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Greg BluesteinTamar Hallerman
Jim Galloway

Evidence that Tom Price might be mulling a 2018 race for governor

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Representative Thomas "Tom" Price, a Republican from Georgia and chairman of the House Budget Committee, holds up a copy of the House Republicans' Fiscal Year 2016 budget proposal titled "A Balanced Budget for a Stronger America" during a news conference with other members of the budget committee in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, March 17, 2015. U.S. House Republicans propose to balance the federal budget in less than 10 years by cutting spending by $5.5 trillion without raising taxes, the chamber's budget committee chairman said Tuesday in an opinion article. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg *** Local Caption *** Tom Price

U.S. Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., chairman of the House Budget Committee, at a 2015 press conference. Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

A little birdie sent us over a handy spreadsheet on Tuesday afternoon. The subject line: “Guess who?”logo-all

Open the spreadsheet and you’ll find nearly $75,000 in contributions to a range of Republican lawmakers and influential GOP organizations. State Sen. Jeff Mullis, Fran Millar and Bill Cowsert are on the list of maxed-out contributions. So are House Speaker David Ralston and a gaggle of his lieutenants.

The donor: U.S. Rep. Tom Price. The suggestion from our source: The Roswell Republican is keeping his options open for the 2018 governor’s race.

A committee chairman on Capitol Hill who is close with Speaker Paul Ryan, Price has been able to tap into a vast national fundraising network. The fruits of that show: Price’s campaign committee reported more than $2.5 million in cash on hand at the beginning of May, according to federal filings. To put that in perspective, that’s more than twice the amount of money Donald Trump’s campaign said it had on hand at the end of May.

Because Price hasn’t had a competitive race in some time, he’s been able to stockpile cash and spread it generously among current and potential political allies, which could of course help him later should he pursue a run for statewide office.

A few other things to think about: Price is term limited in his position as chairman of the House Budget Committee. He can serve in that role for four and a half more years under GOP rules. He’s made no secret of his ambitions to run for higher leadership positions on Capitol Hill, but he’s so far lost out on such opportunities.

A Price run for governor would be only part of the story. The congressman is one half of a power couple. His wife, Betty Price, the former Roswell city council member, was only recently elected to the state House. Would they be content to car-pool to the state Capitol — or would she want to take up her husband’s weekly commute to D.C.?

Have a look at the list here — it’s important stuff.  We’ve got a doughnut bet riding on it:

pricelist

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After the 2014 election, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed had a warning for Georgia Democrats: Ignore black voters at your own peril.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, Kent D. Johnson, kdjohnson@ajc.com

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, Kent D. Johnson, kdjohnson@ajc.com

Now he’s sending another sort of signal to fellow Democrats who believe that changing demographics alone will put their party over the top: Abandon the “I can win without you approach.” Said the mayor:

“The go-it-alone approach is having a really negative effect on the country, on cities and communities.  You’re better off trying to continue to problem-solve. And it keeps the community together. This go-it-alone approach is fracturing the country. If I take an ‘I can win without you approach’ and I have demographics on my side, then that gives (the other side) a reason to be hyper-defensive.”

As if to emphasize the point, Reed is planning a visit to West Virginia, one of the whitest states in the nation. He’ll tour the state with Sen. Joe Manchin, one of the most conservative Democrats in Congress.

“We’ve been talking a lot of ‘win without them,'” Reed said. “We ought to be in the business of both sides of the aisle saying at the end of the day, ‘We’re responsible.'”

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The news and polling aggregator RealClearPolitics is now listing Georgia as a ‘toss-up’ state for president, becoming the latest site to predict that the typically red Peach State will be in play this November.

Georgia Democrats have long argued they have a path for turning Georgia purple due in part to the state’s rapidly changing demographics. They’ve been unsuccessful in recent statewide races, but they’re particularly upbeat this year because of the prospect of Donald Trump anchoring the GOP ticket.

Our own poll of Georgia voters in mid-May put presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton within 4 percentage points of Trump, well within striking distance. However, a statewide survey conducted by Public Policy Polling a few weeks later showed Trump consolidating his position here.

