Hints from Donald Trump, Democrats that Georgia could be in play

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California arrives for a meeting with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at the Capitol Hill Club in Washington on Thursday. AP/Cliff Owen

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California arrives for a meeting with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at the Capitol Hill Club in Washington on Thursday. AP/Cliff Owen

Color us skeptical when it comes to whether Georgia will turn blue, or even purple, in November. Yet we’re seeing some hints that Republicans sense trouble in our fair state, and Democrats are prepping for an opportunity. First, from the Wall Street Journal:

Donald Trump’s political director, Jim Murphy, told a small group of House members Wednesday that the campaign is targeting a broad collection of 17 states in the general election, according to people at the meeting.logo-GH

Mr. Murphy said Mr. Trump would focus on Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin….

But Mr. Trump’s top targets include some Republican leaning states that should be safe zones. Two of those states – Georgia and Arizona – include a growing Hispanic vote, which polls show is widely resisting the presumptive GOP nominee.

Then there’s an article in The Hill this morning, on a hacker-leaked document showing Democratic plans to disrupt the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. From The Hill:

The documents say the DNC plans on splitting its efforts between a “fixed office space” in Cleveland and a “mobile rapid response hub (a wrapped RV).”

The DNC has also ranked the nation’s top 50 media markets in order of size within battleground states for spreading its message.

The DNC considers Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Boston, Atlanta and the Tampa area its top five targets.

Now, it’s possible that Trump’s candidacy has shaken up the electoral vote formula to such a degree that normal political physics don’t apply. But Georgia should be a gimme putt for Republicans. And conventional wisdom says that if either Trump or Clinton mount a serious campaign here between now and November, then the GOP race for the White House is headed South. Literally and figuratively.

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We’re told that Georgia GOP chair John Padgett has called for a telephone conference meeting of all Georgia delegates to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. We don’t know what the topic is, but possibly this.

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Today, all Washington eyes are on a House oversight committee chaired by Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, who has summoned FBI Director James Comey to testify about his decision not to recommend criminal prosecution of Democratic presidential presumptive Hillary Clinton for her use of a private email server while secretary of state. It’s a risky move, given Comey’s background as a federal prosecutor first appointed by President George W. Bush. From the Washington Post:

With almost no preparation, Republicans seem to be betting that the FBI director will crumble under their questioning or end up looking like a partisan hack who tried to protect someone who might be the next president.

Chaffetz said Comey’s decision to recommend closing the case was “surprising” given how strongly he refuted some of the former secretary’s positions. “The fact pattern presented by Director Comey makes clear Secretary Clinton violated the law,” Chaffetz said Wednesday in a statement. “Individuals who intentionally skirt the law must be held accountable.”

Democrats were stunned by the move, leaving both sides with a day to figure out questions for one of the most accomplished legal minds of his era.

Comey has described Hillary Clinton’s handling of State Department emails as “extremely careless.” According to Zpolitics, like many House Republicans, Lynn Westmoreland of Coweta County is using the phrase “grossly negligent.” The phrasing matters. “Grossly negligent” is the legal bar needed to merit criminal prosecution.

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Most Georgia Republicans say they’re planning to meet with Donald Trump when the presumptive GOP nominee swings through Capitol Hill this morning in a final bid for party unity ahead of the convention. The billionaire is holding private, back-to-back meetings with House and Senate caucuses.

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Fresh off his maiden campaign appearance with Donald Trump, potential VP pick Newt Gingrich could be returning to his old stomping grounds on Capitol Hill — for a few hours, at least.

The Hill newspaper reports that the former Georgia lawmaker and House speaker could be invited to testify before a House committee about mobile health applications next week.

As the outlet points out, that would put Gingrich in front of lawmakers — and reporters — just days before the GOP convention kicks off in Cleveland. But the potential invitation isn’t entirely out of left field. Gingrich partnered with a Georgia private equity firm earlier this year to raise money for disruptive health care companies, per the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

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On Wednesday, Republican presidential presumptive Donald Trump inexplicably revived the issue of a star of David his campaign combined with a pile of cash and Hillary Clinton’s face. From the New York Times:

“ ‘You shouldn’t have taken it down,’ ” Mr. Trump recalled telling one of his campaign workers. “I said, ‘Too bad, you should have left it up.’ I would have rather defended it.”

“That’s just a star,” Mr. Trump said repeatedly.

It was a striking display of self-sabotage from a presumptive presidential nominee and underscored the limitations of Mr. Trump’s scattershot approach during the Republican primaries — not to mention how difficult he often makes it for his campaign team to control him.

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That loud pop you heard at 3 a.m. on the Fifth of July? It may have been the final straw breaking at state Sen. Renee Unterman’s house:

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Three Republican state senators – Jeff Mullis of Chickamauga, Rick Jeffares of McDonough, and John Kennedy of Macon — this morning endorsed former West Point mayor Drew Ferguson for the Third District congressional seat, over their chamber colleague Mike Crane of Newnan.

Clearly, there’s some untold history here. From the press release:

“Mike Crane is more interested in getting in front of TV cameras and sending out press releases than he is in helping Georgians,” [Jeffares] said.  “Hearing the sound of his own voice is more appealing to him than cutting taxes, balancing a budget or helping entrepreneurs create jobs.”

Jeffares pointed to a budget vote in the Senate this year that Crane skipped so he could step outside the Capitol and attend a press conference is an example of Crane’s priorities.

“The most dangerous place in Atlanta is between Mike Crane and a TV camera,” Rick concluded.

Minor point: The “press conference” mentioned above was a mass “religious liberty” rally featuring Franklin Graham, son of Billy. Crane was a major backer of this year’s legislation that was vetoed by Gov. Nathan Deal.

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Tim Lee, the Cobb County Commission chairman locked in a runoff to retain his job, has sent out a mailer attack on the current frontrunner, challenger Mike Boyce. In the primary, a Lee-supporting entity known as Cobb First attempted to characterize the incumbent’s rival as a puppet of a previous county chairman, Bill Byrne. With the runoff now only 19 days away, Lee is ripping a page out of Donald Trump’s Book of Nicknames. Boyce is now “Slippery Mike”:

slipperymike

On the other hand, we have the news that the Cobb County Commission is rethinking its policy that restricts parking around the new Atlanta Braves stadium, which was first reported by the AJC. Lee has defended it, but the Marietta Daily Journal is now calling for the ordinance’s repeal. Here’s are the killer paragraphs:

The trouble is, the five-page ordinance is contradictory. For instance, in one place it says property owners within the hot zone will not be issued a license, or to quote it precisely: “An accessory special event parking license will not be issued if primary access to the accessory special event parking area is from public right-of-way within the limited access zone.”

While written in bloodless, government speak, the sentence above states that if you own property and that property is within a half mile of SunTrust Park, you can’t rent out parking spaces when the Braves are playing at home. Period.

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Every now and then we like to point you to what we call comfort news – the familiar stuff that shows you the world hasn’t changed as much as you think. You have to read this piece from the Florida Times-Union down to the very last sentence, but here are two early paragraphs:

Blackshear Chief Municipal Judge Kenneth E. Futch has resigned after a run-in with a local attorney who claims to have a tape of the judge using slurs against black people and being abusive toward his wife….

[Lawyer John] Thigpen, who didn’t respond to a message this weekend, has said that the recording also contains the sound of Futch striking his wife. The tape was purportedly taken days before Kenneth Futch was shot at his Alma home in April. Sheila Futch was charged in the shooting. It isn’t clear why Kenneth Futch would use racial slurs in an argument with his wife. They’re both white.


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