Christopher J. Deraney for State House

Welcome to the website for Christopher J. Deraney for Georgia State House Representative

Make America Great Again

Let me start by telling you who I am.

I am the male, white, educated, gay, Republican, Christian, great-grandson of Arab immigrants and Native Americans.

Let me tell you who I am not.

I am not racist, sexist, xenophobic, scared, afraid, blind, un-American.

One of my most vivid and cherished childhood memories was sitting on my Papa Deraney's shoulders outside Deraney's Department Store in downtown Barnesville — the small, quintessentially southern town that I now call home. The occasion was the annual Barnesville Buggy Days Festival parade. I had to have been around 4 or 5 years old, and I distinctly remember holding and waving a miniature American flag. And the mayor, on an American flag bedecked antique horse-drawn carriage, parading down Main Street as the Grand Marshall...America.

My Deraney/Lewis (Rashid was the last name upon arriving in America and later gentrified to Lewis) grandparent's were first generation Lebanese-Americans. My great-grandparents —Michael, Abbie, Rashid, and Habie, immigrated as teenagers from Lebanon in the early 1900's. They came through Ellis Island in New York City. They went through the rigors of entering our country legally and became citizens of our great democracy. Today, Mike and Abbie Deraney's citizenship certificates sit on a shelf in my house. Plainly in view, they remind me daily that not only do I come from a great multi-cultural family, but it also reminds me that I was raised in faith, determination, and with an un-wavering loyalty to my family, my God, and my country.

All four of my Lebanese great-grandparents were business owners. They built their families and businesses on the backs of two dry goods stores; the Mike Deraney's Dry Goods in Griffin, Georgia and the Richard Lewis’ Dry Goods in Smithfield, North Carolina. My grandparent's, Joe and Mable Deraney, would later repeat this model with their own family. Deraney’s Department Store was a downtown fixture in Barnesville for 45 years.

I used to joke growing up that my family couldn't have had more diverse sides: My Deraney grandparents, Catholics, were children of Arab foreigners who owned a stylish family department store in the downtown district of their city - aka, my "city" grandparents. My mom's parents, the DeVaughans, were died-in-wool Southern Baptist farmers and land owners of Native American and French descent - my "country" grandparents, farming and working the land in rural Alabama. There were nine children between both sets. It wasn't hard for me to learn early on, that diversity and hard work were two of the most foundational staples of who I was, and would grow up to become. You work hard for what you have. You respect others. You love God. You love your family…America.

Then, you have my parents; Rick and Ginger Deraney. Daddy was a college football star turned lifelong Delta Air Lines employee. His first job was cleaning out airplanes (there are some funny and quite grotesque stories about issues with the plumbing systems). Over the course of 30 years he went from cleaning planes to writing letters for the executive Vice Presidents of Delta Air Lines. His hard work and humility — humble me — to this day.

Mama was an educator (and I would learn in my life that this meant a lot more than just books and a classroom). She taught elementary school, middle school, and after dragging herself through graduate school while we were teenagers (all the while raising us and not missing a beat), she ended her career years later as a Master Media Specialist at Sandy Creek High School in Fayetteville, Georgia after more than 30 years of being a public educator. She was the consummate model of a Christ-follower, flawed but faithful. I know what it is to truly love another human being because of her.

Both of them, the original source of my faith and resilience in life, were not just splendid parents, but they were role models...and friends. The weren't perfect, and me and my two younger brothers were even less! But, we always knew our roots - we always knew were the love was guaranteed.

My family: some 50 of us between both sides. They were loud, sometimes obnoxious and brash. Some raised in a time when the words 'colored' or ‘nigger' were acceptable conversational interjections, but - but - never used in a derogatory manner. Some drank and told dirty jokes, and others faithfully sang every Sunday in their local church choirs. And, oh my sweet merciful Lord — the food. Your don’t get this size on your own! Despite stereotypes and prejudices (which we all have), my family was unabashedly American. Flawed, but loving; crass, but genuine. And no matter what, always cared for each other and those around them -— regardless of color or creed, race or religion, and later on, even sexual orientation…America.

_______________________________________________________________

So where the hell do you get me out of all that goodness?! LOL!

