Jeff Chapman: Tea party organizers ’sold out’ to GOP establishment

On Saturday, FreedomWorks hosted a debate of four Republican candidates for governor.

Democrats were invited, but did not attend the Gwinnett County event. Two GOP candidates – Jeff Chapman and Ray McBerry — were excluded. Organizers cited their low, 2 percent showings in a poll earlier that week.

GOP candidate for governor Jeff Chapman of Brunswick. Ben Gray/AJC

GOP candidate for governor Jeff Chapman of Brunswick. Ben Gray/AJC

McBerry was barred for other reasons as well, an Atlanta Tea Party organizer explained – including his refusal to salute the U.S. flag, and a relationship he had with a 16-year-old girl when he was a public school teacher.

The exclusion has angered Chapman, a former state senator from Brunswick who has challenged his party’s close association with monied interests in the state.

Mike Griffin, a Chapman field organizer, said what really stung the campaign was the fact that former state Eric Johnson of Savannah, at 5 percent in the same survey, was permitted onstage. The poll had a 5 percent margin of error – which meant, statistically, Chapman could be ahead of him.

(Johnson also has the support of the influential Reynolds family. Chapman had been a tough critic of a contract won by a Reynolds company to renovate Jekyll Island. The deal is now dead.)

In the end, debate organizers – who on Monday maintained they had made the right decision — offered Chapman a chance to address the Gwinnett tea party crowd separately. He declined and did not attend.

Instead, Chapman has put out the following statement criticizing the organizers of the FreedomWorks debate:

Tea party members around the nation are declaring, “We have come to take our government back.”

But in Georgia, leaders of the Atlanta Tea Party have sold out to establishment politics. Shame on them!

Atlanta Tea Party leaders refused to include all GOP candidates for governor in their debate Saturday at the Gwinnett Center forum in Duluth, deciding instead to limit who their members could hear from.

Their reason: “We feel strongly that two of the top four will go to a runoff,” tea party spokeswoman Debbie Dooley said. Well, yes, a runoff is almost a certainty. The participants, not so much.

The truth is that today’s voters are confused and looking for answers. The real leader in the GOP race for governor is not one of the so-called top-four candidates – three of whom are polling in the teens or well below – but “Undecided Voter”, polling at 40 percent.

By not allowing all candidates to debate, the Atlanta Tea Party has robbed its members of a chance to hear from a candidate who clearly represents the conservative principles they value. Instead, leaders have driven voters towards establishment candidates with ties to power brokers in the Republican Party.

Furthermore, three of these four candidates abandoned government posts at one of the most difficult times in Georgia’s history since the Great Depression in order to fund-raise and better their own personal chances to get elected to higher office.

By contrast, and at the expense of my own campaign, my commitment to serving out my senate term and to staying the course for the people of Georgia has been ignored by tea party leaders, who, by locking me out of Saturday’s debate, have turned their backs on their own principles and members.

The unprincipled establishment politics that have landed us in the mess we’re in today cannot possibly get us out of it. If the Atlanta Tea Party leaders truly want to take back our government, they cannot practice politics as usual.

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92 comments Add your comment

Lou

May 24th, 2010
6:15 pm

I cannot imagine any parent or teacher voting Republican in the next election considering how the Repubs in power have devastated public education.

jconservative

May 24th, 2010
6:30 pm

Chapman has a really solid argument. It appears the Tea Party in Georgia is just a front for the Republican Party. This bunch would have refused Rand Paul a spot on the stage.

Now I am tempted to vote Democrat in the Governors race.

R Atlanta

May 24th, 2010
6:38 pm

Why not vote for Jeff in the primary,jconservative ? Duh. Really, as a conservative you would vote for Obama hand puppets?

And thanks Lou for your insightful post. Got any other non related gibberish to share?

Marcia

May 24th, 2010
6:39 pm

What a joke! Chapman doesn’t have a chance. And now Chapman wants to blame the teaparty! And he hires Joe Dendy as a campaign manager, wasn’t he the guy that couldn’t raise any money or get any volunteers for Roger Hines?

