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Tamar Hallerman
Greg BluesteinJim Galloway

Ted Cruz condemns Nathan Deal’s veto of ‘religious liberty’ bill

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Republican presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz-R-Texas addresses the crowd during a campaign stop Monday in Rothschild, Wisc. AP/Charles Rex Arbogast

Republican presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz-R-Texas addresses the crowd during a campaign stop Monday in Rothschild, Wisc. AP/Charles Rex Arbogast

Gov. Nathan Deal and his advisers must be thinking it’s a good thing they didn’t endorse Texas U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz in this month’s primary. The Republican presidential candidate, who has made advocating for “religious liberty” measures a staple of his platform, criticized Deal for his decision to reject Georgia’s latest version of the legislation. From the Washington Examiner:

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“I thought that was very disappointing to see Gov. Deal of Georgia side with leftist activists and side against religious liberty,” Cruz said. “It used to be, political parties, we would argue about marginal tax rates and you could have disagreements about what the level of taxation should be. But on religious liberty, on protecting the rights of every American to practice, live according to our faith, live according to our conscience, we all came together. That ought to be a bipartisan commitment and I was disappointed not to see Governor Deal not defend religious liberty.”

Cruz’ remarks shouldn’t be a surprise. Backers of what became House Bill 757 and the Cruz campaign created something of a symbiotic relationship with each other, hoping that each would get the other across the finish line. Cruz ended up finishing third in the March 1 GOP presidential primary in Georgia, though he finished second in delegates.

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Retired neurosurgeon and former Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson also expressed his dismay, quoting the New Testament in a Facebook post:

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A group of “religious liberty” proponents will assemble at the state Capitol this morning for a press conference – presumably to push the call for a special session to override Gov. Nathan Deal’s veto of HB 757. A three-fifths vote by each chamber would be required for the General Assembly to call itself into session.

But at least until May 3, it may be tough to find lawmakers willing to jump up and support an override session. That’s because the governor of Georgia has the line-item veto and can pencil out specific funding projects in the districts of rebellious members of the House and Senate.

State Sen. Josh McKoon (right), with Rep. Barry Fleming, R-Harlem. AJC file/Bob Andres, bandres@ajc.com

State Sen. Josh McKoon (right), with Rep. Barry Fleming, R-Harlem. AJC file/Bob Andres, bandres@ajc.com

An early example of this hammer appears today, courtesy of Chuck Williams and the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer:

Columbus State University and the National Infantry Museum lost funding in the most recent state budget because of the divisive actions of Republican Sen. Josh McKoon, according to a senior member of the local General Assembly delegation.

“You can only stick a stick in somebody’s eye so long before enough is enough,” Rep. Richard Smith said late Monday afternoon. “They are going to give it to somebody who has been supportive.”

McKoon just finished his sixth year in the General Assembly. He has been at odds this session with Republican Speaker of House David Ralston and Gov. Nathan Deal. At one point, McKoon introduced legislation to limit the term of the speaker but pulled it when the Senate leadership asked. For the last three sessions, McKoon has been pushing religious liberty legislation. A compromised version of that effort passed the House and the Senate in the session that ended last week. Deal vetoed that bill Monday.

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Well, that was fast. Gov. Nathan Deal announced his intention to veto HB 757, the “religious liberty” bill, shortly after 10 a.m. Monday. By 5 p.m., Republican congressional candidate and state Sen. Mike Crane, R-Newnan, was already fundraising off his call for a special legislative session to overturn the governor’s decision. From the email:

We cannot follow the same script as other states. The Liberal Hollywood elites are taking advantage of Georgia’s hospitality and are now trying to impose their ideology onto our residents. 

I’m calling for a special session because our fight isn’t over – we have to override this veto and stand up for and fight for our Constitution. 

I will not stand for liberal elites trying to hold our Christian views hostage.

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Coweta County resident Burl Finkelstein was front and center in a lengthy New York Times story Monday illustrating how Republican elites lost many of their party’s voters to presidential front-runner Donald Trump. It started with Finkelstein’s disenchantment with U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson:

“As the luncheon wound down, Mr. Isakson found himself facing a man from Coweta County. The man, Burl Finkelstein, said trade policies with Mexico and China were strangling the family-owned kitchen-parts company he helped manage, and imperiling the jobs it provided. Mr. Isakson politely brushed him off, Mr. Finkelstein recalled, as he had many times before.

So when the Georgia primary rolled around this month, Mr. Finkelstein, along with many others in his town, pulled the lever for Donald J. Trump, who made him feel that someone had finally started listening. “He gets it,” Mr. Finkelstein said in a recent interview. “We’ve sold ourselves out.”

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We suppose this could be used as an argument both for and against the campus-carry legislation now on the governor’s desk. From the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

The Ohio National Guardsmen who fired on students and antiwar protesters at Kent State University on May 4, 1970 were given an order to prepare to shoot, according to a new analysis of a 40-year-old audio tape of the event.

“Guard!” says a male voice on the recording, which two forensic audio experts enhanced and evaluated at the request of The Plain Dealer. Several seconds pass. Then, “All right, prepare to fire!”

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Todd Rehm of GeorgiaPundit.com pointed us to this over-the-top YouTube campaign pitch for Ron Daniels, who’s running for secretary of the Young Lawyers Division of the Georgia State Bar. The man’s got a future. Enjoy:

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Gainesville Republican Doug Collins announced four debates ahead of the contentious May 24 primary for the 9th District congressional seat he currently occupies, but not before taking yet another shot at challenger Paul Broun’s residency.

“I know these counties are a long ways away for Oconee County, but I would encourage former Congressman Paul Broun to make the drive,” Collins said in a statement.

Broun, who has decried Collin’s “personal attacks,” was quick to counter.

The following line was included at the bottom of a press release this morning announcing endorsements from several conservative groups:

“Dr. Paul Broun and his wife, Niki, live in Clarkesville, Georgia.”

Broun previously said he’s put his Watkinsville home, which is not located within the district’s boundaries, on the market and is looking to buy in Habersham County.

“My daddy told me a half truth is a whole lie. And the whole truth is he’s desperate to distract you from his record,” Broun said about Collins in his first radio ad, which began airing last week.

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Ever wonder what it’s like to live a day in the life of a high-powered Georgia lobbyist? Neither have we. But Atlanta magazine’s Max Blau did, and he documented Wayne Garner and Charlie Watts as they roamed the Gold Dome’s halls. Read his story here. You’ll be happy you did.