One of my biggest goals in life is to bring honor to my family. To honor the DeVaughan and Deraney names. To honor God and Jesus Christ. To honor the parents that bled to give me my life, my faith, and my name. I am by far not perfect and more often than not, self-deprecating. Famed researcher, Brene Brown urges us to live authentically, stressing that courage comes from vulnerability. Sometimes, perhaps, I show that side a bit too much. But, it is in that reluctance to hide myself that I truly have found the courage, so many times in life, to press on and fight for what I believe in. (Most of you remember #CJD2014 ;-)

Besides all that I've mentioned above, there is one huge tenant in my life that has fortified me, literally testing my resolve and the man I am, both in public and in private: my extreme patriotism and love for my country - The United States of America.

I have voted in four presidential elections. This November will be my fifth go at it. The average American will live through 13-16 Presidents, having been eligible to vote in only 9-12 of these elections.

Many have asked me over the years to explain why I vote for who I do. I suppose if I had listened to my parents and the southern gospel of “You don’t discuss money, religion, and politics”, then perhaps I wouldn’t face the scrutiny that I do. But, I’ve chosen to live my life out loud. And that very trait will reoccur in many areas of my life, and yes, even in politics.

But I don’t owe you or anyone else an explanation. It’s my right, constitutionally. It’s my duty as an American. It’s my honor. But — in that never ending effort to live out loud, I will tell you.

I am voting for Donald J. Trump. And here’s why.

First, I learned a lot when I ran for office. I thought I knew a lot before then, but it was truly the most eye opening and fascinating experience I've ever had in my life. And, no matter who tries, I give credit to any man or woman willing to put their neck on the block to try and defend the will and rights of the people.

For me, this is so much bigger than Donald Trump.

I'd say that I was a bit different than most kids growing up (and not for obvious reasons LOL). I was glued to the American process and the stoicism that is the changing of the guard and the peaceful transfer of power in this country. I looked up to our leaders and thought them to be fearless. In a world with so much hate and vitriol, I found the American Statesman to be the antidote to hate and the true author of freedom. “You are the light of the world, a city on a hill that cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in Heaven.” Jesus’ words were, and are, America to me.

I pay very close attention to what goes on this country, more than most and more than I've been given credit for here lately. And with that, I have watched over the last couple of decades how vastly different the political landscape has changed. Truly, I have seen evil in many of those that we have elevated to the highest offices of the land. It has been a hell of a time trying to sift through who tells the truth...who will honor their commitment to us and the constitution…and for me, personally, who will rely on their faith to guide them to guide us.

It's been in these last eight years during President Obama's tenure that I have watched it truly unravel, and certainly, not solely because of the President. Our Elected fight, they excoriate each other. They live high on the hog that we've provided them and are never held accountable. Indeed, the Great Unifier only managed to help drive this country further into division. One lawmaker, however, and though I might have agreed with his premise, actually made me furious when he had the audacity to call President Obama a liar in the middle of his State of the Union Address.

That’s not America. And it has broken my heart. We elected them. We gave them majorities. They shat on it.

In the last few years I have longed for a person, man or woman, that would step forward and again take the reigns of this country with purpose and determination. I am not naive to the fact that no matter who, they aren’t going to be perfect. This isn’t a foreshadowing apology or free pass for any candidate — not a single one of them will ever represent fully what I would like to see in our President.

Donald Trump is a brash individual. His comments are self-righteous, seemingly racist to some, harsh. Many have shaken their heads in disgust (as have I at times) at the things he’s said, even going so far as to use their children as scapegoats to further prove it.

“I can’t even have my children in the same room when he’s on tv because of the things he says!”

And then I think, but your children listen to and emulate Miley Cyrus, right?

But I get it and I understand. I probably wouldn’t want my children in the room with ANY of them on tv.

I certainly don't condone a lot of what Mr. Trump says or in the manor for which he delivers it, but there is one major theme that separates him from the rest: he is speaking to the discontent of the people. He is addressing the disparity on the hearts and minds of so many Americans that are losing hope that our Elected will ever regain their grasp on who they are actually here to serve: The America People. He, like Senator Bernie Sanders (who I am admire for many of the same reasons I do Mr. Trump), are reviving a voice in America that those in Washington have gone deaf to.

