In one more observation about the Georgia primary, some interesting things happened in GOP U.S. House races. One of the most common Twitter-memes early last night was that no matter who won the ultimate Senate prize, Congress would be rid of Paul Broun and Phil Gingrey, two of the members most likely to say very crazy things.
Before celebrating their departure, you might want to take a look at the contests to replace these two men in heavily Republican districts. In both cases, the top finisher last night was someone I had singled out in the past to exemplify the scary “bench” being built by the GA GOP.
In Broun’s district, the leader of the pack and a runoff finalist is the Rev. Jody Hice, a raging homophobe and long-time opponent of church-state separation, who became nationally famous in an earlier campaign for putting up billboards featuring the legend “Tired of Obama’s Change?” with the “c” in “Change” turned into a hammer-and-sickle. He faces a wealthy trucking executive in the runoff, but if the turnout is as low as I think it will be, Hice should be considered the front-runner.
Meanwhile, in Gingrey’s district, a big well-funded field was trounced by a former state senator named Barry Loudermilk, who is a classic, teeth-grinding “constitutional conservative” whom I profiled here more than a year ago:
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.
It’s a token of how far things have gotten out of control in the Georgia GOP that Loudermilk’s runoff opponent, Bob Barr, will be the RINO in the contest. Barr outspent Loudermilk, and obviously (he represented much of this area in the House before redistricting threw him into a losing battle-of-incumbents with John Linder) had a name ID advantage, but trailed him 26-37 last night and will be a heavy underdog in the runoff, I would guess.
Unlike Broun and Gingrey, Hice and Loudermilk are not physicians, so Georgia’s rich tradition of wingnut docs will take a hit. But wait: in the race to succeed Jack Kingston down in SE Georgia, one of the runoff candidates (or so it appears; there are still a few precincts out) is a surgeon named Bob (or as he calls himself, “Dr. Bob–Christian Conservative”) Johnson, who made national news recently with this outburst (per Politico’s Emily Schultheis):
A candidate for Congress in Georgia said earlier this year that he’d rather see another terrorist attack on the United States than have Transportation Security Agency screenings at airports.
Bob Johnson, a doctor and Republican candidate in Georgia’s solidly-red 1st District, said at a February candidate forum that the TSA is “indoctrinating” Americans.
“Now this is going to sound outrageous, I’d rather see another terrorist attack, truly I would, than to give up my liberty as an American citizen,” he said, according to a video clip obtained by POLITICO. “Give me liberty or give me death. Isn’t that what Patrick Henry said at the founding of our republic?”
He criticized the TSA for “indoctrinating generations of Americans to walk through a line and be prodded and probed by uniform personnel, agents of the government, like sheep.”
You know, getting us ready for those FEMA-run concentration camps for patriots.
Johnson back-tracked, but not much:
“In the heat of the moment, while making the point that I would much rather fight the enemy than our federal government, I said something stupid and should have chosen my words more carefully,” he said. “…As a Constitutional conservative, it angers me that we are giving up our liberty to the bureaucratic TSA and spying on our own people in the name of false security and that has to stop.”
So tradition may well live on in Georgia.