Corporate coalition supporting Murphy in legislative runoff battle

State Sen. Jack Murphy (R-Cumming), an influential legislator who is trying to win a sixth term in the Georgia Senate, has become a favorite target of tea party groups.

The Forsyth County lawmaker was nearly taken out by a tea party-backed opponent in the 2012 Republican primary, fending off Steve Voshall by a margin of just 114 votes.

Murphy’s challenger this year is accountant and former business owner Michael Williams, but this time the senator has the backing of the Georgia Coalition for Job Creation, a corporate-funded Super PAC that is administered by the Georgia Chamber of Commerce.

The Georgia Coalition launched a website called “Michael Williams Gone Wild” that posts awkward personal details about Williams, some of them stemming from his divorce from his former spouse, Latreva Williams.

“Allegations in a court filing, Civil Action File No. 13CV-1836-1, could mean that Michael Williams’ tawdry record is too shameful for Forsyth County in the Georgia Senate,” the website alleges.

One of the documents posted on the Georgia Coalition-sponsored website is a filing in Forsyth County Superior Court last November in which Latreva Williams responds to Michael Williams’ request to modify his alimony and child support payments.

Among the allegations contained in the court filing:

“Plaintiff [Michael Williams] absconded with $400,000 in a scheme also referenced in Paragraph 4(f) below, using it to move to Costa Rica, and subsequently blew through it on strippers, prostitutes, and bad investments.”

“Plaintiff’s mental health instability has resulted in a suicide attempt where Plaintiff purposely drove into a Florida hurricane, as well as additional threats of suicide attempts involving staged interstate accidents with 18-wheelers.”

“Plaintiff abandoned his family in Georgia to move to Birmingham, Alabama so that he could pursue and maintain an adulterous relationship with a mistress named April, who was a receptionist at the family’s franchise owned stores.”

Williams objected to the website’s allegations, issuing this statement:

“Murphy’s campaign has come out with another despicable web site full of lies, exaggerations and deceit. We are only 5 days away from election day. The first website didn’t get the traction they wanted so they are going even dirtier. This is going to back fire. I have already had people in Murphy’s camp call me and tell me they were sickened by what he was doing, asked me a few questions and told me they were voting for me. Our message going forward is ‘Enough is Enough.’ This type of behavior is not becoming of a State Senator.”

Murphy finished 576 votes ahead of Williams in a three-candidate primary and was pushed into the runoff.

If Murphy loses, he would join two other veteran senators who were knocked out in their own primary: Sen. Don Balfour (R-Snellville), the longest-serving Republican in the upper chamber, finished third in his Gwinnett County race while Sen. Steve Thompson (D-Marietta), the senior Democrat in the Senate, lost his primary race to Michael Rhett.

The Georgia Coalition was formed in the weeks prior to the May 20 primary and provided financial support in several legislative races to candidates running against tea partiers and ultraconservatives.

Two of the coalition’s top primary targets were Rep. Charles Gregory (R-Kennesaw) and Rep. Sam Moore (R-Ball Ground), who are considered to be the most extremist members of the House Republican caucus. Gregory and Moore were both defeated in their primary races.

The Murphy-Williams race is one of several legislative elections on the runoff ballot.

In Senate District 8, which includes the Valdosta area, state Rep. Ellis Black (R-Valdosta) is hoping to replace retiring Sen. Tim Golden. Black finished first in the Republican primary with 48.7 percent of the vote, almost winning the nomination without a runoff.

Black faces John Page of Hahira in the runoff, while Democratic nominee Bikram Mohanty will oppose the winner in the general election.

In Senate District 16, where Sen. Ronnie Chance (R-Tyrone) is stepping down, Chance’s replacement will be decided in the Republican runoff between Marty Harbin, a tea partier, and David Studdard, a lawyer and former police officer.

The Republican nominee to replace Don Balfour will be decided in a Senate District 9 runoff involving former Gwinnett County commissioner Mike Beaudreau and former Lawrenceville city councilman P. K. Martin. The winner will take on Democrat Timothy Swiney in November.

In Senate District 22, where Sen. Hardie Davis (D-Augusta) left to run for mayor of Augusta, the new senator will be decided in the Democratic runoff between Corey Johnson and Harold Jones.

In House runoffs, Rep. John Deffenbaugh (R-Lookout Mountain), a first-term lawmaker, is opposed by former Dade County commissioner Robert Goff in House District 1. Democrat Tom McMahan takes on the winner of that runoff in the general election.

Rep. Sam Moore’s replacement in House District 22 will emerge from the GOP runoff between Wes Cantrell, a minister, and Meagan Biello, a Cherokee County school teacher. No Democrat qualified in this race.

Rep. Carol Fullerton (D-Albany) is being challenged by Dougherty County school board member Darrel Ealum in the Democratic runoff in House District 153. There is no Republican in that race.

In the race to replace outgoing Rep. Doug Holt (R-Social Circle) in House District 112, Dave Belton and Aaron Brooks are going for the nod in the Republican runoff. The winner takes on Democrat Patsy Harris in the general election.

Attorney Beth Beskin came within three votes of winning the Republican primary in Atlanta’s House District 54 without a runoff. She’s now in a runoff against John McCloskey. The general election race will include Democrat Bob Gibeling and independent Bill Bozarth.

© 2014 by The Georgia Report


Tags: Ellis Black , Jack Murphy , Legislative elections , Michael Williams