An uprising of young Turks within the Georgia GOP?

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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37 comments Add your comment


April 26th, 2010
5:53 pm

“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.”

Spoken like a guy who still has truly no idea what he’s running for. Real impressive.


April 26th, 2010
5:54 pm

Perhaps these “new” Republicans should split off and form their own party. Then Georgia can become a two party state again. It’s about time there was a second viable party around here.

Jim Nichols

April 26th, 2010
5:58 pm


April 26th, 2010
6:09 pm

Could it be of no suprise. How many republicans are retiring because of the spending and the lack of being able to get done two simple things? Cut taxes and I mean to pre 17 billion days and smaller government. Who said this? We all know we don’t govern like we campaign. Part of the problem I see is that locals do not watch what their Rep. & Sen. are doing and how they are voting in Atlanta.


April 26th, 2010
8:30 pm

@Observer — The invitation by Representative Scott and his wife does not necessarily mean that he “has no idea what he’s running for.” Something tells me he has absolutely every idea what office he is seeking. With this being the last week of session, it makes sense to schedule it for Friday not knowing exactly how the hours will be like during the days of session.

Veteran teacher, 2

April 26th, 2010
8:46 pm

I’m watching!! I am also telling them I am watching!

Alabama Communist

April 26th, 2010
8:46 pm

If I were those young Turks of the Republican Party! I would leave it in a Sara Palin heartbeat and start a new party to really procreat up the know nothing party…..Go Turks, Beat the Brits!


April 26th, 2010
8:52 pm

The no tax mantra is pandering of the rankest order. Over time, inflation causes costs to expand and if the only approach is to cut services over time will result in the inability to provide vital services. It’s a stupid promise to make, but ignorant people love to be pandered to.

Scott is amazing

April 26th, 2010
8:55 pm

Austin Scott, the man who insisted he was a “governatorial candidate” when introduced as a “gubernatorial candidate.”

kindergarden math

April 26th, 2010
10:56 pm

Seems like we have enough “‘goober”natorial candidates already.


April 26th, 2010
10:59 pm

Preston Smith running for AG – man sucks that Olens raised all that money for nothing!!


April 27th, 2010
12:04 am

“Republican qualification proceedings”….oh yeah he has to sign that GA GOP Marxist, vote the party line, or you’re out “oath”…..The GA GOP needs a coming to Jesus party

The Cynical White Boy

April 27th, 2010
1:08 am

Aw, let little Press-ton and Austin spout all they want to. The fat cat lobbyists and power brokers who determine statewide races will straighten them out.

Meanwhile, the AJC and Cox Enterprises love every minute of it, requiring and receiving scandlous amounts of money for political advertising.


April 27th, 2010
2:26 am

Solution: vote for Sam Olens and get the real deal !! Ah honest politician..AG


April 27th, 2010
2:28 am

Start 3rd party and the dems waltz in again and we’ll have less “change” in our pockets than we do today..No more Pelosi/Reid…

Oath to a party?

April 27th, 2010
5:30 am

Did any politicans take the oath to the republican party?


April 27th, 2010
6:12 am

STRIVE to be SMARTER than America’s ORIGINAL party of SLAVERY, the democrackkks, WANT you to BE!


April 27th, 2010
6:12 am

Every Republican that qualified took it.


April 27th, 2010
6:16 am

All the State lawmakers should be proud of themselves. We are the 10th most populated state and Louisana just passed a 24 billion dollar buget and the local school systems have a 2 billion dollar surplus. Our lawmakers just passed a 17.8 billion dollar budget that included tax increases in the wrong areas, layoffs of 1000’s of teachers, cut services, and strapped school district billions of dollars, closed prisons, closed YDC facilities, continued with tax break for corporations since 2006 (10.4% unemployed) sold our bonds to finance this years budget, created the hugest borrowing in state history which created the hugest payment of interest, borrowed the ARRA fund for next year to balance this year, passed a transporation bill that does nothing unless it is voted in 2012, and now we don’t have to have a microchip and we can carry guns in bars–Man the genuis we have up there. GO HOME lawmakers–you have done enough damage since 2003.

Let The Kids Have It

April 27th, 2010
6:54 am

85% of the Georgia baby boomers left when McCain refused to stop Virgil, Jacoby, Carter, and Mercer’s bailout. They can have the GOP. You can’t believe a word they say, nor support a law they pass. It’s all for the power players. Who got a tax break out of the blue this ssession? The GOP has drawn its last breath in Georgia.

rural eduation

April 27th, 2010
8:03 am

What these “young turks” don’t realize is that this constant, smaller government, the market will fix everything doesn’t work. There was no reason to cut school spending for the last eight years other than to attempt to destroy public education. As the world moves forward, we move backwards. To be the only state to furlough teachers is bad enough and now thousands of teachers state-wide will lose their jobs. Do these legislators really think learning won’t be compromised when you increase work loads and class sizes?

Inside Preston's Closet

April 27th, 2010
8:14 am

The skeletons in Preston’s closet will absolutely take this “Young Turk” out in quick fashion. His collegues in the Senate have been covering up all of his indiscretions for years, but after Preston’s “Holier Than Thou” speech from the Senate well, Senators are a bit more forthcoming with the sorid details. His only audiance left is the wingnut Tea Baggers, and most of those folks are as scary as Preston. The local Floyd County faction of the Tea Baggers just released a resolution of support for Preston. Those folks, along with Jim Wooten, Jim Galloway and others at the AJC are going to look really silly for praising this hypocritical, egotistical phony. The documented facts of Preston’s behavior is about to come to light, and it ain’t pretty folks. Stay tuned.

