Mike Crane on a missed vote — and maybe a slap at Casey Cagle

March 13, 2013 - Atlanta, Ga: Sen. Mike Crane, R-Newnan, facing, asks a questions to Rep. Pat Gardner, D-Atlanta, during a conversation about House Bill 241 in the Senate State and Local Government Operations Committee in the Coverdell Legislative Building Wednesday afternoon in Atlanta, Ga., March 13, 2013. Sen. Mike Crane, of Newnan, lives 20 miles from the farthest southern reaches of Fulton County. But though he doesn't even live there, Crane is playing a big role in a debate over Fulton County's future, and he's not alone. An Atlanta Journal-Constitution review found more than a third of the people representing Fulton in the General Assembly don't live there. That's far more than the proportion of out-of-county lawmakers representing Cobb, DeKalb and Gwinnett. JASON GETZ / JGETZ@AJC.COM

State Sen. Mike Crane, R-Newnan, in a 2013 AJC file photo.

At last week’s GOP debate in Harris County, state Sen. Mike Crane, R-Newnan, who is running to replace Lynn Westmoreland in Congress, pitched himself as something other than a “maybe” politician.

During three terms in the Legislature, Crane estimated that he missed no more than 10 votes. Said the state lawmaker:

“In the Senate for the last five years, we actually only have two buttons on our desks. And they are for yes or no. I’ve watched as some folks I know – who are now serving in Congress – when they didn’t like the tough questions, I’ve watched them in that Senate chamber go walk over to the side of the room and not vote. Because they didn’t want to go on record as having an opinion one way or the other.”

Check out the video here:

Now, you might recall that in February, Crane missed a first vote on the mid-year budget bill, HB 750 – though he made the second vote on the bill, and voted twice for HB 751, the 2017 budget bill.

Nonetheless, current and former staffers for Gov. Nathan Deal were ticked off that Crane had excused himself. From the Insider post:

Chris Riley, Deal’s chief of staff, noted that state Sen. Mike Crane, who is a subcommittee chair on the budget-writing committee, “walks on budget vote after sitting on Senate floor during debate. Really?”

At the time, Crane declined to say what prompted him to miss the vote. But on Monday, spokeswoman Jacqueline Byrd said ‘twas religious liberty, and a massive rally by the son of Billy Graham, that lured her candidate away:

“It’s no surprise that career politicians and the political elite are doing everything in their power to undermine a committed conservative like Mike Crane, who is a clear threat to their power base.

“Mike will never apologize for missing a procedural vote to publically share his faith as he did when he attended Franklin Graham’ s Faith and Freedom Rally.”

Crane is one of a handful of GOP state senators who have called for a special session to override Deal’s veto of HB 757, the “religious” liberty bill passed by the Legislature.

This wasn’t the only controversial utterance that came from Crane during that Harris County debate. In the same vein, the congressional candidate said this about a private Republican Senate caucus meeting:

“I sat in that meeting when the top leaders of our state said to senators in that room, ‘If this is too tough for you, just walk on it.’ I said to that leader in that meeting in that room, I said, ‘Don’t you ever – don’t you ever instruct these folks to do that again.’ This person was not a member of the Senate, but was a very high-ranking leader in this state.”

Now, if an individual is a top leader of the state, not a member of the Senate, and present at a private Senate caucus meeting, odds are good that his name is Casey Cagle – who, as lieutenant governor, is president of the Senate. But not a member.

We asked Crane if his were a reference to Cagle. He did not deny it. “The comments speak for themselves,” Crane’s spokeswoman said.

Said Bo Butler, chief of staff for the lieutenant governor, on Crane’s comments: “I have no idea what or who he is referring to.”

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