Political Insider blog 

AJC blog about Atlanta politics, Georgia politics, Georgia and metro Atlanta election campaigns

Ending a drought of successful black candidates in Georgia

  • 6:00 pm Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 by Jim Galloway

Eight years have passed since an African-American won a statewide, partisan election in Georgia. And truth be told, the real drought has lasted much longer.

The first and only time a black candidate has won statewide office in Georgia without first being appointed to it — and thus having the advantage of incumbency – was in 1998, when Democrat Michael Thurmond claimed the open seat for state labor commissioner.

It is one of the crueler streaks of Georgia politics, but may be about to end. The winds of change are blowing on both the Republican and Democratic side of this year’s race [More]

Gov. Deal etches a path toward legalizing medical marijuana

  • 8:30 am Monday, March 31st, 2014 by Greg Bluestein

Infighting between lawmakers scuttled the legislative push to allow the limited use of medical marijuana, but a path ahead is now becoming clearer.

We told you last week how Deal

The Athens Banner-Herald reported he said he was considering creating a state project under a college – perhaps the Georgia Regents University – to provide a scientific environment to start clinical trials, paving the way for legislation down the road. From the story:

“It’s important for us to understand that this is not an issue we want to open the floodgate on. It has to be done in a controlled environment,” [More]

Jason Carter as an ‘NRA Democrat’

  • 9:30 am Friday, March 28th, 2014 by Jim Galloway, Greg Bluestein and Daniel Malloy

Last week, when the state Senate had its final vote on The bill is now before Gov. Nathan Deal. We’ll let Jeanne Bonner with Georgia Public Broadcasting pick up the thread:

Deal has said pointedly that the legislation is not “part of his agenda” but he’s expected to sign it. Carter, whose family has South Georgia roots, brushed off questions about the bill by saying he’s an “NRA Democrat.”

GPB reached out to several long-term Democrats who said they’re not familiar with that phrase. One political expert mused that Carter may be taking his cue from an ad Democratic Congressman John [More]

Jimmy Carter: ‘I believe if I send an email, it will be monitored’

  • 9:34 am Monday, March 24th, 2014 by Jim Galloway, Greg Bluestein and Daniel Malloy

Count former President Jimmy Carter as one of those Americans who thinks he’s being watched. If not by the NSA, then by someone else.

“As a matter of fact, you know, I have felt that my own communications are probably monitored. And when I want to communicate with a foreign leader privately, I type or write a letter myself, put it in the post office, and mail it…

“Because I believe if I send an email, it will be monitored.”

Carter, who is plugging his latest book — which advocates women’s rights, also said that while most of his successors in the White [More]

Saxby Chambliss declares himself neutral in brewing constitutional fight

  • 9:15 am Thursday, March 13th, 2014 by Jim Galloway, Greg Bluestein and Daniel Malloy

Saxby Chambliss on Wednesday declared himself an island of neutrality in a building constitutional controversy between the Democratic chairman of the Senate Intelligence committee and the chief agency it oversees, the CIA.

After remaining tight-lipped about the dispute, Chambliss “reluctantly” took to the Senate floor to declare his non-involvement – and hint that all parties should stop talking about it.

What’s interesting is a pricing schedule that appears to include a $500-a-plate children’s table.


Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball today takes a look at U.S. Senate races, giving Georgia’s contest a “lean Republican” rating. But writer Kyle Kondik includes this note:

A post-November runoff [More]

Kasim Reed on Port of Savannah discord: ‘Let’s not get pulled into this crap’

  • 9:55 am Wednesday, March 12th, 2014 by Jim Galloway, Greg Bluestein and Daniel Malloy

In his first public remarks on the White House decision not to include cash in its annual budget proposal last week for an expansion of the Port of Savannah, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed told local business leaders and civic leaders not to give in to partisan heckling. According to Reed, first the U.S. Congress must reauthorize the Water Resources Development Act of 1996 to update the project estimates of the Savannah port deepening project to $652 million. Currently the Water Resources Development Act is in a Congressional conference committee.

Had the president put the Savannah port in his budget before the [More]

A portrait of a political reporter, by a political columnist

  • 8:07 am Monday, March 10th, 2014 by Jim Galloway, Greg Bluestein and Daniel Malloy

In politics, respect is hard-won, but often expires with the last ballot. So to see it displayed well after death is a rare and stirring thing.

In state Senate chambers this morning, a portrait of Dick Pettys, the former state Capitol journalist who died some 18 months ago, will be unveiled. You can see a version of it above.

The oil painting will hang on a wall on press row in the Coverdell Legislative Office Building. The memorial came at the urging of state Rep. Joe Wilkinson, R-Sandy Springs, a high school classmate of Pettys.

But here is the strangeness of the tale: [More]

John Barge: ‘Folks who can donate money are afraid to’

  • 11:43 am Thursday, March 6th, 2014 by Jim Galloway, Greg Bluestein and Daniel Malloy

A fourth candidate for governor signed up on Thursday. Any more will officially qualify as a surprise.

State School Superintendent John Barge, who has raised hardly any money for the contest, wrote a personal check for $5,220 to join former Dalton mayor David Pennington in the primary contest to oust Republican incumbent Nathan Deal.

Barge admitted that he doesn’t have much cash. “Fundraising is a challenge. Frankly, a lot of folks who can donate money are afraid to. They’ll tell you they’re afraid to be on record. So we’re using a lot of social media,” he said.

But Barge said he does have [More]

Deal predicts changes coming to Common Core legislation

  • 2:09 pm Wednesday, March 5th, 2014 by Greg Bluestein

That Common Core legislation that has so infuriated educators? Expect some big changes to it before the session is out.

Gov. Nathan Deal, whose staff helped draft the controversial legislation, said it is “not a finished product” and that revisions were on the way.

Senate Bill 167 calls for a review of whether the state should stay within Common Core, the national education standards that have ticked off tea party members and other conservatives who fear a takeover of education policy. But educators also fear the language would prevent students from being tested on material tied to the [More]

Legislative tip sheet: House takes up Common Core

  • 8:06 am Wednesday, March 5th, 2014 by Jim Galloway

The House and Senate gavel in at 10 a.m. today.

The chambers aren’t tackling anything too heavy so soon after Crossover Day, but action is picking up in committees as each side begins to work through the bills that are now in their court.

One of the biggest questions remains how the Senate will handle the hot potato that is the gun bill. It could come up in a Senate judiciary committee as soon as today.

House committees will consider bills delving into the operation of the Georgia High School Association, which governs Friday night football in Georgia, and Common Core.

On the latter [More]