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Battle over delegates shows its still Trump’s Georgia GOP

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Activists elected stridently pro-Trump slates to lead some of the state’s largest Republican groups, including in vote-rich Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton and Gwinnett counties.

And in a particularly tumultuous Fulton County GOP meeting, some of the most stalwart — and mainstream — Republican leaders were denied delegate slots, ostensibly because they weren’t at the meeting.

They include former U.S. Reps. Karen Handel and Tom Price, along with former state Rep. Betty Price. Tom Price, of course, served as Trump’s first Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Said one veteran activist of the Fulton fallout: “We are angry and loaded for bear.”

One Republican who was spotted at the Fulton meeting: former U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler, who gave remarks, but left before the voting began.

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FIRST IN THE JOLT: In case you needed any more proof that state Rep. Park Cannon’s national profile has soared since her controversial arrest: The Democrat is a nominee for a prestigious Emily’s List award.

The left-leaning group told your Insiders that Cannon is one of six nominees for the Gabrielle Giffords Rising Star Award, given each year to one of the nation’s most prominent game-changing politicians.

“Representative Park Cannon is a brave, bold, and inspiring leader who gives her all for the people of Georgia,” said Emily Cain, executive director of EMILY’s List.

Elected in 2016 at the age of 24, Cannon was the youngest and one of only three LGBTQ members in the Georgia House when she took office.

She gained national attention after she was arrested in March while knocking on Gov. Brian Kemp’s statehouse office door as he was delivering televised remarks about the state’s new election law.

Fulton County’s top prosecutor later announced she wouldn’t prosecute Cannon, who has since been a mainstay on cable TV shows assailing the new voting restrictions.

If Cannon wins the national award, she’ll be following in the footsteps of the 2014 recipient, Stacey Abrams.

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Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis made national headlines in February when she launched a criminal investigation into former President Donald Trump’s attempts to overturn Georgia’s 2020 election results.

On Monday night, she’ll headline an event closer to home when she endorses her former colleague, Charlie Bailey, for Georgia Attorney General. Bailey, now a trial attorney, has known Willis since the two worked together as assistant district attorneys in the Fulton DA’s office.

Along with Willis’ support, Bailey will pick up endorsements from Cobb County District Attorney Flynn Broady and Douglas County DA Dalia Racine.

Bailey narrowly lost his 2018 challenge to Republican Attorney General Chris Carr. But before he can get to rematch, he will also face a suddenly competitive Democratic primary against state Sen. Jen Jordan, who announced her run for AG last week.

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The Democratic Party of Illinois is seeking an opinion from the Federal Election Commission about how its chair, U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly, should manage her dual role fundraising for the state party while also serving as a congresswoman subject to federal campaign finance laws.

The goings-on of an Illinois lawmaker may not seem relevant to Georgia. But in her lawyers’ letter to the FEC, they cite U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams and her position as chair of the Democratic Party of Georgia as precedent for Kelly’s concurrent jobs.

The FEC opinion is expected within 30 days.

In a statement to your Insiders for story on Williams’ dual roles, Sachin Varghese, the Democratic Party of Georgia’s general counsel, said the organization has ensured Williams is following the rules.

“With regard to Congresswoman Williams’ position as chairwoman, the DPG is complying with all applicable law,” Varghese said in a statement. “Day-to-day operations of the DPG are the responsibility of executive director Scott Hogan.”

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Georgia Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene has proven to be a fundraising juggernaut, raising more money than nearly every other U.S. House member except two of its highest-ranking members.

And our AJC analysis shows a clear connection between the dollars flowing to her campaign and her many controversies. The bigger the national uproar she’s been a part of, the more money she raised.

So Greene may be in line for another spike in donations after Punchbowl News revealed that Greene and other ultra-conservative lawmakers were launching the pro-Trump “America First Caucus.”

In a recruiting document leaked to Punchbowl, the caucus describes itself as based on “common respect for uniquely Anglo-Saxon political traditions” and calls for “a return to an architectural style that befits the progeny of European architecture.”

It also said its goal is to “follow in the footsteps of President Trump.”

The uproar over the document was so loud that House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy put out a statement condemning it.

“The Republican Party is the party of Lincoln & the party of more opportunity for all Americans—not nativist dog whistles,” he wrote.

On Friday Greene’s spokesman said in a statement the caucus would be announced “very soon.” By Saturday, he said, “The Congresswoman wants to make clear that she is not launching anything.”

The congresswoman herself posted a long thread on Twitter where she distanced herself from the document, saying it was a “draft proposal from an outside group that I hadn’t read.”

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Speaking of Greene, two prominent Georgia Democrats have endorsed military veteran Marcus Flowers’ longshot challenge to Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene next year.

Former U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young said he was impressed with Flowers’ ability to “sit across the table from people with different agendas, listen, build trust, persuade and ultimately get things done.”

And former U.S. Sen. Max Cleland called Flowers the “embodiment of a true patriot.”

