Cagle Announces Endorsements in Northwest Georgia

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle has scored 64 early endorsements from elected officials in Northwest Georgia in his campaign to be Georgia’s next governor. The current state legislators who endorsed Cagle include state Sen. Jeff Mullis (R-Chickamauga), state Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R-Rome), state Rep. John Deffenbaugh (R-Lookout Mountain) and state Rep. Dewayne Hill (R-Ringgold). The full list of sheriffs, county commissioners, mayors, and city councilmen who endorsed Cagle is below the fold.

Cagle’s chief rival in the Republican primary, Secretary of State Brian Kemp, rolled out a similar list in early May, announcing endorsements from 50 officials from rural counties in eastern and southern Georgia. Kemp’s campaign is trying to depict him as a champion of rural Georgia. This announcement from Cagle pushes back against that narrative.

Cagle had this to say about the endorsements:

Each of these elected officials have served Northwest Georgia and our state faithfully, and I am honored to have the support and trust of such an esteemed group of community leaders. I look forward to continuing to work with each one of them to promote the health, safety and welfare of the communities they represent, and I want to personally thank them for their diligent efforts to build a better Georgia.

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State Sen. Michael Williams Speaks at Lanier Tea Party Event

State Senator and 2018 gubernatorial hopeful Michael Williams (R) spoke at a Tea Party event at the Gainesville Civic Center on Thursday night. The event did not draw a large crowd,  which was possibly due to the nasty weather, but Williams stuck around to deliver what will probably be his campaign stump speech at GOP events.

After an introduction by a member of the group named Hank (in which the Republican establishment was compared to the Phenix City mafia), Williams spoke for about an hour. After introducing himself and giving an overview of how and why he became involved in politics, Williams focused on three major issues: Trump, eliminating the state income tax, and cleaning up what he sees to be a toxic culture at the state Capitol.

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Cagle Announces Study Committee Appointments

Lieutenant Gov. Casey Cagle (R) has announced appointments to two Senate study committees: the Special Tax Exemption Study Committee and the Rural Georgia Study Committee.

Serving on the Special Tax Exemption Committee will be:

Senator John Albers (R), Chair

Senator Chuck Hufstetler (R)

Senator Jack Hill (R)

Senator Hunter Hill (R)

Senator William Ligon (R)

Senator Mike Dugan (R)


Serving on the Rural Georgia Study Committee will be:

Senator David Lucas (D), Chair

Senator Steve Gooch (R)

Senator Freddie Powell Sims (D)

Senator Greg Kirk (R)

Senator Ed Harbison (D)

Senator Jack Hill (R)

To read more about these committees and others, click here.

Stacey Abrams to Resign as House Minority Leader

On Sunday, Greg Bluestein of the AJC tweeted that Stacey Abrams (D) is resigning as House Minority Leader, effective July 1, 2017. In a letter to House Democrats, Abrams said that she wants to focus on her gubernatorial campaign and that the caucus would be better served by a leader with undivided attention.

Abrams has served in the position since 2010. In 2018, she will run against one of her caucus members, state Rep. Stacey Evans, in the Democratic primary for governor.

An excerpt from the letter (imbedded in a Tweet) is below the fold.

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Michael Williams Will Aim for Governor in 2018

Donald Trump has entered the 2018 Republican gubernatorial primary. Well kind of. State Senator Michael Williams announced his run on Thursday. And it looks like he will base a large part of his run on his connection with the man on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Michael Williams is someone who supported Donald Trump before it was socially acceptable to support him. He’s a second-term senator from Forsyth County who hasn’t made too much of a name for himself at the state capitol yet, but he did have the foresight to see that Trump would do well in Georgia and beyond. He is always quick to remind us that he was the first elected official in Georgia to endorse Trump. He even ran a robocall back in February saying as much.

Williams has been publicly flirting with a run since the beginning of the year. He seemed like a good bet to run for Secretary of State for a while, but he has since turned his attention to West Paces Ferry (the SOS race looks to be more of a House affair anyway).

Williams has a high bar to climb. He’ll have to beat out establishment favorite Casey Cagle and fellow Trumpite Brian Kemp. He’s already gone at it with state Senator Hunter Hill on Twitter about who loves the Donald more. If he beats the odds and wins the primary, he’ll most likely face Stacey Abrams or Stacey Evans, two Democratic women who will have strong anti-Trump messages to attack him on.

Williams has a considerable amount of money from owning a chain of Sports Clip barber shops. He used his fortune to unseat incumbent Jack Murphy when he first won his Forsyth County state Senate seat in 2014. But he’ll have to spend a lot more or draw off a pro-Trump network if he is going to defeat Cagle and company. As the GOP primary fills up, candidates will likely begin plotting strategies to end up in one of the two runoff spots in the summer of 2018. Williams has a lot of votes to earn before then.

But rest assured. At the very least, he’ll have the support of Dog the Bounty Hunter.

