The Jolt: Will Atlanta’s airport be a takeover target during a special session? Brian Kemp stays mum

08/10/2020 - College Park, Georgia - Gov. Brian Kemp (left) greets U.S. Surgeon General Vice Admiral Jerome M. Adams (right) before the start of a press conference at a drive-thru COVID-19 testing clinic located in a Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport paid parking facility in College Park, Monday, August 10, 2020. Both Gov. Kemp and Vice Admiral Adams encouraged Georgians to where a mask to combat the spread of COVID-19.  (ALYSSA POINTER / ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)
08/10/2020 - College Park, Georgia - Gov. Brian Kemp (left) greets U.S. Surgeon General Vice Admiral Jerome M. Adams (right) before the start of a press conference at a drive-thru COVID-19 testing clinic located in a Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport paid parking facility in College Park, Monday, August 10, 2020. Both Gov. Kemp and Vice Admiral Adams encouraged Georgians to where a mask to combat the spread of COVID-19. (ALYSSA POINTER / ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)

Credit: ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM

Credit: ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM

Call it the Mystery Special Session. Questions continue to swirl around Gov. Brian Kemp’s abrupt decision last week to call 236 state lawmakers back to Atlanta, for a specific reason that some have called contrived and broad hints that something larger is afoot.

A date for the gathering has yet to be set, which is inconvenient if you are a House or Senate member with opposition on the November ballot. You are not only robbed of time, but prohibited from raising campaign cash while the Legislature sits.

House Speaker David Ralston and Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan have threatened that, whatever date Kemp settles on, the first order of business will be an override of a gubernatorial veto. The rejected measure, House Bill 991, is less important than the message being sent by the two chamber leaders.

Meanwhile, talk that the real object of a special session would be a state takeover of Atlanta-owned Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport hasn’t stopped.

On Monday, with the constant roar of planes overhead, Gov. Brian Kemp’s visit to the airport to unveil a new coronavirus testing site could have also served as an opportunity to clear the air -- one way or another.

The governor, however, fastidiously sidestepped the issue. (Remember that Kemp has filed a lawsuit against Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, challenging the city’s authority to mandate the wearing of masks during a pandemic. The Fulton County judge who ordered all lawsuit parties into mediation might not look kindly on an overt case of extracurricular arm-twisting.)

Nonetheless, behind the scenes, puzzle pieces are coming together. We’ve picked up word that state Sen. Burt Jones, R-Jackson, the chief backer of the airport takeover, is sounding out GOP colleagues who might support the move.

Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan has heard the same, but not from Jones. John Porter, Duncan’s top aide, said he had to find out about Jones’ vote-counting from Senate Minority Leader Steve Henson, D-Tucker.

Porter pointedly noted that Jones hasn’t met with Duncan or the lieutenant governor’s staff to discuss the topic since the measure, which passed the Senate last year, stalled on the final day of this year’s legislative session.

We reached Jones for comment, and he said there’s a reason for that. He also hasn’t yet contacted Kemp, who will formally define the agenda for a special session.

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Once upon a time, there was a Roswell pollster who sought out greener pastures in the Washington area. From a Dan Balz piece in the Washington Post, on how the coronavirus has changed presidential politics:

“The pandemic obviously changes the way politics will be conducted in a dramatic fashion. But beyond that, the pandemic heightens the importance of the election,” said Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster. “In many ways, the pandemic has proven to the country that politics really matters and who gets elected really matters in ways that few other events of our lifetimes have done.”

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The full line-up is still being developed, but two Georgians are set to speak at next week’s virtual Democratic National Convention.

Sally Yates, the former acting U.S. Attorney General, is slated to address the virtual delegates on Tuesday -- just before Bill Clinton.

And Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms gets a spot on Thursday’s slate, a few speakers before Joe Biden accepts the nomination.

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We’re not sure if it’s because November is nearing or because the polls are tightening, but U.S. Rep. Doug Collins is ratcheting up the rhetoric.

With a close contest with U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler, the Collins camp invoked a 2019 story by Maria Saporta to try to paint the incumbent as a phony critic of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Back then, she sidestepped an opportunity to critique Megan Rapinoe, the soccer star who didn’t put her hand over the heart during the singing of the National Anthem.

Collins spokesman Dan McLagan said she’s gone from being “fine with flag protests and diversity slogans” to “trying to be Attila the Hun.”

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It appears that U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler has inspired a copycat in Kansas.

The Kansas City Star reports that Senate candidate Roger Marshall swiped parts of her platform for economic recovery amid the coronavirus crisis. From the story:

It’s common for members of the same party in Washington to use similar and centrally-crafted talking points.

But while several of these ideas are fairly standard for Republicans, the specific phrasing of the “Agricultural Alliance” concept on Marshall’s site has only previously appeared on Loeffler’s website and in news coverage of her proposal.

Loeffler’s office did not directly address the striking resemblance between the plans. But it explicitly asserted that the provisions were the work of the Georgia Republican.

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The Georgia Budget and Policy Institute is out with its 2021 Budget Primer, its annual analysis of state spending and budget cuts approved during this year’s extended legislative session. Click here to get to downloadable material.

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A new Survey USA poll of Georgia voters commissioned by 11Alive shows — you guessed it — tight races for president and U.S. Senate.

The poll of 800 registered voters has President Donald Trump (44%) and Joe Biden (46%) deadlocked in the race for the White House, within the MOE of five percentage points. And U.S. Sen. David Perdue (44%) is similarly deadlocked with Jon Ossoff (41%).

In Georgia’s other Senate contest, Sen. Kelly Loeffler leads the field (26%) followed by Republican challenger Doug Collins (17%) and Democrats Raphael Warnock (17%) and Matt Lieberman (13%). Ed Tarver lags behind with 3%. From the Survey USA polling memo:

-- Loeffler's support is male, white, preoccupied with immigration, concentrated in Northwest GA, and "certain" to vote.

-- Collins’ support is younger, Latino, wealthier, worried about the economy, and concentrated in Southern and Coastal GA.

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Andrew Pollack, a conservative activist whose daughter died in the Parkland, Fla., mass shooting, is defending Marjorie Taylor Greene against accusations of anti-Semitism.

Greene faces Rome physician John Cowan in today’s GOP runoff in the 14th District congressional contest. In a recent WSB-TV interview, Greene defended her attacks on billionaire George Soros, accusing the Democratic donor -- who is Jewish -- of collaborating with Nazi occupiers of his native Hungary, and helping to send fellow Jews to their deaths. The charge is not true. Soros was 13 and 14 at the time.

Even so, Pollack defends Greene.

“I am a Jewish American. I want to make one thing clear. My friend @mtgreenee is not an anti-semite,” Pollack wrote on Twitter. “The radical left & their friends in the media are trying to label her as one for calling out George Soros. I stand with my Marjorie & I look forward to seeing her win her election.”

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U.S. Reps. Doug Collins and Jody Hice of Georgia are among the 10 House members who signed a letter to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, asking the federal government to recoup stimulus funds erroneously sent to temporary workers who are no longer in the United States.

NPR reported that there may be thousands of people who came to the U.S. on temporary work visas and later received the $1,200 checks in error. Many of them are now back in their home countries where the money was spent, according to the report.

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Emily’s List, the prominent PAC supporting Democratic women running for office, has endorsed Nikema Williams in Georgia’s Fifth District congressional race. Williams faces Republican Angela Stanton-King in November after being selected to replace the late U.S. Rep. John Lewis on the ballot.

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