Political Insider

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A pariah no more, Senate rallies around McKoon

In most races, a pledge by 20 Republican senators to back a GOP colleague's quest for higher office would not be a surprise. But Josh McKoon isn't most politicians.

A year ago, a majority of McKoon’s fellow Republicans in the state Senate banded together to oust him from his leadership position of a key Senate committee. Now, even some who orchestrated that humiliation are backing his bid to oversee the state’s elections.

McKoon’s supporters say it’s a sign his campaign for Secretary of State has won over some of his most powerful critics. Cynics would say many of those colleagues are simply eager for him to leave the chamber. Either way, the marquee for McKoon's Jan. 4 fundraiser sends a message.

Among the names on the list of supporters: Incoming Senate Pro Tem Butch Miller and Majority Leader Bill Cowsert. The latter played a role in last year’s decision to jettison McKoon from the Senate Judiciary Committee by combining it with another committee that handles legal issues.

At the time - and despite Cowsert's denials - the demotion was taken as a rebuke for McKoon’s outspoken effort to use his committee as a launching pad for contentious “religious liberty” legislation that passed both chambers of the Legislature – and then was squashed by Gov. Nathan Deal.

Now he'll be able to rely on financial support from the majority of his caucus in a brutal primary fight to succeed Secretary of State Brian Kemp. And that could come in handy in a race against three other leading Republicans: State Reps. Buzz Brockway and Brad Raffensperger and Alpharetta Mayor David Belle Isle.


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About the Author

Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.