State Sen. Rick Jeffares is running for state Senate. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM
Photo: Greg Bluestein/Political Insider
Photo: Greg Bluestein/Political Insider

A high noon showdown? GOP contender challenges rival to shoot-out 

‘I’ll bring an extra 12 gauge in case he doesn’t have one.’ 

Republican David Shafer won the NRA’s endorsement last week. One of his top rivals for Georgia’s No. 2 job wants him to prove he has the sharpshooting skills to back it up. 

Former state Sen. Rick Jeffares challenged Shafer to a high-stakes shootout on Friday: The winner of the clay shoot stays in the race, while the loser must bow out.

(A third GOP contender for lieutenant governor, former state Rep. Geoff Duncan, wasn’t part of the challenge.)

In a happy coincidence, both Republicans were confirmed to attend the Georgia Utility Contractors Association Scholarship Foundation fundraiser Friday morning at the Cherokee Rose Gun Club in Griffin. The contest would occur at high noon. 

“David reads his gun talking points well, I want to see if he knows which end of a shotgun the shells go in,” said Jeffares, who ticked off his family’s Second Amendment chops in his challenge.

He’s had his hunting license since 1980. His daughter and son-in-law compete in shooting contests around the world and train law enforcement officers. And they let friends know they were expecting a baby girl by firing an AR-15 round through a balloon filled with pink dye.

The shootout brings to mind another showdown challenge. It was 2002, and the NRA was preparing to endorse Democrat Roy Barnes – as it had done in 1998

In his debut speech as the Republican nominee for governor, Perdue challenged Barnes to a skeet shoot for the NRA’s support – and his campaign accused the Democrat of not knowing the “difference between a shotgun and a bass boat.” (The NRA still endorsed Barnes.)  

Perdue’s adviser then was GOP operative Dan McLagan - who is now a top strategist for Jeffares. 

Shafer, a former GOP Senate leader, did not take up the challenge.

“I am proud to be endorsed by the National Rifle Association,” he said. “We will let the voters settle the election.” 

But Jeffares said he came to the luncheon prepared anyways.  

“Let’s save the people of Georgia the hassle of wading through political TV ads and mail pieces and settle this contest today,” Jeffares said. “I’ll bring an extra 12 gauge in case he doesn’t have one.”  

Update: Jeffares tweeted this picture claiming Shafer “ducked down in his seat & had his driver speed away” when TV cameras started rolling at the event.


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.