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The U.S. Senate erupted into its most recent round of partisan rancor yesterday after Democrats filibustered a spending bill intended to halt the spread of the Zika virus and fund VA healthcare and military bases.

“Unbelievable” was the word used by Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., in a floor speech after the vote.

Democrats, for their part, had their list of reasons for why they rejected the House-Senate compromise bill. But one of the items on that list sounds like it doesn’t belong, at least at first blush: the Confederate battle flag. Or, more accurately, the disappearance of a particular flag-related provision we told you about last week — which would have barred the Department of Veterans Affairs from displaying Confederate battle flag imagery at military cemeteries.

House Minority Leader Harry Reid railed about it on the Senate floor ahead of the Zika vote.

The bill “is disgraceful,” the Nevada Democrat said. “It’s shameful to use a real-life public health crisis to push the radical Republican agenda.”

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Count Mark Burkhalter, a former state lawmaker from north Fulton who briefly served as House speaker, as one of those who thinks Margaret Thatcher would have supported the Brexit. From London, Burkhalter filed a piece for InsiderAdvantage, detailing the upside of an exit from the European Union. It includes this:

State Rep. Mark Burkhalter (R-John's Creek) watches his vote on the tally board in this file photo from the 2010 session of the Legislature. Phil Skinner, pskinner@ajc.com

State Rep. Mark Burkhalter (R-John’s Creek) watches his vote on the tally board in this file photo from the 2010 session of the Legislature. Phil Skinner, pskinner@ajc.com

Just hours after the vote, realtors in London and elsewhere throughout the country were fielding an amazing amount of interest in buyers seeking real estate in the United Kingdom. A flat in London suddenly becomes more affordable when British Sterling drops compared to the dollar. Commercial development will likely also spike beyond its already steady growth.

Tourism in the UK will certainly see a boost as the pound drops in value. For Americans it may be much more affordable to visit London or take that vacation to Scotland. British imports will become more affordable.

As the Brexit evolves, Atlanta-based, multi-national corporations with offices in London such as Coca-Cola, UPS and Newell Rubbermaid will continue to trade goods and services just as they have prior to the creation of the EU. Actually, we could see an easing of regulations on companies as Brussels now has incentive to loosen its regulatory grip or risk exit votes by other nations.

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In 2013, then-state Sen. Don Balfour, R-Snellville, was acquitted of charges brought by state prosecutors, alleging that he intentionally claimed bogus per diem and reimbursement payments from the state. So you’ll have to forgive him if his reading list is more than slightly topic-specific. From his Facebook page:

Last year I read a great book. “Guilty Until Proven Innocent.” Today I started reading another book. “It’s Not About the Truth.”

…Most Democrats understand this type of story. Most Republicans need to learn it.

I recommend both books. True [story] about prosecutorial misconduct to the limit. In the end the prosecutor is convicted, loses his law license, and goes to jail.

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U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Atlanta, will celebrate the newest Smithsonian museum on the National Mall, the national African American museum, during a grand opening celebration with President Barack Obama in 13 weeks.

The museum is 28 years in the making, according to The Washington Post. Read more about the history of the museum and Lewis’ role in it here.

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Third parties in Georgia recently won a major victory when a federal court ruled that a portion of the state’s ballot access laws were unconstitutional, a decision that significantly lowered the signatures threshold for parties looking to make it onto the ballot in November.

Now Georgia’s Constitution Party says it’s 40 percent of the way to the 7,500 signatures it needs to qualify for the ballot, with less than two weeks until the deadline.

The state party is looking to place Darrell Castle for president and former U.S. Rep. Paul Broun, the group’s surprise pick as his running mate, on the ballot later this year. They think the ticket could have some legs given Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton’s high unfavorability ratings among voters.

“While circulating petitions in North Georgia I’ve seen a growing exasperation with the presumptive major party candidates,” Georgia Constitution Party Chairman Ricardo Davis said in a statement. “Voters are receptive to placing candidates on the ballot with a credible record in articulating and defending their values in the political arena.”

The party said it is ramping up its work to secure the 4,500 remaining signatures by the deadline, but at least one member said he has run into issues publicly petitioning for signatures.