by Jay Bookman, Georgia Recorder [This article first appeared in the Georgia Recorder, republished with permission]
May 19, 2022
In Pennsylvania, Republican primary voters have nominated a radical, full-blown insurrectionist as their candidate for governor, a man who conspired with Donald Trump to illegally switch that state’s 20 electoral votes and who has publicly committed to doing the same if given the opportunity in 2024.
In another targeted state, Arizona, they’re likely to do the same thing. The Republican frontrunner for governor is Kari Lake, a former TV newscaster campaigning on the idea that state officials who refused to overturn the election on Trump’s behalf ought to be thrown in prison, among her other novel notions.
In Georgia, though, Republican voters are making a different decision. They face a choice between incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp, who refused to illegally try to overturn the 2020 election, and former Sen. David Perdue, yet another full-blown insurrectionist who has built his entire candidacy on his insistence that Donald Trump is still our legitimate president. If the polls are right, Kemp will probably win the GOP nomination relatively easily.
If so, I’m grateful for that, and I’d like to think it means Georgia Republicans are coming to their senses. I’d like to think that, 18 months after the election, passions have cooled and conservative voters in Georgia have finally begun to admit, even if only to themselves, that Joe Biden won fair and square and that we narrowly averted a disaster in the days up to and including Jan. 6, 2021.
I’d like to think that, but I don’t dare.
As the incumbent, Kemp has enjoyed enormous advantages in fundraising and in the ability to set the agenda. He has also had an incredibly inept opponent. Careers and reputations can collapse quickly in politics, but when that happens it’s generally the result of corruption or personal scandal being exposed. I can’t recall a major political figure whose reputation has fallen more dramatically than that of Perdue, solely because of his own political misjudgments, incompetence and bizarre decisions.
- The chairman of the Georgia Republican Party, David Shafer, is still touting false claims that the election was stolen from Trump.
- The current Republican lieutenant governor, Geoff Duncan, decided not to run for re-election because he couldn’t bring himself to claim that Trump had won, and saw no immediate future for himself if he did not make such a claim.
- The leading GOP candidate to replace Duncan, state Sen. Burt Jones, is campaigning on the claim that the election was stolen from Trump and that he is the rightful president.
- Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, the Republican who refused Trump’s demand to “find” 11,800 votes to overturn the election, is likely to end up in a runoff against U.S. Rep. Jody Hice, who is yet another full-blown insurrectionist. A Hice victory – putting him in charge of counting votes — would be disastrous for Georgia, for the Republican Party and for the cause of American democracy, yet it remains a very real possibility.
- Five incumbent GOP congressmen from Georgia, in addition to Hice, voted on Jan. 6 to overturn the election and re-install Trump as president, and most Republican candidates for open congressional seats are campaigning on the same Big Lie.
Again, this is all 18 months after the 2020 election. Over those months, every claim of a rigged or stolen election has been proved beyond a shadow of a doubt to be false, and the Jan. 6 congressional committee in Washington has documented multiple efforts by Trump and his supporters to try to subvert the Constitution.
Yet still the embers of resentment burn hot, ready to burst into flame and engulf us. The dangers have not eased; the apocalyptic rhetoric and suggestions of violence have not subsided.
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