Donald Trump, like me, lives his mistakes openly. Even at the last debate, when the Fox News moderators hammered him time and again on his flip-flops and business mistakes, he did his best to explain himself. Which is way more than any other elected official in this race has done. That’s all I can ask from someone I vote for: please, do your best for us. He’s weathered a march harsher criticism than even the former Secretary of State has had to (and I will leave it at that).

As a musician, we were brought up in band and chorus with the mantra "If you're going to make a mistake, do it proudly". Mr. Trump is far from perfect, but in the eyes of so many Americans, for the first time in a long time, we see a man that will allow his mistakes to be public, good or bad. He allows his shortcomings, business failures, fractured relationships, to be the subject of intense scrutiny and criticism. Does he own up to everything? Probably not. But, at the top of the polls, commanding a huge lead for nearly a year now, he’s owned up to way more than the Elected have in the last decade. At the end of the day, I see a man that truly wants to restore the great patriotism and pride this country once had for itself. No more apologizing on behalf of these United States to the rest of the world.

Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders: One calls his plight a movement, the other a political revolution. And they are both right.

I used to admire the politically suave. The nuanced and well-spoken senators and congressmen and women. It didn’t take long, however, for the beating of a distant drum to become louder and louder and for me to realize that scripted and polished politicians weren’t anything more than that: A pressed suit. An appropriately placed strand of pearls. A readily available, politically correct, and a smugly condescending soundbite perched at the tip of their tongues at a moment’s notice for the nearest media earshot.

Do I think Donald Trump is a racist? No. Listen to me closely. Labeling someone a racist is one of the strongest accusations you can level. Per Webster’s dictionary, racism is the belief that some races of people are better than others. If you want to label him (or me, as some have insinuated) a racist, then you damn well better have proof that he (or I) has publicly proclaimed that White people (or the race du jour) are superior, and admonished any other race that is not.

Do I think Donald Trump is prejudiced? Absolutely. We all are to some degree. I know I certainly am.

As far as the other two charges that folks usually associate him with — misogyny and xenophobia (which let’s get real, most of us had no idea what that word even meant until the media added it to our vocabulary) — my explanation would be much the same. Again, not a pass, but an observation. While I know that women and folks of other nationalities (clearly) help make up the fabric of this country just as much as (white/black/etc.) males, I don’t believe he truly has an inherent bias for either of them. I look to what I’ve read about the women in his life (especially in his family — his sister, his daughter, his wife) and the many woman that have worked with and for him.

I don’t excuse him for it, but I certainly won’t pretend that I haven’t harbored the same prejudices at times. It’s a continual evolution to want to grow into statesmanship that I seek. I pray he does the same thing. I certainly don’t know his heart, nor do I know the heart of any of the rest of them. But, I have faith that he will grow into his own and become a more humble man, and a wiser leader.

Donald Trump isn't a politician. He's a businessman. These boast two totally different ways of thinking within the confines of those lines of work. The country doesn't understand him, and for much of it, rightfully so. It’s new. It’s unchartered territory and it’s a direct rebuke to the Establishment. He excites my patriotism, not my hate. He reminds me of the Mayor on the antiqued horse and buggy that rode by as I waved my tiny American flag. At thirty-five years old, he restores hope for me that I can still achieve the American Dream.

Because he's not of the Elected, he's on a learning curve. He has sound ideas and platform points. For example, his 7-point healthcare policy (released yesterday) is actually the most sound and doable. But no one is paying attention to that. Marco Rubio’s website has one vague paragraph praising his accomplishments. Ted Cruz’s website says nothing definitive about healthcare at all. And one of the platforms I admire the most (and silently say ‘hell yeah’ every time I hear him talk about it) is his overwhelming desire to want to take care of those who proudly serve, or have served, in our armed forces. We are the mightiest nation on the planet. He wants us to act like it. I’m down with that.

People. You need to read further. You need to read affirming and opposing literature. You need to educate yourself, as I do to the best of my ability, on each candidate from each party.

It was during my time campaigning that I learned some one of life’s most valuable lessons: the only way to initiate a wave of hope and change, we must make it a personal endeavor to listen and learn from those around us who are different. I conversed with thousands of people of all socioeconomic walks of life, men and women, gay and straight…black and white and hispanic and asian. When we do that, we begin to better ourselves against societal prejudices. We begin to deconstruct destructive behavior which we readily accept as okay. We begin to lift others up. Yes, something Mr. Trump needs to learn and fast.

