Political Insider

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

The race for Kasim Reed's job begins: Cathy Woolard, Margaret Kaiser say they're in


Updated at 3:45 p.m.: This morning, we were the first to report that former city council president Cathy Woolard, who currently spends a great deal of time at the state Capitol battling "religious liberty" bills, has committed herself to the 2017 race for mayor of Atlanta.

Within hours, state Rep. Margaret Kaiser confirmed to our AJC colleague Katie Leslie that she, too,  intends to join the race to follow Kasim Reed into the office.

So more than two years out, we've got two candidates. At least three other potential candidates seriously mulling the contest:  Current City Council President Ceasar Mitchell, Councilman Kwanza Hall,  and former Reed deputy Peter Aman.

Reed, who won another four years in office in 2013, is limited to two terms.

Woolard, who is married, would be the city’s first gay mayor. She sent a statement to the GA Voice today saying she's "really looking forward" to the campaign.

"I’m excited to have a citywide conversation about the future of Atlanta," she said. "I guess we’re off to the races at this point."

Expect Kaiser, a 10-year veteran of the statehouse, to base her campaign on work on education and the homestead tax exemption in the Legislature.

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One of the measures left on the cutting-room floor last night was a proposal to allow residents of unincorporated South Fulton to vote to create a new city.

But there's a little more intrigue here than meets the eye. Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed is pushing two separate proposals to extend his city's borders deep into South Fulton and another would claim an area around Druid Hills. Both would be subject to a referendum by local residents.

It has to do with the city's lengthy fight with the Atlanta Public Schools district over the Beltline.

The mayor's senior adviser, Mellisa Mullinax, told our AJC colleague David Wickert that Reed met twice with Jones and state Rep. Roger Bruce before the legislative session began but "no commitments were made during their visits."

"Rep. Jones’ public comments around cityhood and annexation have been consistently misleading and disingenuous," said Mullinax. "As a result, we ended discussions with her."

Reed also told our AJC colleague Katie Leslie that Jones' remarks were  “unfortunate, but not surprising."

"That’s one of the reasons she doesn’t get anything done in the Legislature,” he added.

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There's going to be a fascinating vote in the U.S. Senate today on an amendment by Sen. David Vitter, R-La., to end "birthright citizenship" for the children of immigrants living here illegally.

It won't pass, but how will Georgia's senators and the various Republican presidential hopefuls come down? "Anchor babies" are a concern among conservative activists.

Here's more background on the Vitter amendment, via The Hill:

Under Vitter's amendment, a child born in the United States would be considered a citizen if at least one parent is a citizen, has a green card, or has served in the military.

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Said the Georgia Republican, via a spokeswoman:

"We cannot accept any deal that allows Iran to obtain a nuclear weapons capability, period. My 46 colleagues and I are aligned in the belief that Congress should be involved in a deal that prevents Iran from becoming a nuclear power. If Iran were to build a nuclear weapon, it would spell disaster for the region, usher in a new era of nuclear proliferation, and would threaten America and our allies. We cannot allow that to happen."

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While on the subject of formers, some news about a few departed members of Congress:

- Former Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Marietta, has joined Washington lobby firm Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP as a Senior Advisor. Gingrey has a one-year "cooling off period" before he can lobby former colleagues, but the firm makes clear in a press release that Gingrey will "work closely with the District Policy Group, the firm’s boutique lobbying, public policy, and advocacy practice."

- Former Rep. John Barrow, D-Augusta, is taking a little longer to figure out what's next, he tells the Augusta Chronicle:

Former U.S. Rep. John Barrow said this week he plans to take a year to “figure out his next move,” which he suggested might involve resuming a career as a private attorney or possibly making another run for public office.

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Do not send Attorney General Sam Olens any condolence cards.

Contrary to a report in the Red & Black, the University of Georgia campus newspaper, Olens’ father did not recently die. An article, which we hope has been corrected, cited the death as the reason for a delay in a court action involving a UGA professor. In fact, it was the death of the father of Mac Sitton, an attorney with the state Department of Law, which forced the delay.

Claude Sitton was the famed New York Times reporter who covered the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s for that newspaper. He died Tuesday at the age of 89.


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About the Author

Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.