Political Insider

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

The Georgia-Alabama championship sends a ripple through political world


Pasadena, Calif. - Welcome to the Rose Bowl edition of the Morning Jolt.

Georgia's unforgettable victory sets up a trip to Atlanta on Monday to play in the college football championship against Alabama, a matchup that has sent a ripple through the state's political world.

The Georgia Legislature, which is constitutionally mandated to open its session on Monday, now seems certain to skip Tuesday. The schedule won't be formalized until both chambers agree, but House lawmakers have already been told to expect to take the day off.

The championship game will also take place a few hours after a potential watershed moment: A U.S. Supreme Court showdown over regional water rights. The case centers on the decades-long feud between Georgia and Florida, but Alabama is closely watching the outcome.

"Water in the morning," tweeted Jeremy Berry, the city of Atlanta's attorney, "football at night."

A sweep of candidates for statewide office, meanwhile, were eager to prove they bleed red and black. Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle posted a picture of him and Georgia coach Kirby Smart on Instagram, while other candidates also reveled in the Bulldogs nail-biter victory over Oklahoma.

"What a night. What a game. What a team," wrote Stacey Evans, a Democratic candidate for governor and Georgia graduate. "Time to chop some wood in Atlanta."

And Secretary of State Brian Kemp tweeted about a unique qualification for the job.

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Not all state lawmakers are on board with the prospect of skipping a day of session after the national championship game. State Sen. Josh McKoon, a Republican candidate for secretary of state, is among the most vocal.

He tweeted an online poll asking if lawmakers should take the day off or stick it out. He earlier said that skipping the day sends the wrong message to "the millions of Georgians who will get up to work that Tuesday."

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A Brookhaven Republican seeks to bring back the state’s hate crime law nearly 15 years after it was struck down by Georgia’s top court.

State Rep. Meagan Hanson's proposal, which she plans to unveil at a press conference this week, would toughen penalties for crimes committed against victims based on religion, race, nationality, sexual orientation and other protected classes.

The state enacted a hate crimes law in 2000 but it was struck down in 2004 as “unconstitutionally vague” because it didn’t specifically outlaw crimes based on specific biases as laws in other states did.

Georgia is now one of only five states without a hate crimes statute, and intermittent efforts over the years to revive the ban have failed to gain traction.

Hanson’s decision to lead the effort could signal a shift: She’s one of the Legislature’s most vulnerable incumbents, representing a swing suburban district, and this proposal could give her friendly fodder for the campaign trail. She's also faced criticism from LGBT advocates for a string of tweets that she said were taken out of context.

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The Washington Post highlighted an interesting tidbit about this year's races for governor. From the piece:

This year, at least 79 women — 49 Democrats and 30 Republicans — are running for governor or seriously considering it as filing deadlines approach, according to a tally by the Center for American Women in Politics at Rutgers University.

The numbers are more than double what they were four years ago and on track to surpass the record 34 women who ran for governor in 1994. In Ohio, there are three women running for governor in the Democratic primary and one in the Republican. In Georgia, both Democratic candidates are named Stacey.

That would be Stacey Abrams, the ex-House minority leader, and Stacey Evans, a former state legislator.


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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.