Georgia’s U.S. House delegation includes two members who have been competing to define the outer limits of acceptable Republican opinion. So when Marjorie Taylor Greene and Andrew Clyde both take a pass on attending a right-wing clambake in Washington, you know it’s really out there. But fortunately for the organizers of the Justice for J6 event near the U.S. Capitol, a defiant celebration of the January 6 insurrectionists, another Georgia Republican politician is stepping up to co-headline the inflammatory assemblage: trucking executive Mike Collins, who is a candidate to join Greene and Clyde in Congress next year.
The image above, which shows Collins in front of a Big Rig labeled the “Trump Agenda” bearing down on a foreign car bearing the images of Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Nancy Pelosi, and AOC, pretty much sums up the candidate’s political philosophy. He is promising to “finish the wall,” fight the looming specter of critical race theory, defend “political prisoners” (like the ones prosecuted after January 6), and “stand up for our Christian values against the wacky left-wing cultural agenda.”
Perhaps Collins is participating in Justice for J6 because he is in danger of himself getting outflanked on the right. One of his most prominent rivals in the 10th district Republican primary is Matt Richards, the owner of a demolition company who campaigns with a sledgehammer with which he promises to “wreck the left.” But he put aside his hammer in favor of an assault weapon to dramatize his opposition to mask mandates in this ad:
Lest you fear his violent extremism only extends to public-health measures, his campaign website avers that “[h]e will crush the woke mob and cancel culture to defend our freedom of speech and preserve our history.”
The nobody-here-but-us-wingnuts spirit of the Tenth District primary (whose winner will be the odds-on favorite in November; the district’s Partisan Voting Index per the Cook Political Report is R+13) will be enhanced significantly by the candidacy of the grand old man of Georgia extremism, former congressman Paul Broun Jr. My favorite Broun moment was a speech to a Southern Baptist hunting group (yes, that is a thing) in which this practicing physician and member of the House Science Committee attacked evolution and other things he learned in school as “lies from the pit of hell:”
The devolution of Georgia conservative politics in just the last few years has been shocking. These candidates are competing for the congressional seat now held by Jody Hice, a classic Christian Right warhorse and ordained minister who volunteered to become Trump’s weapon of vengeance against Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffesnsperger, who famously infuriated the 45th president by certifying Joe Biden’s Georgia win and then refusing to “find” Trump enough votes to overturn it. Hice used to be considered kind of scary; now he’s just another wild-ass Georgia Republican. The would-be successor he has endorsed, state legislator Timothy Barr, seems mild by comparison to Collins, Richards or Broun. This is from his announcement statement:
I, for one, refuse to be a generation who hands our country over to socialism and this is why I have decided to run for Congress.
In Washington, I won’t cave to the Biden Administration or the radical left and I will actively take on the ‘cancel culture’ that seeks to silence conservatives.
Weak tea, eh? Barr also pledges to join the House Freedom Caucus when he arrives in Washington, which in Georgia GOP circles is like a business owner joining the chamber of commerce.
I don’t know what it is about my home state that makes it a breeding ground for such exotic creatures as Greene, Clyde, Collins, Richards, Broun and Hice (and perhaps, if he’s really serious about going to Congress, Timothy Barr). Only Alabama with Roy Moore and Mo Brooks can rival it for the volume of sheer political nonsense. But unlike Alabama, Georgia is a real battleground state, and eventually the lurid behavior of its Republicans may do as much as demography to turn it blue.