We’ve got the first big development out of Tuesday’s vote in the 9th District congressional race:
U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland this afternoon endorsed former state House member Tom Graves in the contest to replace Nathan Deal. Graves took 35 percent of the vote in the special election. Former state senator Lee Hawkins of Gainesville won a place in the June 8 runoff with 23 percent of the vote.
Westmoreland’s endorsement has import. The Coweta County congressman is essentially a recruiter for the Republican National Congressional Committee, scouring the country for candidates in this U.S. House race or that. This is essentially an endorsement by the RNCC.
There’s a personal connection as well – not to mention a similar style. Said Westmoreland:
I recruited him to run for the State House in 2002 and he has a great track record of hard work in the Georgia General Assembly. Like me, Tom is passionate about job creation, cutting taxes and promoting free market and private enterprise. His unapologetic conservative philosophy will be a benefit to all Georgians in Washington and I look forward to serving with him once again.”
Here’s another thought: The 9th District congressional race can be characterized as a contest between a tea party candidate (Graves is tight with FreedomWorks, a major underwriter of the movement) and an establishment Republican (Hawkins has touted his business experience).
If one were a Republican and looking at a close contest for governor in November, one might not want to see a tea party champion defeated, and supporters demoralized, so early in the season.
Hawkins would no doubt disagree.
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