Will

May 24th, 2010
6:40 pm

Any person who refuses to pledge allegiance to our republic should not be allowed to run for public offense.

Draft dodging enemies of America like Ray McBerry should stick to dating little girls and leave elected office to real Americans.

Stephen

May 24th, 2010
6:43 pm

jconservative..Do not vote for Roy Barnes. The way to wake up the GOP is to vote Libertarian. http://www.votemonds.com Debbie Dooley and Julianne Thompson are neo-con to the core. Both of them are all about the GOP establishment and it does not matter what the people want to hear, but what the Dooley’s and Thompson’s want you to hear.

R Atlanta

May 24th, 2010
7:01 pm

geeezz more gibberish! Mr. Apple, meet Mr. Orange

Billy Hill

May 24th, 2010
7:20 pm

Mark my vote down for John Monds! LP all the way!

Stephen

May 24th, 2010
7:24 pm

Will..you really do believe in freedom. I say the pledge. My reason for saying it is for the people that paid the ulitmate sacrifice for our freedom’s. I also believe people have the right not to say considering it was written by Franis Bellamy.

Debbie Dooley

May 24th, 2010
7:40 pm

Mr. Chapman needs get his facts straight. It was not an Atlanta Tea Party event, nor was it ever billed as one. It was Freedomworks event. I challenged Mr. Chapman’s campaign manager to show me one statewide race where a candidate was polling at 2% two months from the Primary and made it to the runoff and he could not show me even one. We did invite Mr. Chapman to speak and gave him a complimentary table at the event. As for Mr. Johnson, he is polling at 5% but has a considerable war chest that could bring his polling numbers up.
This was an event organized and paid for by a private organization. If Mr. Chapman is elected governor, will he start dictating to private organizations how to run their events or organizations?

If Mr. Chapman is in the runoff, I will buy he and his wife a dinner at Ruth Chris Steakhouse.

Debbie Dooley

May 24th, 2010
7:42 pm

Jconservative, FreedomsWork PAC endorsed Rand Paul and worked for him.

Stephen

May 24th, 2010
7:43 pm

Debbie, please name ONE statewide candidate who was polling at 5% two months from the Primary and made it to the runoff??? I bet you cannot name one!!!!! I’m sitting by waiting….

North Georgia Voter

May 24th, 2010
7:56 pm

If the margin of error is 5%, that means that Chapman could actually be at negative 3% LOL!

Chapman got a lot more mileage/free publicity out of this stunt than if he had participated. It’s a win win for him. He’s a marginal, gadfly candidate who is now getting talked about and he didn’t have to face the difficulties of a debate! Crock tears from a crock of …

Stephen

May 24th, 2010
8:00 pm

North GA Voter….Eric Johnson could also be at 0% LOL.

Crushing blow of reality

May 24th, 2010
8:17 pm

The Republican race always boils down to a contest of who can kiss up to Scotty Reynolds the most. With Johnson polling as low as he is, Big R is going to have to eventually find someone else that will allow him to bend the state of Georgia over and violate it like Ray McBerry violated that 16 year old.

R Atlanta

May 24th, 2010
8:19 pm

I am with you Stephen, absolute brain trust there. Someone must of just bought Skippy voter a newspaper.

R Atlanta

May 24th, 2010
8:50 pm

So Ms Dooley..IT IS ABOUT THE MONEY ! Thanks for clearing that up. Mr. Chapman is right about the elitist in the party. And thanks for stepping in and saying your group should take credit for being the sellouts.

R Atlanta

May 24th, 2010
8:54 pm

As for Mr. Johnson, he is polling at 5% but has a considerable war chest that could bring his polling numbers up.

LOL what a pile of BS there, Debbie. Could, maybe… blah blah blah…..You people stink.

