Democrats take aim at Perdue’s flag stance ahead of ag secretary hearing

Former Gov. Sonny Perdue in 2005. AJC file.

Critics of former Gov. Sonny Perdue hope to force him to apologize for his role in Georgia’s flag debate ahead of his confirmation hearing as Donald Trump’s agriculture secretary this week.

As a state senator, Perdue opposed then-Gov. Roy Barnes’ plan to shrink the size of the Rebel emblem on the state flag – a vote that still irks Georgia Democrats. He made the flag a focal point of his 2002 campaign for governor, pledging to hold a referendum on the symbol.

Bobby Kahn, Barnes’ former chief of staff, said Democrats should press Perdue on “the divisiveness of his use of the flag for political gain” at Thursday’s confirmation hearing.

“Perdue has many capable advisers, and I’m probably the last person he wants advice from,” Kahn wrote, “but he can begin to dispense with this issue simply by saying what he never has: that he regrets his 2001 vote and his use of the flag in his gubernatorial campaign.”

Perdue spokesman Dan McLagan painted Kahn as a sore loser still smarting over his boss’s defeat.

“Bobby Kahn is still bitter 15 years after running a losing gubernatorial campaign and that obviously requires therapy,” he said.

In 2001, Barnes engineered a vote by the Legislature that pulled down the 1956 state flag, which had been adopted at the height of the fight against integration and prominently featured the Confederate battle emblem.  The move infuriated many “flaggers” who dogged the Democratic governor throughout his re-election campaign in 2002.

Perdue promised a statewide vote to supporters of the ’56 flag. But after his surprise 2002 victory, lawmakers watered down the new Republican governor’s referendum initiative so that it became a non-binding contest with two choices. One was the flag that Barnes had raised in place of the ’56 banner. The other was yet another flag, with a less volatile Confederate pedigree. The latter was raised immediately — and had already been flying for nearly a year before voters registered their approval in a March 2004 vote. The 1956 was eliminated as a choice.

 


 

Kahn argued that if Perdue is confirmed without being confronted about questions about the debate, “how will Secretary Perdue’s fairness not be called in question in dealing with our black farmers who have a history of unfair treatment by USDA?”

Perdue might be anticipating such a question. He’s got U.S. Rep. David Scott, an Atlanta Democrat, introducing him at Thursday’s hearing. Scott is African-American.

“The fact is that Sonny led one of the few relatively seamless flag changes in the South.  People got to vote and just about everyone was happy with the result,” McLagan said. “Our flag is beautiful, historic and unifying.  It is also a symbol of Sonny’s ability to accomplish difficult things.”

Reader Comments 0

40 comments
Greg Pearson
Greg Pearson

It is obvious that Mr Kahn holds bigoted views on race if he seriously thinks the confederate battle flag would indicate an individual cannot be fair. Educated people know many blacks and other minorities supported the Confederate battle flag.

The article is misleading on two points of history. The 1956 flag was adopted at the height of planning for the "civil war "centennial in Georgia. It was adopted the same week the centennial commission was created. There are no known links to desegregation at all.

Roy Barnes did not "engineer " his vote. He basically did a legal bribe by giving millions of state dollars in projects today's the districts of assemblymen who would change their vote despite opposition from the voters. The entire episode was a shameful display of divisive racial politics that Barnes and company did for petty personal ambitions.

If Perdue is to be condemned it is for breaking his promise to allow the people of Georgia to vote between the 1956 state flag and the silly barnes' banner.

Hank Quinn
Hank Quinn

My maternal great grandfather was a Confederate soldier, my paternal great GF was a Union Soldier. They crossed paths in Tennessee. I had a CSA flag when I was a kid in the 50's and romanticized the Civil War days. The KKK counter demonstrations in the 60's and becoming an adult changed the flag for me. There was nothing to romanticize once you view a few early daguerreotypes of the slaughter of soldiers and the destruction of lives from both sides of the Mason Dixon. It belongs in cemeteries and individuals have the right to fly it and wave it anywhere. It does not belong on tax supported properties. This is a old argument and I'm not really sure why I am responding. It will not be meaningful to anyone.

