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Expert: Abrams has a lot of work to do to defeat GOP candidate for governor

Stacey Abrams is already making national headlines as the first African-American female nominee for governor in any U.S. state , but can a Democrat win a statewide election in a decidedly conservative state?

Some political experts told Channel 2 political reporter Richard Elliot that they think Abrams can, but added it won’t be easy.

Abrams will have to wait until July to find out if she will run against Casey Cagle or Brian Kemp. 

Democratic Party strategist Tharon Johnson told Elliot that Abrams has to use the time well.

“While she’s waiting for the Republicans to fight it out over the next nine weeks, she’s got to define herself.  She’s got to move a little bit more to the center,” Johnson said. 

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Johnson believes the key to Abrams winning the general election will be not only to energize minorities to vote in numbers not seen since President Barack Obama’s first election, but he said she’s got to appeal to rural communities and suburban women.

“She’s got to basically have a massive turnout among the base, and she’s got to appeal to these suburban women, many of whom are disaffected. They don’t like what’s going on in Washington,” Johnson said. 

The Abrams campaign is drawing national and international attention, much like Jon Ossoff ’s losing campaign against Republican Karen Handel in Georgia’s 6th congressional district .

Like Ossoff’s campaign, Abrams is getting contributions from outside Georgia.

Kennesaw State political science professor Kerwin Swint said that attention and that money can help Abrams, but it can also hurt her.

“That national support is a double-edged sword. I mean, it really helps you get attention. It helps you raise money. But at the same time, it can be used against you, as it was with Jon Ossoff last year," Swint said.

As for the GOP side, the field has been whittled down to two candidates. 

Casey Cagle handily beat second place finisher Brian Kemp in Tuesday’s primary , but Kemp showed more strength than the polls indicated, getting 26 percent of the vote.

Swint told Elliot that Cagle and Kemp now have to appeal even more to the GOP base since turnout during runoffs is generally less than a primary.

“Job No. 1 is to get your own voters to come back out,” Swint said. 

He believes Cagle will have advantages in name recognition, a statewide network and money, so he expects Kemp to continue his aggressive ad campaign.

“He’s going to attack Casey Cagle because he really has to, coming from behind like that.  So, it’s going to be a more aggressive, more attacking style campaign for Brian Kemp,” Swint said. 

Former state lawmaker and current Georgia State University political scientist Doug Teper agrees both sides may have to get more aggressive to get the expected smaller voter turnout, but he cautions that while such a strategy could help in the short term, it could wind up hurting the nominee in the general election.

“They have to appeal to the ultimate Republican base,” Teper said. “It seems the tempting fate in ... modern American politics where it’s the scorched earth policy.  So, I think you will probably see them go after each other and there’s plenty of material they will use on each other.”

The GOP runoff between Cagle and Kemp is July 24.

The winner of that runoff will face Abrams in the November general election.

Police search for missing man traveling from Florida for job interview

UPDATE: The mother of Gibson-Green told Channel 2 Action News that his friend was able to get in contact with him and that he is OK. She is still trying to learn why he disappeared. 

----------------------------

Police are searching for a man who vanished after traveling from Florida for a job interview.

Family members told Channel 2's Tony Thomas that Jonathan Gibson-Green, 25, came to Gwinnett County from Jacksonville, Florida, earlier this month.

Green's family said the last thing he told them was he was going to surprise his little sister at her softball game once he arrived in Gwinnett.

He never made it and now his family is fearing the worst. 

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"I just want my child back. Just give him back because I know he's still alive. Just give him back, please," said his mother, Tiffany Green.

She has spent the last 11 days frantically searching for her son. 

"The last time I talked to him was on the 10th. I said, 'Jon, I love you,' he said, 'I love you back.'" 

The family said that Jonathan spoke with his parents on FaceTime, from a hotel room, saying he had made it to metro Atlanta. But then he vanished. Gwinnett County police have assigned a detective to look into the case. 

"(We) just want to hear his voice, just to know he's OK," Tiffany Green said.

The family has received a few texts from Jon's phone but they wonder if someone else was doing the typing. 

"It was from his phone but we don't know if it was from him. Some of the language didn't sound like it was from him," said his grandfather, Carl Bright.

Tiffany Green has done some detective work on her own. She said that after her son's disappearance. someone cashed some of his checks at a Ponce de Leon store. She said the person on the store video is not her son.

"Just give me my child back. I want to know where he is. Just give me my child back please," she said as tears stream down her face.

Gwinnett County police say the detective has just been assigned the case and they aren't sure what has occurred or if anything criminal has occurred.

Restaurant popular for authentic Mexican food fails health inspection

Lack of soap was one violation that contributed to a Forsyth County restaurant failing a health inspection.

Taco Macho on Atlanta Highway is popular for its authentic Mexican food.

Customer Ricardo Morales told Channel 2’s Carol Sbarge he likes the food and eats there about three times a week.

On May 16, Taco Macho got a 54 on a health inspection. Violations included employees not washing hands between handling raw produce and ready to eat food, soap dispenser at hand sink not turned on and some food items not held cold enough.

The owners were not at the restaurant when Sbarge went there on Tuesday.

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One of the owners did tell her by phone that temperature issues were because the inspector came at a busy time.

He says all the food is made fresh and the cooler was being opened and closed a lot which raised the temperature.

The owner says he opened Taco Macho about five years ago.

On the previous inspection last October, the restaurant got a score of 81.

The owner says this time he got points off for the ceiling leaking but says that’s an issue he’s been trying to get the landlord to fix.

Morales says he plans to keep eating at Taco Macho because they have really nice food.

Restaurant popular for authentic Mexican food fails health inspection

Lack of soap was one violation that contributed to a Forsyth County restaurant failing a health inspection.