“I’m supporting him because he’s tested and delivers. Marcus sat across the table and negotiated with Afghan warlords, so I know he can deliver in Washington.”

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Georgia Reps. Lucy McBath and Carolyn Bourdeaux were among the Democratic incumbents in line to receive $5,000 checks from U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s political action committee. Bourdeaux was one of three members in a swing seat who either declined or pledged to return the money, according to Politico.

Usually, that kind of cash is welcome and indicates that a member has the support of his or her colleagues in the U.S. House. But AOC, a self-described Democratic Socialist, can be toxic for lawmakers running in districts where they need moderates and independents to remain in office.

Such is the case for Bourdeaux and McBath, whose districts are already considered among the most competitive in the country- and could become even more so after Republicans redraw congressional lines in redistricting later this year.

No word yet on whether McBath will keep the donation, which appeared in her most recent fundraising report.

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For your calendar: Mastercard will be hosting a series of events and workshops in Atlanta on Wednesday with a goal of helping to close the racial wealth and opportunity gap for Black communities.

It’s part of the financial giant’s $500 million commitment to address these issues in Atlanta and other cities across the U.S. You can find more details about the events here, including one at 10:30 a.m. and another at 7 p.m.

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The Trump Organization bullish on Indian real estate: Donald Trump Jr

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New Delhi: The Trump Organization is bullish on the Indian real estate, which is its biggest residential market outside the North America, its Executive Vice-President Donald Trump Jr. said on Saturday.

New York-based The Trump Organization, which is a venture of former US President Donald Trump, entered into Indian real estate market through a partnership with Mumbai-based Tribeca Developers.

The US firm and Tribeca have tied up with local developers, including the Lodha group, to build luxury projects under ‘Trump’ brand. So far, four luxury projects have been announced, of which one in Pune is already complete.

“I have been bullish on the (Indian) market for a long time,” Donald Trump Jr said when asked about his future projects in India.

He was appearing as a guest in a talk show with Kalpesh Mehta, the founder of Tribeca Developers, being organised by Alchemist.

Trump Jr did not disclose about the company’s future projects in India.

The Trump Organization and its India partner are developing luxury residential properties of global quality and standards, he said.

Amid the global pandemic COVID-19, Trump Jr said there has been a “dynamic shift” in real estate globally, especially in office market because of work from home and remotely.

He said one has to see how it plays out post pandemic.

When asked about the current market scenario, Mehta said the Indian real estate sector was reviving after the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic but the recovery process has taken a hit because of this second wave.

Maharashtra property markets had a strong recovery compared to the other markets, he said.

Mehta said the real estate market will see a sharp growth once the pandemic gets over.

In India, The Trump Organization has already completed a luxury project in Pune partnering with Panchshil Realty.

It tied up with Lodha group in 2014 for housing project in Mumbai which is currently under construction.

In November 2017, Trump Tower was launched in Kolkata comprising 140 ultra-luxury apartments and being developed by Unimark Group, RDB Group and Tribeca Developers.

The fourth housing project at Gurugram, Haryana, launched in 2018, is being developed by realty firm M3M.

Besides Trump Towers, Tribeca is independently developing few projects in partnership with other builders.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.

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A second chance for Hillsborough’s youthful offenders, plus more good news from around the state

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This article represents the opinion of the Tampa Bay Times Editorial Board.

The highs and lows from Tampa Bay and beyond, including a bipartisan victory for juvenile offenders, a curious bill signing and some sound advice on raising taxes.

The right kind of justice reform. Good to see Hillsborough County’s bipartisan support for expanding its civil citations program for juveniles. Giving young first-time offenders a way to avoid an arrest — and all the life-changing implications that follow — is another step along the road to a more efficient and just system. Hillsborough is following the lead of other counties, including Pinellas, that have had more robust citation programs for longer — and have benefited from the results. The citations will be mandatory for all misdemeanors except in a few extraordinary circumstances. “Our kids, our deputies, our police officers and our community have made this program a success, so we are able to take these next steps,” said Sheriff Chad Chronister, a Republican. Juveniles sometimes engage in youthful transgressions. This smart new policy acknowledges that reality.

Capitol opening. The state Capitol was closed to the public for the two-month legislative session that ended last week. Gov. Ron DeSantis and other prominent state leaders insisted on opening many other aspects of society, but curiously left the Capitol off limits to Joe and Jane Taxpayer. On the bright side, Senate President Wilton Simpson announced Monday that the Capitol will be open in time for the special session on gambling scheduled for May 17-23. Government is best done in the sunshine — and in view of the public.

A long wait for representation. U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings died April 6. His successor in the heavily Democratic seat in Broward and Palm Beach counties won’t take over until January, when Gov. DeSantis scheduled the special election. Nine months is too long for about 800,000 residents to go without representation in one branch of Congress. It only took five months to replace Pinellas Republican Rep. Bill Young when he died in October 2013. Could the discrepancy be any more obvious?

