Two things of note afoot this morning:
— We understand that U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal has reserved the steps of the Hall County courthouse in Gainesville at 10 a.m. Friday, to announce his Republican bid for governor.
Word has also been passed that the north Georgia congressman has been making courtesy calls with the same message.
Over at InsiderAdvantage, Matt Towery posits that a Deal candidacy would make a Roy Barnes comeback less likely. The two are friends. Deal is a former Democrat — he switched in 1995, two years after arriving in Congress.
“Barnes knows Deal, and there may be a respect factor there,” Towery says.
But to pose a problem for Barnes, Deal would first have to rise to the top of a GOP field of six, four of whom can call on significant amounts of cash and activist support.
Karen Handel has a raftful of organizers from the Sonny Perdue operation. Eric Johnson of Savannah says he’ll have the support of fellow senators. But House Speaker Glenn Richardson has been suspiciously quiet — even though one of his members, state Rep. Austin Scott of Tifton, is in the race.
We couldn’t get hold of Richardson this morning. But House Rules Chairman Earl Ehrhart did pick up his phone. He hasn’t talked to Deal, but he’s “seriously interested” in the man’s candidacy.
Should Deal run, expect a mad scramble for his seat. State Sen. Lee Hawkins (R-Gainesville) is expected to run. PeachPundit adds the name of Bill Stephens, the former state Senate majority leader, who is now a banker in private life.
— An issue has finally arrived that put U.S. Sens. Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss to the right of Gov. Sonny Perdue.
On Tuesday evening, the two senators voted against confirmation of Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius to head the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The vote was 65-31.
“By recently vetoing a bill on late-term abortion, Governor Sebelius ignored the will of Kansans. By not paying the taxes she owed until just before her confirmation hearing, she ignored the laws of the United States.
“I also believe it is inappropriate to place someone with her record of disregard for human life into a national health leadership role. For those reasons, I oppose Governor Sebelius’ nomination.”
You’ll recall that six weeks ago, immediately after President Barack Obama nominated her, Sebelius received the endorsement of Georgia’s governor, who had accompanied her on a trip to Iraq and Afghanistan.
“Gov. Sebelius is an excellent choice to lead the [U.S.] Department of Health and Human Services. Using her experience as a successful governor, she will bring to this position the perspective of someone that has managed the delivery of these vital healthcare programs and fully understands the value of a close partnership between the state and federal governments.”
Perdue, of course, does not have to make it through Republican primary next year.
Arlen Specter, the newest Senate Democrat, voted “aye.” But so did Olympia Snowe of Maine, one of the few moderate Senate Republicans remaining.
Isakson, by the way, heard about Specter’s switch at a party luncheon on Tuesday.
“Needless to say, you could’ve heard a pin drop,” he told my AJC colleague Bob Keefe. “But he stated quite clearly he had done a poll and came to the realization he couldn’t win the Republican nomination — but could possibly win the Democratic nomination.”
While you ponder that, consider these articles found while perusing this morning’s ajc.com:
Despite dipping 2.5 percent in February, Atlanta are home prices may be bottoming out. Georgia health officials say they’re preparing for swine flu cases. Gov. Sonny Perdue has signed a bill giving himself the authority to declare a flu emergency. An aide to Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska will approve most federal stimulus funds.
Cynthia Tucker says gun violence is a more serious plague than any flu. Bob Barr declares that, despite the fad of crisis after crisis, the sky is not falling. Patrick Leahy thinks the Voting Rights Act still has work to do for states.
Elsewhere in Georgia:
Atlanta Unfiltered: A DeKalb lawmaker-lawyer goes to court to face malpractice claim. Tondee’s Tavern: On the crowding race for secretary of state.
WSJ: Call Barack Obama an engaged, yet elusive president. NYDN: Arlen Specter’s move to Democratic party is a symbolic plus for Obama. WP: Gingrich, Snowe and others on the specter of the Specter switch. NYT: From Édgar, 5, a cough heard round the world.
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