More than half the GOP field to be culled from Sixth District GOP debates

One of your Insiders just left a conference call set up by the Atlanta Press Club, to figure out how to feature all 18 candidates – yes, 18 – in the special April 18 election to replace U.S. Rep. Tom Price in an April 5 debate.

A hint: Both questions and answers will be short. But it’ll be a complicated two hours.

The 6th Congressional District GOP has taken another route. Beginning this Sunday, it will sponsor a series of three debates. Details can be found here.

But the trio of forums won’t feature all 11 GOP candidates. Only five will make the cut, based on their showings in “publicly documented, credible polls.” Their identities will be made public on Friday. From the notice on the 6th District GOP Facebook page:

“Career statisticians have been commissioned to make the determination of which 5 candidates will participate.”

So more than half the Republican field will be excluded from the events. And at least three of them are sounding off. From a press release issued by Keith Grawert, Amy Kremer and Kurt Wilson:

“Each of the eleven GOP candidates were required to meet the same qualifying requirements, and each did. Each candidate has campaigned tirelessly in a short period of time to share their platforms with the community and earn votes.

“Since this is a special election, there is no primary cycle to narrow the field of candidates from eleven. Therefore, the GOP’s failure to include each qualified candidate robs voters of the chance to make a properly informed decision and works to further discredit the GOP in a time when the Republican Party already faces much backlash and discontent from both voters and members of the party itself.”

Wilson has gone so far as to put his protest on YouTube:

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Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, the largest trauma care medical center in the state, has formally asked every U.S. House member from Georgia to oppose the Republican repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

The Grady request isn’t significant just because of its size. It’s also the place where Dr. Tom Price, now secretary of health and human services and coordinator of the Trump administration effort to do away with Obamacare, did his residency. From the cover letter that included a statistical breakdown:

We anticipate a substantial increase in expenses and an annual loss of $65 million in funding once the act is fully implemented. Cuts of this magnitude would require Grady to eliminate at least 10% of its hospital operating budget and force us to reduce critical services for Georgians. These include:

— A significant reduction in the scope of mental health services;

— Closure of primary and specialty care service lines, programs and clinics;

— Elimination of services provided to prisoners, including federal prisoners;

— Reduction in pharmacy benefits; and

— An increase in patient copays and visit fees, among other measures that would be necessary.

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Over at WABE (90.1FM), Johnny Kaufman reports that state Rep. Tommy Benton, R-Jefferson, has introduced a resolution that celebrates April 26 as Confederate Memorial Day. The resolution contains no mention of slavery or the phrase “Civil War,” but it does say this:

“April is the month in which the Confederate States of America began and ended a four-year struggle for states’ rights, individual freedom, and local governmental control, which they believed to be right and just…”

The resolution also notes that Dr. John Stith Pemberton was one of the last Confederates wounded but would survive to create Coca-Cola.

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State Sen. Michael Williams, R-Cumming,  is trying to ratchet up the pressure on his colleagues to back his measure that would raise the salaries of deputy sheriffs to the same level that Georgia state troopers are paid.

The Cumming Republican sent a robo-call blast to hundreds of thousands of Georgians featuring reality TV dude “Dog the Bounty Hunter,” urging a vote to help the measure to the Senate floor.

Senate Bill 254 hasn’t gotten any traction this legislative session. The calls were meant to pressure state Sen. Tyler Harper, the chairman of the chamber’s Public Safety Committee, to give the measure a hearing.

The idea gained support last year after Gov. Nathan Deal and GOP legislative leaders backed 20 percent pay raises for state law enforcement. But they haven’t supported extending that to local officers, saying it’s up to the counties that control the purse strings for sheriff’s deputies to up their salaries.

Listen to the call here:

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Sure, former Gov. Roy Barnes already headlines some of Democrat Jon Ossoff’s ads in his hunt in the 6th District. But this week he formally endorsed the first-time candidate.

“It’s time that we have people who speak about our own needs and not the needs of just a few,” Barnes said. “And that is felt no further and no stronger than this ongoing business about whether we’re going to allow people to have health care.”

Barnes was asked about the critiques from Republicans, and several of the other four Democrats in the race, targeting the 30-year-old as too inexperienced for the office. Said Barnes:

“You have to be 25 years old to run in the state Senate. I ran when I was 26. And, you know, I came out all right. All of us make mistakes, but you know something? I find young folks, it’s a lot easier to learn from their mistakes than some who won’t admit they make them. The idea you’re too young to run is misplaced. What we need in Congress is more young candidates with fresh ideas rather than the ones who know all the lobbyists.”

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State Rep. Betty Price had an interesting guest with her Wednesday in the Georgia House: Bob Gray, one of the 18 candidates seeking to succeed her husband in Congress. (See the photo above.)

Price, who also flirted with a run in Georgia’s 6th District, showed Gray the ropes at the statehouse. But she said the appearance together was no endorsement.

She called the former Johns Creek councilman a “persistent fellow” who called her seven or eight times and asked to swing by for a visit. She finally relented and told him that Wednesday – a particularly busy day – was a chance for him to “get a sense of what he could be in for.”

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The water wars litigation in the decades-long fight between Georgia and Florida is about to rev up again.

U.S. Supreme Court justices who huddled last week to review a judicial official’s findings that favored Georgia have asked Florida to file an “exception to the report” that’s due around May 4. Georgia’s response is to be delivered by around June 5, and then Florida will fire back a month later.

The high court could accept the judicial official’s findings, ignore them or order a new trial.

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