Debbie Dooley

May 24th, 2010
8:55 pm

Stephen, don’t you support Ray McBerry? I remember you posting in McBerry’s defense a few months ago on Peach Pundit and talked about what a great candidate and debator he was . Johnson has an ample war chest most candidates don’t have. Does Mr. Chapman have that money?

A candidate running for governor should be able to sort out facts. Atlanta Tea Party had nothing to do with this debate.

Debbie Dooley

May 24th, 2010
8:57 pm

RAtlanta, Stephen, if you want to call the shots then raise money an have your own debate. Only a fool would believe Johnson with his money was not a viable candidate.

Stephen

May 24th, 2010
8:58 pm

Yes Debbie I use to support McBerry, but NOT anymore. I still think he is a great debator. How come you will not answer my question????

Stephen

May 24th, 2010
8:59 pm

Debbie, I admire what you are trying to do. I’m only trying to have an honest debate on why Jeff Chapman was not invited to DEBATE. I would NOT have invited Ray either..just for the record

Stephen

May 24th, 2010
9:02 pm

Debbie, please answer my question. I know why you dont want to. Because you cannot name one.

Steve

May 24th, 2010
9:12 pm

Well, I’m glad to see what matters to Atlanta Tea Party (or Georgia Freedomworks?) is that cash money. Never mind how Ox extorts his from insurance agents and EJohnson gets his from those developers he so tirelessly works for. Also – there were 8 (i believe) on stage in the GA7 debates… but not enough room for 5 in the gubernatorial?

Other 912 groups / tea parties, take heed. The last thing you want to do is get reduced to a group that endorses people for a couple thousand bucks and leaves out somebody who actually keeps the faith like Chapman.

jarc

May 24th, 2010
9:39 pm

Freedomworks? Works for who? It looks to me like it only works for party line suck-ups who want to keep the status quo. What a lame argument Ms. Dooly presents.

NP

May 24th, 2010
9:41 pm

Jeff Chapman’s statement is right on the mark. How will things ever change if only the moneyed candidates get invited? Oxendine is owned by the insurance companies. Johnson is owned by the Reynolds. Deal is by all appearances, ready to say or do anything to get elected. Handel has never finished an elected term in office, dodging accountability to the people who elected her. But Chapman has challenged his own party’s leadership when he felt they were wrong. Look at the history of the attempted giveaway of Jekyll Island to the Reynold’s development company, Linger Longer. Study the public record and the book that will soon be published that details the sorry doings of the Republican leadership. Jeff Chapman took a principled stand, even when it meant antagonizing the bigwigs who run this state. The more media scrutiny there is of his record and his stands, the more the public will see that there are other choices besides Republican Party hacks.

Will Jones - Atlanta Jeffersonian Exegesis

May 24th, 2010
9:57 pm

The eternal conflict in human society is between “whig” – one who shares with America’s Founders the idealism of Individual sovereignty and the state, our servant, One People – “E Pluribus Unum, ruled only by Truth and Justice, by G-d…and “tory” – rule by king or pope, or some false elite semblance, thereof.

FreedomWorks is Steve Forbes and a moneyman named Sands working to subdue the People on behalf of fascist plutocracy – rule by the corrupt rich.

Chapman is right: He may be the best candidate if Poythress isn’t.

Wake Up

May 24th, 2010
9:59 pm

Jeff Chapman should have been invited, period. A house divided cannot stand, that’s why the GOP is in trouble. Candidates should be judged on merit, not money, Ox is the perfect example of that. While conservatives are busy attacking one another, liberals are busy destroying our country.

jarc

May 24th, 2010
10:10 pm

Geez Debbie, how old are you? 12? Instead of throwing a temper tantrum you could offer a real reason for excluding Chapman. You’ve yet to do that.

Steve

May 24th, 2010
11:00 pm

I would wager they left Chapman out so they could pick an arbitrary reason to exclude McBerry instead of being upfront. I’m with Wake Up 100% here. We have Obama because conservatives picked McCain on “winnability.”

