Georgia Senate GOP contender has past Democratic voting record

U.S. Senate candidate Latham Saddler

U.S. Senate candidate Latham Saddler

Senate Republican candidate Latham Saddler cast a ballot in a Democratic primary when he was in college, according to voting records.

Election documents show that Saddler, a former Navy SEAL and Trump administration official, registered to vote as a Democrat in 2001 in Charlotte, N.C. as a teenager. State records show he voted in the Democratic presidential primary in 2004 while a student at the University of Georgia.

Saddler, who has labeled himself the authentic conservative in the race against U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, acknowledged voting Democratic once as a young man. In a statement, he added that he’s an “America First conservative, proud lifelong Republican, who worked in President Trump’s White House.”

It’s not uncommon in Georgia politics for candidates to switch their partisan allegiances. Former Govs. Sonny Perdue and Nathan Deal were Democrats before they bolted to the GOP, among the many state Republican leaders with roots across the aisle.

And Sarah Riggs Amico, a Democrat who ran for Senate last year and was the party’s 2018 nominee for lieutenant governor, called herself a “recovering Republican” to account for her support for Mitt Romney in 2012.

Nor is Saddler the only potential rival to Warnock whose voting record is under scrutiny. Herschel Walker, who is considering a run, didn’t cast a vote in the 2016 election despite promoting Donald Trump, and had skipped other elections dating back nearly two decades until last year’s vote.

Saddler, a 38-year-old first-time candidate, has taken many political observers by surprise with his strong start. He’s topped two other contenders, Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black and construction executive Kelvin King, in early fundraising. And he’s drawn solid crowds at stops around the state.

Though records show Saddler cast a ballot in the 2004 Democratic presidential primary, when Republican George W. Bush was up for a second term, he voted months later in the GOP primary for statewide and local contests.

Saddler said he also cast a ballot for Bush in the general election – and celebrated the Republican’s victory by lighting up cigars with his college roommates.