From staff reports
State Rep. Rusty Kidd met with the state Speaker of the House Wednesday to discuss issues concerning Baldwin and Putnam County. The notion of Kidd switching parties never came up, and he will remain independent.
“The vast majority of legislators have the same feelings that I have. Mainstream Democrats and Republicans in Georgia all think the same. We are Georgians first and party second. Unfortunately, a lot of those folks don't have the intestinal fortitude to call themselves what they really are and that's an independent,” Kidd said.
Talk of the independent lawmaker joining the Republican Party swarmed the day after the General Election Nov. 6. Kidd said the discussion was largely media driven once some caught wind a switch would give the GOP a supermajority in the Georgia General Assembly.
To date no Republicans have made contact, according to Kidd.
“The day after the people of Baldwin and Putnam counties re-elected me as their representative to the Georgia Legislature as an independent, I received numerous calls from the media — not from a Republican,” Kidd said in a letter. “They know me, and they know I am the only true independent elected to the Georgia House. They know my vote will depend on the merits of the issue and how it will affect the people I represent. Hence, why would they want me in their party when they know I will vote my conviction not theirs?”
The Republicans ended the election one seat shy of holding a two-thirds majority in the House of Representatives. Kidd defeated District 145 challenger Quentin T. Howell, the chair of the Baldwin County Democratic Party, in the general election.
A day after the election, Kidd said he didn't feel he owed any loyalty to Democrats since they ran challengers against him. He cited a slanderous campaign costing six figures by the state Democratic Party trying to unseat him.
Howell, who ran against Kidd twice for his House post, said the state’s current legislators have to be held to their voting records, and the campaign mailers did such.
“Democrats didn't spend a quarter of a million dollars. Pres. Obama didn't spend that much in Georgia,” Howell said. “I funded my first campaign out of my pocket.”
State Rep. Stacey Abrams, the Democratic majority leader, said her party did help candidates running against Kidd because the party viewed his district as an opportunity to pick up another seat.
Earlier in November, Howell said he didn't have a problem with Kidd potentially going to the Republican Party and was surprised it hadn't come up sooner.
“That's his right to do that. God bless him,” Howell said.
Over the last three weeks, Kidd said he received calls from a dozen democratic legislators throughout the state.
“Some said don't change, and some said do change if it's a benefit to your district. I've received calls and emails from constituents. Some saying great Rusty change, and others saying I voted for you as an independent and I hope you stay independent,” Kidd said.
Baldwin County Democratic Party Committee Treasurer Joe Owens felt Kidd was within his right to consider changing parties.
The local Democrat said Kidd shouldn't get upset because people are always going to run against candidates, particularly incumbents, in politics.
Owens added the Democrats would run someone against him next time as well and seemed surprised that Republicans haven't.
As long as Kidd is focused on curing the job loss in Baldwin County, Owens sends his support.