Political Insider

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

The Jolt: A Gwinnett GOP chairman’s plea for more candidates 


Last week, Gwinnett County GOP chair Mike Seigle sent out an email solicitation for candidates leading up to the qualifying period that begins March 5.

Seigle noted that state Rep. David Casas, R-Lilburn, was not seeking re-election, and said a second House Republican from Gwinnett might pull the ripcord as well. Seigle did not offer a name.

Where some Republicans might fear a backlash come November, the Gwinnett GOP chairman sees a fire sale. State Reps. Pedro Marin, D-Duluth; Sam Park, D-Lawrenceville; and Brenda Lopez, D-Norcross, are all underfunded, the chairman contended. And then he wrote this:

Democrats are also vulnerable. Democrat [state Rep.] Dewey McClain is a union rep for the NFL players. You know how he stands or does not stand, on Millionaire athletes respecting the National Anthem. 

Democrats have no power in Atlanta or DC. They oppose tax cuts in DC and school reform in Atlanta. However, as long as unemployment is at a record low we have the advantage over the Democrats.

As long as people want their kids in Gwinnett Schools instead of Clayton County schools, we have the advantage. As long as people put their businesses in Gwinnett instead of Democrat-run counties, we have the advantage.

Gwinnett is a great place to live and work. We have low taxes, great schools, and compared to Democrat controlled counties low crime. That would all change if we do not work against the Democrats this year.

As we have said before, a political party has two ways to survive in a climate of shifting demographics. It can broaden its coalition, or it can seek to squeeze more support out of its base.

The Gwinnett County GOP has chosen the squeeze play.

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House Speaker David Ralston is in Washington D.C. today, one of several state leaders participating in the White House infrastructure roll out this morning.

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A budget-watcher at the state Capitol notes the increased presence of a new line item expense appearing in several departments: “Cyber insurance premium.”

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 GeorgiaPol.com has documented the first grand example of “bill-swiping” of this year’s legislative session.

Last month, Democratic state Rep. Scott Holcomb introduced House Bill 745, a bipartisan measure that would allow some victims of domestic violence to break apartment and other housing leases without incurring financial penalties.

The second signer on the bill was state Rep. Mandi Ballinger, R-Canton. But apparently she wanted better billing. Last week, Ballinger filed a startlingly similar measure -- except all of her cosponsors were Republicans. 

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Democrats have recruited candidates for a range of suburban Atlanta legislative seats once thought to be safely Republican. But they haven’t yet drafted anyone to challenge state Rep. Deborah Silcox, who represents parts of Sandy Springs and Buckhead.

So actress Patricia Arquette, of all people, decided she’d get involved, tweeted a plea over the weekend for a Democrat to step up:

That led to a flurry of GOP responses. Among them: Gabe Sterling, a former Sandy Springs councilman, wrote that Silcox “absolutely reflects the district” and encouraged out-of-towners to “please, keep expending effort in the wrong places.”

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Over at Peanut Politics, Keith McCants tells us that G. Bardin Hooks, son of former state senator George Hooks, is planning a Democratic run for the House District 138 seat currently held by Bill McGowan of Americus. McCants says McGowan is expected to retire after the current legislative session – although he hasn’t mentioned it to us.

Updated: Hooks the Elder called this morning to confirm that McGowan has indeed announced his retirement. And McGowan endorsed Hooks the Younger in an Americus Times-Recorder story published last week.  

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A deeper look into Hunter Hill’s financial disclosures shows the Republican candidate for governor has been spending some of his campaign cash on his personal office space. 

He spent $53,000 of his campaign funds for a pair of offices within a short drive of each other in Buckhead. The first houses his campaign headquarters. The second is at Tommy Newberry Coaching, the executive leadership firm where he serves as president and chief operating officer.

His spokesman, Cody Hall, said donors were floating some of the rent at Hill’s personal office because it was also being used for some campaign work. 

“Our campaign is paying fair market value for all of our rent space we use on a regular basis for campaign activities,” said Hall. 

Some of his top rivals in the race for governor have spent only a fraction of that on office space. Republican Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle shelled out less than $6,000 for his campaign digs over the last seven months, thanks in part to in-kind contributions. Ditto for Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who didn’t list any office lease agreements because he got his space from a supporter. Former state lawmaker Stacey Evans, a Democrat, spent about $7,000 on rent for an office she shares with her husband, an attorney. 

Another Democrat, former House minority leader Stacey Abrams, topped the field by spending about $90,000 since July on her campaign space in east Atlanta.

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U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Atlanta, is planning a trip to Mississippi’s new civil rights museum two months after cancelling an appearance because of President Donald Trump’s RSVP. The Democrat plans to attend a “counter opening” of the Jackson museum with the leader of the NAACP, members of the Congressional Black Caucus and other civil rights groups later this month, USA Today reports

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Georgia U.S. Sen. David Perdue is out with the details of an immigration proposal he and several GOP colleagues will introduce later today when the Senate kicks of its freewheeling immigration debate. 

The bill the Republican and six colleagues plan to drop mirrors the White House framework recently announced by President Trump.

The “Secure and Succeed Act” would provide citizenship to 1.8 million Dreamers and appropriate $25 billion for border security in the form of a wall, fence, radar or other technology.

It would also kill the diversity visa lottery and severely limit the kinds of family immigrants could bring along to the U.S. But in a notable tweak from past White House offers, the bill would grandfather in the currently pending family-based visa applications, which means it wouldn’t restrict overall immigration levels as as severely as past offers. 

The group will offer the plan later today after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell kicks of the chamber’s immigration debate with no clear end point in sight. McConnell says he will let the chamber vote on several different immigration proposals to see what can earn 60 votes for passage. 

The approach being advocated by Perdue and his allies is divisive even among Republicans and faces steep odds for passage. Meanwhile, a bipartisan group led by Maine Republican Susan Collins – Georgia U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson has been a party to those talks – is expected to unveil a counterproposal this week.

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Richard Keatley, an educator and U.S. Navy veteran, recently announced he was challenging Labor Commissioner Mark Butler in November. The Democrat had previously planned to make another bid for the Sixth Congressional District. He was one of 17 candidates in the special election last year, attracting about one-tenth of 1 percent of support.


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