Posted: 9:04 am Tuesday, August 26th, 2014
By Greg Bluestein, Daniel Malloy and Jim Galloway
Expect to see U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Atlanta, popping up around the South this fall to help turn out African-American voters for the midterm elections. Politico reports that while President Barack Obama’s presence in states such as Louisiana would draw unwanted negative attention, members of the Congressional Black Caucus can still go in and fire up the base:
Lewis, a veteran of the civil rights movement, pledged to “travel all around.”
The southern tour is largely focused on North Carolina and Louisiana — where Kay Hagan and Mary Landrieu are trying to fight off spirited GOP challengers — and it is unfolding amid renewed debate over race relations. Riots erupted earlier this month in Ferguson, Mo., after the killing of unarmed teenager Michael Brown by police. The situation brought attention to the mistrust — and sometimes antipathy — some minorities feel toward the government.
Caucus members aim to create a sense of urgency around the midterms, which minorities often sit out in greater numbers than during presidential elections. The lawmakers are pushing a message that the midterms are every bit as important as presidential races, including Obama’s historic victory in 2008.
A spokeswoman for Lewis would not tell us the congressman’s fall travel schedule in advance.
It’s worth noting that Obama is in North Carolina today for a speech to the American Legion convention in Charlotte, and endangered first-term U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan is expected to meet Air Force One on the tarmac.
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., comes to Atlanta today. Peter Hamby of CNN was with him on Monday in Anderson, S.C.:
After a succession of speeches from South Carolina Republican notables like Sen. Lindsey Graham and Gov. Nikki Haley, Rubio took the stage in Anderson to applause, but was quickly interrupted by a group of protestors — self-identified DREAMers, young immigrants brought to the country illegally as minors — who loudly heckled the senator for abandoning last year’s sweeping immigration package when it was met with harsh resistance on the right.
For an ambitious Republican looking to prove his conservative bona fides and rub out the stain of working with Chuck Schumer and Harry Reid, the interruption was something of a gift. A plugged-in Republican operative turned to a reporter and observed dryly, “I couldn’t think of a better way to make Rubio look good in South Carolina.
Now that you Democrats are done celebrating last week’s Landmark/WSB poll putting both U.S. Senate candidate Michelle Nunn and gubernatorial candidate Jason Carter at the top of your races, consider that the liberal Daily Kos continues to list both contests as “likely Republican.”
Also, the DK gives Nunn a 13 percent chance of winning her race for an open seat, but awards Alison Grimes a 21 percent chance of victory over Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.
Ending Spending Action Fund has put another $47,000 into online ads hitting Senate hopeful Michelle Nunn. The Super PAC now has spent $1.4 million bashing Nunn since she won the Democratic primary.
The campaign of Republican Rick Allen is celebrating the fact that the Washington Post’s election model gives him a slight edge over incumbent U.S. Rep. John Barrow, D-Augusta. The Post gives Allen a 53 percent chance of victory, one of only a handful of House seats it expects to flip.
Our AJC colleague Alan Judd has an important three-part series on the parole board’s controversial gun rights decisions that is definitely worth your time. From today’s installment:
When Georgia’s parole board considers restoring a convicted felon’s firearms rights, it doesn’t discuss the case in public.
Or in private.
Each board member votes in isolation, and in secrecy. The five members rarely, if ever, deliberate as a body over restoring offenders’ gun rights. They keep no public record of their votes. And they give neither public notice nor public explanation of decisions that enable felons to re-arm – not even to the felons’ victims.
Gov. Nathan Deal has read the series, too. The governor said Monday he had found it “enlightening,” but otherwise kept the board’s policies at arms’ length. He wouldn’t commit to any legislative changes or executive procedure to tighten those gun rights permitting, saying it’s “premature” to make that call.
What he did say:
“It is something, of course, I don’t have any direct control over, even though I do get to appoint vacancies on the pardon and parole board. They are an independent agency and they make those judgment calls. But I think It’s important to have that information available. Whether or not it will precipitate anything further with legislative action, I don’t know. It’s premature to say that.”
Just in time for Wednesday’s House-Senate committee hearing on medicinal marijuana at the state Capitol, courtesy of the Washington Post:
A new study suggests that medical marijuana could provide some relief from the national epidemic of prescription painkiller overdoses, which kills more Americans each year than car crashes do.
States with medical marijuana laws on the books saw 24.8 percent fewer deaths from painkiller overdoses compared to states that didn’t have such laws, according to the study published in JAMA Internal Medicine.
The ouster of a video journalist at a GOP rally over the weekend is fast becoming a rallying cry for Democrats, who have trumpeted the news on social media.
The Democratic Party of Georgia, through spokesman Michael Smith, sent us word last night that they, too have seized on the issue. Smith coupled the reporter’s ouster with the GOP’s all-white ticket to try to make the case that Republicans are “rejecting huge swaths of the public.”
“They continue to alienate women, people of color, the LGBT community, and immigrants with hostile rhetoric and policies. Just this year, the Georgia Republican Party overwhelmingly rejected women and people of color on their Primary ballot. And now—in an apparent attempt to conceal what they say behind closed doors—it seems the GA GOP is purging itself of the press as well.“
We’ve seen the ousted videographer, Nydia Tisdale, go unmolested at many campaign events – she even filmed David Perdue’s runoff victory from a Buckhead hotel with a press badge. But her plight this weekend seems similar to the treatment given Democratic trackers at Republican events.
Where trackers are often treated as a part of the political landscape at some events, they face a hostile environment elsewhere. We’ve seen them shamed with embarrassing signs and subjected to harassment. A conservative-leaning group has video of Democrat Michelle Nunn refusing to talk to reporters in a tracker’s presence.
The strangest part of the spectacles is that the candidates who are being recorded are largely repeating canned stump speeches in full view of other media — who are largely left alone.
Atlanta Democrats have seized operational control of Virginia’s 7th District congressional race. In June, the Democratic congressional campaign of Jack Trammell summoned Atlanta campaigner Beth Cope to help him take on fellow professor David Brat, the Republican who toppled House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.
Now, we’ve learned, Liz Flowers, who handles communications for Senate Democrats at the state Capitol will join her. It is something of a vacation, given the docile and compliant nature of Virginia journalists, who – we’re reliably informed – treat press releases as holy writ.
Fun fact about their candidate: He’s in the middle of writing a vampire novel. But isn’t everyone?
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.