April 26, 2022


Debate . . . . or boxing match?

The Sunday evening Republican gubernatorial debate between incumbent Brian Kemp and his challenger David Perdue was anything but genteel. For an hour the two former companions on the campaign trail shouted, bickered, and bristled with anger at the verbal grenades hurled in their direction.

But how many Georgians were watching? How many will watch them when they come to Savannah on Thursday for the second of their third scheduled televised debates? And did their caustic verbal battles change anyone’s mind about who to vote for in the May 24 Republican primary? The two camps declared victory for their respective candidates, but so far, the results of post-debate snap polls aren’t publicly known.

What we can say for certain, however, is that Perdue’s assertions of election fraud in Georgia are nonsense.

The Donald Trump-endorsed Perdue made it clear from the start of the debate that his path to victory rests with Republicans who insist that the 2020 election, in his words, was “rigged and stolen.”

For more than 20 minutes, the former Sea Island senator flung false allegations of election fraud that he said cost Trump and himself victory in Georgia. Kemp called him a liar for spouting false information.

As the mudslinging unfolded, GPB political reporter Stephen Fowler tweeted: “This debate has almost no moderation and it’s been nearly half an hour of Kemp and Perdue going at it back and forth calling each other liars and dwelling on the 2020 election. Good entertainment, bad for democracy.”

If you got lost in the weeds and want to learn more about exactly how many Georgia state agencies and judicial rulings decided that Georgia’s 2020 elections were fair and valid, check out this summary from Politifact, a nonpartisan fact-checking website run by The Poynter Institute. (BTW: Poynter ranked The Current among Georgia’s most trustworthy news outlets in 2020.)

Kemp and Perdue’s debate on Thursday will be at 7 p.m., televised and hosted by WTOC. Got some thoughts about whose performance moved you? Or who you are rooting for to win the GOP gubernatorial primary? Let us know at thecurrentga@gmail.com. A schedule for and recordings of other candidate debates and forums can be found here.


Can Perdue make up ground?

Some political analysts argue that Perdue benefits from Sunday’s debate by merely appearing on the same stage as Kemp. But for him to deny the incumbent governor an outright victory in next month’s voting and force a runoff, a strong turnout by aggrieved Trump Republicans who share his insistence that the 2020 election was “rigged and stolen” is vital.

A Landmark Communications survey, whose results were reported by Atlanta’s CBS46 on April 14, showed that 52% of the 700 people polled favored Kemp, while 28% backed Perdue and 10% support Kandiss Taylor.


Republican gubernatorial candidate David Perdue and SCCPSS board president candidate Roger Moss, April 19, 2022, at Ladies on the Right event.

A Savannah preview

Perdue warmed up for Sunday’s debate with a speech at The Landings on Skidaway Island last week.

In his remarks, at luncheon hosted by Ladies on the Right at the Palmetto Club on Wednesday, the former Georgia senator said that unless the “extreme left” is stopped, it will capture a fourth seat on the U.S. Supreme Court, give statehood to the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, and pass a national voting law—the “Holy Grail,” he said.

Under such a law, Perdue said, anybody could just show up and vote. “You know what they call the two million people that just crossed the border? Voters.”


What else we heard

Featured on the speaker’s bill of the Ladies on the Right luncheon at The Landings were other candidates seeking public office. Notably:

“We’re going to stop double taxing you guys. You’re paying property taxes. You’re paying for the school. But because they’re so lousy, you’re having to pay for private school. That’s going to end, and it can end.” – Roger Moss, candidate for chairman, Board of Education, Savannah Chatham Country Public Schools

“Instead of gaining oversight of our elections, we are losing it right here in our own backyard.” – Beverly Meng, candidate, Chatham County Board of Elections

“April 2020 hit, and the mandate was that we were going to let everyone out. And I when I say everyone, I’ve personally seen murderers, rapists, people in possession of child porn — one individual who had enough fentanyl where if you did the math, everyone in Chatham County would be killed four times over. Crime is up because these people are being released. – Anthony Burton, candidate for judge, Chatham County Recorder’s Court, on the effect of the pandemic


Liberty County Board of Education, District 5, candidates Courtney Hernandez and Chant’e Baker-Martin

Liberty County school board candidate: Bullying ‘endemic’ in schools, county

There was no mention of critical race theory, social emotional learning, or allegedly obscene books at a debate Saturday among candidates seeking a seat on the Liberty County Board of Education.

The hot-button issue: bullying.

District 5 candidate Courtney Hernandez set off the row at the debate, sponsored by the Liberty County chapter of the NAACP and held at the Liberty County Performing Arts Center in Hinesville. “A lot of our children are concerned about going to school every day because of the bullying,” she said.

Other candidates pointing out that bullying was a nationwide problem, with one — Hernandez’s opponent, incumbent Chant’e Baker-Martin — noted that the county’s assistant deputy superintendent had shared the school system’s policies and procedures on bullying with the public at a recent board meeting.

Hernandez wasn’t mollified. “I hear that — ‘bullying is touching the whole United States.’ Well, here in Liberty County, it’s endemic.” She continued: “Children are reaching out for help right now. I’ve had parents call me and say nothing’s happening. And it’s the third, the fourth, the fifth time their child has been hurt on their way to school or on their way home. We’re creating more problems because we’re creating victims. And those victims are going to lash out and those victims are going to end up in corrections, right?”


Juneteenth holiday status faces opposition

Juneteenth became a federal holiday last year, and Gov. Brian Kemp made it a paid holiday for state employees earlier this month. But elsewhere in Georgia, the measure is facing resistance.

Marietta, Tucker and several other cities have yet to add June 19 to their paid holiday calendars. Marietta’s mayor, Steve Tumlin, vetoed the proposal on April 15, after the city council approved it.

Tumlin said he was reluctant to give Juneteenth such paid holiday status when Veterans Day was omitted from the holiday calendar.

Savannah Mayor Van Johnson said that Juneteenth already has holiday status in his city. “We took care of this already,” he said Monday. “It’s a paid holiday.”

Juneteenth marks the day in 1865 when slaves in Galveston, Texas, were told they had been freed, more than two months after Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered to end the Civil War. Since then, June 19 has been celebrated as the true end of slavery in the U.S.


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