Political Insider

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

A glitzy bidding war: Could 'Nashville' be lured to Atlanta?

A glitzier-than-usual, interstate  bidding war may be underway. The Tennessean newspaper reports that producers of ABC's "Nashville" are looking at alternative sites for the TV series -- including Texas and Georgia. From the newspaper:

To date, the state has carried the heaviest load when it comes to subsidizing the show's Nashville-based production. This season, for instance, the state contributed $12.5 million, Metro gave $500,000 and the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp. added $125,000 to the current incentive deal.

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But the legislature just approved a trimmed annual state budget that left only about $3 million in the Tennessee film incentives fund. That means Metro and the CVC would have to contribute more than in the past in order for the production to get closer to the $13.15 million price tag for the current season.

So far, a gap remains, and sources told The Tennessean that show executives have scouted locations in Texas or Georgia.

Who knew government subsidies were so important to country music's image? But if "Nashville" producers are in fact lured south, we suggest one condition: That they be required to bring the Tennessee River with them as they cross the border.

Oh, an aside: This wouldn't be the first time Georgia stole a big-time production from its neighbor to the north. In 2011, the state won the battle for the "Footloose" remake. Back then, Jan Austin of Tennessee's Association for the Future of Film and Television lamented that it reminded her of the old saying "death by a thousand cuts."

We get the feeling that losing "Nashville" would be a lot more painful.


On a somewhat similar topic: Toyota has chosen north Texas over Atlanta, Denver and Charlotte for its new North American headquarters. It didn't come cheap. Forbes reports the state promised $40 million - or about $10,000 each - for the 4,000 jobs expected in the deal.

But Texas Gov. Rick Perry told the Wall Street Journal it was worth the price:

"It is the biggest win we've had in a decade. Ten years of tax, regulatory, legal and educational policies have now put Texas at the top of the heap."


Many of you saw this post on the irony that Tuesday's shooting spree at the FedEx facility in Kennesaw occurred within ground zero of Georgia's pro-gun movement. But Patrick Parsons, executive director of the Georgia Gun Owners, a group headquartered within 1.5 miles of the workplace spree, focuses on the fact that FedEx doesn't permit employees to carry weaponry on its property:

"We call on the Georgia General Assembly to eliminate all 'Gun Free Zones' in Georgia, and for private businesses with anti-gun policies to eliminate them at once. How many more have to be injured or die before we let law-abiding Georgians have the right to defend themselves at all times?"

No doubt the Georgia Chamber of Commerce will make this a top priority in next year's legislative session.


And from the You-Knew-It-Was-Just-a-Matter-of-Time Department, Comedy Central's Jon Stewart took aim at Georgia's new gun law last night.


Gov. Nathan Deal's veto of a pair of proposals that would have reset the borders of Chamblee and Brookhaven has provoked a backlash among DeKalb County lawmakers.

Deal said in his veto statement that he didn't want the legislation, House Bills 905 and 906, to "pre-empt" pending litigation over the borders. But state Rep. Scott Holcomb, D-Atlanta, said that's exactly what the legislation was meant to do: End the lawsuit and let the two cities "move forward with planning their futures."

The legal action involves the 100-acre Century Center commercial center owned by Highwoods Properties. Both cities want the sprawling center's tax base, and the property owner has pushed to join the new city of Brookhaven after a referendum to redraw the borders.

Said Holcomb:

“The role of the legislature is to make the law and the role of the judiciary is to interpret it. This legislation made the will of the General Assembly perfectly clear for the courts and would have ended the litigation. In the end, the governor opted to favor the lawsuit over the will of the people who live in the area. These vetoes are a triumph of frivolous litigation over sound policy.”


Former Dalton Mayor David Pennington pledged to donate 10 percent of his salary to scholarships if he ousts Gov. Nathan Deal and beats Democrat Jason Carter in November.

He said 5 percent would fund a student in the state university system and the other 5 percent will be awarded to a high school student to assist in tuition at the school of his family's choice.


Jenny Beth Martin's allies are pushing back on the Washington Post report that the head of Tea Party Patriots is headed for a $450,000 paycheck this year.

The report said Martin, a resident of Cherokee County, had a twin salary stream -- $15,000 a month for "strategic counseling" from the TPP super PAC, and another $270,000 from the TPP non-profit arm. But Georgia's Debbie Dooley sent this (slightly cleaned up) note last night:

"I am on the Tea Party Patriots Board of Directors for the 501(c)4. Jenny Beth Martin's salary is $190,000 per year, NOT $270,000 per year. A while back we ordered a compensation study to see where her salary stood.

