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The Jolt: Georgia officials praise Supreme Court pick as GOP braces for epic fight


It’s not exactly a surprise, but Georgia’s two U.S. senators appear to be firmly in the White House’s corner in what’s bound to be a vitriolic and expensive Supreme Court fight for the ages.

Johnny Isakson and David Perdue sat feet from President Donald Trump on Monday evening as he announced his intent to nominate Brett Kavanaugh to replace Anthony Kennedy on the high court. Within minutes of the East Room rollout came press releases from both offices touting the record of the former George W. Bush administration official and D.C. Court of Appeals judge.

“Throughout his remarkable legal career, Brett Kavanaugh has shown a commitment to upholding our country’s Constitution,” Perdue said.

“I congratulate Judge Kavanaugh, who is a talented and experienced jurist, on his nomination to our nation’s highest court,” said Isakson.

The two Republicans were never viewed as potential swing votes, but their support will still be very much needed by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as he looks to confirm Kavanaugh before the Court’s new term in October. The GOP holds a fragile 51-seat majority in the Senate, and with John McCain absent as he battles brain cancer any dissent could be lethal.

Even though Isakson and Perdue appear inclined to support Kavanaugh, they are being pressured by left-leaning groups to oppose his nomination.

The Georgia arm of the abortion rights group NARAL Pro-Choice America urged the pair to reject Kavanaugh and “stand up and protect women and families in state of Georgia, and across the country.”

Indeed, the resistance to Trump’s high court pick began to build even before Kavanaugh’s name was announced. By Monday afternoon a coalition of left-leaning groups announced plans to picket Perdue’s Atlanta office to “put the pressure” on him and Isakson "to oppose any nominee who would criminalize abortion, roll back health care, decimate civil rights, or attack workers, the environment, and the rule of law." Officials from local chapters of Planned Parenthood and the NAACP plan to speak.

“Time and again, we have seen Isakson and Perdue rubber stamp Trump’s policies," said Caroline Stover, one of the event's organizers. "As Georgians and as Americans, we will continue to raise our voices and demand that our elected officials listen to all of their constituents and not just the demands of conservative lobbying groups.”

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It may be the Senate that advises and consents on presidential nominees, but that didn’t stop other Georgia officials from weighing in on Trump’s Supreme Court pick. Republican U.S. Reps. Drew Ferguson, Karen Handel, Austin Scott and Doug Collins were all quick to tweet statements of support. Ditto for GOP gubernatorial candidates Casey Cagle and Brian Kemp. 

Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Lithonia, urged the Senate to defer confirmation votes on any Supreme Court nominee until after the midterm elections. “We must allow the American people to speak at the ballot box first," he tweeted. 

Looks like McConnell won’t be heeding that call, to put it mildly. 

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A side note: Georgia Supreme Court Justice Britt Grant, who is now awaiting confirmation to the 11th Circuit, was a clerk for Kavanaugh. 

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We’ve reached a point of no return in the GOP race for governor: Dueling calls for federal prosecution, intense scraps between surrogates and biting language from the candidates. 

And now, a claim from Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle that Secretary of State Brian Kemp lobbed a “sexist attack” against one of his supporters.

He’s referring to Kemp spokesman Ryan Mahoney’s response to state Sen. Renee Unterman, who called on federal prosecutors to investigate whether he failed to take action against the owner of a massage parlor who backed his campaign. 

Mahoney called Unterman “mentally unstable” and said she hoped he would seek “immediate medical attention before she hurts herself or someone else.” 

Cagle slammed Kemp on Twitter for the critique of a “strong Republican women supporting my campaign.” 

“These comments are offensive, inappropriate and way over the line. Brian Kemp should apologize to all women,” Cagle said.

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The president of the political action committee EMILY’s List will be swinging through Atlanta this weekend to bolster two first-time congressional challengers. Stephanie Schriock will be in town to fundraise and launch canvassing operations for gun control advocate Lucy McBath and college professor Carolyn Bourdeaux. Both women are locked in runoffs this month to respectively take on U.S. Reps. Karen Handel and Rob Woodall in the 6th and 7th congressional districts. The group, which aims to elect Democratic women in favor of abortion rights, previously endorsed both candidates.

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In endorsement news, McBath on Monday picked up the support of the Congressional Black Caucus PAC. U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y., the group’s chairman, cited McBath’s stances on gun control and health care in his endorsement.

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Kavanaugh isn’t the only Trump nominee in the spotlight today. Isakson’s Senate Veterans Affairs Committee is slated to advance the nomination of Robert Wilkie, the president’s pick to helm the long-troubled VA department.

Wilkie appears to be a no-drama pick, especially when compared to predecessor Ronny Jackson. Both Isakson and his Democratic colleague, Jon Tester of Montana, have already announced their support.

 

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