Political Insider

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

The Jolt: It’s dirty-trick time in the Atlanta mayor’s race


Independent hands have begun to show themselves in the Atlanta mayoral contest. Some fairly and above board, and some not.

Two of the three initiatives specifically attack Councilwoman Keisha Lance Bottoms, who may now be the odds-on favorite to make a Dec. 5 runoff with Councilwoman Mary Norwood.

The most elaborate – some would say slimy – is of the “let’s you and him fight” variety. It targets not only Bottoms, but former Fulton County Commission chair John Eaves as well.

The above flyer, which hit mailboxes on Wednesday, alleges that Bottoms, who has been endorsed by Mayor Kasim Reed, “has been handpicked to run for mayor by the same group of corrupt City Hall developers and vendors who have made millions off lucrative government contracts."

The mail piece has a return address of “Supporters of John Eaves” on Monroe Drive. Next to a check mark is this language: “John is the chairman of the Fulton County Commission. John has run an administration free of scandal….”

We contacted Eaves last night. He denied that the mail piece is his.  Verna Jennings Cleveland, the Eaves campaign manager, sent over this statement:

“The Eaves For Atlanta campaign did not distribute the “How to Get Away With Corruption piece of literature. All of our literature includes Eaves For Atlanta/John Eaves For Mayor, our website (EavesForAtlanta.com) and our full mailing address. Furthermore, we obviously know that he is no longer chairman of the Fulton County Commission.”

Eaves resigned from that position in August.

More overtly, a group calling itself the Georgia New Guard has lined itself up against Bottoms – principally on the issue of housing. From its website:

There are close to 15,000 vacant homes and buildings in the City of Atlanta. These properties breed crime, decrease property values, and keep an area from revitalizing. Keisha Lance-Bottoms has done very little during her time as a Councilmember to craft innovative solutions to addressing the issue of vacant homes.

One of the New Guard’s principals is Alan Holmes, who currently serves as a member of the city’s code enforcement commission.

Another flyer that has begun making appearances has its roots in the “black slate” literature of the past. We know not who is behind it, but it is allegedly the work of the “Coalition for Your Own Self Interest.”

It calls for a “strong” black mayor, a black chairman of the Fulton County Commission, an end to gentrification and – this is a new twist – “a black statue next to every Confederate statue.” Here 'tis:

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This is likely to reverberate in the 2018 race for governor. From the Associated Press:

A computer server crucial to a lawsuit against Georgia election officials was quietly wiped clean by its custodians just after the suit was filed, The Associated Press has learned.

The server’s data was destroyed July 7 by technicians at the Center for Elections Systems at Kennesaw State University, which runs the state’s election system. The data wipe was revealed in an email — sent last week from an assistant state attorney general to plaintiffs in the case — that was obtained by the AP. More emails obtained in a public records request confirmed the wipe...

The Kennesaw election center answers to Georgia’s secretary of state, Brian Kemp, a Republican who is running for governor in 2018 and is the main defendant in the suit. A spokeswoman for the secretary of state’s office said Wednesday that “we did not have anything to do with this decision,” adding that the office also had no advance warning of the move.

The center’s director, Michael Barnes, referred questions to the university’s press office, which declined comment.

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Your cable news story of the day: The Washington Post reports that forces aligned with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., are out to neutralize former White House strategist Steve Bannon and his declared war against the GOP establishment:

More than a year ahead of the 2018 congressional contests, a ­super PAC aligned with McConnell (R-Ky.) revealed plans to attack Bannon personally as it works to protect GOP incumbents facing uphill primary fights. The effort reflects the growing concern of Republican lawmakers over the rise of anti-establishment forces and comes amid escalating frustration over President Trump’s conduct, which has prompted a handful of lawmakers to publicly criticize the president.

Yet the retaliatory crusade does not aim to target Trump, whose popularity remains high among Republican voters. Instead, the McConnell-allied Senate Leadership Fund (SLF) will highlight Bannon’s hard-line populism and attempt to link him to white nationalism to discredit him and the candidates he will support.

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Looking for a sign that Gov. Nathan Deal's warnings that “religious liberty” legislation could jeopardize the state's bid for a new Amazon headquarters have already influenced state legislative races? At a GOP state Senate forum held Wednesday evening, three of the four candidates vying to replace Hunter Hill in his swingy Atlanta-based District 6 stood by Deal’s veto of the measure in 2016.

The lone supporter in the group was Leo Smith, the former Georgia GOP minority outreach guru, who said he would support a RFRA bill that “doesn’t discriminate against Christians or Muslims, either.” Recall that Hill, who is running for governor, was among the leading supporters of the contentious measure – and pledged that he would sign it if elected. (Greg Bluestein)

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At the same forum, all four Republican candidates - Leah Aldridge, Kathy Eichenblatt, Charlie Fiveash and Smith - said they personally oppose casino gambling but would support a measure that would allow local communities to hold referendums on whether to legalize it. (GB)

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The state Public Service Commission must decide in February whether construction of two new nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle should continue. Two of its members are up for re-election in 2018. Chairman Stan Wise has already said he won't seek another term. Republican Chuck Eaton already has two Democratic opponents in the wings.

One of them is John Noel,  a former state lawmaker who has turned a rather unusual (and lengthy) campaign video that focuses on his house's elaborate use of solar power and other off-the-grid devices. "> We recommend a look:

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U.S. Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ranger, is defending legislation he authored that some cyber-security experts warn could turn the internet into a Wild West of hacking and vigilantism. The Active Cyber Defense Certainty Act, dubbed the hack-back bill, would permit companies to retaliate against unauthorized parties who have infiltrated their computer networks.

Some security experts, however, warn the legislation would create plenty of new trouble, including companies that would retaliate irresponsibly. Graves has taken to the op-ed pages of The Hill newspaper in response, arguing that his measure would “untie the hands of cyber defenders and spur a new generation of tools and methods to level the lopsided cyber battlefield.” He said there are safeguards in place to protect against irresponsible actions. (Tamar Hallerman)

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Republican Gabriel Sterling has rolled out his first TV ad for his bid to be the next Fulton County commissioner, and it starts and ends with a pledge that he will "prevent property tax increases." In betwixt, it slams Democrat Robb Pitts a time or two. ">Check it out here:

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The Dallas Morning News reports today on an interesting trade tussle that’s currently underway, under the auspices of U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas: Reduction of India-imposed tariffs on pecan imports. Which could have tremendous implications for Georgia. The pecan, a nut native to the New World, faces tariffs three times higher in India than those for almonds or pistachios.


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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.