After a signing ceremony for a Veterans Day proclamation, Gov. Nathan Deal held a first post-election scrum with reporters.
Among the topics: The Atlanta Falcons’ drive to replace the 20-year-old Georgia Dome with a new $1 billion facility with a retractable roof. The governor will have to sign, and the Legislature approve, an increase in the bonding capacity of the Georgia World Congress Authority.
Deal was asked about hints that the Falcons have been dropping, that leaving the city – perhaps for Los Angeles – might be an option. Should people in Atlanta be concerned? the governor was asked. Replied Deal:
”I don’t know how to answer that question, because nobody has suggested that’s an option that’s on the table now. I did meet with the commissioner of the NFL, Mr. [Roger] Goodell, and met with the authorities of the Atlanta Falcons this week. We had a good meeting. We had a good discussion….
That really is an issue that addresses itself to the Legislature, and I’m sure there will be a very health discussion about it. But I have not taken any position on that right now.”
It’s a tricky issue, another reporter pointed out. The governor continued:
”There could be consequences, of course, if a new stadium is determined to be appropriate. There’s a lot to be said for the fact that we have a very good Dome. And I think there’s got to be a little further explanation to the public, and probably to members of the General Assembly, to explain the necessity of changing that, and going to a new stadium.”
Perhaps this doesn’t need translating, but when you have a governor say that you need to make the case for a particular item, that means you haven’t done so yet.
(Updated at 8:45 p.m.: Kim Shreckengost, speaking for the Falcons, declares that any reports of the Falcons’ threats of departure are untrue. “The Falcons are on record regarding the club’s commitment to Atlanta, and their preference to remain downtown,” she said this evening.)
The governor was also asked what Republicans need to do to get back in the presidential game. Deal found no fault with Mitt Romney, but blame for Tuesday night on Todd Akin in Missouri and Richard Mourdock in Indiana:
“Make sure that their nominees for various offices don’t say crazy things that cause political backlashes. Especially United States Senate [races] – it’s very evident that good people said very unusual things and those statements had severe political consequences.
“I feel there’s going to be a more thorough vetting of candidates, pehaps, which is not all bad. That is difficult to do when you have open primaries…But I think this election cycle, especially [at the] U.S. Senate level, emphasized the importance of having candidates who truly do manifest the main positions of the party.”
What does the GOP need to do to widen its tent and attract more minorities?
”I think they need to recognize, as we’ve tried to do here, that there are issues that transcend traditional party labels. There are things that are considered to be important by the electorate that do not necessarily hinge on whose idea it was. For our state, criminal justice reform is a classic example of that. It certainly bridged the party divide….I’m going to encourage the party at the state level to do that.”
On the significance of Republicans in the possibly reaching a two-thirds “supermajority” in both the House and Senate by January, the governor said this:
”I think it does, of course, add a little bit of assistance to very difficult issues, to be able to corral the number of votes, but as a practical matter, there are very few issues where a supermajority is actually important….I don’t know that that ratio has a whole lot of practical significance, quite frankly.”
The presidential election also made permanent the health care reforms pushed through by President Barack Obama. Deal has some epic decisions to make. Most immediately, he must declare by Nov. 16 whether the state will build and operate new online exchanges where consumers and small businesses can shop for affordable insurance — or leave it to the federal government. Deal all but said he’s not likely to touch it:
”I have not made the final, conclusive decision public yet. We have until the 16th to notify the federal authorities as to what the state’s position will be. There’s always the possibility that they may decide that they’re going to liberalize the flexibility that states will be granted under the exchange. I’ve seen no evidence of that at this point.
“Until that deadline is arrived at I will not take an official position, but unless there’s some further indication that we will be given flexibility – which was what we thought we would have when the legislation first was passed, but has eroded away over the year – I at this point don’t foresee any change in my position.
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider