Whip count: Tom Perez may be leading a close Atlanta race for DNC chair

The Democratic National Committee formally opens its three-day meeting in Atlanta today, capping its debate over a 2016 loss in the presidential campaign with a Saturday vote for a new chairman.

From the Associated Press:

A tight race between front-runners Tom Perez, a former labor secretary, and Rep. Keith Ellison, a Minnesota congressman, marks the first heavily contested battle to run the organization in recent history…


Perez, who was encouraged by Obama administration officials to run for the post, has emerged as the apparent front-runner, with independent Democratic strategists tracking him at about 205 votes. But it’s not yet clear whether Perez or Ellison — or one of six other long-shot candidates — is positioned to capture the required majority of the 447-member national party committee.


The strategists spoke on condition of anonymity because many DNC members they track do not want the vote count discussed publicly.


Ellison, backed by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and his supporters, has the support of about 153 members, the strategists said. Ellison spokesman Brett Morrow blasted the count as “totally inaccurate” and said his camp remains “incredibly confident.”


Lis Smith, a spokeswoman for another candidate, Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, also disputed the count. Buttigieg is touting his recent endorsement from former DNC Chairman Howard Dean, widely regarded as a successful party leader.


But neither the Ellison nor Buttigieg campaigns would release their own tracking numbers, and multiple other campaigns said the strategists are accurately reflecting the state of the still-competitive race.


The counts have South Carolina Democratic Party chair Jaime Harrison at 27 votes, a number that could make him a kingmaker who tilts the race to the eventual winner. The counts have Buttigieg and Sally Boynton Brown, executive director of the Idaho party, combining for fewer than 20 votes, with remaining DNC members uncommitted.

Other media outlets have their own tally. The Hill has Ellison with a solid 105-57 lead. And Politico gives Ellison a “modest lead.”


All eyes this afternoon will be on a meeting of the Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee, and whether Senate Bill 79, the casino gaming bill, will be on the agenda.

UPDATE: Our AJC colleague Aaron Gould Sheinin reports that this meeting has been cancelled, throwing the future of S.B. 79 into doubt.



Here’s something you might not have known: Brandon Beach of Alpharetta, author of S.B. 79, attends the First Baptist Church of Alpharetta. The pastor of that church, the Rev. Thomas Hammond, is president of the Georgia Baptist Convention – which has led opposition to the measure.

Over at georgiapol.com, Charlie Harper makes the case for passage. A taste:

Note, and this is a huge note, that this is tax revenue generated without economic development incentives.  Quite a few critics have slandered this bill with cries of “crony capitalism”.  This is the opposite of that.  Instead of the state using tax dollars to invest an industry here, the industry is agreeing to pay at least one out of every five dollars generated back to the state in exchange for a license.

Many of you can expect a mailbox plea to contact your state legislator on this matter. Here’s one:


U.S. Sen. David Perdue swung by the state Capitol on Wednesday to meet with legislative leaders, talk with constituents and send the implicit message that he’s not in hiding as a wave of liberal outrage targets Republican lawmakers during the recess.

The groups that have been pushing him and other Georgia GOP congressmen to hold an in-person town hall say a photo op in the controlled Capitol environment is no substitute for a public gathering. Only one Georgia Republican member of Congress has held a town hall event this recess: Rep. Buddy Carter of Savannah has organized a string of them in southeast Georgia this week.

Members of Indivisible Georgia aim to ratchet up the pressure on Perdue on Thursday. Organizer Bart King said dozens will head to a “mobile office hours” meeting in McDonough with Perdue junior staffers to voice their concerns about President Donald Trump’s healthcare plan and other policies.


State Sen. Marty Harbin, R-Tyrone, has introduced S.B. 233, this year’s “religious liberty” measure. Many have noted the lack of leadership signatures on the bill. We would add one other note – which we have pointed out before.

Harbin’s Senate district includes Pinewood Atlanta Studios. The movie-making complex has become a major economic force in the region, and is vulnerable to the threats of boycott that have accompanied past debates over the “religious liberty” debate.

So one wonders how much force the bill’s lead sponsor is willing — or able —  to put behind his own effort.


The conservative Newsmax outlet published a list of the 50 most influential black Republicans, and seven Georgians made the list.

In order:

2. Clarence Thomas, the Supreme Court justice from Pin Point, Ga.

6. Bruce LeVell, the Dunwoody jeweler who headed Donald Trump’s diversity coalition and is now a candidate for Georgia’s 6th District.

8. Herman Cain, the former presidential candidate turned conservative talk show host.

17. Ashley Bell, the former (Democratic) county commissioner who is now a special assistant to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

33. Willie Talton, the ex-Georgia lawmaker who was the first black Republican elected to the Legislature in Georgia since Reconstruction.

36. Melvin Everson, a former Georgia lawmaker who is now executive director of the Georgia Commission on Equal Opportunity.

47. Leah LeVell, a Republican National Committee staffer whose father Bruce is also on the list.

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