by Al M. Gray
Guest Column for the Urban Pro Weekly
The 2500 statewide votes by which Karen Handel lost the Republican Party nomination for governor to Nathan Deal in 2010 hurt this writer deeply. The corruption-plagued Deal became governor because the personal commitment to total courage had fallen short… leaving sighs of regret that “I should have…” or “we could have…” Four years later we have another chance to restore faith and honor in the office of Governor of Georgia. It will take one word – COURAGE.
In that decisive month of August, 2010, Nathan Deal came on the local Austin Rhodes Show twice and his powerful supporter, Congressman Paul Broun, was on once, each time for a half-hour. Knowing that your author was well versed in Deal’s voting record, scandals, and escape from Congress barely ahead of an ethics investigation, Rhodes allowed the next half-hour each time for a thorough rebuttal of the Deal propaganda. If only the COURAGE to speak out on talk radio programs had extended to a statewide effort, Nathan Deal would be just another failed, bankrupt politician.
Why can such bold statements be made? Going into the August run-off, the entire Republican Party establishment and almost all local officials of that party were solidly behind Deal. It was a powerful machine, yet here in the CSRA, it lost and decisively so! Counties within 50 miles of the WGAC radio station voted for Handel by 60% to 40%. Had we Handel supporters had the COURAGE to take our talk radio strategy across the state, Deal would have lost and our state spared four years of embarrassing outrages.
Courage is a more than a word. It is the difference in victory and defeat.
Courage arose in an unexpected way a dozen years ago in your city, when a group of brave ministers in the black community took the full measure of charges against Georgia Senate Majority Leader Charles Walker under prayerful consideration and stepped out to endorse a white Republican, Randy Hall. Their decision shook the state. To discontinue support of the most powerful black, Democratic Party politician in Georgia history took stamina and it did not come without repercussions, yet they did it with clarity and firmness of voice.
Their stand now gives you moral authority to take a position with those of us who are Independents, principled Republicans, Libertarians, and motivated voters in ridding our state of the Deal gang. We need to be telling our churchgoing brothers and sisters who normally unfailingly cleave to the Republican Party of the brave Augusta Ministers for Hall in 2002 and their stand. We should use every chance we get to remind them of the moral qualities that men and women of fail of all colors profess to live by, to raise their children by, and live religious lives for. We should ask them to have courage, too – the courage to ditch their partisan loyalties for just one election year to make things as right as citizens of this great state can make them.
The governor’s race isn’t about President Obama. It is about us and our courage to confront powerful office holders gone astray. If your ministers can do that, then why won’t they and their ministers do this?
Talk to the people of other races in West Augusta, Columbia County and across our area. Tell them of your concerns. Let them know that you will rejoice if they just show the same gumption, independence, and honor to present the same principled opposition in showing Nathan Deal the door as your ministers did in 2002. Surely they wouldn’t want you to have a higher moral ground!
Georgia is in the heart of the Bible Belt, but Georgians have had the unhappy history of letting charlatans bamboozle their way into office or stay after they have gone wrong. In 2014, one hopes that we have the same courage as Augusta ministers of 2002 and that honor prevails.