The Georgia Senate race is proving how difficult it is for Republicans to ditch the party’s extremist image. In fact, they risk repeating 2012 mistakes where Tea Party candidates proved too far right for voters, like in the cases of Indiana’s Richard Murdouck and Todd Akin.
It’s still early in the seven-way Republican primary for Georgia Senate — a field including Reps. Phil Gingrey, Jack Kingston and Paul Broun, as well as former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel. The candidates have only held three of seven debates three months before the primary, but they have already taken controversial stands on positions ranging from defending child labor to impeaching the president.
Legitimate rape “partially right”: Gingrey, a self-described pro-life OB-GYN and former House Science committee member, defended Todd Akin’s infamous comments on women’s bodies shutting down pregnancy when there is a “legitimate rape.” Gingrey said Akin was “partially right wasn’t he?”
No immigration reform, but yes to English as official language: Most of the field oppose immigration reform and the three House members running for the seat are on the record to deport undocumented youth. But in the last debate, Broun said, “The only new law I’d like to see passed is one that makes English the official language of America.” Handel is the exception, recently softening her position on reform and calling out fellow Republicans for their laser-like focus on the U.S.-Mexican border and ignoring other problems.
Minority voter outreach: During the last presidential election, Gingrey denounced Democratic minority outreach efforts as “worse than sad.” His colleague Broun has described the Civil War as the “War of Yankee Aggression,” and expressed surprise when airport security didn’t profile a “Middle Eastern” man and him go “right through” security.
Make low-income kids work for lunch: Jack Kingston suggested low-income students sweep cafeteria floors because there’s “no such thing as free lunch.” Yet the congressman has expensed hundreds of thousands of dollars in free meals on the campaign trail and in taxpayer dollars.
Evolution “lies straight from the pit of hell”: Broun, who sits on the House Science committee, denies climate change and said that evolution, embryology, and the Big Bang theory are “all lies straight from the pit of hell.” He’s not the only creationist: Kingston once said, “I believe I came from God, not from a monkey so the answer is no. I don’t believe that a creature crawled out of the sea and became a human being one day.”
Gun giveaways: In January, Broun raffled off an AR-15, the same gun model used to murder 26 children and adults in Newtown.
Obamacare helps people with “hang nails”: According to Gingrey, the Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act was “one of the worst decisions in Supreme Court history.” Gingrey dismissed the law’s protection of pre-existing medical conditions as nothing more than protecting people with “hang nails and fever blisters.”