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Exclusive: How Democrats plan to win big in Georgia again

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How Democrats plan to win big in Georgia again

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Grassroots groups have helped turn the once reliably red Georgia into a battleground over the course of the last two election cycles. Now, Democrats are hoping that they — and the multiracial coalition they assembled — can deliver another miracle in 2022.

Groups like the voter registration group New Georgia Project and Black Voters Matter have worked for years, some for more than a decade, to mobilize the political power of Black voters and other voters of color in the state. Those minority voters make up 40 percent of the electorate, but have historically been neglected by both parties. Grassroots groups have long struggled to draw investment from funders and campaigns, many of whom believed their efforts to be in vain.

In 2018, their years of work paid off when Democrat Stacey Abrams ran for governor, rewriting Democrats’ playbook in a narrow loss powered largely by nonwhite voters. Organizing modeled on Abrams’s run helped Joe Biden flip the state by a less than 12,000 vote margin in 2020, a critical win in his path to the presidency. And it assisted long-shot Democratic candidates Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock in surprise victories in their US Senate races, handing the party narrow control of Congress.

With Abrams’s second campaign for governor against incumbent Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, as well as Warnock’s reelection — and Democrats’ prospects of maintaining control of the Senate — in the balance, Democrats and their grassroots allies are hoping to once again organize their way to victory.

Inspired by the critical role that grassroots groups have played in turning Georgia purple, national Democrats launched what party officials say is their largest ever statewide coordinated campaign for a midterm election last month.

The “Georgia Votes” campaign — a joint initiative by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the Democratic National Committee, and Georgia Democrats — is aimed at re-energizing the multiracial coalition that grassroots groups helped turn out in 2020, though it doesn’t directly support or coordinate with those groups, in accordance with campaign laws.

Georgia grassroots groups are also going into overdrive to ensure that the enthusiasm of voters of color stays high this fall and isn’t suppressed by the state’s new restrictions on voting; they’re providing education, additional support at the polls, and defenses against voter roll purges.

“There are incredible organizations on the ground who have been doing the hard work for years to engage Georgia voters, and our state is better off for it. As [the Democratic Party of Georgia] builds out its coordinated campaign to mobilize voters across the state this cycle, we’re grateful to all the organizers working to make sure every Georgian’s voice is heard in our democracy,” said Rep. Nikema Williams, chair of the Democratic Party of Georgia.

The party is facing stronger national headwinds this time, including an unpopular Democratic president and high inflation. But grassroots groups are confident those factors can be overcome in Georgia. They say they’ve been chasing what many might have considered improbable political outcomes for years.

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“We’ve been doing this work behind what feels like enemy lines. This has been a high stakes fight for the future of Georgia since we launched in 2014,” said Nsé Ufot, chief executive officer of the New Georgia Project.

Grassroots groups are fighting Georgia’s restrictive voting laws

The biggest concern heading into 2022 for Georgia Democrats and grassroots groups was how they were going to mitigate the adverse impacts of SB 202, a law signed by Kemp in March 2021 that implemented new restrictions on voting including limitations on mail-in voting, stricter ID requirements, a ban on providing food and water to voters standing in line, and measures that would transfer power from state and local election officials to legislators.

As Vox’s Zack Beauchamp wrote at the time, “the intent of the bill is clear: to wrest a state that’s increasingly trending blue back toward Republicans.”

In the November 2021 municipal elections, the first contests under the new law, the rejection rate for mail-in ballot applications jumped to 4 percent, up from less than 1 percent in the 2020 general election. More than half of those rejected applications were turned away because they were submitted after the new, earlier deadline set by SB 202, and the majority of those voters never went on to vote in-person instead. Another 15 percent of rejected applications were denied because they had missing or incorrect identification information required by the new law.

It’s not yet clear how Democrats’ Georgia Votes initiative — which is still just a few weeks old — plans to respond to SB 202. Grassroots groups, however, have ramped up their efforts to educate voters on relevant deadlines and the requirements set by the new voting law this year. Fair Fight has been double-checking voters’ registrations and their precinct locations and pushing as many people as possible to vote early and in-person given the issues with mail-in ballot rejections, according to the group’s director of communications Xakota Espinoza.

But having to do that extra education is an additional burden on groups that are also trying to motivate people to turn out.

“Not everybody that we’re in conversation with is already committed to taking part in the process. That conversation is made more difficult when you’ve got to spend more time just explaining some stuff about the process,” said Cliff Albright, the co-founder of Black Voters Matter, a voter mobilization group in Georgia.

