Ouch. With the revelation of that statement -- allegedly made by Norwood, to Broun, last year -- I think we can almost stick a fork in Paul Broun, Jr.'s multiyear campaign to fill the late Charlie Norwood's 10th CD seat in Congress. From the Athens Banner-Herald:
John Stone, now a consultant for Republican candidate Jim Whitehead, attacked Broun at a Banks County forum Thursday night for running for Norwood's seat as early as 2005. Broun sent out letters more than a year before Norwood's death stating his intention to run should Norwood retire or run for governor. [Auth. note: The letters are here: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5]
"This is something that's really got a lot of people across the district hacked off, and it's hard to hold your tongue about it," Stone said Friday.
Several of Broun's letters that have been posted on the Internet don't specifically ask for money, but say he'd received $250,000 in pledges.
"Every letter, I flatly stated I would never run against Charlie," Broun said. "I supported him 100 percent. I asked everybody to pray for his health. I continued to do that until the day Charlie came home."
Broun collected six campaign contributions for a total of $9,800 before Norwood's death Feb. 13, according to documents filed with the Federal Election Commission.
Broun said Norwood knew he'd seek to be his successor and approved of it. They discussed his future candidacy last fall at Broun's church, Prince Avenue Baptist, and Broun described the conversation as "cordial."
Stone, however, said Norwood considered Broun "the one guy he didn't ever want to have this seat ... after reading those letters."
When Broun told Norwood at church that he'd been praying for him, Norwood replied, "Well, as you can see, your prayers ain't been answered, 'cause I'm still breathing," according to Stone.
As ABH writer Blake Aued points out in the article, "In February, shortly before Norwood's death, then-candidate Ralph Hudgens was widely criticized for telling the Gainesville Times that he would run for the seat if Norwood died. Hudgens, a Republican state senator from Madison County, later dropped out of the race." As noted on Peach Pundit, that was an absolutely despicable act on Hudgens's part, and, regardless of whether there was any actual impropriety on the part of Paul Broun or not, I think that the more play this "early campaigning" topic gets, the worse the public perception of him, and of his acts, will be.
Ultimately, while he won't drop out of the race (like Hudgens very correctly did), this subject could make Broun radioactive enough that it won't make any difference if he stays in the race or not.