Such crazy comments from Broun shouldn't come as a surprise. But I think he's trying to come off as the anti-Washington candidate in his primary:Conservatives were upset when House Republican leadership fast-tracked a vote on a Medicare doctor payment fix (or "Doc Fix") bill through the chamber on Thursday and Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) wanted to make sure his objections were known.
"I consider it a step backwards for democracy," Broun said in a statement, confirmed by TPM. "This Putin-esque behavior is an example of why I voted against Boehner as Speaker of the House."
It's worth noting that Boehner has Russian President Vladimir Putin a "thug" before.
The bill was passed through the chamber by an unrecorded voice vote on Thursday. Like Broun, Rep. Louie Gohmert took to the House floor to complain about the rushed vote. - TPM, 3/28/14
To get an idea of what type of candidate Broun is, here's a little background info:“Establishment Republicans in Washington and Georgia are scared to death I’m going to get elected because I’m the people’s candidate,” he said. “I’m the only non-establishment candidate running in this race. When the media’s attacking me, when the establishment Republicans are attacking me and the Democrats are attacking me that means I’m the “We the People” person and I’m on the right course as far as I’m concerned.”
The “media attacks” he talked about were headlines from a local ABC affiliate that reported Broun had used $33,000 in taxpayer funds for a debate coach in his Washington D.C. office, a story he called “just totally not factual.”
“I do not have a debate coach,” Broun said of Brent O’Donnell, a GOP operative who works on contract for a number of Republican congressmen. “He’s part of my communications team. One of my jobs as a congressman is to communicate with my constituents, as well as to do interviews like this one with national news media. He helps me in that process. He’s not a debate coach and it’s a very valid expenditure.” Broun went on. “We live in a republic, which means representative government, and the only way my constituents in Washington can know what I’m doing is for me to communicate with them and that’s what this gentleman does is help me with that.”
With early voting starting in four weeks, every day counts for Broun and the other Republicans. On Monday, Broun made his way across Greene County giving his pitch to voters, from a morning “Coffee with Your Congressman” at the county Farm Bureau to meeting with county commissioners and then a meet and greet held by the local Republican Party.
At the Farm Bureau, he talked about accountability, quoted scripture (Hosea 4:6, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge”), listed the agencies he’d abolish (EPA, Labor, Education, Energy and Commerce) and refused to support any pending immigration reform efforts. Although several farmers agreed that a labor shortage is costing many growers their farms, Broun told them “nothing else matters until the border is secure,” which he said meant stopping “OTMs.”
“OTMs, that means “Other Than Mexicans,” he told me later. “We have people from the Middle East, from Asia, from all over the world that are coming through the southern border. Some are coming to work. But it’s a porous border that would allow terrorists, al Qaeda and other entities to come in this country who want to do America harm. That’s the reason securing the border is a national security issue. We’ve got to do whatever we can to secure the borders.”
Broun routinely blamed both parties for causing the problems he sees in the country, particularly federal spending, but he seemed confident he was the person in Georgia to start solving them. - The Daily Beast, 3/25/14
And Broun has been continuing his focus on fiscal issues on the campaign trail:Broun is known in Washington for voting against Republican bills from the right as part of a pledge to oppose any legislation he finds immoral, unconstitutional, unnecessary, or unaffordable. This willingness to buck leadership is a key part of his appeal to supporters, both in his district and in the Senate race.
It doesn’t help Republican leaders seeking his vote that he owes the GOP establishment exactly nothing for his success.
His father, the late Paul Broun Sr., was elected to the Georgia state senate when Broun was in high school and served in office for 38 years. But while the elder Broun spent his career as a moderate Democrat, his son followed his own path, immersing himself in conservative activism.
“I joke about it with him,” Democratic State Senator Donzella James, who served with Broun’s father, told msnbc. “I tell him ‘Aren’t you a chip off the old block?’ and he laughs. Then I say, ‘No, you’re not!’”
According to Broun, his attraction to the right started with a passion for hunting – his office today is a zoological exhibit of exotic animals he’s shot – which drew him into Second Amendment advocacy.
“I started studying what the whole Constitution was intended to be by our Founding Fathers and saw how far we’ve gotten away from it,” he told msnbc. “Our Founding Fathers knew an armed citizenry was the best means of protecting this country from having our government totally destroy our freedom and liberty.”
