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Gov. candidate profile Ray McBerry
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If Georgia were in the Confederate States of America, Ray McBerry might be the frontrunner for the Republican nomination for governor.
You can sum up his platform in two words: states' rights.
And he doesn't mince many of his other words.
In 1798, he said in Savannah last year, a federal court ordered Georgia officials to appear to defend themselves in a lawsuit.
In response, the "sovereign state of Georgia" didn't just balk, McBerry exuded.
It said "any federal agent attempting to enforce those orders within our borders would be arrested and hanged by the neck until dead without the benefit of clergy."
McBerry didn't suggest hanging anyone, but said he'd resist federal gun control "immediately upon taking office."
"I will let Washington know that the first time any federal agent tries to disarm any law-abiding citizen ... that federal agent will find himself sitting in a Georgia jail," he said.
Accordingly, he was one of several GOP gubernatorial candidates who backed a Republican-sponsored State Senate resolution on states' rights last year.
It said new federal gun control measures could be considered grounds for seceding from the Union.
Other GOP candidates who initially backed the measure backed off or refused to say any more about it. But not McBerry.
He has said he continues to support it, but considers secession a last resort.
He says the 10th Amendment to the Constitution gives states the right to resist federal orders that exceed the powers spelled out in that document.
Although he won almost 12 percent of the GOP primary vote in 2006, when he took on incumbent Sonny Perdue, he's now an underdog. His support in statewide polls hovers around 2 percent.
Moreover, his campaign hit a speed bump when the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported he was accused of having an affair with a teenage girl.
He denied the allegations and rejected calls for him to drop out of the race.
Meanwhile, another candidate, former Secretary of State Karen Handel, has refused to participate in any debates in which he's included.
He was excluded from one forum because - while he salutes the Georgia flag and the original Betsy Ross American flag - he won't salute the current U.S. flag.
But McBerry still receives enthusiastic responses when he addresses GOP audiences.
In May, for example, he won a straw poll taken after a debate in Statesboro that included all the major Republican contenders except Handel.
He says people increasingly agree with him that the federal government has overreached its constitutional authority.
"Georgia's next governor," he has insisted, "should not work with the federal government but should fight Washington every step of the way."
He said some of his GOP rivals recently have mimicked his rhetoric, but added that he's been for states' rights for more than a decade.
The real difference, he says, is that "no other candidate is willing to stand up to the federal government and say, 'no.'"
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