Political Insider

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

A Virginia debate over Confederate statues could be a precursor to Georgia GOP primary

Keep an eye on the Virginia race for governor. What happens there next Tuesday could provide something of a road map in Georgia’s Republican race for governor next year -- especially as it applies to the debate over Confederate symbolism.

Republican Ed Gillespie, the former chair of the Republican National Committee, appears to have made up ground on Democrat Ralph Northram, the state’s lieutenant governor, with a post-Charlottesville focus on statues. From CBS News:

Gillespie has argued that the monuments should stay where they are, in an appropriate historical context, while Northam has called for the monuments' removal, saying he "personally" believes they should be placed in museums but that's up to the localities.

President Donald Trump has even weighed in, via Twitter, with the thought that New Jersey-born Gillespie “might even save our great statues/heritage!” On Sunday, Fox News ran a piece on this latest development:

Christ Church in Alexandria, Virginia will take down a memorial marking the pew where Washington sat with his family, saying it is not acceptable to all worshipers.

“The plaques in our sanctuary make some in our presence feel unsafe or unwelcome," leaders said, a reference to the fact that Washington was a slaveholder.

In Georgia, Secretary of State Brian Kemp, one of several GOP candidates for governor, has locked in on the news via his Facebook page:

“This is the radical left and this is who I am fighting on a daily basis as your Secretary of State. Stand with me and let's stop them before they get a real foothold in Georgia. Let's work together to put hardworking Georgians - not their snowflake agenda - first.”

Kemp's campaign already has a rural emphasis, and never neglects to use the phrase "hard-working Georgians." The secretary of state also has been the Republican most eager to pick a fight with Democrat Stacey Abrams, a Democratic candidate for governor who has advocated blasting Robert E. Lee & Co. from the side of Stone Mountain.


Speaking of Brian Kemp: He has Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle exactly where he wants him in next year's GOP gubernatorial primary – at least according to an internal poll his campaign recently conducted.

The poll of 400 likely GOP voters by The Wickers Group had Cagle at about one-third of the vote followed by Kemp at 13 percent. The other contenders had negligible support. And about one-third of the voters said they’d put Kemp as a second choice.

Before we go any further, here’s the same caveat we note whenever we run an internal poll: They are meant to be taken with a grain of salt, and this one is no different.

They are leaked to the media to show their candidates in a favorable light, unnerve rivals and send a message to supporters, campaign contributors and the undecided.

With that in mind, here’s what Kemp would have you believe about Cagle: The lieutenant governor’s GOP primary support is “soft and fluid,” with only 15 percent saying they were a hard Cagle vote. On the other hand, only 7 percent of those polled defined themselves as a “definite” Kemp voter.

You can review the poll here and check out the summary here.


This is certain to dominate cable news today, from the Associated Press:

The White House is declining comment on a New York Times report that President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and a former business associate, Rick Gates, have been told to surrender to authorities.

Administration officials did not comment on the report Monday.

Those are the first charges in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into potential coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign. The Times on Monday cited an anonymous person involved in the case.


On CNN, Charles Sykes made this point about the House Republican decision to look into the Obama-era deal that gave a Russian company significant control of U.S. uranium output:

“You know, you don’t have to say there’s nothing here. But you can also say, this has — this is a complete distraction from this real story of the Russian interference in the election.”

Sykes, a former radio talk show host from Wisconsin, is the author of “How the Right Lost Its Mind” – a retrospective on the 2016 rise of Donald Trump. He’ll be on GPB’s “Political Rewind” at 2 p.m. today. (That’s 88.5FM in Atlanta.)


Now you know why Republicans in Congress have been as vague as possible when it comes to the tax cut bill they're putting together. From the Washington Post:

The National Association of Home Builders, after learning that a “homeownership” tax credit it had wanted will not be in an initial version of the bill, is preparing a nationwide campaign against it. The development underscored just how difficult the prospect of a successful tax overhaul will be, given the complex and competing interests that President Trump and GOP lawmakers are trying to serve.


U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Lithonia, will show up at a 10 a.m. press conference in Atlanta today, presumably to endorse Councilwoman Keisha Lance Bottoms in the race for mayor.

One possible connection: Both Bottoms and Mereda Johnson, wife of the congressman, are former local judges.


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About the Author

Jim Galloway is a three-decade veteran of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution who writes the Political Insider blog and column.