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The Jolt: Vogtle nuke project results in a GOP nod from Georgia AFL-CIO


Updated: Charlie Flemming, president of the Georgia AFL-CIO, confirmed this morning that the state’s largest labor organization last week decided to split its support when it came to two statewide seats on the Public Service Commission that are up for grabs.

Republican incumbent Chuck Eaton, who faces Democrat Lindy Miller, is the only statewide GOP candidate who won an AFL-CIO endorsement in a vote last Thursday.

Eaton’s continued support for the continued construction of those two new nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle was the reason. Said Flemming:

“[Eaton] has had to take a lot of arrows for some of the votes they’ve taken over there at the PSC, but we’ve said all along that we’re extremely happy to have almost 5,000 workers over there. That’s almost 5,000 union families that are doing okay right now, These are extremely good jobs.”

Republican incumbent Tricia Pridemore, appointed in February to fill the remaining term vacated by Stan Wise, is also running for a full six-year term. In that contest, the AFL-CIO has endorsed Democrat Dawn Randolph.

See the complete list of AFL-CIO endorsements here. 

Flemming said Eaton was the only statewide Republican incumbent who accepted an AFL-CIO invitation to be interviewed for an endorsement. Even so, the union leader acknowledged that the endorsement was an unusual one.

Ben Meyer, a retired IBEW leader, this morning echoed sentiments expressed by Flemming. “We endorse incumbents who support working famlies, and [Eaton] does,” he said.

Here’s where it gets complicated: Meyer is chairman of the Sixth Congressional District Democratic party.

Original: Of the two Republican incumbents on the state Public Service Commission, Chuck Eaton is the most vulnerable.

Unlike Tricia Pridemore, who was appointed to the utility oversight panel in February, Eaton was one of five GOP members who unanimously green-lighted Georgia Power’s plan to continue construction on two new nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle.

Eaton faces Democrat Lindy Miller, a business consultant and co-founder of a renewable energy company, who had raised $700,000 as of mid-summer. That’s a pretty sizeable haul for a down-ticket Democrat, and she’s likely to show a significant increase after Sept. 30.

But Eaton has caught a major break, it appears – tied to the fact that the Vogtle nuclear project is quickly becoming the largest union worksite in the state, possibly in Georgia history. Two significant workers’ organizations have endorsed Eaton, it appears. From the press release:

Harry Murray, president of the Georgia State Building Trades, said Eaton’s has led “in the best interest of Georgia’s energy future and consumers alike.”

“Our organization represents highly skilled workers who are literally building our state’s economy,” Murray said. “Chuck Eaton shares our vision for how we expand our economy and create high-paying jobs for Georgia’s working families, and we want to see him re-elected to continue the important work he’s doing.”

Will Salters, the business manager for IBEW 1579 in Augusta added, “The dignity that comes from having a job is more important than any politics, and Chuck has been about jobs.”

The response from Miller’s campaign:

“From the beginning, my campaign has been committed to all working families and small businesses in Georgia. We will continue to fight for lower bills, better jobs, and an economic future that lifts all Georgians.”

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For the latest example of the contrast between Stacey Abrams and Brian Kemp, look no further than this weekend’s events. 

Abrams visited Atlanta’s DragonCon festival to mingle with authors and take pictures with cosplayers “because nerds vote, too.” Labor Day brought her to union rallies, where she amplified her call for “living wages” for Georgians. 

Kemp spent Saturday at dove hunts in rural Georgia and low-key fundraising receptions elsewhere in the state. His next few days include barbecues and a cattleman’s lunch.

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The New York Times on Sunday weighed in on Republican Brian Kemp’s shift toward the center in Georgia’s race for governor. A taste:

In many Republican primaries, it seemed impossible to be too far right as long as the candidate succeeded in getting President Trump’s endorsement, as Mr. Kemp did. But now, locked in a competitive general election race against the Democrat Stacey Abrams, Mr. Kemp has been trying to gravitate to the center, attempting at least one strategy for surfing the volatile, polarizing energy that permeates the 2018 election season.

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If you’re inclined to go up to the command line on your computer and type “briankemp.com,” the result might surprise you. The Democratic gubernatorial campaign of Stacey Abrams has bought the rights to that domain. The Kemp campaign’s web address is kempforgovernor.com.

The original domain was apparently owned by another Brian Kemp, a public relations strategist in California. We’re told he purchased the domain around 1999 - before the Georgia Kemp’s first run for public office - and redirected it to the Abrams site earlier this year. 