Borrowing from a line from my own campaign announcement speech, I declared that, “I believe our lives begin at conception and our equality does not stop at skin color. Your gender, your age, your origin, your sexual orientation, should never be the reason you are denied basic liberties and rights.” The history and diversity of my family and upbringing is real and it was a monumental catalyst for my way of thinking. It illustrates that I’m no different, at the foundation, than most in this country. That having been raised in a loving, hardworking family — I, too, can pass onto another generation the pride of America. Those that say they would sooner flee this country, than to live under so-and-so’s Presidency, have never really understood what it means to be an American in the first place. We are in this thing together. We all live under the same President. We will all wake up to another dawn in America.

I sought an opinion of this piece from one of my dearest english professor’s from college. A female, an author, with a near opposite political opinion from my own and she made a profound point:

“It is my great belief that America can be neither be purely liberal or purely conservative, that it’s successes lie in the tension between the two, that this is what makes us great. The push and the pull. The dynamics of it…Us people. We the people.”

While Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are at opposite ends of the political spectrum, much of what they say sounds crazy to the voter from the opposing political thought. But they are saying it, out loud, without regret. And perhaps America could use some good old fashioned crazy.

After years of gridlock, God D…Bless America, I am willing to throw the shit at the WALL to see if it sticks if it means that we finally break the chokehold the Elected have on us. It’s not a perfect formula, it never will be. If it brings down a political party in the process and completely reshapes the electorate, I am willing to be a part of it. If this experiment is a mistake, I will gladly own it.

I don't think I can stomach another day in this country supporting those that hide their deceit in lofty political rhetoric that is soothing to the ear. I want to be a part of the Movement. I want to be a part of the Political Revolution.

It’s my vote. It’s my solitary chance to demand that we get better. So, no to the Hillary Clintons and the Jeb Bushes. Not this time. The Trump Train is full steam ahead and people are Feeling the Bern……….and I absolutely love it.

The Georgia Log Cabin Republicans Endorse Christopher J. Deraney As The First Deep South Openly Gay Republican For State Legislature

April 7, 2014     

JONESBORO, GA - In an announcement yesterday, "the Georgia Log Cabin Republicans are delighted and proud to endorse Christopher J. Deraney for Georgia State Representative for District 78. As the Deep South's first openly gay Republican to run for state legislature, Mr. Deraney recognizes that liberty is a right that every individual should enjoy, including our gay and lesbian citizens," said Jamie Ensley, President of the Georgia Log Cabin Republicans.

Christopher J. Deraney, is proving why he is not your typical Georgia Republican running for office, in his campaign kick-off event last October, Deraney told an enthusiastic crowd of supporters from all political stripes, "I believe that our lives begin at conception and our equality does not stop at skin color. Your gender, your age, your origin, your sexual orientation, should never be the reason you are denied basic liberties and rights."

Deraney, a native of Fayetteville, Georgia, is a former opera singer who, after a near-fatal car accident in 2011 impaired his ability to sing at the professional level, decided to recommit himself to public service. Deraney is a staunch supporter of conservative economic principles, and will use the voice God gave him to protect all citizens and defend our Constitutional rights. In closing his kick-off speech, Mr. Deraney stated that, "The time has come for us to step back from the precipice of division and for me to stand up for us on the prominence of solidarity. I am honored to believe that my country is the bulwark of nations and the ultimate bastion of freedom. For all that we stand for, we are a beacon of hope to the rest of the world."

Please visit www.christopherjderaney.com for further information on his campaign.

Christopher Deraney On Seeking Office As An Openly Gay Republican In Georgia

We grew up with Christopher Deraney in a small town just south of Atlanta, Georgia.  The demographic is mostly white, middle to upper-middle class, extremely religious, and primarily Republican.  Our experience growing up around very conservative people sent us running in the opposite direction from religion and conservatism the first chance we got, but evidently our upbringing didn’t have the same effect on everyone as Christopher recently announced he was running for GA State House of Representatives – as a Republican.

We recently did a congratulatory post on our personal FB page announcing Deraney’s running and the post spawned a heated debate via comments of support and opposition.  To be honest we have many questions as well so we contacted Deraney and asked if he would share his perspective with us.  We chose to pose a question and present his unedited response so that he could explain his position in his own words.  We think the points he makes are valid and thought provoking.

