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Jim Galloway, Greg Bluestein and Daniel Malloy

Arizona – and Georgia – as proof that Big Business is wading deeper into social issues

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Jan Brewer

Arizona Republican Gov. Jan Brewer, right, speaks at a news conference announcing she has vetoed SB1062, a bill designed to give added protection from lawsuits to people who assert their religious beliefs in refusing service to gays, at the Arizona Capitol on Wednesday. AP/Ross D. Franklin

This morning, Politico has an inside look at how big business helped take down the Arizona religious liberty bill. Just like Delta spooked lawmakers in Atlanta:

The Arizona legislation was an especially acute uproar over gay rights and religious liberty, but the larger dynamic at play there — pitting powerful business interests against ardent social conservatives — has played out over and over as the fight over same-sex marriage has spread across the country.

Your daily jolt on politics from the AJC's Political insider blog

In blue states like New York, big companies have played a pivotal role in pushing same-sex marriage measures into law. In battlegrounds like Virginia and now Arizona, corporate America has slowed or halted hard-right social policy from taking effect.

What Arizona proved, as much as any other in recent American politics, is that there’s currently no more powerful constituency for gay rights than the Fortune 500 list.

The Associated Press tackled the same topic. A few paragraphs:

Companies have long spoken out about certain issues they felt threatened their bottom lines, such as taxation and the minimum wage. The strong opposition to the Arizona bill signals an acknowledgement by businesses that it’s not just economic policies that can be harmful to their profits. They need to be more willing than ever to wade into social issues.

Companies also recognize that many of their employees and customers are gay and try to foster an open and inviting corporate environment.

“Business used to restrict itself to economic issues but they’re now seeing the importance of other kinds of issues,” said Darrell M. West, vice president of governance studies at the Brookings Institution.

***

Reverberations are still being felt from this week’s cratering of two religious liberty bills in Georgia’s state Capitol. Jonathan Shapiro of WABE (90.1FM) caught up with House Majority Leader Larry O’Neal, R-Bonaire:

“If I don’t want to sell you my angel food cake, I don’t have to. And why should a particular group of non-recognized — a group of people that do not have a basis for discrimination kind of cases — why should they have any more rights against that baker than me or any other citizen in society?”     

When asked whether he believed LGBT people, in general, faced discrimination in Georgia or in the country, O’Neal was unequivocal.

“I absolutely do not, no,” said O’Neal.

***

Qualifying for the 2014 elections begins on Monday, but state Rep. Ed Lindsey, R-Atlanta, reports that he won’t be signing up for his 11th District congressional contest until Tuesday.

That’s because Monday is Crossover Day – the deadline for bills to pass one chamber or another, he told his supporters in an email. The former member of the House GOP leadership team said he’ll be on the House floor “to promote two bills fighting against President Obama’s failed healthcare overhaul.”

Lindsey specifically named HB 707 and HB 990, which are not yet on the House calendar.

Lindsey is either misinformed, which is unlikely, or just spilled the beans, our AJC colleague Aaron Gould Sheinin informed us.

That HB 990 would get a vote comes as no surprise. That’s the bill backed by Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, and Speaker pro tem Jan Jones, R-Milton, to put Medicaid expansion under the control of the Legislature.

No, the surprise would be HB 707 – which would bar any local government in Georgia from aiding or abetting the Affordable Care Act. Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, for instance, would be barred from hosting a health fair that helped his residents sign up for insurance offered by federal Obamacare exchanges.

***

Speaking of qualifying: Democrats only have a smattering of candidates for down-ticket races so far, but state party chairman DuBose Porter promises more to come next week. He wouldn’t name names, but he said he’s landed a challenger to Attorney General Sam Olens. Others are being vetted.

“Exceptional people are stepping forward,” he said. “We’ll have more than people ever expected.”

***

There’s been a spate of retirement announcements recently among long-serving Democrats in Congress, prompting us to pose the question to Georgia’s longest-tenured House member, Atlanta Democrat John Lewis, ahead of qualifying next week: Is he running again?

“Early Monday morning, I will be there putting down my check,” he replied. “I will be there. I don’t plan on retiring any time soon.”

***

We reported earlier that Jack Kingston, the Savannah congressman and U.S. Senate candidate, would be on CNN’s “Crossfire” on Thursday evening with his friend Newt Gingrich.

Alas, the event was postponed. Kingston, obviously, was double-booked:

kingstonfundraiser

***

Kingston needs the dough to support what is quickly turning into a television ad war, a little less than three months from the Senate primary.

We’re told that David Perdue’s campaign will put the “crybabies” ad back on the air tomorrow and mix in a new spot over the next three weeks, in order to match Kingston’s ad spending.

The Perdue and Kingston campaigns have the most money to work with, so expect to see a lot of their stuff on the air for the next three months. Or now might be the time to fully commit to Netflix.

***

Look for U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss on NBC’s “Meet The Press” on Sunday. He’ll be there to discuss Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s proposal to shrink the U.S. military to its smallest size since WWII.

***

File away another entry in the battle over who’s the most conservative Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate.

The American Conservative Union weighed in with its rankings of each member of Congress on Thursday. The breakdown for Georgia Senate hopefuls is as follows: Paul Broun 96 percent (a lifetime rating of 99), Jack Kingston 91 percent (a lifetime rating of 96), and Phil Gingrey 88 percent (a lifetime rating 96).

Broun’s scores were the highest in the delegation.

Memorizing the above information won’t be necessary.  By May, someone will have spent a boatload of money to drill these numbers into your head with a 30-second TV spot.

***

Savannah’s own Paula Deen is back in the news with a People magazine interview in which she compares herself with openly gay football player Michael Sam. Seriously.

Here’s what she said, via The Wrap:

“I feel like ‘embattled’ or ‘disgraced’ will always follow my name. It’s like that black football player who recently came out,” Deen said in a People magazine cover story, which hits newsstands on Friday. “He said, ‘I just want to be known as a football player. I don’t want to be known as a gay football player.’ I know exactly what he’s saying.”

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