Political Insider

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

The Jolt: Oh, the possibilities that accompany Mike Pence to Savannah on St. Patrick’s Day

Several news outlets in Savannah report that Vice President Mike Pence will participate in the St. Patrick’s Day parade and celebration on Saturday.

He won’t be the only politician attending. Virtually every statewide name on the GOP and Democratic primary ballots will be on hand, too.

But it is the vice president, who will be a very sober fellow on a day that can be somewhat inebriating, who offers the most imaginative possibilities.

Savannah is famous for its St. Patrick’s Day festivities, which is routinely said to be one of the largest in the nation. Yet the city also boasts a thriving drag queen scene, and the two have been known to mix.

One can’t help but think that a dozen versions of Stormy Daniels will be on the hunt for selfies with the vice president.


Speaking of Savannah: Girl Scouts were in the state Capitol on Monday to celebrate “National Girl Scout Day” and make one more push to replace the name of segregationist Gov. Eugene Talmadge on the city’s largest suspension bridge to that of their founder, Juliette Gordon Low.

Alas, to paraphrase the late Gov. Marvin Griffin, some of the lawmakers who ate their Thin Mints didn’t vote for them. The Low Bridge measure, sponsored by state Rep. Ron Stephens, R-Savannah, failed to meet the Crossover Day deadline and so is done for the year.

But it may be even deader than that. Road and bridge namings are so common that they are all wrapped into a single package, to be carried by the poor sap who files the first one. This year, that happened to be state Rep. Tom McCall, R-Elberton.

Another tradition: That road-and-bridge package is quickly passed, unanimously, regardless of its contents.

That didn’t happen this Crossover Day. Twenty-one Democrats, angered by the lack of action on the Savannah bridge, voted against HR 444. Not Democratic veterans like state Reps. Calvin Smyre and Mary Margaret Oliver, but newbies.

That’s considered bad form. And will make it even harder for Girl Scouts to get their way in the future.


If you live in middle or south Georgia, and suspect that Warner Robins and Moody air force bases have all but disappeared from view, Defense News magazine has found the reason:

WASHINGTON — The Air Force is slashing access to media embeds, base visits and interviews as it seeks to put the entire public affairs apparatus through retraining — a move it says is necessary for operational security, but one which could lead to a broader freeze in how the service interacts with the public.

According to March 1 guidance obtained by Defense News, public affairs officials and commanders down to the wing level must go through new training on how to avoid divulging sensitive information before being allowed to interact with the press.

The effort, which represents the third major Defense Department entity to push out guidance restricting public communication over the past 18 months, creates a massive information bureaucracy in which even the most benign human-interest stories must be cleared at the four-star command level.

Former U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn sees President Donald Trump’s surprise decision to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jon Un as one that was “rather prompt and without preparation.”

But now that the die has been cast, the Democrat thinks some good could come from the talks. “We have certainly a risk … of failure, there’s no doubt about that,” the former chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee told Denis O’Hayer of WABE (90.1FM) on Monday. “As I weigh the situation, given where we were and the dangers we already had, I think the added promise here, the added potential, exceeds the added peril.”

Nunn stepped down last year as CEO of the Nuclear Threat Initiative but is co-chairman of the anti-proliferation group. Nunn also said that Trump needs to buck his urge to operate as a lone ranger and instead “plug into his own government. He has some skillful people and needs to listen to them,” said Nunn, referring to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson -- not knowing that Tillerson, whom Nunn introduced at a Senate confirmation hearing, had already been asked by Trump to resign.

Nunn’s comments came a day after former President Jimmy Carter voiced his support for Trump’s decision to meet with Kim Jong Un.


Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle took 68 trips over the last five years at a cost to taxpayers of more than $250,000, according to a WSB-TV investigation.

The WSB investigation also showed that Cagle had the pilot fly to his hometown of Gainesville 37 times to pick him up rather than a metro Atlanta airport. 

Cagle, the GOP frontrunner for governor, said his office books the trips and that he tries to be a “very good steward to the taxpayer.” He said his flight record should not be compared to his rival, Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who took nine trips over five years for about $36,000. 

“Obviously, you can’t compare the office of secretary of state to the office of lieutenant governor or the governor or the speaker of the House for that matter,” he said, asserting that Kemp’s role is an administrative one and that being a lieutenant governor is “far more taxing.”

Kemp said he prefers to drive his green Suburban rather than taxpayer-funded air travel.

“Anyone who abuses this privilege for personal or political purposes should be punished and forced to repay Georgia taxpayers,” he added.


More than two dozen Democratic candidates running for state, federal and local office wrote to Gov. Nathan Deal on Monday, requesting that he replace the state’s electronic voting machines with a paper system before this fall’s midterm elections. The group said the Legislature’s 2020 timeline for replacing the state’s 27,000 voting machines is concerning and that the transition “can and needs to be done quickly.”

“Georgia currently has a reserve of over $2 billion. There is no reason to think that the state cannot afford the $35 million it would cost to implement hand-marked ballots and protect the integrity of the vote,” the letter states. Have a look at the signatures here:

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