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Jim Galloway, Greg Bluestein and Daniel Malloy

Phil Gingrey to Super PAC: ‘Leave Georgia alone’

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Rep. Phil Gingrey (right) speaks at a U.S. Senate in February.

Republican Phil Gingrey is trying to make the best of the fact that he is now drawing the brunt of the attacks from the powerful Ending Spending Action Fund.

Your daily jolt on politics from the AJC's Political insider blogThe super PAC is spending much of the $1.3 million in airtime it reserves ahead of the May 20 primary against Gingrey, and it’s beginning to chafe the Marietta Republican.

“Go figure. I don’t know who’s behind it but I guess that’s freedom of speech,” Gingrey told us. “But as my dad told me one time a long time ago, a knock is a boost and somebody must be worried about me winning this Senate seat.”

The Super PAC, which is also attacking Democrat Michelle Nunn, has plastered ads attacking Gingrey for seeking earmarks and voting to increase the debt limit. When we noted that the Chicago-based group could also attack Rep. Jack Kingston, another GOP Senate contender, for the same thing, Gingrey deemed himself “surprised” he was in the crosshairs.

“Certainly I would not be picked out as a moderate but as a conservative,” he said, adding: “I think Washington or these Super PACs should just leave Georgia alone and let us pick the best candidate who has the best chance of winning this seat and keeping it in Republican hands in November.”

***

Karen Handel has her first taker on her offer to disclose tax returns.

Gingrey also told us he was “absolutely” willing to disclose up to 10 years of his tax records. His campaign said they should be available by next week.

“I’d be happy to do that,” he said, adding: “My tax returns for the last five, 10 years, if she wants to do 10 years I’d be glad to do that. I think people want to know and they deserve to know. I’m all for that.”

***

This class of a politicians better watch their backs.

We got word this morning that Sarah Mirza, a University of Georgia student, earned the prestigious Truman scholarship.

She was one of 59 students nationwide to receive the scholarship, which offers up to $30,000 for graduate work. She plans to pursue a master’s degree in cultural geography before heading to law school to specialize in immigration.

Something tells us a political career is not far behind.

***

MSNBC takes a deep look at businessman and Senate candidate David Perdue’s time as senior vice president of Haggar Clothing Co. in the 1990s. During that time the company moved jobs from South Texas to Mexico. The key stat:

By 1998, 1,667 laid off Haggar employees had been certified for NAFTA retraining programs for workers who lost their jobs to outsourcing or foreign imports – the most of any company in Texas, according to The Dallas Morning News.

Perdue defended the practice:

“We very definitely looked at trying to maintain as much volume as we could [in America],” Perdue told msnbc. “The problem was if you looked at the cost sheet of a product made in Mexico versus a product made in South Texas … the Mexican product had an advantage.” …

“To politicians who have never been in a free enterprise system this sounds really easy,” Perdue said. “It is anything but easy. It’s very messy.”

Perdue said Haggar’s shift to factories abroad was the unavoidable result of several factors, including declining sales for some of the company’s American-made products, increasingly cheap clothing from rivals who had outsourced production earlier, and the 1994 ratification of NAFTA, which reduced duties on Mexican-imported goods.

“We fundamentally restructured a company for survival,” Perdue said. “Another way to look at this is we saved a couple thousand jobs.”

***

Perdue remained in front of a bunched Republican field in an InsiderAdvantage poll released Thursday that combines phone and Internet surveys. The toplines:

– David Perdue 19 percent

– Jack Kingston 15 percent

– Karen Handel 13 percent

– Paul Broun 11 percent

– Phil Gingrey 9 percent

– Other 1 percent

– Undecided 32 percent

Handel showed the most movement, jumping from fifth place (at 5 percent) three weeks ago to third, following the endorsement of Sarah Palin and the revelation of Perdue’s comments dismissing her as the “high school graduate in this race” — though the latter does not seem to have dinged Perdue.

The poll also showed Gov. Nathan Deal with 61 percent in his primary, with challengers David Pennington at 7 percent and John Barge at 4 percent.

InsiderAdvantage conducted the poll of likely Republican voters in Georgia April 13-15 with a margin of error of 3.4 percentage points.

***

An intriguing subplot to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s endorsement of Jack Kingston in the Senate race: the Chamber — and its Georgia affiliate — are firmly behind the Common Core education standards. Kingston is against them, and even compared Common Core to the dreaded Obamacare.

***

Down in Albany, Gov. Nathan Deal was pressed about why he’s refusing to debate his GOP opponents. It came after the strange dispute between former Dalton Mayor David Pennington, a GOP challenger, and Deal attorney Randy Evans.

