raff asking if he could throw out mail-in votes; the unusual removal of BJ Pak as U.S. attorney; and the wild state Senate committee hearings where Rudy Giuliani launched multiple theories and conspiracies later rejected by Georgia courts, including his claim that 10,315 dead people voted in November. (An investigation found two.)

And for those new to the prosecutor, “Fani” rhymes with “Donnie.”


Speaking of conspiracies, former Trump attorney Lin Wood, who suggested that Mike Pence be executed by a firing squad, has been slapped with a 1,677-page grievance from the State Bar of Georgia for possible disciplinary action.

Among the many, many alleged violations of the Bar’s standards detailed in the document are Wood’s selection of an “expert witness” who had no expertise, filing a lawsuit where he lacked standing, appealing a decision that was not legally subject to appeal, failing to provide proper signatures, missing deadlines, and including another lawyer on a lawsuit without permission.

Last month, the Bar asked Wood to undergo a mental health exam, which Wood refused.


Both of Georgia’s U.S. senators, Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, voted Saturday to convict former president Donald Trump of incitement of insurrection in the historic Senate impeachment trial.

But Stacey Abrams’ reaction also caught our eye, when she tied the Jan. 6th attack on the Capitol to efforts to rewrite voting laws in Georgia and other states across the country.

“Republicans allowed Donald Trump to incite an insurrection without consequence, and now they want to allow insurrectionists to determine state voting laws. We cannot allow laws to be written based on a lie. We must protect the right to vote,” Abrams wrote on Twitter.


U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson is trying again to get the Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal Act, or FAIR Act, made into law. The measure would make it illegal for businesses to require employees or customers to give up future rights to lawsuits and instead resolve any issues in forced, usually secret, arbitration.

Forced arbitration received significant attention at the beginning of the #MeToo movement when former Fox News star Gretchen Carlson accused Roger Ailes of harassing her for years, and then argued that Fox News Channel covered up Ailes’ behavior by forcing women into court-sealed arbitration agreements.

Johnson (D-Lithonia), who chairs the House Judiciary Committee on Courts, called forced arbitration “an underhanded maneuver that corporations use to trick consumers, workers and small businesses out of their right to go to court and seek damages from a jury of their peers.”

The House passed a similar measure in 2019, but it never got a hearing in the Republican-controlled Senate. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce was among the opponents of the bill in 2019. However, the FAIR Act has the backing of employee groups.

Carlson testified at last week’s subcommittee hearing on the bill when she said she has been working with Johnson and other lawmakers since 2017 to end forced arbitration in cases involving sexual harassment.

“I truly believe that this legislation will change the landscape of the American workplace retaining women and people of color, while at the same time making it safer for everyone,” she said.


POSTED: Justice Harold Melton, Chief Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court, announced Friday he will step down from his post in July after 16 years on the bench.

Melton’s decision launched a round of speculation both over what he’ll do next and who could replace the well-liked former counsel to then-Gov. Sonny Perdue.

Perdue appointed Melton to the court in 2005.

“I cannot identify in my life a more fair-minded person than Harold Melton,” (Sonny) Perdue said at a 2018 ceremony marking Melton’s ascension to chief justice. “There’s no drama. There’s just the integrity of a thought process.”


You already know about the efforts to expand gambling in Georgia. The Rome News-Tribune reports that a casino could be within an hour’s drive of Rome if a bill passes...the Alabama legislature.

“Legislation introduced by Sen. Del Marsh, R-Anniston, would earmark funds from a state lottery for education and funds from the expansion of casino style gambling to a variety of projects including broadband infrastructure across the state, mental health needs and rural health care.

“The casinos would be located at four greyhound tracks across the state as well as an undetermined site in the Northeastern part of the state. That location, either in Scottsboro in Jackson County or Fort Payne in DeKalb County, would be operated by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians who operate a casino between Montgomery and Mobile.”


Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has appointed members to a newly created commission that will begin the process of renaming military bases named after Confederate leaders, including Georgia’s Ft. Benning and Ft. Gordon.

The commission’s inclusion in the National Defense Authorization Act approved by Congress late last year was among the reasons former President Donald Trump vetoed the measure, but the House and Senate overrode his veto.

The members of the panel are retired Navy Admiral Michelle Howard, retired Marine General Bob Neller, retired Army Brigadier General Ty Seidule, who is also a history professor emeritus at West Point, and Kori Schake, director of foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute,


Another COVID cancellation-- this time Savannah’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade Grand Marshall, who won’t be chosen this year since there will be no St. Patrick’s Day parade to preside over.

The annual series of events is usually a politico must-do and Irish-infused, Low Country blowout. But alas, officials decided, even the luck of the Irish won’t keep everyone safe in these troubled times.

The Savannah Morning News reports the water in the fountain in Forsyth Park will still be dyed green. Your Insiders will be hoping to report live from the Greening of the Fountain next year.