I am voting for Gary Bechtel for State House District 141, the seat being vacated by Allen Peake. Bechtel was one of only three Bibb County school board members to raise questions about Romain Dallemand.
Some vilified Bechtel as a racist for raising those concerns. One prominent community leader told me at the time that if Dallemand were white, Bechtel would have had no problem. That community leader was wrong, and Bechtel was right. He has proven he can withstand the pressures of office and hold his ground. For exposing Dallemand alone, Bechtel deserves our support. But he has also fought the good fight against tax increases, wasteful spending, and other governmental nonsense over the years. I am happy to support him.
One candidate none of us should support is a guy named Jim Beck. Beck is running for Insurance Commissioner. He has a fancy proclamation from the retiring commissioner, Ralph Hudgens, claiming Beck did great work as Hudgens’ chief of staff. He also has an email from Hudgens saying the same thing. But there is a problem.
According to an investigation by 11 Alive in Atlanta and my conversations with the Insurance Commissioner’s Office, Hudgens has no memory of sending that email to Beck. In fact, Beck had access to the email account from which the glowing praise originated. Hudgens’ assistant has no memory of processing a proclamation for Beck but says Beck could have done it himself.
What the Insurance Commissioner does remember, however, is firing Beck. He allowed Beck to resign but makes clear he gave Beck no choice. Hudgens is backing Jay Florence in the race, not his former Chief of Staff. Hudgens and several others in his office have strong words against Beck for his conduct in office and taking outside work while working at the Insurance Commissioner’s office. Hudgens is one of the most respected conservative leaders in Georgia. When he speaks so negatively of a man he once employed, we should probably all listen to him and avoid Beck. I will be joining Hudgens in voting for Jay Florence.
In the other statewide races, I think Georgia Republicans can be grateful for a deep bench. While I am supporting my long-time friend Buzz Brockway for Secretary of State, both Josh McKoon and David Belle Isle are excellent candidates who would be great in the job. Likewise, my long time friend David Shafer is running for Lieutenant Governor, and I am happy to support him. But I am impressed with Geoff Duncan. If David were not a friend, I would support Duncan, who has excited conservatives in a way many of the gubernatorial candidates have not.
Speaking of the governor’s race, I am as undecided as most of you. I think Casey Cagle is too establishment for me, but I have no doubt he’d be a fine governor. Clay Tippins is the only Republican who opposes a state version of the Bill Clinton supported Religious Freedom Restoration Act, so I have to rule Tippins out. Michael Williams is running as a crazy man, not as himself, so I must rule him out. That leaves Brian Kemp and Hunter Hill. Ted Cruz and most of the House and Senate conservatives support Hill. But I also know, trust, and like Kemp. Given that Cagle and Kemp are both long time office holders, I suspect a Cagle-Kemp runoff would be far nastier than a Cagle-Hill runoff. While I can narrow it down to Kemp and Hill, I probably will not decide between them till I am forced to vote. It is nice to have an abundance of good candidates.