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Free Citizen

This writer espouses individual liberty, free markets, and limited government.

Location: Jackson, Mississippi, United States

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Politics in Georgia

Millionaire Ray Boyd, 67, wanted to run for governor of Georgia as a Republican; however, he refused to sign the loyalty pledge that the state Republican Party requires of everyone who runs in the GOP primary. Boyd, who calls himself a "Ronald Reagan Republican," now says he will run instead as an independent and will spend some $2 million of his own money on his campaign.

He will need to gather about 50,000 signatures by July 1. Any votes he gets in November can be expected to come out of the hide of the Republican nominee. There will also be a Libertarian draining votes from the Republican.

Ballot Access News says: "Southern Political Report has this story about Ray Boyd, who says he will be an independent candidate for governor of Georgia this year. ... . Georgia has not had an independent candidate for governor on the ballot since 1942. Before 1943, Georgia let any independent or minor party candidate get on the general election ballot with no petition, but Georgia has had extremely burdensome petition requirements for independents and minor parties ever since 1943."

Governor Ellis Arnall, who was elected in 1942, is often praised for lowering the Peach State's voting age to 18 in 1944 and for eliminating the poll tax. But I’m assuming that he also supported the restrictive petition requirements for independents and small parties.

Georgia, of course, was a one-party state back then, and the ruling Democrats apparently wanted as little non-Democratic competition as possible.

The late U. S. senator Herman Talmadge had some interesting things to say in his autobiography about Arnall, especially about his attempt to hold onto the governorship following the 1946 election (the "Two Governors' Row").

In his 1966 comeback bid, Arnall led the Democratic primary and then campaigned little in the runoff, which Lester Maddox won in an upset (the Republicans did not have a contested primary, and some observers believed that Republicans voted for Maddox in the Democratic runoff, thinking that he was the weaker candidate).

In the general election, a write-in campaign for Arnall drew enough votes to prevent either Maddox or the Republican Howard "Bo" Callaway from getting 50-plus percent. State law then specified that the legislature make the choice in such a situation; the heavily-Democratic legislature elected Maddox, despite his having finished second in the popular vote.[1]

Which is why Georgia is today the only state that has party primaries and runoff general elections.


[1] Mississippi has a similar provision. To win a statewide state office outright, a candidate must (1) get 50-plus percent of the vote, AND (2) carry at least 62 of the 122 state House districts. Otherwise, the state House of Representatives chooses between the top two vote-getters.


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