Political Insider

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Jim Barksdale on Johnny Isakson's support for Donald Trump: 'Even John McCain has left the scene'

As the weekend broke, Jim Barksdale, the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, submitted to 15 minutes of grilling on GPB’s “Political Rewind,” by host Bill Nigut and one of your Insiders.

Listen to the entire Friday show here.

Barksdale: “This is not a philosophical decision. This is a business decision – how do you get the most effective people doing the most work in the shortest amount of time. We have seen that these people who have worked on the Sanders campaign were overachievers who accomplished one of the most amazing runs for the presidency that we’ve seen in a long time by an outsider.


“This is not me aligning myself philosophically with Bernie Sanders, but rather, aligning myself with a team that made his run so successful. And they’ve done a great job.”


Q: “So you’re looking for energy.”


Barksdale: “Exactly. And it’s been amazing. We’ve added about six staff members. Equally important, or maybe even more important, is why do you think these people are choosing this campaign to work on? It shows you that this is a state where they say things can be shaken up, and this is a winnable campaign. They wouldn’t be here if they didn’t believe that.”

Then there was the matter of Republican incumbent Johnny Isakson and his willingness to vote for Donald Trump. Said Barksdale:

“[Isakson] claims to be a moderate Republican, but yet he continues to support a Republican who couldn’t get a job at a gas station if he went in to interview because he would be ejected for foul language and ejected for criminal behavior, frankly. How can you be supporting someone as a candidate for the presidency – I think he needs to back off of that…This is really a moral choice for America, of what kind of country do we want to be.


“They have to answer for themselves the extent to which they want to continue to be supporting a candidate who continues to support Donald Trump. I just don’t think that you can parade yourself, as Senator Isakson pretends to do, as a moderate Republican when all the moderate Republicans have left Donald Trump.


“He continues to hang himself with Donald Trump, not me. All the moderate Republicans have left the scene. Even John McCain has left the scene with Donald Trump. Why does Senator Isakson continue to support him? I think it’s ‘cause he does support him.”


As you might expect, political campaigns are more and more about cyber-warfare. If you Google the name of “Jim Barksdale,” look what comes up – and in what order:


Last week, before he showed up for "Political Rewind," Jim Barksdale was in Newnan. There, the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate made one of those mistakes that first-time candidates often do. From the Newnan Times-Herald:

The militarization of local police was another issue that Barksdale addressed, citing that it has created an environment where the most vulnerable are preyed upon. "Visual things matter,” he said. "When you show up looking like the Gestapo, black from head to toe, it escalates because it looks violent.

The Georgia GOP’s Ryan Mahoney, who has mounted attacks against the Democrat on behalf of Republican incumbent Johnny Isakson, quickly pounced. “By likening Georgia law enforcement professionals to the evil, secret police of Nazi Germany, Jim Barksdale has proven once more that he’s too extreme, out-of-touch, and offensive to hold public office,” he said.

Barksdale's camp later apologized for the "unfortunate analogy" and underscored the candidate's support for community policing techniques.

"He's grateful to Georgia's law enforcement community for keeping us safe and putting their lives on the line every day,” said Barksdale spokeswoman Symone Sanders. “This general comment about excessive displays of force in response to peaceful protest was made in context of a discussion about ways to decrease tensions between police departments and communities of color.

"Fortunately, many communities in America -- including cities like Atlanta and Columbus -- are beginning to adopt community policing techniques that help to prevent dangerous, escalating confrontations from occurring.”


Leading the Washington Post's website this morning is yet another story about the Hillary Clinton campaign mulling whether to move into traditional red states such as Georgia with three weeks into the election:

The campaign is expected to decide in the coming days whether to make a more aggressive play for states such as Georgia, which is being eyed as one of the more promising opportunities for Clinton, and Arizona, where a couple of high-profile surrogates are being deployed this week: Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.) on Tuesday and Chelsea Clinton on Wednesday.

If you want to know whether a presidential campaign is making a substantial effort in a particular look at the surrogates they sent to stir the pot. Arizona is getting Sanders and Chelsea Clinton. Here's the press release sent out by the Georgia Democratic party as the weekend broke:

"On Saturday, October 15 and Sunday, October 16, actress and award-winning playwright Danai Gurira, best known for her role as Michonne on "The Walking Dead," will campaign for Hillary Clinton across Georgia. Gurira will visit Hillary for Georgia canvas kick-offs in Lilburn and Decatur, where she will embolden young supporters and volunteers to encourage their friends and family to early vote starting Monday.


CNN matched up Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, a staunch Hillary Clinton supporter, with former New York lieutenant governor Betsy McCaughey, a Donald Trump backer, to debate the Republican nominee's insistence that Clinton take a drug test before Wednesday's debate because she seemed "pumped up."

