Political Insider

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

Spotted: A pair of casino supporters stepping into an important Capitol office

Not to go all TMZ this morning, but guess who was spotted Thursday headed into Chris Riley’s second floor Capitol office?

None other than state Sen. Brandon Beach, R-Alpharetta, and Rep. Ron Stephens, R-Savannah.


Now, the two lawmakers might have just been going to shoot the breeze with Gov. Nathan Deal’s chief of staff. But as far as we know, the pair of legislators is best known as the chief sponsors of legislation to expand gambling in Georgia, so as to include casinos and parimutuel betting on horse races.

A summit meeting on the topic would be important, as Deal has made clear he is not in favor of casinos -- but also has said he would not stand in the way if lawmakers decide to ask voters to amend the state Constitution to expand gambling options in Georgia.

Their meeting came just hours after Central Atlanta Progress revealed details of a report that says local governments have reasons to be concerned about casinos. Beach is expected to introduce casino legislation in the coming weeks.


On Wednesday, U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Atlanta, testified against the nomination of U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama, for attorney general in the Trump administration. But according to Robin McDonald of the Daily Report, another African-American with a similar political footprint, Fulton County Sheriff Ted Jackson, says Sessions isn’t a racist:

As an assistant special agent in charge of the FBI's Mobile, Alabama, office during the late 1980s, Jackson often worked closely with Sessions, who was then the U.S. attorney in Mobile. The Fulton County sheriff, an African-American, said he was moved by the FBI from New Jersey to Mobile in 1988 because the bureau sought diversity in conducting its investigations.


Jackson told the Daily Report on Tuesday—as Sessions was testifying at his U.S. Senate confirmation hearing—that his personal and professional dealings with Sessions were free of racial bias and that the allegations of racism that surfaced after Sessions was nominated for a federal judgeship in 1986 are untrue.


Last night, CNN’s Anderson Cooper and Donald Trump ‘splainer Kellyanne Conway engaged in a 10-minute brawl over the cable news network’s decision to report on a dossier alleging Russian attempts to compromise the president-elect – on which Trump and President Barack Obama both had been briefed:

Buzzfeed’s decision to publish the underlying, 35-page dossier has roiled the journalistic world. One Columbia Journalism Review contributor has endorsed the decision. But CJR also compiled a great list of scribbler opinions, pro and con.

On the "con" side:

-- The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple;

-- The New York Times’ executive editor Dean Baquet;

-- Former Times public editor and current Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan;

-- The Guardian’s Rory Carroll;

On the pro side:

-- Fortune magazine’s Mathew Ingram;

-- Politico’s Jack Shafer;

-- Ben Smith, Buzzfeed honcho.


A key Republican senator has suggested U.S. Rep. Tom Price may not be confirmed as Donald Trump's health and human services secretary until mid-February.

The Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call quotes Tennessee Republican Lamar Alexander, the chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, whose panel shares jurisdiction on not only Price's Cabinet nomination but legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Price's confirmation hearing before Alexander's committee is on Wednesday. The Roswell Republican must face a second panel of senators before his confirmation can be voted on by the full chamber. Read more about the road ahead for him here.


We mentioned above U.S. Rep. John Lewis' testimony against the nomination of U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions for attorney general.

Photo courtesy of U.S. Rep. Martha Roby (R-Ala.).

One of the tidbits the Atlanta Democrat left on the cutting room floor was a dig at an image of him and Sessions at an event commemorating the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday that's been widely circulated by Republicans to counter claims that Sessions' civil rights record is thin.

The passage was contained in Lewis' written statement, but he ran out of time before he could say this:

"So today, I ask the Members of this Committee to think long and hard about what it would mean for an outspoken opponent of the Hate Crimes Prevention Act and the Violence Against Women Act to serve as the chief law enforcement official in our land.

 It will take more than a photo on a bridge in Selma or a medal ceremony in the Capitol.  It will take hard work and commitment from the heart and soul.   How will Mr. Sessions confront the challenges of protest in a nation?   Will he use the law as a shield?  Will he use the law to silence the voices of those who are different and disagree with the status quo?"

Read more about Lewis' testimony and the GOP's response here. 


Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle didn't break any news at the Eggs & Issues address earlier this week. But he did deliver a well-received speech that - surprise- many saw as a preview of a possible gubernatorial bid.

We asked for a copy of the speech, and wanted to highlight this bit of exposition lodged after an opening section:

I believe in our state’s potential because Georgia’s story is my story.

As a child of a single mom, I know what it’s like to live in a trailer. I know what it’s like to live in an apartment. And I know what it’s like to live in a house.

I know the challenges our children face because I have walked that path. And those challenges, more often, are outside the four walls of a classroom.

It is critical for us all to help meet these challenges by empowering communities and individuals to fill the cracks that hold our students back from achieving their full potential. Our workforce requires it and our future demands it.

There is no question that many people would have once thought it impossible for me to become Lt. Governor. Just as today, there are those who doubt that the millions of children in our state can rise above the challenges they face… Just as there are those who would doubt that the state of Georgia can lead our nation in creating an unparalleled workforce.


They're calling it a "Day of Resistance." U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Decatur, state Sen. Vincent Fort, D-Atlanta, and Clarkston Mayor Ted Terry are gathering on Sunday in downtown Clarkston to explore how to fight Donald Trump's administration. Expect more of these insurgent meetings in the next few weeks.

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About the Author

Tamar Hallerman is The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Washington correspondent, covering Congress, federal agencies and other government activities that impact Georgia.