Political Insider

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

Reports: Callista Gingrich to be named ambassador to Vatican

Callista Gingrich, the wife of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, appears to be Donald Trump's pick for ambassador to the Vatican.

Multiple media outlets reported Sunday that Trump was set to announce her nomination before his May 24 meeting with Pope Francis in Rome.

The announcement was in the works for months, but CNN reported it has taken longer than expected because officials are waiting for approval from the Office of Government Ethics.

If nominated and confirmed by the Senate, the move would represent a major career shift for Callista Gingrich, who has never held elected office. Before taking over as president of Gingrich Productions, a production company she started with her husband, Gingrich spent roughly two decades as a Capitol Hill aide.



When Callista Gingrich's name first surfaced, it was seen as a surprise given that her husband was always seen as the more likely of the two to formally serve in the Trump administration.

Newt Gingrich was at one point under consideration to be Trump’s running mate or member of the Cabinet, but he withdrew his name from consideration for secretary of state — the position he later short-listed — after it became clear he wasn’t a front-runner. He continues to serve as one of Trump’s chief defenders on cable news and social media.

Read more about Callista Gingrich here.


We received a surge of complaints over the weekend about stolen campaign signs around the 6th District.

Among them was from Geoff Frost, who said a slew of Jon Ossoff signs were stolen in his East Cobb neighborhood near Mt. Bethel Elementary on Saturday afternoon. Tweets complaining of sign thefts soon followed.

"I think some people never thought they'd ever see more signs for Democratic candidates in this area and they are scared," said Frost, a director of client development at an Atlanta law firm.

Just about every high-profile election brings complaints of sign theft, and campaigns often complain that overzealous supporters with no ties to the candidate are to blame. But this nationally-watched June 20 contest between Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel seems to be triggering more incidents.

One of the more bizarre moments took place just before the April 18 vote when a man was caught on camera swiping a raft of signs and then piling them in his trunk. Roswell police charged him with misdemeanor theft after a Twitter user posted a video of him, and he later told authorities he was tired of seeing all the signs in the right-of-way.

Frost, for his part, said he quickly replaced his Ossoff signs and "will not be deterred or intimidated by vandals."


House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams was among a cadre of young African-American leaders running for higher office spotlighted in today's New York Times.

From the story:

Rather than pivoting to the center, Ms. Abrams, 43, said Democrats should redouble their focus on registering and energizing blacks, Hispanics and Asian-Americans, as well as young and low-income voters, who often decline to participate in politics.


“There is a hunger for representation,” Ms. Abrams said in an interview. “There is a desire to make certain the state starts to serve everyone.”



Tensions are flaring between the White House and the National Republican Congressional Committee. And Georgia's 6th District race is partly to blame.

Rep. Steve Stivers, the NRCC's chair, told The New York Times that he lobbied the White House to tap some Democrats in Republican-leaning districts to Cabinet posts so the GOP wouldn't have to play defense in so many seats. That led to a sharp backlash from Trump's administration.

It was the kicker quote, though, that got us. From the Times story:

“This White House needs the House more than the House needs the White House,” said former Representative Tom Davis of Virginia, who once led the House Republican campaign arm. “If the House changes hands, Democrats get the gavels. And if Trump thinks this is bad now, wait until Democrats can match their rhetoric with subpoenas.”

The White House, Mr. Davis said, “needs to worry about winning these two specials and keeping the House.” And Mr. Stivers, he said, “has every right and duty to go to the White House and say, ‘You created these open seats; you need to help us.’”


Jason Carter has weighed in on the race to replace House Minority Stacey Abrams in the Georgia Legislature.

The ex-gubernatorial candidate endorsed Sachin Varghese, an attorney and former student-body president at UGA who works at the Bondurant Mixson & Elmore law firm with Carter.

"I've known Sachin Varghese for over a decade, so I speak from experience when I say that he’s an exceptional lawyer, a dedicated family man, and a Georgian of the highest character and integrity," Carter said in an endorsement. "In fact, Sachin is exactly the kind of leader we need in the state house, and that's why I am proud to endorse him for Georgia House District 89."

Bee Nguyen, a nonprofit founder and Democratic operative, is also in the race to represent the heavily-Democratic district. Abrams announced earlier this month she was, er, "exploring" a run for governor.


Republican Karen Handel pounced on the report that Democrat Jon Ossoff took overseas trips that cost more than $14,000 while he was a congressional aide.

She told radio host Bryan Crabtree that "it's unusual for someone who is essentially a junior legislative aide" to take legislative trips.

The trips took place while he was a staffer to U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson and cost at least $14,000. They include a 2011 venture to Turkey sponsored by the Turkish Coalition of America, a 2011 trip to Taiwan paid for by the Taiwanese government and a 2012 journey to Liberia and Ghana funded by the Atlanta-based CARE charity.

House Democrats have slammed Handel for her part in a taxpayer-funded delegation to China when she was Georgia’s secretary of state, saying in an attack ad she “traveled to China on our dime” in 2008. She said it was a "great honor" to go on that trip, which was part of an economic development mission.

"Here you have a junior aide fresh out of college jetting around the world, when you had a Georgia Secretary of State who was a member of one" delegation, said Handel.

The trips aren't all that unusual: Records show that aides to members of Congress routinely take trips abroad funded by outsider groups. Among them were deputies to former 6th District Rep. Tom Price who took multiple trips to Israel as well as a trip to Turkey sponsored by the same group that paid for Ossoff's journey.




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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.