I don’t see how that is even the case here, considering Ox, Deal, and Johnson’s overt ethical problems, so how can we possibly expect the same thing that happened in 2008 to not happen now?

Laqresha

May 25th, 2010
12:09 am

Ms. Dooley,
Your words:
This was an event organized and paid for by a private organization. If Mr. Chapman is elected governor, will he start dictating to private organizations how to run their events or organizations?
Your organization may be private but it claims to represent me and others, It was billed as the Atlanta Tea Party and Freedom Works.
From Freedom Works Web page: About FreedomWorks: Our Mission FreedomWorks fights for lower taxes, less government and more economic freedom for all Americans.
By excluding any qualified candidate, your organization would appear to be attempting to influence the results. Why not just tell us who we should vote for?

KM

May 25th, 2010
12:20 am

Chapman just got my vote!

Stephen

May 25th, 2010
6:09 am

Debbie, please answer my question. Name me one candidate that was pulling 5% two months before the primarty that made it to the runoff? You still refuse to answer that question.

????

May 25th, 2010
6:40 am

Jeff Chapman is the only honest MAN in the race, too bad the other candidates have sold out to special interest. I’ll be voting none of the above,Monds, in the general election if nothing changes.

Mel

May 25th, 2010
7:16 am

The Tea Party isn’t a front for any political party. It’s a huge astroturfing outfit backed by big banks, big telecoms and all the corporate biggies who want the government out of their way so they can impose their private government on us all. “I’m from private industry and I’m here to help you!”

Debbie Dooley

May 25th, 2010
7:17 am

“Debbie Dooley

May 24th, 2010
9:57 pm
Alright! Enough already ! I admit, we are stooges, sellouts, political operatives, hacks, puppets. Someone has to do it. Chapman is just the kind of straight forward guy that can not be bought off and we don’t want that. Satisfied?”

Those are not my comments. Someone impersonated me and that has been reported.

We did not endorse anyone nor did we prevent anyone from having their voice heard, just not at our event. Obviously Mr. Chapman and his supporters believe they should be able to tell private organizations the agenda and format of an event the organization sponsored and paid for. They are not different that Obama, Pelosi and Reed that want to have private corporations under their thumb. Really makes one think about how Chapman would govern. You guys are the same way. If you want a debate where you can call the shots, then raise money and organize one yourself.

Please show me where we promoted it as an Atlanta Tea Party event. We did not. We decided on the format and agenda so issues could be discussed by the front runners. We decided to go with four candidates for time’s sake and so the issues could be fully discussed. We went with the top four in polling. If you don’t like our choices, then organize one yourself… We in no way tried to tell voters who they should vote for. We just stated the obvious and that was who the front runners are. FreedomWorks doe snot say it speaks for anyone. As for Johnson, he will finish ahead of Chapman.

By the way, the Liberatarian Monds was on the straw poll and he got one vote.

SAM I AM

May 25th, 2010
7:29 am

Freedom Works, Tea Party, Debbie Dooley. You are the biggest losers here. You excluded those two candidates to appease Handel and her grand standing and you know it. You are lying about this and you known that also. So do we. I guess the Tea Party learned a lesson here because you sure did tarnish their image of “Don’t Tread On Me” because that is exactly what you did to those two legitimate candidates. You all joined the ugly underbelly of politics were truth always makes an exit.

Debbie Dooley

May 25th, 2010
8:13 am

Sam, don’t pretend you are upset with Chapman not being invited. You support McBerry. McBerry is not a viable candidate. He refuses to salute the current flag, and there are his League of the South ties. LOS is not just a southern heritage group. If you read The Grey Book, you will see that for yourself. The Grey Book is the LOS manifesto.

I have not endorsed Handel or anyone else. The straw poll results were close. Handel just happen to have more of her supporters there than the other candidates. That is why straw polls are not reliable and can easily be “rigged” or manipulated by candidates bringing their supporters in to events.

