Political Insider

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

The Jolt: A Democrat loses a billboard fight in Forsyth County


Steve Smith is a Democrat in what might be called a challenging climate. He’s running against Republican Greg Dolezal for the District 27 seat in the state Senate being vacated by Michael Williams, the unsuccessful GOP candidate for governor.

The district is based in Forsyth County, which means Smith will be lucky to see even the foam from any November blue wave. Nonetheless, he persists. And has even tried to purchase space on a digital billboard in the county, on which he has seen Dolezal and other GOP candidates emblazoned. Here’s what Smith posted on Daily Kos:

“I contacted Blip Billboards and was told that they approved my ad but that the owner of the billboard rejected it. The reason given was that the owner of that billboard didn't accept political ads, which was strange considering all of the Republican ads on the board.

“Blip told me that the billboard was owned by Diamond Outdoor and a Google search found that Diamond Outdoor is operated by Revelation Outdoor Management, whose CEO is Morgan Hudgens, whose father is Ralph T Hudgens, our state's Republican Insurance Commissioner.

“I guess I shouldn't be surprised that a right wing billboard owner whose father is an elected Republican official would refuse the business of a Democratic candidate for office, but that is just not right.”

Trust us -- this has happened before.

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State Sen. Josh McKoon, R-Columbus, has been named executive director of the Georgia chapter of the Faith and Freedom Coalition. The position will allow him to continue his support of “religious liberty” legislation after leaving the Legislature. McKoon lost a GOP primary contest for secretary of state in May.

The job is a part-time one, which will allow McKoon to continue to practice law. He sent us a note last night:

“I am thrilled to be joining the Georgia chapter of the Faith and Freedom Coalition as executive director to build on the phenomenal work of Dave Baker. This role will allow me to continue to speak out on issues I am passionate about while building a strong grassroots coalition of people of faith across Georgia. I am grateful to Virginia Galloway, Robert Barker, and the Georgia FFC Board for giving me this opportunity.”

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The Georgia Association of Educators will endorse Democrat Stacey Abrams in the race for governor this morning. We suspect this decision has been long in the making, given her promise back in June to go to war against “public school privatization.”

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The Atlanta-based center bearing the name of former President Jimmy Carter has monitored dozens of contested across the world, which makes its founder something of an expert on election integrity.

On Tuesday, while campaigning with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams in Plains, Carter had sharp words about the ongoing debate in Georgia over the need for voting machines with paper trails. A U.S. District judge on Monday declined to require the state to abandon its current voting machines -- which have no such back-up -- in the run-up to the November election.

Carter said when advising democracies, “one of the things we insist on over there is an electronic system for immediate returns and also a paper ballot so we can check the integrity.”

Then he added an overall indictment against what he described as nationwide efforts to suppress the vote:

“You know, only 64 percent of people in America are even registered to vote. Because Republicans in Georgia and in North Carolina and in other places have done all they could to prevent people from voting by having very strange and hard-to-penetrate ID capabilities.”

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The U.S. Senate on Tuesday cleared a massive $855 billion government spending plan that would fund the Pentagon and departments of Labor, Education and Health and Human Services through next fall. The final vote tally was 93-7. One of those “no” votes came from Georgia’s David Perdue.

The spending package included plenty of perks for Georgia, as Perdue’s GOP colleague Johnny Isakson touted in a press release, such as $8 billion in fresh funding for the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a pay raise for the troops and language requiring an investigation into high levels of lead detected in some military housing, including at Fort Benning.

Perdue said he was upset that the legislation included stopgap spending plans for several federal agencies, including the departments of Justice and Homeland Security, after senators cancelled their August recess to work on appropriations bills. (Funding those agencies with a stopgap delays a shutdown showdown over Trump’s border wall right before the midterm elections, which some GOP lawmakers have sought to avoid.)

“We still have time to get the border security issue done and to work out the differences on the” other spending measures, Perdue said in an interview. “What we’ve done is we’ve used another release valve.”

He acknowledged the spending bill had many benefits for Georgia but that the same priorities could have been funded had both chambers of Congress ironed out their differences on time. “I come from the real world, where a fiscal year end is a really big deal.”

Perdue, a member of a bipartisan group seeking to overhaul the budget process, said he spoke with President Donald Trump on Monday evening about his concerns with the stopgap and the need to rewrite Capitol Hill’s budget rules.

The House must pass the legislation by Sept. 30 to avoid a partial government shutdown.

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Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux is stepping up her attacks against U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall, R-Lawrenceville, on one of the core issues of her campaign. The Georgia State University professor hosted a press conference yesterday in which she assailed the four-term congressman for voting repeatedly to repeal Obamacare.

Echoing comments from a recent candidate forum, she argued Woodall “has done nothing to defend people with preexisting conditions, even in the face of this life or death threat.”

Woodall rejected the idea that supporting Obamacare was the only way to protect people with preexisting conditions. “I supported a plan in the House to protect all families with pre-existing conditions and couldn't get a single Democratic vote,” he said Tuesday. “This is about liberal Democrats and their pursuit of socialized medicine.”

Last night, we asked Woodall’s spokesman to point us to the legislation cited by the congressman, but had not heard back as of this morning.

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We told you the other day about Everytown for Gun Safety’s new eight-figure investment backing Democratic candidates in four states, including Sixth District congressional challenger Lucy McBath.

Which has allowed Republican incumbent Karen Handel of Roswell to play the they-ain’t-from-around-here card. The language in a fundraising email:

“Friend, if we don’t stand up now, these outside influencers will NEVER stop meddling in our elections,” Handel’s campaign argued.

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