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Greg BluesteinDaniel Malloy

John Barge’s ‘internal struggle’ with the gun bill

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Superintendent John Barge knows it could get him in trouble with the GOP electorate. But the Republican gubernatorial candidate is backing off his statement that he was “good” with the sweeping gun law his opponent Gov. Nathan Deal signed into law this week.

Gov. Nathan Deal and state schools Superintendent John Barge, one of his GOP challengers.

Gov. Nathan Deal and state schools Superintendent John Barge, one of his GOP challengers.

Barge said it came after an “internal struggle” that raged most of Thursday. Ultimately, he decided he was against a provision in the law that allows people with permits to carry guns into bars after learning it would not let bar owners “opt in.”

“Being the child of an alcoholic, I know that alcohol causes people to do some not so smart things. I thought it was still in an opt-in situation for bars. I realize now that it was taken out, and I have got a big concern with that. I don’t know if that’s the wisest thing.”

Any opposition for the gun bill is dicey territory, particularly for a Republican. Some more strident gun rights groups argued that the new law, which takes effect in July, didn’t go far enough. Another GOP candidate, David Pennington, said Friday in an interview that the bill was still too restrictive. And even Democrat Jason Carter, his party’s nominee for governor, supported the law.

Barge said he’s ready for the fallout.

“I know that people are going to be furious,” he said. “But I’m running on a campaign of integrity and I’m not afraid of speaking my mind.”

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Erick Erickson’s endorsement of U.S. Senate candidate Karen Handel is going beyond the broadcast booth.

The WSB radio personality taped a robo-call for Handel that went out to 350,000 GOP primary voters. He calls her an “unwavering, principled conservative.”

You can hear Erickson’s call here, but know that not everyone was amused.

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Another WSB heavyweight is getting more deeply involved in local politics.

Former presidential candidate Herman Cain is backing Jef Fincher, one of the two challengers trying to oust long-serving state Rep. Brooks Coleman in the GOP primary. Peach Pundit reports that Cain will be a special guest at a fundraiser for Fincher next week.

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Democrats had a packed crowd at the Jefferson-Jackson fundraiser last night. And, almost as importantly for the audience, they managed to finish up before the Hawks playoff game next door got finished.

The keynote speaker, James Carville, had a lot of biting one-liners. But here’s one of the best:

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State Sen. Vincent Fort says he’s given fellow Democrat Alisha Thomas Morgan hundreds of dollars over the years. Now he wants his money back from the superintendent candidate because of her “collaboration with right-wing Republican enemies of public education.” From his letter:

“You have voted for tax credit vouchers for private schools. These tax credit vouchers have siphoned off tens of millions of dollars that could have been used to support public education. You also have voted for and worked to pass the 2012 charter school amendment … Therefore, I am asking you to immediately reimburse me for the money I have contributed to you so that I may use those funds to support candidates who will defend public education not undermine it.”

Fort and other Democratic leaders have lined up behind Valarie Wilson, a former Decatur school board member, in an increasingly bitter intra-party conflict.

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The five GOP candidates vying to take on U.S. Rep. John Barrow gathered in Augusta on Thursday evening for a debate in which there were few fireworks but an interesting exchange between state Rep. Delvis Dutton and former Congressional staffer John Stone.

Dutton said, “We have to make sure the federal government stays out of our water rights.” The line prompted this rebuttal from Stone:

“It shows a lack of understanding that the biggest issues we face in our water issues is the Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, EPA. You’re going to have to tackle those agencies to control what you’re able to do with our water in this district.”

Dutton replied: “Yes, I completely agree that we have to tackle the Corps of Engineers, EPA and [the state Environmental Protection Division]. I’ve done that for four years [in the state House]. I would love to see ‘em closed and defunded.”

We followed up with Dutton after the debate — did he really mean he wants to close the Army Corps of Engineers?

“I didn’t say Corps of Engineers,” he said. “I said EPA and EPD.”

Dutton clarified that he supports the Corps’ mission, including the expansion of the Savannah Harbor. He simply meant “the Corps needs to be allowed to do the job without intruding on the private property rights of the states.”

***

Stone’s ad in which he fires a cannon is getting some national attention. But we’re told there is only $1,100 behind it, for now, on cable stations around the district.

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Former state House Majority Whip Ed Lindsey is putting considerably more dough — literally — behind this new ad in his campaign for the 11th District U.S. House seat. He appears to be the first one on the air in expensive Atlanta in the race to replace Rep. Phil Gingrey.

Lindsey is spending $20,000 in the next few days on broadcast, according to FCC filings. Viewers will see him goaltend, chop wood and deliver a pizza.

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Sincerest form of flattery alert: North Carolina U.S. Senate candidate Mark Harris is changing his campaign website after a report that he had copied passages from U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey.

Republican consultant Tom Perdue, who is working for Harris and oversaw the writing of his website, said that a group of five college students had pulled information for his statements together based on issue statements of current politicians, including governors and Senators. The similarities were a result of his not reading over the statements closely enough, he said, blaming himself.

“There was no plagiarism intended,” Perdue said. “It was a total accident.”

You may recall Tom Perdue was also Sen. Saxby Chambliss’ campaign consultant.

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One of the AJC’s web wizards has put together an interactive graphic on all the U.S. Senate candidates that includes bio information, links to campaign finance data and all sorts of other cool stuff. Bookmark it here.

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The Senate candidate tool also links to all of the candidates’ ads. Here’s a new entry from Karen Handel, that covers a lot of ground in 30 seconds — including calling out her opponents and bringing up David Perdue’s “high school graduate” remarks.

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Jason Carter’s campaign is getting some more star power – and another hint that his grandfather will play a growing role in his bid.

We’ll send on a recording when we get one …

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