Olens chaired Romney’s Georgia campaign, and of equal significance, was the only Georgian holding statewide elective office who supported Romney in last spring’s presidential primary. Olens stuck with Romney even though former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, formerly also of east Cobb, was running as well, and even though Gingrich was the one with the momentum as they headed into the Georgia primary. Olens also backed Romney in his 2008 presidential try, and will be at Romney’s “victory party” in Boston Tuesday night..
Romney rewarded Olens by giving him a prized prime-time speaking slot at August’s GOP Convention. But there could be much more to come should Romney win on Tuesday. A Romney victory would enormously enhance Olens’ political influence and would open new political avenues for him, should he choose to take them.
“He’d have a key role in the transition period and if all the chips fell in the right places, he could be in line for a significant appointment,” one political insider told Around Town.
ALTHOUGH OLENS’ two-year tenure as Georgia attorney general might be on the short side to put him at the head of the list of candidates for U.S. Attorney General, several political insiders here have told Around Town that Olens could be considered for a number of other top-level jobs in the Romney administration. One suggested Olens might be chosen as Solicitor General, the attorney who argues the government’s cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. Another suggested Olens’s decade as chairman of the Cobb Board of Commissioners provides him with the background to be considered for a cabinet-level post heading the Department of Housing and Urban Development. That source also suggested Romney might select Olens as White House Policy Coordinator, or perhaps for a key ambassadorship.
So don’t be surprised if Romney extends such an offer to Olens.
Whether Olens would take it is another matter. He told Around Town this week he plans to stay put, adding, “I love the job.”
OLENS HAS QUICKLY CARVED a reputation as an activist attorney general with a special interest in First Amendment and immigration issues, and has represented the state very effectively in the “water wars” with Alabama and Florida. And his high-profile role in the legal fight to overturn Obamacare has put him on the map as a well-respected intellect among the country’s Republican attorneys general.
He next faces voters in 2014 and already is considered one of the likeliest contenders to succeed Gov. Nathan Deal, presumably in 2018. If being governor is his goal, he could decide that staying in Georgia is a more direct way of getting there than detouring through Washington.
WHETHER OLENS STAYS OR GOES, he would have a key voice during the transition period in determining which Georgians were selected for jobs in a Romney administration.
U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), who boasts one of the strongest private-sector business resumes on Capitol Hill and formerly chaired the Georgia Board of Education, would be a strong contender for Secretary of Commerce or Education should he want either job. He could be in line for any number of other jobs as well.
Campaign finance whiz Eric Tanenblatt of Atlanta firm McKenna, Long & Aldridge, who has raised $17 million for the Romney campaign thus far as Finance Chairman for the Romney Georgia campaign, could be in line for a plum ambassadorship should he want it, said one insider, comparing him to fellow McKenna Long attorney Gordon Giffin, whose legendary fundraising acumen for Democratic candidates resulted in his appointment as ambassador to Canada by President Bill Clinton.
What about U.S. Reps. Tom Price (R-Roswell) and Phil Gingrey (R-Marietta)? Both supported Gingrich during the primary season, and neither would likely be part of the Romney administration. But Romney has made repealing and replacing unpopular Obamacare a centerpiece of his campaign, and Price and Gingrey — both of whom are physicians by profession — can expect to have prominent seats at the table as the reform process goes forward, one insider said.
Looking a bit further down the road under a Romney administration, Georgia Supreme Court Justice David Nahmias has been widely mentioned as a short-list candidate for any opening that might arise on the U.S. Supreme Court.
Then, of course, there is the ripple effect that would be caused by any Washington-bound departures of any Georgia elected officials, as others jockey to replace them.
Depending on what happens Tuesday, there could be plenty for pundits to prognosticate about in coming months.
THE KENNESAW CITY COUNCIL has apparently stalled on its plan to pass a resolution asking Washington not to slash the military budget next year as part of the upcoming sequestration.
The council had planned to pass such a resolution, but could not find common ground during its work session Tuesday.
“What is the reluctance to doing something saying, hey, take some action, and we’re being asked to do this by our congressmen and our senators?” Mayor Mark Mathews said. “I would hope the next time we have a request, they would show us support as well.”
Councilman Bruce Jenkins said he wanted to see all six Cobb cities take action.
“It’s going to have a lot more rattle if you get most of Cobb pushing on this. I don’t know why it hasn’t been done but it needs to be done,” he said.
Councilman Tim Killingsworth asked if the county had voted on the resolution, while Councilman Jeff Duckett said he would check with the Georgia Municipal Association, which represents city and county governments.
“I don’t have anything negative about it. I’m just concerned that nobody seems to be doing (anything about) it and I’d like to know why.”
The resolution would ask Congress to “find a method of achieving fiscal savings in a way that will not endanger our national security and military readiness, and our concern about the impacts of a failure to do so,” according to the work session agenda.
Georgia could lose about 28,000 defense-industry jobs if the cuts are passed, including many at Lockheed Martin.
Cobb Schools’ Facility and Technology Committee, which is tasked with overseeing SPLOST-related projects, has called a special meeting for Monday at 6:30 p.m. at the school board office, 514 Glover St. in Marietta, to discuss the SPLOST IV notebook.
POLITICS: Local Democratic candidates are having a meet-and-greet from 6-9 p.m. tonight with the local Hispanic Community at Dos Amigos Cantina Restaurant, 2590 Spring Road in Smyrna, according to the Cobb Democratic Committee.
Emcee will be George Lopez of La Raza 97.9 FM.
Confirmed attendees include state Sen. Doug Stoner of Smyrna, District 6 congressional candidate Jeff Kazanow and District 11 congressional candidate Patrick Thompson, all of whom face opposition on Tuesday.
COBB DEMOCRATS will be holding their Election Night party Tuesday at the DoubleTree by Hilton hotel at 2055 South Park Place just off Windy Hill Road in Smyrna.
MORE POLITICS: Cobb Republicans will hold their “victory party” at the Hyatt Regency Suites Atlanta Northwest, 29999 Windy Hill Road, reports local party Chairman Joe Dendy. Meanwhile, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle will host a similar party at the Buckhead InterContinental, 3315 Peachtree Road, NE.