Political Insider

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

The Jolt: Butch Miller gathers up votes for No. 2 job in state Senate

Butch Miller may have the pole position in the race for president pro tem of the state Senate, the second most powerful job in that chamber.

Shafer, a Republican from Duluth, is running for lieutenant governor in 2018.

The state Senate has 56 members, 37 of whom are Republicans. The president pro tem is elected by the chamber as a whole, but the caucus will vote as a bloc for the Republican candidate who receives its endorsement.

This is Miller’s second run at Senate president pro tem, a position just below lieutenant governor in clout. He lost to Shafer by one vote in 2014. We’re told the deciding ballot was then cast by Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga, chairman of the Senate Rules Committee. Mullis is now backing Miller, and Miller has locked up at least 20 votes.

“Butch has really put in the work in this caucus election. I’ve looked Butch in eye and told him that he has my vote,” Mullis said. “A lot of other senators have done the same, and I think that’s enough to give him the majority he needs.”

State Sen. Renee Unterman, R-Buford, said she, too, is confident Miller has the 19 votes he needs. “I think a majority of the caucus is with him because he’s effective, competent and efficient – everything we want in a leader and what voters wish Washington could be,” she said.

Miller is angling for the job next year, but he may have his eye on higher office down the road. He decided against a bid for lieutenant governor, but don’t count him out for future bids for statewide office. (Greg Bluestein)


We’re still not done chewing on the Atlanta race for mayor, in which Keisha Lance Bottoms beat Mary Norwood by a mere 759 votes.

On GPB’s “Political Rewind,” Mark Rountree of Landmark Communications, who had polled the race for WSB-TV, on Wednesday pointed to signs that Norwood’s north Atlanta base of voters wasn't as strong as it was in 2009.

“It appears that in some of the Buckhead precincts, Norwood was not getting the runoff turnout that she got eight years ago,” Rountree said. He pointed to three examples:

-- In 8A, the Mount Paran and Lovett area, Norwood received 925 votes in ’09, but 757 on Tuesday;

-- In 8B, the Chastain area, she dipped fom 1,170 to 1,000;

-- And 8D, the OK Café area, her tally went from 1,140 down to 1,073.

That’s 405 votes in those three precincts alone.

Then there was the call we received Wednesday evening from a prominent figure in metro Atlanta politics.

Remember, he said, that Emory University had pitched the annexation of its campus and surrounding properties into the city of Atlanta in August 2016. After much dithering, the annexation was finally approved Monday night, and goes into effect next year.

Gosh, our caller said, Bottoms sure is lucky that the annexation was slow-walked and 2,500 mostly white voters were unable to participate in this year’s mayoral race.

Apply the 52 percent that Norwood won in the rest of Atlanta-in-DeKalb, and she would have picked up at least 400 votes. Given that the annexed area is less diverse than the rest of AID, Norwood  might have done better than that.

Yessiree. Bottoms sure was lucky that annexation didn't happen sooner.


Alabama historian Wayne Flynt says that the late Harper Lee, author of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” didn’t approve of Roy Moore, who could be headed to the U.S. Senate next week.

In an article at Al.com, Flynt quoted a letter that Lee, a close friend, wrote to him in 2005, when Moore was making the first of two bids for governor. It included this sentence:

“I dread the advent of Roy Moore's administration but it’s coming sure as doomsday. What is wrong with us? Are you old enough to remember when people were less ignorant? I am."


It's Pearl Harbor Day, and the National Review has a deep look at Carl Vinson, the congressman from rural Georgia whose early advocacy of a two-ocean navy on the eve of World War II may have been the deciding factor in the conflict. A taste:

From 1934 to 1940, Vinson pushed through Congress four major naval appropriations bills. The result was that the U.S. Pacific Fleet, which Japan thought it had almost destroyed in December 1941, was already slated to be replaced by a far larger and updated armada.

A little more than seven months after Pearl Harbor, the USS Essex — the finest carrier in the world — was launched. Essex was the first of 24 such state-of-the-art fleet carriers of its class to be built during the war.

Vinson died in 1981, but lived long enough to see his grand-nephew, Sam Nunn, elected to the U.S. Senate.


Ever the social media aficionado, state Sen. Josh McKoon, R-Columbus, christened his legislative proposal to overhaul special election rules with a Facebook Live video of him signing the measure and handing it to Senate officials.

His measure would change what he called an "unjust quirk" in the Georgia code that led to Tuesday's all-Democratic runoff for a state Senate seat in Buckhead that had been held by Republicans.

The measure by McKoon, a GOP candidate for secretary of state, would require both parties to nominate their own candidates in special elections. He said it was "incredibly unfair" that two Democrats ended up as the finalists, even though Republicans narrowly outvoted Democrats overall. That's because GOP voters scattered their support among five candidates in the first round of votes.

McKoon's proposal also includes another substantial change: It would require all jurisdictions to close the polls at the same time. Georgia law now requires Atlanta's polls to be closed at 8 p.m., while other polls across the state typically close at 7 p.m. Watch McKoon's video here. (GB)


U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Atlanta, stood alone as the only Georgia Democrat to vote to impeach President Donald Trump on Wednesday. The 16-term Atlanta congressman joined 57 other House Democrats in backing removal proceedings. “I think you have to send a signal,” Lewis said. “You have to send a sign that it’s time for him to go.”

Sanford Bishop, David Scott and Hank Johnson, meanwhile, voted with the majority of their Democratic colleagues against impeachment. A spokesman for Bishop said removal proceedings would be “premature” given the Russia probe being led by special counsel Robert Mueller and related congressional investigations. Ditto for Johnson. (Tamar Hallerman)


Speaking of Lewis, the Atlanta congressman said Mary Norwood should get a recount in the Atlanta mayoral contest if she believes one is warranted. “If she feels like there’s reason for her to get a recount, then she should get a recount,” he said Wednesday. Norwood is hoping soon-to-be-tallied provisional and overseas ballots will help cover her 700-odd vote deficit, but that outcome looks exceedingly unlikely. Lewis has stayed out of the mayoral race – he didn’t endorse Norwood, Keisha Lance Bottoms or any others on the smorgasbord of candidates who ran earlier this year – but said he would be happy to work with the winner of the race. “It’s the right thing to do,” he said. (TH)


Sanford Bishop, meanwhile, was one of only six House Democrats to vote to pass a bill that would grant permit holders the right to carry concealed weapons in states other than their own. The rest of the delegation fell along party lines. (TH)


Two more Georgia judicial nominees will be coming through the pipeline on Capitol Hill next week. The Senate Judiciary Committee said it would hold confirmation hearings for Elizabeth Branch, whom President Trump tapped for the powerful Atlanta-based Eleventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and R. Stan Baker to be a Brunswick-based U.S. district judge next week. Other Georgia judicial picks have advanced through the same committee but gotten caught in a larger judicial pileup on the Senate floor as Democrats slow-walk many of Trump’s nominees. (TH)

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About the Author

Jim Galloway is a three-decade veteran of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution who writes the Political Insider blog and column.