The Republican Georgia gubernatorial runoff election reached a new low this week when Brian Kemp spokesperson Ryan Mahoney called Georgia State Senator Renee Unterman “mentally unstable” and suggested she was in danger of self-harm.
Ryan Mahoney: “seek immediate medical attention”
Unterman, who supports Kemp’s rival for the Governor’s office Casey Cagle, recently wrote to Federal authorities requesting an investigation into money donated to the Brian Kemp campaign.
Acting as a spokesperson for the Kemp campaign on Monday, Ryan Mahoney’s response to Unterman’s allegations was deeply personal. After characterizing her as “mentally unstable” he said:
“It is our hope that, for her own sake, she will retract these baseless, politically motivated statements before facing serious legal action.
“We also hope that Senator Unterman will seek immediate medical attention before she hurts herself or someone else.”
Mahoney’s remarks appear to reference treatment for depression received by Senator Unterman, which she has openly spoken of in the past. Senator Unterman’s family also suffered tragically when her son Zak took his own life following a bout of mental illness.
— Ryan Matthew Mahoney (@Ryan_Mahoney) May 22, 2018
Renee Unterman’s response
The following day, in an emotional Facebook post on her personal account that received hundreds of reactions, Senator Unterman responded to Ryan Mahoney’s attack.
“Yesterday the Brian Kemp for Governor campaign, through its spokesperson, said I am mentally unstable and “need to take my meds before I hurt someone.” He was referring to my divorce many years ago and the tragedy that occurred after it… Yes, I suffered from depression during my divorce and sought treatment. Who doesn’t when you have such a major life transition like a divorce, especially when kids are involved? The circumstances of my divorce were tragic just as many people can relate to.
“Ironically my son Zak would be celebrating his 35th birthday today, July 10, 2018, had he not chosen to commit suicide due to mental illness. He was a vibrant, witty beautiful boy who cared for others all the time, so much so, that he didn’t express his own inner demons of depression. The divorce and missing his father, took its toll to say the least. A parent’s worst nightmare is to bury a child.
“So Brian Kemp, who wants to become our state leader, you can make fun of me and belittle those who have had or will have mental illness, but you won’t shut me up for speaking out. I won’t be intimidated, blackmailed, belittled, or sexually harassed into being quiet.”
No apology from the Brian Kemp campaign
Kemp’s electoral opponent Casey Cagle is mired in multiple scandals which are taking up the majority of media coverage of the campaign. As a result, Ryan Mahoney’s remarks (and the lack of apology from the Kemp campaign) have not registered widely in public discussions.
In yesterday’s Political Rewind from Georgia Public Broadcasting, however, two prominent Georgia Republicans condemned Mahoney’s attack.
Republican Strategist Loretta Lepore said, “I do a lot of my philanthropic work in the mental health community. It struck my nerves when it was stated. There are a lot of vulnerable people in our society right now and for that reason I think it was inappropriate.”
Former Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens, also a Republican, said, “I do happen to think there should have been an immediate apology once the statement was made. People in the heart of the campaign, when they are not getting enough sleep, say stupid and inappropriate things. The issue is how quickly you apologize, and I think that’s what’s missing here.”
Brian Kemp has previously described himself as an “unapologetic conservative.” It appears the term “unapologetic” was meant more literally than anyone realized.