Political Insider

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The Jolt: David Perdue says Democrats out to ‘steal’ race for secretary of state


Welcome to Runoff Day, which is something like Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Festivus rolled into a single, united celebration of peace and harmony.

For this is the day the robocalls stop.

U.S. Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., sent out his recorded message last night, at 10:30 p.m. or so, on behalf of Brad Raffensperger, the state House member running against former congressman John Barrow, the Democrat, for secretary of state. Said Perdue:

“Make no mistake about it. Liberal Democrats outside of Georgia are spending millions of dollars to steal this race. If they win, we’ll see more frivolous lawsuits to overturn solid elections in our state.”

A little fact-checking is in order. In addition to the Raffensperger-Barrow contest, we also have a statewide runoff for a seat on the state Public Service Commission, between Democrat Lindy Miller and GOP incumbent Chuck Eaton.

According to our AJC colleague James Salzer, both Democrats have outraised their Republican opponents, but not in the way Senator Perdue describes.

Barrow has raised just over $1 million for the runoff weeks, about one-third of which came from outside Georgia. Raffensperger’s campaign is in the hole for about that same amount. Most of the debt consist of personal loans from the candidate.

The only outside entity that has spent $1 million in either contest is Nuclear Matters, a pro-nuclear power group backing Eaton, the Republican, in his bid for re-election to the PSC. Eaton’s campaign has raised $184,000 for the runoff, compared to $400,000 gathered up by Miller, the Democrat.

Speaking of Eaton, Gov. Nathan Deal also voiced a robo-call for the Republican. The message: “We simply can’t allow Georgia to stall or go in the wrong direction.”

On the other side, a robo-call from former gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, paid for by the state Democratic party, gave mention to Miller and her PSC race, but the emphasis was on the race for secretary of state. Said Abrams:

“Voter suppression is nothing new. The other side thinks we’ve given up, that because I didn’t win, we won’t come back out. Let’s prove them wrong. John Barrow’s top priority is stopping voter suppression in Georgia.”

On Monday, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., a potential 2020 presidential candidate, also weighed in behalf of Barrow and the race for secretary of state – but via Twitter.

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More on the runoff for that PSC seat: Jon Ossoff, the former Democratic candidate for Congress, on Monday penned a lengthy op-ed in The Guardian newspaper, criticizing the $1 million that Nuclear Matters has spent in support of Republican incumbent Chuck Eaton.

Eaton is a backer of Georgia Power’s Plant Vogtle project and the utility has deep ties to the group. From Ossoff’s piece:

The Southern Company’s dominance of Georgia’s PSC is what policy nerds call “regulatory capture”. With a relatively modest investment of millions, this multibillion-dollar industry is attempting to buy a seat on the public body that regulates it, even though Georgia law nominally forbids regulated entities from funding candidates for regulatory offices.

This money, like so much political spending, is laundered through a series of lobby groups and “non-profits” to obscure its origins and the agenda behind it. Dark money political spending, which is meant to mislead the public and serves only the interests of concentrated corporate power, should be banned by Congress and state legislatures.

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Even if John Barrow should defeat Republican Brad Raffensperger in today’s runoff for secretary of state, the Democrat could face a great deal of push-back from a GOP-controlled state Legislature. Consider what’s happening in Wisconsin, where voters chose a Democratic governor last month.

Republicans in charge of the Legislature are intent on curtailing his powers, according to the New York Times:

The long list of proposals Republicans want to consider also includes wide efforts to shore up their strength before Tony Evers, the Democrat who beat Gov. Scott Walker last month, takes office: new limits on early voting, a shift in the timing of the 2020 presidential primary in Wisconsin, and new authority for lawmakers on state litigation. The Republican plan would also slash the power of the incoming attorney general, who is also a Democrat.

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Grayson City Councilman Bob Foreman had a blunt take on the runoff in the newsletter he sent to constituents. Wrote Foreman:

“If you have no idea who is running or know nothing about the candidates, I suggest you either educate yourself or DON’T VOTE. Thanks.” 

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According to Agri-Pulsea farm-oriented newsletter, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue indicated Monday that he would recommend President Donald Trump sign a new farm bill that congressional negotiators have agreed on, even if it wouldn’t tighten work requirements for the food-assistance program known as SNAP.

A vote on the measure has been delayed by memorial services for the late President George H.W. Bush.

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One of those voting for the farm bill will be U.S. Rep. David Scott, D-Atlanta. The measure contains set-aside cash for one of his biggest political priorities -- an agriculture scholarship for 19 historically black colleges and universities. Keen readers of our blog may remember the Democrat’s blistering condemnation of House Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway and a “racist” farm bill on the House floor back in May because it omitted $95 million in funding for the program.

Scott eventually teamed up with U.S. Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, who was able to slip funding for the program into that chamber’s version of the farm bill. Now Scott says the money has made it into the final House-Senate compromise.

“The money’s in the bill. The language is in the bill,” Scott told one of your Insiders after a tentative agreement was announced on the legislation. Should the bill pass, it would translate into $1 million a year for each of the HBCU land grant universities, including Georgia’s Fort Valley State, for five years.

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One reason why subpoena power is a big deal: The incoming chair of the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform told the Huffington Post that he’s interested in calling Gov.-elect Brian Kemp to testify about voter suppression claims. U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., said he wants Kemp to “explain to us why is it fair for wanting to be secretary of state and be running [for governor].”

Cummings also said he would be open to exploring ballot access allegations involving Kansas and North Carolina

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U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., paid tribute to President George H.W. Bush’s legacy on GPB Radio’s “Political Rewind” on Monday afternoon. Isakson, who was on the way to a memorial service for the president in the Capitol Rotunda, told anecdotes about meeting George and Barbara Bush for tea ahead of announcing his bid for governor in 1990, as well as a fundraising trip the first lady did for Isakson closer to the election.

Isakson praised the 41st president for his compassion and said Georgia Republicans could learn from some of the qualities Bush exuded.

“George Bush was the kind of man I aspire to hopefully one day be referred to in the same sentence,” he said. “I would tell anybody who aspires to run for public office if you follow his life and his career and look at the way he handled himself and adversity in different situations you’d see the right way to do it, not the wrong way to do it.”

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Over at the Daily Report, Robin McDonald sat in on a Monday address to the local chapter of the Federalist Society by Atlanta attorney Stefan Passantino, who just finished a difficult stint as ethics czar in President Donald Trump’s White House. A taste:

“This administration came in with the understanding that we are here to overturn the apple cart,” he said. “Our job is to not accept norms for the way things are being done. Our job is to take a critical [look] at everything. … And we do not want anything or anyone to standing the way.”

“That would be exactly, diametrically opposed to my mandate,” Passantino said.

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