Democrats say they’ll go to court to remove Rick Crawford from ballot

The chairman of the Georgia Democratic Party this afternoon said he was prepared to go to court to have state Rep. Rick Crawford, D-Cedartown, removed from the November ballot – announcing a zero-tolerance policy for party-switchers.

“If you’re a Democrat, you’re a Democrat. But if you’re not going to be one, we’re coming after you. We’re going to do whatever we have to, to get you out of the office. That’s just good politics,” party chairman Michael Berlon told reporters.

Last week, Crawford, whose west Georgia district has been redrawn, announced he would shift his allegiance to the Republican party – if he survives his re-election bid.

With 16 Democratic officials gathered behind him, Berlon said that the party’s executive committee had stripped Crawford of his membership, and disqualified him as a candidate.

The case is unprecedented. Berlon conceded that Crawford has not withdrawn his candidacy, but in a letter to Secretary of State Brian Kemp, Berlon argued that party disqualification should serve as a legal equivalent – that a state party should be able to control who serves as its representatives.

Read the letter here. Said Berlon:

”If the secretary of state says that the executive committee of the state Democratic party can vote unanimously to take away someone as a nominee, and that’s not sufficient, then we’ve got a bigger issue that we’ve got to speak with the secretary of state about.”

Jared Thomas, a spokesman for Kemp, said the secretary of state could remove a candidate from the ballot only in clear cases of fraud – misstatements of residency, for instance. A statement by Crawford about his future intentions “doesn’t invalidate the earlier qualification with the Democratic party,” Thomas said.

Crawford, a three-term conservative Democrat and a professor of political science at Shorter College, said he decided to make his announcement after Democrats placed an endorsement of same-sex marriage into the platform they adopted at their national convention in Charlotte, N.C.

That was on Sept. 4. If a candidate withdraws 60 days before an election, the executive committee can replace him with a candidate of its choosing.

”If Crawford would have resigned either on the 4th, 5th, or 6th of September, as a party we would have had the option to replace him. Instead he waits til five weeks before the election. I don’t buy it. It’s not intellectually honest,” Berlon said.

Even if Democrats are successful in replacing Crawford, they concede that any candidate they choose is nearly certain to fail. Republicans remain solidly behind Trey Kelley, a 25-year-old manufacturer’s rep.

One reason for Democratic anger is the fact that they’re battling for relevancy. District maps drawn by Republicans last year could produce a two-thirds majority in the chamber that would strip Democrats of nearly any influence.

“Crawford now has us at minus-one in probably one of the most important elections that we’re going to have in a long time,” Berlon said.

Language at the Monday press conference was sharp and personal. “I’m very disappointed in my colleague and what he’s doing,” said state Rep. Roger Bruce, D-Atlanta. Bruce declared party-switching to be “the greatest form of voter suppression that I can think of.”

“It’s denying the public their right to be represented,” he said.

State Rep. Billy Mitchell, D-Stone Mountain, said he had considered Crawford to be a “friend” and “a loyal, dues-paying member of the House caucus.” Then he went on to condemn Crawford’s “intellectual dishonesty,” accusing him of making the switch for “political gain.”

We contacted Crawford late this afternoon. He had not heard any of the details of the Democratic assembly. The state lawmaker said his early announcement was an effort to be upfront with voters.

“I frankly think it’s something to be commended,” Crawford said. “God forbid that somebody should be honest about their intentions.”

As for the harsh reaction? “I don’t see but one explanation,” the lawmaker said. “I must be punished because I have challenged their leftist social agenda. Zell was right.”

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter, or connect with me on Facebook.

65 comments Add your comment

Desperate Rick

October 1st, 2012
5:31 pm

Democrats think it was because he a Republican.

Really he’s a Democrat just trying to win an election and they just destroyed their own candidate. HA!

http://www.DesperateRick.com

Auntie Christ

October 1st, 2012
5:42 pm

Little short on comprehension skills aren’t you rick. The article explains that they are going to remove him as ‘their own’ candidate, or did that just go right over your head?

Thanx for the link to desperaterick.com. I’m sure thousands of us are rushing to get there ASAP to partake of more of the wit and wisdom you have displayed here.

td

October 1st, 2012
5:43 pm

The lib social agenda is going to drive all rural white people out of the party.

