Political Insider

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

Alabama shakes: On eve of a nail-biter, Steve Bannon disses the University of Roll Tide


Moore faces Democrat Doug Jones, who has been buoyed by allegations that Moore, as a young prosecutor, showed an unhealthy interest in dating girls as young as 14. On Monday in Midland City, Ala., Moore boosters emphasized his strong endorsement from President Donald Trump. From the Associated Press:

Trump's campaign architect and former White House adviser Steve Bannon told Moore supporters Monday evening that the race is a "national election" that will determine whether the "Trump miracle" continues. Moore says he is aligned with the president and he makes similar arguments to Trump, blasting "the elite" in the "swamp" of Washington, D.C.

But there was more to Bannon’s appearance, which was captured by Al.com:

Breitbart News executive chairman Steve Bannon mocked MSNBC host Joe Scarborough by telling the crowd he went to much better schools - Georgetown and Harvard - than the former Florida Congressman.

The issue? Scarborough is a graduate of the University of Alabama - the largest university in the state his candidate wants to represent in the U.S. Senate. Moore himself attended the school, graduating from the University of Alabama School of Law in 1977.

Oops.

">The Twittered response from Scarborough:

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Alabama native and former U.S. secretary of state Condoleezza Rice also weighed in on the contest. According to AL.com, Rice didn’t mention any names, but her comments included this:

"It is imperative for Americans to remain focused on our priorities and not give way to side shows and antics. I know that Alabamans need an independent voice in Washington. But we must also insist that our representatives are dignified, decent, and respectful of the values we hold dear."

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Part of the tension surrounding tonight’s vote count is the fact that polls have been all over the map. A Fox News poll puts Jones up by 10 points. Several others are showing Moore ahead. Fivethirtyeight.com says different methodology – live-calling versus robo-calls -- may be to blame. It’s not a sure thing.

Automated polls are barred from contacting cell phones, which could skew results toward the choice of older populations. On the other hand, Moore supporters may be more willing to confess their support for their troubled candidate to a machine rather than a real human being.

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The Gallup organization is offering up a few stats on why tonight is such a tall mountain for Doug Jones:

-- Only a handful of states have a greater Republican edge than Alabama. Half of the state's residents identify as Republicans or lean toward the Republican Party, while a third identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party. And Republicans typically have a much higher turnout in non-presidential elections than do Democrats.

-- When it comes to approval of the Republican president, most Alabamians have a positive view of Trump's performance, with 55 percent approving over the first half of this year -- which is on the higher end of approval among the states. During that same period, Trump's approval nationwide was 41percent.

-- Alabama ranks among the top states for church attendance. Nearly two-thirds report going to church on a weekly or nearly weekly basis. Evangelicals provide the base of Roy Moore’s support.

We leave the topic with two Youtube videos. One gives ">the best what-to-watch-tonight analysis of Alabama voting trends we’ve come across:

And the other simply urges everyone to hold on.

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Mayor-elect Keisha Lance Bottoms isn't waiting for the recount that her rival Mary Norwood ordered up. On Monday, she called on Norwood to concede the election again, as Norwood seeks evidence of "voter intimidation." Said Bottoms: "Mary Norwood is now questioning the very same board she was supposed to clean up. Be that as it may, I look forward to naming my transition co-chairs tomorrow." (Greg Bluestein)

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We’ve told you about how Congress has been slow to top off funding for the popular parent program to PeachCare. Now state officials are warning that current money, initially projected to last until this spring, could dry up months earlier than they thought.

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill let the deadline pass for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, on Oct. 1, the theory being that most states had enough money in their arsenals to bridge the gap for a few weeks until Congress approved more revenue sources. But with a rumored five-year deal potentially weeks away, the feds have diverted some states’ excess money to others running low on funds.

The Georgia Department of Community Health told Georgia Health News’ Andy Miller that if Georgia’s funds are siphoned elsewhere, money could run out in January rather than March. (Tamar Hallerman)

ABC's Jimmy Kimmel identified CHIP as a new cause last night:

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Pitchforks are being brought out in South Carolina. Santee Cooper chairman Leighton Lord is refusing to resign from the state-owned utility, days after S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster vowed to fire him over the utility’s response to a $9 billion nuclear construction fiasco, according to The State newspaper.

In Georgia, the AJC’s Anastaciah Ondieki reports that the fate of two new nuclear reactors under construction at Plant Vogtle could be known as early as next week.

The PSC hadn’t been scheduled to decide whether work should continue until February. Already behind schedule and over budget, the reactors are the only surviving nuclear construction project in the United States. From Ondieki:

The decision to change the date follows letter exchanges last week between Georgia Power CEO Paul Bowers and Georgia Public Service Commission chair Stan Wise, in the wake of proposed tax reforms in Congress.

The proposed changes would reduce the corporate tax rates from 35 percent to 20 percent. Tax benefits from the current tax rate are higher than the proposed rate.

The news came at a Monday hearing that included comments from critics. However, former state lawmaker John Noel, a Democrat running for the PSC seat now held by Republican Chuck Eaton, tells us that Wise refused to allow him to speak – citing his status as a candidate.

“I’ve never heard of that,” Noel wrote us. “Probably mad I called for his resignation a month ago.”

Wise, a supporter of continued nuclear construction, has said he would resign after the Vogtle matter is settled. In November, Noel counseled him not to wait.

Lindy Miller, another Democrat eyeing Eaton's seat, was also shut down when she attempted to speak before the PSC on Monday. Here's here Facebook response:

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Republican candidate for lieutenant governor David Shafer continued to pile up endorsements on Tuesday. The latest comes from the 37,000-member Georgia Association of Realtors That’s a body that not only votes, but writes a great many checks. The press release cites Shafer’s record on private property rights.

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We have been informed that long-time state Capitol lobbyists Chuck McMullen and Amy Odom have signed on with Parker Poe Consulting, a firm affiliated with the Washington-based BGR Group, founded 30 years ago by former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour.

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For what it's worth, Amazon has at least one lobbyist at the Georgia statehouse for the upcoming session: Jacob Oster is an energy policy specialist who will be advocating on the shipping giant's behalf.


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About the Author

Jim Galloway is a three-decade veteran of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution who writes the Political Insider blog and column.