Political Insider

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

Calvin Smyre urged to run for mayor of Columbus

Our friend Chuck Williams over at The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer pointed us to it, so we’ll give him the first word:

It may be a little early to start discussing the 2018 Columbus mayor’s race, but a local publication threw out a name that will get the attention of anyone considering entry into the race.


The real news was committed by Wane Hailes, publisher of the The Courier/Eco Latino, a local newspaper aimed at both the African-American and Latino community. He wants state Rep. Calvin Smyre, a Democrat and longest-serving member of the state Legislature, to become Columbus’ first black mayor.

The current mayor, Teresa Tomlinson, is term-limited.

Hailes began his pitch to Smyre with a mini-homily:

“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth,” and Calvin Smyre, your rent is due. It is time for you to run for mayor of Columbus.

Then there was this:

For years now, the African-American community has asked who would not only be the first person of color to be elected to serve as our mayor, but the best qualified. We need to look no further. No one, black white or Hispanic is more qualified on all levels to lead our city than state Rep. Calvin Smyre.


It is time for Smyre to follow those who have served on the state level and made the decision to serve their local communities as mayor such as Andrew Young and Kasim Reed and others.

Hailes might have to wait until after the current session of the Legislature for an answer. From Chuck Williams:

Smyre will not talk about it. He would not even entertain questions about it this week via text from Atlanta, where he is in his 43rd year in the General Assembly…

But there is a reason Smyre is not talking: he is in the middle of a difficult legislative fight involving casino gambling, which appears to be the flavor of the month in the General Assembly…

And Smyre has been clear: if it is going to pass, he wants Columbus in consideration as one of the possible sites.


Many of you might have noted a recent piece from Politico.com that began thusly:

Candidates for top jobs in President Donald Trump’s administration are getting spooked after Andrew Puzder’s nomination was scuttled, and they fear the White House isn't doing enough to protect them from grueling confirmations, according to several sources involved in the process.


The concerns are affecting not only some of the highest-profile nominations, including agriculture secretary pick Sonny Perdue, but also candidates for ambassadorships, judicial positions and other posts. The chill that’s settled in even has some people considering bowing out of contention, meaning Trump’s attempt to quickly fill his government could drag out even more.

We ran into one of the former Georgia governor’s confidantes in the state Capitol on Tuesday. He assured us that Perdue is at peace with the slow pace that comes with becoming a member of the Trump cabinet, and is bearing up with the patience of Job – just as he always has.


The Sentinel, the campus newspaper at Kennesaw State University, points out that its new president, former attorney general Sam Olens, is siding with his new boss on the matter of guns on public university campuses. The publication quotes this line from Olens’ office:

“I support Chancellor Wrigley in his advocacy for maintaining Georgia’s existing law as it relates to campus carry,” the email read.


A young Republican newcomer's plan to spend $250,000 boosting his longshot bid for the 6th District Congressional didn't sit too well with one veteran Georgia political operative.

Lawton Sack's sharp and unsolicited advice to David Abroms, the 33-year-old who wants to invest some of his fortune into the 18-man race: "Please, sir, don't do this."

Writing in Georgiapol.com, Sack urged Abroms to ignore consultants who "whisper into the ear of a non-viable candidate and tell them they have a shot."

He's familiar with that world. He once led the Bulloch County GOP and served as the 12th District GOP chair, which gave him an entry to the state party's executive committee and the wider world of operatives lurking in Georgia's political shadows. Writes Sack:

"PLEASE reconsider. If by some miracle you make the runoff in 8 weeks, then maybe consider using your own money. It is your money and your right to spend it, but you can make a real difference by donating it to charity instead of tossing it into the wind."

Abroms, we should note, has attracted a top-flight consultant known for an independent streak to advise his campaign: Joel Searby managed Evan McMullin's 2016 presidential bid. You can read about Abroms' bid for office here.


As the agriculture industry braces for the fallout of Donald Trump's immigration policy, Georgia's top farming official sounded a note of optimism.

Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black told WABE's Denis O'Hayer this week that the president's executive orders on immigration and border security will have a muted effect on farmers. More important, he said, is the need to work out the kinks of the H2A temporary work visa program.

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About the Author

Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.