Political Insider blog 

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

A legislative session built around two different elections comes to an end

  • 10:29 am Friday, March 21st, 2014 by Jim Galloway, Greg Bluestein and Daniel Malloy

The photo below, taken and Tweeted by Jeanne Bonner of Georgia Public Broadcasting, shows a momentarily estranged pair of likely November foes — and neatly sums up the theme of Sine Die in the state Capitol.

It was all about setting the table for the 2014 election season. Those struggling to boost their chances in Republican primaries vied with Republicans who are more worried about a Democratic resurgence in November.

Twenty-four of 119 Republican state lawmakers face May 20 primary opposition. Five of 36 GOP senators have primary opposition. So does Gov. Nathan Deal.

But the governor also has a well-funded Jason Carter [More]

An autism bill swims against the tide

  • 7:00 pm Wednesday, March 12th, 2014 by Jim Galloway

If SB 397 were an animal, you would have to classify it as a salmon, making its implausible way upstream against a preposterous current.

The state Capitol has gushed anti-Obamacare legislation this session. Republicans have damned the Affordable Care Act and government intervention in health care with an intensity that has been stunning in its breadth and imagination.

Just to name two efforts: Gov. Nathan Deal has green-lighted HB 990, the effort to chip away at executive branch authority by ceding to the Legislature the right to expand Medicaid rolls. HB 707 would bar even a city dogcatcher from referring [More]

Unlikely twins: Foster care bill may be merged with Medicaid expansion measure

  • 5:51 pm Wednesday, March 12th, 2014 by Jim Galloway

My AJC colleagues Jaime Sarrio and Misty Williams report the following:

A Senate-based bid to privatize Georgia’s child welfare system on Thursday may be joined to a high-profile House effort to give the Legislature say-so over Medicaid expansion.

Senator Renee Unterman, R-Buford, on Wednesday said she intended to tie the fates of the two disparate measures together. Her remarks came during a meeting of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, which she chairs.

SB 350 passed the Senate last month with a 31-18 vote, and would require the Division of Family and Children Services to bid out primary functions such as [More]

Delta comes out against Georgia ‘religious freedom’ bills

  • 8:35 am Wednesday, February 26th, 2014 by Jim Galloway, Greg Bluestein and Daniel Malloy

Delta Air Lines has become the first major business in the state to announce its opposition to two bills under consideration in the state Capitol that critics say would allow individuals to refuse service to gays and lesbians on the basis of religious convictions.

A similar measure was recently passed by the Arizona legislature, but has not yet been signed by that state’s governor, Jan Brewer.

From the airline’s website:

“As a global values-based company, Delta Air Lines is proud of the diversity of its customers and employees, and is deeply concerned about proposed measures in several states, including Georgia and Arizona, [More]

Michael Thurmond wooed for state school superintendent contest

  • 10:34 am Wednesday, February 19th, 2014 by Jim Galloway, Greg Bluestein and Daniel Malloy

The race for the open state superintendent seat is already one of the most intriguing contests in Georgia this year. It could get even more interesting.

Michael Thurmond, the former state labor commissioner, was drafted last year to take over as superintendent of the DeKalb County school system, even as it was poised to lose its accreditation.

Thurmond is now being recruited by Democratic leaders to run for the state super job, which will be left vacant by its current occupant, John Barge.

Thurmond told us Tuesday that he’s heard from several Democratic leaders and that he’s “flattered” by the attention but [More]

Paul Broun picks up a first major tea-party endorsement

  • 9:24 am Tuesday, February 11th, 2014 by Jim Galloway, Greg Bluestein and Daniel Malloy

Paul Broun picked up the endorsement of  the conservative Madison Project in the Georgia Senate race this morning, a first major tea-party seal of approval that his advisers hope will start an avalanche of conservative outside group support – and money.

So far, many of the big-name groups who weigh in on Republican primaries have stayed away from Georgia, where there is no easy “establishment vs. tea party” division and five candidates have a good shot at the runoff.

The Madison Project was the first conservative PAC to endorse U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and is currently backing Matt Bevin’s challenge to [More]

Snowjam puts Nathan Deal on the spot

  • 10:54 am Wednesday, January 29th, 2014 by Jim Galloway, Greg Bluestein and Daniel Malloy

Atlanta’s worst snowjam in decades – the most comparable one is the mid-afternoon blizzard of 1982 — presents Gov. Nathan Deal with the worst weather disaster of his administration.

The irony here is about as thick as the 2.6 inches of snow on the ground. Deal took office in the middle of the January 2011 ice storm, but was absolved from blame because the paralysis came just as Sonny Perdue was handing off the baton.

This time, there’s no doubt who is in charge.

The governor has scheduled an 11:30 press briefing at the statehouse, and has invited Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed.

Deal is [More]

Nathan Deal taps $100 million in reserves to provide fix for state employee health care plan

  • 9:02 am Monday, January 27th, 2014 by Jim Galloway, Greg Bluestein and Daniel Malloy

Soothing complaints from teachers over the state’s new health care plan won’t come cheaply.

Gov. Nathan Deal said Monday that it would cost about $100 million to make the He’s tapping the insurance plan’s reserve funds for the money rather than take from other parts of the budget, a move that would leave the account with roughly around $300 million. His proposal to increase K-12 funding by $547 million is off-limits, the governor said after an appearance at a gathering of the Georgia Municipal Association.

“We believe the reserve is adequate to cover any unexpected circumstances,” Deal said. “We had enough reserve [More]

Cracking the door on medicinal marijuana in Georgia

  • 9:00 am Saturday, January 11th, 2014 by Jim Galloway

Surely you’ve noticed that the meaning of conservatism has undergone a not-so-gradual makeover in the last few years.

The most obvious marker has been gay marriage. Ten years ago, more than three-fourths of 3.2 million Georgia voters approved a constitutional ban on such unions.

Perhaps a majority in this state would still endorse that sentiment. But polls clearly indicate an age-oriented shift, even among Republicans. By the time my generation cleans out its desk and exits the building, same-sex matrimony will be an accepted social fact, even in the South.

Another counterculture taboo has just begun to wobble. Two states – Colorado and [More]

A look at Jack Kingston’s free lunches

  • 9:55 am Friday, January 10th, 2014 by Jim Galloway

If you’re a member of Congress and suggest that kids ought to be taught that there are no free lunches, your problem isn’t the idea itself. The problem is a lack of moral high ground.

Last night, WSAV-TV in Savannah – hometown of U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston – picked a little more at the Republican Senate candidate’s recent suggestion that free lunches in public schools ought to come with a broom or a mop.

As you can see in the video above, WSAV morning anchor Dave Kartunen added up the tens of thousands of dollars in meals that Kingston and his staff [More]