Cruz and Huckabee Compete for Votes of Evangelicals

2016 presidential hopefuls Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee brought their campaigns to Rock Springs Church in Milner Sunday night. The pair spoke at an Independence Day celebration and picnic that also featured the Charlie Daniels Band and one of the Robertsons from Duck Dynasty.

The two were competing for the attention and votes of the 6,000 member congregation by pledging their support for traditional marriage, and opposing the Supreme Court’s decision calling same-sex marriage a fundamental right. Bill Barrow of the Associated Press has the story.

Huckabee, who enjoyed evangelical support on his way to winning eight states in his 2008 White House bid, called the ruling “radical” and “illegal.”

“I want to serve notice that the Supreme Court is just the supreme of the court system that is one of the three equal branches of government,” Huckabee told hundreds of members of Rock Springs Church in a rural area outside metro Atlanta. “It is not the supreme branch, and it most certainly is not the supreme being.”

Cruz, the Texas senator, said a five-justice majority “ignored the text of the Constitution” and said the cascade of judicial and public support for same-sex marriage threatens religious liberty in America. He said he hopes the ruling “serves as a spark, to start a fire that becomes a raging inferno as the body of Christ stands up to defend the values that have built America.”

Huckabee and Cruz, along with Bobby Jindal and Rick Santorum, have been the most vocal in opposing the Supreme Court’s opinion, with Cruz going as far as calling for retention elections of judges. Huckabee has promised to sign executive orders protecting the religious liberty of those opposing marriage equality. Evangelical voters, like those in the Rock Springs congregation, make up a large share of those expected to vote in the Iowa Caucuses, the South Carolina primary, and in Georgia, which will be part of the SEC Primary on March 1st.


  1. John Konop says:

    We have real issues……71 percent of budget tied up in entitlments/ interest rate on debt, Middle Esat conundrum, Erou-Union via Grece, Italy, Spain and Portugal debt issues…, infastructure needing massive upgrades, drop out rates in schools……..In the face of this our country has made tremdous strides in technology and innovation to continue the greatness of our country….Should we be talking about the above or gay marriage? Most Americans are more concerned about above issues, not social police issues that divide us…..

    • ATLguy says:

      “Most Americans are more concerned about above issues, not social police issues that divide us…..”

      EXACTLY! Which is why the social left should stop pushing their social agenda. It is amazing … no one calls the left divisive or accuses them of taking up time and energy from more pressing issues when they press their agenda, but they make those accusations of everyone else for opposing the agenda that the social left presses.

      Tell the social left to stop dividing people with their agenda, and the other side will stop dividing people with their response. Incidentally, if social conservatives revert back to being New Deal Democrats like they were before Nixon and Reagan started courting them in the 70s and 80s, it would be no less than what the GOP deserves. And it would also make the Democrats more moderate. Working class evangelical whites and evangelical blacks could form a coalition to get the sort of reasonable Democrats elected – Zell Miller, Sam Nunn and similar – that dominated Democrat politics for two generations before the left-liberal progressives took over the party. Meanwhile, the GOP would go back to being a regional party of socially liberal, fiscally moderate Rockefeller Republicans that everyone ignores. As far as I am concerned, a win-win.

      • John Konop says:

        …..Tell the social left to stop dividing people with their agenda……

        The problem is you are alienating Barry Goldwater type republicans ie Libertarian leaning republicans with statements like that…which is why you pushing them toward the Dems….especially the under 40 crowd….the GOP will age out, and become a regional type party with very little influence in the future…

        • Three Jack says:

          Diversionary tactics by both sides to avoid ‘real issues’ and it continues to work. As a country, we will not address give away programs (or entitlements if you choose) until we can no longer avoid the pending financial catastrophe. But at least there will be no rebel flags in the way of gay couples seeking government healthcare while enjoying paid leave from their $15 per hr minimum wage job. USA, USA, USA!

  2. Robbie says:

    There’s nothing quite so noble as running for president on a platform of taking away an entire group’s legal rights and protections.

  3. jpm says:

    The right question for us to ask – can a republican Presidential candidate get enough votes in Georgia without the Evangelical votes to take the Georgia delegates? Votes = Electorial College commitment on first ballot.

    If a candidate can win without the Evangelical vote then the article is fluff. If a candidate must have the Evangelical vote then maybe people should take note and more articles written.

    Any polling data on whether a republican candidate in Georgia can win without the Evangelical vote?

    • They probably can, particularly if they picked up some moderate votes in exchange for shedding the evangelical baggage. Doesn’t really matter though, Democrats losing Georgia in Presidential elections is a feature, not a bug.

  4. xdog says:

    Cruz’ nose grew another inch yesterday: “In this last election, 54 million evangelical Christians stayed home.”

    Meanwhile, I await news of evangelicals setting themselves on fire on the Supreme Court steps.

  5. BikeSmith says:


    The following sounds like Cruz wants to incite a riot.

    let this “serve as a spark, to start a fire that becomes a raging inferno as the body of Christ stands up to defend the values that have built America.”

    Is he directing his followers to attack and burn down the supreme court?

    Not very presidential if you ask me. And, what ever happened to freedom of religion?

