Much happening today:
— We have it on good authority that Eric Johnson, the Republican state senator from Savannah, will announce this morning that he’s running for governor.
Johnson is currently a candidate for lieutenant governor — a race that now includes Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle in it. At a press conference nearly two weeks ago, the lieutenant governor said back surgery, scheduled for today, had forced his withdrawal from the top-tier race.
Johnson’s entry into the race brings the number of GOP candidates back to five.
As Senate president pro tem, Johnson was the Republican leader of the Senate prior to Cagle’s 2006 election. His upgraded candidacy is likely to increase the focus on downstate issues as well as the topic of public school vouchers — his top issue during this past session.
Johnson also spurred legislation this past session to force the public disclosure of the names of state lawmakers who fail to pay their taxes.
— State Rep. Austin Scott of Tifton, who is often the overlooked candidate in the GOP race for governor, said earlier this year that he would fund his campaign with $100 contributions from 100 people in all of Georgia’s 159 counties.
Apparently, that didn’t mean he’d turn away larger checks. He has a fund-raiser at the 191 Club in Atlanta on Thursday. To be named a host will cost you $1,000. Minimum suggested contribution is $250.
— U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson had a brief appearance on “Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace” to discuss health care and President Barack Obama’s next 100 days. The topic was whether there was a footing for “true bipartisan agreement” on health care. Here’s a snippet:
Wallace: President Obama is talking not about a single payer government system but about a…public-sponsored, government-paid-for health plan that would be in competition with private plans. It is not a deal-breaker?
Isakson: Well, it portends certain problems. No. 1, have you ever seen the government compete with the private sector where it didn’t have the advantage? Both in that it doesn’t have to pay taxes as well as it is the regulator. So, you have to see what the meat on those bones — but it could be very problematic.
While you wonder that, consider these stories found while perusing this morning’s ajc.com:
The end of a state scholarship is an unhappy surprise for 1,500 students. DeKalb County weighs the gravity of property tax do-over. A raid on Cobb EMC stalls an attempt at image repair. City of Atlanta punishes park beautifier for not having a permit to spread mulch. Iowa becomes the third state where gays can legally wed.
Cynthia Tucker says the “good guys” must practice what’s preached. Jim Wooten on a governor’s race likely to depart from tradition. Jay Bookman sees green shoots of economic optimism. Chip Pearson says the principle of states’ rights is neither new nor “radical.”
And from elsewhere:
MST: Newspaper poll says most Minnesotans want Norm Coleman to call it quits. WSJ: The GOP seeks a comeback in New Mexico. WP: Mexico City grinds to a halt as suspected deaths rise to 103. NYT: In an op-ed piece, Jimmy Carter asks what happened to the ban on assault weapons.
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