Torpy at Large: Poor Man’s Trump scratches for a path in governor’s race

July 17, 2017
State Sen. Michael Williams was on the Trump bandwagon before almost all other pols in Georgia. 

It seems state Sen. Michael Williams, Republican candidate for governor, is waging a gorilla campaign.

No, that’s not a misprint. I didn’t mean guerrilla. I mean that any day now Williams might show up at the state Capitol wearing one of those gorilla suits in an effort to get himself noticed.

Bill Torpy is a columnist for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Photo: AJC

Last month, Williams, a tea party fave and the first elected official in Georgia to publicly support The Donald, announced he was running for governor.

Gov. Nathan Deal is term-limited, bringing on a cattle call for GOP candidates. Williams, a two-term state legislator from Forsyth County, is staking his claim as the Real Conservative, which is what almost every Republican ever calls himself in a primary.

Williams fancies himself as the Outsider, the Rogue, the Tell-it-Like-it-is Candidate fighting weak-kneed RINOs (Republicans In Name Only).

Just days after announcing his candidacy, Williams let it be known that he had a bombshell. Later, he took the stage at the GOP state convention and accused the Powers That Be of offering him the chairmanship of the Senate Appropriations Committee, a pretty good gig, if he would drop out of the race.

However, when pressed, he would not say who made the offer, which caused most everyone at the convention to shrug their shoulders and roll their eyes. But, you see, that’s what RINOs will do.

His intended message was twofold: (1) the corrupt powers at the Capitol are afraid of this Maverick and (2) he will say just about anything.

A few days later, he ventured to Piedmont Park to bravely take another stand: He is against Sharia law. The rally, according to reports, was attended by a couple of dozen people, including guys in camouflage toting substantial firepower.

I am heartened to see Sen. Williams take this stand. Sure, the U.S. population may be just 1 percent Muslim now and may swell to 2 percent by 2050, according to a Pew report. But if Sharia law ever takes hold, my daughter and wife will have to wear hijabs and I might be forced to take on more wives, which seems harsh because one is difficult enough.

After the “rally,” Williams posed with the fellows in camouflage because, well, at this point in his campaign, he’ll pose with just about anybody. And the fact that the guys had really big guns was a bonus for the straight-talkin’ Second Amendment maverick.

Well, it turns out some of those fellows were flashing some sort of three-fingered sign in the photo. Critics said it was a white supremacist signal, while others said it was the sign of the Georgia Security Force III% militia, which holds that just 3 percent of colonists fought in the Revolutionary War.

Whatever. Williams, who says he knows nothing about any white power hand signs, walked away happy. People were talking about him. And at this stage in the game, Mickel Wiliams is darned glad if anybody just spells his name correctly.

State Sen. Michael Williams, a GOP candidate for governor, was at Atlanta’s Piedmont Park recently, going after Sharia law, when he ran into a bunch of gun-toting fellows. Photo: HANDOUT

Recent campaign disclosures show that Williams so far has drummed up $1,051,000. That’s not bad because Republican front-runner Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, the pol with crazy eyes who has been running for governor since the fourth grade, has raised $2.7 million. Secretary of State Brian Kemp raised $1.7 million and state Sen. Hunter Hill raised $1.1 million.

But — and this is a big But. Williams, who made a fortune running and then selling 18 Sports Clips hair salons, loaned himself a million bucks, which is a lot of haircuts. So, he really raised $51,000.

Williams has countered that he’s getting small donations from regular Georgians, not the lobbyists and insiders. He’s right. A Cumming bartender named Ken Pellin gave him $5 and a lady named Louise Jenkins donated $3, probably waiting to kick in the other two bucks if his campaign catches fire.

In recent days he has upped his game, using a rape and a murder as news hooks.

Last month, three teens in Gwinnett County were charged in a home invasion and rape of a woman. At least one of them is an illegal immigrant.

Williams, not one to waste an opportunity, put out an email asking, “Will Democrats be held accountable for the rape of a mother, in front of her young son by an illegal immigrant?”

He said that lax immigration enforcement favored by the Dems will continue to spur horrific events such as this. Statistics indicate that immigrants, both legal and undocumented, are far less criminally minded than our fellow Americans.

Then last week, he called a press conference at the Capitol to announce he’d detail “reprehensible behavior” committed by Casey Cagle. The pre-conference tease brought out perhaps 125 people, most of them media and curious denizens of the Capitol.

The candidate brought up the recent assassination of a New York cop as a prelude to blaming Cagle for deep-sixing a couple of bills he sponsored, bills that would have augmented the salaries of cops across Georgia. He again brought up the charge that someone tried to bribe him out of the race. Again, no names.

Williams, it seems, is trying to be Donald Trump. But it ain’t working. A few hair salons is not like constructing towers and bankrupting casinos. Plus, he never fired anyone on a reality show.

State Sen. Fran Millar, a Dunwoody Republican who has served with Williams, said he’s a “nice guy” but seems to be taking the wrong strategy.

“There’s only one Donald Trump. Don’t try to imitate him,” Millar said. “Don’t go down that path.”

Seth Weathers, Williams’ hired Hessian, said Williams was not at the Capitol last week to dish dirt. That, he said, was in the media’s dirty minds.

He said Williams has almost another year of campaigning to name whoever allegedly tried to get him out of the race. And, he added, Williams wasn’t attacking your next-door neighbor who is a Democrat. He was going after that party’s policies.

On the charge of Williams being a Poor Man’s Trump, Weathers told me to look at Williams’ 2014 race, in which he beat an incumbent senator, adding, “He was doing Donald Trump before Donald Trump.”

Now that may be the most outrageous statement yet.