GOP About to be Reformed, One Way or Another
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
By Al Gray
A perfect storm has struck the ossified, corrupt political power structure in Augusta, the CSRA, and Georgia. The first harbinger of the maelstrom emerged a year ago when Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver attempted to bring a publicly funded baseball stadium to the riverfront, prompting the formation of a loose coalition of Augustans, area residents, and former citizens. This is Augusta Today.
The opening pitch for that stadium by Mayor Deke was in the dirt.
Then came the Laney Walker Overlay debacle, where the Mayor was eager to run all over city ordinances and the constitutional property rights of the poorest people to get on the cover of Southern Living.
After that has been a blizzard of revelations, sourced in the city’s own documents, that shows a pattern of deception, mismanagement, incompetence, and probably rampant fraud centered in Augusta’s contracts.
Then along came TSPLOST, supposedly a regional collaboration, which instead has blown the CSRA apart and separated it from the 75% of the state that rejected the tax.
Augusta is a renegade government that endangers its citizens. In the parlance of former Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, this is a known known. Things will never be the same again in Augusta and beyond.
The Republican Party in the 12th Congressional District of Georgia is in the midst of reform, too.
This spring the Liberty Movement seized control of the Richmond County GOP convention. They nearly did it at the district convention.
The Columbia County GOP is in pure turmoil from years of shenanigans, deposed chairmen, party establishment ruin, and is totally irrelevant.
A core cadre of GOP legislators named Barbara Sims, Ben Harbin, Lee Anderson, Bill Jackson, and Tom McCall joined together behind beleaguered Nathan Deal to foist TSPLOST, the largest tax increase in Georgia history, on the voters. The GOP havens Columbia County and Lincoln County rejected them and it.
This same cadre of GOP legislators is wrapped all up in the ASU name change to GRU fiasco. Deal’s Board of Regents Chairman Ben Tarbutton has contributed to Lee Anderson’s congressional campaign and Sims has been supportive of the detested Georgia Regents University name.
John Barrow, the last blue dog Democrat in the South, looms with a war chest that will probably exceed $2 million. Barrow has shown a streak of independence from the Obama Administration and his voting record in terms of fiscal conservatism is on a par with GOP Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan. His office has rock solid constituent service.
Reform is about to be visited upon the GOP. The party establishment hates it, but now knows it stands before an avalanche of public revulsion, anger, and determination. TSPLOST is about to be stopped cold. CSRA politicos will find themselves in a totally untenable position if they don’t reverse course and join this action.
With respect to the 12th district race, the path to reform is either going to be aboard a bullet train or it is going to occur on an even greater scale over 2 years. The former will come with a Rick Allen victory. The later will come with a Lee Anderson victory.
Some might see Allen’s alliances with the mavens of Morris Communications, the Augusta blueblood elites, the Copenhaver-Russell administration, and his own ties to the party establishment all the way to Washington, DC as diametrically opposed to reform. It won’t work that way. Precisely because of those alliances and the many contracts that his business has had with government, Rick Allen will have absolutely no choice but to embrace openness and reform. There simply will be no way to dodge questions. Instead of reform activists having to laboriously go through open records requests, questions will have to be quickly answered and issues resolved. The key to taking Augusta from worst to first lies in its contracting. Rick Allen knows this. Rick Allen will bring the reformers to the table because John Barrow will force him to.
Beyond the things that will force the issue, there is the knowledge that Rick Allen has the intelligence, openness, curiosity, financial background and moral code to bring back the rule of law, the Constitution, and fiscal responsibility to government. He knows the score with far better acumen than most. He knows that the people who send him to Washington won’t be those connected folks.
It was said that only Nixon could have gone to China. Maybe only Allen can visit reform on Augusta.
Reform will come in slower, broader, plainer, and yet more spectacular style if Lee Anderson is the GOP nominee. Then the party will be pinned hopelessly to a candidate with a record hostile to the hurting, threatened, middle class. Barrow will pounce all over it. Anderson went along to get along in the most unethical state government in America. He has pushed sales taxes on groceries, both with the ridiculous GREAT “tax reform” of the disgraced Georgia Speaker Glenn Richardson and with TSPLOST. Anderson’s TSPLOST did away with home rule, subverting Columbia Countians votes to those of welfare statists in neighboring Augusta.. His subservience to Nathan Deal brings its own baggage. Then, there is the matter of his willingness to read and comprehend legislation. It just isn’t there. Neither is there substantial debating skill.
Lee is relying on four things to sweep him into office after Tuesday, while he disappears into a cocoon of silence.
One is Obamaphobia.
Two is the promise of $950,000 of Republican Congressional Campaign Committee funds to unseat John Barrow.
Three is that voters uninformed of his record are drawn to vote for “the nice man with the tractor.”
Four is that folks don’t notice that the discredited Georgia establishment is behind him.
It might happen. Obamaphobia very well may mean an Anderson seat in Congress. That would be the sum of all fears for the GOP. It would mean that the party openly supported a known-to-be flawed candidate into the US House of Representatives, one who might deliver more embarrassment and bad policy than a John Deere tractor can haul.
Reform now, GOP. You can pay a nominal price now or a capitol one later.