Republican Rep. Paul Broun, running for the Senate in Georgia and in a tough primary fight, said in an interview with Georgia Public radio that the only way Democrats win the state is if “illegal aliens” are allowed to vote.
“The only way Georgia is going to change is if we have all these illegal aliens in here in Georgia, give them the right to vote,” he said before adding, “It only helps the Democrats if we legalize all these illegal aliens in this country who the Democrats want to put on federal welfare programs.”
That sentiment is one reason why some Republicans in the House are reluctant to back a comprehensive-immigration plan that provides a "path to citizenship," even if it's after paying fines, not committing crimes, and waiting more than a decade like was included in the comprehensive bill that passed the Senate overwhelmingly in June of last year.
MSNBC.com’s Benjy Sarlin points out:
“His latest comments came in response to a question about Georgia’s changing demographics. A little more than 9% of the state is Hispanic, per the latest census figures. The Pew Hispanic Center estimated in 2011 that Georgia has about 425,000 undocumented immigrants of all ethnicities, among the highest in the nation. Immigrants who lack authorization to reside or work in the United States are barred from most federal benefit programs.”
Establishment Republicans worry that the crowded and likely drawn-out Republican primary to replace retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R) with some bombastic candidates could hurt the party's chances in a state they should hold easily, especially with seven debates on the docket. The primary is May 20th with a runoff, if necessary, July 22nd. The first debate is Jan. 18.
It's a problem that has plagued Senate Republicans the last two cycles. Tea Party candidates were blamed for losses in Delaware, Nevada, and Colorado. And then in 2012, comments by Republicans in Missouri and Indiana cost the party seats in those red states.
Eight Republicans are running in Georgia, including three House Republicans -- Broun, Phil Gingrey, and Jack Kingston. Kingston is seen as the most moderate of the three, yet made headlines when he channeled Newt Gingrich in saying that poor children who receive free lunch should either have to sweep cafeteria floors or "pay a dime, pay a nickle, to instill in them that there is, in fact, no such thing as a free lunch."
Also running: Karen Handel, the former state Secretary of State, who, with Tea Party backing, lost a bid for governor, and David Perdue, the former president and CEO of Reebok and former chairman and CEO of Dollar General.
In addition, at least two former veteran Republican senators appear more aligned with the Democrat in the race, Michelle Nunn, a charity executive, who is the daughter of former Sen. Sam Nunn (D-GA).
A PAC closely associated with former Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN), who was ousted in a primary by a conservative opponent who went on to lose in 2012, donated $5,000 to Nunn. Lugar worked closely with Nunn's father on nuclear proliferation.
Former Republican Sen. John Warner's (R-VA) PAC also donated $500 to Nunn’s campaign.