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Tamar Hallerman

Former rivals David Perdue and Jack Kingston bury the hatchet for Donald Trump

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David Perdue (left) and Jack Kingston, Republican candidates for U.S. Senate, answer questions from panelists as Dennis O'Hayer moderates during a Sunday debate sponsored by the Atlanta Press Club. AJC/Jonathan Phillips

Then-Senate candidates David Perdue (left) and Jack Kingston (center-left) during an Atlanta Press Club debate in 2014. AJC/Jonathan Phillips

It’s been more than two years since Jack Kingston and David Perdue’s long, expensive and somewhat chilly battle for the Republican Senate nomination.

Perdue of course went on to win that matchup in an upset and with Kingston’s blessing eventually defeated Democrat Michelle Nunn. The two men, however, were never exactly close.

But the pair is now joining forces to boost Donald Trump in a new op-ed in the Savannah Morning News:

Our message is simple, and the choice is clear. The future of our country for the next 50 years is at stake. From the balance of power on the Supreme Court to our system of checks and balances in Congress, we need new leadership in the White House.

Putting Donald Trump in the White House is our best chance to finally achieve our shared goal and change the direction of our country.

The two zero in on Republicans speaking ill of Trump:

It is incredibly disappointing that national Republican leaders refuse to honor Reagan’s charge to speak no ill of a fellow Republican. Right now, conservatives of all stripes should set aside their differences and unite behind our vision of a better future.

Everything at stake — from the Supreme Court to our global security, not to mention stopping the corruption of the Clinton Foundation — should unite anyone who wants to turn the page from the failures of the Obama and Clinton era.

Both men have separately advocated for Trump but this is the first time they’ve joined forces in the race. Read their full op-ed here. 

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Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus had a similar message for Republicans on the fence about the party’s nominee.

In a recent appearance on the FOX Business Network, the GOP megadonor said not since the New York City Democratic political machine Tammany Hall has the country “seen (corruption) at this level,” referring to the Clintons:

“All of the Republicans out there, I say the same thing… [If you’re] going to stay neutral, you might as well vote for [Hillary Clinton] because your lack of vote for Donald means she’s going to get elected anyway.”

***

The NCAA last night announced plans to move seven sporting events from North Carolina, the latest rebuke of the state’s bathroom law.

First, the NCAA’s reasoning:

React from the state’s Republican Party was swift. A spokeswoman called NCAA’s announcement “an assault to female athletes.”

The news comes as Georgia is in a bathroom fight of its own.

State leaders joined 10 others this spring in a suit against the Obama administration over federal guidance that seeks to require public schools to let transgender students to use bathrooms that match their gender identity. State leaders said they were compelled to act because of the implicit threat that the federal government could withhold funding from schools if they refuse to comply.

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Hillary Clinton’s Georgia operation is kicking off a “week of action” aimed at boosting turnout among millennials.

On tap for the days ahead is a house party, phone bank and canvass kickoff event. The campaign also released a new report that concludes that 137,000 Georgia students would pay no tuition for a four-year degree under Clinton’s college plan.

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is making big moves to keep the chamber in Republican hands this fall and has been encouraging senators who aren’t up for reelection this year to pony up to help save the party’s majority status.

Now we’re getting word that Perdue will be hosting a Sea Island fundraiser of his own this weekend to benefit the National Republican Senatorial Committee and his Georgia colleague Johnny Isakson, who’s battling two challengers this fall.

Senate Republicans face a horrible election map this year. McConnell is defending 24 seats compared to Democrats’ 10, and the latter party needs to flip a handful of seats to win control of the chamber.

This year may be terrible for the GOP, but 2018 will be just as miserable for Democrats, when they’ll be defending 23 seats to Republicans’ 8.

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Democrat Jim Barksdale has been combing through Isakson’s Senate record over the last several weeks, and his latest hit is on the Republican’s unwillingness to meet with President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court pick Merrick Garland.

“Senator Isakson is the problem in Washington and he’s playing politics with the Supreme Court nominee,” the campaign wrote in a statement marking 180 days since Obama nominated Garland.

From the day Justice Antonin Scalia died, Isakson and other Republicans have held firm that the Senate should not hold hearings for a replacement until after the election.

“Because of this appointment’s significant impact on the future of the Supreme Court and issues affecting all Americans, Senator Isakson believes the American people should have a voice in this process by allowing the next president to select Justice Scalia’s replacement,” his campaign said yesterday.

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Speaking of Isakson, a new poll puts him at 50 percent approval among voters.

The Morning Consult survey of registered voters since May gives the Republican higher approval ratings than other recent Georgia polls. It also shows that a full quarter of respondents don’t know or don’t have an opinion of the two-term incumbent.

Crossing the 50 percent threshold is critical for Isakson this November since he wants to avoid a costly and time consuming runoff.

The most popular senator among his constituents? Vermont Independent Bernie Sanders, who boasts 87 percent approval in the survey. The most unpopular is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who has a 51 percent disapproval rating, according to the Morning Consult.

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Rep. John Lewis’ best-selling graphic novel “March: Book Three” is in the running for a National Book Award.

The third installment in the Atlanta Democrat’s trilogy about about his work in the civil rights movement was one of 10 books to make the so-called longlist for the prestigious award in the young people’s literature category.

Judges will eventually narrow down the list to five and announce the winners on Oct. 13, according to the Associated Press.

It’s just the latest accolade for the March series. Keen readers of this blog may remember that the first book in the trilogy is being turned into an animated television series.

***

Congressional Republicans are setting their sights on unemployment benefits.

Our Cox colleague Dorey Scheimer reports:

U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, introduced a bill that would give states the ability, but not require them, to drug test applicants “who lost their jobs due to drug use or are seeking a new job that generally requires new employees to pass a drug test.”

“This is a common-sense measure to ensure unemployed workers are ready and available to work,” Brady said in a statement.

…Such legislation is popular among those pushing for entitlement reform. Ten states have laws on the books that allow drug testing for welfare recipients.

This comes months after an Alabama congressman introduced legislation that would drug test food stamp recipients. That effort so far has gone nowhere but if revived could have implications on Georgia’s seemingly frozen push.