Correction: This story was updated to correct title for Attorney General Chris Carr.
‘If he goes to prison, we all go to prison’
It isn’t often that anyone going to work on a Sunday morning can be described as walking on air.
But as 71-year-old Linda Boone pushes through the door of Ruth Ann’s Restaurant at the corner of 10th Street and Veterans Parkway in Columbus the past Sunday morning, she’s exuberant.
It soon becomes clear why. She retrieves her phone from her purse and shows the screen to three 20-something waitresses hovering at the cash register.
On it is a photograph of Donald Trump speaking to the state GOP convention the previous afternoon. It turns out that Boone was a Muscogee County delegate to the convention and was sitting a dozen rows back from the stage where Trump spoke. More than 18 hours later, she’s still swooning.
Boone soon retreats to the kitchen to begin cooking the usual southern breakfast fare, plus Capt’n Crunch French toast and the special of the day, Dreamsicle pancakes. “She’s crazy,” one of the waitresses says.
A few minutes later, Boone is back on the floor, seated in one of the restaurant’s blue naugahyde-lined booths. The giddiness is gone, as she shares her take on Trump’s speech.
“He talked about turning the country around because the simple reason, sweetheart, is that we’re about to lose it,” she says softly.
“I can talk to you about Trump. I can talk to you about Jesus Christ. But I can’t talk to you about this country because I’ll cry. He talked about how we can put this thing back together, and he’s right.”
Boone said she and other Muscogee County delegates aren’t bothered by Trump’s legal troubles.
Trump’s legal troubles?
“I’ll tell you what we all said: ‘If he goes to prison, we all go to prison.’”
A video instead
While Gov. Brian Kemp and Attorney General Chris Carr skipped the convention, Coastal Georgia Congressman Earl “Buddy” Carter came down squarely in the middle of the attendance quandary.
“I have every intention to be there. I’m so excited about the president,” Carter told right-wing talk show host John Fredericks in an interview last month after Trump confirmed he’d be speaking at the convention.
A little more than a week before the convention, however, Carter said he would be sending a video instead.
“I hate to miss it. I would be there if it were not for my family vacation,” he told the Butch & Bob Show on WIFO radio in Jesup.
Unlike most of the delegations representing Coastal Georgia’s most populous counties, Chatham’s was buried deep in the back of the main hall of the Columbus Convention & Trade Center, where most of the GOP convention proceedings are occurring.
How far? Well, if you squinted real hard . . . Donald Trump was still only a speck on the horizon of the cavernous hall. Luckily, strategically placed video screens and speakers magnified the former president’s face and amplified his voice.
Don’t try to convince members of the Chatham County delegation that their seating assignment was an accident.
They blame it on GOP officials still angry over the time they spent dealing with the fallout of the fight over delegate selection at Coach’s Corner in Savannah in 2021, which left the county without representation at the state convention that year.
‘Big Tent’ messaging
As the scarcity of non-white faces at the convention in Columbus again showed, the state GOP has a problem in attracting minorities that no number of pledges to make it a “big tent” party can disguise.
To remedy that, party officials convened a group of mostly non-white Georgia Republicans to describe to interested convention delegates the many ways the party’s messaging undermines those pledges.
Scaremongering over immigrants? “Every state is a border state”? The result is that every person with a brown face is stigmatized and seen as an “undocumented immigrant,” observed Riquet Caballero.
Abortion? It isn’t a bellwether issue for the Chinese American community because China’s longtime “one-child” policy made it an acceptable option, noted Sunny Wong.
Equating “criminal justice reform” with “soft on crime”? A lot of our homes are run by mothers because a lot of our fathers are incarcerated, some unfairly and excessively, said Camilla Moore.
The list went on.
Getting it right
For Deborah Broderick of Wilmington Island, it all became too much.
For more than 90 minutes, Broderick and more than a hundred other Republicans sat in a conference room listening to Garland Favorito, co-founder of VoterGA.org, seek to debunk in sometimes numbing detail what he says are the prevailing myths about Georgia elections.
These are the myths, he said: The 2020 vote was counted correctly. Government agencies have investigated the fraud claims from the 2020 election and found nothing. There was no fraud that election that could have changed the election outcome. The 2022 election was conducted perfectly.
When Favorito finally opened the floor to questions, Broderick was one of the last dozen or so audience members to get the microphone. But overcome with emotion, her voice caught and she faltered. She settled for a short accolade to Favorito’s work and quickly sat down.
Later, Broderick explained why she is so passionate about fixing what she and many Chatham County Republicans say is Georgia’s deeply flawed election system.
Voting is essential to what the United States is, she said. If we don’t get it right and the software inside the voting machines remains vulnerable to tampering, “we’ll never be able to fairly elect a president again from the Republican side or any other side.”
Sara Lain-Moneymaker won’t give up.
Her resolution to ban LGBTQ people from joining the Republican Party has failed in the Chatham County Republican Committee and in the 1st District GOP committee.
It failed again in Columbus, but not before Lain-Moneymaker had disseminated the draft of her resolution on a pamphlet or placard that she had disseminated inside and outside the convention hall, even in the parking lot.
The resolution isn’t hateful or exclusionary, she says, explaining her persistence. She says she’s fulfilling her religious duty to keep LGBTQ people from “going to Hell.”