Posted: 10:03 am Monday, February 17th, 2014
By Jim Galloway, Greg Bluestein and Daniel Malloy
This week, two forums will feature Republican candidates for U.S. Senate, and a pair of issues are rising up to meet them.
One touches on insurance. And the other is House Speaker John Boehner. First, the settings:
A third forum for all eight Republican Senate candidates will come on Saturday in Gainesville, sponsored by the state GOP.
Now as for those pesky issues:
Last week, the Madison Project handed a fulsome Senate endorsement to U.S. Rep. Paul Broun. Among the things that made Broun “special,” the tea party group declared, was his vote against Boehner as speaker in 2013.
That was before Boehner, unable to bring his GOP caucus to heel, capitulated and offered up a “clean” bill to raise the federal debt ceiling, with a minimum of Republican votes.
Tea party groups are after the speaker’s head. From our own Jenny Beth Martin of Cherokee County, speaking for Tea Party Patriots:
“A clean debt ceiling is a complete capitulation on the Speaker’s part and demonstrates that he has lost the ability to lead the House of Representatives, let alone his own party. Speaker Boehner has failed in his duty to represent the people and as a result, it is time for him to go.”
Broun’s congressional rivals, Phil Gingrey of Marietta and Jack Kingston of Savannah, are likely to be asked whether their support for Boehner was a mistake. (The issue is already rippling through GOP congressional races.)
Updated: Consider this grenade that Broun lobbed at Kingston today, challenging the Savannah congressman’s conservative ranking from the National Journal:
“Congressman Kingston conveniently fails to explain that the National Journal uses Speaker Boehner’s position on issues as the benchmark definition of conservative. By that logic, the more one votes with the Speaker, the more conservative he is. While we all wish that was a reliable measure of conservative, experience has taught that it’s not.”
Now, as for Issue No. 2: Last month, a bill backed by Johnny Isakson passed the Senate, putting on hold, for four years, hikes in federally backed flood insurance premiums – to give Congress a chance to adjust a 2012 law and devise some protection for homeowners and businesses from skyrocketing rates.
The issue has been roiling Louisiana politics, but has major implications for the Georgia coast as well. Businesses are demanding a fix – but tea party groups are pushing for a market-based solution. Which would mean the higher premiums.
Last week, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., announced that the U.S. House will vote on its version of the bill next week. The content of the bill will probably be known by Friday. From the New Orleans Times-Picayune:
One provision not likely to be part of the flood insurance bill being drafted by staff for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., is a permanent cap on how high flood insurance premiums can go.
Some advocacy groups had been hoping for limits — perhaps 1 percent of the maximum coverage for a policy, to avoid unaffordable increases under the 2012 Biggert-Waters law. So for a $200,000 policy, the maximum yearly premium would be $2,000. Cantor is contemplating a bill that would cap annual hikes — perhaps at 5-15 percent. But that still could lead, long term, to unaffordable premiums, according to some of those pushing for a permanent cap.
The question for GOP Senate candidates in Georgia: Who do you tick off – the tea party or well-heeled coastal contributors?
David Perdue, the former Dollar General CEO trying to establish himself as the center-right, non-congressional candidate in the U.S. Senate race, revealed himself on a number of issues this weekend in a lengthy interview with the Marietta Daily Journal.
On Georgia’s campus-carry controversy:
“Personally, I’m a defender of the Second Amendment. I have a problem with college campuses, with the availability to underage kids there. So my first-blush reaction to that is no, I don’t agree with having guns on college campuses. I know there are some people that say, ‘No, that’s part of the Second Amendment right,’ but there’s a reason, I believe, that we have some exclusions to that.”
Perdue declared himself against abortion, but appeared to endorse exceptions for rape and incest:
“I don’t know. I don’t have a 13-year-old daughter. But I’d like to have the flexibility, you know, I’m just telling you straight up,” he said.
“… This is not a black and white issue. We need to protect innocent life, but there are situations where I think common sense needs to play,” he said.
And he appeared ready to declare same-sex marriage to be an issue that should be addressed state by state – noting that Georgia has already made its decision:
“As a senator, I’ve got to uphold that, so I support that, whatever the law of the land is in Georgia,” he said. “As a U.S. senator, I’m not going to get involved in state decisions like this. It’s a constitutional amendment. If that changes, then I will support that with the population.”
Marshall Shepherd, the University of Georgia professor and former president of the American Meteorological Society, was on CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday morning to talk about the weather:
“We know that climate change is happening and humans are contributing. I’m not quite ready to say that this snowstorm we saw this week or last week is caused by global warming or climate change, but one thing I will emphasize: I think we’ve forgotten how to be cold or deal with snowstorms, because we’re seeing so few of these big storms….And that probably is because of climate warming.”
Tim Scott, R-S.C., one of two African-Americans in the U.S. Senate, had a fundraiser and meet-and-greet in Atlanta on Sunday night.
The event was hosted by Ashley Bell, an African-American Republican and former Hall County commissioner who is expected to announce a run for school superintendent in the next week or so.
Among the attendees who posted photos of themselves with Scott on Twitter were state Rep. Ed Lindsey of Atlanta, who’s running for Congress in the 11th District, and Julianne Thompson, a prominent tea party activist.
Scott was appointed from the U.S. House by Gov. Nikki Haley to fill the vacancy of departed Sen. Jim DeMint and is expected to cruise to re-election this year.
The group Teachers Rally to Advocate for Georgia Insurance Choices, or TRAGIC, will hold a rally at the state Capitol on 1 p.m. Tuesday. They’re asking attendees to bring an apple with a Band-Aid on it. We’re presuming the fruit will be presented to state lawmakers – and not thrown at them.
CNN’s Political Ticker blog notes a post-Snowjam trend unfolding nationally.
After Gov. Nathan Deal apologized for waiting hours after snowfall paralyzed the city on Jan. 28 to declare a state of emergency, other governors have taken heed. The blog calls it the “Deal Effect:”
But worth watching now is how other governors get the message: A week or so after the Georgia debacle, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback declared a state of emergency and shut things down well before the first snowflake.
And this past week, no fewer than eight governors issued emergency decrees well before the storms crossed their borders. If you think your governor got it right, Georgia’s embattled chief executive might deserve a bit of the credit.
We have movement on the immigration front, according to the Gallup polling organization:
Americans now assign about equal importance to the two major aspects of immigration reform being debated in Washington. Forty-four percent say it is extremely important for the U.S. to develop a plan to deal with the large number of immigrants already living in the United States, and 43% say it’s extremely important to halt the flow of illegal immigrants into the country by securing the borders. This is a shift from the past, when Americans were consistently more likely to rate border security as extremely important.