From The Albany Herald’s coverage:

 “I am not going to engage in a debate in the media with David Pennington,” Deal said. “The bottom line is that people who make accusations need to get their facts straight and this is where David Pennington fails.”

Deal was then asked if he would debate his Republican challenger before the May 20 primary.

“I haven’t made that call one way or the other, but I wonder if Jason Carter will have one either,” Deal said.

Carter, who doesn’t have any Democratic opponents, seems to be spared of that decision.

***

Though he did not name Deal, a fed-up statement Thursday from U.S. Rep. John Lewis on the state’s food stamp backlog woes can be read as a manifesto against the Republican administration. Said the civil rights legend:

“The state of Georgia seems to have become callous and indifferent to the needs of its most vulnerable people. The poor, the seniors, and the sick must travel to a state office and pay for an ID card just to register to vote. The ill and the suffering will receive no relief from the expansion of Medicaid.

“People who feared they might lose their homes can’t receive help in time to save themselves from foreclosure, even though millions of dollars were allocated by the federal government to the hardest hit states. And now the hungry, who are looking for Georgia to offer a safety net of support are victimized by poor management, even when federal money is available.

“Somewhere I read that as you have done to the least of these, so you have done it to me. The state of Georgia needs to be evenhanded in its administration. It cannot operate competently in some cases and incompetently in others. It must serve all the people –the poor and the rich, the sick and the able-bodied, the hungry and the well-fed–justly.

“It seems that our food stamp program in Georgia is not receiving the human resources and management expertise it demands in order to meet the needs of the people it was created to serve. That is not right, not fair or just. The state needs to fix the systemic and backlog problems immediately.”    

***

You don’t often see a political candidate’s wife narrate an advertisement about her life. But not every political candidate marries a Miss America who overcame a disability.

Here’s the latest TV offering from St. Simons Island businessman John McCallum, a Republican running in the coastal First Congressional District, featuring Heather Whitestone McCallum:

***

In the 12th Congressional District GOP primary, 2012 nominee Lee Anderson is backing businessman Eugene Yu. Said Anderson in a press release:

“Eugene has lived the American story most politicians only talk about.  He is not only a rock-solid conservative; he’s served his country and community, built a successful business and actually knows what it’s like to pay taxes. I’m proud to support him as our next Republican Congressman.”

As the folks at Georgia Tipsheet point out, the Anderson news was semi-buried in Yu’s announcement of county chairmen, perhaps a reflection of Anderson’s lackluster campaign against Rep. John Barrow, D-Augusta.

***

Witness Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed tweak the Cobb Crackers Atlanta Braves in this 11Alive story on their Turner Field lease, which expires after the 2016 season. The Cobb stadium is scheduled to be completed in January 2017 — cutting it close with opening day, should construction delays arise:

The Braves have a five year option to extend the lease, though the team would undoubtedly ask for a shorter extension if the Braves stadium in Cobb isn’t complete by the 2017 season.

If it were to come to that however, Reed said he would insist on a five-year extension. “They gotta take it all,” he said smiling. “Can’t take a piece. You gotta take all five” years, he said.

***

Jimmy Carter seems to bring out the best of Twitter.

The outing of the former president’s exclusive fundraiser for his grandson’s gubernatorial campaign led to some inspired back-and-forth on social media. Here are some of our favorites:

Jason Carter’s campaign manager had some fun with Deal’s response about the younger Carter wrapping himself in a “cloak of extremism.”

Then came Deal spokesman Brian Robinson, who has returned to Twitter after a recent sojourn. He made his own exclusive offer:

***

U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland tells Jason Pye at United Liberty that he’s keeping the Benghazi investigation going — but not with the goal of regularly appearing on Fox News:

Westmoreland said that he went to Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) approximately six weeks ago to get his blessing to form a group consisting of members of three key House committees — Oversight and Government Reform, Armed Services, and Foreign Affairs. He wanted members with prosecutorial experience to build a potential case.

“We would look at the testimony, we would look at a list of witnesses that have testified in front of Government Oversight and Foreign Affairs,” Westmoreland told United Liberty. “And we would look at them, and we would look at their testimony and see if there [were] any contradictions in testimonies that may have been presented by somebody else at another committee.”

Boehner’s staff contacted Westmoreland two weeks later, offering staff support to assist the group as it reviews some 50,000 pages of testimony and interviews.

“[I]t’s a small group,” said Westmoreland. “We don’t want any big committee chairs, we wanted the average run-of-the-mill kind of guy that could look at this and not be on TV every night, or be doing interviews and trying to make a lot of gain out of it, because the American people, they want to know the truth, and that’s what we’re doing our best.”

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