It looks like Johnny Isakson has his first challenger

 

David Perdue, Derrick GraysonGeorgia Republican U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson may have his first challenger: Stone Mountain minister and MARTA engineer Derrick Grayson.

You may remember “The Minister of Truth” from the 2014 U.S. Senate race, to which he brought a big stage presence and a determination to reference the Constitution as much as possible. He had precious little money and secured just 1 percent of the vote in the GOP primary.

His @Grayson2014 Twitter handle has remained active since then, tweeting the same four tweets every day, including “Insanity: Sending the same politicians back to Washington and expecting a different result. Are you ready for change?”Your daily jolt on politics from the AJC's Political insider blog

Grayson will announce the formation of a Senate exploratory committee Thursday at the Lanier Tea Party Patriots monthly meeting in Gainesville. Here’s hoping his rather good Jimi Hendrix routine makes another appearance.

Here’s what Grayson had to say in a press release:

“Georgia doesn’t need another political ‘Yes’ man; Georgia needs a Representative that will adhere to ‘100% of the Constitution, 100% of the time.’ I am deeply concerned with the apparent disregard of the core principles this nation was founded on. The erosion of personal freedom and liberty as a result of federal policy and legislation is alarming. Instead of encouraging job creation, current policies promote a culture of dependence on big government and welfare programs. Our current representatives have effectively diminished our economic and world leadership and by doing so have shifted world influence.

“America’s course must be corrected. The days of self-serving politicians and those who seek enrichment by special interest are over. What we need now are strong and principled voices that will stand and represent the will of ‘We the People’ and who will honor their oath to support and defend the Constitution. After careful consideration and many late night phone calls from people across the state, I am announcing our decision to form an exploratory committee, to seek election to the United States Senate.”

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Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s march to presidential contention has led him to step down from a range of boards, including one led by his long-time friend Rick Jackson.

Bush resigned Thursday from the board of Jackson Healthcare, the nation’s third-largest health staffing firm. It’s chief executive, Rick Jackson, has a rags-to-riches story and was a driving force behind a proposed foster care overhaul.

“We are grateful for the tremendous leadership and vision the governor brought to our company,” said Jackson. “Jeb always has visionary solutions to big challenges. We wish him great success in his future endeavors.”

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We told you yesterday that Gov. Nathan Deal’s campaign pumped more than $600,000 into his daughter-in-law’s fundraising firm in the days before the election and the week after his victory.

Here’s the response that came last night from campaign manager Tom Willis:

“Denise Deal has been an important part of our campaign team the entire 2014 cycle. The hard work and fundraising abilities of her and her team speak for themselves. The compensation for her firm’s labor are equivalent to other fundraisers within the industry, and are open for all to see in our disclosure. We had the biggest third quarter fundraising total in the history of Georgia governor’s races. It was her job to make sure the campaign had the resources to deliver Gov. Deal’s message and vision to Georgia voters, and she delivered that.”

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This can’t be a good sign for the advocates who want another shot at a “religious liberty” bill.

House Speaker David Ralston had this to say on the matter during a press gaggle yesterday:

“What I’m going to look at is what does this bill do that the Constitution doesn’t do? I want to understand the intensity of the opposition.”

The supporters say it adds a new level of protection from government intrusion on faith-based activities, but some critics say the First Amendment is enough. Seems like Ralston is in the latter camp.

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U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson did some chest-thumping about his alma mater, Morehouse College, during a stop at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport Thursday, declaring his class of 1979 was the best. He noted his class of Morehouse Maroon Tigers included filmmaker Spike Lee, Martin Luther King III, and Robert Mallet, former deputy secretary of commerce.

“The greatest class to ever finish Morehouse College,” he joked.

We wonder what actor Samuel L. Jackson, Morehouse class of 1972, would say about that.

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freshman fundraiserA South Carolina conservative blogger posted the accompanying “meet and greet” invitation for Georgia’s freshmen House Republicans this week hosted by veteran Georgia Rep. Lynn Westmoreland.

Fitsnews argues that the event is evidence that the quartet’s votes for Speaker John Boehner were bought, since the invites went out around the time of the vote. We figure Westmoreland would have shown the same hospitality for the new delegation mates regardless of how they voted, but donations from the D.C. lobbying community certainly would suffer for those who publicly embarrassed the speaker.

And re-election campaigns ain’t free.

UPDATE 11 a.m. — A Westmoreland spokeswoman says the event was not a fundraiser, as we initially reported, and no donations were solicited or accepted. But the invitation does include the names of the members’ campaign committees, so any hypothetical checks would be correctly addressed.

Westmoreland also is no longer a deputy chairman for the National Republican Congressional Committee — he’s focusing on other things in the new Congress.

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House Republicans aim to move quickly on an appropriations bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security while blocking President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, wrote his own bill that he hopes will do the trick.

According to a press release Thursday, Collins’ “Immigration Accountability Act” would prevent DHS from using the fees it collects to implement Obama’s 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, as well as the 2014 move toward “prosecutorial discretion” that could spare 5 million people the threat of deportation.

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We’re told that former state lawmaker Roger Hines of Kennesaw will serve as a paid liaison to the General Assembly for incoming state School Superintendent Richard Woods.

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The Army is reversing a policy that forced certain junior officers to retire at their lower enlisted rank, which could mean $1,000 per month or more difference in their pensions.

Army Secretary John McHugh revealed the switch in a letter to Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., that was shared with us. Isakson and Patty Murray, D-Wash. wrote a letter to McHugh challenging the practice in November  — when the practice was detailed in a New York Times article about the costs of a shrinking Army.

Said Isakson:

“I am thrilled Secretary McHugh responded quickly and is taking the steps necessary to rectify this situation and allow these deserving men and women to retire at the rank they have earned and appropriately honor their service to our nation.”


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