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In Georgia, John Lewis is now the last word in federal judgeships

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051314 Emory grad ba10

U.S. Rep. John Lewis was the keynote speaker at Emory University’s 2014 spring commencement this week. Bob Andres, bandres@ajc.com

Things aren’t looking good for Michael Boggs, the state court of appeals judge whose nomination for a federal judgeship is now before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Boggs, a former state Democratic lawmaker from Waycross, has drawn criticism for past votes to tighten abortion restrictions, support a constitutional ban on gay marriage in Georgia, and – in 2001 – oppose the removal of the 1956-era state flag and its Confederate battle emblem.

Your daily jolt on politics from the AJC's Political insider blogOn the cusp of their best political season since they lost power in 2002, Georgia Democrats have been suspiciously silent about Boggs. The Washington Post today alludes to the reason:

Boggs’s nomination has drawn serious criticism from groups representing women, African Americans and gays — all of which are critical to the Democrats’ voter mobilization efforts this fall. Aides said they expected Boggs will either opt to withdraw his nomination in the coming days or will eventually face likely defeat in the Judiciary Committee, because several Democrats have already expressed concerns or opposition to confirming him.

Even U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., one of the judge’s key backers, doesn’t sound too hopeful:

Isakson wouldn’t say this week whether he thought Boggs would be confirmed, and has declined to criticize the White House or his Democratic colleagues.

“We worked very hard to come up with a great package with the White House,” he said Wednesday. “I trust the president’s judgment, Kathy Ruemmler’s judgment. All seven people are very qualified. I think every member should make their own determination and do their own due diligence.”

Boggs only hope may be U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Atlanta. From the National Journal:

The No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, Majority Whip Dick Durbin, said Wednesday that he he wanted to speak with Lewis before making up his mind. Durbin sits on the Judiciary Committee and questioned Boggs about his vote as a state legislator to have the Confederate flag on the Georgia flag.

“I want to talk over some of the things Judge Boggs said yesterday,” Durbin said. “John Lewis is my friend, and any federal judge in his state, where there are questions raised about race—I wouldn’t consider a final vote until I talk to him personally.”

And this morning we received a copy of the campaign flyer from 2000, when Boggs was running for state House from Waycross. It contains a couple of new statements we had not heard before: “I oppose homosexual Boy Scout leaders and I support voluntary prayer in schools.”

Boggs campaign flier
Boggs did say in his confirmation “my views may or may not have changed” on same-sex marriage, and that could apply to the Scouts as well.

The flyer also is a fascinating artifact from a Democrat running in conservative country at the turn of the century, making his pitch that he would be more effective than a Republican because the Democrats held the Gold Dome majority.

UPDATE 12:59 p.m. — Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Michelle Nunn weighed in on Boggs, saying she had “concerns” but was not ready to outright reject him, in an interview with Politico:

“In terms of this particular nomination, I share some of the concerns that have been raised by the Senate committee members,” Nunn, the daughter of former Sen. Sam Nunn, said in an interview. “I would have to – like all the Senate members – sit down with him and have a discussion and really understand what his issues are. … I have some concerns that others share.”

Asked if that meant she would oppose Boggs, Nunn said: “I think you have to have more information. That’s what you get when you’re actually a senator and a legislator — you have a chance to sit down with him, and I would need to do that.”

***

A few hours before his big get-out-the-vote drive on the shores of Lake Lanier on Saturday, Gov. Nathan Deal will stop by the Morehouse School of Medicine to deliver a commencement address to the historic black college’s graduating class.

It certainly won’t be the first time Deal has attended an event at an institution where he is not exactly beloved (recall his MLK Day speech at Ebenezer Baptist Church), but the timing has raised eyebrows among Democrats.

And now it’s also prompted a protest. Civil rights activists, elected officials and organizers of the Moral Monday movement are holding a presser Friday to protest Deal’s speech. They invoke the pushback swirling around Condoleezza Rice’s once-planned commencement speech at Rutgers University, but on a much smaller scale.

Deal, for his part, isn’t changing plans.

His spokesman Brian Robinson said the governor is “proud to celebrate the success of this year’s graduates and we want to make sure there are good jobs waiting for them here in Georgia once they cross that stage.”

***

Gov. Nathan Deal wants to make one thing abundantly clear: He’s not attending a taping of WSB’s gubernatorial debate on Saturday, just as he declined to attend the Atlanta Press Club debate earlier this week.

Lori Geary of Channel 2 Action News pressed him on that decision on Thursday, and Deal echoed the argument he made to us earlier on why he was skipping the debates against his two GOP rivals.

“I defend my record everyday by talking to you, Lori, and to Greg. I know that they would like to have an opportunity to answer the same kind of questions that I have, and I’m hopeful that the debate and others will afford them the opportunity to do that. I think my record speaks for itself. … Nobody should have any doubt where I stand on any major issue that’s confronting the state of Georgia because I’ve answered those questions. And I’ve not only answered them. I’ve provided tangible responses in terms of results.”

But no comparison shopping, please.

Michelle Nunn, the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, is also passing on a weekend WSB debate with her rivals.