On a lobbying trip to Washington with fellow hunters in 1989 Broun was, as he would later tell the Atlanta Journal Constitution, personally called on by God to seek federal office.
Broun ran for Congress the next year and was easily defeated by the Democratic incumbent. Two years later, he moved into a more competitive district and lost in the Republican primary. Four years after that, he ran for Senate to replace retiring Sen. Sam Nunn – a disastrous campaign in which Broun accused disabled Vietnam veteran Max Cleland of politically exploiting his wheelchair then delivered an emotional apology (“It was just way too big and too much,” Mrs. Broun recalls).
Taking a hiatus from politics, Broun moved to Democratic bastion Athens to practice medicine. After incumbent Rep. Charlie Norwood died, Broun entered a special election to replace him in 2007 against Republican Jim Whitehead, a former state senator who was overwhelmingly favored to win the open seat. Broun pumped a reported $90,000 of his own money into the race to stay afloat and only barely made the runoff against Whitehead, who secured more than twice as many votes.
Just as Whitehead appeared headed for an easy victory, he handed Broun a massive opening by making a joke about bombing the liberal University of Georgia in Athens. Broun seized on the remark to shift the campaign from an ideological contest to a regional battle between Whitehead’s Augusta and Broun’s Athens, claiming only he could represent the entire district.
“A lot of Athenians who would be solid blue Democrats heard that and thought ‘Well, he may be a sonofabitch but he’s our sonofabitch,’” Charles Bullock, a professor of political science at the University of Georgia in Athens, said.
Broun’s plan turned out to be brilliant: Democratic stronghold Clarke County gave the radically conservative candidate almost 90% support, nudging him past Whitehead by just a few hundred votes.
Just as Broun proved a surprisingly nimble candidate in his 2007 race, he’s recalibrated his message ever so slightly for this year’s Senate contest, deemphasizing social issues in favor of a more general attack on federal spending. - MSNBC, 3/27/14
And Broun's stance earned him another endorsement:Georgia is a test case of what could work this year. The May 20 Republican Senate primary is a free-for-all featuring well-known candidates who are looking for a way to break out. None see social issues as a path to victory, and the winner is likely to face centrist Democrat Michelle Nunn in the fall.
“All these other issues pale in comparison to the government being out of control,” said Rep. Paul Broun, R-Ga., who’s running for the seat.
Broun boasts in his campaign fliers that one of his legislative tests is whether something is right and moral. But when he visited the Republican Women of Muscogee-Harris County last week, he didn’t bring up social issues. And no one asked.
“They are important as far as our society is concerned,” he explained later, “but the most important issue is the loss of economic freedom.”
His rivals also rarely discuss social issues.
Rep. Jack Kingston spoke to a Rotary Club luncheon in LaGrange last week, and took 10 questions. None concerned social issues.
At a focus group of nine Republican activists in Macon organized by McClatchy, such issues rarely came up.
Some do push to get such matters into the political dialogue. Virginia Galloway, the Faith & Freedom Coalition’s Georgia-based regional field director, challenged the notion that social issues are fading from the debate.
“The reason we have economic problems is that we have a breakdown of character in this nation,” she said.
She has a difficult task.
A Pew Research Center poll last month found 54 percent of Americans favored allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally, up from 43 percent just before the last midterm election, in 2010.
Six out of 10 Republicans and Republican leaners under 30 approved of same-sex marriage, according to Pew, and only 18 percent said gays raising children was bad for society. Fifty-six percent thought it didn’t make much difference.
Older people are also becoming more accepting. Gay issues, said Regina Liparoto, a Manchester, Ga., talk show host, just weren’t discussed when she was growing up in the 1970s. That’s meant a quick education, and a realization that gays and lesbians should be accepted.
“How can you ask someone to not accept a family member of someone you love?” she asked. - Bradenton Herald, 3/28/14
Despite Broun being a complete lunatic, I still think he has a great shot at making it to the runoff. PPP had him in the lead but the latest polls paint a different picture:The Republican Liberty Caucus is pleased to announce the endorsement of Congressman Paul Broun of Georgia for US Senate. Broun has served the people of Georgia’s 10th Congressional District since defeating establishment candidate Jim Whitehead in a 2007 special election.
