Posted: 9:32 am Monday, May 19th, 2014
By Greg Bluestein, Jim Galloway and Daniel Malloy
U.S. Rep. John Lewis’ unspoken position on federal judicial nominee Michael Boggs, who now sits on the state Court of Appeals, is drawing him into an intra-delegation battle with fellow Democratic U.S. Rep. David Scott, who on Sunday called Lewis a “turncoat.”
Several U.S. senators have said they would consult Lewis before determining how they would vote on Boggs’ nomination. On Sunday, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that she spoke to Lewis about Boggs. Her comments, via Roll Call, after being asked whether she’d support Boggs:
“I want to meet with him. I want to talk with him. I wanted to go through the committee hearing first. I did do that. I think the questions are very apparent. I know he has some very strong support, even in the African-American community in the state of Georgia. I have spoken to John Lewis about him in the House. And I have great respect for John Lewis, who felt that this was a good ticket,” Feinstein said. “I have got to do my own due diligence. And when I’m ready, I’ll vote.”
Lewis has not said anything publicly since telling us he was “just letting the process take place.”
But Rep. David Scott, D-Atlanta, who has been the most prominent public face of the Boggs opposition, took his displeasure over Feinstein’s interpretation of Lewis’ feelings to Twitter:
The comment was no slip of the BlackBerry. In a follow-up statement to Crew of 42, a blog that covers the Congressional Black Caucus, Scott expanded on his 140-character thoughts:
“John Lewis has betrayed Georgia if this is his new position,” Scott said in a statement. “He is speaking for the White House and not women, African-Americans and gays with his new position, and he has turned his back on his own supporters.”
A spokeswoman for Lewis said the Atlanta congressman will have a statement later this morning.
Updated at 1:45 p.m.: Just got back to the computer and found this Tweet from Scott. He’s not backing off, and took issue with the above headline:
@bluestein not the silence, the quiet campaign FOR Boggs with wavering Senators – see weekend reports
— David Scott (@repdavidscott) May 19, 2014
Todd Rehm of GeorgiaPundit.com offers this evidence that trying to predict the outcome of Tuesday’s primary is near fruitless:
This weekend I downloaded the latest Secretary of State’s Absentee Voter File and through the end of the early and absentee voting period, 236,001 votes were cast. Early voting is finished, though the total will climb a little bit due to lag in reporting, and mail-in ballots being received.
Compare this to the July 31, 2012 Primary election, when 413,361 early votes were cast, and we have had 43% fewer early and advance votes this year than in the 2012 Primary.
The New York Times’ Upshot is unleashing its data modeling on the Georgia Senate race. Here’s the result:
Leo, the Upshot’s Senate model, currently gives Mr. Gingrey and Mr. Broun a collective 25 percent chance of winning the nomination. The possibility that one of those two flawed candidates could be the Republican nominee is a big reason that Michelle Nunn, the Democratic challenger, has a 41 percent chance of winning the race, according to the model. But Leo’s primary estimates are rough and based on limited data — and Mr. Gingrey and Mr. Broun are not thought to have such a strong chance. If neither advances, Ms. Nunn’s chances might decline. Leo gives Ms. Nunn just a 26 percent chance of defeating Mr. Perdue.
The real fight is between Karen Handel and Jack Kingston to join Mr. Perdue in the runoff. The polls show an extremely tight race, with the last four nonpartisan polls showing Mr. Kingston with the edge. Another thing that Mr. Kingston has going for him is geography. Most of the candidates hail from populous northern Georgia, and Ms. Handel doesn’t have a well-established base, but Mr. Kingston represents a congressional district in southeastern Georgia, where he might well run up the score. That could make a difference if Mr. Kingston can hold up well elsewhere in the state.
Mr. Kingston has earned the endorsement of the Chamber of Commerce and is thought of as something of an establishment figure, like Mr. Perdue, even though he is very conservative. Ms. Handel earned the support of Sarah Palin and Rick Santorum in recent days. That might help her consolidate the state’s large cohort of very conservative, Tea Party supporters. In the 2012 Republican primary, 39 percent of voters thought of themselves as “very conservative” and 41 percent were strong supporters of the Tea Party movement. If Mr. Broun and Mr. Gingrey are fading, as is thought, Ms. Handel might be able to take a large enough share of the Tea Party vote to edge out Mr. Kingston, who might not have enough oxygen with Mr. Perdue faring so well.
Part of Karen Handel’s crunch-time pitch to voters is that she is the only non-establishment conservative who can win. Underlying that is the pitch to tea party types who have been backing Rep. Paul Broun that they need to get into her corner.
It worked for Steve Ramey, founder of the Gwinnett County Founding Fathers Tea Party, and an early endorser of Broun. This note from Ramey appeared on Handel’s Facebook page yesterday:
“Karen Handel embodies the values we hold dear. She is a conservative, a proponent of small, limited government, and will concentrate on strengthening our free-market system. The Gwinnett Tea Party is proud to endorse Karen Handel for United States Senate.”
