The fringes of Georgia's Republican Party – always angry when they aren't allowed to bash the LGBTs – fired up some righteous indignation and spanked Gov. Nathan Deal for vetoing an anti-gay bill.
The party faithful in the Third District – which includes 13 counties south of Atlanta in west Georgia – took time on Saturday from picking delegates to the Republican National Convention to "censure" Deal for vetoing House Bill 757 last month. That's the anti-gay "religious freedom" measure that created a national backlash and threatened to crash the state's economy.
Turns out that the fringe is still mad and they wanted to stomp their feet some more like a petulant two-year-old. So that's exactly what they did, according to the AJC.
The conservative activists at the district’s meeting voted to “censure” Gov. Nathan Deal after his veto of the controversial “religious liberty” legislation. Though it is purely symbolic, it’s a startling sign of the conservative backlash to Deal’s decision to reject the legislation – and another reminder that the debate over the measure never really ended.
Deal vetoed the legislation on March 28, convinced that protecting the "religious freedom" of the Georgia Baptists backing it didn't have to come at the expense of discriminating against LGBT people and other folks, too. Religious supporters of the measure howled and howled some more, lawmakers pushed to overturn Deal's veto and Republican leaders kept lying about the measure as they also promised it would return next year. Meanwhile, opponents of the legislation rallied to thank Deal for joining just a handful of other Republicans in opposing House Bill 757.
And Deal said he'd do it again in 2017.
And while the Third District GOP'ers threw shade at Deal, guess which lawmaker was there to grab some spotlight? Sen. Josh McKoon, who never seems to miss a chance to talk about the "religious freedom" issue he's championed for three legislative sessions. McKoon was sidelined this session after pissing off Republican leaders. But he tried to play nice at the district meeting. Via the AJC:
Just as surprising, though, was the conservative politician who spoke in Deal’s favor at the meeting. State Sen. Josh McKoon is an outspoken supporter of the legislation – and a constant thorn in the side of Deal and other GOP leaders. But the Columbus Republican urged his fellow west Georgia partisans to oppose the censure.
“I said that it was not constructive for the GOP to lash out at the governor, and that if we want to pass conservatives initiatives next year, we need to make a positive case for their adoption,” he said after the vote.
Like most everyone else, they didn't listen to McKoon. No wonder he roams the halls of the State Capitol sad and alone.