Ray McBerry, a resident of McDonough, is mounting a successful bid for the governor’s seat in the Republican primaries, which will be held July 18.
By Joshua Clark
McDonough resident Ray McBerry’s bid for the Governor’s seat in the Republican primaries is looking more and more healthy lately. Just a week after he announced his campaign on the steps of the Capitol on April 18, his campaign website, www.GeorgiaFirst.org, debuted as the number one campaign website for Georgia as rated by Alexa.com. It has maintained that spot ever since.
His list of volunteer supporters has grown even more robust than he had hoped. McBerry, who is managing his own campaign, estimated that he would need approximately 10,000 supporters who would take up the task of planting signs, making phone calls, and handing out pamphlets to mount a successful campaign. At the current time, he has 22,000 volunteer supporters across the state.
“It’s possibly the biggest grassroots campaign in the history of Georgia,” McBerry said. The result of all this is that incumbent Republican Governor Sonny Perdue has begun to take notice of McBerry, albeit in a roundabout way.
McBerry, a 38 year old single father who makes his living as the Sales Manager for local cable station SBN-TV, is leveling some pretty weighty allegations against Perdue. McBerry says the Governor has been using state GOP funds to pay for some of his campaign advertising during the primaries. Essentially, the GOP is using McBerry’s own money – in the form of his party dues and fees – against him and other Republican candidates.
“This is the first time that I know of where party money has been used for one candidate in the primaries,” McBerry said.
McBerry also said that his candidacy for governor is not listed on the state GOP website, something he feels is more than an oversight, as Perdue’s campaign manager is also the Chairman for the state Republican Party.
Whether this activity – if it is proven – is illegal or just unfair remains to be seen. McBerry says that his camp will be “looking into it.”
But why would Perdue and his campaign go out of their way to spite a relatively unknown newcomer like McBerry? He believes the answer is simple: “Their worst nightmare is to have a true conservative Republican run against him,” McBerry said. “Perdue is a moderate. He changed party affiliation in 1998, not because of some great conversion, but because he felt the winds of power lay with the conservatives. So he switched.”
McBerry is indeed a true conservative Republican. What is so amazing about his increasingly robust campaign is not so much that he has mounted it in a totally grassroots manner, but that his views are so far outside of what most of the established politicians in the region would publicly embrace.
He is an unabashed Christian, his views on the Second Amendment and abortion are inarguable. Because of his unapologetic individuality he has attracted, indeed was asked to run, by some of the very groups that helped to get Perdue in office in 2002. Organizations like the League of the South and the Sons of Confederate Veterans, mounted a successful campaign for Perdue based on his promise to restore the Georgia flag to its controversial 1956 design. Perdue never delivered on that promise, and although McBerry says that he will follow through on replacing the flag, he is wary of becoming the “flag candidate.”
“My position on the flag is that it is one of six major platform positions. I’ll fulfill the promise Sonny made, but that’s not the extent of my campaign,” McBerry said.
What does constitute the bulk of McBerry’s campaign is states’ rights. McBerry, who serves as the Georgia Chair for the League of the South and sits on that organization’s national board, is an ardent, if not fervent, believer in the right of states to govern themselves with minimal – if any – interference from the federal government. He will be the opposite, he says, of the governor Perdue has been. “Sonny is the official ambassador of the downtown Atlanta establishment in Washington, D.C.,” McBerry said. The McDonough resident says he is interested in taking power away from what he refers to as the “special interests in Atlanta” and shuffle it back to the majority with whom he feels he shares beliefs. “Georgia needs a governor who will stand up to the federal courts and frankly tell them to get the hell out of Georgia’s business that they have no jurisdiction over,” he said.
McBerry is not blowing smoke. He and the League of the South enacted a program of civil disobedience by inundating Georgia county governments with displays of the Ten Commandments two years ago. He personally delivered the display that hangs in the lobby of the Henry County courthouse currently.
He holds President George W. Bush in little more esteem than he does Perdue. “He has betrayed our national values,” McBerry said. “If Bush called me as governor and asked me to shut down the Georgia coast and declare martial law so he and his globalist buddies can have their G8 beach party, I would tell him to call Governor Arnold on the left coast instead.”
Part of McBerry’s endorsement of states’ rights includes free association, the concept that the government should not be able to force others to congregate together, as in integration. At first glance this view comes across as radical, but McBerry’s views upon inspection are actually a throwback to those that preceded Roosevelt’s New Deal and Johnson’s Great Society – social programs and reform that were introduced to force an integration of black and white populations that weren’t doing it on their own.
McBerry’s ideas are, then, that these are at least outmoded programs, and at most unconstitutional. But are Georgians ready for the responsibility that comes along with recision of such longstanding and all-encompassing social crutches? McBerry says that point is moot.
“The simple fact is folks are supposed to be free, whether they are ready for it or not,” McBerry said. He also said, by the way, that he is as much against forced segregation as he is against forced integration.
But for all his rhetoric against government invasiveness, McBerry is all for the banning of abortion in Georgia, saying that if elected he will begin to lobby for a bill banning abortion to be introduced during “the first week of the first legislative session.”
He does not see this as a contradiction. “It has always been the responsibility of a good government to protect innocent life,” he said. “Why would we not extend due process to the unborn? We’re already very close to that. We have convicted killers of pregnant mothers on two counts of homicide. What’s the difference with abortion on demand?”
It is just this kind of straight talk on loaded questions that has gotten McBerry this far. Fully believing that he represents an unheard and underrepresented Christian majority in Georgia, he has traveled throughout the state campaigning for his primary bid. From the reaction he has received, he says he has become even more firm in his belief that authority should be more decentralized, even within the state. He will soon release what will most likely prove to be a controversial plan for economic reform that calls for state departments to be dispersed geographically throughout the state. His plan, he says, will increase economic prosperity, help the environment, ease Atlanta congestion, and allow to bring new blood into management positions in state departments.
While other parts of the state will benefit from his economic reform plan, McBerry’s governorship could bring unexpected change to Henry County. If elected, McBerry says, “I can tell you that ours will be the first governor’s administration that will be run day to day out of the city of McDonough.”