Donald Trump eyes a defensive move in Georgia

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at a rally in Spokane, Wash., last week. Trump is moving quickly to install political operatives in more than a dozen states, targeting Maine and Minnesota among others that traditionally favor Democrats, as the Republican White House contender lays the groundwork for an expanded electoral battlefield. AP/Ted S. Warren

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at a rally in Spokane, Wash., last week. Trump is moving quickly to install political operatives in more than a dozen states, targeting Maine and Minnesota among others that traditionally favor Democrats, as the Republican White House contender lays the groundwork for an expanded electoral battlefield. AP/Ted S. Warren

Georgia has reliably voted Republican in presidential contests since 1996, but the polarizing billionaire has Democrats salivating over a potential pick-up. Now comes word from the Associated Press that Trump is looking to shore up his support in the state:

The Trump campaign has identified roughly 15 states where it plans to install state directors by the end of the month. They include traditional battlegrounds like Ohio, Florida and Virginia and more challenging terrain such as Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Maine — places Republican have lost for the last six presidential elections or longer. Target states also will likely include Republican-leaning Georgia, where demographic shifts benefit Democrats.logo-all

Trump’s deployment of political operatives was outlined by campaign strategists who weren’t authorized to speak publicly about internal strategy and demanded anonymity. The plan will be subsidized, at least in part, by the Republican Party’s new “building fund,” a lightly regulated pool of money that can include donations of more than $100,000 from individual donors, they said, though rules for doing so might pose an obstacle.

An AJC poll this weekend showed that a November presidential contest between Hillary Clinton and Trump was a statistical dead heat. We should note that Trump already has a state director in Georgia. Brandon Phillips has led Trump’s effort here for months, and he’s now focused on the June state GOP convention that will choose the final 31 delegates who are headed to Cleveland.

Meanwhile, Trump and the Republican National Committee finalized a joint fundraising deal last night that will allow donors to cut checks for up to $449,400. The agreement enables Trump to raise money the RNC can use on his and other Republican campaigns. The Georgia GOP told us it was not yet involved in the deal.

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In last night’s “make-up” interview with Megyn Kelly of Fox News, the most revealing line from Donald Trump may have been this one about his reluctance to appear “presidential”:

“If I were soft, if I were presidential … in a way it’s a bad word, because there’s nothing wrong with being presidential, but if I had not fought back in the way I fought back, I don’t think I would have been successful.”

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After a victory for Bernie Sanders in Tuesday’s Oregon presidential primary, and a possible draw for Sanders and Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton in Kentucky, the Associated Press has this assessment:

For the night, Sanders picked up 55 delegates to Clinton’s 51. Ten delegates remain to be allocated, pending final vote tallies.

That means based on primaries and caucuses to date, Clinton has 1,767 delegates while Sanders has 1,488. To close that gap, Sanders would need to win 68 percent of the remaining primary and caucus delegates.

When including superdelegates, or party officials who can back any candidate, Clinton has 2,291 to Sanders’ 1,528. She is now just 92 delegates short of the 2,383 needed to win.

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U.S. Sens. Johnny Isakson and David Perdue on Tuesday split over funding for Zika relief efforts.

Perdue voted for a $1.1 billion plan that would have offset the spending by redirecting funding from other programs at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and elsewhere. Isakson voted for that too, but he also supported a separate $1.1 billion package that treated the Zika money as emergency spending that would not be offset.

The Senate ultimately advanced the non-offset version, teeing up a final passage vote later in the week.

Since last year, doctors in Brazil had been linking Zika infections in pregnant women to a rise in newborns with microcephaly, or an unusually small skull. Last month, the CDC confirmed the link, and warned that the virus is likely to spread.

“I want everybody to be clear: this is an emergency and had we not passed this bill today, at month’s end we would have an even greater emergency because Zika would have spread unabated in the southern United States,” Isakson said on the Senate floor.

Perdue said he chose to support only the “fiscally responsible” version.

“After carefully examining the federal budget, I voted today to responsibly allocate federal funds to combat Zika and protect our communities, while not adding to the national debt,” he said.

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The Macon-Bibb County election board has backed off a decision to temporarily relocate a precinct polling location to the local sheriff’s office. Critics feared that the move would depress voting in the majority African-American precinct. From the Telegraph:

Gwen Westbrooks, president of the Macon-Bibb County chapter of the NAACP, said she’s glad the petition was able to eliminate the sheriff’s building as an option. Westbrooks said she disagreed with the notion from some board members that having a sheriff’s building as a voter precinct would not affect voter morale.

“We’re looking at some of the same issues from the 1960s in 2016,” she said following Monday’s meeting.

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More than 157,000 workers in Georgia would see larger paychecks under a new overtime regulation the Obama administration finalized Tuesday.

The rule would double the salary level under which employers would be required to pay overtime, from $23,660 to $47,476 per year for those working more than 40 hours a week. The administration said the regulation would increase wages for workers by $12 billion over the next decade. Here’s more background from the Associated Press.

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The U.S. House will vote next week to rename the Riverdale post office in honor of slain police officer Greg ‘Lem’ Barney, who died on the job in Clayton County earlier this year. Click here to read more about Barney, the first black chief in Riverdale’s history. 

Atlanta Democrat David Scott is spearheading the effort. He said the House will vote on his resolution Monday. “Naming the Riverdale Post Office in his honor is just one way that we can recognize a man who is loved by his family, colleagues, friends and neighbors,” said Scott.


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