Political Insider

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

Former Gov. Roy Barnes steps into row between Elena Parent and Kyle Williams

If you’re Kyle Williams, you’re feeling particularly lonely today.

The grand old man of the Georgia Democratic party, former Gov. Roy Barnes, is the star of a very tough robocall hitting answering machines in Senate District 42, which on Tuesday will pick a successor to Jason Carter.

Barnes treats Williams’ only rival, Elena Parent, as an incumbent: “She’s a progressive Democrat, and we should keep her.”

And the former governor slams Williams, a Decatur attorney: “Shame on her opponent….I hope you’ll join me in rejecting these Karl Rove-style dirty tricks.” Click here to listen:

The row began with a Williams mailer that lodged this accusation against Parent, who in 2011 was a state representative representing Atlanta:


"Supported Governor Nathan Deal’s plan to slash the HOPE Scholarship.The HOPE Scholarship has allowed a generation of Georgians the opportunity to afford college. There’s no excuse for Parent’s vote to limit these opportunities and hurt our children’s futures."

Politifact looks into the issue today, and has declared the charge “false.” Parent voted for an early version of the bill that was the result of some negotiations led by House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, but voted against the final version.

In the robocall, Barnes credits Parent with leading “the fight to preserve the HOPE scholarship.”

But a defiant Williams campaign maintains that Barnes might not have always felt that way.

Campaign manager Beth Cope points us to this email from the former governor, published on Feb. 25, 2011, before horse-trading on the HOPE changes began. It was originally published by my AJC colleague Maureen Downey:

A message from exile where grandchildren and cows rule the day. I can’t believe what we have done to HOPE. Did there need to be a change made to HOPE? Without a doubt, but what we are doing is the wrong solution. The answer would have been to go back to the original plan for HOPE. Available to those with a family income of $75k for a single parent and $150k for two parents.

Now, to get the full ride for HOPE you have to have a 3.7 GPA and a 1200 SAT. This favors kids who come from affluent families. As a first generation college graduate I know first generation kids generally score lower on the SAT and that is generally from family circumstances. Children in non college families don’t get exposed early to the breadth of learning as kids from college graduate homes.

My children scored significantly higher on SAT than their mother or me, and their children will score even higher. What we have done is give HOPE to the affluent families who can already afford to send their kids to college, and deprive poorer white and black kids an opportunity to break out. Bad policy.

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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.