Local elections are typically nonpartisan and lower turnout, but that doesn't make them immune to Georgia's battleground status.
In the November general elections and runoffs, Democrats picked up 48 seats in mayoral and city council elections across the state while Republicans flipped six.
In McDonough and Warner Robins, voters elected the first Black mayors in those cities' history — and the first women, as well.
McDonough City Council member Sandra Vincent told GPB News she is hoping to retain the city's "small-town feel" while ensuring rapid growth in the surrounding area doesn't leave residents behind. LaRhonda Patrick defeated incumbent Warner Robins mayor Randy Toms in a runoff election as well.
Former Cairo mayor Booker Gainor defeated incumbent Howard Thrower III, Ann Tarpley is the new mayor of Hampton and Cosby Johnson is the new mayor of Brunswick.
U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams, chair of the Democratic Party of Georgia, said in a statement that the results leave the party well-positioned to continue making gains in 2022.
“From Middle Georgia to the coast and everywhere in between, Georgians came out in full force this election cycle to make their voices heard and demand change," she said. "Democrats’ strong showing in this year’s municipal elections is a testament to the unprecedented grassroots enthusiasm our party has been building across the state for years — and our momentum is only growing."
Beyond seats changing hands, runoff elections in metro Atlanta also signaled an end to many longtime incumbents' terms and a new direction for Atlanta's government.
South Fulton Councilman khalid kamau ousted incumbent mayor Bill Edwards in the city's mayoral race, while newcomers Jason Dozier and Antonio Lewis defeated Cleta Winslow and Joyce Shepherd, respectively, for Atlanta City Council seats.
With City Council member Andre Dickens handily winning Atlanta's mayoral runoff, Atlanta City Council President Felicia Moore continued the streak of council presidents failing to move up into the city's highest office.
Republicans in Wisconsin were called out for allowing a controversial election audit led by former Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman to continue.
Patrick Marley of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported on the latest under the headline, "Gableman hires investigator who has brought legal challenges seeking to overturn Wisconsin's presidential results."
GOP state Speaker Robin Vos hired Gableman and gave him a budget of $676,000.
"For months, Gableman has refused to name many of the people he has hired. On Wednesday, he named all but one of them. Among them is Ron Heuer, the president of the Wisconsin Voters Alliance and the chairman of the Kewaunee County Republican Party," Marley explained. "The voters alliance brought three lawsuits over aspects of the election — two of which sought to overturn the results. Courts threw out all three cases. The voters alliance brought the lawsuit with the help of the conservative Thomas More Society and the Minneapolis law firm Mohrman, Kaardal & Erickson. Gableman is sharing office space with the society and the law firm, recently released records show."
Marley's report caught the attention of Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul.
"The recklessness, the bullying, the wild, unsupported accusations—this story has, unfortunately, played out before, as others have pointed out," he wrote.
"Joe McCarthy was ultimately censured by a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators and disgraced, but only after he had done serious damage," he said of the former Wisconsin senator.
"We need Republicans, who control the state legislature, to step up and end the Vos-Gableman investigation. Are there any Republicans in the state legislature—is there even one—who will put decency ahead of partisanship and speak out against this wasteful, harmful sham?" he wondered.
We need Republicans, who control the state legislature, to step up and end the Vos-Gableman investigation. Are there any Republicans in the state legislature\u2014is there even one\u2014who will put decency ahead of partisanship and speak out against this wasteful, harmful sham?— Attorney General Josh Kaul (@Attorney General Josh Kaul) 1638467133
Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows worked behind the scenes to connect national security officials with Donald Trump allies who were working to overturn the November 2020 election, according to a new report.
Multiple sources, including former Trump officials and others with direct knowledge of the efforts, told CNN that Meadows tried to get top government officials to investigate baseless conspiracy theories promoted by Mike Flynn, Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell and passed along YouTube videos and other conspiratorial materials that he didn't quite believe himself.
"These, and other actions Meadows took on behalf of Trump, sources say, were not necessarily driven by his strong belief in the validity of these claims," CNN reported, "but instead by his desire to please a president who was hyper-focused on injecting baseless conspiracy theories of election fraud into official government channels."
Meadows, who has indicated he would cooperate with the House select committee investigation of the Jan. 6 riot, tried to enlist Justice Department officials in the effort to undo Trump's election loss, and he also contacted officials at several national security agencies to share baseless claims that China hacked the presidential election using thermostats to change results in voting machines, according to two sources.
"According to one of those sources, Meadows reached out to officials at the FBI, Pentagon, National Security Council and Office of the Director of National Intelligence to tell them about election fraud claims, including the China thermostat allegation, which Flynn and Powell had been pushing," CNN reported. "Meadows also pressured acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen to have Justice Department officials investigate baseless claims that votes were changed by people in Italy using satellites. He acted as a go-between for Giuliani's team which was pushing the same debunked theory."
Meadows tried to set up a meeting between Flynn and intelligence officials to discuss the China thermostat theory, according to one source, although he pushed back on efforts by Powell to get herself named special counsel to investigate alleged voter fraud during one Dec. 18 meeting at the White House.
He also sided with White House officials and lawyers against Powell and Flynn's idea of declaring a state of emergency so the federal government could seize voting equipment in certain states.
Other Trump allies undertook similar efforts to enlist top government officials, but Meadows stands out among those due to his leading role in the White House.
"Meadows was perpetually enabling this insane stuff and was too scared to stand up to Trump," said one source who attended multiple meetings with Meadows at the White House and other agencies. "He was scared to say 'no' to anyone."