Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 13, 2016

Broun’s Record Could Hamper Georgia Senate Bid

Rep. Paul Broun wants to be a senator, but the Georgia Republican’s far-right legislative record might make it difficult for him to prevail in a statewide race.

Particularly damaging for Broun, who is running in 2014 for a seat left open by Republican Saxby Chambliss’ retirement, could be his penchant for pushing amendments that are viewed as extreme, even by many in his own party.

The most recent example came this past week, when Broun offered an amendment to zero out the budget for the Transportation Security Administration at a time when Americans are concerned about unemployment numbers and airport security under the duress of the sequester. The proposal was offered during floor debate on a bill to fund Homeland Security operations for fiscal 2014.

“Congress intended for TSA to be an efficient, cutting-edge, intelligence-based agency responsible for protecting our airports … but today it has grown into one of the largest bureaucracies in the federal government,” Broun said on the House floor.  He explained that the amendment would force “Congress and the Department of Homeland Security to start from scratch on a leaner, more effective … and more productive system for protecting our U.S. citizens.”

The amendment was rejected by voice vote, with even Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman John Carter, R-Texas, calling it “good grandstanding but bad policy.”

This isn’t the first time Broun has sought to eliminate funding for the TSA, and it follows two years of attempts to make deep cuts into what he considers to be wasteful spending on a variety of government programs. As a prolific participant in the amendment-offering portion of legislative debates, he has narrowed in on cutting money from the Smithsonian and the United States Botanic Garden, the National Weather Service and the Women, Infants and Children nutrition program.

And while this aggressive approach to fiscal conservatism makes him a favorite among libertarian and tea-party-minded voters — former Republican Rep. Ron Paul of Texas recently endorsed Broun — GOP operatives and strategists predict that it will ultimately cost him support with the more mainstream Republican base that makes up the Peach State’s electorate.

A veteran Republican operative in Washington, D.C., said he did not think “the TSA [amendment] is going to matter more than any other of his crazy votes,” adding that his bona fides “might marginally help him in a primary [but are] clearly not going to help him in the general.”

A Georgia Republican strategist, however, said that latest targeting of the TSA could very well come back to haunt Broun.

“All the things that he continues to do is going to be fodder against him,” the strategist said. “I think the [TSA amendment] will absolutely come up. … It feeds into the idea that he is this extreme guy who kind of deals with things in a sledgehammer approach instead of understanding the real policy issues that are at play.”

Broun has said he supports privatizing the TSA, but the Georgia-based strategist said the would-be senator lacked foresight and should have also offered an alternative to keep airports and passengers safe.

Georgia is home to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, a major transportation hub and source of jobs in the metro Atlanta area.

Broun is seeking the Senate seat as the Republican primary crowd continues to grow. Fellow GOP Reps. Phil Gingrey and Jack Kingston have thrown their hats in the ring, along with former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel and David Perdue, the cousin of former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue.

Republicans speaking to CQ Roll Call on background predicted the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is probably at the edge of its seat hoping that a candidate like Broun wins the nomination to increase its chances of claiming a victory there.

And there’s plenty of precedent for Democrats in other states to capitalize on hard-right conservatives, like Todd Akin in Missouri or Sharron Angle in Nevada.

One factor Broun will have to contend with, though, is that Georgia has a runoff primary, so he will have to get a bulk of the party behind him even if he leads in the first round.

Meanwhile, DSCC national press secretary Justin Barasky insists that all the GOP candidates currently in the running give Democrats an upper hand.

Of the TSA amendment in particular, Barasky said it was the “the kind of reckless extremism you’re going to see from this group of candidates as they try to one-up each other.”

He added, “I think we are in a really good position no matter who gets nominated.”

Michelle Nunn, daughter of longtime Sen. Sam Nunn, D-Ga., is expected to be the Democrats’ standard-bearer in the race.

Annie Shuppy contributed to this report.

  • RepublicanToo

    Another incorrect article or an example of media bias and media black out. There is another republican in the race not mentioned here. Mr Derrick Grayson, a black conservative republican is also a candidate in the Senate race in Georgia.

