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“RINO Trophies”: In Georgia, Two Republicans Face Primary Challenges For Not Being Extremist Enough

With the Republican nomination contest being essentially over (yes, there’s a primary in Washington, but it doesn’t matter who wins or loses) and the Democratic battle taking a brief break (yes, Washington Democrats will vote, but it’s only a nonbinding “beauty contest” primary), it will be a quiet political Tuesday night except for runoff elections in Texas and down-ballot primaries in Georgia.

In the latter primaries, though, there’s an intriguing right-wing effort to purge two North Georgia Republican congressmen for being insufficiently right-wing: specifically for voting for John Boehner for speaker before the Ohioan quit and for voting to keep the federal government open despite its funding of Obamacare and Planned Parenthood.

What makes it all interesting is that the two solons in question — 11th-district representative Barry Loudermilk and ninth-district representative Doug Collins — would be considered a tad out there themselves in much of the country. Loudermilk (a freshman who ran to the right of another hero of the mad fringe, Bob Barr, in his original primary) is a member of the House Freedom Caucus and an outspoken “constitutional conservative.” Collins, who’s notable for being both an ordained Baptist minister and a lawyer, is probably best known for defending military chaplains (he’s one himself in the Reserves) who get a little carried away with proselytizing.

But while both congressmen are facing multiple opponents all shrieking at them for their alleged betrayal of True Conservatism, Collins has drawn the marquee challenger: his former House colleague Paul Broun, a favorite of extremism aficionados everywhere.

Until he left the House for a failed Senate bid in 2014, Broun was one of those pols who said incredible things with every other breath. Perhaps his most famous moment was when this member of the House Science Committee delivered a speech in his district referring to evolution and various other scientific teachings that conflict with his conservative Evangelical views as “lies from the pit of hell.” So notorious was Broun as a proud know-nothing that a significant number of write-in votes in his district were cast for Charles Darwin.

Now Broun is aiming his peculiar brand of thunder and lightning at Collins, and he has the advantage of having represented about half the current ninth district before the last rounds of redistricting. But Broun is being dogged by ethics charges dating from his congressional service that recently led to a criminal indictment of his former top chief of staff.

Both Loudermilk and Collins are expected to come out on top in tonight’s returns. But the catch is that Georgia requires majorities for nominations, and being knocked into a crazy-low-turnout runoff would be perilous for either incumbent. A wild card is that North Georgia right-wing activists have already been stirred up by the treachery of another of their own: Governor (and former ninth-district congressman) Nathan Deal, who recently vetoed a “religious liberty” bill aimed at making anti-LGBT discrimination easier. (On the principle of in-for-a-penny, in-for-a-pound, Deal, who is safely in his second and final term, subsequently infuriated the gun lobby by vetoing a “campus carry” bill getting rid of restrictions on shooting irons at colleges and universities. Where will the betrayals end?)

The one thing we know for sure is that there’s no degree of extremism in the GOP that will give Democrats a chance at either House seat. These are two of the most profoundly Republican districts east of Utah. And, so far as we know, Charles Darwin’s not even in the race.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, May 26, 2016

May 26, 2016 Posted by | Down Ballot Candidates, Georgia, Republicans | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“A Low Sanity Threshold”: In Georgia, The Bar Is Scraping The Ground

Being back in Georgia always reminds me of the very different norms governing politics in Deep Red country. Yesterday I mentioned that in Georgia’s 11th district GOP runoff, Barry Loudermilk and Bob Barr were in disagreement about what, if anything, the U.S. should be doing in Iraq. I didn’t mention they both favored the impeachment of the president (Bob Barr touts his experience as a Clinton impeachment manager as a plus), though Loudermilk thinks maybe it’s a waste of time to pursue it so long as Senate action to finish it is unlikely.

In another GOP runoff in north Georgia, in the 10th congressional district, the Rev. Jody Hice, who finished first on May 20, is an aggressive supporter of the point of view that only Christians should benefit from First Amendment protection of religious liberties, as the Atlanta Journal-Constitution‘s Jay Bookman reports:

“Although Islam has a religious component, it is much more than a simple religious ideology,” Hice wrote in his 2012 book. “It is a complete geo-political structure and, as such, does not deserve First Amendment protection.”