“Dr. Broun was called the ‘accidental Congressman’ after being elected to Congress, but then he shocked the political class again the following year by defeating the Georgia State House Majority Leader in a primary challenge,” RLC-GA Chairman Ben Johnson said. “Paul Broun was easily re-elected because of his limited government, pro-liberty philosophy, and his wins are proof-positive that the Liberty Movement was not just a flash in the pan, but a sustainable grass-roots antidote to big-government Republicanism.”
Congressmen Broun has been staunchly defending liberty for the seven years he’s been in Congress. “While Congressman Broun’s primary opponents try to position themselves as outsiders in the Georgia Senate race, Paul Broun is the real deal,” said RLC Chairman Matt Nye. “Broun hasn’t let Congress change him, but rather, he has helped change Congress.”
Congressman Broun has been a tireless defender of the Tenth Amendment which reserves all but the enumerated powers to the States and to the people. Broun also understands the purpose of the Second Amendment is to prevent tyranny, and that the Second amendment guarantees law abiding citizens the right to own, carry, and use firearms in a manner which does not infringe on the rights of others. Broun opposes military intervention when Congress has not declared war. Broun also believes the drug war has been a total failure and should be a State’s issue at best. - PR Underground, 3/26/14
This latest poll has a few surprising factors:It's a crowded field on the Republican side. In a Channel 2 Action News exclusive poll done by Landmark/Rosetta Stone, polls show a political newcomer at the top of the pack.
Of the 600 likely Republican voters polled, 21 percent picked David Perdue, followed by Rep. Jack Kingston and Rep. Paul Broun tied at 15 percent.
Next in line are Rep. Phil Gingrey and former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel.
About 25 percent of the people polled are still undecided.
Perdue's message of being a Washington outsider may be resonating.
“He has an early lead but it's an early lead with a very large vote still undecided,” said Emory political science professor Merle Black.
Black says Perdue's ads of crying babies are having an impact and that Kingston's ads of him driving a 20-year-old Buick may be off message.
“Kingston is kind of like a trip down memory lane. It's unclear whether that's the kind of ad that really connects with a lot of voters. It's more about the past than it is the future,” Black said. - WSBTV, 3/26/14
I can see why Perdue right now might have the lead. His other opponents are caught up in a bit of a hissy fight:“The surprise in this race is Gingrey, who was at one point one of the stronger candidates, but who now seems to be dropping back in the pack,” said WSB political analyst Bill Crane, who believes another surprise is former Secretary of State Karen Handel.
She is polling just 10-percent of those surveyed.“That’s unusual, given that 54-percent of the voting public is female. She did a good job as Georgia secretary of state and a credible job as Fulton County commissioner. I’m at a loss to explain why she’s not doing better,” Crane said. - WSB Radio, 3/28/14
However, Handel scored a big endorsement recently:A mysterious new anti-abortion group with ties to conservative pundit Erick Erickson has warned Georgia Right to Life, the state's oldest pro-life group, that it aims to displace the older group as the National Right to Life Committee's Georgia affiliate.
But the fight, ostensibly over which group is better-positioned to end abortion, looks as though it is calculated to influence Georgia's competitive Republican Senate primary. "You can't say what someone else's motives are," says Genevieve Wilson, a spokeswoman for Georgia Right to Life, the older group. "But it certainly looks like [the new group] has a political motivation behind it."
Leaders of each anti-abortion organization have a preferred candidate in the volatile, five-way contest to replace the retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss. Georgia Right to Life has endorsed GOP Rep. Paul Broun, a congressman since 2007. The new group, Georgia Life Alliance, which was formed two weeks ago, does not mention any candidates on its sparse website. But the group is supported by conservative RedState editor Erick Erickson, who has been outspoken in his support of Senate candidate Karen Handel in this race and during her 2010 campaign for governor.
The stakes are high. Republicans likely need to hold the Georgia seat if they are to retake control of the Senate. And although Georgia's electorate leans Republican, election analysts such as Nate Cohn of The New York Times have predicted that the Democratic candidate, Michelle Nunn, could score a surprise pickup for Democrats—provided she runs against a weak Republican opponent.
