Democratic politicians in Georgia are contemplating a harsh rebuke of a state lawmaker in their party who publicly endorsed Donald Trump for re-election, which they say is an “embarrassment” to the party. After Democrat state representative Vernon Jones voiced his support for the Republican president, his colleagues say they may have no choice but to endorse Jones’ primary challenger.
In an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Rep. Jones — who represents parts of Lithonia — said that he is not switching parties, but believes Trump has benefited African Americans.
“It’s very simple to me. President Trump’s handling of the economy, his support for historically Black colleges and his criminal justice initiatives drew me to endorse his campaign,” said Jones.
But that sparked an angry response from his Democratic colleagues and turned them into a unified voice of condemnation. State Sen. Nikema Williams, who is chair of the Georgia Democratic Party, tells the AJC that Jones is an “embarrassment” who doesn’t represent the values of the party.
“Never has that been clearer than this moment, when he chose to stand with the racist president who has made an all-out assault on Black Americans, who has tried to rip away American health care and who has failed our country in its greatest time of need,” Williams says.
Democrats in Georgia are vowing to take steps to reprimand Jones, who doubled down on the endorsement, saying he has “the courage to express my convictions.” His colleagues are discussing disciplinary measures.
Three top party leaders have stepped forward and endorsed Rhonda Taylor, a community activist who is challenging Jones in the June primary.
“We’re not sure what was on Vernon’s mind. It’s antithetical to what we believe in,” said state Rep. James Beverly, chair of the party’s House caucus.
Some have called for Jones to be ousted from the DeKalb County Democrats, but since he’s a state and not a county official, their rules do not allow for that action.
It is currently unclear if Georgia Democrats will take that step. But they could be motivated because of his previous record, including a 2013 grand jury investigation into allegations of bid rigging, calling a fellow Democrat a “chicken sh*t,”accusations of making a transphobic comment against a Doraville, Ga., city council member and most recently a complaint that he doesn’t live in the district he’s supposed to represent.
But Jones, who has been called a Trump sympathizer in the past, was undeterred by the criticism, saying that the president — at least in his mind — has performed satisfactorily.
“There are a lot of African Americans who clearly see and appreciate he’s doing something that’s never been done before,” Jones said. “When you look at the unemployment rates among Black Americans before the pandemic, they were at historic lows. That’s just a fact.”
(Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)