Perdue, Taylor kick off furious round of campaigning
KENNESAW, Ga. – Gov. Sonny Perdue and Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor kicked off another
round of furious campaigning Saturday in hopes of energizing the party faithful
just days before Georgia voters head to the polls to decide the governor’s race.
Stumping in Kennesaw as part of a 5-city tour, Perdue talked of a "sweep
spirit" that could propel Republicans to victory in statewide offices the
party hasn’t held in generations. "It doesn’t get any better than this,"
he said, breaking into a wide grin.
He spoke over the din of "liar, liar" chants from a group of a dozen
or so flag-waving demonstrators who favor Georgia’s 1956 flag with a Confederate
"In a moment, I’ll let you speak to them and we’ll have a four more years
chant," Perdue told a few dozen cheering supporters.
Meanwhile, Taylor and state Democratic leaders made a 7-stop swing through
metro Atlanta. At their final stop, the parking lot of a Lawrenceville mall,
the Democrat asked a handful of supporters to raise their right hands and repeat
a pledge: "I will not be outworked between now and Nov. 7."
Supporters of the divisive 1956 flag took credit for Perdue’s surprise 2002
victory over Democrat Gov. Roy Barnes, saying they favored the Republican because
they hoped he’d back a bid to let voters pick the state flag. That choice was
given to the Legislature instead, a move that still rankles some.
While not as vocal during this campaign – Perdue staffers say flag protests
have been rare during the governor’s campaign stops – the demonstrators claim
there are thousands of upset rural voters who will cast a protest vote in favor
of Taylor or libertarian candidate Garrett Hayes.
The flag flappers point to the roughly 50,000 votes earned by Ray McBerry,
a candidate who emphasized the issue in his Republican primary bid against Perdue.
They also say two groups, the Southern Heritage Political Action Committee and
the Southern Party of Georgia, have raised more than $20,000 to run radio and
newspaper ads across the state.
"I think Perdue could be in for a surprise," said Tim Pilgrim, the
secretary of the Southern Heritage group who wore a Confederate uniform to protest
Perdue’s appearance. "We don’t have a lot of money, but we have a lot of
dedicated people that feel strongly about our heritage."
Taylor, who backed the new flag, said he welcomes their support. "Nobody
likes to have promises made and promises broken," he said. "I have
never lied to them."
Taylor stumped with a handful of Democratic candidates, including Secretary
of State hopeful Gail Buckner and longtime Agriculture Commissioner Tommy Irvin.
U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey and a handful of statewide
candidates joined Perdue on his campaign swing. Also appearing with Perdue was
Georgia Supreme Court candidate Mike Wiggins, a conservative candidate with
tacit GOP support in the nonpartisan race.