And dispute between Georgia Life Alliance and Georgia Right to Life could shine a spotlight on two Republican candidates who pose that exact problem. Joel McElhannon, a Republican political operative who works with Georgia Life Alliance, has warned that Broun, who offers the media "a gaffe every other day," could cost Republicans the seat. Broun has called evolution and the Big Bang theory "lies straight from the pit of hell" and referred to the Civil War, in a speech on the floor of the House, as "the Great War of Yankee Aggression." "Georgia voters tend to be conservative, but on a statewide basis they tend not to be crazy," McElhannon told National Journal in November. "So that's a problem for someone like Paul Broun."
Erickson has said that in a matchup with Nunn, Handel "makes a lot of sense for neutralizing the 'war on women.'" Yet Handel, a former vice president of the breast cancer charity Susan G. Komen for the Cure, is best known for helping pressure the foundation into cutting off $680,000 in grants to Planned Parenthood for breast cancer screenings and education programs in early 2012. Komen officials claimed that the group was responding to House Republicans' investigations of Planned Parenthood's finances. But the move was largely perceived as political, and facing a tidal wave of public outrage, the foundation reinstated its partnership with the women's health provider—at which point Handel resigned. - Mother Jones, 3/28/14
Or maybe not. But establishment Republicans are hoping Perdue wins his party's nominee:Sarah Palin strikes again - this time lending her conservative star power to candidate Karen Handel in the jam-packed battle for the GOP Senate nomination in Georgia.
The stakes in the race are high for both parties as Democrats eye the seat in the red state as one of their few potential pick-ups in 2014 – a prospect Palin underscored Thursday in her endorsement.
"This Georgia Senate race is very important to the Democrats and has long-term repercussions for 2016 as Democrats test the waters to see if they can win big in a red state with a woman candidate," Palin said of Republican hopes to keep the seat and kick Democrats out of the majority in the Senate.
"That is why the GOP needs a strong contender like Karen Handel. She is the conservative candidate who can win this race and hold this seat for the GOP," said Palin in a Facebook posting.
Handel, the former Georgia secretary of state, is one of eight Republican candidates vying in the May 20 primary. The seat is currently held by GOP Sen. Saxby Chambliss, who announced last year he's not seeking re-election.
Handel trails many of her Republican opponents in the polls, hovering around 10% support in recent surveys. Palin, as well as 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, endorsed Handel in her failed bid in 2010 for the Republican gubernatorial nomination. - CNN, 3/27/14
The wealthy former CEO of Reebok, rarely discussed in profiles of this race (though discussed here), has slowly risen from last place into, at least, a chance at a runoff berth. Here's one of the ads (designed by Fred Davis) that just started airing.But Perdue's opponents could still rip him a part for this:
A poll this week, from SurveyUSA, showed Perdue surging into a lead over the field, with 29 percent of the vote. That was the pollster's first look at Georgia this cycle, and Sarlin points out that polls have been "all over the map" and some previous PPP numbers showed Paul Broun* in the lead. But in that poll, which showed Broun at 27 percent, Perdue had risen from 5 to 12 percent since last year. Broun had pulled some right-wing support from Gingrey; Perdue had come up the middle. If Perdue blitzes at the right time, he'll be in a runoff with some candidate who, probably, disagrees with him on Dodd-Frank and is generally more prone to breathing fire. And if he wins, Broun and Gingrey will have forfeited re-election to the House. The GOP will be done with them.
If the story of 2014 is not Tea Party upsets—if, like Cornyn did and McConnell is about to do, Perdue flicks away candidates who scramble to the right—Democrats will have lost a chance to make another race about the gaffes of the Republican. The primary is in two months, and the runoff is two months later. Who's in better shape for that—the rich guy or one of the battered right-wingers? - Slate, 3/26/14
And of course there's this:
David Perdue, the former CEO of Dollar General, was critical of Dodd-Frank Wednesday at a Thomas County Republican Party meeting, claiming it prevents banks from lending.
“I could not borrow money from my local bank like I used to, just for operating capital,” Perdue said, according to the Thomasville Times-Enterprise.
But Perdue told voters at a Coweta County Republican meeting in January that he would work with Democrats to reform Dodd-Frank rather than repeal it, according ABC News.
