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Greg Bluestein

Radio host pleads for challenge to Georgia lawmaker who made KKK comments

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State Rep. Tommy Benton managed to keep his chairmanship after his controversial statements about the Ku Klux Klan and slavery. But his critics want to make sure he doesn’t keep his job.

Radio show host Michael Graham posted an ad Wednesday in Benton’s hometown newspaper, the Jackson Herald, offering his services for free to the “right candidate” willing to challenge the six-term Republican.

Ad in Jackson Herald seeking Tommy Benton challenger.

Ad in Jackson Herald seeking Tommy Benton challenger.

“If you’re willing to do the hard work of running, I’m willing to help,” wrote Graham, a former GOP political consultant who also offered to host a fundraiser, solicit donations and organize volunteers.

“Our heritage as Southerners and our beliefs as conservatives deserve better than this,” added Graham, a host of NewsRadio 106.7.

Benton, R-Jefferson, pulled his name from three pieces of controversial legislation after his comments about slavery, the Ku Klux Klan and the Civil War drew national attention.

He told our AJC colleague Chris Joyner last week that attempts to bring down or alter Confederate memorials “cultural terrorism” and said the Ku Klux Klan “made a lot of people straighten up.”

Benton said in a brief statement he didn’t want his comments to create a “negative perception” but he did not apologize or retract them, and apparently will retain his chairmanship of the House Committee on Human Relations and Aging.

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The Georgia chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans called for a boycott of New Orleans after the city’s “disgraceful” decision to remove several statues of Rebel war figures

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State Rep. Allen Peake has scaled back his political ambitions as he doubles down on his push to expand Georgia’s medical marijuana program.

The Macon Republican, a one-time ally of Gov. Nathan Deal who is feuding with him over his expansion proposal, told a Young Republicans gathering Wednesday he is no longer considering a 2018 run for lieutenant governor and is only going to be in the statehouse “probably a couple more years.”

Peake, who has already announced his re-election campaign, told the partisans he’s motivated to fight for the expansion by the stories of those suffering from debilitating diseases only treated by medicinal marijuana.

“For those who think I’m grandstanding to run for statewide office, I’m not,” he said.

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The Super PAC backing Carly Fiornia’s Republican presidential bid launched a round of robocalls aimed at Georgia Republican voters this morning, attempting to enlist them in an effort to have Fiorina included in tonight’s debate in New Hampshire. 

From her letter of protest, addressed to the Republican National Committee:

In 2012, the debate stage featured 8 candidates until the Iowa Caucus and then all declared candidates still in the race were invited from that point forward, including the ABC New Hampshire debate. As of today, I will be the only candidate kept off the debate stage. To review, we beat Governors Christie and Kasich in Iowa this week when voters actually had their say. 

This campaign has the same number of delegates as Governors Bush and Kasich while Governor Christie has zero. We’re ahead of Dr. Carson in New Hampshire polling. We are 6th in hard dollars raised and have twice the cash on hand as either Governors Christie or Kasich. We are already on the ballot in 32 states, and there is a ground game with paid staff in 12 states. Yet, all of these candidates will be invited to the ABC debate. I will not. 

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Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed journeyed to South Carolina on Wednesday to stump for Hillary Clinton.

Hizzoner has high hopes for the Clinton campaign in the South – he told our AJC colleague he believed she would “eviscerate” Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders next door.

***

We’re told former Gov. Nathan Deal aide Erin Hames was at the statehouse on Wednesday pitching the school takeover constitutional amendment to a group of religious leaders.

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