Donald Trump’s campaign stiff-arms a Georgia super PAC

Donald Trump, a Republican presidential hopeful, meets with attendees during a campaign event in New Hampshire. Ian Thomas Jansen-Lonnquist/The New York Times

Donald Trump, a Republican presidential hopeful, meets with attendees during a campaign event in New Hampshire. Ian Thomas Jansen-Lonnquist/The New York Times

Donald Trump’s campaign on Thursday “disavowed” a new super PAC started by the Republican front-runner’s ex-campaign staffer in Georgia.

The Trump campaign filed a Federal Elections Committee report distancing itself from the Will Not Bend PAC, which it said features Trump’s image and slogans. From the report:

Your daily jolt on politics from the AJC's Political insider blogThis Committee is concerned about the likelihood of confusion among the public, which may be led to believe such activities are authorized by Mr. Trump or this Committee or that contributions to such unauthorized committees are being made to Mr. Trump’s campaign, when they are not.

The PAC was started by Seth Weathers, a Georgia operative who was let go from Trump’s campaign in October. He told OZY his goal was to bring out “unconventional Republican voters” against Democrat Hillary Clinton. A glance at the PAC’s website betrayed no mention of Trump, but did invoke a fight against “the Pantsuit in Chief.”

(AJC/Daniel Malloy)

(AJC/Daniel Malloy)

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Speaking of Trump, we dropped by his Georgia headquarters — across the street from the new Atlanta Braves stadium site in Cobb County — on Wednesday for a forthcoming story on the 2016 GOP race in Georgia. Our eyes were immediately drawn to the bronze bust of the Donald, at right.

Brandon Phillips, Trump’s Georgia director, told us the bust did not come from headquarters, but was donated by a sculptor and Trump fan from Flowery Branch named Keith Allen Johnson.

Now Johnson is working on a life-sized Trump. It will be yuge.

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The nascent debate over U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz’ status as a natural-born U.S. citizen may have just taken a more serious turn. And we’re not talking Ann Coulter. U.S. Sen. John McCain is no fan of his Canadian-born Texas colleague, but he was his party’s 2008 nominee for president — and knows something about being born outside the U.S. From the Washington Post:

McCain was born in the Panama Canal Zone in 1936, and the Senate unanimously passed a resolution declaring him a natural born citizen when he ran for president in 2008. McCain said Wednesday the issue is different because the Canal Zone was a territory and U.S. Military base and there was precedent set when Barry Goldwater, who was born in Arizona when it was a territory, ran for president.

“That’s different than being born on foreign soil,” he said.

“I think there is a question,” he said of Cruz. “I am not a constitutional scholar on that but I think it’s worth looking into. I don’t think it’s illegitimate to look into it.”

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More than a ship, John Lewis is a class to himself, according to the Navy.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, U.S. Rep. John Lewis and a rendering of a new ship named for Lewis. (Courtesy: Office of John Lewis)

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, U.S. Rep. John Lewis and a rendering of a new ship named for Lewis. (Courtesy: Office of John Lewis)

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus officially revealed the USNS John Lewis on Wednesday in a ceremony with the Atlanta Democratic congressman. The ship will be the first in a new class of fleet replacement oilers — which will be known as the John Lewis class and all be named for civil rights movement figures.

Said Mabus:

“As the first of its class, the future USNS John Lewis will play a vital role in the mission of our Navy and Marine Corps while also forging a new path in fleet replenishment. Naming this ship after John Lewis is a fitting tribute to a man who has, from his youth, been at the forefront of progressive social and human rights movements in the U.S., directly shaping both the past and future of our nation. T-AO 205 will, for decades to come, serve as a visible symbol of the freedoms Representative Lewis holds dear, and his example will live on in the steel of that ship and in all those who will serve aboard her.”

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Could the Republican primary be over by the Ides of March? Josh Putnam, a University of Georgia political scientist and primary aficionado who founded the Frontloading HQ blog, turned heads when he suggested in a Washington Post story that the race could be wrapped up by March 15.

He cited the 50-75 Rule, which tracks has been an accurate predictor of GOP primary victors in past cycles. In an email on Wednesday, he clarified that the window may be a bit bigger.

Wrote Putnam:

What I was saying was that if this cycle follows the last two, then by the point on the calendar in which 50% of the delegates have been allocated (March 15), the delegate leader then will be likely to clinch the nomination by the point where 75% of the delegates have been allocated (April 26). 

In truth, I think it is likely that there is some clearer resolution to this somewhere in that window. All viable candidates will drop out, leaving one who will crest over 1237 by around April 26.

But that 50-75 Rule is a good starting point. The 50% leader tends to be the last one standing.

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We were perusing a preview of the 2016 legislative session that has been posted by Dentons, formerly known as McKenna Long & Aldridge, when we came across this line:

The Medical Association of Georgia, the state’s physicians lobby, recently voted to support the expansion with a caveat: that the state use the increased federal monies from the ACA to purchase private insurance for new enrollees on the Health Insurance Marketplace.

We try to keep up with the Medicaid expansion issue, and were worried that we had somehow missed a new development. The fine people at MAG assured us that this position was actually adopted back in 2013. But they’re still good with it.