In the deepest red precincts of America, some conservative politicians are visibly struggling with efforts to balance their usual I-hate-government-and-regulations message with support for the anti-coronavirus measures that their president, the Republican-controlled Congress, and most GOP governors are embracing to one degree or another. This is particularly tough in Republican primaries where candidates often compete to show how fanatically conservative they are. In the 9th congressional district of Georgia, where Trump pit bull Doug Collins is abandoning his extremely safe House seat to challenge the more moderate Kelly Loeffler for her seat in the Senate, compromise with evil liberalism is just not on the table.
Several state legislators are among those competing to replace Collins, and they were originally frantic to make sure nobody got to their right.
State senator John Wilkinson touted his record having “fought to eliminate useless red tape and regulation of business, defended the sanctity of all life, and fought for our constitutional rights guaranteed by the Second Amendment.” State representative Matt Gurtler boasted of being named the “most conservative” member of the state legislature, insisting he has ” [s]ince Day ONE of my time serving in the Georgia State House … tirelessly fought to defend Georgia’s constitutional conservative values, principles, and our God-given rights.” One of his Georgia House colleagues, Kevin Tanner, swore to battle “attempts to overthrow an election through this impeachment nonsense, socialists running for president, a resistance to support President Trump in building the wall, and Nancy Pelosi and the Socialist Squad trying to destroy our values.”
But as a sign it’s never too crowded on the right in today’s Republican Party, the best-known candidate in the 9th district race, former congressman Paul Broun Jr., is alluding to the coronavirus pandemic as a general reason to clutch one’s guns more fervently than ever, as indicated in his new ad:
That’s right: Dr. Broun’s campaign is giving away an assault rifle (a.k.a. a “Liberty Machine”) to a lucky correspondent eager to repulse “looting hordes from Atlanta” (e.g., black people) or “tyrannical government from Washington” (an epithet that worked better when that Kenyan Muslim was president). He pulled a similar stunt back in 2014 during his failed run for the U.S. Senate, but without the implied violence.
This is also the same dude who as a member of the U.S. House Science Committee assured a Southern Baptist hunting group (there is such a thing) that he regarded the evolutionary theories he was taught in college as “lies straight from the pit of hell.”
Try as they might, it will be tough for Broun’s rivals to out-crazy him when 9th district Republicans vote on May 19, or in the likely runoff (Georgia requires a majority vote for nominations) later in the year.