The most popular AJC Political Insider posts of 2016

Gov. Nathan Deal said he would veto the "religious liberty" legislation on Monday. Bob Andres/AJC Photo

Gov. Nathan Deal said he would veto the “religious liberty” legislation on Monday. Bob Andres/AJC Photo

Your Political Insiders pay attention to what our dear readers click on to try to provide you the latest on Georgia and national politics.

Sure, the breaking news and the exclusives and the scoops do well. So did just about anything to do with Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. And this year – by far our most clicked-year ever – there was no shortage of jaw-dropping news.

But many of our most popular items didn’t touch on the presidential race. And some were, well, downright odd.

So with the end of 2016 approaching, we’re taking a look back at the most-read posts. Here they are in descending order:

10: A Georgia Tech fraternity fight spills into the state Capitol. The Phi Delta Theta fraternity is no “Animal House.” And Tech President Bud Peterson is no Dean Wormer. Nonetheless, it is safe to say that arguments over frat-house behavior and student justice rarely spill over into the holy confines of the state Capitol. But that’s what’s happening. And the fraternity may be winning.

This Galloway column exposed one of the more interesting behind-the-scenes fights at the statehouse in 2016.

9. A bill to restrict the wearing of Muslim burqa and veil in Georgia. House Bill 3, authored by state Rep. Jason Spencer, R-Woodbine, would bar women from wearing a burqa and veil when posing for the photo on their Georgia drivers’ license. The bill would also subject female Muslim garb to the state’s anti-masking statute – which originally was aimed at the Ku Klux Klan.

The lede item in that day’s Morning Jolt quickly earned international attention, prompted Republican leaders to disavow the bill and led Spencer to abandon it.

8. Nathan Deal reinforces order banning gas price gouging after pipeline spill. Gov. Nathan Deal signed an executive order Monday preventing gas stations from significantly hiking fuel prices after a pipeline spill in Alabama led to long lines and dry pumps across north Georgia, echoing an existing state law that already bans price gouging.

Gas shortages + price hikes + frustrated drivers + emergency order = loads of reader interest.

Hillary Clinton hugs Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed in February 2016. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

Hillary Clinton hugs Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed in February 2016. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

7. Hillary Clinton moves Friday event from Georgia State to City Hall. Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton is moving her Friday event in Atlanta from Georgia State University to a smaller and more tightly controlled venue at City Hall.

We’re still not sure why this last-minute change on the eve of Clinton’s sole election-year visit to Georgia prompted so much interest, but it might have to something to do with a Drudge Report headline.

6. Vincent Fort flips from Hillary Clinton to Bernie Sanders. State Sen. Vincent Fort, the No. 2 Democrat in the Georgia Senate, flipped his endorsement on Tuesday from Hillary Clinton to Bernie Sanders. He instantly becomes one of the Vermont senator’s top surrogates in the South, where his campaign has picked up support from only a handful of black elected officials.

One of the most polarizing figures in Georgia politics, Fort is now trying to ride the Bernie wave in a race for Atlanta mayor.

5. Nathan Deal makes a forceful, biblical case against Georgia’s ‘religious liberty’ bill. Amid a growing outcry from powerful corporations over Georgia’s “religious liberty” proposal, Gov. Nathan Deal issued his strongest warning yet to lawmakers who are debating controversial legislation seen as a conservative answer to the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage ruling.

This was the moment Deal telegraphed his veto of the “religious liberty” legislation.

Donald Trump and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich share the stage during a campaign rally in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Donald Trump and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich share the stage during a campaign rally in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

4. Newt Gingrich: White Americans ‘don’t understand being black in America’ As the political world waits to see if the former Georgia congressman and U.S. House speaker gets tapped to be Donald Trump’s running mate, Newt Gingrich teamed up with his former Crossfire partner Van Jones to discuss this week’s shootings in Dallas, Baton Rouge and Minnesota. His comments were remarkable.

Gingrich emerged as one of Trump’s most reliable surrogates during the campaign – and continuing source of reader interest.

3. Medical marijuana is now legal in Georgia. Gov. Nathan Deal signed legislation Thursday that legalizes medical marijuana in Georgia, though tremendous hurdles remain for patients who want to get the drug.

This breaking news story – from 2015! – continues to drive reader interest. Thank you, Google.

2. AJC poll: Hillary Clinton has slim lead over Donald Trump in Georgia: Democrat Hillary Clinton has built a slim lead over Donald Trump in Georgia after one of the worst weeks of the Republican’s campaign, and the Libertarian presidential ticket cracked double-digits, according to a new Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll.

The AJC’s August poll was the first to show Clinton within striking distance of Trump in Georgia – and sparked gobs of debate.

1. BREAKING: Nathan Deal vetoes Georgia’s ‘religious liberty’ bill. Gov. Nathan Deal on Monday vetoed the “religious liberty” bill that triggered a wave of criticism from gay rights groups and business leaders and presented him with one of the most consequential challenges he’s faced since his election to Georgia’s top office.

By far the most-read Insider story of the year, Deal’s veto continues to shape his final years in office.

Dear readers, it’s been a helluva 2016. We hope you and your families enjoy the New Year.


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