The last time Gov. Nathan Deal went to The Temple synagogue in Atlanta, it was for a particularly feisty 2010 debate against Democrat Roy Barnes. When the governor returned Sunday night, he said he noted an attitude change among Atlanta’s Jewish community.
“Now,” he said, “I meet many of you as friends and supporters.”
He was attending a small gathering with Jewish leaders commemorating Israel’s 66th birthday, but there were frequent reminders of Tuesday’s election challenge – and a possible November matchup against Democrat Jason Carter.
Carter has tried to reassure Jewish constituents that he is different from his grandfather, former President Jimmy Carter, when it comes to Middle East policy. The elder Carter, who has compared Israeli treatment of Arabs in the West Bank and Gaza to the apartheid that once existed in South Africa, issued an apology to the Jewish community to try to quell unrest.
Deal is traveling to the Holy Land next month with a group of business leaders and donors – a sign he’s not too worried that he’ll be forced into a runoff by two GOP challengers on Tuesday. The ostensible purpose for the trip is to highlight economic development ties, but the political resonance is clear.
The Temple’s Rabbi Peter Berg rewarded him with kind words. He called Deal the “single greatest friend Israel has in the state of Georgia” and said the upcoming trip “means the world to everyone in the room here.”
(UPDATE: The rabbi called us on Monday to say those words represented neither an endorsement or a condemnation of Deal. He just meant to praise the governor for supporting Israel.)
The governor said after the event that he expects to attract Jewish voters and donors who otherwise would side with Democrats.
“I’ve always been a staunch supporter of Israel and I think since I’ve been governor we have responded to their requests and increased our investment portfolio in Israel,” he said. “I think we’ve just created a good deal of friends in the Jewish community, and I’m very thankful for that.
An odd strategy is emerging in the final days of the crowded GOP race for superintendent.
Three of the nine Republican candidates have formed an alliance that was made public at Sunday’s Atlanta Press Club debate. administrator Mike Buck, educator Kira Willis and Quitman County schools chief Allen Fort each agreed that either of them would be better than the other six candidates because of their classroom experience.
It was an attempt to marginalize some of the lesser-known candidates and take a swipe at former Hall County Commissioner Ashley Bell, businessman Fitz Johnson and administrators Richard Woods. The three men are considered top contenders for a runoff along with Buck, though it’s hard to gauge with a down-ticket race.
Bell and Buck had a particularly fiery exchange, too. Buck accused Bell of calling state employees “idiots” (Bell denied the charge). Bell returned fire, calling Buck, who is a top aide for Superintendent John Barge, “Barge 2.0.”
The Washington Post today explains the whys and wherefores of U.S. Rep. John Barrow’s introduction of a bill to prohibit first-class travel by members of Congress:
Barrow is one of the dwindling band of conservative Democrats in the House, and thus is a prime target of Republicans. As part of its talking points, the NRCC is pushing the line that Barrow voted against a ban on using taxpayer funds for first-class travel by members of Congress.
What’s the evidence? Buried deep in the House Republican budget blueprint is Section 608, titled “Policy Statement on Responsible Stewardship of Taxpayer Dollars.” The policy statement included this line: “No taxpayer funds may be used to purchase first-class airfare or to lease corporate jets for Members of Congress.”
….The same language appears in the Democratic budget resolution for 2014, but here’s Barrow’s problem: He voted against that budget plan too. So he’s one of the few lawmakers in either party who did not vote for either resolution — and thus cannot claim he voted against first-class travel for lawmakers.
Indeed, two of Barrow’s co-sponsors of legislation ending first-class travel are in the same pickle. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) and Raul Ruiz (D-Calif.) did not vote for either budget plan either.
Here’s an outtake that did not make the paper from Fred Davis, the ad man who developed the baby ads and Sonny Perdue’s depiction of Gov. Roy Barnes as “King Rat” in 2002:
“I try to forget that it’s political advertising. And I was in normal advertising for 20 years before I ever did a political ad of any note. And the principles are the same. Your competitor’s going to spend a dollar, you’re going to spend a dollar.
“If that’s the case, the guy that’s going to win the hearts and minds of the voters — or the buyers, if you’re corporate or voter if you’re political — is the one that people talk about, the one that sticks with them. And they talk about it to their parents at night when they come home. And they talk about it at work the next day. And people talked about the rat. And I think people talked about the babies because it was clear. Simple, like you said, simple works.”
Here is a novel test case for our Super PAC age.
Michael Owens, of Mableton, is running for Congress in a Democratic primary against U.S. Rep. David Scott. A Claudette Owens, also of Mableton but at a different address, donated the maximum $2,600 to Michael in the fall. Then on May 13, according to Federal Election Commission data Claudette spent $3,010 on a television ad supporting Michael.
She didn’t form a PAC called Americans for a More American America or anything like that, just reported the spending to the FEC in her name.
About the Authors
Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He joined the newspaper in June 2012.
Jim Galloway has spent 35 years covering politics and other shenanigans for The Atlanta Journal Constitution.
Daniel Malloy is the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Washington Correspondent, covering the Georgia Congressional delegation and other D.C. goings-on that affect the state since 2011. He's a zealous fan and proud graduate of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.