Newcomer Boyd battles GOP over party oath

Raymond Boyd, the self-funded newcomer to the Republican gubernatorial race, is in a major dispute with state GOP officials over the party's insistence that he sign an oath pledging allegiance to the party.

Boyd, 67, a commercial real estate broker who dropped $2 million of his own money into the race in late March, said Republican Party officials told him he either signs the oath or he can't run under the party's banner.

The dispute comes days before Boyd, who lives in rural Morgan County, is to make his public debut as a candidate at a debate Thursday and a week before qualifying opens for candidates.

State GOP Chairwoman Sue Everhart said Monday that the oath is spelled out in both party rules and state law.

"We've never had anybody who ran as a Republican yet object to it," Everhart said.

But Boyd said he won't sign the one-sentence oath, which reads: "I do hereby swear or affirm my allegiance to the Republican Party."

Instead, Boyd said he offered a compromise. He'd sign an oath that included that sentence but that goes on to say he "will not be bound by any position of the Georgia Republican Party that I do not feel would represent the core principles of that faction of the Republican Party which is referred to by many as ‘Ronald Reagan Republicans.' I am running as a Republican -- a Ronald Reagan Republican. I hereby reaffirm my pledge to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and I offer my life in defense thereof."

Boyd's version was rejected, however.

"I said, ‘No, this is what we require of everybody,' " Everhart said. Even high-profile candidates such as U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson sign the oath, she said. "We don't make any exclusion to the state level."

State law says that political parties can choose to require the oath, and the Republican Party does. Democrats do not, state party spokesman Eric Gray said.

Boyd's objection is based on concern that he would essentially be pledging blind allegiance to a party without knowing what future positions it might take.

Boyd says he will fight to avoid being forced to sign the oath and is concerned the party does not want him to run for governor. Seven other Republicans are also seeking the party's nomination.

"This is obscene, it's ludicrous," Boyd said he told party officials. "You tell me we can't modify this?"

He said he told them the squabble could turn into "one hell of a fight" that would make the party look bad.

Boyd said he got into a shouting match with Everhart, during which he accused her of behaving like U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). "She didn't like that," Boyd said.

Boyd said Everhart accused him of being a Republican in name only, or "RINO," and suggested he run as an independent.

But Everhart said that's not true. She said she has no doubt that Boyd is a Republican.

"I said you've got three choices," Everhart said. "You can sign the oath and qualify as a Republican. You can forget that and run as an independent. Or you can run as a Democrat."