Georgia Republicans will be going to their state convention this weekend in Macon, Georgia. While I live just a few miles from where the convention will be, I won’t be going.
The only surprise that could come from the convention is if Sue Everhart, the incumbent chair of the Georgia Republican Party, loses. She has won every major straw poll working up to the state convention and I suspect she will win handily.
In two years, the State GOP will meet again somewhere else. Tea party activists in Georgia who want to make a big impact have two years to organize, mobilize, and lay the groundwork to get rid of Saxby Chambliss. The model they should use is Utah.
Now, why Saxby?
Well, forget his immigration stance. Forget his handiwork raising taxes on Americans via the Gang of Six. Just look at him going hand in hand with Johnny Isakson to the floor of the Senate last week, like two school girls, to vote for ending cloture on the Jack McConnell nomination — doing so only after it was clear McConnell had the votes he needed. That wasn’t leadership. It was gutlessness. Saxby has consistently stabbed conservatives in the back and it is time to take him out.
What does Utah have to do with it? Well, it will be damn hard to beat Saxby in a primary, given lobbyist dollars. But Georgia has a hardly ever used law on the books that allows state parties to pick their nominees by convention. Just like Utah voters used to get rid of Bob Bennett.
O.C.G.A. § 21-2-180 et. seq. allows parties to nominate by convention. Specifically, § 21-2-180 states:
Any political body which is duly registered … is qualified to nominate candidates for state-wide public office by convention if:
(1) The political body files with the Secretary of State a petition signed by voters equal in number to 1 percent of the registered voters who were registered and eligible to vote in the preceding general election; or
(2) At the preceding general election, the political body nominated a candidate for state-wide office and such candidate received a number of votes equal to 1 percent of the total number of registered voters who were registered and eligible to vote in such general election.
The sections after §21-2-180 lay out the procedure for collecting signatures on a petition and the timing of a convention. With tea party muscle it would be very doable.
And it should be done, if just on principle. When Saxby Chambliss gets to Washington, he has a terrible tendency to drift to the left until about election time and then come back with some folksy lines and an aw-shucks demeanor.
As long as the grassroots of the Georgia Republican Party behave like they have battered wife syndrome and keep taking Saxby back after he beats the crap out of them in Washington, the guys in Washington are going to keep taking advantage of the grassroots.
As the Georgia GOP meets this weekend, the delegates should recognize that as long as they play by Saxby’s rules — a primary fueled by lobbyist dollars — he’s going to keep batting his eyelashes at them while stabbing them in the back in Washington both social issues and fiscal issues.
A convention would fire up the grassroots and give the Georgia GOP’s grassroots activists control of the nomination in a way they’ve never had before. It’s time to take back the party in Georgia.
With Chambliss not up again until 2014, there is plenty of time for the Georgia GOP and tea party activists to lay the ground work for a convention. They should start the conversation this weekend in Macon.