  • Will Bishop

    I generally dislike Paul Broun for his gems such as saying evolution and embryology are “lies from the pit of hell”, but I would have voted for his TSA amendment in a heartbeat. Doesn’t seem like the best example of his extremism.

  • Mitch

    Is this an article or editorial? What has happened to Roll Call?

    • pappadave

      Roll Call is and always has been just another vehicle for the leftists who call themselves “journalists.” Why are you surprised at this editorial masquerading as “news?”

  • GraceD

    The Republican candidates for Ga. Senator is crowded with “worse & worser”. The slate todate, is pretty pathetic.!
    They are a true embarrassment to the state.

  • Ryan

    I would really love to see Jack Kingston take out attack ads in the primary that say “There’s such a thing as too conservative”.

  • Lance Gunnin

    GOP primary voters are for smaller government. I live in Carrollton, Georgia and my congressional district will vote for anyone cutting just about everything in Washington. And let’s be honest. In an off year election, the GOP primary is going to decide the next senator from Georgia.

    • Renee Reinhardt

      Smaller government? Dictating everything down to women’s private issues is smaller government? GOP is all for microscopic government- the kind that is into everything and everyone’s business…that ain’t small government, that’s insidious and extreme government of outlandish proportions! Giving huge subsidies and giving all the rights to corporations instead of personal in priority is not smaller government- it is a step into the ages where workers died from abuse. We had left that behind with things like polio and the bubonic plague, but the GOP are also dinosaurs. I can’t wait until their prehistoric policies are ancient history.

  • Jack

    An story full of anonymous GOP consultant sources (who Broun probably didn’t hire) claiming his fight to cut spending will hurt him in a red state election…I am sure that is a fight he would welcome in a heartbeat against all the RINO’s and Akin apologists (Gingrey). Quality reporting as always Roll Call.

  • PatrickHenry1789

    Paul is my congressman here in the 10th district. I was very disappointed with him on his vote in favor of the 2012 NDAA. There have been other votes he’s cast that I disagreed with. I had the opportunity to speak with him personally at a public event not too long ago. I shared my concerns with him, I told him that I felt he had betrayed his own 4 way test for voting on legislation. I doubt that it had any effect but he seems to have gotten much better. I don’t know that I’ll vote for him yet, he’ll have to explain some of those votes to increase military spending and such.

  • Richrd Hogue

    I hear a lot of criticism of Paul Broun. I have followed his voting record every since the went into office. I disagree with him on some occasions but have foun no serious reson to not pass him on to the Senate. Put your self away from petty arguments based on emotions and judge him by his actions. And the TSA is something that was great in concept but in practice has turned into a nightmare. Lots of unintended conseqences.
    Good reason to be active in the Political process. Paul Broun is not perfect, but is better than any democratic candidate. I back hin wholeheartedly. If you don’t get involved with the GOP then you will have no reason to complain about bad, excessive, dictatorial government.

    • Renee Reinhardt

      The GOP into women’s rights and care is dictatorial, abusive, and excessive government of the worst kind. I have no reason to complain? That’s because you don’t care that this is occurring and affects women. It doesn’t affect you. I refuse to back anyone who backs the GOP plans as they stand and the excessive religion they are trying to put into government to dictate people’s lives to the finest extreme. I see you are all for a dictatorial government and of the worst kind- theocracy.

  • Phil Myers

    No candidate will earn 100% agreement with me but I do support Dr. Broun. I consider him a Constitutionalist rather than a Conservative. The old term is outdated just as Liberal is also and those Americans should be labelled Leftists, Socialists, Progressives and Communists. Those terms are more definitive. The old Country-Club Republicans have been replaced by the Neo-Cons who are the offspring of Leon Trotsky, who love war, taxation and wild spending. Men like Bill Kristol, Newt and others who covet the title of Mr. Conservative, left by the late Bill Buckley, will not be able to help govern back to liberty for individuals and individual States because they do not believe in that original intent.

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