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Greg Bluestein

Injecting a dose of politics into MLK Day

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We’re at the Martin Luther King Jr. commemorative service where Gov. Nathan Deal is expected to announce plans to add a certain civil rights leader’s name to a prominent spot on the Capitol grounds.

Deal’s expected announcement, whether intentional or not, injects an extra dose of politics into a ceremony already tinged with it. Also scheduled to make remarks are Sen. Johnny Isakson, Rep. Hank Johnson and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed.

A flurry of candidates have sent out pitches tied to the holiday. We just got one from Rev. Raphael Warnock, who will be delivering the keynote address in a few minutes at Ebenezer, urging support for Democrat Michelle Nunn’s Senate run.

Democratic Party of Georgia chair DuBose Porter told partisans that the struggle for King’s “beloved community” still rages and urged Democrats to “set aside our own interests and instead labor to build one another up, working as a community for the common good.”

And the Georgia GOP released its own statement commemorating King’s life, with minority engagement director Leo Smith imploring supporters to “work to ensure that Dr. King’s legacy lives on in the hearts and minds of us all.”

We received a different sort of plea from former State Sen. Steen Miles, who is invoking King’s name to try to get an invite to a Senate debate next week.

The organizers of the Georgia Municipal Association’s Jan. 27 forum are only allowing candidates who have raised at least $100,000 to attend. For the Democrats, that means only Dr. Branko Radulovacki and front-runner Michelle Nunn. And Nunn told us last week she won’t participate.

Miles, a Democrat who is far from meeting that threshold, sent us a statement that evokes Dr. King’s stance on “economic justice” and warns of too much focus on the money game.

Dr. King spoke of the twin evils of discrimination and economic deprivation. We are guilty of both when we exclude rather than include based on money alone. Part of Dr. King’s solution to the twin evils was to appeal to the conscience of the nation. I appeal to conscience of the GMA and all Georgians to cease to anointing political leaders based on wealth.”

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