Political Insider

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The Jolt: In the governor’s race, it’s all offense -- and no defense


There’s a sharp trend emerging in the Georgia race for governor. One candidate hits another candidate, and the other candidate swipes back on another topic -- while refusing to address the first attack at all costs. 

Even if they have a perfectly good answer to the first attack in their pocket.

Let’s take this week as an example. Republican Brian Kemp and the Georgia GOP assailed Democrat Stacey Abrams over her vote against a new sex offender crackdown in 2008.

We know why she opposed the measure. She and other critics penned a four-page minority report that predicted it would be struck down by the courts. 

She was vindicated by history: The law had to be dramatically scaled back after a series of court battles. But you didn’t hear that from Abrams’ campaign, which refused to publicly comment on her no-vote -- and instead simply issued a canned statement calling the attack a “blatant attempt to mislead Georgians.”

It’s a strategy predicated on message control -- a single-minded focus not to be knocked astray. 

Kemp’s done much the same thing. 

He’s been pilloried by Georgia Democrats all week for a refusal to articulate an in-depth healthcare strategy beyond his opposition to Medicaid expansion. On Tuesday, the state Democratic party issued a release mocking the paucity

We’re told the Republican has a detailed plan at the ready, with plans to soon unveil it. But Kemp’s in no rush to speed up the timeline. His public message Tuesday centered on the sex offender vote, ending with a final barb: “Abrams is too extreme for Georgia.”

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That 2008 measure we mentioned above was House Bill 908, authored by a certain state Rep. David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge. It barred sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of a host of locations, from school bus stops to community swimming pools. Sara Totonchi, executive director of the Southern Center for Human Rights, happened to have a copy of the minority committee report on the legislation. Click here to read it, or poke through it below:

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From his D.C. office, Jamie Dupree of WSB Radio says the coming storm is already having a political impact:

The threat of Hurricane Florence to the east coast of the United States has forced President Donald Trump to curtail his campaign plans for this week. The president scrapped campaign rallies planned for Missouri on Thursday night and Mississippi on Friday night. Trump on Tuesday told reporters he is confident that authorities will be able to deliver aid to those in need, as the storm takes aim at the Carolinas. Remember, everything is political – even a hurricane. Especially the aftermath of a hurricane.

So far, the Congress is not canceling its work due to the threat of Hurricane Florence, though one hearing was scrapped for later this week. An oversight hearing on how the feds handled the 2017 hurricane season was postponed indefinitely.

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Lucy McBath’s Sixth District challenge to U.S. Rep. Karen Handel, R-Roswell, has kept the Democrat moving. But McBath will be out and about for a much different reason in the weeks ahead: A book tour. McBath’s new memoir, “Standing Our Ground,” hit bookstores yesterday, and the first-time candidate has lined up several appearances on cable news and elsewhere to promote the title, along with an appearance at a Washington, D.C., bookstore on Thursday.

A blurb from publisher Simon & Schuster promises a “riveting memoir of a mother’s loss and call to action, as well as a faith-based exploration of how the nation’s gun laws put a deadly target on American lives.”

McBath, you may remember, became involved in politics after her teenage son was shot dead during a dispute over loud music. The blurb also includes words of praise from former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, whom Handel slammed in a recent campaign attack, and the writer Ta-Nehisi Coats. (You’ll recall that McBath campaigned for Clinton in the ‘16 contest.)

McBath’s campaign said the book was more than a year in the making.

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In Washington, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee is looking to interview Georgia lawyer and former acting attorney general Sally Yates as part of his inquiry into how the Justice Department handled its probes of the Trump presidential campaign and the Hillary Clinton email scandal. Yates is one of several former DOJ officials, including Loretta Lynch and James Comey, who U.S. Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., is looking to question in the weeks ahead, and he vowed to subpoena them if they didn’t appear voluntarily. "We will persist to get the truth out, no matter what," Goodlatte said in a recent Fox News appearance.

House Republican lawmakers are looking to discredit the DOJ’s early actions that helped pave the way for Bob Mueller’s investigation. Democrats have slammed their GOP counterparts for undermining public trust in the department in a bid to protect the president.

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