Political Insider

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

The Jolt: Why Stacey Abrams opposes a North Carolina judicial nominee


Former Democratic gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams waded into a bubbling Senate confirmation fight over a judicial nominee that critics allege has supported voter suppression tactics.  

In a joint statement with Andrew Gillum, who narrowly lost his gubernatorial bid in Florida, both spoke out against Thomas Farr, President Donald Trump’s pick for a North Carolina U.S. district court position.

The duo said Farr’s “record of hostility and disregard for fundamental civil rights disqualifies him for a lifetime appointment that will allow him to codify his discriminatory ideology into law.”

And they called on senators to reject his nomination when it comes up for a floor vote as soon as this week.

It was a strategic departure for Abrams, who spent much of the last year intensely focused on state-related issues while rarely commenting on debates in other states. 

But as she ponders her next step - including a potential bid for U.S. Senate or a 2022 rematch for governor - she’s intent on burnishing her national profile as a voting rights advocate.

Farr offers her a juicy target. He and his law firm were hired by the Republican-controlled General Assembly to defend the congressional districts it approved in 2011. Five years later, a federal court said North Carolina’s map was racially gerrymandered. 

Farr also helped defended the state’s strict voter ID law that a federal court later said disenfranchised minority voters “with almost surgical precision.”

Farr’s nomination advanced out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on a party-line vote in January. All 49 Democrats have vowed to vote against him as civil rights groups have stepped up a push to kill the nomination.

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These are not the early-voting numbers that Democratic contenders in the Dec. 4 runoff want to see: The first two days of the advance voting period turned out an older, whiter electorate.

The analysis by data whiz Ryan Anderson of GeorgiaVotes.com showed nearly three-quarters of people who cast early votes are white, and more than half are over 65. 

That’s bad news for John Barrow and Lindy Miller, Democratic candidates for secretary of state and Public Service Commission who were hoping to stoke a party base energized by Stacey Abrams’ near-miss in November. 

Instead, there are warning signs that Democrats are tuning out the race. One of the loudest: Early voting in DeKalb County - the party’s bluest stronghold - is tepid. And turnout is not much better in other metro Atlanta counties where Democrats need to tally big margins. 

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We’re pretty sure we found the “scheduling conflict” that triggered Republican Brad Raffensperger to skip a long-planned Atlanta Press Club debate.

The Moultrie Observer reports that Raffensperger attended a fundraiser at a local country club around the same time as the debate. 

The Johns Creek legislator claimed the “last minute nature” of the debate forced him to back out. That’s not true. The press club first sent him details of the event on Nov. 9, three weeks before it was scheduled.

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The lawsuit filed Tuesday by Stacey Abrams’ new voting rights group stretches for 66 pages, but it’s at the end where you can find an interesting tidbit. 

There are a dozen lawyers listed on the complaint - enough to start their own boutique firm - and many are veterans of the Bush v. Gore legal fight and other high-profile election-related feuds. Check the lawsuit out here. 

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This might be the #gapol party of the year: Legendary University of Georgia political science professor Charles Bullock is celebrating his 50th anniversary at Ansley Golf Club on Friday. 

The event includes a “commemorative swag item” and a chance to dress up like the renowned professor in a photo booth. 

Find the details here. 

(Insider’s note: Like so many other politicos, your insider was a Bullock acolyte and fondly remember one class 15 years ago featuring a visit by none other than ... Jim Galloway.) 

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