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Jim Galloway, Greg Bluestein and Daniel Malloy

Michelle Nunn carefully endorses a minimum wage hike

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Senatorial candidate Michelle Nunn, left, joins Valerie Jackson, the widow of Atlanta mayor Maynard Jackson, at a December reception. David Tulis / AJC Special

Over at myajc.com and on today’s front page,  we look at President Barack Obama’s predicted focus on income inequality in tonight’s State of the Union address, and how that might play for Georgia Democrats.

Your daily jolt on politics from the AJC's Political insider blogContained in that piece, worth noting because of the caution she’s shown in picking sides on issues, is an endorsement of a minimum wage hike by Michelle Nunn, the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate:

 “I support raising the minimum wage, but we need to do it in concert with business leaders to limit any unintended consequences,” she said at a recent appearance in Athens. “We need to ensure Georgia is a place of great opportunity so people can work their way out of poverty.”

She added: “I think the income inequality is an important set of issues, and it will be a part of one of the priorities I’m talking about: Jobs and the economy. Everyone knows jobs and employment are the best way to grow the economy.”

***

Sitting close by first lady Michelle Obama this evening, during the president’s SOTU speech, will be Antoinette Tuff, the aptly named DeKalb County school bookkeeper who last year talked a would-be school shooter into surrendering to police.

Tuff became a national media sensation and has now written a book about the incident.

***

The most interesting angle to come out of Monday’s gathering of the top GOP Senate hopefuls was the rift over legislation that would allow state and local governments to collect taxes from online sellers. Businessman David Perdue came out for it, the other contenders opposed it.

Surprisingly, left unmentioned – and unchallenged — by the candidates was U.S. Rep. Paul Broun’s change of heart on the legislation. During the debate he said “we shouldn’t be raising taxes on anybody,” but the Athens Republican signed on to be a co-sponsor of similar legislation in July 2012.

At Monday’s forum, we saw Broun become a target of criticism over his gun giveaway. But expect his rivals to start throwing ever-sharper elbows his way as we edge closer to the May 20 primaries.

***

Ten protesters, including state Sen. Vincent Fort, D-Atlanta, were arrested Monday in Gov. Nathan Deal’s office as part of a Moral Monday protest over Medicaid expansion, according to our AJC colleage Kristina Torres:

Afterwards, Deal spokesman Brian Robinson posted the following on his Twitter account, @LordTinsdale:

Tomorrow I’m going to sit in Vincent Fort’s office and demand to be arrested. Oh wait, I have to go to work.

***

We’re picked up word this morning that former Athens state lawmaker Keith Heard was heard discussing a Democratic run for state insurance commissioner at the Georgia Muncipal Association convention on Monday. Heard just confirmed the same via telephone. “I’m considering very seriously about running,” said Heard, who left the House in 2012. By the time he ended his 20-year career in the Capitol, Heard was the ranking Democrat on the House Insurance Committee. Liz Johnson of Statesboro, also a Democrat, has already announced for the contest. Both are longtime insurance agents.

***

Peach Pundit guru Charlie Harper is venturing deeper into the world of policy.

This morning his new PolicyBEST group, designed to promote “sound public policy based on free market principles,” is lining up with some of the same players that helped kill the 2012 transportation tax. The object: New infrastructure recommendations.

He’s joining an effort that includes tea party hot-shot Debbie Dooley and Sierra Club wonk Neill Herring, the two unlikely bedfellows who allied against TSPLOST.

Their pitch to the media on this wintry day: “Hell isn’t freezing over.”

***

The dead tree and myajc.com account of Bob Barr’s interview with conspiracy theorist Alex Jones by our AJC colleague Jeremy Redmon has the Barr camp distancing itself from some of Jones’ more outlandish ideas:

[Campaign manager] Derek Barr added that his father does not agree with Jones that Clinton murdered his enemies and that the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks were an inside job.

“Bob’s done interviews in a number of forums and doesn’t necessarily agree with all of his questioners’ opinions,” he said, “whether it’s Alex Jones or MSNBC.”

But on his Facebook page, GOP rival Ed Lindsey has posted the following:

Last week we learned that Bob Barr supported Eric Holder for Attorney General, writing: “It is with a great deal of professional pride and personal pleasure that I write you in strong support of the Honorable Eric Holder.” This week he proudly embraced the endorsement of a notorious conspiracy theorist who claims 9/11 was an inside job. Is there anything Bob won’t say or do to feed his political ambition?”

***

Whatever happened to Georgia’s 2012 presidential hopefuls Newt Gingrich and Herman Cain? Aside from their media gigs, they’re selling their valuable email lists to vendors hawking erectile dysfunction meds or investment schemes.

The New Republic has a fun look at a new way to capitalize on a national campaign – spam. Your annoyance is a kind of penalty for their debts. At the end of September, Gingrich was still $4.6 million in debt from the ’12 campaign. Cain reported a shortfall of $450,000.

***

State Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black is decrying a federal “assault on the farming industry.” From the Athens Banner-Herald:

 “They’re coming into areas they’ve never been before,” Black said of the federal Food and Drug Administration, which issued a set of proposed rules last year and asked for public comment.

The new rules, authorized by the federal Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011, are designed to protect consumers from microbial contamination. They would regulate the use of animal manure, water sanitation and other factors that could affect microbial contamination of fresh produce.

But if the FDA can begin regulating produce farms, they might also come to chicken farms, beef operations and other kinds of agricultural producers, said Black, a Republican.

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