You’ve got to love Georgia Republicans. They are more fun than a roomful of puppies. What makes them the most fun is that the puppies morph into pit bulls and then spend their time attacking each other.
Following a presidential race unlike any other I remember in Georgia, U.S. Republican Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler have called on Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, to resign because he “failed to deliver honest and transparent elections. He has failed the people of Georgia.” Raffensperger dismissed their allegations as “laughable” and said only the voters could fire him. He has a point.
Then former Republican Congressman Doug Collins, who Loeffler said during the recent primary was too chummy with Democratic U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and former Democratic candidate for governor Stacey Abrams to truly represent Republicans in the Senate, was selected by the Trump campaign to oversee a Georgia recount team for the president. I assume the president is not aware that Collins, Pelosi and Abrams are big buddies. Maybe Kelly Loeffler will tell him since she was the one who brought up Collins’ poor choice of associates in the first place.
Meanwhile, Trump has accused Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, Raffensperger and Collins’ good friend Abrams of cheating in favor of Joe Biden because of a consent agreement signed earlier this year allowing voters who had mismatched signatures an opportunity to fix their absentee ballots before those ballots were thrown out. Raffensperger said he and his team had “secured and strengthened absentee ballots for the first time since 2005.” Collins said the political equivalent of Pfft! and Raffensperger proceeded to call Pelosi’s pal a “failed candidate” and a “liar.”
But this stuff is nothing new in Georgia. Before you wring your hands in despair at the antics of the Republicans, let me tell you what the state was like when it was in the hands of the Democrats. They made voter fraud an art form and Georgia a laughingstock.
Old-timers will remember the famous Three Governors race of 1946. For those of you who have slipped across our borders in the interim, Gene Talmadge who had already served three terms as governor but was not in office at the time, easily won a fourth term. But three weeks before he was to be sworn in, Talmadge died of a liver ailment. Three men — all Democrats — claimed therefore to be Georgia’s governor: Incoming Lieutenant Governor M.E. Thompson, outgoing Gov. Ellis Arnall and Herman Talmadge, his late father’s campaign manager.
Knowing that Gene was dying, Talmadge supporters had initiated a write-in campaign for Herman. When the votes were tallied, Herman Talmadge came in third. A provision of the Georgia Constitution stipulated that if no “person” won a majority vote, the Legislature would choose a governor from among the other leading candidates.
In their wisdom, they theorized that if Eugene Talmadge died, he could not be considered a person — at least not a live one. That put matters into the hands of the pro-Talmadge Legislature. They met to canvass the vote and found out that, lo and behold, another 58 additional write-in votes had turned up for Talmadge in Telfair County, his home county.
That was enough for the Legislature to promptly elected Herman Talmadge governor. The problem was that the news media (them again!) discovered that of those 58 votes, 34 had been cast in alphabetical order and some of the voters had been dead for years. Oops!
That didn’t stop Talmadge for claiming the job or stop the controversy and longtime Secretary of State Ben Fortson from hiding the official state seal under the seat of his wheelchair until things could be sorted out.
After 63 days of having three men saying they were the rightful governor, the state Supreme Court ruled in favor of Thompson, who held the job until a special election in 1948, which Herman Talmadge won handily. He was elected to a full term in 1950, then ran successfully for the Senate in 1956 and served until 1980 when he lost to Republican Mack Mattingly after being accused by the Senate Ethics Committee of mismanagement of his office finances. Mattingly was the first Republican to have served in the U.S. Senate from Georgia since Reconstruction.
Winston Churchill said that democracy is the worst form of government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time. That gives me hope. We survived three governors in Georgia. Maybe we can survive this.
You can reach Dick Yarbrough at firstname.lastname@example.org; at P.O. Box 725373, Atlanta, Georgia 31139; online at dickyarbrough.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/dickyarb