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The Senate’s confirmation hearing for Supreme Court pick Brett Kavanaugh will likely dominate today’s news cycle. But don’t expect Georgia’s Johnny Isakson and David Perdue to be in the middle of the fight. Both Republicans have promised to support the D.C. circuit judge.

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Bloomberg’s editorial board floated a new way to honor Senate heroes on Capitol Hill buildings: renaming the structures every 50 years.

The editorial came days after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell sought to slow debate over a proposal to rename Georgia U.S. Sen. Richard B. Russell’s Capitol Hill namesake in honor of the late John McCain. From the editorial:

A 50-year sunset clause would allow for more new greats to be recognized. Critics will call this an attempt to erase men like Russell from the history books. It needn’t be that — and shouldn’t be that. A statue of him inside the building ought to remain, reminding visitors of his legacy, good and bad. In other buildings, plaques can provide information on their prior names, which can enrich public understanding of history. All names on federal public works should be subject to a similar sunset clause, and states would do well to adopt the same approach. And bear in mind: Congress could always vote to leave things as they are and not change a name.

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In Atlanta, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms this morning will be attempting to dig City Hall out of its current public corruption hole. She’ll unveil a new online web portal intended to open the city’s finances to the public.

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A tale of two Tweets: The first, of course, comes from President Donald Trump:

Two long running, Obama era, investigations of two very popular Republican Congressmen were brought to a well-publicized charge, just ahead of the Mid-Terms, by the Jeff Sessions Justice Department. Two easy wins now in doubt because there is not enough time. Good job Jeff......

Trump didn’t name the congressmen, but apparently was referring to Chris Collins of New York and Duncan Hunter of California, his two earliest congressional endorsers in the 2016 presidential campaign. Collins was indicted for insider trading that occurred after Trump was sworn in as president.

The second Tweet comes from Atlanta’s own Sally Yates, the former acting U.S. attorney general:

Repeatedly trying to pervert DOJ into a weapon to go after his adversaries, and now shamelessly complaining that DOJ should protect his political allies to maintain his majority in the midterms, is nothing short of an all-out assault on the rule of law.

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Jamie Dupree of WSB Radio fame reports that this happened – or didn’t – on Monday:

President Trump was ready to go play golf. His motorcade was in place. The Virginia State Police car was there to lead the way to the Trump golf course across the Potomac River. The White House press pool had been summoned and was in the motorcade. The President came outside. And then he went back in the White House, and everything was called off. No explanation was really given. It was odd.

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Former Georgia congressman Jack Kingston is out with a new op-ed on CNN.com touting how President Trump’s involvement in a handful of recent congressional and gubernatorial primaries has tipped the scales in favor of his hand-picked candidates. Citing contests such as the Georgia and Florida gubernatorial primaries, the Savannah Republican and Trump surrogate argues that Trump’s endorsement doesn’t just give candidates a bump in the polls, but a “tsunami” of support.

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Allen Buckley, the Libertarian candidate for U.S. Senate in 2016, posted this reaction on his Facebook page to President Donald Trump’s decision last week not to give scheduled pay increases to federal employees later this year:

Trump signed into law a large tax cut and large spending increases. Now, he wants to unilaterally stop cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) for federal employees. What a fiscal conservative. Seriously, what is he thinking? The apparent standard for such a unilateral action is "a national emergency or serious economic conditions affecting the general welfare."

There is no national emergency. If he claims the debt is a serious economic condition affecting general welfare,then why did he sign into law changes in taxes and spending that are tens to hundreds of multiples greater than the COLAs to go to federal employees? FYI: I think most federal employees are overpaid--see reporting by the CBO on several occasions. However, Trump has no right/power to do what he is trying to do.

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We first ran into Ellen Diehl during the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland. She brought a talking Donald Trump doll with her.

Diehl is now the Republican challenging Democratic incumbent Scott Holcomb for the state House District 81 seat. It’s Atlanta-in-DeKalb territory, heavily Democratic. Trump won only 35 percent of the vote in the 2016 presidential contest.

And yet, Jonathan Grant, writing on his Brambleman web site, reports that Diehl has neglected to take down some 2017 YouTube posts that a Democratic voting base would consider volatile. Including this passage of dialogue on a web cast:

“…Barry Soetoro Hussein Obama was Muslim, let him say what he wants..Let him go around going (makes high-pitched tongue trill) or whatever they do. I don’t think that Michelle is going to wear a burka. She’s ugly enough to wear a burka. Oh, I said it. And she gonna need an extra large. Did you see how big her butt was on Inauguration Day? I said it.”

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