Political Insider

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

A word on fixed elections, from the sheriff of Telfair County

A communal chuckle was shared among many of Georgia’s political addicts on Wednesday.

The topic was a Facebook post by Chris Steverson, sheriff of Telfair County, in which he opined about the obsession -- on the part of the media, certain quarters of Congress and a special counsel -- with Russian attempts to influence the 2016 presidential election. Wrote Steverson:

“Hacking" the elections of other nations is nothing new, ANY nation's foreign services would be negligent if they did not attempt to influence the politics and policies of countries where their own nation has a vested interest.


…Don't we all hope to influence elections so as to hurt the chances of candidates we don't like? Well [it’s] no different globally, and our own government has been influencing and in many cases, controlling foreign politics for years….


That's expected, that's politics. (Yawn) Nothing to see here folks, move along.

Steverson didn’t intend it, no doubt, but there is an inside joke here that requires some familiarity with Georgia history.

Back in the days when Gov. Gene Talmadge told Georgians that their only friends were God, Sears, Roebuck and ol' Gene himself, an Atlanta newspaperman went snooping in the Capitol vault. In an envelope marked "Telfair County, " he found the state's political scandal of the century.


Proof of dead people rising from their graves - just to vote for Gene's son, Herman Talmadge.


The discovery of voting fraud in Telfair that had enabled Herman Talmadge to be elected as governor by the Georgia General Assembly in January 1947 was a signature moment of "The Three Governors" fiasco when Ellis Arnall, M.E. Thompson and Talmadge claimed to be governor at the same time.


It also permitted reporter George Goodwin to dictate by phone perhaps the most wry and devastating sentence in The Atlanta Journal's 114-year history:


It appeared impossible that 34 citizens anywhere could have appeared at the polls and been voted in alphabetical order, starting with the first letter and stopping abruptly at K.


Late Wednesday, the New York Times published an interview with President Donald Trump, in which he said he wouldn't have nominated Jeff Sessions as U.S. attorney if he'd known that Sessions would recuse himself from investigation into Russian attempts to influence the U.S. presidential election.

This was the reponse from Sally Yates, the Atlanta attorney who briefly filled in as acting U.S. attorney general until her firing in January:


Callista Gingrich, wife of former U.S. House speaker Newt Gingrich and now President Donald Trump’s pick as ambassador to the Vatican, had a Senate confirmation hearing earlier this week. From the Washington Post:

Gingrich is unlike previous ambassadors who have been mostly politicians or academics, and the Vatican is hoping for someone who can coherently express the Trump administration’s viewpoint on international affairs, said John Thavis, author of “The Vatican Diaries” who was a longtime correspondent for the Catholic News Service.


“[Gingrich’s appointment is] not going to be something that would shipwreck Vatican relations at all, but … I’m a little skeptical,” Thavis said. “The Vatican counts on the U.S. Embassy to give not just a brief soundbite answer to, but they want position papers.”


A trio of academics at Emory University -- Pablo Montagnes, Zachary Peskowitzy, and Joshua McCrain – have published a research paper which posits that President Donald Trump’s hold on Republican voters may not be as strong as polls indicate:

[W]e demonstrate that partisan approval may be lower than observed when fewer respondents report presidential co-partisanship or higher than observed when more respondents report presidential co-partisanship.

Translated: Fewer people may be calling themselves Republican – a la Joe Scarborough. Which means that, while surveys show Trump holding at 80 percent and more, those polls may be measuring a shrinking pool. Click here to download all 34 pages.


Former University of Georgia football coach Ray Goff is dipping his toe into politics. We'll let you decide if that's a good thing. Jason Butt of The Macon Telegraph explains:

Goff himself isn't running for office. But the former Georgia head football coach is listed as the chairperson for Jay Florence's commissioner of insurance campaign. Florence is seeking election to the position that has been held by Ralph Hudgens.

Hudgens announced Monday that he would not seek re-election in 2018.


Here's a race to watch: The three-candidate field to represent the Atlanta-based House District 89 that state Rep. Stacey Abrams will soon vacate has already attracted nearly $200,000 in donations.

Attorney Sachin Varghese collected roughly $125,000 that included contributions from ex-gubernatorial candidate Jason Carter and his wife Kate and support from former Gov. Roy Barnes law firm.

Activist and operative Bee Nguyen took in about $55,000 from donors that include state Rep. Sam Park, whose 2016 campaign for a Gwinnett-based seat she managed.

A third candidate, attorney Monique Keane, raised nearly $10,000.

The three Democrats are vying to succeed Abrams, who is running for governor.


We reported last week that Democrat David Kim, a Harvard-educated test prep company owner, raised $260,000 in less than a month since announcing his challenge to U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall in the Gwinnett-based Seventh District. We now have other numbers to put his haul into perspective.

Kim raised twice as much money as Woodall did – and that’s for the first six months of the year combined. The Lawrenceville Republican, who is not known as a major fundraiser, logged about $128,000.

Kathleen Allen, a local homeless advocate, and Attorney Steve Reilly, two other Democrats in the growing race, each raised $5,000 or less.


U.S. Rep. John Lewis has joined a group of Democrats that introduced a resolution of “no confidence” in the House that questions President Donald Trump’s fitness to serve as the country’s leader. From The Hill:

It logs a laundry list of controversies swirling around the president — including his campaign’s many contacts with Russian officials, his refusal to release his taxes, his verbal attacks on women and the press, and his firing of FBI Director James Comey.

The resolution has no chance of moving through the Republican-controlled House.

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About the Author

Tamar Hallerman is The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Washington correspondent, covering Congress, federal agencies and other government activities that impact Georgia.