Anita

October 1st, 2012
5:44 pm

He announced that he would switch if he won so he needs to be removed as a Democratic candidate.

td

October 1st, 2012
5:45 pm

Let me add that I believe the pro gay agenda is also going to start driving religious African Americans away from the party.

Chuck Shiflett

October 1st, 2012
5:52 pm

Jim, I believe there is another angle here. Several months ago Rick Crawford took a job as a professor at Shorter University in Rome. Recently the school has required all employees to sign a statement upholding strong Christian principles and many employees were forced out for refusing to sign. There is a possibility Rick is doing this to save his job.

Tina

October 1st, 2012
5:52 pm

The voter know this, let them decide. I guess they also hate the fact that Charlie Crist switched to the Democrat party.

John Brewer

October 1st, 2012
6:11 pm

I’m white, rural, and liberal and the Democrartic Executive Committee is right to get such dishonest fake from our ranks!

honested

October 1st, 2012
6:11 pm

td,

So anyone who has sufficient intelligence to avoid ‘conserrrrrrrvatism’ and is sufficiently educated to be above superstition is not deserving of elected representation in your distorted world view?

DeborahinAthens

October 1st, 2012
6:18 pm

Better he tells the voters he’s going to switch before the election than pull a Doug McKillip. That useless POS changed afterward– not just in name only, but he ” found Jesus”. We voted his rear out in this last primary. Unfortunately, he can still do damage.

Olde Geek

October 1st, 2012
6:24 pm

td must stand for “troll dummy”

Bobby

October 1st, 2012
6:25 pm

I seem to remember Roy Barnes convincing a Republican to switch to Democrat right before the primary, leaving the Republicans without a candidate. Funny how they’re moaning when the shoe is on the other foot. Almost as laughable as when they complained about the last redistricting. To quote the last Democrat Lt. Governor, “Cry me a river”.

MKS

October 1st, 2012
6:35 pm

The Democratic Party: Compulsion disguised as compassion.

And the disguise grows ever thinner.

pipedream

October 1st, 2012
6:37 pm

Pipe dream, never in your life time will you see blacks vote republican. Only an idiot would vote on a social issue like gay marriage over their overall well being. Keep dreaming

CRAWFORD STINKS!

October 1st, 2012
7:02 pm

He always was a republican. Why did we let him run as a democrat to start with. He always was an extreme reactionary. He has nothing to offer those of us who believe in democracy.

Liberal Social Agenda

October 1st, 2012
7:22 pm

God forbid we treat everyone (even those who are different) with respect and recognize that OUR religious practices do not apply to the entire country. If that’s a “liberal social agenda” then I’ll just have to live with pushing away rural white voters.

td

October 1st, 2012
7:35 pm

honested

October 1st, 2012
6:11 pm

You can avoid conservatism all you wish but like it or not it is coming to find you real soon because the baby boomers have spent blindly and the bill is coming due real soon.

One Who Knows....

October 1st, 2012
7:36 pm

Maybe the Democratics will ask their candidates to sign a pledge to be a loyal liberal before they qualify next campaign season.

I seem to remember that they loudly criticized the GOP for asking their candidates to pledge loyalty to the Republican Party.

Another FAIL by Berlon & Stacy “I Had a big Federal Tax Lien, too” Abrams….

td

October 1st, 2012
7:41 pm

pipedream

October 1st, 2012
6:37 pm

12% in 2004 for GWB and it will even go higher in 2016.

Steve Perkins

October 1st, 2012
7:57 pm

The GOP does not care who holds HD 6th seat. They want the seat. They are going to have it, But I am not about to let Mr. Crawford, show such extraordinary disrespect for the voters as he has this past week,. No sir!

He has betrayed those who elected him and his party. The man is a fraud and a coward and apparently too lazy to raise money. Georgia Deserves better! Hell’s Bells. even the GOP deserves better than this shameless opportunist. We need to ride this man out of town on a rail. The man lacks any sense of honor or intestinal fortitude.

Leftist Social Agenda Really?…..Grow a pair Rick!.

Demo going Repo-

October 1st, 2012
8:08 pm

Pipedream..only a idiot would vote for a party that makes them look stupid. I’m black and will never give up my faith for hand outs(well being as you put it). I know a group of Black preachers that are tell there churches to vote against Obama because the Democrats have become the sin party.The leftist social agenda is wrong. Its not God Damn America– “Its God Bless and forgive America”.

