Political Insider

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

Senate hopeful Derrick Grayson has rancher Cliven Bundy's back

Derrick Grayson, the only black candidate in the Republican U.S. Senate field, is taking the side of federal government-defying Nevada rancher Cliven "One-More-Thing-I-Know-About-The-Negro" Bundy.

Bundy's stand against grazing laws attracted high-profile Republican support, until the rancher ruminated on whether African-Americans were better off under slavery than in the current welfare state.

"When he talked about black people being enslaved, I have been saying this for the last eight years -- by liberal Democrat policies. I don't understand what the problem is. Oh, I get it. I can say it, but a white person can't. A white person say it, the press is going to use it. Especially when that white person is engaged in something or involved in something that demonstrates how the government has overstepped its bounds. ...

"Under slavery, families were ripped apart, and it was a desire of black men and black women to be together with their loved ones. Family meant something. Spouses meant something. Well, what did government policies do? It broke up the black family, told the black family: 'Hey, if you want to receive this welfare check, the man can't be in the household.' Huh?

"Talk about government policies. In 1965, prior to that, illegitimacy in then black community was less than 13 percent. Today it's over 70 percent. Government liberal Democrat policies. The man was just simply telling you the truth. Jesus."

The MARTA engineer and minister from Stone Mountain, who does a solid Jimi Hendrix impression, has been forceful and attention-grabbing in debates, but gotten little traction or funding for his campaign.

He emailed supporters a link to the video this morning explaining his pro-Bundy stand thusly: "Why? Unlike my opponents, I don't run from the issue when the media tries to divide us. I run TOWARDS the fight."

If there are still protesters at Bundy's ranch after the May 20 primary, Grayson said, he will pay a visit to Nevada.


Seven pending Georgia judicial nominees took a step forward this week as both GOP Sens. Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss sent in "blue slips" to the Senate Judiciary Committee approving the nominees, setting the stage for a hearing in the near future -- though the committee has not set a date.

Superior Court Judge Michael Boggs is the most controversial of the bunch. He has drawn criticism from Democrats, civil rights leaders and liberal groups for his state House vote in favor of the old Georgia state flag featuring the Confederate battle emblem, and other votes that crossed gay rights and abortion rights groups. Boggs has been in Washington of late meeting with the White House and key senators ahead of what could be a difficult confirmation hearing.

The senators blue slips were largely a formality after the slate of judges was negotiated among White House officials and the senators for years and formally announced in December, though it means that Republican staff on the Judiciary Committee did not find anything new and overly objectionable.

Chambliss and Isakson also signed off for the first time on Leslie Joyce Abrams, a federal prosecutor in Atlanta and sister of state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, to be a judge in the Middle District of Georgia. It seems that she will be included in the package after being nominated in March.

With six months until the election, the window to approve judges before the process shuts down is narrow.


You may have already noticed the second ad for Gov. Nathan Deal, which hit the airwaves yesterday. It's another upbeat spot that doesn't mention the upcoming primary, let alone the Democratic challenge that awaits in November:

Let's just say Deal's camp was playing it safe with the stats. The ad's ticker displays 12,600 new businesses in Georgia, although the Secretary of State's web site lists that more than 178,000 firms have been created since he took office. (Although there's a curious drop from 2012 to 2013).

It also lists $74 million in Georgia exports, which is a decided understatement. U.S. Census data shows the state's exports are valued at more than $37 billion. We're told that Deal's camp was citing figures directly from the economic development's foreign trade division.

You can call it the PolitiFact effect.


Two Republican candidates for Congress released new rounds of TV ads this morning. In their own different ways, both took issue with the current issue they want to join.

In the 12th District race to challenge U.S. Rep. John Barrow, state Rep. Delvis Dutton declares that he's running "against" Congress, which we presume includes the portion ruled over by House Speaker John Boehner:

Meanwhile, in the 11th District race to replace Phil Gingrey, former congressman Bob Barr offers his take on a Congress that worked:


Possibly, you’ve already seen today’s behind-the-headlines take on the Cherokee County trial of school board member Kelly Marlow, her GOP political strategist Robert Trim and Cherokee GOP secretary Barbara Knowles.

Left on the cutting room floor: Rick Davies, current chairman of the Cherokee County GOP, sent word earlier this week that Knowles had sent in her resignation shortly after her felony conviction for making false statements to police. Marlow has submitted her resignation as a school board member.

But in a follow-up conversation, Davies told us that Trim remains on the governing committee of the county GOP. Short of a letter of resignation, the county chairman said, the process of removing him – if party members are so inclined – would take the better part of a month.


On a somewhat related note, Randy Travis at WAGA-TV has come up with the April 18 letter letting former state Senate majority leader Chip Rogers know that he’d been fired from his Georgia Public Broadcasting job. A line from his termination letter:

“You have violated several employment policies at GPB relating to political activity, outside or dual employment, time and attendance, teleworking and the code of ethics.”


State school superintendent candidate Ashley Bell's past as a Democrat is apparently coming back to haunt him. Again.

And the chatter grew so loud that Julianne Thompson, who co-chairs the Atlanta Tea Party, felt compelled to release a dispatch in his defense under the headline: "Unity with like-minded African American voters is our future."

Bell made national news in 2010 when he was a Hall County Commissioner who bolted the Democratic Party. The GOP said he was the first black elected official in modern times to make the Democrat-to-Republican switch. He's since been targeted in social media by critics who claim his switch was insincere. Former GOP chair Sue Everhart has already come to Bell's defense, and this week was joined by Thompson:

"I have watched from the sidelines with disappointment and sometimes heartache as I have seen candidates attacked for their previous role as a Democrat like Ashley Bell. Now, I am not naive, nor do I believe that issues and past voting records are not fair game in contested primaries, nor do I feel it is fair or intellectually honest to switch parties for the sole purpose of obtaining a leadership position. That is not the case with Bell. "


Exiting school superintendent John Barge sent over his tax returns, an effort to be transparent ahead of the May 20 gubernatorial primary. He reported adjusted gross incomes of about $103,000 in 2013, $122,000 in 2012 and $145,000 in 2011.

We've also received the tax returns from former Dalton Mayor David Pennington. Still no word from the campaigns of Gov. Nathan Deal or state Sen. Jason Carter on when they plan to release their income statements.


The U.S. House, with only one dissenting vote, passed a bill Wednesday to fund the Veterans Administration and military construction next year. The $71.499 billion bill comes in at $397 million less than the Obama administration's request and was guided through in part by Rep. Sanford Bishop of Albany, the top Democrat overseeing military construction and VA spending.

Bishop revealed that the bill funds the following projects in Georgia:

  • $7.692 million for Hunter Army Airfield’s SOF Company Operations Facility
  • $19.9 million for Robins Air Force Base to replace a Hydrant Fuel System
  • $27.7 million to Robins Air Force Base and Phase 1 of AFRC Consolidated Mission Complex

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