The Georgia July 1998 Republican Primary

The July 21st Republican primary is less than one month away, and there is much going on that is of great interest to gay and lesbian voters – both good news and bad news.

Lieutenant Governor

First the bad news. The Republican primary for lieutenant governor is rapidly turning into a gallop to the extreme right by all the major candidates, with anti-gay rhetoric a central part of the message. State Senator Chuck Clay of Marietta, regarded previously as a pragmatic business-like conservative, spent most of this year's Georgia General Assembly session trying to overturn Atlanta's domestic partnership ordinance. Rockdale County Chairman Randy Poynter, previously seen as a sensible moderate, attacked Fulton County Commission Chairman Mitch Skandalakis for courting gay support during his 1993 special election campaign and his 1994 re-election campaign.

Sadly, Mitch Skandalakis has decided to answer this criticism by attacking gays and lesbians in several mass mailings to likely GOP primary voters. His mailers note that he supports the state's antiquated sodomy law, refused several times to issue a proclamation recognizing Gay Pride weekend, and voted against domestic partnership legislation if it covered any gay men or lesbians. Thus heterosexual couples who already have the right to marry would receive partnership benefits, whereas gay people in long-term committed relationships, many of whom wish to legally marry, would not. Skandalakis was elected twice as County Commission Chairman with strong support among gay people. It's a shame that he has decided to choose political expediency over equality and justice.

Unfortunately, the two other major candidates in the race are no friends of gay and lesbian people. State senator Pam Glanton of Riverdale and former State Senator Clint Day are long-time Religious Right activists who have never courted gay voters. Thus the Lieutenant Governor's race offers nothing promising for Log Cabin Republicans.


Now the good news. The race for the GOP gubernatorial nomination is all but over, with the campaign of virulently anti-gay candidate and former Attorney General Mike Bowers now seen as dead in the water by virtually all political observers. Last month's revelations of more juicy details about Bowers' 15-year extra-marital affair took the wind out of his sails.

Businessman Guy Millner will be the Republican gubernatorial nominee. Millner does hold some promise for gay voters. While he has been embraced by some in the Republican Right for his pro-life stance on abortion, his past two campaigns for governor and US Senate have not witnessed any appeals to anti-gay sentiment, even in GOP primaries against veteran Christian Coalition members such as John Knox and Clint Day. Millner's major issues are ones that gay Republicans can embrace: getting rid of the automobile tax, abolishing parole for violent criminals, and improving Georgia's lagging educational system.

Cobb County Commissioner

In other campaign news, Cobb County Commissioner Gordon Wysong, author of the infamous anti-gay "Community Standards" resolution, drew three strong opponents in the Republican primary. They include former incumbent Emmett Burton, attorney Sam Olens, and contractor Frank Hunter. Both Olens and Hunter stated in the Southern Voice that they oppose the anti-gay resolution and would practice non-discrimination in their office if elected. With four candidates in the field, this race looks headed to a runoff.

Fulton County Commissioner

The race for Mitch Skandalakis' open Fulton County Commission chairmanship features a Republican primary duel between former Democratic Commissioner Lee Roach and businessman and former Atlanta Falcon Mike Kenn. Kenn addressed Log Cabin Republicans at a meeting this spring and stated that he planned to campaign amongst all Fulton County voters and would welcome Log Cabin help in the election. Kenn is seen as the strong favorite to win the GOP nomination to face the certain Democratic nominee, former Atlanta police commissioner Eldrin Bell.

Other Primary Races

There are many other races across the state of Georgia on July 21st, and Log Cabin Republicans will try to keep our membership abreast of what is happening. Please remember to vote in the Republican primary on July 21st.