Hice believes that the Muslim Brotherhood is infiltrating the United States, with the intent to impose Sharia law on all of us. He also believes that it’s fine for women to seek political office, at least if certain conditions are met. “If the woman’s within the authority of her husband, I don’t see a problem,” he told the Athens Banner-Herald in 2004.

That makes him a spiritual brother to 11th District candidate Loudermilk:

Loudermilk is an eager member of the Glenn Beck wing of the GOP. He is also an apostle of faux historian David Barton, who preaches that the U.S. Constitution is a document intended to create a conservative Christian government. Like Hice, they reject the notion of a separation between Christianity and state, and argue that the First Amendment was intended only to keep government from favoring one particular Christian denomination.

In their world view, Obama is anti-Christian and pro-Islamic, and they hint at darker motives.

Of course they do.

Loudermilk and Hice, of course, are seeking to succeed Phil Gingrey and Paul Broun, respectively, in the House. So the sanity threshold is set pretty low.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly Political Animal, June 24, 2014

June 25, 2014 Posted by | Georgia, GOP, Republicans | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Temperatures Rising”: The Remorseless Rightward Pressure On The GOP

Any time I read one of those articles about the Republican Party “rebranding” itself or “moving to the center” or “coming to its senses,” I think of the drift of political life in my home state of Georgia. After Sen. Saxby Chambliss was more or less pushed into retirement for the sin of contemplating a “grand bargain” between the GOP and Obama, a large early field of very conservative would-be Senators has assembled, driven (by most accounts) into a more-conservative-than-thou competition by Rep. Paul Broun, who makes Michele Bachmann look like the soul of sweet reason.

But it’s not like this is some passing wave of Tea Party/Christian Right extremism in Georgia. The House members running for the Senate could well be succeeded by a new bunch that’s even wilder. Consider Phil Gingrey’s 11th district, where I lived during high school. The first candidate into the race is a famous radical voice, Bob Barr, who once represented a similar district as a classic Gingrich-era right-wing firebrand (serving as a Clinton Impeachment co-manager, and sponsoring the original Patriot Act and Defense of Marriage Act) before later becoming the presidential nominee of the Libertarian Party. But Barr could become the RINO in the field, as “constitutional conservatives” unite behind state senator Barry Loudermilk.

Described by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution‘s Jim Galloway as a “constitutionalist somewhat in the mold of Paul Broun,” Loudermilk became famous even before running for office as the author of a post-9/11 local newspaper screed that went globally viral, encouraging non-Christians and immigrants to pack up and leave America if they didn’t like “our culture.” During his climb through the Georgia Republican ranks, Loudermilk has championed a variety of anti-immigrant bills, “personhood” initiatives, efforts to shut down all state agencies not specifically authorized by the state constitution, and serial theocratic gestures. He was also one of the participants in a colleague’s “briefing” for state senators on the evil United Nations Agenda 21 effort to destroy private property rights.

At the recent 11th district Republican convention where Loudermilk formally announced his congressional candidacy, a straw poll (reported by Galloway) showed him trouncing Bob Barr and the rest of the field. Just as interestingly, the poll showed Paul Broun leading the 11th district’s own Phil Gingrey in the Senate contest.

Now maybe Broun won’t win and maybe Loudermilk won’t win; neither has any national support so far, and neither is known for fundraising prowess. But it’s important to understand that these zany men are wildly popular among the kind of grassroots conservative activists who have been lashing the GOP to the hard right in recent years. In his remarks to the 11th district convention, Loudermilk said: “I don’t come from the grassroots; I am the grassroots!” and that would seem to be an entirely accurate statement. So even if “establishment Republicans” can squelch such candidates, it will involve competing with them avidly on fever-swamp themes. And that’s how people like Phil Gingrey or another intensely conservative Senate likely, Tom Price, wind up looking like moderate “squishes.” To adapt the president’s term for the ideological passions gripping the conservative movement and dominating the GOP, the “fever” is not “breaking,” at least down at the level where people don’t bother to sanitize their views. It may, actually, be getting worse.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly Political Animal, April 24, 2013

April 26, 2013 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

   

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