Political Insider

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

Fox News poll says U.S. Senate race in Alabama now a dead heat


It’s not just the state that raises the eyebrows. It’s the news organization behind the poll.

A survey conducted by Fox News and released Tuesday shows anti-establishment Republican Roy Moore tied with Democrat Doug Jones, a former federal prosecutor, in the race for U.S. Senate in scarlet Alabama.

They’re tied at 42 percent. Nearly one year ago, Donald Trump took the state by 28 points. He made a visit here last month to back Republican incumbent Luther Strange in a primary runoff in a fruitless effort to rescue a reliable member of the Senate Republican caucus.

Former White House strategist Steve Bannon and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin were on the side of Moore, a former state supreme court chief justice twice thrown off the bench for putting his social conservative views above requirements by federal courts. From Fox News:

“This race exemplifies the difficulty the Republican Party has now,” says Republican pollster Daron Shaw, who conducts the Fox News Poll with Democrat Chris Anderson.

“There is an element of the party that has had it with the establishment, had it with politics as usual, had it with political correctness. The fissure within the party means divisive primaries, controversial candidates, and hard choices for GOP voters once the general election rolls around.”

You can almost feel the wheels turning inside the heads of Democrats in Washington: Is this the sign they’ve been looking for – that 2018 will be a repeat of 2012, when the likes of Todd Akin and comments about “legitimate rape” allowed Democrats to control the Senate for two more years?

Or is it a trap to spend money in a state that hasn’t seen a Democrat elected statewide since 2008?

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The compromise offered Tuesday by U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.,  and Patty Murray, D-Wash., which would temporarily restore the federal subsidies for low-income purchasers of health care, offered a ray of hope for supporters of Obamacare on Tuesday. Then came this cold-water paragraph in the Washington Post:

“We haven’t had a chance to think about the way forward yet,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) at his weekly news conference, minutes after Alexander announced the deal about 20 feet away, outside a Republican policy luncheon.

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State Rep. Earl Ehrhart, R-Powder Springs, may say he acted as a "private citizen" when he urged Kennesaw State University's brass to keep the school's cheerleaders off the field during the national anthem after several knelt in protest. But make no mistake: The Cobb County lawmaker is one of the most powerful figures in higher education.

Ehrhart, the longest serving Republican in the Georgia House, exerts considerable influence as head of committee that helps decide how much is budgeted for higher education in Georgia. And he's used the power of the purse to influence colleges time and again, on issues ranging from campus rape to freedom of speech.

That's the prism to view this story from our AJC colleague Meris Lutz.

Cobb County Sheriff Neil Warren and state Rep. Earl Ehrhart boasted in a series of text messages about pressuring the president of Kennesaw State University into keeping the school’s cheerleaders off the field during the national anthem in response to several kneeling in protest.

The text messages, which The Atlanta Journal-Constitution obtained under the Open Records Act, appear to contradict the official story by university President Sam Olens that the decision to delay the timing of the cheerleaders’ entrance onto the field for football games was made by the athletic department and had nothing to do with the protest.

In one of the texts to Warren, Ehrhart suggested that Olens had caved to pressure: “He had to be dragged there but with you and I pushing he had no choice. Thanks for your patriotism my friend.”

That said, there is something inherently odd about a state lawmaker making national news for questioning the right of Scrappy the Owl to take a knee. (Greg Bluestein)

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President Donald Trump, as you might have guessed, isn't letting go of the issue, either:

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At 7 p.m. tonight, one of your Insiders will be moderating an Atlanta mayoral forum at North Atlanta High School, sponsored by the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods. The event features six candidates – the top fundraisers as of Sept. 30.

Several candidates have been left out, including former Fulton County Commission chairman John Eaves and former state senator Vincent Fort.

Fort called on Tuesday afternoon to express his disappointment. “The people they’re inviting got their either with personal wealth, or with money from city vendors and contractors. It’s unfortunate. It seems to me that it’s an exclusionary process,” Fort said.

But the former state lawmaker said he’s not going to crash the Buckhead party – he’ll be busy knocking on doors. “I’m going to continue to do what I’ve always done – bring my message to the 99 percent,” Fort said.

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David Kim, one of several Democrats challenging incumbent U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall, R-Lawrenceville, in the Seventh District, has signeda term limit pledge. The group U.S. Term Limits said Kim promised that,  if elected, he would cosponsor and vote for a constitutional amendment limiting U.S. House members to three two-year terms and senators two six-year terms. U.S. Sen. David Perdue and U.S. Rep. Rick Allen, R-Evans, have made the same pledge, according to the group. (Tamar Hallerman)

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Robert R. Friedmann, director at Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange and professor emeritus of criminal justice at Georgia State University, has a piece in Fortune magazine on the changes that the Las Vegas massacre will have on security in public spaces. A taste:

[P]ublic and private security entities, schools, businesses, and community groups need to provide training on recognizing suspicious behavior in public places and on information sharing, all in an attempt to create a force multiplier to enhance public and private safety personnel who cannot do the job all alone...

Community campaigns on wearing seat belts, reducing smoking, improving health, and recycling waste have been effective. It’s time to harness the public to provide information, to be aware of its surroundings, and to assist public and private safety personnel to minimize the likelihood of such attacks or of their lethality.


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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.