August 29, 2018

Highly One-Sided Observations

Pub Notes

Bag Lady: The Kroger Co. has announced plans to move away from the use of plastic bags between now and 2025. Wonder if Athens Mayor Nancy Denson will be lobbying Kroger against this move, as she lobbied the Georgia legislature against a ban on plastic bags.


Photo Credit: Pete McCommons

Charlie Bailey has the bona fides to be Georgia's attorney general.

Attorney General: Charlie Bailey dropped by Flagpole last Friday morning. He is an old friend, as are his mother, Pam Avery, and his father, Lee Bailey (who played in Phil and the Blanks here, back in the day). Charlie graduated from UGA and UGA Law, and while he was in school, he enjoyed the music scene while excelling academically and becoming a national champion in the law school’s moot court competition. He started working in political campaigns while still an undergraduate and then became a trial lawyer in the firm of former Gov. Roy Barnes. For the last four years, Charlie was an assistant district attorney in Fulton County, specializing in prosecuting gang-related drug and human trafficking.

In other words, Charlie has the perfect background for an attorney general, unlike his opponent, Chris Carr, who was appointed by Gov. Deal to fill a vacancy, even though he has limited legal experience.

Charlie says his main task while campaigning is reminding people what an attorney general does. As if he is speaking to a jury, he holds up three fingers. “There’s three lines of approach to the job,” Charlie says. “The attorney general represents the people of Georgia; the AG influences state and even national policy; and the AG uses the legal powers of the office to fight crime and corruption.” He charges that his opponent represents pharmaceutical companies rather than Georgia citizens and points out that Carr has joined a national suit to dismantle Obamacare. Charlie’s crime-fighting credentials are impeccable, and he’s ready to reorient the state law department toward representing the state’s people.

Of course, getting that message out costs money, so, like all candidates, Charlie spends a lot of time attending fundraisers and scratching for contributions, which is what brought him to Athens last week, as it is taking him all over the state. A Democratic trial lawyer and crime-fighting assistant D.A. against an appointed Republican bureaucrat: That’s exactly the kind of matchup Charlie relishes.

Governor: Time magazine had a cover story recently about the Democratic candidate for governor of Georgia, Stacey Abrams. The article was highly laudatory, and it pointed out an unexpected side of Abrams—her willingness, as minority leader in the Georgia legislature, to work with the Republican majority—to use her legal expertise, even, to help Republican legislators get their bills phrased and explained properly.

Brian Kemp continues to run with the familiar, off-the-shelf Republican playbook, portraying Abrams as a wild-eyed radical (like all members of the “Democrat Party”) while reciting all the usual clichés: “Defend our Second Amendment rights,” “Track and deport criminal aliens,” “Give rural communities the same opportunities as the rest of Georgia,” “Reform education,” “Put the needs of hardworking Georgians ahead of special interests,” etc. And remember to say all these talking points in the heaviest possible mushmouth drawl. (Interestingly, Abrams speaks in a crisp, unaccented voice, with no ethnic or regional markers.)

Kemp’s allies have highlighted Abrams’ $200,000-plus debts, including back taxes, while ignoring the lawsuit against Kemp charging that he is trying to default on a $500,000 loan on a bad investment. Abrams accrued her debt through helping family members, as did Gov. Nathan Deal, who signed a $1.5 million note for his daughter’s business that failed. Deal had that on his record while he first ran for governor, but after he was elected, the debt sort of, you know, went away, as it were.

Stacey Abrams is a black woman, a Yale Law graduate who works across the aisle in the legislature. Brian Kemp is a good-ole-boy developer whose performance as secretary of state has been marred by incompetence and suppression of voting rights, as detailed in a recent New York Times article. It is as clear which candidate is better qualified as it is which candidate is white. What is not clear yet is which criterium will motivate the majority of Georgia voters.