Jason Carter is Out for Governor in 2018

Just days after state Rep. Stacey Evans announced she would be running in the Democratic gubernatorial primary, another major Georgia Democrat has announced his 2018 plans. Jason Carter, the 2014 Democratic nominee, will not be pursuing another run. According to the AJC, Carter is planning on spending more time running the Carter Center and being a father.

Without Carter, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, or former acting U.S. Attorney General Sally Yates running, it looks like the Democratic primary will be a battle between Evans and House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams. Carter is not endorsing either right now. Look for the Democratic primary to be a fight over how Democrats will present themselves to Georgia voters in the general election. Will they try to appeal to moderate suburban whites who could be convinced to dump Trump? Or will they focus on turning out their more diverse base and hope that Trump keeps many traditional Republican voters home? Look for the Abrams-Evans struggle to bring out the fracture in the Georgia Democrats.

State Sen. Rick Jeffares Joins Race for Lieutenant Governor

The AJC is reporting that state Sen. Rick Jeffares of McDonough has filed paperwork to run for lieutenant governor in 2018. He joins the Republican field, which already includes Senate Pro Tempore David Shafer of Duluth and state Rep. Geoff Duncan of Cumming.

There wasn’t much chatter about Jeffares running for the position until very recently. He keeps a relatively low profile in the state senate, where he chairs the Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee. He is known for being a man of few words whenever he speaks on the floor of the senate. Last session he carried a bill that would have prohibited new oil pipelines in Georgia’s coastal counties. Despite being backed by House Majority Leader Jon Burns and Senate Appropriations Chairman Jack Hill, the bill did not make it through.

Jeffares likely faces an uphill climb for the Republican nomination. Shafer is the current favorite as he has picked up the endorsement of state Sen. Burt Jones (a wealthy middle-Georgian who was previously considering a run) and the support of Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus. Moreover, he is generally thought to come from the wing of the party that has access to major dollar donors. If the Senate Republicans consolidate around one candidate, it will almost surely be him.

Duncan leans toward the conservative wing of the House Republicans, often voting with the far-right Appeal to Heaven caucus. Jeffares is more enigmatic, with the oil pipeline ban being his only major initiative last year.

The word is that state Sen. Butch Miller is no longer planning on running. Other names that have been mentioned include state senators Steve Gooch and John Kennedy and state Rep.  Allen Peake.


Speaker Ralston Announces Appointments to House Commission on Transit Governance & Funding

On Thursday, Speaker David Ralston announced appointments to the House Commission of Transit Governance and Funding. The commission was created by HR 848, a measure that was introduced and passed on the final day of the 2017 legislative session. The senate and house were unable to agree on a bill establishing a transit governance council for the metro Atlanta region. The Senate insisted on SB 6 and the House insisted on  HB 160. When neither looked likely to pass, HR 848 was pushed through. The members of the commission are listed below the fold.

Speaker Ralston had this to say:

“Transit is becoming more and more important to Georgia’s future. From congestion relief to economic development, a robust transit network across our state will have long-term benefits for our citizens. Situations like the recent I-85 rebuild have clearly demonstrated the importance of transit to our state and its economy. The House is proud to lead on this initiative to develop actionable, meaningful solutions.”

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Stacey Evans Announces 2018 Gubernatorial Bid

State Rep. Stacey Evans is running for governor in 2018, making her initial announcement via email. That now puts two Democrats in the race. Evans will face the powerful House minority leader Stacey Abrams, who already has begun consolidating support at the national level. And so it begins…

The announcement is below the fold:

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Draft Westmoreland Campaign Emerges

Call it a trial balloon. It appears that former District 3 Congressman Lynn Westmoreland is seriously flirting with a run for governor (or some of his allies are trying to convince him to do so). Greg Bluestein of the AJC reported yesterday that a “plea” was sent to Georgia Republicans on Tuesday urging them to show support for a Westmoreland 2018 bid. The plea was contained a link to this website, which gave a brief outline of Westmoreland’s policy prescription for Georgia -reforming education, the tax code, and transportation.

The Westmoreland plea went out as the Republican side of the race is in a state of flux. It came just a day after House Speaker David Ralston indicated he would not join the race. Although Lieutenant Gov. Casey Cagle, Secretary of State Brian Kemp, and state Sen. Hunter Hill have announced their runs, the powers that be are not satisfied with the current candidates. According to Bluestein, Governor Nathan Deal is still looking for an acceptable successor and Senator David Perdue wants an alternative as well.

Besides Westmoreland, there are a few other prominent Republicans mulling a run. Former District 1 Congressman Jack Kingston indicated in an interview with ZPolitics that he is considering it. State Sen. Michael Williams held a fundraiser in Cumming last night and has launched a website indicating that he is running for higher office (his candidacy is less likely to excite Deal and other big name Republicans though).

House minority leader Stacey Abrams looks all but sure to step in on the Democratic side, having already filed papers to run and securing the support of the progressive PAC Democracy for America . She was also featured in this New York Times piece about young progressive black Democrats stepping up to run in the age of Trump.

Westmoreland was interviewed by GPB’s Bill Nigut in early April, and while he didn’t rule out a run, he did not seem very enthusiastic either. Maybe the results of this trial balloon will change that.