Posted: 9:43 am Monday, August 4th, 2014
By Greg Bluestein, Daniel Malloy and Jim Galloway
You don’t often see foreign policy become fodder in a race for governor.
But as the weekend began, Nathan Deal named Israel as an issue in his re-election bid for governor, and came very, very close to labeling his Democratic rival’s grandfather, former President Jimmy Carter, as an anti-Semite.
The vehicle was a Washington Times op-ed piece, penned by both Deal and John Bolton, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, that held up Georgia as a beacon for U.S.-Israeli relations.
The article begins by condemning the effort among some – which preceded the current hositilities in Gaza — to subject Israel to boycotts, divestitures and sanctions. This is the passage in the Deal/Bolton piece that’s likely to receive the most scrutiny:
This “BDS movement” does not merely criticize specific Israeli policies…but instead attacks the very legitimacy of Israel itself. It often masks an ill-concealed anti-Semitism, a stain we had hoped was long ago erased from American political discourse. It is reminiscent of former President Jimmy Carter’s view of Israel as an “apartheid state.”
Jason Carter, the Democratic state senator, is on record as opposing sanctions against Israel.
The rest of the Deal-Bolton piece is devoted to laying out the strategic connections between Israel and Georgia:
Military needs, technology, academic research and sophisticated workforces intersect in both Georgia and Israel. Georgia Tech’s Information Security Center and cybersecurity training at Fort Gordon (the longtime headquarters of the Army Signal Corps), working closely with Israel’s new Advanced Technology Park on the campus of Ben Gurion University, are quickly becoming cybersecurity world leaders.
On a recent trade mission to Israel, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Given Israel and Georgia’s economic ties, existing technology hubs and military installations, a partnership between Georgia Tech and leading Israeli universities to combat this threat is a natural next step. Together, the “next Silicon Valley” and the “Silicon Valley of the Southeast” are joining to develop and strengthen our cyberdefenses.
Over at Project Q, Matt Hennie notes that Jason Carter, the Democratic candidate for governor, raised nearly $90,000 last week at an LGBT fundraiser in Atlanta organized by local activist Ken Brit. Significant, wrote Hennie, was what Carter didn’t say:
Carter did mention the “religious freedom” bills that anti-gay lawmakers proposed during the last legislative session, Griffin says, pointing to their defeat as a hopeful sign that the state’s political environment is slowly shifting away from its anti-gay hostilities….
But Carter didn’t address gay marriage or other LGBT issues at Thursday’s event, even though the state is being sued in federal court over its same-sex marriage ban. In a March interview with Huffington Post, Carter deflected a question about gay issues. Britt says he didn’t expect Carter to hash out specific policy positions at the fundraiser.
“I’ve always known him to be a very open and accepting person. I think he’ll do the right thing and has it in his heart to do the right thing. I don’t have the need to hear him say the exact right words, because I know he will do the right thing,” Britt says.
Todd Rehm of GeorgiaPundit.com informs us that someone has launched a “Draft Josh McKoon for Senate majority leader” page on Facebook. Ronnie Chance, R-Tyrone, the current majority leader, chose not to run for re-election. McKoon, a Republican from Columbus, sponsored the successful push for new ethics legislation in 2011 — and has more than a few enemies on the House side. Interesting times may lie ahead.
Opponents of two stadium projects – the new Braves home in Cobb County and the Falcons cathedral in downtown Atlanta – will hold a joint press conference this morning across from the state Capitol. The usual suspects will be on hand.
Over the weekend, Jon Gillooly of the Marietta Daily Journal followed up on an AJC look at David Perdue’s shifting tone on Republicans in Washington. You’ll remember that, during the primary phase of his U.S. Senate campaign, Perdue vowed to vote against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
On Saturday, before a gathering of Republicans in Cobb County, Perdue was asked if still intended to do so. From the MDJ:
“Yes, I do, but the No. 1 thing I’m going and working on to do right now is making sure Harry Reid is not the next Majority Leader, so you know, I’m going to be a team player with whoever is leading the Republican Party in Washington,” Perdue said. “This is not about a fight inside the Republican Party. This is about winning this race to make sure the Republicans get a majority in the Senate. Period.”
Democratic-oriented Better Georgia is fighting back against an ethics complaint filed by a GOP ally last month. The group already succeeded in getting a second complaint dismissed.
The group’s director, Bryan Long, sent us a letter drafted by attorney Jeremy Berry with six reasons the complaint filed by James Burnham should be considered frivolous. It also asks the ethics commission to assess Burnham, who accuses the nonprofit of failing to abide by the restrictions of its federal tax category, with its legal fees.
Legal buffs can find the letter right here. Also, take note of Long’s warning:
“Anyone who writes emails about elected officials or political candidates in Georgia should pay close attention to how our case is resolved. If the ethics commission moves forward with this complaint, it will change how the state regulates political discussion in private emails to subscriber lists.”
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.
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.