WASHINGTON, May 3, 2014- With a little over two weeks to go before Georgia’s Republican Senate primary, the seven candidates vying for retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss’ seat are canvassing the Peach State at a frantic pace in an attempt to shake as many hands as possible before voters head to the polls.
One contender, however, is now thousands of miles away, sacrificing one of the precious few weekends that remain to pay tribute to a protest on the other side of the country.
Senate candidate Derrick Grayson, a network engineer and avid YouTube pundit, slipped away Saturday evening to board a plane bound for Las Vegas amid a heated primary fight for the GOP’s nomination. Accompanied by his campaign manager and director of operations, Grayson then drove from Sin City to rural Clark County, Nevada, where a highly publicized legal showdown continues to unfold between rancher Cliven Bundy and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
The decades-long dispute came to a head last month when federal officials attempted to seize Bundy’s cattle off of what they claimed was federally-owned land. Countering that the land in question belongs to the state of Nevada, Bundy refused to surrender his livestock and was soon joined by dozens of armed supporters, all of whom escalated the situation until the BLM chose to back off temporarily.
Bundy drew intense and widespread criticism when snippets of seemingly racist comments he had made appeared in the New York Times shortly afterwards.
Many protesters remain on Bundy’s ranch, sleeping in tents and banding together against what they see as government overreach. One such devotee, Jason Patrick, has played a major supporting role in Grayson’s campaign thus far. Grayson et al joined Patrick this weekend to survey the scene and show their enthusiasm for Bundy’s populist struggle.
Grayson’s quiet and quick sojourn to Nevada demonstrates his commitment to the anti-government vision he preaches. Despite the fact that Bundy’s claim to grazing rights is legally shaky at best, Grayson has remained one of the rancher’s few outspoken allies.
“Time to put my words into actions,” Grayson wrote on the campaign’s Facebook page of his decision to travel to the Silver State. “I don’t run from the fight for the people of our nation.”
Besides meeting with Patrick, who has been living among the band of Bundy supporters for the past two weeks, Grayson will speak to the protestors about government authority, media bias, and racism—issues that have characterized the nearly month-long standoff and accompanying national news coverage.
Although Grayson announced last week that he would only head to the ranch once the May 20th primary had passed, his team soon decided that the lessons of the Bundy-BLM imbroglio were too important to remain in his periphery. Still, a campaign representative insisted that Grayson was not attending the ranch in a campaign capacity, and that the candidate simply wanted to express his support for the cause in person. He will return to Georgia on Sunday.