Political Insider

An AJC blog about Atlanta politics, Georgia politics, Georgia and metro Atlanta election campaigns. Because all politics is local.

With Rich Golick’s departure, a House Democratic pick-up opportunity looms


One of the most competitive Republican-held House seats in the state Legislature is about to go vacant. Word spread quickly around the Capitol on Monday that Rep. Rich Golick of Smyrna would not seek another term in November.

Within hours, The Marietta Daily Journal published a lengthy email from Golick announcing his decision. 

“I promised myself many years ago that I would be a fully engaged father to my two sons — especially during the all-important teenage years — but there’s just no way for me to keep that promise completely if I’m running a time-consuming campaign this summer and fall — in addition to fulfilling my private sector job responsibilities — and then serving an additional two years in the State House on top of that,” he wrote

Golick, who was first elected in 1998, rose to chair the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee and is one of Cobb County’s longest-serving lawmakers. But House District 40, which runs east-west along the intersection of I-75 and I-285, has become increasingly competitive. The timeline has been relentless:

-- In 2012, Golick ran unopposed.

-- In 2014, a Democratic opponent, Erick Allen, made his first appearance and pulled 40 percent of the vote. (Allen is a former division director with the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Development Disabilities.)

-- In 2016, Allen again challenged Golick, this time getting more than 46 percent of the vote. Worse, Allen spent $26,159 in his bid. The incumbent Republican spent nearly seven times that.

Other measurements: House District 40 went for Republican David Perdue (52 percent) over Democrat Michelle Nunn in the 2014 race for U.S. Senate, but went for Hillary Clinton (54 percent) over Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential contest. U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, a Republican, barely carried it in his 2016 re-election bid.

Given that 2018 is likely to be a backlash year for Republicans, the seat could be a hard one to hold -- not unlike the Senate District Six seat lost by Republicans in a special election last year. The two districts have significant overlap.

We talked to House Minority Leader Bob Trammell, D-Luthersville, late Monday. He said Allen is certain to run again this year -- but that he may not be the only Democratic candidate. (Greg Bluestein)

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Georgia’s Republicans in the U.S. House are looking to rebuild some clout after losing quite a bit of seniority in 2015 and again in 2017 with the exits of Lynn Westmoreland and Tom Price. Lawrenceville Republican Rob Woodall has been quietly vying for Price’s old post as chairman of the House Budget Committee for the past few months.

His efforts will be put to the test later today, when a committee of GOP leaders votes on whether to select him over two other Republican competitors. Roll Call has a good write-up of the race here, with this nod in Woodall’s favor:

While all three candidates entered Congress in 2011, Woodall was the first to join the Budget Committee as a freshman during the 112th Congress.

 This provides him with seniority over Womack, appointed to the committee in the 114th Congress, and Johnson, who joined later that term to replace Rep. Marsha Blackburn — who left the panel to chair a select committee on Planned Parenthood.

(Tamar Hallerman)

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Before President Donald Trump arrived in Atlanta to watch a little football late Monday, he was in Nashville addressing the annual convention of the American Farm Bureau Federation.

Early word was that Trump would address the lack of broadband access in rural America – a topic of great interest among Georgia Republicans. Especially those in the Legislature.

But the result was somewhat disappointing. The executive order released by the White House on Monday would make it easier to place privately owned “wireless facility sitings on buildings and other property owned by the federal government.“

When it comes to the vast expanse that is rural Georgia, that is rather small beer.

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Here’s one way for candidates to boost their donor lists: Announce a free raffle for tickets to the Georgia-Alabama game with the caveat that the winner must sit with the candidate and his wife. That’s what Clay Tippins, one of several Republican candidates for governor, did for last night’s title match. He posted a Facebook Live video of his call to the winner - John Porambo of Roswell - who sat with him in the stands. “I am extremely pumped,” said Porambo from the other end of the cellphone. (Greg Bluestein)

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Is there a such thing as a hall pass for members of Congress, especially if their alma mater is playing in the national championship? The U.S. House clerk’s office reported 74 absences at last night’s vote, the chamber’s first of the year. Yes, the vote wasn’t over a piece of legislation, simply to establish a legislative quorum to convene for 2018. 

But it’s worth noting the Georgia delegation accounted for quite a few empty seats: 

(TH)

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Also skipping their first vote of the year were Georgia’s two senators, Johnny Isakson and David Perdue. Both were at the football game. We’re told Perdue will be back in D.C. this morning, where he’s scheduled to attend a bipartisan meeting at the White House on immigration.Congressional leaders are looking to strike an agreement with President Donald Trump in order to provide legal status to Dreamers. Perdue has been pushing for components of his legal immigration bill be included on any final deal. Democrats so far have been resistant. (TH). 

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The bipartisan duo of James Carville and Mary Matalin will headline the second annual Miller Legacy Dinner on Feb. 5 at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta. Proceeds will go to the Miller Institute Foundation. Carville was a top aide to Gov. Zell Miller in his 1990 race for governor.

At the gathering, House Speaker David Ralston will be given the Zell Miller Award for distringished public service.

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The Trump administration on Monday renominated several Georgia-based appointees whose nominations were returned by the Senate late last year due to lack of action. Among those renominated: Georgia Court of Appeals Judge Elizabeth Branch, longtime Republican hand Randy Evans and former U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland. All underwent their Senate confirmation hearings late last year. (TH)


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