Steve Perkins

October 1st, 2012
8:22 pm

Not buying your Schtick Demo going Repo.

Jimijames

October 1st, 2012
8:22 pm

Leftist Social Agenda Really? Yes, really! Do your home work.. Rick’s got something you don’t and thats a brain.

Atlanta Allen

October 1st, 2012
8:29 pm

Funny, I have voted R in almost every election since 1982 and the state Republican party’s inability to stop trying to enforce their beliefs with the power of the state, stop making conservatives look like narrow minded dolts and focus on growing the state economy is leading many in my age/income group to votiwLibertarian even if the candidates don’t have a chance. Sue Everhart’s appearance on TV complaining about the Obama campaign using a modified flag, in much the same way Republicans have throughout the last 30 years, brought back the way our legislators waste time and political capital on bizarre issues that have no impact on the lives of Georgians. I give it three days into the next session before someone wants to spend state funds to go dig up John T. Scopes and revisit the Monkey Trial.

WOW

October 1st, 2012
8:52 pm

No one is disputing his right to change parties if this is how he really felt, but its the timing that is making people angry. If he felt like he belonged in the Republican Party then he should have run in the Republican primary. There were 3 people who put their name on the ballot andd one won. Now he wants to change?

Stone Wall Jacka$$

October 1st, 2012
8:53 pm

African Americans ain’t going away from the Democratic party, they are blind sheep. Lyndon Johnson said it they passed the civil rights bill those *i**er%!! will vote Democratic for 200 years. Pro-gay stance, pro-abortion, its doesn’t matter, they will vote Democratic and for Obama because he is black and its about getting back at the white man for slavery.

MKS

October 1st, 2012
9:11 pm

Democrats: Force-marched Cherokees off their rightful lands into reservations. Supported slavery – the Fugitive Slave Law and the Dred Scott Decision. Supported lynchings. Supported Jim Crow laws. Opposed integration of schools. Support abortion on demand at any stage of fetal maturity. Desire special treatment based on race and class divisions.

Republicans: Formed to oppose slavery in 1856. Issued Emancipation Proclamation. Passed Constitutional Amendments for voting rights and equal legal treatment of blacks. Opposed lynchings, and Jim Crow laws. Used troops to enforce school integration in 1950’s. Pro-life. Desiree equal treatment before the law for everyone regardless of race or class.

Who has the better record on human rights? Check with Thomas Sowell, Walt E. Williams, Alveda King, Star Parker, Larry Elder, at their on-line websites.

Say what

October 1st, 2012
9:15 pm

“If you’re a Democrat, you’re a Democrat. But if you’re not going to be one, we’re coming after you. We’re going to do whatever we have to, to get you out of the office. That’s just good politics,” party chairman Michael Berlon told reporters.
After all where does Crawford think his, in America?

eaglenationrising

October 1st, 2012
9:36 pm

This seems like a “no brainer.” It is unfortunate that the national Democrats give so little effort in this state. People get up in arms when politicians leave the party. The bottom line is the state party is not “BIG” enough to address these issues in the way that an engaged national party does. Frankly, I feel completely misrepresented by the overwhelming majority of the initiatives pushed by Georgia Dems and the Georgia GOP. This state has many people like me. Politically engaged citizens without a party.

Turn about fair play

October 1st, 2012
9:39 pm

Well, turn about is fair play. I remember back in the middle part of the last decade that when Democrat shenanigans were pulled in other states for the benefit of the party, the party leadership felt that the party’s actions were all oh so righteous. Now someone has pulled a page out of the age old liberal playbook for manipulating elections based upon the approved rules for personal benefit, and suddenly that individual is the spawn of Satan. Don’t care where this happened, be it New Jersey or Georgia, turn about is fair play.

eaglenationrising

October 1st, 2012
9:44 pm

@ MKS: You forgot about the Republicans welcoming nearly every Dixiecrat (Democrats opposed to integration) walking in the 1960s. In other words, if you were a Democrat that was against integration and basic human rights of all Americans, you became a Dixiecrat and then became a Republican. FACT. You hear that Obamacare was a war. At your convenience, review the fight that President Lyndon B. Johnson had (against Republicans) over the Civil Rights Act. It is COMPLETELY disingenuous and dishonest to paint the Republicans as champions to disband Jim Crow laws. That was the dynamic leadership of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, a man that would be called a socialist by today’s Republicans. Let’s call a spade, a spade.

eaglenationrising

October 1st, 2012
9:48 pm

By the way MKS, the Dems claims about the groups and people that they support is laughable. Our political system is made up of two political parties with different initiatives to serve the same corporate and international interests that have stripped our nation of many of our liberties & principles. We have those two political parties and the Tea Party, who the other two parties will convince most Americans that the third and more nationalistic political party should be feared. We the People, are up against it with these two political parties.