GOP Voter

May 25th, 2010
8:14 am

But Debbie Dooley – you are being a hypocrite – again. You can’t have it both ways – you endorsed Clay Cox in the 7th Congressional District (where you live) – is that fair? No! Time to be a little consistent! I will vote for a Democrat because of you and the Tea Party.

Debbie Dooley

May 25th, 2010
8:25 am

GOP voter. I was referring to the Governor’s race. GOP voter- go ahead. We are not a GOP group. Democrats were invited to participate in the debate but declined

GOP Voter

May 25th, 2010
8:28 am

Understand Debbie – any comments on your endorsement of Cox? I thought the Tea Party was not endorsing……………

GOP Voter

May 25th, 2010
8:34 am

Debbie – here is the link in case I caught you by surprise……….. http://voteclaycox.com/supporters.aspx

GOP Voter

May 25th, 2010
8:37 am

Also Debbie – here is an article from your hometown newspaper about your movement – I thought it was pretty good….any comments? http://www.gwinnettdailypost.com/kathleenparker/headlines/92927644.html

Angry mob

May 25th, 2010
8:45 am

Jeff Chapman entered the governor’s race late, has not raised much money, is polling low, has no real organization, yet he feels like he is entitled to tell private organizations what to do. He criticizes them for not including him when he is polling 2% two months out. Is it FreedomWorks responsibility to see that Chapman polls higher? It is very irresponsible on Chapman’s part to enter the race so late and not devote time to campaign and not have raised money. I guess he wants others to do the work for him. It was a very bad decision on Chapman’s part to enter the race under the circumstances. He exercised bad judgement and now he wants everyone to do the work and he feels entitled to be included on everything. He would not receive my vote because he has shown he exercises bad judgement. He has offered no solutions and is just running against the establishment. Jeff is part of the establishment, don’t let him fool you. He is not squeaky clean either..

Angry mob

May 25th, 2010
8:48 am

He also selected Joe Dendy to run his campaign. Dendy ran Roger Hines campaign into the ground. Well, on second thought, he could not harm Chapman’s campaign. Chapman’s campaign is already run into the ground. Chapman is like a child that throws temper tantrums when they don’t get their way..

Steve

May 25th, 2010
9:05 am

“They are not different that Obama, Pelosi and Reed that want to have private corporations under their thumb. Really makes one think about how Chapman would govern.”

Seriously Debbie? Because I thought that criticism of your principles and motives is that “First Amendment” thing. He didn’t pass legislation to force all political debates to include all candidates, so stop being so disingenuous.

Angry mob, instead of making insinuations, how about providing some facts to Chapman not being “squeaky clean”? I’m voting for him as of now, and if you could ACTUALLY produce something instead of just sock puppetry I’d be interested

Aaron Burr V Mexico

May 25th, 2010
9:15 am

Yeah…voting for a third party makes them FEAR you.

Just like when I voted for Ralph (synonym for Barf) Nader in 2000 it made the Democratic Party wake up and take notice.

In fact, when, in the last hundred years, has anyone REALLY paid attention to a third party? Just once.

And nobody in the Libertarian Party is Teddy Roosevelt. Instead they’ve got Tea Party organizers…and Sarah Palin.

Paddy O

May 25th, 2010
9:52 am

So, Debbie – you are now a power broker for the republican party? I can see excluding McBerry due to his unethical behavior, but Chapman should have been invited. How much did Johnson pay you folks?

Paddy O

May 25th, 2010
9:55 am

Debbie, your chutzpah is inconceivable – your agency hosted a debate of repub candidates for Governor, and then you want to invite only certain citizens? That is gross censorship. If this is how your “freedom works” operates, I will pray for the death of your organization – it is not properly named.

Paddy O

May 25th, 2010
9:57 am

Angry mob – should he not have been angry? Was he not snubbed by psuedo- freedom works entity? He stated is objection clearly and had adequate grounds to be angry.