KENNESAW — Political newcomer Charles Gregory of Kennesaw, who ousted veteran state Rep. Judy Manning in the Republican primary, is a follower of Ron Paul who said he ran against the system.
“The status quo,” Gregory said. “The business as usual. You’ve got two parties and one says they’re going to shrink the size of government and says they believe in less spending, and it keeps on getting bigger, keeps on getting bigger. Say they believe in Second Amendment rights but refuse to bring to the floor a vote for a constitutional carry. I want some serious real change in the direction of the Constitution and limited government, and more power and choice to the people.”
In his first time running for office, Gregory, 33, state director of the Ron Paul for president campaign, won with 56 percent of the vote in House District 34, in north-central Cobb.
There are no Democrats in the race, meaning Gregory will assume office in January.
Manning, of Marietta, said she never saw it coming.
“He’s lived here his whole life and never done anything in the party,” Manning said. “I think he’d be classified as unknown.”
Manning, who has served in the state house since 1997, said she and her husband, Aymar, were ill after the Fourth of July.
“We just couldn’t get out in that heat and walk. He (Gregory) had some of his Ron Paul folks that walked neighborhoods and didn’t represent me as I would have thought was a fair representation,” she said. “He didn’t exactly tell the truth. I’m not bad-mouthing him. All’s fair in love and war. You can say anything.”
Gregory views things differently.
“To be honest, regarding Judy, we didn’t even bring her up,” Gregory said. “The only time we brought her up was when they said, ‘who are you running against?’ I wasn’t running against Judy. I was running against the system.”
When voters asked why they should vote for him instead of Manning, he told them they simply have a different philosophy of government.
“I believe that government should be protecting the life, liberty and property of individuals, and following the Constitution and that’s it,” Gregory said. “Not managing people’s money or their lives or all these other things that the government tends to get into doing. That’s it.”
He is the son of Patricia and Paul Gregory. His father is a retired asset manager for Northwestern Mutual Life insurance.
Charles Gregory is a 1997 Lassiter High School graduate who attended the University of Georgia for three years before starting his own computer software company, Possum Delight Technologies, which he operates out of his home. He and his wife, Samantha, have three children, two of whom attend Hayes Elementary School and a third who is two years old. Gregory described himself as a Christian, though he does not belong to a specific church.
Gregory said he discovered Ron Paul and his message of liberty in 2008.
“I saw him on one of the debates and I was like, ‘wow, who is this guy? He’s amazing. I’m going to go online and do some research and read some books,’” he said.
Paul’s message of liberty is the message this country was founded on, Gregory said.
“We’ve gotten so far away from that. You’re either Democrat or Republican, and they put you in these two boxes. Here’s somebody who’s actually broken out of that box and is beginning to educate and show people about some of the things that are really happening in this country that they have no clue about, they’ve been kept in the dark,” Gregory said.
In February 2011, Gregory attended a few Ron Paul meets-ups and started a Cobb County for Ron Paul Group. He and other supporters then decided to form a statewide organization before the Ron Paul campaign came to Georgia.
“Four of us started working on creating a kind of a loose association of meet-up groups across the state, and we called it Georgia for Ron Paul. … When the campaign finally came in, I was just by default the state coordinator for the campaign,” he said.
Gregory said he’s met Ron Paul twice, both times in passing.
“I wish I had been able to sit down and talk with him but anytime you’re around Ron Paul it’s like a rock star,” he said. “Everybody is just so passionate about him, and he draws these huge crowds.”
However, Gregory said he doesn’t take on the title of libertarian, preferring not to be “put in a box.”
“Libertarian ideas are essentially the same ideas that are written for the conservative party. If you look at the principles of the Republican Party as written, they’re very libertarian. It’s just libertarians actually believe in following them,” he said.
Before the Republican convention delegates finally vote on their nominee this week, Gregory remained committed to Paul. But if the choice in November is between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama?
“Well, I’m not voting for Obama,” he said. “I will walk in that day, and I will vote for the person I think is best for the job at the time.”
As for Romney’s running mate, Gregory said Paul Ryan was not his preferred pick.
“I’m not real happy with his support in the past of programs like Medicare D and supporting the bailouts,” Gregory said.
Gregory plans to attend the Republican Convention this week as a guest of delegate Oleg Ivutin, a Smyrna resident who owns Cross Country Supply manufacturing firm.
Ivutin said he’s not known “Charlie” very long, but is already impressed with him.
“Charlie is a man of his word. You’re not going to see Charlie taking money from special interests. If we have even 20 percent of Georgia state representatives like Charlie, who are not RINOS, not representing special interests, the state will see a change immediately,” Ivutin said. RINO stands for Republican in Name Only.
Since the July 31 primary, Gregory said he has received telephone calls from House Speaker David Ralston and others in the House leadership. He’s still deciding what committees he hopes to serve on. Those appointments are usually made in January, near the start of the session.
There are those who come away from the Georgia Legislature saying they need a bath after witnessing all the wheeling and dealing that goes on there. Yet Gregory maintains the way to avoid corruption is to have a core set of values to begin with.
“You have to have a set of principles to fall back on, and that is I think maybe where some people that enter politics and get into the Legislature for the wrong reasons maybe run into a problem. They don’t go down knowing, ‘yes, I’m going down to follow the Constitution. I’m going down to support the message of liberty,’ which is a finite set of principles to fall back on. A lot of people just go for various reasons.”
Gregory cites the 1850-era book “The Law” by Claude Frédéric Bastiat as his favorite book.
“It’s a relatively short book, and it is a 17th/18th century political writer, and he’s discussing what law is and what it should be and that law is designed to protect the life, liberty and property of individuals. That’s what it was made for. Individually, we have the God given or the inherent right to protect our own lives, our own liberty and freedom and our own property. The law was originally created as a collective force to defend those, (but) it has become a tool for plunder or theft from a group of people. (Bastiat) really just outlines what law is supposed to be and what it’s supposed to be limited to.”
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