Lights were bright, American flags abounded, the weather was as cool as the newly-doomed planet could allow, and Augusta was fully prepared for the waves of elected officials, nominees, delegates, alternates, and guests flowing in for the 2017 Georgia Republican Party State Convention. In fact, among those in attendance were the following Arch Conservative contributors: Brennan Mancil as a delegate, Ethan Pender and Jake Shumard as volunteers for the gubernatorial campaign of UGA alumnus Brian Kemp, Ben Grayson as a campaign volunteer for both Brian Kemp and Attorney General candidate Chris Carr (another UGA alum), Associate Editor Michael Duckett as a delegate and 1st Vice Chair of the Gwinnett County Republican Party, and myself as a measly “guest.” Unimportant as the temporary title may seem, I was listening carefully to the words of each and every speaker. In particular, there was one that caught the attention of all those in attendance, even in the midst of vote-counting for the important GAGOP Chairmanship (which, by the way, went to John Watson).
State Senator Michael Williams of the 27th district (Forsyth area), a clear underdog below the likes of the well-funded Brian Kemp and Casey Cagle (as well as Hunter Hill, who is at this point a third in the field) for the nomination of GOP candidate for the 2018 gubernatorial race, began his campaign in a firestorm of scorn for Georgia electoral politics and the apparent cronyism thereof. In a speech expected by most of the audience to be a run-of-the-mill appeal to law enforcement, party unity, gun rights, and the like (as many preceding speeches were), Williams upended the generalized and relatively ‘safe’ rhetoric of the day by claiming–to the audience’s shock–that he was offered the chairmanship of the Georgia State Senate’s Appropriations Committee in return for his resignation from the gubernatorial race. The Senate Appropriations Committee is one of the most powerful committees, in charge of planning the state’s annual budget and of all state and federal spending of a percent of your income and consumption (despite promising talk of banning the state income tax this convention).
The state senator continued on about the apparently scandalous nature of Georgia politics, saying that he simply “cannot be bought,” outright acknowledging that there were “people in this very room” that were the perpetrators to some degree in the easily corruptible ‘game’ of politics.
The speech, or what seemed more like a pent-up deluge of political angst, marched forward in vibrant fashion from the statement of what, depending on the wording and truth thereof, may have been nothing less than a bribe. Williams claimed that he was barred from joining his local Rotary Club and that, since his decision to remain in the race, he has endured numerous personal attacks as well as threats “to destroy my character.” Williams amounted all of his talk of corrupt politics to “what really happens at the State Capitol.” He repeated a salient point throughout, that “good politics is too often rewarded over good policy,” but many state party members took surprise to the candidate’s quite harsh accusations.
So far as we here at ArchCon know, bystanders may have been quite right in their skepticism. . .
The Arch Conservative reached out to Georgia State Senator Josh McKoon, President Pro Tempore of the State Senate (and UGA grad) David Shafer, State Senator Renee Unterman, State Senator P.K. Martin, and the illustrious Michael Duckett, all of whom noted that they did not know of anything along even similar lines as what Senator Williams claimed. The Arch Conservative will be reaching out to State Senator Williams shortly for further comment.
Nathan Deal, after a long stint, will be unable to have another go to at the office of governor, opening the field up for various candidates. Perhaps Senator Williams’s odd tactic, however valid it may be, will earn him a higher podium and some invaluable free press that may ultimately better his chances in the next year. The Arch Conservative will remain vigilant in covering this story for you, our dedicated readers. Stay tuned.
— Nick Geeslin is Editor-in-Chief of The Arch Conservative.