Political Insider

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

Paul Ryan: GOP grip on Congress threatened by Donald Trump’s freefall

U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan told a group of donors late Wednesday that Donald Trump’s poll plunge is posing a threat to GOP control of his chamber. From Politico.com:

During a conference call, Ryan said he believed that House Republicans had taken a serious hit amid Donald Trump’s freefall following release of the now-infamous "Access Hollywood" video, according to a person who was on the call. Ryan noted that Republicans lost more than 20 seats in 2008, when John McCain lost to Barack Obama by seven percentage points. By comparison, Ryan pointed out grimly, Trump is trailing by around 10 percent nationally….


The rift between Ryan and Trump has ramifications beyond November. From the same article:

While some GOP lawmakers have called Trump directly to ask him to lay off Ryan, the speaker has also faced a backlash from some of his own members who back Trump. Oklahoma GOP Rep. Jim Bridenstine tweeted on Wednesday that he wouldn't back Ryan for speaker. "Given the stakes of this election, if Paul Ryan isn't for Trump, then I'm not for Paul Ryan," Bridenstine said.

An awkward body count isn’t making a rapprochement any easier. From the Washington Post:

Four women accused Donald Trump of groping or kissing them without their consent in news reports published Wednesday, just days after the Republican presidential nominee insisted in a debate that he had never engaged in such behavior.


One of the women alleges that Trump grabbed her breasts and tried to put his hand up her skirt during a flight more than three decades ago, the New York Times reported. Another says he kissed her on the mouth outside an elevator in 2005, according to the same report. A third woman says Trump groped her rear end at his Mar-a-Lago resort 13 years ago, the Palm Beach Post reported. The fourth, then a People magazine reporter, says Trump kissed her without her consent when the two were alone in 2005 right before an interview she was about to conduct with Trump and his wife.

Trump has denied all accounts:

Most importantly, Trump’s mid-October feud with D.C.’s GOP establishment is preventing a sharp focus on this – also from the Washington Post:

WikiLeaks released yet another batch of hacked emails from inside Hillary Clinton’s campaign Wednesday, and with them came another round of embarrassing headlines and new glimpses of internal anxiety over the candidate’s weaknesses….


The correspondence reveals a campaign that has struggled all year to improve a flawed candidate. As far back as March, aides were keenly aware that she was resistant to the media, perhaps out of touch with regular Americans and unable to convey a clear message to voters.


We told you earlier that Democrat Jim Barksdale is trying to up his game against Republican incumbent Johnny Isakson in the race for U.S. Senate. Barksdale’s latest staff addition: Symone D. Sanders, who will be Barksdale’s senior communications strategist.

Symone Sanders, 25, was the national press secretary for U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders presidential campaign -- the youngest presidential press secretary on record.


In today’s print column, we also told you that Donald Trump’s tumble in the polls had Democrat Hillary Clinton revisiting the notion of making a late autumn bid for Georgia. Larry Sabato, the University of Virginia political scientist and “Crystal Ball” blogger, is among those acknowledging the shift:

It now appears that Georgia, like Arizona, is also moving back into play. There have been several reports of close polls there and the Clinton campaign might try to make a move for this reliably Republican state. We’re moving it back to Leans Republican, from Likely Republican, matching Arizona’s race rating. Needless to say, a Clinton win in Arizona or Georgia would be evidence of a Clinton rout that matches or exceeds Obama’s seven-point 2008 romp.


You could call it a Sandy Koufax moment. The Board of Regents vote on Wednesday to name Attorney General Sam Olens the new president of Kennesaw State University was one of the biggest days in his public career, topping weeks of speculation, protests and maneuvering.

It was also Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar. And Olens, the first Jewish person to win a statewide partisan contest, said he didn't hesitate about his decision. He spent the day at a suburban Atlanta synagogue with his family.

Yasher Koach.

The announcement that followed Olens’ appointment contained an upfront acknowledgement that the move was somewhat unusual:

The Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia today named Mr. Sam Olens president of Kennesaw State University (KSU). Olens will assume his new position on November 1, 2016.

University campuses, it goes without saying, are extremely degree-conscious. There is no “Dr.” in front of Olens’ name – a fact that has raised eyebrows among KSU faculty.


The Charlotte Observer today has a lengthy piece on the personal price that gays and lesbians may be paying in North Carolina as a result of protests over HB 2, the “bathroom law” that also abolishes local LGBT protections.


Mercer University is out with another economic survey of middle Georgia. “Treading water” appears to be the region’s motto:

“This is the fourth edition of the survey, and by now, we can see an interesting pattern. Despite experiencing positive six-month periods in terms of several indicators of profitability, businesses in Middle Georgia remain always cautiously optimistic about the next period,” said [Dr. Antonio Saravia, assistant professor of economics and director of the BB&T Center].


“In all of the editions of the survey, the majority of businesses do not identify the next six-month period as a good time to expand their operations. This has, of course, a negative impact on their investment and hiring decisions. One can speculate that this outlook indicates that businesses in the region do not see yet an economic recovery robust enough to induce risk-taking. In addition, respondents continue to identify government regulations and/or red tape, taxes and the quality of labor as the top obstacles to their business activities.”

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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.