***

In a look at Republican businessman David Perdue, the U.S. Senate candidate, David Weigel of Slate has these interesting last lines:

Perdue’s opponents portray his “CEO candidate” approach as a liability, as proof that the guy is arrogant and does not color in the lines of conservatism.

A Perdue strategist, trying to explain how wrong this was, told me about a moment earlier in the campaign when the candidate was asked whether the Consitution was a “living document.” Hey, he liked the Constitution, and of course it was “alive” and well! He said yes, and a gaffe was born (though didn’t really hurt him), because he didn’t know the lingua franca.

It is not enough to agree with a voter. You have to make it sound like you don’t even have the capacity or language to disagree, because if you do, you might wind up at a negotiating table owned by the wrong guys.

***

On the topic of gaffe avoidance, Politico reports that the U.S. Senate campaign of David Perdue has employed an innovative strategy. At his events, a volunteer is designated to blast music from his mobile phone whenever there’s a video tracker nearby, to prevent an opponent from catching Perdue in an unscripted moment with voters.

***

U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, meanwhile, overtook former secretary of state Karen Handel for second place as David Perdue consolidated his U.S. Senate lead in a new InsiderAdvantage/Morris News/Fox 5 poll, which has an unusual combination of Internet and phone results.

From Walter C. Jones at Morris News:

A poll released Thursday shows Jack Kingston regaining second place from Karen Handel with David Perdue alone in the lead for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate.

Perdue has 27 percent, Kingston 19, Handel 17, Paul Broun 10, Phil Gingrey 9 and 18 percent either undecided or opting for an unnamed candidate. It has a 2.9 percent margin of error, meaning Handel and Kingston are effectively tied, as are Broun and Gingrey.

A couple of weeks ago, the same poll had Perdue at 22 percent, Handel 21 percent, Kingston 17 percent, Broun 14 percent, Gingrey 12 percent.

***

Jack Kingston of Savannah rolled out a new endorsement this morning — from former Republican U.S. Sen. Mack Mattingly, a fellow coastal resident. In today’s AJC, our series of candidate profiles continues with one on Kingston, the Buick-driving “pleasant dissenter.”

***

Here’s something you don’t hear very often: Former CNN talk show host Larry King jumping into a state legislative race. In a robocall, King pronounces Loretta Lepore in her Republican race to replace Ed Lindsey of Atlanta in the House. Listen here.

***

Debbie Dooley, under the heading of an impromptu group called the Georgia Integrity Project, had this to say in an emailed message:

“We officially welcome Georgia Right To Life to the ‘Crazy Radical’ Club.”

The occasion was the flyer – see it below – that GRTL sent to voters in House District 7, an indication that the anti-abortion group has entered the fray to topple House Speaker David Ralston.

grtlralston

In a TV ad, Ralston denounced tea party interests that have lined up against him as “crazy radicals.”

***

Robb Pitts delivered this tough lick against Democratic incumbent John Eaves in the primary fight for the chairmanship of the Fulton County Commission — although it would be easy enough for Eaves to argue he was simply deep in prayer:

johneaves

And the reply from the John Eaves campaign? A familiar attack on Robb Pitts’ alleged Republican leanings:

republidonkey

***

In the race for state school superintendent, Republican Fitz Johnson may have locked up the soccer goalie vote. Hope Solo, formerly of the Atlanta Beat, has sent out this Tweet:

hopesoloFYI, Johnson is Solo’s former boss. He launched the Atlanta women’s soccer team.

***

On the Democratic side of the state school superintendent race, former U.N. ambassador and mayor Andrew Young has endorsed Valarie Wilson with near-religious fervor: “Valarie knows that our teachers must be empowered in their sacred work, not ignored and overburdened.”

Former Gov. Roy Barnes has jumped into DeKalb County’s race for sheriff, endorsing Atlanta police Sgt. Melvin Mitchell. This is a special election, so Republicans are allowed to play.

***

On the topic of DeKalb, we are in possession of an invitation to a Father’s Day golf fundraising outing issued by county Commissioner Stan Watson. RSVPs are directed to a county government email account. A county government phone number is also listed. Not cool.

***

Former state senator Barry Loudermilk, now in the GOP race to replace U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey of Marietta, is a grandfather for the first time. Emmaline Bliss Loudermilk weighed in at 6 pounds, 12 ounces.

Should he get to Congress, Loudermilk’s new status would not factor into his seniority ranking.

***

Possibly you missed this Wedneday piece by our AJC colleague Craig Schneider:

The Georgia Department of Public Health offered a North Georgia leadership post to a California doctor but is reviewing its choice since the discovery of sermons online in which the man criticizes homosexuals and other groups.

Dr. Eric Walsh, the former Pasadena public health director, was placed on administrative leave May 1 following the recent discovery of online videos of his sermons. He resigned from that job Wednesday.

In the videos, Walsh criticizes homosexuality as a sin and labels evolution a “religion created by Satan.” He also criticizes Catholics and Muslims.

Click here for articles on Walsh from the Pasadena Star-News. And here’s a sample sermon. Remarks that fueled the controversy begin at about the 30-minute mark.

 

 

 

 

 

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