Cecil Staton, owner of Smyth & Helwys Publishing, a publishing house for moderate Baptist Sunday School materials and books, placed second in a three-way race for the Republican nomination in the 11th congressional district in Georgia.
The primary winner, Phil Gingrey, received 39 percent of the votes (12,248), compared to Staton’s 33 percent (10,186) and Bob Herriott’s 28 percent (8,673).
The runoff is Sept. 10.
The 11th congressional district race was the fourth most expensive race in the country. Almost $3.5 million had been spent as of Aug. 14, according to the Center for Responsive Politics’ Web site, www.opensecrets.org. The congressional race was seventh in the amount of funds raised with contributions topping $3.8 million.
Millionaire Roger Kahn, who won the Democratic primary, raised $1.5 million, compared to Gingrey’s $669,346 and Staton’s $660,472.
Staton’s personal contributions accounted for 79 percent of his campaign’s donations.
Staton contributors included several notable Baptists, including Kirby Godsey, president of Mercer University, who gave $1,000, and Gary Parker, pastor of First Baptist Church, Decatur, and a former Cooperative Baptist Fellowship staff member, who gave $225. Parker’s wife also contributed $225.
Public information at the Federal Election Commission showed that Furman University chaplain James Pitts made a $500 contribution, and Smyth & Helwys employee Jim Burt donated $1,000. Several Mercer University administrators made contributions.
Gingrey also drew support from a leading Georgia Baptist. Nelson Price, former pastor of Roswell Street Baptist Church and current board member of Shorter College, endorsed Gingrey in ads on Christian radio stations. Price called Gingrey “a man of high moral and ethical values.”
In the final days of the primary, Gingrey charged that the Staton campaign had distorted his record and intentionally misused information available from a non-partisan organization, Project Vote Smart, to validate its charges.
Gingery said, “These dishonest, unethical tactics are born out of Cecil Staton’s desperation to avoid—at all costs—having to explain to Georgia’s Republicans why records prove he consistently voted in the Democratic Primaries.”
Project Vote Smart said, “Cecil Staton has used Project Vote Smart’s reputation in an attempt to give credibility to an attack that he knows to be untrue, in a blatant attempt to deceive citizens.”
Project Vote Smart told EthicsDaily.com that it is a national research library, founded by Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter, which tracks voting records and campaign contributions.
Staton’s campaign manager said he would e-mail EthicsDaily.com a statement responding to Gingrey’s charge and Project Vote Smart’s news advisory. No statement was received at press time.
Click here for more information about Project Vote Smart.
Click here for a previous EthicsDaily.com article, “Smith & Helwys Owner Runs for Congress.”