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Greg Bluestein

A closer look at the effort to ‘censure’ Nathan Deal over his controversial veto

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The moment the resolution to “censure” Gov. Nathan Deal was introduced, the grass-roots activists at the Third District Republican Convention in Georgia burst into applause.

We told you last month that the partisans of the district, which covers a swath of west Georgia, voted overwhelming to approve the resolution. Now we have the video, posted above, to document it.

The vote came shortly after Deal’s veto of the controversial “religious liberty” legislation. And though it was purely symbolic, it was the most gripping sign of the conservative backlash to Deal’s decision to veto the legislation. A majority of GOP activists in Georgia’s congressional districts passed resolutions expressing their “deep disappointment” with the veto, but the Third was the only district to call for a censure of the governor.

(We should note that the meeting was held before Deal killed the “campus carry” gun rights expansion, also beloved by many conservative activists.)

 Josh McKoon, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and author of S.B. 129, the religious liberty bill. Bob Andres, bandres@ajc.com

Josh McKoon, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and author of S.B. 129, the religious liberty bill. Bob Andres, bandres@ajc.com

The first person to rise in opposition to the resolution was a surprising one: State Sen. Josh McKoon, the sponsor of the “religious liberty” bill, who frequently battles with the governor and his staff.

“I understand the level of frustration and anger with Gov. Deal probably as well as anyone in the room,” he said to a chuckle or two. “I do not think that adopting this resolution is a constructive way to move forward on trying to pass religious freedom legislation and other conservative priorities the next two years.”

He added: “It would make it more difficult, not less difficult, to get conservative priorities moved forward next year. I know that’s probably not a popular sentiment in the room, but I wanted to share it with everybody before the vote.”

Here’s what the measure said:

As leaders in the Republican Party, we are obligated to fully support our Party, platform, and its candidates. Only in times of great crisis or betrayal is it necessary to publicly censure our leaders. Today we are faced with both. For too long we have waited, hoping Governor Deal would return to our Party’s values on his own. That has not happened. So with sadness and humility we rise and declare:

WHEREAS Governor Deal has campaigned as a conservative and made promises during his campaigns only to quickly flip-flop on those promises; and

WHEREAS Governor has amassed a long and terrible record of governing in association with liberal Democrats and crony capitalists, on issues ranging from gun rights, religious liberty, T-SPLOST, tax increases, and Common Core; and

WHEREAS Governor Deal has abandoned our values and has been eerily silent against Liberals, yet publicly reprimands Conservatives in his own Party; and

WHEREAS this record has been disastrous and harmful to Georgians; and

WHEREAS Governor Deal, coming under pressure from Big Business and the Atlanta Chamber, has succumbed to their demands not out of principle, but rather out of fear of loss of income for the state of Georgia, and vetoed House Bill 757, there by selling the stroke of his pen to the highest bidder.

BE IT HEREBY RESOLVED that the Delegates of this Convention censures Governor Deal for his continued disservice to our State and calls upon the Governor to see the error of his ways and return to path of conservative servant leadership.