Controversial U.S. Congressman Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) could be facing competition in this fall’s election from an unexpected quarter, a British naturalist who has been dead for 130 years, Charles Darwin, the so-called father of the theory of evolution. According to the Associated Press, University of Georgia scientists and conservative talk-radio host Neil Boortz have found themselves to be unlikely allies in an effort to boost Darwin as a write-in candidate for voters who want to lodge a protest against the ultra-conservative Broun.
James Leebens-Mack, the UGA plant biologist who started a Facebook page supporting Darwin against Broun, told Raw Story in an interview, “Quite a few folks independently came up with the idea to start a write-in campaign, very conservative and very liberal.”
Leebens-Mack said that he’d be happy if write-ins for Darwin would constitute 1 percent of the vote, which he feels would be enough “to let both the Democratic and Republican parties know that we’re not happy that Paul Broun is our only choice in the 10th Congressional District of Georgia.”
The professor, who declined to give his own party affiliation, said that the bipartisan protest arose separately from the campaign organized by Boortz, the Atlanta-based radio host, who has a massive following among Georgia conservatives. Boortz told listeners that ideologues like Broun are bad for the Republican Party, and that they make conservatives “look like knee-dragging, still-tending, tobacco-spitting Neanderthals.”
In remarks recorded at a September 27 fundraiser at Liberty Baptist Church of Hartwell, Georgia, Broun told the assembled group, “God’s word is true. I’ve come to understand that. All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and Big Bang theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of hell. And it’s lies to try to keep me and all the folks who are taught that from understanding that they need a savior.”
Raw Story spoke briefly to Broun’s press liaison Meredith Griffanti. Griffanti insisted that Broun does have admitting privileges at Georgia hospitals, but when asked which ones, she refused to name any and ended the call.
Earlier this month, a separate group of UGA scientists wrote an open letter to Athens, Georgia’s Banner-Herald newspaper decrying Broun’s anti-science stance.
“If you truly don’t understand or accept the basic tenants of modern science, I find it difficult to see how you could be making basic judgments about science policy,” he said.
UPDATE: Broun’s communications director Meredith Griffanti has responded to Raw Story‘s questions about Broun’s hospital admitting privileges and Boortz’s comments by email:
“Frankly I don’t see why any of the questions you’re asking are newsworthy,” she wrote. ”(T)his is all a distraction from what really matters to people in Athens; jobs and the economy. But if you insist on writing this kind of crap instead of a serious news article I can tell you that Dr. Broun does not currently have admitting privileges because he is no longer practicing medicine full time. He is a U.S. Congressman and he now reports full time to the American people and the residents of the 10th Congressional District. When he had his own practice, Dr. Broun had admitting privileges at St. Marys. While Dr. Broun keeps his medical license up to date so he can continue to treat patients as a medical officer in the Navy Reserves, he feels that full time doctors are better suited to admit patients to the ER and treat patients in the hospital. And I’m not going to bother answering your last question because those comments are simply not worth my time.”
David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.
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