Maynard Eaton, Special to BlackPoliticsontheWeb.com
– With the Republican National Convention on the horizon, turmoil amongst Georgia’s Black Republicans could garner national attention in Minneapolis.
She is an attractive political candidate who could make history by becoming the first African American Republican woman ever elected to Congress but curiously the prominent family physician is being snubbed by the Georgia GOP.
Dr. Deborah Honeycutt, 61, and her husband, Andrew, are longtime Republicans and “Christian Conservatives”. Deborah is seeking to unseat the three-term incumbent Democrat from metro-Atlanta’s 13th Congressional District, Rep. David Scott.
Nevertheless the possibility of a Republican upset in the 13th, which represents portions of Cobb, Clayton, Douglas, Fulton, Henry and DeKalb counties, hasn’t swayed the urbane Chairman of the Georgia Black Republican Council, 36-year-old Rufus Montgomery.
“I like David,” candidly admits Montgomery, who also sits on the State Executive Committee of the Georgia Republican Party. “That’s a tough race for us because David Scott is one of the most conservative African Americans in Congress.”
Dr. Honeycutt takes exception to that assessment given Scott’s many “non-conservative” votes and philosophies such as his opposition to off-shore drilling for new refineries here at home, his “kowtowing” to environmental special interests, his opposition to school choice and his pro-abortion stance.
“I bet Rufus is not able to name one conservative thing that Scott has voted in favor of,” she notes. “The fact that he continues to give comfort and support to someone who doesn’t have the same values and beliefs as the everyday advocates of Abraham Lincoln’s party says to me that Rufus is not supportive of traditional GOP values. He is supporting his own agenda, whatever that might be.”
Montgomery, a Republican Party operative whose iPhone contains a slideshow of photos featuring him with prominent Republicans leaders, argues that it is “very difficult” for a candidate like Honeycutt who has never held political office to beat an incumbent like Scott who has 28 years of public service as an elected official in Washington and in the Georgia General Assembly, and considerable financial resources to run a re-election campaign.
“What have you done,” Montgomery asks rhetorically of Honeycutt’s candidacy. “When an African American candidate shows up who hasn’t paid their dues and who hasn’t been in the political process that is the last person who should cry foul about not getting Party support. Those who have been in the game already have a network of support.”
“It doesn’t take a whole lot of experience to do nothing,” counters Honeycutt. “If you look at the situation in the District and it’s worse today than when [David Scott] was elected. That’s why people are talking about change.”
Honeycutt has raised over $3 million already from Conservatives across the country. She says she is not seeking financial support from the Georgia GOP; just their goodwill and blessings.
“I’ve talked to other African American candidates across the country and this is not unusual at all. They’ve had similar experiences that I’ve had,” says the personable and petite Dr. Honeycutt. “My campaign is working hard to inform the citizenry of the 13th district; to win their vote and therefore the election. I understand that I have to work hard to win, and do that without the Party doing much for us. I don’t have any problem with that at all.”
What the Honeycutt campaign has a problem with is Montgomery, a high ranking Black Republican politico, supporting a controversial – and some allege corrupt – Democrat over a potentially history-making female Republican in the 13th Congressional District.
“What the Republican Party doesn’t like is independence. It’s not how long you’ve been in the party or in the political trenches, it’s will you be a ‘yes man’, will you say exactly what we want you to say,” says Dr. Andrew Honeycutt, the candidate’s Harvard-educated husband. “I think what the Party’s concern is; she could be an embarrassment if she wins because if she wins without their support it’s going to look real bad.”
“It’s very rare that somebody pops out of nowhere and wins,” opines Montgomery, who like Rep. Scott is a Florida A&M University graduate, about Honeycutt. “There are no overnight sensations. When you lose you don’t pack up your toys and go home. You keep your head in the game.”
“It is a sad commentary not to make a commitment [to support Honeycutt’s candidacy],” opines Republican political consultant Michael Murphy. “They talk about the ‘Big Tent'; they talk about being inclusive. I guess I should say it’s simply the illusion of inclusion.”
Critics say Montgomery should resign his title of Minority Outreach Director for the Georgia GOP since that is not what he’s doing.
“If the Republican Party doesn’t support a black candidate that makes it difficult to justify being a Republican,” says Jim Welcome, the executive producer of NEWSMAKERS Live.
“He needs to give the title back,” argues Andrew Honeycutt. “Personally, I think he’s become the Jesse Jackson of the Georgia Republican Party. He’s learned how to pimp the system. He is their spokesperson who knows how to get paid. It’s not about issues with him; it’s about a pay day.
Honeycutt continues, “I don’t think Rufus has anything personal against Deborah; I think Rufus will do anything he can to maintain Rufus’ power. When Deborah gets elected Rufus’ power goes away. Rufus is a smart man. He knows if Deborah wins without his help, his power and influence is history. If David Scott wins he still has power with the Republican Party.”
Montgomery blithely scoffs at such criticism by saying, “There are many who would take [my Honeycutt comments] as an attack when it comes to what is required to gain support from the Republican Party. As an African American Republican if a major tenet of your campaign strategy is relying on party support against an incumbent then you are not going to make it.”
If that is the case, argues Murphy, it is the Republican Party’s fault.
“I think it is a national disgrace that in the year 2008 that the Republican Party does not have one Black elected official in Congress. That’s a travesty,” Murphy contends. “I think as Lincoln looks down at this Party he must have tears in his eyes because this is nothing like what he thought to be the civil rights party. These guys have now taken it the other way.”
Dr. William Boone is a noted political science professor at Clark-Atlanta University. He was asked by this reporter: Can a Republican win against a Democrat in a congressional area like District 13?
Boone replied, “That raises a question that folks don’t want to talk about.
The question becomes whether or not Republicans are ready to work for and vote for Black Republicans. That’s the issue that must be addressed.”
Efforts to reach out to Republican Party leaders such as Georgia GOP Chair Sue Everhart, Governor Sunny Perdue and District 13 Republican Party Chairwoman Dawn Strickland were rebuffed. This reporters repeated calls were not returned.
Maynard Eaton, Sr. is the co-founder, News Director & Executive Editor of NEWSMAKERS Live/Journal.
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