One wonders whether we’re watching a young Turks movement building within the Georgia GOP, around an anti-tax/pro-reform platform. A wayward state senator from Rome has just told his GOP caucus that he’s running for statewide office.
My AJC colleague Aaron Gould Sheinin has filed this:
State Sen. Preston Smith (R-Rome) will run for attorney general, taking advantage of a recent surge of publicity over his battle with party elders over a proposed tax increase.
Smith is the former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He said in a news release Monday that he will file paperwork tomorrow to run for attorney general, joining former Cobb County Commission Chairman Sam Olens and former prosecutor Max Wood in seeking the GOP nomination.
Smith lost his committee chairmanship this month after refusing to back a new tax on hospital profits. Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, also a Republican, and other Senate Republican leaders said the GOP caucus took a position to back the bill. HB 307 would impose a hospital tax to help fill a $600 million gap in Medicaid funding. It passed the Senate despite Smith’s objections.
Smith, of course, was stripped of his chairmanship, made one speech from the Senate well denouncing his leadership, then made another a few days later at the tea party rally outside the Capitol.
From his press release:
“The time has come for Georgians to have an independent minded prosecutor who will end the arm-twisting and backroom deal-making that has become business-as-usual in modern politics.”
Compare that with the message of state Rep. Austin Scott (R-Tifton), the GOP candidate for governor who’s giving thought to a primary race against Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle. Here’s Scott before the Cobb County Republican Women’s Club on Friday:
We have opened the door for a Democrat to win this race in November….We have opened the crack by sending a budget to the floor, or to the appropriations committee, that has almost a $1 billion in tax increases and revenue enhancements that quite honestly we don’t believe will come to fruition.
“If you want a solid conservative that is honest and has a lot of common sense, and has the guts to send a bill out with the cuts that it takes to balance the budget with no tax increases, no fee increases, no budget gamesmanship – and release that budget the first week of December so that we can get it done by February…”
Scott’s movement into the GOP race for lieutenant governor’s contest gains context in a parallel movement by an exiled Republican state senator.
Scott, by the way, has posted this enigmatic 9:30 a.m. Friday invitation on a Facebook page:
Please join Austin & Vivien Scott, the Scott campaign team, and our volunteers and supporters for Austin’s Republican qualification proceedings. We will meet on the 2nd floor of the state Capitol, on the North steps, between the Governor’s and Lieutenant Governor’s offices.
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