Political Insider

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

California mounts a challenge to a 2020 SEC presidential primary


Good morning, Georgia, and good-bye, Irma.

MARTA rail has resumed service. Buses will be on the move, too, targeting hospitals, shelters and social service destinations first. The state’s Xpress bus service remains offline, as is bus service in Cobb County. In Gwinnett, express service remains shut down, but local service resumes at 10 a.m.

In Savannah, port authorities hope to get ships moving in and out by the end of the day. Now, back to our regular programing:

Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s baby, the SEC presidential primary that unites a handful of Southern states, could have some competition in 2020.

Some lawmakers in California want to move their state's presidential contest from June, at the very back of the calendar, to the first Tuesday in March. (March 3, to be exact.)

[T]he proposed shift would move a significant chunk of delegates from late in the calendar to the earliest spot on the calendar after the four carve-out states. Such a cache of delegates moving to the beginning of March would shift up the point at which half the delegates will have been allocated in both parties by about a week depending on how other states react between now and 2020.

Kemp and his staff have been following the West Coast maneuver – which could force Republican and Democratic candidates to choose between California and the South. Commuting would be rather difficult.

David Dove, Kemp’s chief of staff, said one alternative already under consideration is moving the date for the SEC primary deeper in the calendar. (Republican and Democratic national committee rules currently prevent it from being held earlier.)

Kemp has the power to shift the Georgia date on his own. Other states would require approval from their legislatures.

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Atlanta mayoral candidate Vincent Fort is out with a new radio ad decrying corruption in City Hall. A bit of the dialogue:

“Atlanta, I’m sick of the corruption that’s holding us back. I’m Vincent Fort. I’m a dad and a teacher. I’m not part of the good ol’ boys club….As mayor, I’ll set up an independent inspector general to root out the corruption and get City Hall working for you.”

Keep in mind that this kind of talk by the former state senator isn’t aimed just at Mayor Kasim Reed. Mayoral rivals Ceasar Mitchell, Mary Norwood and Kwanza Hall are all members of the City Council. Peter Aman is a former chief operating officer.

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The AJC’s Scott Trubey reports that Orin Hatch, R-Utah, and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., the two leaders of the Senate Finance Committee, are demanding that Rick Smith, chairman and CEO of Atlanta-based Equifax, hand over information about the mammoth breach that compromised the personal information of 143 million U.S. consumers. Specifically, the senators want to know when the when the company learned of the breach and what it did next.

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Atlanta was doing pretty well when the New York Times war-gamed the $5 billion, 50,000-employee chase for a second headquarters for Amazon. And then the topic of transportation came up:

An Amazon priority is mass transit, and it has asked applicants to provide their traffic congestion rankings during peak commuting hours. These remaining metro areas are among the top 15 in the country in the share of workers who commute by transit, according to the American Community Survey. Gone are those with both weak transit and bad congestion rankings according to the company INRIX: Atlanta, Miami, Dallas and Austin.

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Walter Jones, the longtime state Capitol journalist, is headed back to the Gold Dome, according to this Facebook page. He’ll be the legislative director for the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services. A former Morris News Service bureau chief, Jones had been publisher of the Newnan Times-Herald.

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Hillary Clinton’s personal account of her defeat in the 2016 presidential election is at bookstores today. One paragraph from a New York Times review:

“What Happened” is not one book, but many. It is a candid and blackly funny account of her mood in the direct aftermath of losing to Donald J. Trump. It is a post-mortem, in which she is both coroner and corpse. It is a feminist manifesto. It is a score-settling jubilee. It is a rant against James B. Comey, Bernie Sanders, the media, James B. Comey, Vladimir Putin and James B. Comey. It is a primer on Russian spying. It is a thumping of Trump. (“I sometimes wonder: If you add together his time spent on golf, Twitter and cable news,” she writes, “what’s left?”)

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Pope Francis has warned history will judge world leaders who do not act on climate change, blasting sceptics on Monday in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Harvey and two other major Atlantic hurricanes in fewer than three weeks (BBC).

That said, Scott Pruitt, head the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, said such discussions are insensitive and impolite. And yet, from his emergency ops center where he rode out a Category 4, Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado told the Miami Herald that he’s ready to tackle the topic:

“This is the time to talk about climate change. This is the time that the president and the EPA and whoever makes decisions needs to talk about climate change,” said Regalado, who flew back to Miami from Argentina Friday morning to be in the city during the storm. “If this isn’t climate change, I don’t know what is. This is a truly, truly poster child for what is to come.”

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Politico.com reports that U.S. Rep. Dave Trott, R-Mich., won’t seek re-election, becoming the third incumbent in the last week to ditch a swing district ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.

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The first of President Donald Trump's Georgia judicial nominees will take a spin before the Senate Judiciary Committee this week. The panel is scheduled to vet former Georgia Rep. B.J. Pak, R-Lilburn, whom Trump tapped to be U.S. attorney in the state's high-profile Atlanta district, on Thursday, two months after his nomination.

A former federal prosecutor, Pak will be the first of a handful of Georgia nominees to be publicly vetted by the powerful panel. At the same time, the panel will discuss the nominations of eight other nominees Trump has tapped for judicial positions, mainly from the South.

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You probably missed this amid the Irma inundation, but PolitiFact has taken a look at U.S. Rep. Karen Handel's assertion that the Affordable Care Act's tax increase was the largest such hike in her lifetime. At least three tax hikes since her birth in 1962 were bigger, including two signed by GOP presidents.


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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.