KENNESAW, Ga. - Gov. Sonny Perdue and Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor kicked off another round of furious campaigning Saturday in hopes of energizing the party faithful just days before Georgia voters head to the polls to decide the governor's race.
Stumping in Kennesaw, Mr. Perdue shared the stage with GOP officials and candidates and talked of a "sweep spirit" that could propel the Republicans to victory in statewide offices the party hasn't held in generations.
He spoke over the din of a rare protest targeted at him from the right: A group of flag-waving demonstrators who favor Georgia's 1956 flag with a Confederate emblem. They chanted "liar, liar" as Mr. Perdue spoke.
"In a moment, I'll let you speak to them and we'll have a four more years chant," Mr. Perdue told his cheering supporters.
Supporters of the divisive 1956 flag took credit for Mr. Perdue's surprise 2002 election victory over Democrat Gov. Roy Barnes, saying they favored the Republican because he supported a vote on the state flag. When Mr. Perdue took office, though, a new flag was voted on by the state Legislature, an issue that still rankles some who say the flag should have been presented to Georgia voters.
While not as vocal during this campaign - Mr. Perdue staffers say flag protests have been rare during the governor's campaign stops - the demonstrators say there are thousands of upset rural voters who will cast a protest vote in favor of Mr. Taylor or libertarian candidate Garrett Hayes.
"I think Perdue could be in for a surprise," said Tim Pilgrim, the secretary of the Southern Heritage group who wore a Confederate uniform to protest Mr. Perdue's appearance. "We don't have a lot of money, but we have a lot of dedicated people that feel strongly about our heritage."
Meanwhile, Mr. Taylor stumped throughout the state with Democratic leaders urging voters to cast a ballot in his favor.