Peach State Politics (June 25, 2021)

Giuliani loses law license, Warnock targeted in GOP ad buy, Kemp ending public health emergency, This Week in Washington, special announcement, and more

Welcome back to Peach State Politics! Let’s get you up to speed on this week’s biggest stories in Georgia politics before we head into the weekend.

Rudy Giuliani has lost his license to practice law in the state of New York after making false claims about widespread fraud in the 2020 election. We will take a look at some of the other accusations made against Giuliani in the court order. Plus, Sen. Raphael Warnock is being attacked by Senate Republicans after voting to advance the Democratic voting rights measure known as the For the People Act. And Gov. Brian Kemp is ending Georgia’s public health emergency as COVID-19 cases continue to decline. And as usual, we’ve got the latest news from Washington!

I also have a little announcement to make about the future of this newsletter. Let’s get started!

Giuliani loses law license after Georgia election fraud claims

He was the Mayor of New York City during the 9/11 attacks. He was once one of the most prominent U.S. attorneys in the country. And more recently, he was the personal attorney of former President Donald Trump. But Rudy Giuliani has now lost his license to practice law after making unsubstantiated claims of widespread fraud in the 2020 election.

A 33-page order from a court in New York said that Giuliani’s false claims of election fraud helped enflame the violence that lead to the January 6 siege at the U.S. Capitol. The court went on to say that Giuliani “communicated demonstrably false and misleading statements to courts, lawmakers and the public at large in his capacity as lawyer for former President Donald J. Trump and the Trump campaign in connection with Trump's failed effort at reelection in 2020.”

Giuliani made several appearances at election hearings in Georgia and several other swing states to contest the results of the election. Among other things, his team encouraged Republican state lawmakers to nullify the popular vote results and appoint electors who would vote for Trump. He was also one of Trump’s most visible defenders during congressional and special counsel investigations, which led to Trump’s impeachment and several indictments within the former President’s inner circle.

Warnock targeted in GOP ad after For the People Act fails

Senate Republicans have launched a six-figure ad campaign against Sen. Raphael Warnock and other swing-state Democratic Senators who voted to advance the For the People Act, which failed in the Senate this week after Republican objections.

The ad slams the Democratic voting rights measure as the “welfare for politicians plan” and linked Warnock to the recent decision by Major League Baseball to relocate the 2021 All-Star Game. “Sen. Raphael Warnock is getting pretty expensive,” the ad said.

Warnock, who won his seat in a blockbuster January runoff election, must stand for a full term next year. While the Republican field is beginning to take shape, everyone is waiting to see if UGA football legend Herschel Walker will bulldoze the field with Trump’s blessing.

Kemp to end public health emergency on July 1

In early 2020, Gov. Brian Kemp became the first governor in state history to issue a public health emergency after Georgians began falling ill to COVID-19, a respiratory illness first identified in Wuhan, China.

Now, with vaccines widely available, new cases declining and the state economy rebounding, the governor announced that he will end the public health emergency on July 1. “I appreciate the General Assembly granting my office this authority in order to swiftly and appropriately respond to the coronavirus pandemic,” Kemp said. “We worked together - along with the Department of Public Health, dozens of state agencies, local leaders, private sector partners, and countless others - to protect both lives and livelihoods.”

According to the CDC, 42.5% of Georgians have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and 35.4% have been fully vaccinated. However, those numbers lag for behind the rest of the country, with more than half of the country having been given at least one dose and 45% fully vaccinated. Georgia is on track to fall well short of the Biden administration’s goal of vaccinating at least 70% of residents by the July 4th holiday.

This Week in Washington

Time to look at this week’s biggest stories from Washington. President Biden announced on Thursday that he and a bipartisan group of Senators have reached a deal on an infrastructure bill, setting the stage for a busy July on Capitol Hill. Also, Democrats’ hopes of passing an election reform bill were dashed after Republicans used the filibuster to block the Senate vote. And the Supreme Court issued a monumental ruling on free speech.

Judge throws out most of lawsuit targeting Fulton County ballots

A judge has dismissed most of a lawsuit alleging widespread fraud in Fulton County’s mail-in ballots, a major blow to a group of voters seeking to inspect nearly 150,000 mail-in ballots in Georgia’s largest county. Though the bulk of the lawsuit has been thrown out, the judge is allowing two claims seeking images of mail-in ballots to move forward.

Fulton County leaders and lawyers have pushed back against claims of widespread fraud, saying that lawsuits such as this one are the result of what has become known as the Big Lie. “The votes have been counted three times, including a hand recount, and no evidence of widespread fraud was found,” said Fulton County Commission Chair Rob Pitts.

LG 2022: Allen snags endorsement from top Dem commentator

In the race for Lieutenant Governor, State Rep. Erick Allen has earned the endorsement of Bakari Sellers, a top Democratic cable news commentator and a former South Carolina state lawmaker.

