Archive for January, 2013

The Political Insider is moving to a new home

Ladies and gents:

Pardon the dust, but we’re shifting to a new blog home. The new platform for the Political Insider is here:

http://www.ajc.com/weblogs/political-insider/

Please bookmark it. We’ll be operating from that URL from here on. For now, old entries for the Political Insider will remain at the current location – just in case you get nostalgic.

I’ll be sending out the proper links via Twitter and Facebook with each post, but those of you who rely on RSS feeds will need to update your link.

You’ll notice the new home has a different look, but the biggest change is the fact that you’ll now have to register in order to comment.

Once you’re registered, you can comment as many times as you like on any AJC story or blog, as long as the civilities are observed. If you run into problems or have suggestions, shoot me an email at jgalloway@ajc.com.

Thanks for reading.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter, or connect with …

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Sam Nunn, Max Cleland in Chuck Hagel’s corner; Chambliss appears skeptical

WASHINGTON – The supporting cast for Secretary of Defense nominee Chuck Hagel has a notable Georgia twang.

Behind the scenes, former Georgia Democratic U.S. Sen. Max Cleland is working to build support for his fellow Vietnam War veteran and former Senate colleague. Cleland, who lost his seat in 2002 to Saxby Chambliss, was in the front row for Thursday morning’s confirmation hearing before the Armed Services Committee but declined to comment as Hagel’s nomination is still pending.

Seated next to Hagel was former Georgia Democratic U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn, who once chaired the committee. Nunn and former Armed Services chair John Warner, a Virginia Republican, introduced Hagel and lent bipartisan and powerful backing for the nominee. Senators tend to respect powerful former senators.

Hagel, a former Republican senator from Nebraska, has been a controversial pick on the left and the right – his alleged sins include insufficient backing of Israel and insensitivity toward gays. …

Continue reading Sam Nunn, Max Cleland in Chuck Hagel’s corner; Chambliss appears skeptical »

Why Chip Rogers’ new GPB job fails the cronyism test

(Left to right) State Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers, R-Woodstock, hosts a July 2012  press conference -- along with Sen. John Albers, Rep. Sean Jerguson, and Rep. Ed Setzler – to voice opposition to TSPLOST. Bob Andres/bandres@ajc.com

(Left to right) State Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers, R-Woodstock, hosts a July 2012 press conference — along with Sen. John Albers, Rep. Sean Jerguson, and Rep. Ed Setzler – to voice opposition to TSPLOST. Bob Andres/bandres@ajc.com

Years ago at the state Capitol, if you truly wanted to do a friend a favor, you fired him.

Under a quirk in state law, laid-off workers received an immediate, life-time pension. Many well-connected state employees, some in their forties, waltzed into early retirement in this manner.

There are those who point to former state Senate majority leader Chip Rogers, now Georgia Public Broadcasting’s most famous employee, as yet another example of this kind of cronyism. But that is like mistaking a bream for a large-mouth bass.

Right genus — and still fishy — but wrong species.

In fact, the Rogers affair is the mirror image of the state’s old “involuntary separation” law. Instead of firing a friend, Gov. Nathan Deal has arranged …

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An ‘Atlanta Dream’ candidate for U.S. Senate?

I was talking this morning to one of the more seasoned Republican operatives in Georgia, who told me of an effort to bring some new names into the 2014 race for Senate and the congressional contests that could open up as a result.

Atlanta Dream co-owner Kelly Loeffler is vice president of investor relations and corporate communications at Intercontinental Exchange. Vino Wong/vwong@ajc.com

Atlanta Dream co-owner Kelly Loeffler is vice president of investor relations and corporate communications at Intercontinental Exchange. Vino Wong/vwong@ajc.com

The profile under emphasis: Young, wealthy, business-oriented, conservative but not hide-bound, and an outsider to both Georgia and Washington politics.

Which brings us to the two owners of the Atlanta Dream, the WNBA team. Mary Brock fits four of the five categories – philanthropically, she and her husband have heaped cash upon Georgia Tech and Emory University.

But it is the younger Kelly Loeffler that rings bells. She serves as the spokeswoman for IntercontinentalExchange, which just purchased the New York Stock Exchange. She’s got an MBA from DePaul University.

More to the point, …

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Your daily jolt: Paul Broun’s wife declares he’s running for U.S. Senate

Ready or not, here comes Paul Broun.

Karen Handel, the former Republican candidate for governor, was supposed to the featured attraction at a Tuesday night meeting of Georgia C.H.A.R.G.E (Citizens Helping America Restore Government Ethics).

Then an unscheduled Republican congressman from Athens arrived with his wife and a staffer in tow. Broun spoke, but stopped short of announcing a 2014 run for the U.S. Senate. We’ll let Andrew O’Shea of Viral Read take you the rest of the way:

As Congressman Broun sat down to a room full of applause followed by a short silence, Dr. Broun’s wife, Niki, stood up in front of the crowd and courageously declared that not only did her husband have her permission and support to run to be Georgia’s next junior U.S. Senator, but that he was openly announcing his candidacy, the first to formally do so in the wake of Senator Chambliss’ declaration to resign following the remainder of his current term.

