Georgia politics will be dominated by a trio of themes this week:
– Gov. Nathan Deal’s signing of HB 87, the illegal immigration bill;
– A tense race for the chairmanship of the state GOP, to be settled Saturday with the party convention in Macon;
– And the arrival of the presidential campaign on our doorstep, through that partisan gathering in Macon.
A spokesman for Newt Gingrich, who is expected to announce his candidacy this week, confirmed today that reporters aren’t being directed to any brick-and-mortar location for the event.
Which leads one to suspect an Internet-based announcement that will point to Gingrich’s Friday evening speech in Macon at a Republican fund-raiser and a very friendly audience.
Updated at 10:45 a.m.: Rick Tyler, the Gingrich spokesman just sent a message saying candidacy announcement will come Wednesday, via Facebook and Twitter. An interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity will follow that night. The Georgia speech will be his first as a candidate.
Herman Cain, who’s receiving plaudits for his debate performance in South Carolina next week, will open the Saturday session of the GOP convention. No other presidential candidates are anticipated.
Newt Gingrich’s tangle of corporate ventures – some non-profit, some not – are often cited as a reason for his delayed entrance into the 2012 presidential contest.
A piece in today’s Wall Street Journal turns that argument on its head:
Now, as Mr. Gingrich prepares to launch a run for president as early as this week, this network of advocacy and for-profit groups is providing a publicity and policy machine without parallel among his likely Republican rivals, few of whom have stirred excitement among donors and activists.
His network has amassed more than 1.7 million voter and donor contacts and raised $32 million between 2009 and 2010—more than all his potential 2012 rivals combined.
On the other side of the coin, Doug Richards of 11Alive has this on the “fatigue” that Newt Gingrich has created with this spring’s false starts:
In South Carolina on Saturday, Jon Huntsman Jr., the former U.S. ambassador to China, told a group of Republicans that he would make a decision on a presidential run by month’s end. From CNN:
One of those in the room, state Rep. Alan Clemmons, tweeted during the meeting that Huntsman said he “will be deciding over the next two to three weeks whether there is critical mass” to mount a White House campaign.
Huntsman is from Utah, and would give Republicans two candidates of the Mormon faith. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is the other. The Huntsman and Romneys know each other well.
As the weekend broke, a blog on Forbes.com posted an interview with Jon Huntsman Sr., a billionaire:
Forbes:Would Jr.’s campaign overlap too much with Mitt Romney’s? (Huntsman Sr. was co-chairman of Romney’s effort in 2008 and they all share the same Mormon faith.)
Huntsman Sr.: “Mitt and Jonny are third or fourth cousins. Mitt’s father was a dear and special friend to me when I was in the Nixon White house. But they are very different individuals. Jon Jr. is raising one his daughters as a Hindu [she's adopted from India]. He feels all people should exercise the faith of their heart. Also Jon’s issues are foreign policy.
“Put the two of them [Jr. and Romney] on the David Letterman Show and the public would think they are two very different people. One would arrive on a motorcycle and play the keyboard and have fun. It would be a fascinating campaign.”
In case you can’t figure out who would tickle some ivories, Huntsman Jr. once played for REO Speedwagon.
Tom Baxter of the Southern Political Report has this tidbit that now seems quaint:
In a move sure to lead to speculation that he’s reconsidering his presidential potential, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal released a copy of his birth certificate.
The son of Indian immigrants, Jindal was born and raised in Baton Rouge.
That fact hasn’t been seriously disputed in any of Jindal’s races, but his office said it was releasing the birth document after inquiries about whether the governor would be affected by a bill introduced by U.S. Sen. David Vitter which would limit citizenship only to children of legal residents of the U.S.
Over at the Savannah Morning News, Larry Peterson found a group that has toted up much of the money collected by Georgia candidates in last year’s campaigns:
The $88 million total, tallied by the Montana-based National Institute on Money in State Politics, is low; some reports still are trickling in.
And it doesn’t reflect some independent outlays, such as the
$5.4 million one group [the Republican Governors Association] spent to help Republican Nathan Deal become governor.
Even so, the institute said $33 million went to gubernatorial hopefuls; $20.4 million for legislative races, $15.4 million to party committees and $12.4 million for other statewide offices.
AJC’s Politifact Georgia today takes a look at Gov. Nathan Deal’s statements about the state’s bond ratings.
In Rhode Island, the Providence Journal reports that U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson had a cameo role in Senate approval of a federal judge last week:
With John J. McConnell still shy of the Republican votes he needed Wednesday to complete his long quest for a seat on Rhode Island’s federal court, his friend Jack Reed approached Johnny Isakson on the floor of the U.S. Senate, armed with a sheaf of photocopies in a neat manila folder.
As the clock wound down on the key vote to remove a final obstacle between McConnell and the judgeship, the Rhode Island Democrat handed his Georgia colleague a copy of a year-old letter from the office of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider