Giv­ing our new gov­er­nor some fra­ter­nal ad­vice

The Standard Journal - - POLICE & FIRE - DICK YARBROUGH DEAR GOV. KEMP: Dick Yarbrough

I trust you are set­tled into your new job and are busy gov­ern­ing our beloved state. My pur­pose in writ­ing is to let you know you aren’t in this thing alone. I am al­ways avail­able to dip into my deep reser­voir of po­lit­i­cal knowl­edge when­ever you need me. Heck, you don’t even have to need me. I’ll dip in, any­way. It’s what I do.

First off, I am happy to see a fel­low brother of the Nu Zeta chap­ter of Lambda Chi Al­pha at the Univer­sity of Ge­or­gia oc­cupy the gov­er­nor’s chair. The last one to do so was Joe Frank Har­ris, who over­hauled pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion fund­ing in Ge­or­gia, helped es­tab­lish the World Congress Cen­ter and was an im­por­tant part of the ef­fort to se­cure the 1996 Cen­ten­nial Olympic Games for our state. A good gov­er­nor and a good man.

Yours was a long and wind­ing road to the gov­er­nor’s of­fice. You took a lot of heat for your com­mer­cials dur­ing your cam­paign, threat­en­ing the lit­tle dweeb who was think­ing of dat­ing your daugh­ter as well as the round-’em-up pickup truck com­mer­cial. Any­one who knows squat about pol­i­tics knows you had to run hard to the right to se­cure the nom­i­na­tion.

For­tu­nately for you, chief ri­val Lt. Gov. Casey Ca­gle de­vel­oped a case of flap-jaw and showed us how sleazy pol­i­tics can be. Speak­ing into a hid­den cell­phone, he ad­mit­ted he got a bad bill passed that neg­a­tively im­pacted pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion. He did so to pre­vent your com­mon ri­val, state Sen. Hunter Hill, from re­ceiv­ing a $3 mil­lion hand­out from Alice the Wal­mart lady, who seems to think that sell­ing tele­vi­sion sets and blue jeans gives her some di­vine right to tell us how to run pub­lic schools in Ge­or­gia. Had he asked, I would have told Ca­gle to keep his in­tegrity and let Hunter Hill, who has the charisma of a tree stump, have the money. No amount of dol­lars would make the guy ex­cit­ing.

What a lot of peo­ple failed to no­tice is that af­ter you won the Repub­li­can pri­mary, you mod­er­ated your mes­sage, which is how I am hop­ing how you will gov­ern.

If you don’t, we could be look­ing at a Demo­cratic gov­er­nor in the near fu­ture and not a Ge­orge Bus­bee/Carl San­ders Demo­crat but some­one who will lurch as far to the left as some right-wingnuts would have you lurch to the right. As you know bet­ter than any­one, that al­most hap­pened this elec­tion.

Repub­li­cans would do well to heed the warn­ing of House Speaker David Ral­ston. Ac­cord­ing to Greg Bluestein, of the At­lanta News­pa­pers, Ral­ston told a gath­er­ing of Repub­li­cans re­cently that the GOP ad­van­tage in the Ge­or­gia House has shrunk to 15 seats and noted that Repub­li­cans won that same num­ber of seats in the last elec­tion by 55 per­cent or less. Those dis­tricts, largely in the At­lanta sub­urbs, will be the fo­cus of a fired-up bunch of Democrats, led by Stacey Abrams, in the next elec­tions. Just six years ago, Repub­li­cans held a 65-seat ma­jor­ity in the House.

Why the dwin­dling ma­jor­ity? Too many Repub­li­cans would rather be ide­o­log­i­cally cor­rect than be elected. Un­less you do some­thing to change that mind­set, their wishes may come true in 2020. Speaker Ral­ston said it this way, “We must re­ject those in our midst who spend all their time — and I’m talk­ing ev­ery sec­ond of their time — find­ing fault with other Repub­li­cans. We must re­ject those who would tear us apart from within to ad­vance their own spe­cial agen­das.” Amen.

I don’t need to re­mind you that who­ever has the ma­jor­ity af­ter the next elec­tion will con­trol re­dis­trict­ing in 2021 and that will de­ter­mine who con­trols state gov­ern­ment for at least the next decade.

The ball is in your court. You will either be re­mem­bered as the gov­er­nor who presided over the demise of the Repub­li­can Party in Ge­or­gia by cater­ing to un­com­pro­mis­ing wingnuts or as a leader who pitched a tent big enough for rea­son­able peo­ple who es­chew wingnuts on either side of the po­lit­i­cal spec­trum to feel wel­comed. I be­lieve I know you well enough to think you will be the lat­ter. At least, I hope so.

I will let you get back to gov­ern­ing the state, but don’t hes­i­tate to call if you need me. If I don’t re­spond im­me­di­ately it will be be­cause I am mind­ing some­one else’s busi­ness. You think be­ing gov­er­nor is hard? Try be­ing a know-it-all columnist. I may some­times be in er­ror, but I’m never in doubt.

Fra­ter­nally yours,

You can reach Dick Yarbrough at [email protected]­yarbrough.com; at P.O. Box 725373, At­lanta, Ge­or­gia, 31139 or on Face­book at www.

face­book.com/dick­yarb.

Yarbrough

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