This morning, we called O’Shea, a …

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Max Cleland: U.S. military needs to come home, and Chuck Hagel ‘gets that’

Former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel in a 2007 photo. AP file/Nati Harnik

Former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel in a 2007 photo. AP file/Nati Harnik

When the Senate Armed Services Committee takes up the nomination of Chuck Hagel on Thursday, former Georgia senator (and committee chairman) Sam Nunn will introduce him. But another former Georgia senator will be in the room to support a fellow Vietnam veteran. Though he’s not scheduled to testify, Max Cleland has penned the following op-ed piece in support of the former Nebraska Republican senator:

Several years ago, I visited with Gen. Colin Powell when he was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon. “How’s it going, General, I greeted him?” He replied that he had spoken to a civic group recently. He said a man came up to him and pointedly announced, “You don’t sound very much a hawk!”

General Powell told me he responded to the man by saying, “Tell you the truth, I don’t get paid to be a hawk. My job is to give the president the best advice on how to use the American …

Continue reading Max Cleland: U.S. military needs to come home, and Chuck Hagel ‘gets that’ »

House ethics bill would require Grover Norquist to register as lobbyist?

House Speaker David Ralston has dropped his bill that contains a total ban on gifts from lobbyists to state lawmakers:

Ralston said his bill, introduced Tuesday, also restores the state ethics commission’s ability to create new regulations and provides a specific ban on tickets to nearly all sporting events and concerts.

Along the way, my AJC colleague Chris Joyner talked to House Democratic Leader Stacey Abrams of Atlanta, who said the broader definition of lobbyists contained in the measure should capture “fly-in lobbyists, those corporate folks who come in and aren’t captured by anyone’s rules.”

That also would include some specific people who work for non-profit pressure groups, she said. Abrams had someone specific in mind:

“I think Grover Norquist has had an outsized influence on the way we discuss and debate issues here at the Capitol. I think anyone who can change the direction of a state should be considered a lobbyist and should be captured by our rules …

Continue reading House ethics bill would require Grover Norquist to register as lobbyist? »

Sonny Perdue takes himself out of 2014 race for Senate

Former Gov. Sonny Perdue has declared himself out of a 2014 contest to replace U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, but placed himself on the side of Republicans who believe the party has become too rigid in its approach.

In a statement e-mailed this morning, the governor declared himself “flattered” by the support that has been offered, but cited his reasons for avoiding the contest: A dozen grandchildren, business obligations and “a loving and devoted wife who has absolutely no interest in living in Washington.” From his statement:

Gov. Sonny Perdue has removed himself from the long list of Republicans considering a 2014 run for the U.S. Senate. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

Gov. Sonny Perdue has removed himself from the long list of Republicans considering a 2014 run for the U.S. Senate. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

“Our country deserves more than the current dysfunction in Washington D.C. and our party needs to return to problem-solving conservatism. We have an opportunity, led by the examples of Republican Governors across the nation, to prove to the country that we are the party that can rise above the dogma and …

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Didn’t want to be involved in eight years of ‘ugly’ doings, says Saxby Chambliss

ATHENS — U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss said Monday that it was the prospect of eight more years of “ugly” governance — not fear of losing a Republican primary — that fueled last week’s announcement that he would not seek a third term in 2014.

“That’s just not what I want to be involved in for the next two years and six years after that,” Chambliss told reporters after his first public appearance since deciding to retire. Georgia’s senior senator also said he would not involve himself in a GOP primary to pick his successor.

”That list is going to be so long. Folks who are interested in this job — they need to follow me for a couple weeks before they make their decision. It is not an easy life,” he said.

By a coincidence of timing, the long-scheduled event required Chambliss to introduce his partner in the “Gang of Six” negotiations over reducing the nation’s $17 trillion debt — U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, a Democrat from Virginia.

Warner had planned a …

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Your daily jolt: If Saxby Chambliss is frustrated with Washington, what do his BFFs think?

Neither the transcript nor the video is available as I write this, but on NBC’s “Hardball with Chris Matthews” on Sunday, Chuck Todd noted one of the many implications of U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss’ decision not to run for a third term.

One of Chambliss’ best friends in Washington, Todd noted, is House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. If Chambliss is frustrated enough to abandon Washington, Boehner may be, too.

There’s another leg to that stool. Chambliss’ other BFF in Washington is U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson. The two have been together since their halcyon days at the University of Georgia in Athens. (Where Chambliss will appear today with U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va.)

Isakson has already declared himself a certainty to run for re-election in 2016. “Absolutely,” said one aide last night. But the man who will soon become Georgia’s senior senator has also just been named to the Senate Finance Committee, which will be at the center of any further negotiations over …

Continue reading Your daily jolt: If Saxby Chambliss is frustrated with Washington, what do his BFFs think? »