"It was a joke, and he was talking to the half of the nation - the deplorables - and they thought it was very funny," said McCaughey.

Reed shot back: "This is a Frankenstein candidacy and Donald Trump is Frankenstein's creation. And what we're doing is watching the person come apart. And fortunately we have less than 25, 26 days left to go. And we're going to put this Frankenstein to bed."

Watch it here:


The Atlanta Jewish Times has an interview with former attorney general Sam Olens, now president of Kennesaw State University. The article includes these paragraphs in which Olens cuts himself some new room to maneuver:

[KSU protests] were motivated by concerns for the LGBTQ community at Kennesaw State, because Olens, as attorney general, waged court battles to defend Georgia’s ban on same-sex marriage and block an Obama administration directive on transgender bathroom rights; an anti-Olens online petition before the regents’ decision focused on LGBTQ concerns.


But Olens said he has never publicly expressed a personal opinion on those issues.


“My job is to represent the state. That’s what I’ve done,” Olens told the AJT. “As far as being university president, there’s nothing more important in that capacity than the safety and protection of the students. The universities are there for the students. The point’s gonna be made loud and clear that my job is to do everything I can to ensure their success, and that doesn’t impinge on any type of political beliefs. That doesn’t come into the equation.”


Gov. Nathan Deal is catching some grief for phraseology used last week in defense of his Opportunity School District proposal. From Johnny Kauffman and WABE (90.1FM):

Gov. Nathan Deal this week said in “many, many cases” people living in failing school districts “don’t have anything worth stealing.” He warned attendees at an engineering association lunch at the Commerce Club in Atlanta that criminals living in those school districts “go where people have nice cars, nice homes, things that are worth a criminal’s attention.”

More context, from the governor:

“It’s time that we stop that. It’s time that a young person has an opportunity to see that if you will stick with me, and get an education there are jobs that are going to let you make a decent living and you will not have to resort to a life of crime. I’m passionate about this. I hope it comes through.”


A former state senator who has moved on to bigger things has left some things for us to remember him by. From the Athens Banner-Herald:

David Adelman, a former U.S. ambassador to Singapore and a former Georgia state senator, has agreed to donate his official papers, documenting his diplomatic and legislative service, to the University of Georgia Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies.


Adelman served from 2010 to 2013 as the 15th U.S. ambassador to Singapore. During that time, he led eight trade missions in the region, including the first American trade mission to Myanmar; established the U.S.-Singapore Strategic Dialogue; and successfully negotiated the terms by which U.S. Navy Littoral Combat Ships would be deployed to Singapore.


Over at Ozy.com, Nick Fouriezos posits that, if things go south for Donald Trump, one Georgian in particular is poised to inherit the businessman’s supporters. The opening paragraphs:

The wealthy businessman had just emerged from a bloody primary against a crowded group of Republican rivals. Painting himself as the only outsider fit to reform a system full of cronies, the first-time candidate rode a wave of antiestablishment sentiment straight up the polls. Then he got a message. It was from Donald J. Trump, who wanted to talk.


So David Perdue, the former CEO of Dollar General and Reebok, met with the billionaire in New York. It was the summer of 2014, Perdue was vying to become the freshman senator of Georgia and, as he recalls, Trump “wanted to talk about our race.”


And so Perdue told Trump all about it — about how he built his team, a motley crew of experienced strategists and staffers who transformed him from an unknown into his party’s nominee. And about how his team tempered his message to a simple one of grand peril in the face of economic uncertainty, ensuring that the cause had to be bigger than just one man could take on. “What I tried to explain to him was that this wasn’t about me: It was bigger than me,” Perdue says. “What I saw going on was that the country was headed in the wrong direction. And he agreed totally.”


Former Athens Congressman Paul Broun has popped up here and there since losing his bid for Doug Collins' House seat in May. He gave away a semi-automatic rifle in order to settle his old campaign debt and unexpectedly won the VP nod of Georgia's Constitution Party back in June.

Now the doctor and onetime tea party darling, whose former staffers continue to be at the center of a federal ethics cloud, is turning over a new leaf -- or straw, to be exact. From the Athens Banner-Herald: 

... Broun has started a new business, PineScapes, which sells longleaf pinestraw that has been specially treated with a colorizing agent.

The treated pinestraw, Broun said, is guaranteed to last for at least a year — far longer than untreated pinestraw, which often must be replaced after as little as three months — and can subsequently be retreated with the colorizing agent.

The Banner-Herald also reports that Broun is remaining politically active, working on a Christian initiative ahead of the election as he mulls whether to run for office again.

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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.