MOULTRIE -- Rep. Austin Scott, R-Tifton, is Colquitt County's only state delegate to make the "Deck of Shame," Southern Heritage Political Action Committee's knock-off of the defense department's most-wanted cards for personalities in the war with Iraq.
Scott's mug appears on the ace of clubs in the Deck of Shame for his hand in changing Georgia's state flag from the 1956 flag that bears the Confederate battle flag emblem. The ace of spades is House Speaker Rep. Terry Coleman, D-Eastman; the ace of hearts is Sen. George Hooks, D-Americus; and the ace of diamonds is Sen. Tom Price, R-Roswell. The jokers of the deck are Gov. Sonny Perdue and the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus.
Scott took the notoriety in stride, commending the group's creativity.
"I was the Republican that signed the bill the first time. I did vote to change the flag the first time, and I did vote to remove the post-1956 flag from the referendum. ... They've got the right and this is America, and they can call me what they want to. I did what I thought was right for this state, and I've never changed my position on that," the lawmaker said.
Sons of Confederate Veterans Georgia Division Commander Jack Bridwell of Moultrie said Confederate heritage groups consider Scott an "instigator" for the original flag change, saying they believe he knew about Barnes' move before it hit the House floor.
"He's one of our primary enemies/targets," Bridwell said. "Austin is beatable right now."
Bridwell said Confederate heritage group members number about 300,000 in Georgia. The groups have laid claim to the defeat of candidates in the last election -- namely former Sen. Harold Ragan, who lost District 11 to Sen. John Bulloch of Ochlocknee by a mere 73 votes.
Scott is gambling with his political future, Bridwell said, hinting that a formidable opponent friendly to heritage issues might take a seat at the campaign table soon.
Scott maintained his poker face.
"I think there are situations where they're going to have some clout, and I think there are situations where they're going to have very little clout, depending on the challenging candidate in the race," he said.
The flag referendum is set to come to the public March 2. Voters have the choice of the current flag and Barnes' blue field flag, but Bridwell is holding out for a last minute proposal to add the 1956 flag as a third choice on the ballot. Polls indicate about half of Georgia voters would support that addition.
"I wish we had groups with that kind of resolve for improving education, improving health care and making government more efficient," Scott said.
Bridwell countered that Confederate heritage groups are concerned about more than just the state's official flag. They're concerned about the state's problems in education, finances and, of course, loss of touch with heritage.
"The concept that we're a one-issue group -- if they're making that mistake, they're really messing up," he said.
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