Grassroots groups have also provided support at the polls. During the primaries last month, Latino Community Fund Georgia sent volunteers to 10 precincts in Chatham, Cobb, Gwinnett, Fulton, and DeKalb counties, where there are large Hispanic populations, to provide Spanish translation. But in Chatham County, poll managers turned some of their volunteers away, said Michelle Zuluaga, the organization’s civic participation manager. Black Voters Matter set up tables with refreshments near the polls, since they’re prohibited from handing out food and drink to people waiting in line under the new law.

Despite the additional hurdles posed by SB 202, overall turnout in the May 24 primaries was high, especially considering it’s a midterm election year. Official election day figures aren’t final, but a record 857,000 people voted early, up from 299,000 in the 2018 primaries. That included about 483,000 Republicans and 369,000 Democrats.

Republicans have argued that’s evidence that SB 202 doesn’t actually suppress voting as Georgia grassroots groups and Democrats have claimed.

But grassroots organizations say that their painstaking efforts to register and mobilize voters delivered high turnout in spite of the obstacles created by SB 202. “The high turnout is evidence of our organizing and evidence that Georgia voters know and understand the power of their vote,” Ufot said.

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The challenges ahead of the general election

The high-profile showdown between Abrams and Kemp, that control of the Senate is at stake once again, and the voter registration and education work done by the grassroots groups could mean high turnout in the fall. Democrats worry that could exacerbate complications posed by SB 202. Grassroots groups are consequently putting a new focus on voter protection in the months ahead. And though the Democratic Party has its own plans to combat voter suppression, grassroots groups aren’t planning to rely on just that.

The New Georgia Project is preparing to fight back against what it anticipates will be escalating attempts to purge voter rolls under SB 202, which allows any one person to challenge the voter registration of an unlimited number of voters at once. For instance, the group successfully fended off a challenge to the eligibility of 13,000 voters from a single man in Forsyth County earlier this year.

The group is also partnering with legal aid organizations to train lawyers specializing in criminal and election law to defend voters accused of fraud. SB 202 created several new election crimes, including making it a felony to witness someone else mark their mail-in ballot at home unless they are providing legally authorized assistance, and state lawmakers enacted a law in April that allows state police to investigate election crimes and voter fraud.

“We know that we have some zealous prosecutors in the state that are absolutely going to take advantage and try to prosecute Georgians under these new laws,” Ufot said.

But beyond protecting voters, they’re also just trying to keep up the enthusiasm in Georgia through November. That means continuing to speak to the issues that matter to Georgians, including current economic turmoil, which is being felt acutely among workers making the state minimum wage of just $5.15; Georgia’s failure to expand its Medicaid program, leaving roughly half a million people ineligible for health insurance coverage; and the threat to free and fair elections posed by former President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election results in the state.

Reproductive rights have also become a breakthrough issue since the US Supreme Court’s draft opinion overturning its 1973 precedent in Roe v. Wade was leaked to Politico. Georgia already has the highest maternal mortality rate in the country — a rate that’s even higher for Black women specifically.

Activists are not alone in those voter protection and persuasion campaigns. State and national Democrats’ coordinated campaign is working to train and organize volunteers to help get out the vote and engage Georgians, especially communities of color, ahead of the November election. As part of that, they have also put together a voter protection team that plans to combat voter suppression.

That said, not all grassroots advocates feel like they can rely on national Democrats to do the work of communicating the stakes of this election. With years of experience in the state, many feel uniquely equipped to drive voters to the polls in November.

“There needs to be some messaging support at the national level,” Albright said. “But we can’t count on them to get the messaging right. That’s why we do our own messaging.”

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Exclusive: Fed More Concerned About Inflation Than Recession – TalkOfNews.com

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Compelling Television

#Fed #Concerned #Inflation #Recession

“There are a lot of blogs and news sites claiming to understand politics, but only a few actually do. Political Wire is one of them.”

— Chuck Todd, host of “Meet the Press”

“Concise. Relevant. To the point. Political Wire is the first site I check when I’m looking for the latest political nugget. That pretty much says it all.”

— Stuart Rothenberg, editor of the Rothenberg Political Report

“Political Wire is one of only four or five sites that I check every day and sometimes several times a day, for the latest political news and developments.”

— Charlie Cook, editor of the Cook Political Report

“The big news, delicious tidbits, pearls of wisdom — nicely packaged, constantly updated… What political junkie could ask for more?”

— Larry Sabato, Center for Politics, University of Virginia

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Exclusive: This Innocent Woman's House Was Destroyed by a SWAT Team. A Jury Says She's Owed $60,000. – TalkOfNews.com

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This Innocent Woman's House Was Destroyed by a SWAT Team. A Jury Says She's Owed $60,000.