American Dream

October 1st, 2012
9:55 pm

Wow! The GOP are a bunch of closet cases. Most conservatives go home every night, slap their kids around, beat their wife, and then go out drinking. They hate their miserable lives and take it out on the rest of us. I wish they would mind their own business and stay in the caves where they were born.

Gevalia

October 1st, 2012
9:56 pm

Cry me a river Dems!
Dirty tricks? not giving the voters a choice?
I lived in Houston Co. for 24 years; the Dens put the county into THREE different congressional districts to try to dilute the conservative military vote. Then, when they lost two of the districts they drew one from north Warner Robins to include the public housing in Macon to try to preserve at least 1 white male congressman.
Remember the Cynthia McKinney district. From downtown Atlanta down the width of I 40 to include public housing in Augusta.
Fairness? denying the right to vote for who you wish? HA!

gy6

October 1st, 2012
10:09 pm

but it’s ok when traitors switch from R to D. useless lying commie dems.

td

October 1st, 2012
10:11 pm

Face it people, there are non believing politicians on BOTH sides. They are in the game for themselves and their friends are could really careless about philosophy.

TT

October 1st, 2012
10:17 pm

How pathetic is this when a moron such as Mike Berlon forgets that it is about doing the right thing for the people, “Not Just Good Politics”. That is what is wrong with this state and country, people like Berlon have forgotten what they have been elected to do, work for all the people, not just his party. This is not a game ass____.

An observer

October 1st, 2012
10:43 pm

So this guy s not getting elected so why does it matter?

Frank Plant

October 1st, 2012
10:44 pm

I’m very proud of Rick. Several Democrats have switched parties “after” they were elected. Rick has the integrity to be honest with his constituency before the election. As an Independant voter, I’d find it hard to vote for anyone who stands on the Democratic platform. Rick is a breath of fresh air within the stench of politics.

Skeptical Christian

October 1st, 2012
10:44 pm

It is obvious that very few of these lawmakers have principles other than “What’s In It For Me?” How many of these Republicans used to be Democrats? You think they changed because of their principles? Get real. If the Democrats were still in control or had any real chance of gaining control again, there wouldn’t be so much switching. Party changers are Benedict Arnolds and Benedict Arnold was in it for the money, whining that he was under appreciated for his efforts as a colonial general. I feel sorry for the black Democrats. They’re going to be as irrelevant as they were when Gene Talmadge was in office.

[...] on blogs.ajc.com Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. Bookmark the permalink. Leave [...]

honested

October 1st, 2012
11:01 pm

For everyone intent on slamming the Democratic Party,….riddle me this?

Why is it that in the years since 2003 (the OnePartyStateTakeover) State Ethics Laws, Codes and Agreements have only been diluted and disappeared?

If the repugs had any interest in responsible governance, we would be #1 in ethics enforcement, not #50.

Representative Ralph Long

October 1st, 2012
11:21 pm

Hey its the worst to just simply want to serve. Only a few people understand that. It sucks to look up and to realize that your party does not represent you, or who you are as a person. I know that he just simply wants to serve. We all have dreams of creating a legacy and to do whats best for Georgia. Can you imagine what a difficult task it is just to try to conform to two Ideologies, Democrat or Republican when we as individuals are so much more complex than that. Some people just want to help people and they have to conform to what won’t conform to them. I would never go to a press conference to speak against something so personal because it is just that. Your service. You sacrifice so much to be a legislator. Time a way from family, money, and even personal values to some extent. I find honor in desperation, honor in confusion, over the love of wanting to continue to serve our great state. To help people and to make connections for the betterment of the quality of life of others and the constituents of which you serve is an intoxicating elixir and I don’t fault the man for wanting to hang on. To gain power on the way to 91 a party must except diversity and represent the will of the people. It must not turn in on itself.

emz

October 1st, 2012
11:48 pm

I’m with John Brewer @ 6:11 pm. Also he should have decided which party he wanted to represent before he ran.

td

October 2nd, 2012
12:00 am

emz

October 1st, 2012
11:48 pm

I’m with John Brewer @ 6:11 pm. Also he should have decided which party he wanted to represent before he ran.

