Archive for April, 2010

More on Austin Scott and the GOP race for lieutenant governor

More intel about the pressure on state Rep. Austin Scott (R-Tifton), a GOP candidate for governor, to drop down into the Republican race for lieutenant governor against incumbent Casey Cagle:

–Look for a decision of some sort decision by the time qualifying opens on April 26;

– There is a Tom Perdue connection, we’re told. Scott and Perdue, whose career as an operative stretches back three decades, have been discussing the subject. Scott’s entry into the race for lieutenant governor isn’t certain. But if he should take the plunge, there’s every possibility that Perdue would act as his consultant.

– Obviously, the move has been quietly encouraged by every other GOP candidate for governor. All would like to see the field thin out. Scott was approached by monied interests last November, but declined the invitation.

Renewal of the effort can be traced, in part to Republicans upset with Cagle’s demotion of GOP senators who voted against Gov. Sonny Perdue’s hospital bed tax. Which …

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Your morning jolt: The traffic jam resumes over a transportation bill

The state Capitol is full of workaholics. So when conference committees don’t work beyond rush-hour – this is a sign that the conferees are at an impasse.

Despite reports of a breakthrough, that’s what happened last night with efforts to move a transportation funding bill out of a conference committee.

We understand that the deal killer is a provision that would allow one-half of a one-cent sales tax to be used for MARTA operations.

House opponents to the provision are led by Speaker pro tem Jan Jones of north Fulton County. The Atlanta Regional Commission is warning that without the guaranteed income stream, MARTA won’t be able to qualify for additional federal funding.

Festivities are allegedly to resume this morning.

Grover Norquist, leader of Washington-based Americans for Tax Reform, gave Republican lawmakers dispensation to vote last week for HB 1055, the conglomeration of tax increases, fee increases and future tax reductions designed to balance the state budget …

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Saxby Chambliss and the fight over derivatives

Farming and high finance may seem like completely different worlds, but the next turn in the political fight over banking reform is scheduled to take place in none other than the U.S. Senate agriculture committee on Wednesday.

U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss/AJC

U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss/AJC

Sen. Saxby Chambliss, as the ranking Republican on the committee, is right in the middle of it, according to my AJC colleague Bob Keefe up in Washington.

Georgia’s senior senator is in a head-to-head battle with Democratic committee chairwoman Sen. Blanche Lincoln over her version of Wall Street reform legislation that is scheduled for a committee vote Wednesday.

Lincoln has said her legislation will “end the days of backroom Wall Street deals” and prevent future bailouts of big financial firms.

But Chambliss argues it also will cause in a serious crunch on the financial industry and consumers alike.

“We’re going to put a lot of people out of the business of hedging their bets,” Chambliss said. “What that’s going to do is …

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Michael Thurmond, Carol Porter meet with Capitol Democrats

State Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond spoke to members of the House and Senate Democratic caucuses today.

Thurmond is to announce his Democratic candidacy for U.S. Senate at noon Wednesday in the state Capitol rotunda.

In a conversation with Democratic senators, Thurmond was joined by Carol Porter, a candidate for lieutenant governor.

Thurmond had been expected to run for lieutenant governor. His decision to go for broke against Republican incumbent Johnny Isakson essentially gives Carol Porter, wife of House Democratic Leader DuBose Porter, the nomination for lite gov without a fight.

So the conversation with senators was quite rosy. “We had an extensive conversation about the future of Georgia,” said Senate Democratic Leader Robert Brown of Macon.

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Austin Scott urged to run against Casey Cagle

We understand that overtures are being made to state Rep. Austin Scott of Tifton, a Republican candidate for governor, urging him to drop down into the race for lieutenant governor against incumbent Casey Cagle.

State Rep. Austin Scott of Tifton

State Rep. Austin Scott of Tifton

The origins of the push are still obscure. Scott declined to comment on the topic when we ran into him a few minutes ago, saying he was focused on the last four days of the legislative session.

Erick Erickson of RedState.com, a partisan of Karen Handel, on Monday suggested making the move — and promised his help should Scott decide to do so.

But it goes higher than that.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise. With candidate qualifying only six days away, Republicans who look askance at the nomination of state Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine – who has led every poll in the last 18 months – want to winnow the eight-candidate field.