Joel Hurt

April 27th, 2010
8:17 am

This is the same fellow who grilled the Chancellor of the University System about the need to reduce salaries of professors to balance the budget. When told that the top earners are researchers who bring in multi-millin dollar grants, and are the folks that we compete for in a national labor market, so we must be careful about losing them, replied, “Well if they want to go to another state we should wish them well. We have 10% unemployment in Georgia, so there are plenty of people who would like their jobs.”



April 27th, 2010
8:51 am

What D2 said…bravo.

Just Nasty & Mean

April 27th, 2010
8:59 am

If you’ve had even a short conversation with Austin Scott, you quickly realize—”Ain’t nobody home”.


April 27th, 2010
9:23 am

Vote out the incumbents and start over


April 27th, 2010
9:25 am

Plump egos and thin accomplishments except for being shills for the perverse and ill-conceived Republican party dogma of eternal tax reduction– even as your government and infrastructure is collapsing around you. We are headed for third world status with flat-earthers running the state. Young or old.


April 27th, 2010
9:35 am

Preston Smith is just another opportunistic philander on the take.

Inside Preston's Closet

April 27th, 2010
9:51 am

Back when Preston was Chairman of Judicary, he carried the water for the medical malpractice insurance companies by sponsoring and advocation for the most restrictive tort reform in America. His $350k cap on medical malpractice claims was supposed to lower healthcare premiums in Georgia. It hasn’t. My premium increases have never slowed down and are up 27% just this year. Thankfully, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled Preston’s tort reform unconstitutional by a UNANIMOUS vote of 7-0.
Shortly after Preston’s Tort Reform passed, he was “let go” by the second law firm he worked for in Rome. Anybody care to guess where Preston works now? You guessed it … He was hired by a medical malpractice insurance company for a smooth $200k per year. Can you say “QUID PRO QUO”?
Sam Olens will eat Preston’s lunch.


April 27th, 2010
10:45 am

What a bunch of wackos.

Paddy O

April 27th, 2010
10:59 am

Repubs strive to make Government appear inept, in that way the citizens will demand that we lower taxes because the Government is so inept. However, it is actually the Republicans themselves who are inept. Also, they are utter failures as Reagan Republicans. They are constantly interfering with local government action – including land use regs such as the banning of livestock on small lots & telling local governments they can NOT mandate new homes have sprinklers. Both of these are local government decisions the Republicans state elected officials should not be involved in. Please, go to the GMA website and look to see all the great bills proposed by this legislature.


April 27th, 2010
11:52 am

Preston Smith is ready to shake up the AG race! He has ground swell and momentum going into this race and he has good name ID. He has more experience than Olens and has been a leader in state government. Preston Smith’s speech from the well appeals to many republicans in GA and their frustration of government. At least, Olens is going to have to spend all that money he raised getting over the primary hump and I just don’t see it happening. I am calling it now: Preston Smith will be the Republican nominee for Attorney General.


April 27th, 2010
4:41 pm

d2 has it right – leadership in this state is pitiful. Throw the bums out.

Independent Voter

April 27th, 2010
4:50 pm

I hope Austin Scott declares for the Lt. Governor’s race, for he’s light years ahead of Casey Cagle in so many respects, not the least of which is his willingness to buck the establishment politics Cagle epitomizes and that have contributed to the mess Georgia is mired in. Cagle and his cohorts (the Rogers-Pearson-Williams-Tolleson gang, and assorted toadies) will drive Georgia into the ground with their hypocrisy and butt-backwaards approach to problem solving. And, let’s not forget that Cagle has some serious sleeze in his personal life that is bound to come out as the Lt. Gov’s race heats up. He’s damaged goods and never should have sought reelection.

The GOP needs some fresh faces in leadership position and some forward thinking to boot if it’s to remain Georgia’s majority party. Come on Austin, give Cagle a run for his money!

Inside Preston's Closet

April 27th, 2010
5:26 pm


What on earth are you smoking? You obviously haven’t looked past Preston Smith’s oratory skills to see his enoumous character flaws. Rather than going into the long laundry list here, let me suggest an interesting read for you. Go to the Floyd County Courthouse and get a copy of Preston’s divorce transcript. Go and read Preston’s own words, spoken under oath and before a Superior Court Judge. Don’t rely on me or anyone else. Hear it come straight from Preston’s own mouth about his romantic relationship with his secretary/intern. which is a violation of the Senate Rules and of the State’s employment laws. It is illegal/improper/unethical to be romantically involved with an employee over which you have supervisory capacity.And this is only of of many transgressions.
And this guy wants to be Attorney General? His admission under oath should be more than enough to disqualify him from serving as Attorney General. And you are already declaring this guy the winner? Tea Baggers are all guttural. No intelligent reasoning, just knee-jerk reactions.

The Snark

April 27th, 2010
6:13 pm

What “oratory skills”? The speech Smith gave was embarassing. If you took out all the references to “I, me and mine” it would have been over in a minute. He did everything but talk about his dog Checkers and say “You won’t have Smith to kick around any more.” You may like his ideology, but the man doesn’t know a damn thing about government.

Jumbo G is the king of conventional thinking

April 27th, 2010
9:41 pm

Jumbo G and the other libs and media wh@res want the GOP to splinter so so so so so badly. Ain’t ganna happen you fat f@ck. See you libs in November!!!! At least you will get to call us mean, racist and stupid. Heck, I would throw a “the election was stolen” in for good measure, Hugs!!!!