On Monday, Gov. Rick Perry of Texas let it be known that he was helping to organize a “prayer and fasting” event in Houston and was inviting the nation’s governors to participate.
The Aug. 6 event is called The Response, “a non-denominational, apolitical, Christian prayer meeting” hosted by the American Family Association.
From a letter from Perry posted on the group’s website:
“Right now, America is in crisis: we have been besieged by financial debt, terrorism, and a multitude of natural disasters. As a nation, we must come together and call upon Jesus to guide us through unprecedented struggles, and thank Him for the blessings of freedom we so richly enjoy.”
Gov. Nathan Deal’s office this morning let it be known that he will not be able to attend the event.
Now, let us assume that as governor, Deal is in control of his own calendar and that his decision is a choice. When you are governor, previous engagements do not exist.
Of course, there is the Aug. 15 start of a special session of the Legislature to redraw state House, Senate and congressional districts. But there may be two larger reasons that Deal doesn’t feel obliged to fly to Texas.
First, Perry announced late last month that he was giving consideration to entering the Republican race for president. Deal is already pledged to former U.S. House speaker Newt Gingrich.
But there is another, perhaps more influential, reason. The American Family Association – the group working with Perry on the Houston prayer meet – is engaged in a yearlong, bitter confrontation with Atlanta-based Home Depot over the company’s alleged promotion of “homosexual activism.” Something about orange aprons at Gay Pride events. Only last week, the group presented a petition with nearly 500,000 signatures to Home Depot chairman Frank Blake at a stockholder’s meeting.
Home Depot’s political action committee gives to both sides of the aisle, but leans Republican. In 2010, according to opensecrets.com, the Home Depot PAC gave $10,000 each to PACs run by U.S. Sens. Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson.
Home Depot co-founder Arthur Blank — the 938th richest billionaire in the United States — is a major source of campaign contributions in Georgia. Again, he gives to both sides – but more generously to Republicans. In a six-month period in 2008 and 2009, he donated $15,000 to the state party. He is likely to give again.
So, no, Governor Deal will not be praying with Rick Perry in August. Not in person, anyway.
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider