By Greg Bluestein, Katie Leslie, Daniel Malloy
The latest sign that national Democrats have their eye on Georgia came Tuesday when Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz swung through Atlanta.
In a chat with the AJC at WSB-TV studios she described the field of Republican Senate candidates as “contestants in the beauty pageant of extremism,” with familiar criticisms of Rep. Paul Broun's thoughts on evolution, Rep. Phil Gingrey's clumsy defense of Todd "Legitimate Rape" Akin and Karen Handel's role in the Susan G. Komen for the Cure spat with Planned Parenthood.
Schultz said Handel “almost single-handedly brought down the premier breast cancer organization in the world by injecting the politics of women’s health into the cancer survivor’s plight.”
Asked who among the candidates poses the most threat to Michelle Nunn’s chances at the Senate seat, Schultz shrugged.
“Who knows? Right now, unfortunately for America, you have a Republican Party that has been strangled by the tea party,” she said. “I expect that in their primary they will busily try to out-extreme each other.”
Meanwhile, Schultz lauded Nunn and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed.
She described Sam Nunn’s daughter as a “pragmatic moderate” committed to job creation and fighting for the middle class.
And Schultz defended Reed’s growing national import as a sign he’s committed to the state and party – not as evidence that the mayor currently seeking his second term is hungry for a higher office. Reed was just elected to the DNC’s executive committee last week.
“The more significant a player he is on the national stage, the more he can do for Atlanta,” she said. “I’m sure that is his main motivation.”
Reed, it just so turns out, was at the White House again on Tuesday, among 18 mayors meeting with President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder to discuss reducing youth violence.
As Obama tries toround up international support for a military intervention in Syria, he has backing from Georgia's senior U.S. senator. Saxby Chambliss, the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, sent us this statement last night:
“Based on available intelligence, there can be no doubt the Assad regime is responsible for using chemical weapons on the Syrian people. It is time for the United States to act in a serious way, and send a clear message to Assad and his allies that the world will not tolerate chemical or biological attacks. Continuing to do nothing is not an option. Short of putting troops on the ground, I believe a meaningful military response is appropriate.”
Gainesville Republican U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, who serves on the Foreign Affairs Committee and is a chaplain in the Air Force Reserves, had a different view when discussing Syria with the Rotary Club of Lanier-Forsyth on Tuesday. The report from ForsythNews.com:
Collins touched on Syria, a situation he described as a “mess.” With all the different groups in the country, it’s difficult to know where to start, though he noted that chemical warfare is off limits.
“I am very disturbed right now at the all-of-a-sudden awakening of this administration to the problem of Syria,” Collins said.
Military engagement presents a tough situation, he said. It’s difficult to tell the good from the bad, and weapons provided could be turned around and used on America.
“There are also countries all over Africa right now in which the governments have killed many, many thousands of people,” he said. “I don’t hear that moral outrage and justification for sending our troops.
“Just because a lot of people have died in the country, are we going to be ... morally honest with ourselves and say the reason we’re going in is because this person is killing all these people yet we have other countries in the world that we’ll gladly ignore?”
Long-time Sierra Club lobbyist Neill Herring has a biting analysis on the opening of the latest front in the water wars between Georgia and Florida. Writing in Creative Loafing, he says a remarkably durable coalition of high-paid consultants and secret negotiations that shield the public from key details are partly to blame for the decades-long fight.
Here's his killer kicker:
"Now Florida says it's suing again, over water that it says is not reaching Apalachicola Bay. The lawyers are surely giddy. The people, "led" by the secrecy addicts they have elected, will continue to pay the bills and get nothing.
As an enlistee in the forces of the latter, I can report that all of this is deadly damned familiar."
Gov. Nathan Deal has said that a year ago he offered Florida a "comprehensive framework" for a compromise. We have repeatedly pressed him to release the details of his offer, but each time the governor has said that he's bound by a gag order to keep the negotiations secret. Instead, we're left with his office's hints that it required more conservation on Georgia's part and gave Alabama and Florida added flexibility for water withdrawals.
Over at thefloridacurrent.com, Bruce Ritchie reports that the shroud of secrecy dates to a January 2010 request from lawyers representing Georgia, Florida and Alabama to keep their discussions confidential. But he also quotes Georgia William Sherk, who once represented Troup County and LaGrange in the water fight, saying he thinks the gag order no longer applies because the case shifted to the 11th Circuit.
He said the fact Georgia and Florida won't answer questions about when and where talks between the governors have occurred is "bizarre."
"I think that stands the order on its head and uses it to screen potentially inappropriate political behavior," Sherk said.
The governor's 12-day sojourn to Asia is almost over, and it's already yielded some results. The state's economic development team sealed a deal with a Korean supplier to build a plant expected to employ about 350 near west Georgia's Kia manufacturing hub, and Chinese tourism firm TravelSky announced it would open a 50-job office in Gwinnett County.
But the state has its eye on bigger fish. As we reported last week, Georgia's new China strategy revolves around opening an office in Qingdao, a northeastern Chinese city where virtually no other international governments have an outpost. One of the strategic reasons for the move is to target Hisense, a tech giant headquartered there that already has a its regional hub and research center in metro Atlanta.
She received the inaugural Georgia Friendship Award, which was created to honor individuals who play a special role in the strengthening the relationship between Georgia and China. (State leaders said the award wasn't just for show, that it is modeled after similar annual awards given as part of the state's alliances with Japan.)
Ms. Yu quietly accepted the award. In fact, no Hisense representatives spoke at the event. Perhaps they felt that hosting was evidence enough their support, but Mr. Deal didn't forget to show his gratitude.
"Hisense has played a significant role in today's events. Not only are they a leading corporate citizen of Georgia; they were instrumental in making this event possible," the governor said.
Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Michelle Nunn's campaign put together a couple of short web videos from her statewide tour, one highlighting her stop at Atlanta's Drew Charter School and the other featuring the whole 12-stop tour in quick cuts. Husband Ron Martin and children Vinson and Elizabeth are featured in the latter video.
The AJC's Politifact Georgia today looks at the claim by state Democratic Party chairman candidate Doug Stoner that he raised over $700,000 to run for state Senate.
A programming note: The irreplaceable Galloway is on hiatus for the next couple weeks so you will have to put up with a rotating cast of fill-ins in this space.