The State Elections Board meets today for the first time this year, welcoming a new member and taking on a slew of cases — nearly 90 of them — that will make this a long meeting.
Among those cases, our AJC colleague Kristina Torres tells us, is a three-year-old case worth watching involving the New Georgia Project.
You may remember the fight from 2014. The project was a months-long, statewide voter registration effort launched by then-state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, D-Atlanta.
It devolved into accusations of voter fraud, counter-accusations of voter suppression and a lawsuit won by Secretary of State Brian Kemp, a Republican, over allegations that he and local elections officials misplaced thousands of registration forms submitted by the project.
Some things have changed since then. For instance, both Abrams and Kemp are running for governor. What could possibly go wrong?
At least this way he avoids baggage fees. Politico.com reports that, “in a sharp departure from his predecessors,” Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price has taken to private jets at an extra cost of tens of thousands of dollars, rather than endure the tedium of commercial flights. He’s dissing you, Delta.
Immediate update: Just before we sent this newsletter off to the printers, Jamie Dupree of WSB Radio fame fished up this old 2009 Tweet from Price:
The plug was pulled Tuesday on the one bipartisan effort to repair the Affordable Care Act rather than repeal it. The move came in the face next week’s last-ditch Republican effort at a 51-vote total repeal.
U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., announced in a statement on Tuesday afternoon that bipartisan talks he had helmed to stabilize Obamacare’s markets have hit a wall: “During the last month, we have worked hard and in good faith, but have not found the necessary consensus among Republicans and Democrats to put a bill in the Senate leaders’ hands that could be enacted.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s assessment was far less charitable about the situation. “This is not about substance. We gave them many of the things they asked for, including copper plans and wide waiver authority. The Republican leadership is so eager to pass Graham-Cassidy that they’re scuttling a balanced, bipartisan negotiation,” a spokesman for the New York Democrat said.
In the meantime, Isakson and Perdue said Tuesday they were open to the Senate GOP’s last-ditch repeal effort.
Perdue said he was “all in” on the replacement bill c-oauthored by his Republican colleagues Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, which would repeal Obamacare’s individual and employer mandates, end the Medicaid expansion and hand states an annual lump-sum to help residents pay for health care.
Isakson was more tentative, telling your insiders he would consider the bill after hearing input from Georgia stakeholders and Gov. Nathan Deal.
Opposition forces are gearing up for yet another health care battle. Late-night host Jimmy Kimmel, whose newborn son has had open heart surgery, railed against the new Republican effort, referring to one of the Senate authors as a liar. Watch last night’s monologue here.
“This new bill actually does pass the Jimmy Kimmel test,” the ABC host said. “Your child with a pre-existing condition will get the care he needs if and only if his father is Jimmy Kimmel. Otherwise, you might be screwed.”
On the other side of the coin, this is fresh from the White House:
Two more of President Donald Trump’s Georgia judicial nominees will have their Senate confirmation hearings this morning.
The Senate Judiciary Committee plans to consider Michael Brown and Billy Ray to be U.S. district judges for Georgia’s northern district. Ray is currently a judge on Georgia’s Court of Appeals and Brown is in private practice after once serving as a federal prosecutor.
The same panel advanced former Georgia Rep. B.J. Pak’s nomination to be the Atlanta-based U.S. attorney last week.
Tucked into the massive annual defense policy bill the Senate passed on Monday are a few goodies for Georgia — or, more accurately, lawmakers telling the Pentagon they can’t take Georgia’s current goodies away. The legislation includes language barring the Defense Department from retiring JSTARS, a fleet of 16 surveillance aircraft flown exclusively out of Robins Air Force base. Ditto for the A-10 Thunderbolt, a fleet of which is located at Moody Air Force base near Valdosta.
The House and Senate need to reconcile their versions of the annual bill before it can be sent to President Donald Trump for his signature.
Can Georgia’s ‘Mini Trump’ pull off a shocking upset? That’s the question that former Insider Daniel Malloy asks in his Ozy piece about state Sen. Michael Williams of Cumming, a Republican candidate for governor. It includes this quote from the candidate: “My personality isn’t really one that blends well with being a politician. I’m kind of a reserved accountant.” Give it a read here.
The Republican Governors Association has quietly launched an online publication that looks like a media outlet and is branded as such on social media, according to the Associated Press. The Free Telegraph blares headlines about the virtues of GOP governors, while framing Democrats negatively. It asks readers to sign up for breaking news alerts. It launched in the summer. bearing no acknowledgement that it was a product of an official party committee whose sole purpose is to get more Republicans elected.
We’ve told you that Houston Gaines, a recent student body president at the University of Georgia, is making a strong Republican play for the Athens-based state House seat being given up by Regina Quick in favor of a judgeship.
The second half of that development is the decision by former state lawmaker Doug McKillip, a Democrat who made waves when he switched to the GOP, not to enter the contest in an attempt to regain his old seat.