Campaigning on the eve of Tuesday’s primary, former President Donald Trump and former Vice President Mike Pence both weighed in on who they think should be Georgia’s governor. Pence came to Cobb County to stump for Gov. Brian Kemp and Trump (via a “tele-rally”) urged his loyalists to vote for former U.S. Sen. David Perdue.
Seeing Pence and Kemp share a stage at Cobb County International Airport-McCollum Field was altogether fitting. Both are at the top of Trump's enemies list for refusing to help the then-president's efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
Perdue has centered his campaign to oust Kemp around claims that widespread voter fraud in Georgia robbed Trump of victory — allegations rejected in multiple courts — and that the governor did nothing to stop it.
"[Kemp] allowed the Georgia election to be rigged and stolen," Trump said during the tele-rally. "Brian Kemp is truly an embarrassment to the Republican Party."
"The people of Georgia are fed up with career politicians lying to them," Perdue said earlier Monday during a press conference at a restaurant in Dunwoody.
Neither Kemp nor Pence took the bait. During a news conference ahead of Monday evening's rally with Pence, the governor said he has never had a bad word for Trump and is not angry with him.
At the rally at McCollum Field, Kemp stuck to touting his record over more than three years as governor.
"We have stood up and [taken] the fight to street gangs and street racers, and we're going to continue to do that as long as I'm your governor," he said. "We passed the strongest election integrity [legislation] in the country. ... We're the No.-1 state in the country for business."
Kemp said his decision to reopen Georgia's economy early in the pandemic was the right move and has paid off.
"We caught unmerciful grief from the national media ... and [Democratic gubernatorial candidate] Stacey Abrams, saying we moved too early," he said. "I wasn't listening to them. ... I was listening to the barbers, cosmetologists, waitresses, and the restaurant owners who said, 'We can't go another day, we can't last another week.' "
Pence, too, has refrained for the most part from criticizing Trump even as the former president has attacked him for refusing to stop the certification of the Electoral College votes that put Democrat Joe Biden in the White House on Jan. 6, 2021, hours after Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol.
On Monday, Pence praised Kemp's contributions during the final two years of the Trump administration.
"There was no greater champion of the conservative agenda that we advanced with the support of the people of Georgia in Washington D.C.," Pence told the crowd. "With Governor Kemp's support and your support ... we achieved the lowest unemployment, the highest household income, the most energy production, the most pro-American trade deals, the most secure border, and the strongest military the world has ever known."
Perdue called for eliminating the state income tax, something he said neither Kemp nor Abrams supports.
He also criticized the $1.5 billion incentives package the state provided electric-vehicle maker Rivian, which announced plans last December to invest $5 billion in a manufacturing plant east of Atlanta that is expected to create up to 7,500 jobs.
"I want to create jobs the right way," he said.
Perdue said a bill Kemp backed this year to give the Georgia Bureau of Investigation original jurisdiction to investigate voter fraud doesn't go far enough.
"I want a law enforcement agency dedicated to nothing but election law," he said.
CAUSE FOR PAWS: Marietta police captured some runaways the other day.
Six puppies in a fenced area made a break for it Sunday morning, wandering onto Cobb Parkway near the Big Chicken.
Thankfully, MPD’s Ofc. Covino, the department's designated “senior puppy whisperer,” pursued and apprehended the suspects.
The police department posted photos of the "PAW Patrol," short for Puppies Aimlessly Wandering, and their fugitives. Take a gander at the department’s social media pages to cheer yourself up.
“On a serious note, always ensure your fence is ‘escape resistant’ and your pets have collars with ID tags just-in-case,” police wrote online.
In a comment, the Roswell Police Department's official page wrote, "RPD humbly requests that the PAW Patrol becomes a multi-jurisdictional task force so that we can participate."
LAST SUPPER: While the barbecue was tasty, the conversation spirited and the music lively, the event was bittersweet.
Vinings Bank’s annual “Bankyard BBQ & Southern Pig Pickin’” saw a huge crowd last week, but the festivities were tempered by knowledge that the gathering was the bank’s swan song.
After 15 years of filling the role as Cobb County’s community bank, Vinings is being sold to Georgia’s Own Credit Union. The sale of the Smyrna-based bank with $685 million in assets was announced in February and the purchase is expected to close in the fourth quarter. (For inquiring minds, bank officials told Around Town a per-share price has not been fully settled.)
Vinings Bank was as much known for its community events as it was for deposits and withdrawals. In all, the bank opened its doors 64 times over the years to offer food and fellowship. Luminaries were feted. Birthdays were celebrated. Customers were appreciated.
These social functions would attract movers and shakers from across Cobb County and the state of Georgia. One soiree honoring longtime journalist Bill Shipp attracted four Georgia governors: Carl Sanders, Joe Frank Harris, Zell Miller and Roy Barnes, who became a gubernatorial quartet in singing "Happy Birthday" for Shipp's 80th. Others feted over the years included Bill Kinney, Otis Brumby, Jr., Paul Weatherby, Bob Shaw, Vince Dooley, Bill Curry, Russell McMurry, Pat Epps, Nelson Price, Joe Daniell, Newt Gingrich, and Herschel Walker.
Last Thursday’s farewell saw a similar group of community leaders and luminaries as well as bank customers and staff among the crowd of 350. Politicians on this week’s primary ballots took advantage of the event, held just five days prior to Tuesday’s election.
Bank CEO Dan Oliver addressed the attendees, thanking them for the memories. (As has become tradition at these events, he tried his hand as a comedian, telling a couple jokes that prompted some to advise he reconsider quitting his day job.)
Vinings Bank was the last local community bank in Cobb County and will be missed not only as a financial institution, but for the role it played in hosting these notable gatherings.