CORY RUTH An Emerging Dark Horse Candidate, for Appointment to Georgia Senator Johnny Isakson’s Seat

“I would jump up and down and say hallelujah if Gov. Kemp picked Cory Ruth,”

--Shelley Wynter, political pundit.

It was a rare and riveting TV political talk show conversation featuring Georgia Republican U.S. Senator David Perdue and politically savvy black Republican businessman Cory Ruth. Now there is a longshot chance the two will both again share a political stage together as Georgia’s Republican candidates in 2020.

That would be a surprising and significant national news story should Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp surprisingly – or some argue astutely- pick Ruth to replace outgoing Sen. Johnny Isakson who’s served the state since 2005.

(Businessman Cory Ruth with Georgia U.S. Senator David Perdue at “Political Cocktails” event.)

“Governor Brian Kemp could choose to go in a way that’s going to make a statement; a legacy move,” says Ruth, a successful international entrepreneur. “I hope he’ll do that. I’m the best person for the seat. I can communicate Conservative principals better than anyone in Georgia and do it in a way that appeals to people across Party lines at a time when we most need bipartisanship.”

Sen. Perdue will be seeking re-election, while Ruth is pondering the outside possibility and proactively positioning himself to be named retiring Sen. Johnny Isakson’s replacement by Gov. Brian Kemp. There’s most likely only a slim likelihood that might happen, but political insiders reveal Ruth’s name is being “floated” by Georgia Republican influencers “Cory Ruth is smart enough and intelligent enough to handle the job,” opines Rev. Dr. Gerald Durley, a legendary and widely revered “warrior/prophet” civil/human rights leader and pastor emeritus of Atlanta’s Providence Missionary Baptist Church. Dr. Durley was in the second row for Ruth’s rare interview with Republican Senator Perdue, who told the gathering he was once “the original outsider” politician.

“As a black man, Cory, has earned the right because he is not a Johnny-come-lately. He has been among the Republican ranks, and quite frankly, I think that the Republican Party of Georgia owe it to him. He’s often faced criticism from the black community, and I’m sure he’s faced it from the white community. It will do a lot to show that the Republican Party is now beginning to understand the value in diversity.”

Senator Perdue is a seasoned, successful and savvy businessman. He is the only former CEO currently serving in Congress. His strategic appearance at the plush August 20th Buckhead Political Cocktails Conversation echoed a rare and robust display of Republican diversity and shrewdness. The vast majority of the 250 or more in attendance and listening intently were an eclectic assemblage of black Democrat business owners, entrepreneurs and politicos.

The former Reebok CEO appeared comfortable, compelling and convincing as he verbally sparred cogently and congenially with Ruth during their hour-long Q&A.

“I met Cory in a clothing store,” Sen. Perdue tells me exclusively before their interview that evening. “We had a conversation and hit it off well. We had a lot of things in common. Quite frankly, with his youth and energy, it adds a lot to my breadth of understanding. The introduction to these different communities has been really, really helpful so he’s been a great friend and a great help.”

Ruth reveals that he purposely pitched black Democrats for the invitation-only Political Cocktails Conversation confab. That could prove to be key to his political portfolio and appointment appeal to Gov. Kemp.

(Businessman Cory Ruth with Georgia U.S. Senator David Perdue at “Political Cocktails” event.)

“My goal is to take people and expose them directly to the people they have been inclined to oppose,” he says during an interview following Sen. Isakson’s retirement. “I was trying to put important political people in the room and when they walked out most of them prayerfully saying this guy’s not as bad as MSNBC told me he was.”

When queried about what the black attendees for his Perdue interview might say if his name is mentioned as a candidate for an appointment to the U.S. Senate? “I think it would be helpful for me,” he admits. “Most of the people in that room, I think, would think positively about that.”

So would Shelley Wynter, a popular radio talk show host and black Republican political pundit. “Cory Ruth will be a great pick,” he opines. “I think Cory Ruth is a fascinating pick. It’s one that deserves a lot of attention. He’s a person who should be given a lot of attention and on a short list although not a lot of people know who he is. Cory would be a magnificent pick and a courageous pick because he is known by insiders, but he is not known by the vast number of voters across the state.”

Ruth calls himself a realistic Republican team player who readily recognizes “how difficult it is to raise a lot of money” to get your message across as a black Republican in Georgia and nationwide.

“The people who are running and will be viable candidates for this Senate seat are people who can raise an awful lot of money very, very quickly,” he admits. “If you can’t wake up the morning and hear the Senator is stepping down and put a million dollars in a room to explore it, then you are probably not a viable candidate. People are doing that as we speak.”

Ruth has unsuccessfully sought political office previously. He’s run for Atlanta City Council and Fulton County Commission seats and likes to say, “I walked for Congress.” He got tired of yelling at the TV news, he admits, and in 2010 impulsively sought to win the Georgia’s 4th District congressional primary.

“I didn’t know anything about politics and didn’t know anyone in politics,” he ruefully remembers. “I just went and put my name on the ballot. That’s where I learned everything, started to meet people and started to realize how politics work.”

Gov. Kemp must decide if he is picking for the future of Georgia’s Republican Party, or an established, entrenched politico, Ruth and other Georgia voters dispute.

“Sometimes governors in this position will make a decision to make an historic statement choice,” Ruth says. “Like former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley did in 2013 when she chose Tim Scott who is the only Black Republican in the Senate today. Or Gov. Kemp’s decision may be to play it safe and pick somebody who has been elected in this state before and has the high profile and name recognition that would make them a shoo-in. “Or, he could choose me,” Ruth continues.

Wynter, a powerfully influential media influencer, says to this reporter, “I would jump up and down and say hallelujah if Gov. Kemp picked Cory Ruth. I don’t think Cory Ruth is a bad pick. “He’s blemished free. He’s got no skeletons in his closet. He’s a clean guy; he’s a good guy and he’s a smart guy so it would be a good historical pick. The bonus is because he’s black, but Gov. Kemp would be picking a solid Conservative, which I applaud.”

“There are many considerations for Gov. Kemp to make in the appointment, plus heavy influence from Washington, but I would love to see Cory in that spot,” adds Republican consultant and former GOP executive, Leo Smith.

As he routinely argues authentically and aggressively to his radio listeners and internet audience, Shelley Wynter tells me and you: “The person who gets picked, whether its Cory Ruth or anybody else, are going to have a ‘war’ when they run for re-election in 2022. It’s going to be an out and out war just like Kemp versus Stacey Abrams was. That person must be young, vibrant, smart and aggressive; and not afraid to fight.”

Could Cory Ruth be that quintessential Kemp choice and Senate candidate?

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