Political Insider

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Donald Trump picks Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State

President-elect Donald Trump tapped Exxon Mobil chief executive Rex Tillerson as his secretary of state on Tuesday, setting the stage for what could be a brutal battle with the U.S. Senate over his close ties with Russia.

He picked Tillerson after weeks of internal debate and a very public courtship with former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney and ex-New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani for the role.

"I can think of no one more prepared, and no one more dedicated, to serve as Secretary of State at this critical time in our history,” Trump said in a statement.

The New York Times has more:

He settled on Mr. Tillerson, a deal maker who has spent the past four decades at Exxon, much of it in search of oil and gas agreements in troubled parts of the world. A native of Wichita Falls, Tex., who speaks with a strong Texas twang, Mr. Tillerson, 64, runs a company with operations in about 50 countries, cutting deals to expand business in Venezuela, Qatar, Kurdistan and elsewhere.


If confirmed as secretary of state, Mr. Tillerson would face a new challenge: nurturing alliances around the world that are built less on deals and more on diplomacy.


That could prove to be a special test when it comes to Russia, where Mr. Tillerson has fought for years to strengthen ties through business negotiations worth billions of dollars. Under his leadership, Exxon has entered into joint ventures with Rosneft, the Russian-backed oil giant, and donated to that country’s health and social programs.

Tillerson's ties to Russia is rubbing some Republican senators the wrong way, raising questions about whether he'll have a tough time getting confirmed:

Trump can only afford to lose two GOP votes if Democrats put up a united front against Tillerson.


State Sen. Josh McKoon, a likely candidate for Attorney General, is bound to have a busy legislative session.

Our AJC colleague Jeremy Redmon has his latest:

A Republican state senator on Monday said he would introduce legislation clarifying that immigrants living without legal status in Georgia would not be eligible to pay in-state college tuition.


(McKoon) of Columbus predicted his bill could make two pending lawsuits that focus on this issue go away. Immigrants who have been granted temporary protection from deportation through an Obama administration program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, are arguing in both state and federal courts that they should be allowed to pay the in-state rates. Those rates are three times lower than the out-of-state rates.


This is a bit stale, but dang: A pair of southwest Georgia Democrats traded barbs after one accused another of not supporting his challenge against House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams.

State Rep. Winfred Dukes called fellow Albany Democrat Darrel Ealum a "liar" who he never wanted to see again after accusing Ealum of backing Abrams in the secret vote.

From the Albany Herald:

“I am really disappointed that Darrel voted for Stacy and did not support me,” Dukes said. “How can a member of your own delegation not vote or support you? We had an opportunity to step out and build something for the people of the district and he didn’t support me.”


Despite Dukes’ charge, Ealum said he did vote for and support Dukes.


“Winfred ran a very strong race for leader of our caucus, and I am extremely proud of him. He surely made us proud here in Southwest Georgia. Aside from that, I have nothing else to say,” Ealum said.


Add another name to the long list of folks eyeing Tom Price's congressional seat.

The Dunwoody Reporter has more about Alexander Hernandez, the Dunwoody resident who said he's formed an exploratory committee to look into a possible run for the 6th District spot:

Hernandez was born in Illinois and grew up in Indiana. He completed his studies in Florida where he received a bachelor of science in film. He moved to Dunwoody this year.

 He is a property crafts person in the film and television industry. He was elected to the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts (IATSE) Local 44 executive board as a property craft representative. He said his experience includes being involved in labor politics.


Despite an eleventh-hour push from his Georgia allies, it looks like Cobb County native Nick Ayers has been edged out of the quiet race to lead the Republican National Committee.

Multiple news outlets reported Monday that President-elect Donald Trump plans to select Michigan GOP chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel to lead the national party.

McDaniel, the niece of 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, was backed by outgoing RNC chairman and soon-to-be White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus.


One of a slew of non-controversial bills that landed on President Barack Obama's desk over the weekend was legislation co-authored by Atlanta Democratic Rep. John Lewis aimed at continuing reviews of race-related cold cases from the civil rights era.

From the Associated Press:

It would indefinitely extend a 2007 law that calls for a full accounting of race-based deaths, many of which had been closed for decades. The law expires next year.

 More than 100 cases from the 1960s and earlier have been checked out so far, with one conviction. But new racially suspicious deaths have been identified for investigation. In many cases such crimes were poorly investigated and prosecutions were rare.

 ...The law provides federal resources to local jurisdictions to look into the cases. The bill would also require the Justice Department and the FBI to consult with civil rights organizations, universities and others who had been gathering evidence on the deaths. It also extends the time span of cases to be considered to December 31, 1979.

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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.