Contrary to what you may be reading elsewhere, U.S. Rep. John Barrow (D-Savannah) is not thinking about becoming a Republican.
“I am not switching parties, nor have I ever given any indication that I would. There is no truth to this rumor,” Barrow said through his spokeswoman this morning.
The table was set for speculation by Moveon.org’s purchase of TV time in Savannah, to punish Barrow for his vote against the Obama health care law. Moveon.org has been pumping up Reginia Thomas, who drew less than 24 percent in a 2008 primary contest against Barrow.
But the rumor itself was set off by this bit of timely disinformation from the Republican-oriented American Spectator:
The challenge from Thomas — now apparently backed by MoveOn.org, rumored to be prepared to spend a six-figure sum to defeat the incumbent in the July 20 Democratic primary — represents the left side of the political bind in which Barrow now finds himself pinched.
On the right side, five Republicans are seeking the nomination to face Barrow (or Thomas) in the general election. The latest addition to the GOP primary field is Ray McKinney, a nuclear power project manager who placed second in the 2008 primary to John Stone, who isn’t running this year.
Such are the pressures on Barrow that some Georgia Republicans now believe that the Democrat may be contemplating a switch to the GOP, which would set up a divisive situation much like that in Alabama’s 5th District, where national Republican support for party-switcher Parker Griffith has enraged grassroots GOP activists.
Consider this rumor killed.
The calendar shows an awkward confrontation in store for Republicans next week, when tea-party types hold their second annual April 15 rally at the state Capitol.
Atlanta Tea Party coordinator Debbie Dooley called Monday to say that Neal Cavuto of Fox News will be broadcasting his show live from the rally site at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.
The Legislature will have just returned from its spring break, and could still be in the midst of a fight over the hospital bed tax. You’ll recall that Cavuto expressed interest last week in finding a Republican willing to go on camera in support of the bed tax – but couldn’t find one.
Other speakers will include Ginni Thomas, wife of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and Jonathan Krohn.
Music will start at 3 p.m., but the program won’t officially take hold until 6 p.m.
Dooley included the following in a note to attendees: “No firearms and no signs/flags on poles or sticks of any kind.”
Over the weekend, anti-abortion activists wondered about the state of SB 529, their bill to make it a crime for doctors to perform an abortion – if they know that the woman has been coerced, or if the abortion is being demanded because of the race or gender of the fetus.
Identical legislation had been the province of the House Special Judiciary Committee. But SB 529 was assigned to the much tougher House Judiciary Committee.
Members of the Legislative Black Caucus have been incensed by the bill – which they say unfairly targets African-American women. Now, couple that piece of information with this fact:
Black members of the House last month performed an extraordinary pivot on two revenue bills passed by the chamber – on the very same day.
Most African-American lawmakers voted against HB 1055 on March 26 at 3:27 p.m. The measure, to raise $90 million in fees to help fill the budget gap, passed — but largely along partisan lines.
But one hour and 20 minutes later, nearly every black member of the House voted in favor of HB 307, the $216 million hospital bed tax. The measure passed on a strong bipartisan vote, 141-23.
Many have since wondered whether House Republican leadership had consummated a trade: Support for HB 307 in exchange for stopping SB 529 in its tracks.
Late Monday, we talked to state Sen. Emanuel Jones (D-Decatur), chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus. We could feel his smile over the cell phone.
“We think it’s very helpful that Speaker Ralston allows Democrats to participate in decision-making,” Jones said.
On his private blog, liveapartmentfire.com, Doug Richards of WXIA-TV in Atlanta has posted on his not-so-great relationship with Vernon Jones, the former DeKalb County CEO and current congressional candidate.
The scene is a courthouse, following the verdict that Jones had created a “hostile work environment” for two former county employees:
Two other reporters, WAGA’s Aungelique Proctor and WGCL’s Bernard Watson approach Jones. His body language is completely different, and he chats amiably with them. I step toward them.
“Doug– if you don’t get away from me, I’m going to call security and tell them you’re harassing me.” He walks away. Proctor and Watson follow closely. I hover from a short distance. I haven’t uttered a word to Jones at this point.
Jones walks toward WSB’s Richard Belcher.
Again, the body language is friendly. I tighten my orbit. Jones: “I’m sorry, but I’m not going to talk to you guys if Doug is around. He’s got to stop harassing and intimidating me.”
I’m not making this up. He’s standing next to Richard Belcher — the embodiment of a TV news tough guy.
And I’m intimidating him?
Finally, I pipe up: “Dude, I haven’t seen you in five years.” I misspoke — I had probably last seen Jones in 2006. And yeah, for some reason I addressed him as “dude.”
Jones: “And I hope it’s another five hundred years before I see you again.”
Attorney General and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Thurbert Baker will advertise his decision not to sue the federal government over health care reform at one of Atlanta’s most prominent churches this evening.
Baker will speak Tuesday evening at the West Hunter Street Baptist Church, a bastion of the civil rights movement.
Baker has also seized on his confrontation with Republicans in a fund-raising e-mail he’s issued:
You have likely heard some complaints about my decision, with some Republican members of the Georgia House of Representatives even talking about impeaching me. As Attorney General, I make decisions based on the Constitutions of the United States and of Georgia, as well as our statutory laws. This decision is no different, and I stand by it.
Now that healthcare reform has passed, I plan to play a constructive role in implementing it and improving it as necessary. I stand ready to do everything I can as Governor to make sure that we do our best to make it work well for Georgians. I hope my fellow candidates and elected officials – whatever they think about the new law – will join me in that commitment.
Jody Hice, a syndicated conservative radio talk show host, has declared his entry into the 7th District congressional race to replace U.S. Rep. John Linder.
Hice describes himself as the founder of Ten Commandments-Georgia, Inc. which raised funds to defend Barrow County against an ACLU lawsuit that sought removal of the Ten Commandments display from its courthouse.
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