Your Morning Jolt: Atlanta mayoral runoff has candidates seeing red


December 1, 2017 Atlanta – Atlanta mayoral candidates Mary Norwood (left) and Keisha Lance Bottoms discuss during an event to discuss on the topic of education at the Gathering Spot in Atlanta on Friday, December 1, 2017. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

Earlier this morning, we told you that donors have pumped more than $1.3 million into the campaigns of Atlanta mayoral contenders Keisha Lance Bottoms and Mary Norwood over the last month.

Financial disclosures posted ahead of the Tuesday runoff for the city’s top job show that Bottoms has raised $850,000 to Norwood’s $480,000.

Both candidates were headed for the red zone as Tuesday loomed. Bottoms reported having $91,545.15 in cash on hand, but a campaign debt of $191,618.04.

Norwood had $105,397.78 on hand as the weekend came. She also loaned her own campaign $50,000 for the final push. Her largest runoff expenditure appears to be for TV time.

Bottoms’ case is more interesting. More than a third of the cash she has raised since November has gone to the Democratic Party of Georgia. Between Nov. 16 and 28, she sent $310,000 the way of chairman DuBose Porter’s operation.

What Democrats have spent that cash on will remain a mystery until well after 7 p.m. tonight. Perhaps GOTV – but certainly the party has an updated voter file that allows targeted mailing. And mailers depicting Norwood as a Donald Trump acolyte have been a staple of those efforts.

But here’s the thing: If the Georgia Democratic party were spending cash only to help Bottoms, it would be subject to the standard campaign limits of $1,400.

But expenditures to assist multiple candidates aren’t subject to any spending limit at all. And so many of the mail pieces that Democrats are sending out on behalf of Bottoms includes this fig leaf: “Vote for Nan Orrock for state Senate. Vote for Bob Trammell for state House.”

Orrock’s Senate district is in Atlanta. But Trammell’s district is well down I-85. His voters will never see the mailer. And neither candidate is on the Tuesday ballot.

The loophole is widely known and widely used by both parties. Bottoms’ donation of $310,000 to the party is more unusual — the tactic is usually used to accommodate outside donors who want at least temporary anonymity.  But it’s not unprecedented, and has already been used this year.

Democrat Jon Ossoff also donated cash to the Georgia Democratic party for use in the Sixth District congressional contest – which was officially a nonpartisan special election.

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Both campaigns in Atlanta’s mayoral runoff pried the last bystanders off the sidelines on Monday. Keisha Lance Bottoms announced endorsements from DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond and DeKalb District Attorney Sherry Boston, underlining the importance of Atlanta-in-DeKalb in this race.

The Mary Norwood campaign on Monday announced the endorsement of former Atlanta City Council president Lisa Borders. Borders placed third in the 2009 race for mayor, and sided with Kasim Reed over Norwood in the runoff. Borders is now president of the WNBA. Norwood has now been endorsed by the last three Atlanta city council presidents — Ceasar Mitchell and Cathy Woolard included.

***

An interesting extended quote on the state of the Atlanta mayor’s race, found in a Christian Science Monitor report:

“People have loved the fact that Atlanta has had strong black mayors,” says Maynard Eaton, a long-time Atlanta columnist and political strategist. “After all, this is the South, and Atlanta is the cradle of the civil rights movement. But there are young folks who have come up in a more racially tolerant era – below 40, young families – who are wondering: ‘What the [heck] has a black mayor done for me?’ They are the ones saying, ‘Let’s give white folks a chance.’ The black thing isn’t as black as it once was.”

***

Two statistical reports carry the same subtext this morning. First:

The presidency of Donald Trump has caused Democrats to experience a surge in confidence in the press at the same time that Republicans and Trump supporters are expressing more extreme, negative views of the media, according to new research in the Poynter Media Trust Survey released today.

And then this:

As the Senate version of the Republican tax reform bill made its way through the legislative process this weekend, Gallup documented a highly partisan imbalance in Americans’ reactions. Seven percent of Democrats and 25% of independents polled Friday and Saturday say they approve of the proposed changes to the federal tax code, contrasted with 70% of Republicans.

***

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, or DCCC, is the arm of Democrats in the U.S. House Democrats that seeks out both candidates and targets. This morning, it singled out U.S. Reps. Karen Handel of Roswell and Rob Woodall of Lawrenceville, both Republicans, for their support of the House-Senate tax rewrite now in the final stages of negotiation.

The language in the condemnation is over the top: “Karen Handel and Rob Woodall are walking the plank again, this time to move forward an even worse version of the Republican tax scam.” But that’s not really important.

What’s notable is that these two Republicans, both representing the northern suburbs of Atlanta, have made the DCCC list of 2018 targets.

***

The qualifying period for two state legislative seats in south metro Atlanta will be held Wednesday through 1 p.m. Friday, Secretary of State Brian Kemp announced this morning. Senate District 17 is being vacated by Republican Rick Jeffares of McDonough, and Republican Brian Strickland, also of McDonough, is giving up House District 111 — in order to run for Jeffares’ Senate seat. Jeffares is running for lieutenant governor.

***

The Republican Liberty Caucus endorsed state Sen. David Shafer’s bid for lieutenant governor. Matt Nye, the group’s chair, called Shafer a “fiscal conservative who has shown that he can get things done.” He is one of several leading Republican contenders in the race to succeed Casey Cagle, who is running for governor. (Greg Bluestein)

***

The White House will be a bit peachy today. The Trump administration is hosting a gathering of elected officials from Georgia that will allow state legislators, county commissioners and others to mingle with senior White House staffers and federal agency officials.

The group will kick the day off with a tour of the White House, followed by speeches from Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, U.S. Sen. David Perdue and Nick Ayers, Sonny Perdue’s longtime campaign hand who is now Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff. Former Perdue aide Billy Kirkland, who was Trump’s Georgia campaign director and now works at the White House, will also be on hand.

We were texted the below photo of a group of Georgia officials tearing up the White House bowling alley last night:

The group included state Sens. Tyler Harper, Blake Tillery and Matt Bass; state Rep. Vernon Jones, and several county commissioners. (Tamar Hallerman)

***

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen honored our WSB Radio colleague Jamie Dupree from the well of the House on Monday. She called him a “trusted voice for radio listeners in Atlanta as well as my home state of Florida” and wished him a speedy recovery from the rare condition that’s hampering his voice. “He’s a perfect example of the positive role that devoted and professional journalists play in this free society,” she said.

 




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