Political Insider

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

The Jolt: Abrams hints at another run in first speech since gov defeat 


In her first public speech since losing the race for governor, Stacey Abrams dropped a strong suggestion she’s either taking aim for David Perdue in two years or Brian Kemp in four. 

At what was billed as a surprise Friday appearance at the TedWomen 2018 talk in Palm Springs, Calif., Abrams urged the crowd to ask themselves three questions about their goals: What do I want, why do I want it, and how do I get it. 

To the first question, she said she wants “justice, because poverty is immoral and a stain on our nation.” To the second, she said it should be something that “doesn’t allow you to sleep at night unless you’re dreaming about it.”  

As for the third part – how to get it – she was more circumspect. From the TedBlog:

The obstacles — the debt, the fear, the fatigue — aren’t insurmountable, Abrams says, but there’s more work to be done.

“I am moving forward knowing what is in my past. I know the obstacles they have for me. I’m fairly certain they’re energizing and creating new obstacles now,” Abrams says. “They’ve got four years to figure it out. Maybe two.”

We have a broader story here on Perdue’s re-election bid. Abrams hasn’t ruled out a challenge yet, but our money is on a 2022 rematch. 

***

Gov.-elect Brian Kemp went out West, too, for a Republican Governors Association event at a tony Arizona resort. And several national media outlets described him and Ron DeSantis of Florida as two of the “biggest stars” at the conclave.

Kemp appeared to have a mission in mind. The Washington Post reported he put on a “charm offensive” with the Fortune 500 executives who joined the meeting – the same corporate honchos that might have backed Stacey Abrams or Casey Cagle during the campaign. 

The Post also has this nugget: 

RGA chair Bill Haslam, the outgoing governor of Tennessee, asked Kemp what he learned from the bitter race. 

“You just need to be who you are,” Kemp said during a panel discussion. “The national media was making fun of my ‘fake Southern drawl,’ and it is obviously not fake.”

***

A Georgia Senate study committee on school safety came up with a slate of recommendations that politicians from both parties can likely get behind: More emphasis on mental health, better data-sharing and increased training for employees to detect signs of an attack.

Then there was this recommendation from the report, released in mid-November, that recommended legislators “strongly reprimand” what it described as the media sensationalism of school shootings. 

From the report: 

While the Committee highly values the American Institution of a Free Press, it believes that the Media have acted extremely irresponsibly in the style of reporting used in the wake of tragedies on school campuses. 

The nearly obsessive coverage of school shooters’ personalities, backgrounds, motives, manifestos and histories is no doubt a factor in encouraging potential attackers to perform future “copy-cat” attacks. 

A humble prediction: Blaming the media for school shootings isn’t going to go over very well. 

***

Once one of the most powerful lawmakers in Georgia, Don Balfour landed a primo spot on a coveted state board. 

Gov. Nathan Deal tapped Balfour on Friday to a seat on the Georgia World Congress Center Authority, marking a return to a public role for the Gwinnett Republican. 

In 2013, Deal suspended Balfour after a panel of Senate GOP colleagues kicked him out of the caucus and stripped him of leadership positions. That came after he was charged with 18 counts of filing false expense claims and theft

Balfour repeatedly said he made mistakes on his expense reports but did nothing intentional, and he was acquitted by a Fulton County jury of falsifying his expense reports.

He’s kept an eye on politics since then, including taking a shining to Geoff Duncan, who defeated former Senate Pro Tem David Shafer – a Balfour adversary – to win the GOP nomination for lieutenant governor. 

That makes the timing of Balfour’s appointment more interesting: Had he been tapped to the job before the special session, then state senators could have had the chance to oppose him.  

***

What an accomplishment: First Lady Sandra Deal was joined on Friday by education leaders to mark her 1,000th school visit since her husband, Gov. Nathan Deal, took office in 2011. 

Sandra Deal has made it her mission to read to young students in all 159 counties, and she didn’t let even chemotherapy treatment for cancer throw her off her mission. 

A former school teacher, Mrs. Deal wound up visiting all 159 counties and all 181 public school districts during her time as Georgia’s first lady. She has visited as many as eight schools in one day. 

Congrats, Mrs. Deal. 

***

Georgia U.S. Sen. David Perdue was rubbing elbows with major donors over the weekend in Sea Island, where he has a home.  

He was one of a handful GOP senators who made the rounds at a retreat hosted by the National Republican Senate Committee. 

The attendees, according to a list leaked to Politico, included executives from Georgia companies such as Coca-Cola, UPS and Delta Air Lines. 

***

A top Brian Kemp ally is starting a new lobbying venture.

Jared Thomas and Cynthia Garst announced Monday the formation of Garst Thomas Public Affairs, which caters to corporate clients that need help with communications, marketing and lobbying in Georgia and Washington. 

Thomas and Kemp have a long history. While still a student at the University of Georgia, Thomas managed Kemp’s successful bid for the Georgia Senate in 2002. He later ran Tom Price’s 2004 campaign for the U.S. House, a seven-way primary that led to his victory. 

He went back to Kemp’s camp more recently, serving as his chief of staff and press secretary from 2012-2015 and later as a contract consultant. One of his claims to fame: He helped Kemp develop the “SEC primary” in the 2016 election. 

 


Reader Comments


About the Author

Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.