  6. Ed says:

    Republicans: Fighting for a dying, shrinking demographic that has a growing inverse relationship with its national influence and intra-party influence.

    You guys are screwed. You either do away with the linchpin to your coalition knowing you’ll lose a few election cycles or desperately cling to evangelicals to be competitive for the newt few cycles knowing that it will doom your party in the long run. I don’t envy y’all at all.

  7. northside101 says:

    It depends (can a Republican win the primary without the evangelical vote)…in part as to how much that vote is split itself—Huckabee, Cruz, Santorum, Carson…Huckabee did win Georgia’s 2008 primary, but only with a slight plurality, getting 34% (abt 327,000 votes) to 32% for McCain (305,000 votes) and 30% for Romney (291,000), with Ron Paul far behind the others with just 3% (abt 28,000 votes). Basically McCain and Romney split the more moderate vote, allowing Huckabee to prevail here; it is unlikely Huckabee would have defeated either one of them in just a two-way race. Making Huckabee’s win especially interesting was that it came more through a rural coalition—he did not carry the state’s traditionally two largest GOP-voting counties, Cobb and Gwinnett (both of which backed Romney), and he ran far behind McCain and Romney in both DeKalb and Fulton. But he won all the counties that are now entirely or partially in Tom Grave’s northwest GA 14th District and won most of the counties in the heavily GOP 9th CD of Cong. Doug Collins, CD 9 being the most heavily Republican (percentage) of the state’s 14 districts. Huckabee also won the Macon area, many of Atlanta’s southside suburbs (more conservative than the northside ones) and rural areas in southeast Georgia like Waycross, Jesup and Dublin.

    But regardless of whether either wins Georgia, neither is likely to be the GOP presidential nominee, and neither will be elected the next president if nominated.

    • jpm says:

      northside101 – Good data.
      I agree neither Senator Cruz or Gov. Huckabee will be the nominee which is why I looked beyond the surface of Jon’s article to the bigger question of the impact the Christian right of center (regardless of racial mix) will have on the Presidential election results in Georgia. It is the amount of impact Christian right of center candidates stimulate in the Evangelicals that interests me. We already know the mainstream republicans and the democrats have abandoned the Evangelicals ie Christian right. In Georgia I suspect that is very large number of actual voters that have been sacrificed by mainstream r’s and all of the d’s.

      Georgia is not as ‘progressive’ as NY, Ca., or Fla. with their huge blocks of electorial votes. Surely – the Christian right exists even in those progressive states. But that expands beyond Jon’s article.

      I also note Jon does not say there were all 6,000 Church members at the meeting – only that they congregation is 6,000 members.

      Good data. Thanks.

  8. Jiminy Cricket says:

    Per xdog: “Cruz’ nose grew another inch yesterday: “In this last election, 54 million evangelical Christians stayed home.” ”

    So Mitt’s loss WAS a Christian passive-aggressive act to deny a Mormon a 1600 PA Ave. address! We all suspected that. I mean, we had a win and allowed defeat.

    Not that I was a big Mitt fan, either.

    All very dire predictions about the coming demise of the Republic and the GOP. As Americans we will all lose, if event either occurs.

    – The world will find itself in a very dark place if America implodes under it’s debt service.
    – Without a bicameral system in place, all Americans lose.

    For the time being, let’s just hope the GOP fringe candidates don’t completely destroy whatever remains of the GOP brand with idiotic rhetoric.

    • beenthere says:

      “Without a bicameral system in place, all Americans lose”

      I think you mean two-party system.

  9. prizepatrol says:

    Cruz and Huckabee continue to further alienate LGBT voters and their families and allies from voting Republican. Trump alienates Hispanic and Latino voters. The so-called Republican “big tent” is but an historical footnote for a party in its death throes.

    • Three Jack says:

      LGBT – 3.6% of US population
      Hispanic – 17% of US population, many very religious and socially conservative

      Of those overall percentages, if we guesstimate that 50% of each category vote with a majority voting dem, then we are talking about a very small block of special interest voters. Also you must consider where the majority of each category are concentrated, it decreases their voting power even more. Thus to summarily dismiss the GOP as a ‘historical footnote’ because they ‘alienate’ these special interest groups indicates you spend way too much time watching MSNBC.

      I’m not a big fan of either Cruz or Huckabee and neither will likely be the nominee. But compared with the lying, cheating, email destroying, no personality broom rider Hillary and Bernie the spittin socialist, the GOP actually may have a legit shot to win even if one of the socons miraculously earns the nomination.

      • Jon Richards says:

        I’m not sure you can slice it that neatly, though. While LGBT may be only 3.6% of the country, some 60% of the population and 70+% of millennials approve of marriage equality. this study by FiveThirtyEight found a huge negative correlation between those supporting same sex marriage and Republicans. You have to wonder if voters who could be GOP get turned off by the party’s position.

        • John Konop says:

          I think it has become a laundry list type concept for millennial generation….not just this issue….you add the culture war hard line “Trump” style comments on immigration, anti-birth control……the party seems out of touch ie angry old white guys….Bart is right it has become such a distraction it kills any real debate on tough issues like entitlements……I do think many in both parties like this debate over real issues……

          FROM BART:

          …….Diversionary tactics by both sides to avoid ‘real issues’ and it continues to work….