Taco Macho on Atlanta Highway is popular for its authentic Mexican food.

Customer Ricardo Morales told Channel 2’s Carol Sbarge he likes the food and eats there about three times a week.

On May 16, Taco Macho got a 54 on a health inspection. Violations included employees not washing hands between handling raw produce and ready to eat food, soap dispenser at hand sink not turned on and some food items not held cold enough.

The owners were not at the restaurant when Sbarge went there on Tuesday.

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One of the owners did tell her by phone that temperature issues were because the inspector came at a busy time.

He says all the food is made fresh and the cooler was being opened and closed a lot which raised the temperature.

The owner says he opened Taco Macho about five years ago.

On the previous inspection last October, the restaurant got a score of 81.

The owner says this time he got points off for the ceiling leaking but says that’s an issue he’s been trying to get the landlord to fix.

Morales says he plans to keep eating at Taco Macho because they have really nice food.

City leaders powerless to stop inappropriate spending by ex-Mayor Kasim Reed, bodyguards

A Channel 2 Action News and Atlanta Journal-Constitution investigation uncovered City of Atlanta leaders were powerless to stop inappropriate spending on city-issued credit cards by former Mayor Kasim Reed, which was often done through his police bodyguards, records show

After filing an open records request with the city, Channel 2 and the AJC spent days reviewing hundreds of bills for the highly-trained Atlanta police officers in Reed’s executive protection unit.

Our investigation found nine members of the team racked up more than $93,000 in expenses charged to taxpayers from 2015 to 2017.

By law, every person in possession of a city-issued credit card has to sign a form agreeing all personal charges are prohibited. 

Channel 2 Investigative Reporter Aaron Diamant digs into the charges, including trips to Philadelphia and Las Vegas, one-night stays at upscale Atlanta hotels, meals, dry-cleaning and more, LIVE on Channel 2 Action News at 6 p.m.

We’re working to understand the relationship between Reed and his bodyguards. None of them agreed to do an interview or answer questions.

The city’s interim CFO John Gaffney said he’s going to recommend a new expense-tracking system to Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.

Police search for missing man traveling from Florida for job interview

UPDATE: The mother of Gibson-Green told Channel 2 Action News that his friend was able to get in contact with him and that he is OK. She is still trying to learn why he disappeared. 

----------------------------

Police are searching for a man who vanished after traveling from Florida for a job interview.

Family members told Channel 2's Tony Thomas that Jonathan Gibson-Green, 25, came to Gwinnett County from Jacksonville, Florida, earlier this month.

Green's family said the last thing he told them was he was going to surprise his little sister at her softball game once he arrived in Gwinnett.

He never made it and now his family is fearing the worst. 

TRENDING STORIES:

Lawsuit: Health center left 98-year-old grandmother in the sun for hours Patient says she woke up from surgery in hotel room with sandwich in hand 14 most dangerous sunscreens for kids, according to experts

"I just want my child back. Just give him back because I know he's still alive. Just give him back, please," said his mother, Tiffany Green.

She has spent the last 11 days frantically searching for her son. 

"The last time I talked to him was on the 10th. I said, 'Jon, I love you,' he said, 'I love you back.'" 

The family said that Jonathan spoke with his parents on FaceTime, from a hotel room, saying he had made it to metro Atlanta. But then he vanished. Gwinnett County police have assigned a detective to look into the case. 

"(We) just want to hear his voice, just to know he's OK," Tiffany Green said.

The family has received a few texts from Jon's phone but they wonder if someone else was doing the typing. 

"It was from his phone but we don't know if it was from him. Some of the language didn't sound like it was from him," said his grandfather, Carl Bright.

Tiffany Green has done some detective work on her own. She said that after her son's disappearance. someone cashed some of his checks at a Ponce de Leon store. She said the person on the store video is not her son.

"Just give me my child back. I want to know where he is. Just give me my child back please," she said as tears stream down her face.

Gwinnett County police say the detective has just been assigned the case and they aren't sure what has occurred or if anything criminal has occurred.

Cellphone video appears to show school bus driver texting and driving

Channel 2 Action News has obtained cellphone video that appears to show a DeKalb County school bus driver looking down at her phone while on the road.

A parent who didn’t want to be identified sent the video to Channel 2’s Audrey Washington.

The parent said he saw the driver texting while driving on I-20 and started filming. He said he believes the driver’s actions were dangerous and irresponsible.

"And to know they’re picking up phones and texting while our kids are in their care, is gut-wrenching.” Just got my hands on NEW VIDEO that appears to show, a school bus driver TEXTING, while on the road...AND while a student is on the bus! The details, beginning at 5pm.@wsbtv pic.twitter.com/XQ5EcABGFU — Audrey Washington (@AudreyWSBTV) May 23, 2018

The video shows what appears to be a cell phone in the bus driver's hand while she steers the wheel with her right hand. A student is seated on the bus.

TRENDING STORIES:

Washington spoke to another parent who says she's also seen a DeKalb County bus driver behind the wheel on the phone before. She said the sight disgusted her.

"To know they're picking up phones and texting while our kids are in their care is gut-wrenching," Katrecia Lo said. 

Washington contacted the DeKalb County School District, who said they are only aware of this recent incident and released a statement:

“The DeKalb County School District is currently investigating what appears to be a bus driver using a phone while driving. This behavior is completely unacceptable. Not only is it illegal, it is not safe for other drivers, and it is a danger to the district’s staff and students. The safety of our students and staff is paramount to the DeKalb County School District.”

Currently, there is no word that the District has taken any disciplinary action against the driver.

As for the parent who recorded the incident, he hopes quick action is taken so something like this never happens again. 

"No child should be in danger," he told Washington. "No child. That's my first thought, the children."

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