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When Vicki Baker cleared out her home in McKinney, Texas, in 2020, she filled two 40-foot dumpsters with her belongings. It wasn’t the way she’d pictured emptying the house as she prepared to begin retirement in Montana. But there was little else to be done with her tear-gas stained items after a SWAT team careened through her fence, detonated explosives to blow her garage door off its hinges, smashed several windows, and drove a BearCat armored vehicle through her front door to apprehend a fugitive that had barricaded himself inside.

A federal jury last week decided that Baker is entitled to $59,656.59 for the trouble. It’s both a controversial and surprising decision. Normally, people like Baker get nothing.

In July 2020, Wesley Little arrived at Baker’s house with a 15-year-old girl he’d kidnapped. Little had previously worked for Baker as a handyman, though she had fired him about a year and a half earlier after her daughter, Deanna Cook, expressed that something may be awry. Cook answered Little at the door that day; having seen him on recent news reports, she left the premises and called the police.

The girl was released unharmed. But Little refused to exit the home, so a SWAT team arrived and began to tear the house down around him in a process known as “shock and awe.”

They then kindly left Baker with the bill. “I’ve lost everything,” she told me in March 2021. “I’ve lost my chance to sell my house. I’ve lost my chance to retire without fear of how I’m going to make my regular bills.” Those bills include treatment for stage 3 breast cancer.

Yet the only thing perhaps more absurd than a jury having to force the government’s hand in recompensing her is that Baker almost did not have the privilege to bring her case before one. Federal courts in similar cases have ruled that the government can usurp “police powers” to destroy your property and avoid having to pay it back under the Takings Clause of the 5th Amendment, which is supposed to provide a remedy for such circumstances.

After the ordeal, Baker sought that remedy through her home insurance, which stipulated that they are not on the hook if it is the government’s fault. And though the government didn’t deny being at fault, per se, they did deny that Baker was a victim, sending her on her way with a ravaged home, thousands of dollars in destroyed personal possessions, and a dog that went deaf and blind from the chaos that July day.

In November of last year, Baker’s luck began to turn. A federal judge denied the city of McKinney’s motion to dismiss her case. In April, that same jurist, Judge Amos L. Mazzant III of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, described the interpretation of the law barring Baker from suing as “untenable.” And last week, the jury handed down their ruling. The city may appeal, which will delay any payout.

In coming to his decision, Mazzant invoked another unfortunate case: that of the Lech family, who had their $580,000 home ruined by a SWAT team as they pursued an unrelated shoplifter who broke in. Greenwood Village, Colorado, did more for them than McKinney would do for Baker, forking over all of $5,000. A federal court ruled that the family could not sue, and the Supreme Court declined to take up the case.

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“Even though a number of federal courts have gone the wrong way on this issue, they’ve done so with very cursory analysis,” says Jeffrey Redfern, an attorney at the Institute for Justice, the public interest law firm shepherding Baker’s case. He says this new ruling is different and should “be the one that everyone is looking at” as similar situations continue to pop up.

It does not set a precedent, however. “In this case, we put the city claims agent on the stand,” notes Redfern, “and she said, ‘Yep, I denied the claim, and I deny every claim like this, and if this happened tomorrow I would deny it again.’” Unfortunately for people like Vicki Baker, this will continue to be a familiar story.

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Exclusive: 1/6 Committee Hits Spiraling Trump Again By Subpoenaing Pat Cipollone – TalkOfNews.com

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1/6 Committee Hits Spiraling Trump Again By Subpoenaing Pat Cipollone

#Committee #Hits #Spiraling #Trump #Subpoenaing #Pat #Cipollone

The 1/6 Committee has subpoenaed one of the people who knows the intimate details of Trump’s coup plot, former White House Counsel Pat Cipollone.

The AP reported:

The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection issued a subpoena Wednesday to former White House counsel Pat Cipollone, who has been linked to meetings in which lawyers debated strategies to overturn former President Donald Trump’s election loss.

The Committee said that it required Cipollone’s testimony after obtaining other evidence about which he was “uniquely positioned to testify.”

Pat Cipollone Can Testify To The Plot To Overturn The Election

According to Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony, Cipollone has intimate and wide-ranging details about the plot to overturn the election. Hutchinson testified that Cipollone warned that if Trump went to the Capitol, they would be charged with every crime imaginable.

Trump was already falling apart after Hutchinson’s testimony, and he could be in for a double whammy if his former White House Counsel testifies. The White House Counsel is not a personal lawyer to the president but represents the institutional interests of the Executive Branch.

If Cipollone testifies, it will be the bombshell that will level the rubble that was already smoldering after Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony.

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