“I’m not going to go up there and tell you I’m going to repeal Dodd-Frank,” Perdue said. “I will tell you I’m going to fight to amend it. And to do that, I think I can find some Democratic senators who will join in with logic and be led into a reasonable solution.”
As ABC News noted, Perdue's plan on Dodd-Frank stands out in the state's crowded Republican primary and among Republicans nationally. The three Republican members of Georgia's congressional delegation who are running in the primary -- Reps. Paul Broun, Phil Gingrey and Jack Kingston -- all want to repeal the law. The GOP's 2012 presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, promised to "repeal and replace" the Wall Street reform law if elected.
Perdue has campaigned as a conservative but has attacked his opponents for their unwillingness to work across the aisle. At the January meeting, Perdue emphasized his experience in business as evidence he can get things done in Washington.
"Generating real revenue teaches you how to collaborate without giving away your principles. The problem with the Republican Party says, 'Well, wait a minute. If you talk to anyone on the other side that means you’re giving up your principles,'" Perdue said.
Working with Democrats on issues like Dodd-Frank is the only way to improve policy, according to Perdue. “That’s the only way out of this box, frankly," he said. "This gridlock is not working. We've proven that. And just saying no doesn't work either, by the way." - Huffington Post, 3/21/14
During an appearance at the Fayette County GOP in Georgia early in January, David Perdue, the former CEO of Dollar General who is now running for outgoing Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R), was asked by a woman in the audience about "corporate welfare." The woman asked about Delta Airlines terminating pensions for employees before going on to merge with Northwest Airlines. In response, Perdue argued that some bailouts can be good, like the Wall Street bailout, while others are a bad idea, like the bailout of the Detroit autoworkers.
"I believe in capitalism. I believe when companies fail, there are bankruptcy laws to deal with that. I do not support the bailout of Detroit." Perdue said.
But, Perdue continued, he did oppose certain other government bailout, like the one that saved the auto industry. That bailout, Perdue argued, was "basically a union buyout."
"Now the liquidity that we put into the financial system, we got a return on that," "That money came back to us. Because it was a decent investment and it came back to us." - TPM, 1/16/14
Support for the Wall Street bailouts hurt Saxby Chambliss (R. GA) in the 2008 election, causing conservative voters to vote Libertarian. Chambliss failed to gain over 50% in his bid against Jim Martin (D. GA). Of course John McCain (R. AZ) and Zell Miller (D. GA) came to help Chambliss win the runoff by shoring up conservative voters but this runoff will be a different story. The more time Republicans spend fighting each other gives Michelle Nunn (D. GA) more time to campaign and build support. And Nunn already has some big issues to run on like equal pay:
Plus Georgia still remains competitive for Democrats not just because of who the GOP nominee might be:Democratic Senate candidates in Republican-leaning states, such as Alison Lundergan Grimes in Kentucky, Natalie Tennant in West Virginia, and Michelle Nunn in Georgia, have raised the issue in campaign fundraising e-mails and list-building petitions. A volley of them were fired off in January, on the five-year anniversary of the Ledbetter Act signing.
"Mitch McConnell had a chance to be a part of history five years ago, too," Lundergan Grimes wrote in one fundraising e-mail chiding her Republican opponent. "Instead, he did what he's done for nearly 30 years when called upon to lead: he refused to answer -- failing to stand for Kentucky's women and families by voting against the legislation."
By keeping the issue in the news, Democrats hope to benefit in the long term by showcasing GOP presidential hopefuls who oppose equal pay protections. One of them, Rick Perry, vetoed the equal pay legislation that Davis has been touting in the governor's race. This week, Perry called the war of words over equal pay "nonsense" -- a remark that Democrats will almost certainly use against him if he becomes the GOP presidential nominee in 2016.
Several likely 2016 Republican candidates have come out against equal pay protections, mostly on the grounds that they would encourage lawsuits and cripple the ability of private businesses to set their own pay scales based on merit. Yet while Republicans in Washington have counseled candidates on how to speak more carefully about women's health issues like abortion and contraception, there seems to be no messaging playbook when it comes to equal pay.
