Political Insider

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

The Jolt: A Confederate emphasis turns Virginia race for governor into a toss-up


With an election only seven days away, Democrat Ralph Northam’s lead has narrowed to five percentage points in the Virginia governor’s race, with Republican Ed Gillespie consolidating support among conservatives and supporters of President Trump, a new Washington Post-Schar School poll indicates:

Northam, the state’s lieutenant governor, leads among likely voters 49 percent to Gillespie’s 44 percent, a margin that is not statistically significant. The Democrat was up by 13 points in a Post poll earlier this month. Libertarian Cliff Hyra is at 4 percent, enough to play spoiler if the race remains tight through Tuesday.

As we’ve said before, this post-Charlottesville campaign – with its emphasis on Confederate symbolism -- could have a major impact on what Georgians see in their gubernatorial contest next year.

Gillespie has carefully sided with those opposed to the removal of Confederate iconography in the state – but as a matter of priority rather than ideology. “I think the statues should stay up, and we should focus on good jobs, improving our schools and making us safer,” Gillespie says in a TV ad launched earlier this month.

Democratic groups have reacted to Gillespie’s climb. The Latino Victory Fund has Republicans howling with a new and unprecedented, minute-long video featuring a group of children of color being chased down by a white male in a pick-up truck.  A Confederate battle emblem is flying from the truck’s bed, and a Gillespie bumper sticker is clearly visible:

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The State newspaper in South Carolina reports that a Georgia man identified as Jason Kenneth Bell, who allegedly called Tim Scott’s Washington office nearly a dozen times the week of Oct. 23, has been arrested for threatening to kill the U.S. senator:

According to an official filing with the U.S. District Court for the middle district of Georgia, Bell called to express his disapproval with Scott’s recent condemnation of President Donald Trump’s statements after the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., in August.

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Candidates in the race for mayor of Atlanta, and their friends, are making near-final moves in a contest that’s now only seven days away.

Councilwoman Keisha Lance Bottoms has a new 30-second radio spot aimed at African-American voters. The first few lines: For mayor, it’s shaping up to be a two-person race between Republican Mary Norwood and the front-runner in our community, Democrat Keisha Lance Bottoms.”

Norwood describes herself as an independent, not a Republican. Listen to the ad here:

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This morning, John Eaves goes before the Fulton County Commission, which he once chaired, to complain about the state’s decision to reject the county’s tax digest – which freezes property taxes at 2016 values. From our AJC colleague Arielle Kass:

The uncertainty about when tax bills may be sent, and what money could come in when they are, is stressful to governments and residents alike. Fulton County Schools officials called the Department of Revenue’s decision “a severe blow” to its ability to pay bills and employees in the coming weeks.

According to his prepared remarks, Eaves said he’s not the one to blame:

“When teachers don’t get their paycheck due just before Christmas they can lay the blame at the doorstep of the Georgia Department of Revenue and its Commissioner Lynne Riley.

“It was Riley’s team and Department that gave Fulton County the ‘green light’ to freeze property assessments at 2016 levels to provide real tax relief to homeowners who saw property-tax assessments (and as a result tax bills) skyrocket due to errors in the County’s Tax Digest.”

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The TV ad is called "Steal," and it repeats that word repeatedly throughout the 30-second spot. It's an independent expenditure for Vincent Fort's mayoral campaign, funded by a group called the Committee for a Fair Progressive Atlanta that's financed by union groups and former Gov. Roy Barnes. Watch it here. (Greg Bluestein)

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Atlanta mayoral candidate Cathy Woolard is warning that voter confusion is likely next Tuesday, given the fact that Atlanta-in-DeKalb and Atlanta-in-Fulton may – or may not -- have different hours of voting.

The city of Atlanta states that polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., but the secretary of state’s office lists the hours as 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. DeKalb County doesn’t list Election Day voting hours on its website, but a county official said polls would be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

“It’s troubling that seven days out, it isn’t crystal clear to voters when they can vote. There’s absolutely no excuse for inaccurate or inconsistent information coming out from official sources,” Woolard said.

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We told you some time ago that Sally Yates, the former acting U.S. attorney fired by President Donald Trump, had accepted a temporary gig at the Georgetown University school of law. She gives her first lecture today, on criminal justice reform. The presentation will be livestreamed at www.facebook.com/georgetownlaw.

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Democrat Jen Jordan has picked up more big-name liberal support. Days after Jon Ossoff endorsed her campaign for an open state Senate seat, the Daily Kos advocacy group backed her campaign. That's the same organization that helped propel Ossoff's campaign to new fundraising heights, and has also rallied behind Stacey Abrams for governor. (GB)

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Former Coweta County congressman Lynn Westmoreland was back on Capitol Hill yesterday for his Senate confirmation hearing to be a director on Amtrak’s board. The Republican, who retired earlier this year after 12 years in Congress, was introduced by U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, and we hear the Q&A was pretty tame. He was asked a few questions on his past votes on transportation bills and addressing safety issues on the country’s rail system. You can read his testimony here and watch the hearing here. (TH)

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One of Westmoreland’s former colleagues, retired U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, makes a few appearances in this engrossing Politico Magazine profile of his merlot-sipping bestie John Boehner. Worth the read. (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.