        • Three Jack says:


          Of the 70% of millennials who approve of marriage equality (or as it was known prior to a focus group, gay marriage), how many vote? I would argue less than 20% of the respondents have ever cast a ballot. Based on the current frontrunners from both parties, I would predict an even lower percentage showing up at the polls in November of next year.

          I agree with you that the GOP could increase its support by dropping the constant opposition to gay marriage. If they would just ignore the questions and focus on fiscal issues explaining how millennials will be facing enormous tax burdens if reform is not addressed now, they should be able to actually attract millennial votes.

  10. IndyPendant says:

    Please, please, please let this be the year we get a third party candidate that divides the right wing in half and allows BERNIE SANDERS to waltz into the White House!

    Okay, I’m awake now. Back to your regularly scheduled bickering.

  11. Andrew C. Pope says:

    Ted Cruz’ statements about SCOTUS in the wake of Obergefell and Burwell tell me that he either:
    a) doesn’t believe the nonsense he’s spouting about the Court because he’ll say anything he thinks will win over the right;
    b) is so drunk on his own Kool-Aid that he’s willing to toss his legal education and experience as a clerk for Rehnquist out the door; OR
    c) he got bonked on the head and forgot that he used to help write SCOTUS decisions.

  12. saltycracker says:

    Equality and diversity: if the Obamacrats and Fundapublicans can pass 10 million more bills for their diverse interests will we finally have individual freedom and all citizens treated equally ?

  13. northside101 says:

    Whenever anyone, whether from the Left or Right, starts talking about a constitutional amendment to do just about anything (whether limiting campaign spending on the Left, same-sex marriage or abortion on the right)…well, you have to take that with a grain of salt. Or maybe compare it to the chances of snow in Atlanta on the 4th of July…

    It is difficult to quantify the “evangelical vote” in Georgia, but it is doubtful it is a majority—or even close to that—of the GOP primary vote in this state. In a paper on Georgia’s 2004 election cycle, the longtime political science professor Dr. Charles Bullock (think he has been at UGA since the late 1960s) wrote (of that year’s GOP Senate primary between Isakson, Cain and Collins) “Estimates are that Christian conservatives account for about 30 percent of the GOP primary electorate. While that is a sizable component of that electorate, it is insufficient to dictate the outcome.” That year, Isakson was accused of being “too moderate” on the abortion issue (favoring exceptions for rape and incest), as compared to Collins and Cain, who embraced the Georgia Right to Life position of only “life of the mother” as circumstances under which abortion should be allowed.

    Nor is it clear that evangelicals usually vote for the candidate most associated with their background. In 1988, televangelist Pat Robertson made a bid for the GOP presidential nomination but lost badly here and elsewhere, not coming close to winning any southern state as “born-again” Connecticut Episcopalian George H.W. Bush swept every southern Super Tuesday primary. In 1992, TV commentator Pat Buchanan made the “culture war” his campaign theme, but President Bush still won the Georgia primary by nearly a 2-1 margin, even winning a lot of rural counties where you would assume a large evangelical percentage, like Fannin in the mountains (70%), Elbert County along the shore of Lake Russell (67%), Rabun County at the northeast corner of the state (66%) and Colquitt County in southwest Georgia (63%). In the 1996 GOP Senate primary, most of the vote was split between two candidates more associated with the country club wing of the party, Guy Millner and Isakson, with evangelical Clint Day a distant third place. Cruz and Hucakbee’s percentages here may depend in part on how they fare in the earlier contests—whether either is seen as “viable” after Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

    As for Cruz’s statement about 54 million evangelicals “staying home” in 2012, where on earth did he get that? There were about 129 million presidential votes cast in 2012, roughly 66 million for Obama, 61 million Romney and slightly over 2 million for other candidates. Seems pretty far-fetched that 54 million of those voters “stayed home.” But even if we were to believe that far-fetched case, it isn’t as if Romney would have necessarily won even had they showed up. Most of the evangelical vote is in states Republicans are assured of winning next year—Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, South Carolina and the like. I mean, does Cruz think Romney would have won California and New York if they had showed up at the polls? The way the Electoral College favors the Democrats—18 states with a combined 242 electoral votes have voted Democratic in each of the last 6 presidential elections, and another 3 states (Iowa, New Hampshire and New Mexico) have voted Democratic in 5 of the last 6 contests—there isn’t much to be gained by just turning out more of your base in states you are assured of winning. Perhaps in Florida a higher evangelical vote would have put Romney over the top, but you have to think in a state that diverse, the evangelical vote over the long haul is shrinking as a portion of the state’s electorate.

  14. saltycracker says:

    I believe our politicians are not unaware of the right thing to do to serve all the people while being true to their basic philosophy. They are drawn heavily off course by media headlines, devisive mobs, party pressures, influential lobbyists and their inability or fear to read the average working middle class Citizen.

    The list of ridiculous positions by the party extremes is like Poe’s The Pit and the Pendulum with the parties on each side pushing and the average citizen strapped to the table.

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