I never thought it would happen, but Georgia has virtually become the first state to elect a black woman as governor. It was one thing for Barack Obama to get elected president. He ran for office while America was in ruins after George W. Bush’s ragged economy and costly financial wars. Sarah Palin’s candidacy for GOP veep proved to be a nightmare, and Michelle Obama was the real-life Clair Huxtable everyone wanted as first lady.
Even the other few black governors in recent history, like Massachusetts’ Deval Patrick, were elected in ultraliberal places. Doug Wilder? His election to governor was 25 years ago by a hair in Virginia.
But Georgia electing Stacey Abrams?
Sure, she is the former head of the Democratic minority in the state Legislature, and a lawyer, author and Spelman grad, but still. Georgia being the first state to elect a black woman as governor, that would seem to be a political miracle.
Now, technically, the election doesn’t happen until November, but that’s just splitting hairs at this point. Thanks to a wonderful jambalaya of National Rifle Association arrogance, gun tragedies and idiotic Georgia Republicans picking a fight with Delta Air Lines—the largest employer in the state—it all may have just paved a way for Abrams to dub-step her way into the governor’s mansion.
Since the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., everyone from parents and schools to state politicians and big businesses has been figuring out what to do about suburban mass shootings in America.
The NRA has kept Republicans tap dancing, and red-state Democrats have been trying out messages like ice cream flavors. Meanwhile, corporate America has essentially said “Deuces” to the entire debate.
Dick’s Sporting Goods and Walmart have stopped selling assault rifles and raised their in-store-gun-purchasing age to 21. Hertz and Enterprise will no longer offer discounts to NRA members.
In other words, big brands want out of the gun business because it’s good for business. However, the biggest Glock blocking occurred when Delta Air Lines, whose main hub is in Atlanta, announced that it would no longer give discounts to NRA members.
Delta made it clear in its statement that it was ending the discount in order to be politically neutral (and also pointed out that it had cut ties with an anti-Trump theater group last year), but that wasn’t good enough for Georgia Lt. Gov. and GOP gubernatorial front-runner Casey Cagle:
Cagle got his wish when Georgia’s Republican-controlled Senate passed a new “tax reform” bill that will hit Delta with an additional $40 million in state taxes.
This is the same Delta Air Lines that employs 33,000 people in Georgia, provides over $300 million annually through taxes to Georgia state and local governments, and donates over $12 million a year to charities, nonprofits and educational programs. This also happens to be the same Delta Air Lines that gave 60 percent of its political contributions to Republicans in the 2016 cycle.
You know that phrase, “Cut off your nose to spite your face”? This move by Republicans in Georgia is like castrating oneself to spite an ex-girlfriend. The state GOP has just shot itself in the foot, which only helps Stacey Abrams run a little bit faster.
Sucker punching the state’s biggest economic engine may be a short-term boost for Casey Cagle among the far-right pro-guns-on-planes-and-in-churches GOP primary voter, but it will blow up in his face when he faces Abrams in the general election.
Abrams has been leading her primary opponent Stacey Evans in the polls for months, out-raising her, out-campaigning her and getting much more national attention. In fact, the only area where Evans seems to have taken the lead over Abrams is among the very small Martin Luther King Jr. blackface constituency, which I’m pretty sure won’t be enough to pull off an upset.
Now that guns are in the picture, the gap between the Democratic candidates will get even wider. Abrams not only publicly applauded Delta’s stance against the NRA but also boasted about how she’s never received an NRA stamp of approval. Evans currently holds a B-plus rating with the group.
While publicly the two candidates have both called for repealing the Georgia “guns everywhere” bill that passed in 2014, Evans has maintained a much cozier relationship with the NRA than most Democrats in a primary would like to have right now.
Again, while Abrams has received an F by the NRA Political Victory Fund, Evans has a B-plus, which means that regardless of her recent rhetoric, she can be trusted to carry water for the NRA when the bullets start flying. Literally. Speaking of flying, now back to Delta.
Anybody who thinks that a huge corporation is going to just take it on the chin when a political candidate takes a swipe at it doesn’t know American politics. If there is one thing big business hates in America, even conservative big businesses, it’s being told how to handle that business by politicians (remember how right-wing NFL owners responded when Donald Trump lectured them on player protests?).
It’s midterm time, and for Atlanta politicians, it’s campaign “Beggin’ Season” (not to be confused with “Robbin’ Season,” which has its own gun problems), and Delta Air Lines can cancel checks to the GOP faster than it can cancel a flight. Republicans better hope Delta just stays neutral, but if the company puts its powerful economic influence behind Abrams, it’s a wrap.
How is Casey Cagle going to respond when Delta announces it can’t finish donating to that children’s pediatric-cancer wing because Republicans chose guns over jobs? How is Cagle going to be a pro-business Republican when the state’s biggest employer will see Abrams as the more reasonable candidate? What happens if Delta starts flirting with cutting jobs in Georgia or, worse, flirting with everyone’s favorite second city, Charlotte, N.C.?
Republicans in Georgia have made guns an economics issue that Democrats can actually win with.
This fall, Stacey Abrams will have a possible blue wave, national media attention, the right gun position and the largest employer in Georgia on her side, or, at least, not supporting the Republicans. That’s a pretty potent combination. Republicans are about to learn what happens when you bring a tax bill to a gun fight. I hope Cagle and the Republicans think fighting for a $5 discount for the NRA is worth losing the governor’s mansion.