Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Christian Voters Top Priority GOP Candidates Seek Conservative Turnout

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Christian Voters Top Priority GOP Candidates Seek Conservative Turnout

Article excerpt

ATLANTA -- Republican candidates searching for voters in

Tuesday's runoffs are looking to Christian conservatives to be

their saving grace.

The question in the lieutenant governor's GOP runoff is who

will sway those voters, Mitch Skandalakis or Clint Day. Both are

positioning themselves as the anti-abortion, pro-family choice.

The Christian Coalition has 60,000 members in Georgia and

estimates there are thousands more who identify with the

socially conservative movement.

Candidates have found it increasingly difficult to win a

Republican primary without appealing to the right wing of the

party, inhabited often by religious conservatives.

Even more importantly, those voters show up at the polls even

when turnout generally is low, making them key players for a

summer runoff. The winner of the lieutenant governor's race will

face the winner between Democrats Mary Margaret Oliver and Mark

Taylor.

Another Republican runoff pits state Sen. David Ralston of Blue

Ridge against former state Rep. Kip Klein of Marietta for

attorney general.

"I think they [Christian conservatives] will be a factor. How

much of a factor, that's hard to tell," Klein said.

"There is cohesiveness. They are highly likely to vote," said

Georgia State University political scientist Michael Binford.

"They are a network that is easy to get the word out. They are

looking for information rather than having to be force-fed, which

a lot of voters must be."

Christian conservatives helped push two recent statewide GOP

races to runoffs, in 1994 and 1996.

Day's base of Christian support helped him force Guy Millner

into a runoff for U.S. Senate in 1996. Millner won the runoff,

but lost in the general election.

John Knox, a Christian conservative and former Waycross mayor,

forced Millner into a runoff for the Republican gubernatorial

nomination in 1994. …

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