Georgia will soon be losing one of its most entertaining political personalities in U.S. Rep. Paul Broun of Athens.
Ever since his election to Congress in 2007, Broun has entertained voters and journalists alike with his zany, off-the-wall behavior. He would say something outrageous such as evolution being a lie “straight from the pit of hell,” or would hold a town hall meeting where constituents talked openly about shooting President Barack Obama.
Broun will soon be departing the political scene after running unsuccessfully for the Senate. Who could replace him? As it turns out, voters will have the opportunity to select some worthy successors.
In Broun’s own 10th Congressional District, one of the candidates in the GOP runoff is a talk show host named Jody Hice. He is already drawing national attention for his controversial statement that Islam is not really a religion.
“Although Islam has a religious component, it is much more than a simple religious ideology,” Hice said. “It is a complete geo-political structure and, as such, does not deserve First Amendment protection.”
Hice also says if a woman wants to run for political office, that is allowed as long as she clears it with her spouse: “If the woman’s within the authority of her husband, I don’t see a problem.”
Hice provided one of the funniest moments of the primary campaign during a 10th District debate. He calls himself an expert on the U.S. Constitution, but in the debate Hice was asked by retired military officer Stephen Simpson: "What’s your position on the 19th and 26th amendments?"
"Can you tell me what they are?" Hice said.
"You’re supposed to be the expert," said Simpson, waiting for Hice’s answer to the original question.
"Look, I’ve never claimed to be a constitutional scholar," Hice finally responded. "I am a constitutionalist."
Hice is currently competing with Mike Collins in the runoff campaign, but if the 10th District voters should pick him, he’ll be able to fill Paul Broun’s shoes with no trouble.
There are candidates in other races who are just as endearing as Broun, such as the 11th Congressional District runoff between former congressman Bob Barr and former legislator Barry Loudermilk.
Barr is well known to the state’s voters from an earlier stint in Congress. One of my favorite memories of him dates back to the 2002 election when he ran against John Linder in the Republican primary. During that campaign, Barr was attending a fundraiser at a lobbyist’s house when he accidentally discharged a 1908 model .38-caliber Colt pistol and shot out a glass door. The opposition promptly labeled Barr, a gun rights enthusiast, as a “loose cannon” with a “hair-trigger temper.”
Loudermilk has some problems getting the facts right, saying this about the 1969 moon landing: “When President Kennedy set out there and said, ‘We’re going to go to the moon in this decade,’ he didn’t create a government bureaucracy to do it. We created NASA to oversee it and turned it over to the private sector.”
Loudermilk’s statement is false. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is a government agency and always has been. It is not a private company. It was also not created by John F. Kennedy—President Eisenhower established NASA in 1958.
Then there’s Bob Johnson, a physician competing against state Sen. Buddy Carter in the 1st Congressional District’s GOP runoff. Johnson dislikes the security searches people have to undergo at the nation’s airports and made this provocative comment: “Now this is going to sound outrageous, I’d rather see another terrorist attack, truly I would, than to give up my liberty as an American citizen.”
Paul Broun is leaving Congress, but we don’t have to worry about finding a replacement for him. There are plenty of candidates out there who will be just as entertaining.