Political Insider

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

Legislature's only independent opts out of re-election bid

State Rep. Rusty Kidd, the only independent in the Legislature and the only member in a wheelchair, has told the Milledgeville Union Recorder that he won’t seek another term this year – giving both Republicans and Democrats a chance to increase their number in that chamber.

Kidd has held the seat in the Georgia House of Representatives since 2009….

"A lot of people here in town and in Atlanta both know that I've had some health-related problems the last few years due to my accident back in 1999," said Kidd.... "So what I'm going to do is not run for office and try to take care of those health problems."

Kidd said that the time spent campaigning for the November election and working on legislation in the event of his victory would be better spent visiting his doctors around the country and focusing on getting healthy.

Kidd may not be completely out of the picture, however. A note to constituents included this line:

“Who knows[? I]f things work out and the medical profession can produce some relief for me, you just may see me again trying to represent Baldwin and Putnam counties.”

Kidd would have faced dual opposition in November, making a runoff highly likely. Milledgeville Mayor Floyd Griffin, a former state senator, is running as a Democrat. Rick Williams, a businessman, is the Republican in the race. Williams is already out with a biographical press release:

Rick Williams has a lifetime dedication to caring for our community. That is why he is running for State House—he believes the time is now for caring, effective leadership. He has lived and worked in our community his whole life. He understands our home values and will work to protect our families. As our next State Representative he will work to protect our family values.

Rick is a local businessman and co-owns Williams Funeral Homes of Milledgeville, Gordon and Eatonton. He is a graduate of Gupton Jones College of Mortuary Science. Rick & Donna have 3 children and 7 grandchildren are active members of the First United Methodist Church of Milledgeville.


With Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump trying to find his footing in the campaign, CNN stepped up its exploration of third-party alternatives last night:

From the CNN website:

Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson and his running mate, Bill Weld, came out swinging Wednesday against their major party rivals: Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

At a CNN town hall hosted by Anderson Cooper, Weld outright mocked Trump -- saying he has "a screw loose" -- while Johnson shed his typical reluctance to attack Clinton by questioning her integrity.

Still, the former governors sought to pull themselves from the fringe of the political spectrum to its center, pledging a less polarized political process if they were elected.

CNN will host a live, one-hour “town hall” session with the presumptive Green Party ticket, presidential nominee Jill Stein and vice-presidential nominee Ajamu Baraka on Aug. 17.


Now, some of you may see this recent poll report below by WSB-TV’s Lori Geary for what it is: A warning that, like Saxby Chambliss in 2008, Republican incumbent Johnny Isakson could be headed for a December runoff in his U.S. Senate contest against Democrat Jim Barksdale.

Libertarian Allen Buckley, who was the spoiler eight years ago, is back and polling at 5 percent in the commissioned poll by Landmark Communications/Rosetta Stone. Watch here:

But we at this blog watched the above video and saw something else. We saw a Republican strategist/communicator, Brian Robinson, with a serious gambling problem. Says Robinson in the video:

“Johnny Isakson’s going to win by double-digits. I promise. I will bet my house on it.”

Look, given Barksdale’s novice status, Isakson still must be viewed as a heavy favorite, even if the incumbent is registering under 50 percent now. The point spread is another matter, however.

Republican David Perdue beat Democrat Michelle Nunn by seven points in 2014. In the race for governor, Republican incumbent Nathan Deal beat Democrat Jason Carter by eight points that same year.

As popular as Isakson is among many Democrats, we do not yet know whether Donald Trump will be an albatross around the GOP incumbent’s neck, or the wind beneath his wings. Right now, odds are on the former.

So we offer this bit of advice to Robinson: Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed has plans to force that homeless shelter at Peachtree and Pine streets to shift its location. So pack light.


Despite reports of internal disarray, the Donald Trump campaign released strong fundraising numbers yesterday, buoyed by small donations not dissimilar to the grassroots strategy mastered by Democrat Bernie Sanders earlier this year. From The New York Times: 

Mr. Trump and the Republican National Committee raised $64 million through a joint digital and mail effort in July, according to his campaign, the bulk of it from small donations. All told, Mr. Trump and his party brought in $82 million last month, only slightly behind Mrs. Clinton's $90 million, and ended with $74 million on hand, suggesting he might now have the resources to compete with Mrs. Clinton in the closing stretch of the campaign. ....

The new figures indicate a major shift in Mr. Trump’s campaign, which until recent months was largely funded by hat and T-shirt sales and by Mr. Trump's wallet. And they suggest that Mr. Trump has the potential to be the first Republican nominee whose campaign could be financed chiefly by grass-roots supporters pitching in $10 or $25 apiece, echoing the success of Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont during the Democratic primary.


One particularly interesting name popped up on the list of more than 80 attorneys nominated for the two new Georgia Supreme Court slots that has set many tongues wagging.

Robert McBurney was Gov. Nathan Deal's pick for a Fulton County Superior Court seat. He's also the former federal prosecutor inextricably linked to the governor in another way: He was the one who signed a grand jury subpoena in 2010 demanding information seemingly related to Deal's actions as a member of Congress.

And now he could be tied to Deal again. He is one of the dozens of lawyers to be vetted for the open seats.


On that same topic, Gov. Nathan Deal recently swore in members of the Judicial Nominating Commission that will do the vetting for the open slots on the bench. Among the new members: House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, a leading Democrat and a likely candidate for higher office.


Former Republican state Sen. Eric Johnson of Savannah, a 2010 GOP candidate for governor, has declared himself to be a Never Trumper.


The Republican-leaning National Review had this takeaway from the loss of hard-line conservative congressman Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., to a more moderate Republican on Tuesday night:

“Anger at Washington is not a mandate for ideological purity.”

The House Freedom Caucus member’s stunning 13-point loss was attributed in part to his vote against the Farm Bill in 2013 – a no-no in Kansas’ rural, agriculture-heavy First District – and getting booted off the House Agriculture Committee by then-Speaker John Boehner as punishment for voting repeatedly against the party line.

“In the end, despite representing a deeply conservative district, Huelskamp’s political purity – he scored 100 percent with FreedomWorks, 100 percent with the Club for Growth, and 92 percent with Heritage Action in 2014 – could not save him. That’s likely because Huelskamp’s constituents, and Republican voters in general, are less ideological and more results-oriented than once assumed.”

What is still unclear is whether Huelskamp’s loss – and that of nearly a dozen other conservative Kansans -- is limited to the Sunflower State in this topsy-turvy election year or whether it signals the hard-line conservative movement is stumbling.

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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.