FreedomWorks and the Tea Party Patriots will host a pair of debates this evening in the ballroom of the Gwinnett Center on Sugarloaf Parkway in Duluth.
I’ll be moderating the 5:30 p.m. forum featuring the 7th District congressional race – though with seven candidates, “cat-herding” may be the better term. Send ideas for questions if you’ve got them.
A debate among the top four GOP candidates for governor – state Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine, former congressman Nathan Deal, former secretary of state Karen Handel, and former state Senator Eric Johnson – will follow.
The decision to exclude two candidates, Republicans Jeff Chapman and Ray McBerry, prompted tea party activist Debbie Dooley to send out an explanation this morning that included the following:
“They are polling below 2 percent two months out from the primary. We want to be focused on issues during this debate and not controversy. We feel strongly that two of the top four will go to a runoff and want to be able to fully discuss the issues.
“We did invite the Democratic candidates but they declined to participate. …
“We have very a favorable opinion of Mr. Chapman and he will be allowed to speak and will be attending the event.
“Beside the fact Mr. McBerry has been polling 2 percent for over a year, there are other reasons we decided to exclude Mr. McBerry.
“Mr. McBerry admits that he refuses to salute the American flag and we feel that is a slap in the face of our military…. We had activists contact us and say they would not attend an event that included Mr. McBerry….
“We have standards and criteria and Mr. McBerry does not meet our standards.”
Dooley pointed supporters to a set of links that addressed McBerry’s ties to the League of the South, and his relationship with a 16-year-old girl while a public high school teacher in Henry County.
Handel has said she will not appear on the same stage with McBerry.
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