Scott, who has campaigned on ethics in government, is in a difficult position – far down in the …

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Your morning jolt: State employees and the race for governor

Over the weekend, one of the Political Insider’s dedicated readers in Marietta, blessed with fast keyboard fingers, received a call from a polling firm that had taken aim at state employees.

The survey was clearly trolling for union support – with all the talk of layoffs, the subject is a natural. But the questions also attempted to determine where state employees are leaning in the race for governor.

Respondents were asked to say whether they rated the following favorably, or unfavorably:

– The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees;

– Barack Obama;

– Workers United;

– Nathan Deal;

– Sonny Perdue;

– The Georgia State Employees Association;

– The National Association of Government Employees;

– John Oxendine;

– Service Employees International Union;

– Roy Barnes;

– Karen Handel;

– Labor unions;

–The Democratic party

– The Republican party;

– The tea party.

There was no mention of Eric Johnson, the former GOP state senator from Savannah. Then came this …

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Republicans return to a GOP-only plan for a transportation sales tax

Gov. Sonny Perdue and Republican leaders of the House and Senate over the weekend cut a deal for a transportation bill that will probably come out of a conference committee on Tuesday, according to my AJC colleague Ariel Hart.

Democrats won’t be offered a voice in the process, and Republicans will return to the concept that puts off a referendum until 2012. GOP candidates for governor had objected to Republican talk, which surfaced last week, of acceding to Democratic requirements for a proposed constitutional amendment – and a November referendum this year.

The newest version of a transportation deal would be done by statute, a return to the basic concept that the governor introduced, doing it with a statute that only requires a simple majority and Perdue’s signature. A court challenge is likely.

One reason for the GOP-only solution: Republicans are ticked at Democrats for a move they made during debate over adding the $216 million bed hospital tax to HB 1055: They’ve …

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Charlie Crist under pressure to leave Senate race in Florida

This posted by the New York Times:

Gov. Charlie Crist of Florida faced new pressure today to abandon his campaign to win the state’s Republican nomination for the United States Senate, with the head of the party’s senatorial re-election committee declaring that Mr. Crist has “zero chance” to win.

Rob Jesmer, executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, made the dire prediction in a memo to party officials and fund-raisers in Florida and Washington. The message is the strongest indication yet that Mr. Crist has lost support of the Republican establishment in his race with Marco Rubio, a former state legislative leader whose Senate candidacy has flourished with help from Tea Party supporters.

The newspaper quoted Crist as saying he’s still weighing his options on an independent run. The deadline for that is two weeks away.

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Delusions, the Legislature and an implanted microchip

We often say that insanity reigns at the state Capitol.

But when we do, we do not literally accuse the people inside of letting their grip on reality slip. We simply mean that our ability to fathom their motives, or their ability to express them, has fallen short.

microchip

Referring to a politician as delusional is simply entertaining hyperbole. But it is something that becomes much less funny when a truly tortured soul bears her torment.

Last Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee entertained SB 235, the bill sponsored by Sen. Chip Pearson (R-Dawsonville) to prohibit the involuntary implantation of microchips in human beings.

In Gov. Roy Barnes’ stump speech, the bill has become a routine example of the Republican tendency to attack problems that don’t exist, and ignore the ones that do. Besides, Barnes argues, if someone holds him down to insert a microchip in his head, “it should be more than a damned misdemeanor.”

Three states have instituted bans, and others have considered the …

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Your morning jolt: Behind Michael Thurmond’s run for the U.S. Senate

Michael Thurmond, known as one of the most cautious men in Georgia politics, spent the weekend on the phone with the essential stage hands of the state Democratic party, explaining the gamble he’s about to take.

State Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond. Bob Andres/AJC

State Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond. Bob Andres/AJC

The three-term state labor commissioner has plans on Wednesday – moved from Tuesday, as first reported — to announce his U.S. Senate candidacy against Republican incumbent Johnny Isakson.

 

Consider that Thurmond is, like Attorney General Thurbert Baker or former Gov. Roy Barnes, an A-list Democrat – often mentioned as a candidate for higher office, but never taking the plunge.

Also consider that Isakson may be the strongest and most popular Republican in Georgia.

So the question becomes whether Thurmond, a former state lawmaker from Athens, has been hiding a passion for the roulette wheel.

The answer is yes – and no.

Thurmond is better than good on the stump, and has a friendly demeanor that goes down …

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