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.

Walton GOP BBQ Kicks Off 2018 Primary Race

Buzz Brockway holds court at the Walton GOP BBQ

As is custom, Roy Roberts welcomed GOP activists from across the state to his farm last evening for a little bit of BBQ and a lot of politics.  (Good BBQ, excellent Brunswick stew – with no added green stuff, the way God intended it.)

The Walton County annual event draws Republicans from well outside the region, and is the semi-official kickoff to statewide Republican primary contests.  As such, the three announced candidates for Governor were there, as were at least two candidates for Secretary of State.

I’ll note that this was one of Jon Richards’ favorite events and he loved the picture taking opportunities.  What follows won’t do his work justice, but are a short collection of candid shots of the gathering are included below the jump.  These are for those that lacked faith that God & Roy had made a deal for the weather to clear up and provide blue skies by the time Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black sang “God Bless America” to open the bad joke telling and political speechifying.  Continue reading “Walton GOP BBQ Kicks Off 2018 Primary Race”

Morning Reads for May 24, 2017

“You Haven’t Done Nothin'” by Stevie Wonder

  1. Haven’t had enough Ossoff/Handel in your life? Get your fix on June 6. 
  2. North American Properties exec: ATL’s Future Depends on MARTA
  3. Jimmy Carter memoir tops Bill Gates’ summer reading list. 
  4. Yale confers Doctor of Laws on John Lewis. 
  5. LaGrange Sued for Allegedly Restricting Utilities Access
  6. Seven Harry Potter films and Casablanca at the Fox Summer Film Festival? Yes, please!

Speaker Ralston Indicates He Will Pass on 2018 Gubernatorial Bid

Casey Cagle can breathe a sigh of relief (probably). In remarks delivered on Monday at a meeting of the House Rural Development Council in Tifton, House Speaker David Ralston indicated he is not running for governor in 2018.

Toward the end of his nine-minute remarks highlighting the necessity of meeting the needs of rural Georgia, Ralston said the following:

Let me be clear here today. I intend for my focus, this year and next, to be where it has always been, and that is on the Georgia House of Representatives and the good people of Georgia that we represent. I can’t think of anything more important than helping in some small way to see this council succeed in making sure that the concept of two Georgias is finally, and once and for all, cast into the dustbin of our history as a state.

The rumor mill had it that Ralston was considering a 2018 bid. He would have likely competed for many of the same establishment lane donors and voters that Cagle is targeting. Instead, it appears he is leaning toward running for reelection to his house seat in North Georgia. With the governor’s office and lieutenant governor’s office changing hands after 2018, Ralston will likely see his own stock rise as the only returning power player under the Gold Dome.

Here is a video of Ralston’s remarks that were posted on Facebook.

Handel Campaign Responds to New Ossoff #GA6 Ad

Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff released a new ad yesterday entitled “Wasting.” Ossoff states that he does not have time in the 30-second ad to list out all the areas that both parties are wasting money and instead directs them to his website to view his list that could save $16 billion. He does quickly highlight three areas in the ad: Eliminating Medicare fraud, consolidating federal data centers, and redoing the government’s mobile device contracts.

The Handel campaign issued a response to one idea from Ossoff’s website of expanding joint basing at the Department of Defense. The response can be seen after the break.

Continue reading “Handel Campaign Responds to New Ossoff #GA6 Ad”

Blue Cross Blue Shield (Possibly) Offering Insurance on Exchanges in 2018

Recently, there was some speculation (read: outright panic) over whether or not 96 of our 159 counties would have insurance plans available on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) exchanges in 2018. Last week, Blue Cross Blue Shield submitted proposed rates for all areas of the state to the Office of Insurance and Fire Safety Commissioner, according to the Macon Telegraph:

The Georgia insurance department had asked insurers that want to offer exchange coverage to submit their proposed rates by May 16, while the federal deadline is June 21.

The proposed rates will be publicly available after June 21, the agency said.

Submitting rates is only the first step in the process, however, as Commissioner Ralph Hudgens has to sign off of them, and Blue Cross Blue Shield still can opt to withdraw at any time. This latter point is important, given the current state of PPACA and the plans to repeal it.