In the heat of the last presidential race, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio waved off the Ledbetter Act as "an effort to help trial lawyers collect their fees and file lawsuits." Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul said the Paycheck Fairness Act would interfere with the free market, comparing it to the way the Soviet Politburo set the price of bread. - CNN, 3/28/14
And even if Broun ends up losing the runoff, the outcome still isn't good for the GOP:Georgia isn’t a state that you would have thought would be within reach for Democrats. But it’s not, by most measures you could devise, the most conservative state in the union. Barack Obama got a healthy 45 percent of the vote there in 2012, down only slightly from the 47 percent he got four years earlier. Granted, most of that was on his strength among non-white voters; 31 percent of the state’s voters are black, and another 9 percent are Hispanic. But still, there are a few states — Mississippi, Alabama, Kansas, Utah — that might come to mind before Georgia if you were asked where the most conservative place in the country is.
The likely Democratic nominee is Michelle Nunn, who is a well-known figure in the state, not least because she’s the daughter of former longtime senator Sam Nunn, and she’s as moderate as her father was. But on the Republican side, the race is without a doubt the wingnuttiest of the 2014 cycle, as five Republicans compete to see who can express the most hatred of Barack Obama and assure primary voters that there’s nobody more conservative than them.
Indeed, MSNBC’s Benjy Sarlin described a recent candidate forum among the contenders as “a Russian nesting doll of populist conservative resentment,” a description that could apply to the whole campaign. One recent poll showed Rep. Paul Broun with a 13-point lead over his competitors. Broun is best known for saying: “All that stuff I was taught about evolution, and embryology, and the Big Bang theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of hell … I don’t believe the Earth’s but about 9,000 years old.”
If Broun were to win the primary, Democrats would celebrate, because they view him as the candidate most likely to say something shocking and give them a chance to pull out a win (though Rep. Phil Gingrey may be more gaffe-prone, and his statements tend to feature plenty of crazy).
At bottom, the GOP Senate candidates are less like what you would expect from a Senate candidate, and more akin to southern state legislators who are working feverishly to tick off every item on the conservative wish list. This is underway in the Georgia legislature. It just passed a “guns everywhere” bill, apparently on the theory that Georgians aren’t taking their firearms to enough places. The new law loosens restrictions on carrying in government buildings, airports, churches, and perhaps most notably, bars. (Because we all know that’s one place where arguments never get out of hand and people never make rash decisions they later regret.) - Washington Post, 3/26/14
Anything can happen between now and May. We may not know who the GOP nominee is just yet but we need to be ready for whoever the GOP nominates. If you would like to help Nunn get ready, click here to donate and get involved with her campaign:Even if Broun and Gingrey come up short in the state’s May 20 primary, Democrats are hoping a close race will pull the entire GOP field, which also includes Rep. Jack Kingston, former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel, and wealthy businessman David Perdue, uncomfortably to the right.
In normal circumstances, even a weak GOP nominee would probably be a shoo-in in this conservative state. But Democrats have drafted an unusually strong candidate in Michelle Nunn, whose father Sam Nunn is still revered here for his 25-year career in the Senate.
“What a lot of people don’t understand about the Republicans in Georgia is that up to 2002 a lot of them had a ‘D’ next to their name,” Erick Erickson, the Red State founder who briefly flirted with running himself, said. “They’re very comfortable with names like Carter and Nunn.”
Republicans are bracing for a rough ride, knowing their candidates will battle each other through the primary and likely July 22 runoff while Nunn soaks up a deluge of cash and attention unimpeded.
“One of the people on this stage tonight is going to be your Republican nominee, and after this primary and the runoff they are going to be bruised, battered and broke,” conservative radio host Martha Zoller told the audience at a Republican Senate debate in Macon earlier this month.
Polling is all over the map right now: A survey by Democratic firm Public Policy Polling right before the Macon debate found Broun opening up a double digit lead in the primary, with 27% support to 14% for Gingrey and the rest roughly tied for third place, while a slightly more recent poll by SurveyUSA put Perdue at 29%, Kingston at 19%, and the rest hovering around 10% support.
The stakes couldn’t be higher. For two election cycles in a row, Republicans have almost taken the Senate only to watch flawed candidates like Christine O’Donnell in Delaware in 2010 and Todd Akin in Missouri in 2012 cost them winnable races. - MSNBC, 3/26/14