Capitol Recap: New blood showed up at the polls for Georgia primary


It’s kind of like back when you were in school: If someone new shows up, you take notice.

Tens of thousands of new people showed up at last month's Georgia primary, the kind of election that’s generally more appealing to political parties’ most hard-core voters.

About two-thirds of them opted for Democratic ballots, according to figures put together by Chris Huttman, a Democratic operative working for Lucy McBath’s campaign. McBath is a candidate in the 6th Congressional District’s runoff on July 24.

Huttman found that 102,330 participants in the state’s Democratic primary were new or infrequent voters, meaning they had not voted in a primary since at least 2010. They were responsible for 21 percent of the ballots cast in Democratic races.

Republicans saw 50,533 new or infrequent voters cast ballots in GOP races, accounting for 8 percent of the vote.

Huttman also took a look at party switchers.

In the Democratic primary, 76,298 voters — or about 14 percent — had voted in at least one Republican primary since 2010.

In the Republican primary, 85,870 voters — again, about 14 percent — had voted in at least one Democratic primary over the same period.

Huttman found that most of the party switchers on the Republican side were located in South Georgia.

The Democratic action was in metro Atlanta, specifically the 6th Congressional District. That four-way race drew 10,295 participants — about 23 percent of all votes cast — who possessed GOP voting histories. Over on the Republican side, only 2,771 participants had a Democratic vote in their pasts — about 6 percent of all voters — but U.S. Rep. Karen Handel was the only candidate in that contest.

Isakson, Perdue differ: It would hardly meet the definition of a chasm, but tariffs revealed this past week that there is some ground between Georgia’s two Republican U.S. senators.

Neither Johnny Isakson nor David Perdue can be described as a fan of President Donald Trump’s moves to impose duties on imported steel and aluminum.

But the senators are going in different directions on what to do about them.

Isakson thinks Congress should have the last word on tariffs levied for purposes of national security, the condition that currently allows Trump to set the tariffs on his own. He signed on as a co-sponsor of Tennessee U.S. Sen. Bob Corker’s unsuccessful effort to allow the legislative branch to recover that control.

Perdue, on the other hand, is content for now to let Trump be Trump.

In a speech on the Senate floor, Perdue took aim at his fellow senators for taking stands that could weaken the president’s position.

“One thing you learn when you’re dealing internationally, you have to have respect of the person you’re negotiating with across the table. President Trump has earned that,” Perdue said. “What we’re beginning to do in this body is undercut that.”

Perdue made a similar case in his unsuccessful attempt to strip a provision from the National Defense Authorization Act that would leave penalties in place against the Chinese communications giant ZTE for violating sanctions on Iran and North Korea. Trump has sought relief for ZTE.

The Hill newspaper reported that Perdue said the provision “would trample on the separation of powers and undercut the Trump administration’s authority to impose these penalties.”

A North Korean shuffle: The two Georgia senators switched roles, somewhat, on North Korea.

Isakson was more approving of Trump’s summit with North Korean strongman Kim John Un, calling it a “good first step.”

“We have a long way to go, and we will need to see the details of this initial agreement and what could follow,” said Isakson, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Perdue, however, expressed some reservations about Trump’s move to end joint military exercises — what the president described as “war games” — with South Korea on the Korean Peninsula.

“I was surprised, frankly, because the president had said earlier that that was not necessarily going to be part of the first meeting,” Perdue told reporters at a briefing in Washington, according to The Hill.

Perdue, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said “coordination with South Korean military is absolutely critical.” He added that, in negotiating with North Korea on denuclearlization, it would “be terrible to throw on there any concession except for economic development.”

The Hill reported that Perdue — who has generally been one of Trump’s most vocal supporters in the Senate — later indicated he did not think the decision on “war games” would be part of a final deal with North Korea.

The ‘oligarch’ of Duluth: Democrat Kathleen Allen, whose own bid to represent the 7th Congressional District fell short in last month’s primary, says she will vote for Carolyn Bourdeaux in the runoff.

But she’s not happy about it.

Allen, who finished fifth among the six candidates in the primary hoping to replace Republican U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall of Lawrenceville, issued a 1,300-word press release that criticized Bourdeaux, a Georgia State University professor, for not backing liberal aspirations such as single-payer health care and a $15 minimum wage.

She saved her harshest words, though, for Bourdeaux’s opponent in the runoff, David Kim of Duluth, calling him “simply an oligarch” with a “troubling lack of voting history.”

“He’s been a resident of Georgia since 2005 and only registered to vote for the first time a year ago,” Allen said. “He never voted against President Trump, whom he rails against at every campaign event. He never voted for President Obama, or for or against any of the candidates who’ve run against Rob Woodall since 2010.”

Candidates, endorsements, etc.:

— Secretary of State Brian Kemp picked up two more endorsements ahead of the July 24 GOP runoff for governor: state Rep. Ed Setzler and Lauren “Bubba” McDonald, the chairman of the state Public Service Commission.

— Another member of the Public Service Commission, Tim Echols, supports Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle in the GOP runoff for governor. Former U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland is also backing Cagle.

— Tom Price, the onetime U.S. representative from Roswell and President Donald Trump’s former secretary of health and human services, is throwing his support behind state Sen. David Shafer in the GOP runoff for lieutenant governor. Shafer, who was the Senate president pro tem before stepping down to concentrate on his campaign, also showed he still has clout under the Gold Dome. He displayed endorsements from more than 200 current state lawmakers and 63 others who have left the Legislature. Perhaps the most important of them is state House Rules Chairman John Meadows, who served with Shafer’s rival in the runoff, former state Rep. Geoff Duncan.

— Steve Reilly, a former chairman of the Democratic Party for the 7th Congressional District, who lost in last month’s the district primary, is endorsing Bourdeaux over Kim in the party’s runoff.

— U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, a Democrat from California, is backing McBath in the 6th Congressional District runoff against Kevin Abel.

— The International Brotherhood of Police Officers is backing Democrat Charlie Bailey in the state’s race for attorney general.

— Bailey’s opponent, incumbent Republican Chris Carr, rounded up some big names for a “Lawyers for Carr” campaign event on June 28. Serving as honorary chairmen for the group are Gov. Nathan Deal, former U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, state House Speaker David Ralston, U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, former state Attorneys General Mike Bowers and Sam Olens, onetime state Rep. Ed Lindsey, and Pete Robinson, the chairman of Troutman Sanders Strategies, one of the state’s top lobbyists.


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