"It came back that she was being underpaid, so we paid her an additional amount that year to adjust her salary. That is why she was paid $270,000 in that fiscal year."

That would put Martin's total annual compensation at $370,000 -- still a good hunk of change.


Debbie Dooley's been busy. We also got word from her of a new website, the Georgia Integrity Project, a coalition aimed at ousting House Speaker David Ralston from his District 7 seat. Dooley says the group has put this ad, a somewhat vague attack on Ralston's tactics as a defense attorney, on local cable TV outlets:


U.S. Rep. Paul Broun has let Jack Kingston know the price he'll exact for winning the support of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in the Republican race for U.S. Senate. A portion of a statement issued Tuesday:

"The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has intensely lobbied Congress in support of the TARP program, the auto company bailouts, and billion-dollar stimulus packages. In just this year alone, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has aggressively pursued their top legislative priorities of amnesty through immigration reform, Common Core programs, raising the debt ceiling, and finding ways to work with Obamacare. 

"Their recent endorsement of Jack Kingston reveals the true nature of Jack Kingston's loyalty - to more spending, more taxing, and more government. Paul Broun has and always will stand against amnesty for illegals, Common Core, Obamacare, and more government intrusion.” 

Presumably Broun did not use such language when pursuing the Chamber's endorsement for himself. Chamber political director Rob Engstrom replied by saying, "Congressman Paul Broun is a hypocrite; and is running a dishonest and desperate campaign."

He said Broun filled out a Chamber questionnaire in March, and checked a box next to the following words: "I support the mission of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which is to advocate for the American free enterprise system. By checking this box, I am actively seeking the endorsement of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce."

Engstrom plans to join Kingston in Georgia for Chamber-sponsored events Friday.


Kingston is up with another folksy ad of his own. This one shows off his children (and his ever-present station wagon) and makes light of his alleged penny-pinching ways.


There's been some debate in congressional GOP races about whether John Boehner deserves another term as House speaker. The Hill examines similar uncertainty about Mitch McConnell in the Senate, with some examples from Georgia:

Karen Handel, a Senate candidate who hails from the party establishment as a former Georgia secretary of State but now draws support from Tea Party conservatives as well, indicated she would not support McConnell for leader if she were elected.

Pressed by The Hill this month whether she would back McConnell, Handel said Republicans “need new leadership” and that the minority leader’s voters “can make a determination for him.”

...Handel’s rival in the Georgia Senate primary race, Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), who has served more than 20 years in Congress, declined Monday to commit to voting for McConnell. 

“Jack Kingston is focused on communicating his record and his vision to the people of Georgia so we can elect a proven, tested conservative to turn back [Democratic Leader] Harry Reid’s liberal agenda,” Chris Crawford, Kingston’s spokesman, told The Hill when asked whether his boss supports McConnell serving another term as leader.


A hat-tip to the folks at Peach Pundit folks, who have the first ad from Republican Tricia Pridemore in the 11th Congressional District race. It is an interesting mix of Scripture (Paul's second letter to the Corinthians, fourth chapter) and images portraying Democrats as a plague of biblical proportions:


We have photographic evidence that state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, D-Atlanta, accepted a "rising star" award from former Congresswoman and shooting victim Gabrielle Giffords last night at a Washington gala for Emily's List, which supports female candidates who back abortion rights.

From Abrams' speech:

“My parents always told me that no how matter how little we had, there was always someone who had less. It wasn’t okay for us to whine that we didn’t have running water. There were people who didn’t have homes. And it was our job to serve those people.”


The Center for Public Integrity in Washington has come up with some details of that exclusive bash on Sea Island hosted by the American Enterprise Institute last month. The group spent $50,000 on travel and lodging for 18 members of Congress and their entourages.  From the CPI report:

The multi-day “World Forum” summit — which the American Enterprise Institute has conducted annually since 1982— took place during early March at The Cloister in Sea Island, Ga., a venue known for its “legendary elegance” and “five miles of private beach.”

Among the elite attendees listed in the program: brewing magnate Peter Coors; coal executive Joseph Craft; former Amway president Dick DeVos, who has bankrolled numerous Republican causes in Michigan; former Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman; TD Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts, a major GOP donor whose son, Pete Ricketts, is running for governor in Nebraska; and Spencer Zwick, Romney’s former finance director.

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About the Author

Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.