03.12.2014 0

NRCC takes aim at potential Republican nominee in Georgia


By Rick Manning

John Stone seems like the perfect candidate.

A congressional aide who came north from Georgia with the late Representative Charlie Norwood in the Contract with America revolution of 1994, Stone has the credentials, expertise and contacts to defeat Georgia House Democrat incumbent John Barrow.

But contrary to what conventional wisdom would expect, in today’s crazy, mixed up world at the dysfunctional National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) that exact know-how scares them to death.

Until recently, Stone faced a one on one primary battle with Rick Allen, a wealthy businessman who was defeated in a primary run-off to meet Barrow in 2012.  This mano e mano confrontation would guarantee that the Republicans came out of the primary with a single candidate who could focus upon winning the seat after the primary election on May 20, avoiding the exact kind of messy, expensive run-off election that has helped Barrow in the past.

Seeing this opportunity to have a clean shot at Barrow, the D.C. Republican operatives should have been jumping for joy, but something changed.  John Stone pledged that he would support changing the entire Republican leadership team in the House, and his polling numbers jumped from a too close to call race against Allen to a 74 -15 percent advantage when voters learned about that position.

Suddenly, alternative candidate recruitment by the NRCC in this otherwise extremely winnable district became a priority.  The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that state Representative Delvis Dutton’s entrance into the race was orchestrated by NRCC operatives who have gone so far as to set up his consulting team and even managed his campaign announcement.   In addition, a fourth candidate, Eugene Yu, has left behind his longshot bid to become a United States Senator from Georgia to jump into the race at the last minute.

The impact is simple.

Democrat Congressman John Barrow is licking his chops expecting that he will, due to NRCC meddling, be facing a general election opponent who won’t even be chosen until a July 21st run-off election.  In Georgia if no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote in a primary, the top two candidates face off, delaying the selection of a nominee for two additional months.  That opponent is likely to have a depleted campaign treasury, and will have endured two more months of rigorous negative intra-party campaigning.  Meanwhile Barrow will be sitting on a $2 million bankroll ready to unleash a torrent of attack ads against the defenseless Republican who emerges from the nomination process.

There are only two possible conclusions that can be drawn by the NRCC’s blundering into the 12th Congressional District of Georgia race at the last minute and doing grievous harm to their nominee.  Either they are incompetent boobs who have made it exponentially harder for a Republican to win in this Republican district by accident, or they would rather have Democrat John Barrow in the seat than a reformer who understands how politics is played in D.C. like John Stone.

Incredibly, the two new entrants into the race that threaten to throw the nomination to a run-off are so flawed that they would be destroyed in a General Election should they become the nominee.

Yu’s company went bankrupt because his deal to sell military parts and equipment to Hugo Chavez in Venezuela fell apart.  Yep, you got it, a Republican spoiler candidate in the race was trying to sell arms to an avowed enemy of the United States just ten years ago.  I can’t wait to see the Barrow ad against this guy in a general election.

The other candidate, Dutton has $660,000 in judgments against him and his business.  These judgments include government claims that he failed to pay his taxes and also the unemployment insurance for his employees.  And this is the guy the NRCC recruited and convinced to jump into the race as a credible general election opponent?

The NRCC’s haplessness in this late candidate recruitment is not isolated.  Just this week, they anonymously knifed the Republican nominee just before a crucial Florida special election in the inside the beltway publication, Politico.   Now they are picking egg off their faces as the Republican won the race and is coming to Washington to confront the self-serving leakers.

In spite of the evidence to the contrary, the House party campaign organization is not staffed by a bumbling bunch of buffoons.

Instead, they are clearly motivated in the Georgia race by the fear that John Stone’s experience and savvy could lead the entire 2015 freshman Republican class in a revolt to change House Republican leadership, thus threatening their jobs.

The NRCC needs the race to go to a run-off in the hopes that Allen’s deep pockets will overwhelm Stone’s message between May and June, so they deliberately gummed up the primary.

The D.C. Republican establishment has to stop Stone now before he wins the nomination.  And make no mistake, prior to their machinations, Stone was in line to be the nominee poised for an clear shot at Barrow based upon his in-district Party support of 14 of 17 county Republican chairs.  This institutional support combined with his wildly popular vow to vote for conservative alternatives to returning Speaker Boehner and his team made Stone the clear front runner.

While Stone is still likely to win the run-off for these same reasons, his chances in the general election will be dramatically handicapped.

If this political observer were the cynical type, he might believe that the Republican establishment would prefer a Democrat backbencher representing the people of Georgia’s 12th House District, than a Republican who threatens their hold on power.

Remember this story, when people ask you why Washington, D.C. never seems to change.  A story demonstrating that the elites will use every trick in the book to stop any candidate who stands up to power, all the while denying any involvement.

The author (@rmanning957) is the vice president of public policy and communications for Americans for Limited Government.

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