An image of Michael Williams' 'deportation bus.'

Georgia 2018: Dems paint GOP field with Williams-tinged brush 

Republican rivals ignore candidate’s ‘deportation bus’

State Sen. Michael Williams’ GOP opponents in the governor’s race treated his “deportation bus tour” as a last gasp from a desperate candidate. Democrats aim to weaponize the attention-grabbing stunt to tie him to his better-known rivals. 

Trailing far behind the GOP field – an 11 Alive poll released Tuesday had him at 3 percent – Williams sought to make a splash with a stark bus telling passing motorists that he’s riding with “murderers, rapists, kidnappers, child molestors (sic) and other criminals.” It adds: “Follow me to Mexico.”

Democrat Stacey Evans called Williams’ stance “absolutely disgusting and hateful” and then urged other Republicans to reject them. 

“I call on Michael Williams all of the candidates on the Republican side – including Casey Cagle, including Brian Kemp, including Hunter Hill - to stop the attacks on the immigrant community,” said Evans, naming the candidates leading the polls.

Her rival in Tuesday’s vote, Stacey Abrams, offered a similar response. 

“I’m deeply ashamed we have someone standing for high office who would be so petty and mean-spirited. Unfortunately, this xenophobia is not alien to the rest of the Republican field,” she said. “It not only hurts the reputation of Georgia, it hurts the families who rely on us and depend on us.”

At a stop in Clarkston, one of Georgia’s most diverse cities, protesters swarmed Williams’ bus waving signs that read  “Stop Racism” and “Stop Hate.”

The five-man GOP field has raced to the party’s conservative flanks on gun rights, abortion restrictions and “religious liberty” support. But one of the sharpest arguments revolves around how aggressively they’ll combat illegal immigration. 

Williams has staked his campaign on fealty to President Donald Trump and a series of publicity-seeking moves. But he’s raised little campaign cash and an analysis of TV data shows he’s spent scant money on advertisements. 

Read more recent AJC coverage of the campaign for governor: 

National forces help shape Georgia governor’s race  

A week before the vote, the knives sharpen in Georgia gov race 

In Georgia gov debate, Democrats clash anew over scholarship

Early voting slow, but Democrats gaining on Republicans in Georgia   

Shifting political ground pushes Georgia candidates away from center  

Abrams, Evans sharpen attacks over HOPE in gov forum  

Georgia 2018: Evans bets on gambling as new divide in gov race  

Abrams banks on debt as advantage in final stretch of gov race  

Brian Kemp: His pitch to conservatives leans hard on law and order  

Clay Tippins: Executive aims to send waves through governor’s race  

Michael Williams: Senator has been Trump backer with similar tactics  

Why Georgia Republicans are shifting to the right on guns  

Hunter Hill: Military vet wages running war on ‘career politicians’  

Casey Cagle: A GOP favorite tries to fend off conservative attack  

How Gov. Deal is influencing the race to succeed him  





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About the Author

Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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