Sellers, who is also an attorney, was the Democratic nominee for Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina in 2014. As a state lawmaker, Sellers was one of the youngest African-American politicians in the country, having been elected at the age of 22. He also has what he calls “deep ties" to Georgia, from being a graduate of Morehouse College to working on former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin’s campaign.

In an email, Sellers told donors that Allen has what it takes to bring lasting change to the office. “For a decade, Erick has put in the work, organizing and mobilizing underrepresented voters in Georgia. He’s worked with Stacey Abrams to combat voter suppression in Black and brown communities and give every Georgian a real voice,” he said.

Allen, who represents Cobb County, is one of two Democratic state lawmakers vying for Georgia’s second highest office, along with State Rep. Derrick Jackson of Fayette County.

Former State House candidate running for Agri. Commish

Democrat Nakita Hemingway, who unsuccessfully competed for a State House seat in Gwinnett County last year, is now setting her sites on statewide office.

The cut-flower farm owner announced that she will run for Agriculture Commissioner, the office that oversees the Georgia Department of Agriculture.

If elected, Hemingway would be the first woman and the first African-American to hold the office. The Republican incumbent, Gary Black, is stepping down to run for U.S. Senate.

More on Hemingway’s candidacy can be found here.

GA ethics panel chair stepping down to run for Congress in Atlanta suburbs

Our friends at the AJC picked up word this week that Georgia ethics commission chairman Jake Evans will be stepping down at the end of the month.

A Republican, the 34-year-old Evans was first appointed to the ethics panel by Gov. Nathan Deal in 2016. His father, Randy, is a close confidant of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Evans’ resignation signals that he will soon enter the race for Congress in metro Atlanta’s northern suburbs, where Democrats Lucy McBath and Carolyn Bourdeaux occupy the hypercompetitive 6th and 7th districts. But redistricting could set off a game of musical chairs for candidates like Evans, as it is not clear what the maps will look like.

So far, though, two candidates have stepped up to challenge McBath: Army veterans Harold Earls and Eric Welsh are challenging the two-term Democratic lawmaker. In the 7th district, Bourdeaux’s 2020 Republican opponent, emergency room physician Rich McCormick, is gearing up to run against her again.

Handel to lead economic development organization

Speaking of Lucy McBath, it seems that her two-time rival is moving on from her career in elected politics.

It was announced this week that former U.S. Rep. Karen Handel has ben chosen as the President and the CEO of Carroll Tomorrow, an economic development organization in Carroll County. She also said that she will be moving from Roswell to Carroll County to take on this new role.

Handel’s career in Georgia politics goes back to the early 2000s, when she was first elected chair of the Fulton County Commission. She was then elected Georgia Secretary of State in 2006 and unsuccessfully ran for Governor in 2010.

In 2014, she ran for an open U.S. Senate seat but failed to secure a spot in the Republican runoff. In 2017, she ran for Congress in Georgia’s 6th District after longtime Rep. Tom Price (R) stepped down to serve a brief stint in the Trump administration. She defeated Democrat Jon Ossoff in a pricey special election, but lost re-election to Democrat Lucy McBath the following year. Months after her defeat, she launched what would be an unsuccessful rematch against McBath.

Congratulations, Derrick and CaMia!

I would like to send my congratulations to State Representatives Derrick Jackson and CaMia Jackson (née Hopson). The two lawmakers, who have been engaged since November 2020, said “I do” at Atlanta’s Trap Music Museum last weekend. The ceremony was officiated by U.S. Sen. Rev. Raphael Warnock.

Click here for pictures from Saturday’s ceremony.

I wish Derrick, CaMia and their families a blessed life and many wonderful years together! As the great Mahatma Gandhi once said: “Where there is love, there is life.” Best wishes to the Jacksons as they begin this beautiful and exciting new chapter of their lives!

Two-week hiatus

To close things out, I’d like to share with you all that I’m going to be taking a little hiatus for the next two weeks. This means that there will be no newsletters or any articles/stories for the next two weeks.

Between school and work, these last few months have been incredibly stressful and tiring. There have been days when I come home from work and take a nap after a long day. I think I need to step away from politics for a couple of weeks until I get some things figured out on my end. I need to create a better sleep schedule, register for fall classes and come up with ways to better manage my time. And let’s be honest with ourselves: I think all of us deserve some time to enjoy this beautiful summer weather after a year of being cooped up indoors.

But just because I’m taking a two-week break doesn’t mean that the news will be doing so as well. I will leave you all with these fine sources for continuous updates on Georgia politics:

I will be back and better than ever with more updates on Georgia politics starting July 12. Until then, I hope all of you have a happy 4th of July and a wonderful summer. Please be safe and get your vaccine if you have not done so already. Thank you all very much for reading and enjoying my newsletter over these last several months, and I look forward to sharing more exciting stories with you all.