Facebook is abuzz by my fellow Georgia Republicans praising state chairman John Padgett for his personal support of Governor Nathan Deal. From the supposed email I came across on Facebook from John Padgett’s personal Facebook:
“The Rules of the GAGOP clearly prohibit the Party from engaging or endorsing in any Republican Primary contest….However, on a personal level, I am a strong supporter of Governor Deal’s conservative leadership and appreciate his efforts to transform Georgia into the number one destination for job creation and business growth in the country.
“From maintaining our AAA bond rating to making common-sense reforms to our state budget and corrections system, the Governor has done an exceptional job leading Georgia forward.”
That’s fine. You’re supposed to highlight the accomplishments of your Republican officials. You are the head cheerleader after all, but it does seem like it was sent out in an orchestrated way to “advertise” Chairman Padgett’s support of Governor Deal to stem off any primary opposition. He knows the rules, obviously, as he states them in his email.
However, Padgett needs to be careful. He seems to get into gray territory when supporters begin circulating the email via Facebook where his private, personal thoughts on the Governor become public and tagged as an endorsement by the GAGOP Chairman. Let me say that I don’t think that Padgett didn’t technically break the rules since he didn’t use his title as GAGOP chairman, but he needs to be mindful that supporters can take his words and tout it as support and endorsement by the GAGOP chairman. It could happen…especially if primaries become more contentious between the factions of the Georgia Republican Party.
Of course, it’s not the first time a chairman has touted the incumbent over rumors of candidates. Previous GAGOP Chairman Sue Everhart talked up Senators Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson when they had rumored primary opposition.
It shouldn’t be up to the state, district, or county chairman to encourage or discourage a candidate from running for office in a primary if there is one or more Republicans running. Most folks legally qualified candidates are old enough and competent enough to make their decision. If they want to put forth the time, effort, and resources to run for office, go for it. However, it is a monumental challenge to take on an incumbent. It just is.
Ultimately, it’s up to the voters of Georgia who pull a Republican ballot that decide the Republican candidates going to the general election contest, and it’s up to the candidates to explain why they are the best fit for the office. That’s what our Republican leadership should be saying during the primary process.