The Week: Career-minded politicians look ahead


This Tuesday’s runoffs undoubtedly played a part in a week when lots of people seemed to have that next job in mind, but the theme of career enhancement played out on several levels.

Setting some high bars: Becoming the nation’s first black female governor would seem like a lofty goal, but Stacey Abrams has her eyes on bigger things.

The former state House Democratic leader’s current bit of house hunting focuses on the Governor’s Mansion, but if all goes according to her plan, she could someday — Jan. 20, 2029, would suit her fine — be measuring for drapes at the White House.

But first she wants to end poverty.

That’s pretty much the road she mapped out in an interview with Cosmopolitan.

“If all goes as planned,” the magazine reported, “the earliest Stacey Abrams would run for president is in 2028. Not 2020 — that’s too soon. Not 2024 — the Democrat who vanquishes President Trump in 2020 will be up for re-election. No, the first opportunity is 2028. That’s her year.”

Before any of that, though, there’s that poverty thing, which Abrams calls “morally repugnant.”

Winning the governor’s race next year — which promises to be an uphill battle for any Democrat in a state Republicans have run for years — is just a means to that end.

“I think once I’ve (discovered how to end poverty), once we’ve tested it, and we’ve made sure the models work, and once you’ve been able to work with the other 49 states and the territories to figure out what can make the most sense, I think then it makes sense to think about the next job,” Abrams told the magazine. “And that job would be running for president.”

Among those who found it interesting reading — even though he doesn’t fit the Cosmo demographic — was Georgia’s secretary of state, Republican Brian Kemp.

Kemp, who has sparred with Abrams in the past, thought it would make good material for a fundraising letter — one supporting his own bid for governor.

He pointed to her plans for the White House as “unbridled political ambition” and asked donors to back a candidate “who will put hardworking Georgians first” by kicking in $100 apiece.

Making a “clean” break: Meanwhile, Kemp also found a way to distinguish himself from another Republican in the governor’s race, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle.

Kemp called for passage of legislation to modernize Georgia’s adoption laws while shedding a “religious liberty” provision that the state Senate tacked onto the bill in the closing days of this year’s legislative session.

Cagle, in his role as president of the Senate, led a feud with the House over the provision, which would have allowed some private agencies to refuse to place children with same-sex couples. On the other side of the fight were Gov. Nathan Deal and House Speaker David Ralston. Deal said he wanted a “clean” adoption bill and threatened to veto the measure if it still included the religious liberty addition.

Ultimately, the two sides could not come together, placing the legislation in idle until the next session, which begins Jan. 8.

Cagle and Kemp — along with the other leading Republican candidates for governor — have all pledged to sign a religious liberty measure if they win. But for Kemp, that apparently doesn’t mean the adoption bill. He says he would raise the adoption tax credit from $2,000 to $6,000 and back legislation to make it eligible for all adoptions, not just those of qualified foster children. And he also took a firm stance in support of the original legislation, without the religious liberty provision, proposed by state Rep. Bert Reeves.

“As governor, I will refuse to play politics on this incredibly important and timely issue,” said Kemp, who added that he would sign the bill immediately.

It’s quite unlikely it will get that far.

Deal still has one last legislative session, and he and Ralston have said that a “clean” version of the adoption measure is a top priority when the Legislature returns to the Gold Dome.

Seeking a new level: Roswell Mayor Jere Wood has apparently set his sights on a new position now that he’s about to leave the job he’s held for 20 years: a seat in the state Legislature, more specifically the seat held by state Rep. Betty Price.

Publicly, Wood has only said he’s “thinking about” making a run, and that he’ll have more to offer on Wednesday — the day after Roswell voters pick between Lori Henry and Lee Jenkins in a mayoral runoff. Wood is leaving City Hall after a judge ruled he could not seek another term.

But the outgoing mayor’s apparent ambitions have already been scattered across social media.

Price is the wife of Tom Price, who represented Roswell in Congress for many years before serving a few months earlier this year as the secretary of health and human services, before resigning over questions about his use of private and military jets at taxpayers’ expense.

Betty Price, a physician by trade, also faced some heat this year over comments she made at a state legislative hearing about whether there was a legal way to quarantine people with HIV. She has said those remarks were taken “completely out of context.”

Price said her plan is to run for re-election.

Quite a work history: Gretchen Corbin's resume has gotten significantly longer during the Deal administration.

The governor’s choice to take over the Georgia Lottery started out as the deputy commissioner for global commerce with the state Department of Economic Development. Then she became the head of the Georgia Housing and Finance Authority and later the commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs before taking over as chief of the state’s technical college system.

That’s where she was when Deal tapped her this past week to replace the retiring Debbie Alford as the state’s honcho in charge of pingpong balls and scratch-off tickets.

Candidates, endorsements, etc.:

The story of this past week in Atlanta’s mayoral campaign — which concludes Tuesday in a runoff between Councilwomen Keisha Lance Bottoms and Mary Norwood — was endorsements. They rolled in as if on an auto plant conveyor belt.

Here are some of the shiny pieces of chrome now in Norwood’s corner: former rivals in the mayor’s race Peter AmanJohn Eaves and Cathy Woolard. Woolard’s support came the day after she held a forum at the Carter Center where both Norwood and Bottoms spoke.

Norwood also cashed in endorsements from the AFSCME Local 1644 labor union, the gay rights group Georgia Equality and former Mayor Shirley Franklin.

Franklin’s backing is significant for a couple of reasons. The Georgia Democratic Party has taken aim at Norwood, claiming that while she calls herself an independent, she is actually a closet Republican. Franklin is a Democratic big shot, serving just last year as co-chairwoman of the national party’s platform committee. Also, Franklin’s endorsement furthers a break with Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, Franklin’s former campaign manager and a big supporter of Bottoms’ candidacy.

Then there were the ones who kicked the tires and decided the best way down the road was with Bottoms.

They include Jeff DiSantis, a former executive director of the Georgia Democratic Party, as well as the manager of Vincent Fort’s failed bid for mayor; Erica Pines, a former chairwoman of the Fulton County Democratic Party; Jeff Romig, a consultant whose clients have included state Sen. Elena Parent and state Rep. David Dreyer; and Charles Stadtlander, a prominent LGBT advocate.

Bottoms also won the backing of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and his wife.


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