Commission candidates defend role of Tea Party

It’s really a runoff campaign between Bob Blackburn and David Stover for the District 3 seat on the Coweta County Commission to be held Aug. 10. But a campaign visit paid by Stover to a local business resulted in a number of emails that had to do with Stover’s “Tea Party” preferences rather than the campaign itself. The initial email and responses to it quickly went viral.

The various email communications began after Stover visited Bush Real Estate Group CEO Don Bush at his business after the July 20 election when it was determined that he and Bob Blackburn would face off in the Aug. 10 runoff for the District 3 commission seat. Bush subsequently sent Stover some of his thoughts on the candidate having associated himself with the Tea Party movement.

Contacted Wednesday, Bush said Stover had visited his office after the election and spent about half an hour speaking with him.

“He didn’t mention the Tea Party,” Bush said, adding that he later read a newspaper article where Stover had stated at a candidate’s forum that his platform was aligned with Tea Party concepts.

Bush, in his discontent with the Tea Party movement, subsequently sent the following email to Stover:

As I explained to you and your wife when you were in my office last week, I’m a foot washing, snake handling, non-repentant Democrat. I have been from birth and will be until death.

Each morning I broadcast email a ‘Morning Inspiration’ to some 10,000 Coweta citizens, real estate agents, clients, et al. The below went out this morning.

All I had to read was the words ‘tea party’ associated with your name to bring my blood to a boil. Typically, I’m somewhat apolitical. That is, until I see/hear/read anything representative of the Tea Party and their insane platform of hate, nonsense, and fruitcake ideas. From my point of view, you’ve aligned yourself with nothing more than nitwits championed by the likes of Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin and a plethora of other lunatic fringe folks who appear to be on outpatient care after frontal lobotomy work.

My circle of influence reaches the width and breath of this county and I will spend that political capital down to the last penny to have you defeated in this election,” Bush said.

The Citizen was one of the recipients of a copy of Bush’s “Morning Inspiration” email. That communication read:

“In my opinion, the Tea Party movement, representing less than eight percent of the national electorate, is peopled by the fringes of lunatics, fear mongers, intellectual midgets, and just plain whack jobs. It’ll be a cold day in hell before I will sit still for any candidate making inroads into representative government in my little part of the world that subscribes to absolute hate and delusion.

These Tea Party fruitcakes are a danger to true Americans and American ideals. They are racists, bigots, and want to return to the days of the Jim Crow legal system. My full support is behind Bob Blackburn, an honorable and astute businessman in this county and will truly represent all of the citizens of Coweta County, not just the fringe of the extreme right wing tinfoil helmeted demigods and wannabees. Their grasp on Constitutional principals and the founding father’s ideals are parallel to the those of psych ward patients at the local mental clinic.

To cast a vote for David Stover would be tantamount to voting for Lester Maddox, George Wallace, Glenn ‘I ought to be in a straight jacket’ Beck, the KKK, or any number of other racist and bigoted radicals that would magically carry us back to the injustice and lunacy of pre-1964.

Stand up for what is right. Get out the vote on Aug. 10 and bury David Stover under the garbage heap of yesterday. Vote for Bob Blackburn and tell your friends to do the same.

We will be placing more signs and campaign material for Bob Blackburn than Carter has liver pills throughout Coweta County as we approach election day. As God is my witness, we will bury Stover under the dung pile he so richly deserves. And you can take that to the bank,” Bush said in the July 22 email.

For their parts, both District 3 runoff candidates said they are trying to run an above board campaign. Both, nonetheless, provided a response to Bush’s email that went through the “Morning Inspiration” mailing.

Stover in his response to Bush said:

“First, I’d like to say that I am sincerely disappointed in the behavior that has been exhibited by one of our own local businessman. Racism especially is an ugly accusation. I find it deplorable that anyone would make such unfounded and false statements towards a large group of their neighbors. The fact that the businessman in question is using my campaign for 3rd District County Commissioner and my strong support of the Tea Party to create a polarizing event in our county is especially troubling.

 I completely condemn the statements that this individual has put forth. I stand firm on my support of the Tea Party and the ideals that the Tea Party represents: low taxes, Constitutionally-limited government, excessive government spending, individual property rights and Free Market systems. I know I speak for many when I say that we will not be intimidated, threatened or dissuaded from our cause. I encourage everyone to join in on bringing the Tea Party ideals to Coweta County government,” Stover said.

Blackburn also responded to the email by Bush. He sent his thoughts on the matter to Stover, letting him know that he did not accept Bush’s “endorsement.” Blackburn in his letter said:

“Dear David,
I have read and verified the Tea Party letter/e-mail that was sent out yesterday. So much ‘junk’ is sent out and I am particularly careful to verify an e-mail or comment before responding to it.

In no way do I condemn the Tea Party, nor you, nor your desire to promote any good Republican cause that could advance and further unify our party. It hurts to see ugly things written and said about you as I fully know how it hurt me the times it has happened to me. I was shocked to say the least.

Regardless of my deep respect for the First Amendment right to free speech, this clearly crosses the line of civility. It is hard to overlook such a brutal letter, and it shows you have hit a nerve with a prominent outspoken far left wing Democrat. Real Republicans will not buy into this, and you will come out on top in this one. It shows you as a real threat to the ‘other side’s’ ideals, and either you or me should likely expect to see such attacks in the future. Personally, I would just ‘consider the source.’ That’s easy to say, but when something that is so hurtful is broadcast all over the place it is especially painful.

I would support you 100 percent on this one, and although a candidate (and possible future office holder) is obliged to represent all citizens, no one should have to refrain from defense of themselves, and especially you in this instance from an attack of such a brutal nature.
I do not accept Mr. Bush’s endorsement of me, nor do I condone his ugly attack on you and the Tea Party,” Blackburn said.

Also weighing in on the email by Bush were Coweta Tea Party Patriot coordinators Wendy Bloedt and Denise Ognio. Bloedt last week said that the organization elected to respond to Bush’s comments only after receiving multiple phone calls from people in Coweta and Fayette counties who were copied on the letter.

The letter from the Coweta Tea Party Patriots to those on its database read:

“Many of you recently received an extremely inflammatory email from Mr. Don Bush of Bush Real Estate, which he purports to have sent to 10,000 people.

Under normal circumstances, such lunacy would be below the realm of any serious recognition. However, Mr. Bush has taken license to speak on behalf of several individuals who are quite capable of speaking for themselves. 

Therefore, the Coweta Tea Party Patriots feels it right to address the embarrassment Mr. Bush has brought to two highly respected Coweta County commissioner candidates currently engaged in a run-off election, as well as our own members. At minimum, a little levity is certainly in order here.
Both Mr. Bob Blackburn and Mr. David Stover are very adept candidates and have been kind enough to provide the Coweta Tea Party with a response to the daft accusations and presumptions brought forth by Mr. Bush.

As to Mr. Bush’s claims about the Tea Party and it’s members, we do not feel compelled to personally respond to the sheer hysterics of any and every uninformed individual out there. We do feel it necessary to offer both candidates an opportunity to right the wrong that has been done to them.
Thank you for your consideration, and please take the time to fully research both candidates and participate in the August 10th run-off,” the letter said.

Commenting Wednesday, Jim Richter, coordinator for the Fayette-Coweta 912 Patriots, said many of his organization’s database of more than 2,000 people had seen and disapproved of Bush’s comments. Richter said the 912 group supported the position and response by the Coweta Tea Party to Bush’s emails.