A state senator alleges a backroom offer — if he abandoned race for governor

The most surprising moment of the weekend’s Georgia Republican convention came midway through a feisty Saturday speech by Michael Williams to more than 1,500 activists — as the state senator veered from the advance text he had sent to reporters and supporters alike.

Williams, a two-term senator from Forsyth County and former co-chairman of the Trump presidential campaign in Georgia, claimed a coveted state Senate position had been dangled in front of him on the condition that he abandon his gubernatorial bid.

Williams said he was offered the chairmanship of the Senate Appropriations Committee – one of the most powerful gigs under the Gold Dome, now held by Jack Hill, R-Reidsville.

Williams said his answer was no. He entered the Republican race for governor on Thursday.

The alleged offer was at the center of a campaign speech to delegates in which Williams blasted the “so-called leaders of our state” who he said have betrayed conservative interests. He also promised to expose “what really goes on at the state Capitol.”

“The establishment – and the career politicians they finance – see our movement – and they know we’re coming for them,” said Williams.

The kind of offer described by Williams could only come from one or two — at most, three — figures on that side of the Capitol. Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, himself a candidate for governor, denied any offer was made.

State Sen. Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga, chairman of the chamber’s powerful rules committee, made it a point to walk over to describe it as bunk. “Michael Williams heard that in a dream,” Mullis said.

Several hours after his speech — it was a long convention — Williams wandered over to the impromptu press area. We pressed him for details. The senator said he had nothing more to add. For now.

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Khizr Khan may be coming to the Sixth District. The Gold Star dad, who became one of the breakout stars of last year’s Democratic National Convention, said Democrat Jon Ossoff’s campaign invited him to the district and that he’s trying to find the time ahead of the June 20 runoff.

“Schedule permitting, if we can work out I would definitely come,” Khan said in an interview Friday. “I hope to use that platform to raise … my objection against this hatred … so that it could by heard by Georgia voters.”

Khan entered the Sixth District foray last week to reprimand a National Republican Congressional Committee ad that invoked Syrian refugees and the Islamic State as reasons why voters shouldn’t support Ossoff. Khan said the spot’s rhetoric was “dangerous” and “un-American.”

The Ossoff campaign said it could not confirm any details.

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We ran into Lauren “Bubba” McDonald, a member of the state Public Service Commission, at the state GOP convention in Augusta over the weekend. He told us that he’s got a plan to address the worrisome situation at Plant Vogtle. The bankruptcy of general contractor Western Electric has thrown the Georgia Power effort to build two new nuclear reactors into disarray. He’ll unveil it on Tuesday.

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It’s far from a reliable indicator, but an early straw poll hints at where the grassroots base of the Georgia GOP is leaning ahead of the 2018 vote.

The survey conducted by the Georgia Association of Republican County Chairmen, advertised at last weekend’s state convention, showed Secretary of State Brian Kemp with a narrow lead in the governor’s race, Senate Pro Tem David Shafer ahead in the lieutenant governor’s race and state Sen. Josh McKoon of Columbus – who hasn’t yet announced – with the edge in the secretary of state race.

It also showed that two resolutions that were scuttled – one that opposed casino gambling and another that backed “religious liberty” – had wide support.

One major caveat: The group’s Facebook page shows the results in the race for governor attracted less than 200 responses, or less than one-tenth of delegates in Augusta. The results:

GOVERNOR

Brian Kemp 30%

Hunter Hill‎ 27%

Undecided 21%

Casey Cagle‎ 11%

Michael Williams 10%

Nick Ayers‎ 1% (listed on poll but not declared)

LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR

David Shafer 54%

Undecided‎ 25%

Geoff Duncan 16%

Rick Jeffares 5%

 

SECRETARY OF STATE

Josh McKoon 53% (listed on poll but not declared)

Buzz Brockway‎ 18%

David Bell Isle 12%

Brad Raffensperger ‎ 8%

Undecided 5%

Melvin Everson 4% (listed on poll but not declared)
RESOLUTION OPPOSING CASINO GAMBLING

Support 59% (opposed to casino gambling)

Oppose 29%

Undecided 12%

 

RESOLUTION SUPPORTING RELIGIOUS LIBERTY

Support 76%

Oppose 13%

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We told you last month about how Jon Ossoff’s rise in Georgia’s 6th District has many Democrats salivating over the congressional seat just a few miles to the east.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has now made its intention to capture Republican Rob Woodall’s Seventh District seat known. The Gwinnett-centered district is included on the DCCC’s expanded list of 2018 targets.

“Remember – there are 94 seats more competitive than GA-06 based on 2016 Congressional performance, and 71 seats more competitive based on” the Cook Political Report’s Partisan Voting Index, the DCCC said in a recent memo.

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Word on the street is that executives from Delta Air Lines will be at the White House today to meet with President Donald Trump, along with U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall, R-Lawrenceville. The president is huddling with leaders from several airlines to discuss privatizing the country’s air traffic control system. Delta was the only major airline to oppose a similar proposal last year.

One also wonders if Cuba might come up as a topic. Trump is said to be considered a rollback of policies relaxed under the Obama administration, and Delta just set up a ticket office in Havana last December.