If you happen to read the article then you would have learned that he was a Democrat until they went to far and put the support of gay marriage in their platform and he deemed that move to extreme to stay in the party. Yes, the parties actions have consequences and the consequences of their radical social agenda is that they will give the Republicans a super majority in this state.

eli

October 2nd, 2012
12:21 am

Promoting freedom and equal protection of the law is not radical, it is right.

We believed the same thing when we kicked racists out of the party in the 60s.

Let the GOP be the party if hate and selective exclusivity if they want it so bad. If things continue down this path we will see a dissolution of the GOP in the next 20 years.

Look before I leap...

October 2nd, 2012
1:21 am

@td
And if you had been following the story for the past few days, then you would have noted that Crawford stated that he had been “considering” changing party affiliation for the past couple of years.
If the straw that broke the camel’s back was the gay marriage thing, then Crawford is an idiot, and IMHO, being intellectually dishonest.

The gay marriage issue is NOT going to bring jobs back to GA, or do anything to improve the economy of the state. It is not going to do anything to reduce entitlement spending, improve the state’s educational system, cut taxes, reduce wasteful government spending, improve ethical oversight of our elected officials or fix the potholes in Cedartown.

Gunluvr

October 2nd, 2012
4:01 am

Wow! The GOP are a bunch of closet cases. Most conservatives go home every night, slap their kids around, beat their wife, and then go out drinking. They hate their miserable lives and take it out on the rest of us. I wish they would mind their own business and stay in the caves where they were born.
———————————————————————————————————————————————
We tried to stay in our caves but u liberals sent anti-gunners and homosexuals out to roust us
out of them, now you’ve got a tiger by the tail and it’s getting ready to turn and bite.

Billy

October 2nd, 2012
6:40 am

Ah, the Dims who preach “tolerance,” Ideally, the candidate shouldn’t have said this. Get elected, resign your seat, then run as a Republican. The Dims call others “hypocrites.” LOL, they should know, first hand.
And BTW, read the first chapter of Romans if you want spiritual enlightenment on the subject mentioned above; believe me, most of you Dims need all the help you can get…

Bubba

October 2nd, 2012
6:46 am

Rep. Crawford represents the people of his district, not a political party. If the people of his district like him but don’t like his party label, he is right to change labels. There is a great tradition of party switching as public figures mature and circumstances change. Of course, there are a number of reasons why an elected official, or someone seeking office, might choose to switch parties. One reason is ethical obligation—the person feels their views are no longer aligned with those of their current party. A second reason is to gain power and influence. The incumbent may be a member of the minority party in a legislature and would like to gain the advantages of being in the majority party, such as the potential to chair a committee. Another reason is simply to get elected. This may be the primary reason when the opposing party’s base in a constituency is reaching a size that threatens the safe reelection of the incumbent. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Party_switching_in_the_United_States.

Abraham Lincoln was a Whig in Congress, and a Republican president.

Winston Churchill entered the British parliament as a Conservative in 1900, switched to the Liberal party in 1904, ran again unsuccessfully as an independent, was elected again as a Conservative in 1924, and went on to become the great wartime leader of his country.

Ronald Reagan was a liberal Democrat as a young man, but became an iconic conservative Republican president. Ironically, a young politician with his record might be considered a RINO by today’s Republican Party purists.

Strom Thurmond was an FDR Democrat as Governor of SC, and a very conservative Republican Senator.

Michael Bloomberg was a lifelong Democrat who became a Republican mayor of NYC.

Bo Callaway was a Democrat before he became Georgia’s first Republican congressman.

Sonny Perdue and Nathan Deal were Democrats in the legislature and Republican Governors.

Between a Democrat national agenda that drives away conservative white people and a Republican gerrymandering effort to segregate legislative districts and drive moderate white Democrats to extinction, Rep. Crawford has no choice but to change parties if he is to remain in office. It is more honest to announce his intention before the election than after, as Doug McKillip did.

Perhaps someday the pendulum will swing, as absolute power seduces Republicans to arrogance and corruption. But I doubt if I will live to see it.