Speaking of obvious … The optics of DeSantis’ recent signing of a voting bill say a lot about the motivations behind the controversial changes. DeSantis chose to do it in front of a fan club of former President Donald Trump in West Palm Beach. He also barred reporters, except for a TV crew from DeSantis-friendly Fox News. Opponents of the changes, which include altering voting by mail rules and limiting ballot drop boxes, have said the moves are an attempt to suppress Democratic turnout. DeSantis’ cherry-picked setting for the bill signing did little to assuage those concerns.

Taxing decisions. Pinellas County is exploring how to raise more money for transportation, from maintaining sidewalks to increasing public transit options. The solutions include raising the county’s gas tax from 7 cents to up to 12 cents and asking voters to agree to a new sales tax to fund transportation infrastructure. A hat tip to Republican Commissioner Karen Seel for stating what should be obvious: “We’re trying to evaluate if it’s the appropriate time to do a transit surtax, and you don’t want to do both at the same time.” Good advice.

Editorials are the institutional voice of the Tampa Bay Times. The members of the Editorial Board are Editor of Editorials Graham Brink, Sherri Day, Sebastian Dortch, John Hill, Jim Verhulst and Chairman and CEO Paul Tash. Follow @TBTimes_Opinion on Twitter for more opinion news.

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Gaetz, Greene take mantle of Trump’s populism at rally

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THE VILLAGES, Fla. – U.S. Reps. Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene, two of the Republican Party’s most controversial figures, kicked off their “America First Rally” roadshow Friday with a Trump-centric revival of sorts for the MAGA faithful at a Florida retirement community.

The gathering appeared to be an attempt to position the two conservatives as successors to the former president’s populism.

“Tell me, who is your president?”” Greene shouted after walking out onto a ballroom stage in front of hundreds of supporters wearing “Trump” T-shirts and “Make America Great Again” red ballcaps.

“Trump!” the mask-less crowd of retirees wearing MAGA red yelled back.

Joking that he was a “marked man in Congress … but a Florida man,” Gaetz called former President Donald Trump “the undisputed leader of the Republican Party.”

“Today, we send a strong message to the weak establishment in both parties: America First isn’t going away. We are going on tour,” Gaetz said. “It’s no longer the red team against the blue team. It’s the establishment against the rest of us.”

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Gaetz held up himself and Greene as challengers to the establishment and successors to Trump’s populism.

“They lie about us because we tell the truth about them,” Gaetz said of the establishment.

The indoor rally took place with just a week until Gaetz associate Joel Greenberg faces a deadline to enter a plea deal that could lead to damaging information against the Florida congressman. Gaetz alluded to the investigation by referencing what he said were distorted descriptions of himself as someone who has wild parties with beautiful women.

Both Republican members of the House of Representatives have come under fire in recent months, though for different reasons.

What began as an inquiry into sex trafficking allegations and whether Gaetz paid women and an underage girl in exchange for sex has grown into a larger review of public corruption. Federal investigators are looking at whether Gaetz and his associates tried to secure government jobs for some of the women. They are also scrutinizing Gaetz’s connections to the medical marijuana sector.

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Greenberg, a former local tax collector, has been accused of trafficking a minor for sex and faces a May 15 deadline to strike a plea deal with prosecutors. If he does, Greenberg may be pressed to cooperate with federal investigators and deliver damaging information against Gaetz.

Greene, a congresswoman from Georgia, was stripped of her congressional assignments last February for incendiary social media posts expressing racist views, pushing absurd conspiracy theories and endorsing threats of violence against elected officials

The controversies made no difference to the 300 supporters, mostly retirees, who packed into a hotel ballroom to listen them. A long line trailed outside the hotel with people who couldn’t get in once the ballroom reached capacity. The Villages, which was the fastest growing U.S. metro area last year, has been a Republican bastion for decades and is often a must-stop destination for Republican presidential candidates.

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Inside the ballroom, the supporters danced and clapped to Laura Branigan’s “Gloria” and other 1980s hits and waved their arms, loudly chanting the lyrics of Queen’s “We Are the Champions,” before the politicians took the stage.

At least a half dozen muscled security guards in identical olive shirts stood around the room.

John Peil was in the crowd. He described the rally as a great way to cap off a day of golfing.

Of Greene, Peil said, she was “a great woman” who wasn’t afraid to take on Democratic lawmakers in Congress. There was a double standard between when Democrats run into controversies and when Republicans do, he said.

“They’re using a double standard on the two of them too,” Peil said, referring to the two House members. “It’s always the conservatives that get the dirt, and it’s always the liberals that speed away free.”

Zach Hussein and Josh Labasbas held up a black banner that said “Antifacist Action” in front of the hotel where the rally was held until a police officer politely asked them to leave at the request of the property owner. A passerby told them, “Go back to Cuba.”

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This version corrects the spelling of Marjorie Taylor Greene’s first name.

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Follow Mike Schneider on Twitter at https://twitter.com/MikeSchneiderAP

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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