Blue Cross Blue Shield’s signaled commitment to the Georgia exchanges in 2018 comes at a time when the Trump Administration and House Republicans have filed a motion in federal court to hold a case for 90 days regarding the constitutionality of cost-sharing reductions in PPACA. The purpose of the cost-sharing payments is to reduce the out-of-pocket expenses of low income consumers, but Republicans in Congress have refused to fund the payments in the past, leading to the Obama Administration funding them without a specific allocation. House Republicans sued the Obama Administration in 2014 for illegally authorizing the payments, and a lower court agreed with them. Continue reading “Blue Cross Blue Shield (Possibly) Offering Insurance on Exchanges in 2018”

Collins requests increased poultry production

Georgia’s 9th District Congressman Doug Collins has petitioned the U.S. Department of Agriculture to allow increased line speeds in poultry processing plants across the nation. In his letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, Collins cited processors in South America, Asia, Canada, and Europe that are safely operating at line speeds of up to 200 birds per minute while U.S. continued to restrict production speed to 140 birds per minute.

Congressman Collins in making the case for increased line speeds cited the poultry impact in Georgia and specifically in the 9th District:

Agriculture remains a vital dimension of Georgia’s economy, while poultry production generates more than $18 billion for the state economy and $10.9 billion for the Ninth District economy annually.

Morning Reads for Tuesday, May 23

Good morning! Here is the latest on last night’s bombing at Manchester Arena.


Big Name Endorsements In The #GAGOP Chairman’s Race

This year’s GAGOP has been fairly interesting thus far. You have an “anonymous” group or individual pushing for delegates to #DrainTheGASWAMP.  Obviously, these folks are trying to tap into the energy driving the #TrumpTrain to derail the candidacies of those they deem as unfit for leadership.  So far, specifically naming John Watson, Michael McNeely, and Mike Welsh as “unfit”….leaving Alex Johnson as seemingly untouched by the group.  It’s not exactly an endorsement, but you can draw your own conclusions.

You also have Michael McNeely picking up up an endorsement from former presidential candidate and current radio show host Herman Cain last week.  Cain stated that he was impressed by his messaging.

Today, the chair of the Donald Trump campaign in Georgia, Rayna Casey, endorsed John Watson for GAGOP Chairman.  From the AJC:

“Why take a chance with a likeable amateur when we have a professional willing to volunteer his strategic political expertise, including raising millions, to win our elections?” she wrote in a dispatch sent to GOP activists across the state.

The “likeable amateur” swipe is probably vague enough to encompass McNeely, Welsh, and Johnson.  This is no doubt a play to get Trump supporters to back Watson showing that he has earned a positive recommendation from the Trump campaign and solidifying Trump supporters behind him…especially when Trump supporters seem to be divided on the state chairman race.

As of now, I believe it’s anybody’s race for state chairman.  It seems, just browsing Facebook and looking across my district convention back in April, that Alex Johnson has picked up a decent amount of support to be competitive and has the possibility of making it to a second ballot.  He’s playing the political outsider as well as courting Trump supporters, but how will Johnson fair against Watson now that the top Georgia Trump campaign official has weighed in?  How will McNeely and Welsh factor into and fair in the balloting?  Feel free to opine on what your tea leaves tell you in the comments.

Five Georgias: The Coast

This week’s Courier Herald column. You may find the previous parts of this series by following this link.

For the past few weeks we’ve been taking a look at the regions that make up the political and economic coalitions that influence the politics and policy governing Georgia. Gone are the days of “Two Georgias”, where there was “Atlanta” and everything else, mostly rural.

For the past two weeks we looked at the two Atlantas – the Urban Core, and the Atlanta Suburbs. Today we begin with the part of “rural Georgia” that isn’t that rural and in many ways looks and acts a lot more like Suburban Atlanta than the folks in The Mountains or the non-coastal counties of South Georgia.

We’ll start breaking down “other Georgia” with The Coast because it was Georgia before there wasn’t any other Georgia. There’s also the history of asserting an open independence from and superiority over Atlanta. My friends from Savannah have long gone on record as telling anyone that would listen that “if Atlanta could suck as hard as it blows, it would have a port too”.

Coastal Georgia is anchored by Savannah not just in population but as an economic engine as well. They have earned their independence from Atlanta in the business community. Continue reading “Five Georgias: The Coast”