The Jolt: A GOP candidate promises to clean up the state Capitol ‘cesspool’

Geoff Duncan/AJC file

We are still in the early days of the 2018 Republican race for lieutenant governor. So far, Senate President pro tem David Shafer of Duluth, ranking member in that chamber, has collared most of the attention.

Shafer posted 59 percent in a Gwinnett County GOP straw poll over the weekend. (Heads up to straw poll organizers: Skepticism increases when you don’t include raw numbers. Fifty-nine percent of five is different from 59 percent of 500.)

But this morning, former state House member Geoff Duncan of Cumming introduces himself with a YouTube bio flick. He’s a former minor league pitcher, which is the visual emphasis of video. Flashy, but not too far out of the ordinary. It’s this message that’s different:

“Our state Capitol is a mess. Let’s be honest. The special interests run the show – in both parties. Contracts are handed out for favors. You, the taxpayers, get left out. That’s got to change. As lieutenant governor, I’ll fight for ethics reform – to clean up the cesspool.”

Duncan isn’t the first Republican to tackle the issue of ethics and government this cycle. State Sen. Michael Williams, a Republican candidate for governor who’s also from Forsyth County, has alleged corruption in the Capitol – but Williams has used language that he’s been unable to back up with hard facts.

You’re seeing a more careful approach with Duncan. More like Karen Handel in her 2010 bid for governor.  Watch it here:

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Sam Olens, president of Kennesaw State University, faced some harsh blowback Monday from academics on his campus. From the Marietta Daily Journal:

During a faculty senate meeting, professors argued pressure from “outsiders” was influencing administrative decisions, from the wording of university job postings to the Athletics Department’s decision to keep cheerleaders in the tunnel while the national anthem is played before football games.

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Callista Gingrich is getting the rock star treatment from President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. The former congressional aide and wife to former Georgia congressman Newt Gingrich will be sworn in as U.S. ambassador to the Vatican by Trump and Pence at noon today, a week after she was confirmed by the U.S. Senate. While Pence has sworn in top-level Cabinet officials, it’s rare for the president to make such an appearance. Newt Gingrich has long been a prominent backer of Trump’s in the media. (TH)

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Our WSB Radio colleague Jamie Dupree tells us that President Donald Trump will journey to Capitol Hill for the first time today to attend a Senate Republican policy lunch. Likely topics include details of a tax reform package.

But morning Tweets indicate Trump could have his own complicating agenda. First there was this:

And then this:

Which prompted this extraordinary response:

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Former defense secretary Ash Carter is the newest member of Delta Air Lines board of directors. The Atlanta-based airline cited Carter’s career in government service and background in global affairs, science and technology in making the selection. Carter served as President Barack Obama’s top military hand from 2015 to 2017, and had served directly and indirectly in 11 defense departments in Democratic and Republican administrations. (GB)

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Former state Sen. Hunter Hill’s campaign on Monday offered an early look at his gubernatorial campaign’s most prominent supporters, and the list included conservative lawmakers and activists. His bid is co-chaired by state Rep. Sam Teasley and Joe McCutchen, an Ellijay Republican who is Hill’s father-in-law. Other district chairs include Kay Godwin of Georgia Conservatives In Action and activist Brant Frost V.

The opposing campaigns were quick to note, however, that although Hill’s press release dubbed himself the “first gubernatorial campaign of the 2018 cycle to have all 159 counties and 14 congressional districts organized,” it failed to deliver the county-by-county names.

Which brings us to Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who later Monday night put forward a detailed list of his grassroots supporters in each of Georgia’s 159 counties.

“It’s no surprise that Brian Kemp is the first and only statewide candidate to actually release a list of grassroots leaders in every Georgia county,” said Ryan Mahoney, a Kemp spokesman. You can find the list here. (GB)

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Atlanta mayoral candidate Cathy Woolard sharpened her closing arguments with the release of a new TV ad that features Ryan Gravel, the godfather of the Beltline who endorsed her campaign. It also shows her wearing some spiffy bright-yellow kicks. Check it out here. (GB)

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At the AJC’s Pints and Politics bash last night, Gov. Nathan Deal’s top aide urged candidates in the crowded 2018 race for governor to be careful with “religious liberty” proposals next year, warning that contentious measures could imperil the state’s bid for Amazon’s second headquarters.

And when the conversation turned to the race for mayor of Atlanta, former mayor Shirley Franklin noted that public safety had become an under-the-radar issue. This morning, she sent these mailers that arrived at her house, courtesy of mayoral candidate Kwanza Hall:

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A teachers union that supports Vincent Fort’s mayoral bid has raised questions about a labor group’s decision to “overturn” it’s endorsement of him. Verdaillia Turner of the Atlanta Federation of Teachers sent a letter to the Atlanta North-Georgia Labor Council requesting the minutes and transcript of the meeting when the group decided not to endorse the former state senator. The letter also requests the sign-in sheet for attendees and a roll-call of the people who voted. (GB)

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