Anthony Negri
Anthony Negri

First Barnes was wrong to change the state flag under the cover of darkness.,without open debate . Second Perdue campaign and promised a vote on what the state flag should be. He never said that he wanted or supported the old flag, just that he said he supported that citizens should vote for the state flag. That's what he delivered .Barnes lost because he underestimated Georgians outside the influence of Atlanta and Purdue was from the other Georgia, the Georgia Barnes pissed off and alienated. As I said Purdue delivered just what he said he would do. If there is any criticism it would be thst people thought that the former flag would have been one of the options to be voted on. Remember Purdue was formerly a democrat from the other Georgia before he switched parties. Seems to me like the left has an axe to grind because Purdue whipped Barnes in the election for Governor twice and ushered in Republican control of Georgia state government. Democrats might still control many county governments but it's Republicans they send to the state. Just remember there are two Georgias Atlanta and the rest of the state. Purdue wiil be confirmed least Democrat want to further alienate the other Georgia. Tread with care.

Robert J. Simon
Robert J. Simon

Liberalism is a mental disorder that robs people of their sanity !

Monte Poitevint
Monte Poitevint

The Democrats have no successful platform. They have nothing positive to contribute. So they attack history, heritage, our symbols. They foment division, hate, racism, fear, riots and murder. Little wonder the party has retained only marginal power.

Brad Poole
Brad Poole

Exactly! I fail to see the connection between the rebel flag and assessing/managing agriculture policy.

Tyrone Freeman
Tyrone Freeman

Did cracker barrel country store fight this hard to save Brad's wife's job. 11 years brah. #Justiceforbradswife

Rob Danner
Rob Danner

What does that have to do with peaches peanuts and blueberries?

Anthony Negri
Anthony Negri

Yall forgot valdalia onions, pecans and watermelons. Lol

CharlesThomas Duke
CharlesThomas Duke

I would never say I'm sorry,not even if they broke each of my fingers with a hammer

Liz Dadin
Liz Dadin

Here we go again, with the stupid, evil democrats.

Atheists of Rome GA
Atheists of Rome GA

Anyone that wants to wave the Confederate flag should be able to do so. As long as it's the historically accurate one, a white cross on a white background. LoL

Josh Heart
Josh Heart

Trying to make the south better, eh?! Great way for you to accomplish that...swan dive off of Stone Mountain.

Chris Rockett
Chris Rockett

Haha, love that about the white flag. Wow, there are atheists in Rome, GA? Keep strong!

Garret M. Russo
Garret M. Russo

What the hell does this have to do with him being ag secretary?

Anthony Negri
Anthony Negri

Actually nothing but the left has to stir up controversy with misinformation. It's the only thing they got.

Ryan Padgett
Ryan Padgett

"You have no reason to be ashamed of your confederate dead. See to it they have no reason to be ashamed of you." President Jefferson Davis

Daniel Eason
Daniel Eason

They should be going after his many ethics violations.

Anthony Negri
Anthony Negri

Daniel Eason, Don't forget Sonny put Russian Dressing on his salad.

Daniel Eason
Daniel Eason

Glad you asked: •Accepted gifts and travel from lobbyists •Violated campaign finance laws •Failed to file complete personal financial disclosure information and supported a tax loophole that benefitted him personally •Allegedly thwarted an investigation by the Governor’s Office of Consumer Affairs •Appointed a business associate to a state position From here: http://www.crewsmostcorrupt.org/pages/governor-sonny-perdue-georgia

Brad Poole
Brad Poole

Yeah, my family actually uses his Agrastar buisness for seed. He wouldn't have been my first choice. Yeah, I don't know if a buisness man who knows about agriculture or an actual farmer who actually makes living doing it would be better.

Paul Spencer
Paul Spencer

Barnes lost the election because of that flag. Thanks to Roy Barnes we are now governed by the Republicans.

Daniel Eason
Daniel Eason

Barnes lost because he changed the flag; because he told state employees they wouldn't receive pay raises for a year or two; because he proposed the outer loop. He was right about all three issues. Perdue lied about bringing back the Confederate flag; lied about raises; made commuters regret not building that outer loop. Georgia voters, especially state employees, shot themselves in the foot. And they've been voting against their interests ever since. That's not the fault of anyone but fickle Georgia voters.

Ray Tyner
Ray Tyner

Didn't you just love Roy's flag. Looked like an IHOP placemat.

Anthony Negri
Anthony Negri

Daniel Eason, the teachers union failed to endorse Barnes because of his policies this was only one of his sins. The flag in and of itself was not as big of an issue as the left pretends. It was how he did it that pissed off the voters. He grossly underestimated the other Georgia. He lost again 4 years later.

Byron N Lisa Jones
Byron N Lisa Jones

The only apology he needs to make is the the voters of the state of Georgia for lying about the flag only to get elected !!!