EDITOR OF REDSTATE
Goring the Ox: The Georgia Republican Party is on Suicide Watch
Editorial Note: Just to be clear, this is my personal view. At RedState, we would not support the Democrat. In fact, I would not write supportively of the Democrat at all even were Ox the nominee. RedState’s position is and has always been to support the conservative in the primary and the Republican in the general. That’s not changing. But by God I hope people realize just how awful Oxendine is and deny him the GOP nomination in favor of someone who will not be an embarrassment. — Erick
I’ll tell you bluntly, I will vote for former Georgia Governor and potential Democratic nominee Roy Barnes over Republican John Oxendine, Georgia’s Insurance Commissioner now running for Governor. At least with Roy Barnes we’d get no worse than Sonny Perdue and would know honestly what we are getting.
John Oxendine is Georgia’s Rod Blagojevich, complete with bad hair. If the Georgia GOP were to nominate him, the party would be committing suicide.
What I would much prefer is one of the candidates who has always been a Republican. In fact, here at RedState, we have endorsed Georgia’s former Secretary of State, Karen Handel. Nonetheless, I would love to actually see Georgia get a Republican Governor — not just a guy with an “R” next to his name, but a small government, fiscal conservative, who will not wind up embarrassing us through scandal and, more likely than not, impeachment.
I specifically do not want a politically malleable charlatan who will say or do anything to get elected. And that is precisely what I see in Oxendine — a man who woos some with tales of Jesus and others with whatever sort of pandering he can.
Let’s roll the tape.
According to the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, reporting on November 10, 1994, as far back as 1987 John Oxendine wanted to be Governor.
In 1987, state Democratic politico James Oxendine had this to say about his son John, then a 25-year-old graduate of the Mercer University law school: “He has already told me he wants to be governor, and I believe he can do it.”
In 1994, John Oxendine jumped from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party and challenged then Insurance Commissioner Tim Ryles. Oddly enough, Oxendine attacked Ryles on his ethical conduct in office with some accusations that suggest the Ox learned from what Ryles did in office.
On October 23, 1994, the AJC ran a story about the charges flying in the Insurance Commissioner’s race:
Oxendine calls Ryles a lawbreaker who has had difficulties with the State Ethics Commission. He cites last month’s commission ruling that Ryles violated ethics laws on three occasions by accepting prohibited campaign contributions totaling $ 2,500 in 1993 from businesses regulated by his office. Ryles returned the money but denied any wrongdoing.
Of note, Ryles called Oxendine a “Bill Clinton Republican.” Why? Well, Tom Baxter, reporting for the AJC back on August 16, 1994, noted, “Oxendine, a recent Republican convert, was a convention delegate for both Michael Dukakis and Clinton.”
Just over a month later, Oxendine finally denied that he had been a delegate for Bill Clinton, blaming his wife instead. But wait. Guess who his wife was. From the September 30, 1994, AJC, Section C, Page 7:
In a news release issued Thursday, Ryles said Oxendine, in 1992, “was a Bill Clinton presidential delegate.”
Oxendine’s wife, Lee, who served as the state Democratic Party’s lawyer at the time, was a delegate, and Oxendine said he journeyed to New York with her. But he wasn’t a delegate, state party spokesman Bill Florence said. “I didn’t even have a floor pass,” Oxendine said.
Challenged on the assertion, Ryles campaign manager Brent Layton was undeterred. “I heard it from numerous people,” Layton said.
Oxendine was a Democrat until last year, but said he has never voted for a Democrat for president.
Personally, I have a real hard time believing that a man who grew up surrounded by Democrats and who married the Democrats’ lawyer and who was a delegate for Michael Dukakis and went to the New York convention for Bill Clinton (though a over a month after the AJC reported he was a delegate he finally denied it) had never voted for a Democrat for President — especially in 1992 when even the Democrats thought Bill Clinton was a conservative and in fact many thought he was more conservative than George H. W. Bush.
Personally, I think Oxendine lied.
Consider this from that November 10, 1994, AJC article:
Oxendine comes from a long line of Democrats. Former Gov. Joe Frank Harris appointed his father in 1986 to chair the state Workers’ Compensation Board, a position the elder Oxendine held until 1992, when Gov. Zell Miller appointed him as a Superior Court judge in Gwinnett County.
The new commissioner himself worked on Harris’ campaign and, as a college student, interned for former Gov. George Busbee. His wife, Lee, served as general counsel of the Georgia Democratic Party until last year.
Oxendine said the election of Bill Clinton in 1992 was his impetus to switch parties.
“The national Democratic Party has always been liberal, but I had always taken refuge in the fact that Georgia’s Democrats were more conservative,” Oxendine said. “But then I saw the support given to Clinton by the Democratic leadership in Georgia, and it showed me that the party here was no longer conservative.”
So Oxendine went to the 1992 convention and his wife stayed on as counsel until 1993 and he conveniently blames Clinton’s election on his switch — not Clinton’s post election policies, but his election.
Fast forward now to 1997. Oxendine ran his 1994 election attacking Ryles for “violat[ing] ethics laws on three occasions by accepting prohibited campaign contributions totaling $ 2,500 in 1993 from businesses regulated by his office. Ryles returned the money but denied any wrongdoing.”
Three years into his office, on November 8, 1997, the August Chronicle reported
Georgia Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine saved himself and University Hospital chieftain Don Bray a lot of embarrassment — and perhaps an ethics suit — by doing a fast turnaround last Wednesday.
Printed invitations were sent from a ”host committee” (including Bray) asking for $ 100 for an audience with Oxendine at a lavish Nov. 6 party in the home of businessman Tim Shelnut.
What the other hosts didn’t know is that, on Oxendine’s desk, is a bid from University to purchase a health maintenance organization the state insurance agency has been supervising.
John Oxendine will say or do anything to get elected. His principles and ethics are malleable and blow with the wind. The only thing Oxendine cares about is his political ambition. For all the people who washed their hands of scandal plagued Georgia House Speaker Glenn Richardson, but have Oxendine stickers on their cars, get ready to engage in full Lady MacBeth syndrome should the Ox get elected. It won’t be women bringing down Ox, but it will be scandal. And with it would fall the Georgia Republican Party.