Welcome to the weekend! This week in Georgia politics saw some critical measures signed into law and some eyebrow raising political donations made in key midterm races.
Here are some of the highlights:
Atlanta Police Chief Rodney Bryant announces retirement
Mayor Andre Dickens’ office announced on Friday that Police Chief Rodney Bryant will step down in June.
Bryant has served with the city police department since 1988, according to the mayor’s office. He took over as Atlanta’s interim top cop in June 2020 after his predecessor, Erika Shields, resigned in the wake of the city police killing of Rayshard Brooks. Then-mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms named him permanent chief the following year.
Atlanta’s rape and murder rates rose sharply under Bryant’s leadership over the last two years during a pandemic-era spike in violent crime that swept the nation. Last year alone, APD investigated 158 murders, a 30-year high for the city, according to police department crime stats.
Now it appears the city is looking for a fresh face to head the police department.
“I am thankful that the Chief agreed to stay on for my first 100 days as Mayor, and I have grown to rely on the Chief’s counsel during our daily meetings,” Dickens said in an emailed press release. “We will miss the Chief’s leadership as he enjoys his well-earned retirement.”
Dickens hits 100-day milestone
Dickens marked his first 100 days in office on Tuesday in a press release that highlighted his administration’s accomplishments during its first three months. The mayor noted the opening of a police precinct in Buckhead to address public safety concerns there. The move momentarily prevented Buckhead from de-annexing from the city.
Dickens also mentioned the introduction of his 20,000-unit affordable housing plan.
“When I came into office, I put the City of Atlanta into overdrive to deliver for our residents,” the mayor said in an emailed statement. “Thanks to the incredibly hard work of our City employees and our partners throughout Atlanta, we have delivered meaningful investments that will be paying dividends for years to come. And we have made sure that Atlanta has stayed whole.”
Dickens received a 72% approval rating among Atlanta residents in March, according to a 20/20 Insight poll reported by Axios earlier this week. Black respondents had a slightly higher positive rating of nearly 80% compared to white respondents who gave Dickens a 68% positive rating, according to the poll.
The mayor also mentioned the relaunch of the city’s former Pothole Posse to repair damaged streets throughout Atlanta. The unit responds to city residents’ 311 pothole complaints. The program originally was created during the early 2000s under then-Mayor Shirley Franklin.
On Monday, Dickens helped a work crew fill multiple potholes in the southeast Atlanta neighborhood of Ormewood Park to mark the reintroduction of the pothole repair unit. City workers have filled at least 1,100 potholes so far this year, according to the Department of Transportation.
Kemp signs Constitutional Carry Act into law
Republican state lawmakers celebrated on Tuesday as Gov. Brian Kemp signed the state’s Constitutional Carry Act into law.
The measure, previously known as SB 319, makes it legal for firearm owners to carry concealed handguns without a permit in much of the state. Local civil rights leaders are divided on whether the law is good policy for the state’s Black residents. Black people have helped fuel a nationwide surge in first-time gun buyers since the pandemic began in 2020.
The National African American Gun Association told Capital B earlier this week that SB 319 will prevent police from targeting Black gun owners for harassment about concealed carry permits, making life easier for those who arm themselves for self-defense instead of relying on law enforcement officers who some fear may mistreat them.
Other civil rights leaders expressed concern that the law could lead to more armed white vigilantes unduly targeting Black people they perceive to be a threat.
Click here to read a full breakdown.
Warnock announces fundraising record
Supporters of U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., have been pouring money into the Ebenezer Baptist Church pastor’s campaign coffers this year as he gears up for an anticipated general election showdown with GOP Senate candidate Herschel Walker.
Warnock ended the fiscal quarter with more than $25 million in campaign funding, which his team says is the most ever raised in the first quarter of a U.S. Senate race.
It appears Warnock is going to need every bit of that money.
An Emerson College poll unveiled earlier this month had Walker leading Warnock 49% to 45% in their anticipated general election matchup in November.
Trump spends $500K to help defeat Kemp in governor’s race
But Trump clearly isn’t giving up without a fight.
The former president’s Save America PAC has given $500,000 to Get Georgia Right PAC, which is working to defeat Kemp in November.
The move appears to be personal for Trump, who lost Georgia’s 2020 electoral votes to Joe Biden after Kemp refused to use “emergency powers” to stop certification of the state’s 2020 presidential election results and ultimately help Trump be declared the winner.
Political observers have raised questions recently about the staying power of Trump’s appeal with the GOP base, in part, because his endorsement has failed to help Perdue overtake Kemp in the polls.
As it stands, Kemp has the projected margin of victory he needs to win a majority of GOP primary votes and avoid a potential runoff against Perdue.
Correction: A previous version of this piece incorrectly stated when Rodney Bryant’s position switched from interim to permanent police chief. It has been updated.