Georgia’s battle between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz: Part ‘babbling,’ part ‘travesty’

Republican gathering for the sixth congressional district in Alpharetta. Activists were voting with red cards on delegates supporting Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Donald Trump. AJC/Special

Republican gathering for the Sixth District GOP gathering in Alpharetta. Activists voted with red cards on delegates supporting Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Donald Trump. AJC/Special

Monday night was the first opportunity for many evening political shows to chew over Georgia’s weekend clash between the forces of Ted Cruz and Donald Trump over delegate representation in Cleveland.

MSNBC’s “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell” seized on this Twitter comment from David Plouffe, the former campaign adviser to Barack Obama:

After which, the host brought on Trumpster Debbie Dooley, who was denied delegate status at a raucous 7th District meeting, and former congressman Bob Barr, a Cruzer who was part of the Texas senator’s sweep in the 11th District. Watch here:

A partial transcript:

O’Donnell: David Plouffe and others who have been through this in presidential campaigns, are saying this was malpractice on the part of the Trump campaign, because the Trump campaign had months – just like the Cruz campaign had – to assemble the people, like Bob Barr and others, who would go into these rooms for Donald Trump…..The Trump campaign did not get enough people involved in this, in Georgia, in order to win those slots.logo-all

Dooley: Let me interject here. Delegates – Mr. Barr is incorrect. Delegates are only bound for one round. I spoke to Republican National Committee [member] Randy Evans on Friday night. A Cruz supporter could vote for rule changes that would negatively impact Donald Trump.

Yes, the Trump team was late to the game. But they were probably like me. They incorrectly assumed that a candidate that is running as a constitutional conservative would not try to undermine one of the rights given under the Constitution – and that’s a right to vote. This was a public election. It was paid for by Georgia tax dollars, taxpayer money.

At district conventions across the state, they systematically disenfranchised voters that voted for Trump. It is a travesty….

O’Donnell: Let’s let Bob Barr respond to that.

Barr: It’s just so hard to know where to start. It’s just such babbling nonsense. The fact of the matter is that the election process for the Georgia Republican party has not changed dramatically, significantly in the nearly 40 years that I have been involved with it….

Dooley had a rejoinder: Perhaps a political system that hasn’t changed in 40 years is in need of a makeover.

O’Donnell closed by asking both Dooley and Barr whether they would support whomever is nominated in Cleveland this summer. Dooley said yes.

“I’ll take the Fifth, Larry,” replied Barr.

***

Forget New York. The most important race left on the primary calendar may be Indiana’s May 3 contest. That’s what the New York Times’ Nate Cohn posits in an analysis of the upcoming contests.

With polls showing Republican front-runner Donald Trump with hefty leads in New York’s Tuesday primary and the upcoming East Coast contests next week, the analysis found that the only two toss-ups remaining are the race for the 57 delegates in Indiana and the June contest for 172 delegates in California. And Trump needs every delegate he can squeeze to reach the 1,237 margin he needs to clinch the nomination. From the story:

But even though Indiana may be pivotal — it awards its delegates on a winner-take-all basis by congressional district and statewide — the state is a big mystery because there hasn’t been a single poll there. That’s not just because of East Coast media bias (although it may be part of it); it’s a tough state to poll. Indiana law prohibits automated polling, the go-to method for many low-cost pollsters.

The state does not have party registration, which makes it modestly more challenging and costly for pollsters to conduct surveys of the voter registration file. Many of the prolific public pollsters employ the random-digit dialing method, like Quinnipiac, and have no history in the state. I suspect that a few pollsters will ultimately field surveys, but there won’t be many.

Could that also help explain why Trump’s campaign announced a rally in Indianapolis Wednesday?

***

Hall County officials have pulled the plug, at least temporarily, on a controversial project to build the 850-acre Glades Reservoir that has already cost $16 million in taxpayer funds.

Gainesville city officials had already withdrawn support for the reservoir, but county officials remained committed – until this week. Still, the Gainesville Times reports some officials hope for a revival:

Commissioner Scott Gibbs, whose district includes the Glades site, said he hoped to validate the project in the coming months.

“By no means are we pulling the permit” application entirely, he added. The news was met with applause from environmental activists.

“Hall County simply cannot justify the need for this super expensive and highly engineered project for water supply when they have what they need already,” said Jason Ulseth, the lead river protection advocate and spokesman for the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper. “Engineers, lawyers and consultants have been filling their pockets, and taxpayers have been footing the bills.”

The project has been in trouble since at least November, when state officials acknowledged that a combination of slower-than-projected population growth and metro area water conservation efforts meant that Glades was no longer needed as a drinking-water reservoir.

***

Georgia’s governor may have just chosen a side in the fight over whether Georgia Power customers will have to swallow all the costly overruns for the company’s massive nuclear expansion.

When the utility recently urged the Georgia Public Service Commission to let it put at least $1.7 billion in overruns into customers’ monthly power bills, Georgia Power included a supportive letter from Gov. Nathan Deal .

In that letter to elected PSC members, Deal praised the expansion of Plant Vogtle’s nuclear plant as a boost for economic development and jobs. (It’s considered the biggest construction project in the state.)

When pressed by the AJC about whom the governor thinks should pay for the busted budget, Deal spokeswoman Jen Talaber Ryan replied by email, asking who should pay according to legislation “passed and signed into law before Gov. Deal took office.”

“The governor feels plant Vogtle’s expansion is an economic win for Georgia,” she wrote. Read more here.

***

Over the weekend, two pastors took to the pages of the Raleigh News & Observer to call on North Carolina’s governor to follow in the footsteps of Nathan Deal on ‘religious liberty’ legislation.

Terence Leathers and David Key, pastors at churches in Clayton, N.C., and Greensboro, Ga., respectively, said in an op-ed that Deal’s veto of HB 717 earlier this month should serve as an example for Tar Heel State Gov. Pat McCrory. From the op-ed:

Later this month, lawmakers in North Carolina will have a chance to undo the damage done when they tried to turn back the clock on progress and to dehumanize entire communities within their state.

As they consider their faith and the law, we hope that they will hear Deal’s words and remember that the teachings of Christ call upon on us all to love one another and to stand against persecution. We all – for our flaws and imperfections – are made in the image of God.

***

Meanwhile, Saturday Night Live spoofed the ‘religious liberty’ debate in a sketch this weekend:

***

Former Savannah congressman Jack Kingston on Monday endorsed Republican incumbent Doug Collins in the heated race for 9th District congressional seat.

Without mentioning Collins’ challengers by name — the most prominent of whom is former congressman Paul Broun, Kingston said they  would “do well to follow the good example (Collins) sets.”

“Doug Collins has a servant’s heart and he effectively represents those who have entrusted him with this office,” Kingston, who was the runner-up in the GOP race for an open Senate seat in 2014, said in a statement.

 


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