Georgia: The Christian Right and Grass Roots Power
Charles S. Bullock III and John Christopher Grant
The Christian Right entered Georgia politics through the 1988 Pat Robertson presidential campaign. Robertson supporters participated in many Republican county organizations and fought traditional Republicans for control of the state convention. During the next several years, peace reigned while religious conservatives developed a grassroots organization.
Through the 1980s, Republicans gained little ground among Georgia officeholders. Despite victories by presidents Ronald Reagan in 1980 and 1984 and George Bush in 1988, Democrats continued to dominate the state. The decade ended much as it had begun, with a single Republican in the congressional delegation, a wholly Democratic roster of statewide officials, and, despite gains, a largely hopeless Republican minority in the general assembly. In 1990 Democrats came within one thousand votes of defeating the state's top GOP officeholder, Congressman Newt Gingrich.
Since 1992, Christian conservatives have been arguably the most significant grassroots force in Georgia politics. Activities by religious conservatives coincided with the emergence of the GOP as a serious competitor.
In 1992 the Christian Right, while often successful in Republican primaries, generally could not elect its preferences. For example, Christian conservatives competed in most congressional districts and won five nominations. Of the three new GOP members of Congress from Georgia, however, only one was closely identified with the Christian Right and he won by fewer than twenty-seven hundred votes over a pro-choice, female Democrat. And while Christian conservative votes were critical in Paul Coverdell's defeat of Senator Wyche Fowler, evangelicals were a