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Greg BluesteinJim Galloway

In Augusta, a rare Republican ‘thank you’ for Nathan Deal

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AUGUSTA, Ga. — Gov. Nathan Deal is in for a rough convention, but he’s got back-up.

The above banner from Georgia Republicans for the Future greets convention-goers in Augusta. The group was one of the most outspoken opponents of the “religious liberty” legislation that the governor vetoed.logo-GB

“There are many delegates in attendance that agree with the courageous leadership of Governor Deal, but there are thousands more that are not in attendance who support his leadership,” the group’s director, Allen Fox, said in a statement.

“We agree with him that Georgia is a welcoming, loving and inclusive place. That sentiment, along with Governor Deal’s conservative leadership, has made Georgia the best place in the nation to do business.”

State Sen. Josh McKoon, who backed HB 757, was none too pleased. From his Facebook page:

Here early for this weekend’s Georgia Republican Convention. Allen Fox and “Georgia Republicans For the Future” (the shadowy group whose donors are secret) have hung a banner thanking Governor Deal for killing the religious freedom legislation passed overwhelmingly by the Georgia General Assembly earlier this year. What a slap in the face to grassroots Republican leaders!

Replied Fox on his Facebook page: “Worth every penny.”

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Speaking of Josh McKoon. Rumors had been circulating that the Columbus lawmaker would challenge Republican National Committeeman Randy Evans, an Atlanta attorney and longtime Newt Gingrich confidant, for the position of convention chairman. This morning, McKoon says it ain’t so. Here’s the text message he just sent us:

“There has been a great deal of speculation that I would be a candidate for Convention Chairman at this year’s State GOP Convention in Augusta. While I have denied this privately to several of my friends the rumors persist. So let me say here — I will not be a candidate for Convention Chairman. Having attended every convention since 2004, I have found my friend Randy Evans always runs a fair convention and look forward to supporting him.”

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Now that Donald Trump has locked up the nomination, the fight to select Georgia’s 31 remaining delegates to the GOP convention in Cleveland is no longer a tug-of-war between the billionaire’s forces and his adversaries.

But Alex Johnson, a conservative activist who twice ran for GOP party chair, sent a reminder that the delegates still very much matter. From Johnson (emphasis his):

“As these people represent you in crafting the platform and rules of the National GOP, it is vital that these positions are filled by people who don’t just share your values/principles, but are willing to stand up to the pressure of lobbyists and so-called “leaders” who would weaken our platform and care little for what would be best for our nation.”

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If you’re a Republican attempting to pull off a national convention in Cleveland next month, these lines from the Washington Post will keep you up tonight:

SAN JOSE, Calif. —Protests outside a Donald Trump rally in downtown San Jose spun out of control Thursday night when some demonstrators attacked the candidate’s supporters.

Protesters jumped on cars, pelted Trump supporters with eggs and water balloons, snatched signs, and stole “Make America Great” hats off supporters’ heads before burning them and snapping selfies with the charred remains.

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So you know that New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, the lead dog in multi-state probe of Trump University, is rather firm in his belief about what then-provost and now presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump was doing. “It’s fraud. This is straight-up fraud,” he said on MSNBC on Thursday.

Far more worrisome are these final paragraphs in an Associated Press summary of fresh Trump University documents:

Besides the probe that led to Attorney General Schneiderman’s suit in New York, the office of then-Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, a Republican, opened a civil investigation of “possibly deceptive trade practices.” Abbott’s probe was quietly dropped in 2010 when Trump University agreed to end its operations in Texas. Trump subsequently donated $35,000 to Abbott’s successful gubernatorial campaign, according to records.

A spokesman for Abbott, now Texas governor, declined to comment.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi briefly considered joining with Schneiderman in a multi-state suit against Trump University. Three days after Bondi’s spokeswoman was quoted in local media reports as saying the office was reviewing the New York lawsuit, the Donald J. Trump Foundation made a $25,000 contribution to a political fundraising committee supporting Bondi’s re-election campaign. Bondi, a Republican, soon dropped her investigation, citing insufficient grounds to proceed.

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Last month, state Rep. John Yates, R-Griffin, at 94 the oldest member of the Legislature and its only surviving World War II veteran, was drawn into a GOP runoff with chiropractor Karen Mathiak.

Doug Richards of 11Alive News recently snagged a must-see interview with Yates, and asked him whether he was still up to the job. We’ll let you decide that for yourselves. Here’s the eyebrow raiser: Yates’ father was born in 1869. Do the math, and you’ll figure out he was 53 when he sired son John. Those are some strong genes. Watch here:

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State Rep. Wendell Willard, R-Sandy Springs, chairman of the powerful House Judiciary Committee, is now saying publicly what he’s been letting on in private – he’s down to his last term in the Legislature. From Reporter Newspapers:

Willard, a Sandy Springs Republican who is running unopposed for re-election in House District 51 this fall, said he is “looking at my last term…[I will have] served 18 years and that’s probably enough for anybody. [It’s time to] get some fresh ideas down there.”

Willard also serves as the city attorney for Sandy Springs, a job he said he is willing to retain after his retirement from the legislature.