Barry Loudermilk’s case for post-election Georgia Republican unity

Freshman U.S. Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R-Cassville, shown during his campaign last year. AJC file

Freshman U.S. Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R-Cassville, shown during his campaign last year. AJC file

Let’s be clear: U.S. Rep. Barry Loudermilk said he believes Republican Donald Trump will win Tuesday’s election, signaling a “transformation” in American politics. But he had some sharp words for his fellow GOPers in case of an electoral collapse.

“Regardless of what happens Tuesday, we have a great opportunity as conservatives. But it’s not going to happen if we don’t unify,” he told a Cobb GOP gathering on Saturday. “There’s never been a war ever won on friendly fire. If you think you’re going to win a battle by shooting a friend next to you, you’re never going to win. Until we can put aside our minor differences, we won’t.”

Loudermilk, an early acolyte of the tea party movement, told the story of a recent visit to a tea party meeting in his district to illustrate his point. He asked if any of its members could recall the last time they aimed their fire at a Democrat rather than a fellow Republican. They couldn’t, he said.

“Let’s differ, but let’s do it behind closed doors,” he said.

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He invoked Rep. Steve Southerland’s loss of a conservative-leaning north Florida district in 2014 after facing fierce internal GOP pushback for some of his votes.

“Which would we be better off with? Someone who made one vote that we didn’t line up with, or someone who, on about every other vote, we agree with,” said Loudermilk, who survived his own crowded primary battle earlier this year. “You look at the other side – they’re unified, but they can’t stand each other. We don’t blindly go along with each other, but we learn.”

He’s not blameless, he said, apologizing for some of the attacks he made on fellow conservatives.

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“When you’re on the front lines, you see the battles a little different than someone who is watching the TV at home,” said Loudermilk. “We need to show America how America can work. Not just talk about it, or condemn each other. We need to show America right now how conservative values work.”

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