Political Insider

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

Donald Trump's push-back includes Jack Kingston, and maybe David Perdue

At 10 a.m., all of Washington is expected to shut down for former FBI director James Comey's blockbuster testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

On the other hand, bars in D.C. will be open early. And in Atlanta, so will Manuel's Tavern, the traditional haunt of Democrats in Georgia. While you wait, here's your copy of Comey's prepared remarks.

Counter-programming has already begun. Perhaps even as Comey is talking, President Donald Trump will be at Ralph Reed's Faith and Freedom Coalition annual Road to Majority conference.

Trump's warm-up act will be U.S. Sen. David Perdue. He's not a member of Senate Intelligence, you see, which frees him up to give a 10-minute speech right before the president's scheduled 12:40 p.m. address. It'll be hard for Georgia's junior senator, a strong Trump ally, to ignore the theme of the day.


Then we have former Georgia congressman Jack Kingston, who's become one of Trump's most reliable champions on the cable news circuit. Kingston has an op-ed in today's Washington Post, declaring that Comey is nothing but a "disgruntled ex-employee." A taste:

The gravity of the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election means that it requires both the absolute confidence of the American public and maximum efficiency in its conclusion.

Unfortunately, Comey’s continued FBI directorship could not deliver on either of these imperatives. Add to this lack of confidence the vindictive intelligence leaks out of the investigation clearly intended to embarrass Trump, and it is no wonder that the public and the president lost faith in the status quo at the FBI...

Nevertheless, I hope that the former FBI director will stick to the facts and not seek to exact spiteful retribution on his former boss or participate in the left’s deliberate campaign to undermine the Trump presidency with rumors, falsehoods and disinformation.


Comey's proposed replacement as FBI director, Atlanta attorney Chris Wray, is no stranger to Georgia's Republican circles.

A quick peek at the former federal prosecutor's political donations over the last 10 years shows that he's given thousands to the campaigns of GOP members of the state's congressional delegation, including:

  • $7,500 to U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson
  • $2,600 to U.S. Sen. David Perdue
  • $5,300 to then-U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss
  • $500 to then-U.S. Rep. Tom Price


It's deadline day in Georgia's Sixth District: Time for Republican Karen Handel and Democrat Jon Ossoff to report their fundraising totals ahead of the June 20 runoff.

Expect some more eye-popping figures. Ossoff, who set a quarterly fundraising record earlier this year with an $8.3 million haul, seems certain to exceed that, He's reserved more than $8.4 million in TV ad time since the April 18 vote.

Handel will be hard-pressed to match his take, and she has a history of struggling to raise cash that hobbled her campaigns for governor and U.S. Senate. But the spigots have likely opened for her as well since landing a spot in a race the GOP considers a must-win.

President Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan have both held fundraisers for her, and Vice President Mike Pence is set to arrive on Friday. Her campaign has used the proceeds to reserve about $2.2 million in ad spending through the 20th.


We’re in no way saying it will have the same impact, but Republican Karen Handel’s “I do not support a livable wage” remark during Tuesday night’s debate reminds us of a similar incident 15 years ago.

It happened in that very same studio. From the Nov. 1, 2002 edition of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Sonny Perdue won a brief fight Thursday to show metro Atlanta a 30-second TV spot that features a debate gaffe by Gov. Roy Barnes.


Shortly after the Republican candidate filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Atlanta,  WSB-TV agreed to run the ad,  which criticizes Barnes for a statement about deaths of children in state custody. The comment came during a Sunday debate in the station's studio.


WSB-TV originally refused the ad, citing infringement of their copyright broadcast of the debate. The station relented after consulting the Federal Communications Commission.


The Perdue ad shows Barnes saying in the debate: "Out of 20,000 children, you're going to have children die every day." Immediately after the debate, Barnes said he had misspoken. "No child dying in state custody is acceptable," he said.


The Barnes campaign immediately responded with a TV ad of its own. "Sonny Perdue opened his campaign calling Roy Barnes a rat. Now he accuses him of hurting children. He'll do or say anything," the Barnes ad says,  referring to both the new Perdue ad and an early Perdue campaign video that depicted Barnes as a giant rat with a golden crown.



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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.