 

The Question:  As a gay man seeking office why do you feel that the republican party is the best platform for you and what benefits do you see this having for the party, it’s constituents, and the LGBT community? 

Deraney’s Response:

“Years ago, while I was finishing my undergraduate degree at Georgia Southern University, my cousin dragged me to an open forum and debate on gay marriage hosted by the Gay and Lesbian Student Alliance. I had recently come out the year or two before, so I was still relatively shy about speaking about it publicly (shy not being a quality I usually adhered to).

As the forum progressed and grew increasingly more tense, it dawned on me that being gay and being conservative clearly put me at odds with two entirely different groups of people. So, without giving it another thought, I stood up and made my way to the podium.

“Good evening, my name is Christopher. I am gay, I am a Christian…and I’m a Republican,” I said, adding that I am that guy that had a ‘W The President’ sticker just under a rainbow strip proudly displayed on the back of my white Honda Accord.

…you could have heard a pin drop.

For the next ten minutes I explained to a wide-eyed audience that my faith and my upbringing was a staple in my life and that being conservative, like being gay, was just another piece of the puzzle.

Fast forward ten years, and I am on the journey of lifetime and a mission to close a gap.

I’m often asked if I was raised in a conservative, Christian household, and when I reply ‘yes’, the liberal thinker often assumes that I am just riding on my parents political coat tails—that’s simply not the case. My journey of self-discovery and personal acceptance was a double edged sword when faced with coming into my own as a gay man and as a Republican—and was a journey that transpired with thought and reason.

The phrase Liberty and Justice for All probably should have had the word freedom inserted into it. As a conservative, I see it as my duty and privilege to defend and uphold the freedoms that were prescribed to us in our Constitution. No matter your political creed, a smaller, simpler government is not a bad thing. A tighter grasp on the country’s checkbook is not a bad thing. Ensuring that the freedoms given to one man and woman is afforded to the next is not a bad thing. It’s not about race, it’s not about being a republican or democrat or libertarian. It’s about one thing—commonality. We all share it and when you bust it down to its simplest form, we all want it.

As a gay man, I want what everyone else does—to be treated equally under the law. I was raised in a strong family unit and it has always been my desire to one day have a family of my own. I certainly don’t need a piece of paper to allow me to have that, but I certainly deserve it. I believe that we, the younger generation and more specifically young republicans, have an incredible opportunity to seize. But, covering all conservatives and Republicans under one blanket is not only counterproductive, it displays a level of intolerance and a lack of acceptance that we, in the gay community, so desperately fight for.

A gay Republican may be a rarity, but it certainly would be a boon for the Republican party. To affect any shift in the paradigm, you must first create a reason to open a dialogue and this type of candidate can do just that. It’s no secret that many our age (and even in the gay community) are fiscally conservative, and I have heard time and again that were it not for this one issue, many would actually be Republican. The end goal may be far down the road, but the time is now.
By embracing our gay brothers and sisters and ensuring that they are afforded the same rights as everyone else, the Republican party has the opportunity to demonstrate to its constituents and to the gay community that inclusion, freedom and liberty for all is a platform that everyone can stand on.”

Deraney is running to represent District 78 in the Georgia State House of Representatives and we wish him the best of luck!  We admire anyone that goes against the grain and charts his own course!  Check out his website to learn more at www.christopherjderaney.com

Georgia Gay Republican Jumps Into State House Race

 Patrick Saunders

 

 May 9, 2014

 

 GeorgiaPolitics

You’d be hard-pressed to find two words that make many LGBT people see red quicker than “gay Republican.” But political new-comer Christopher Deraney is shaking off the criticism and making a run as an openly gay Republican for Georgia State Representative in District 78.

Deraney faces no opposition in the May 20 Republican primary, and therefore will face off against incumbent Democrat Demetrius Douglas in the November general election. If he wins, he would be the first openly gay man elected to the Georgia state House—former Rep. Rashad Taylor didn’t come out as gay until after he was in office.

The Log Cabin Republicans were quick to endorse Deraney after his announcement. “As the Deep South’s first openly gay Republican to run for state legislature, Mr. Deraney recognizes that liberty is a right that every individual should enjoy, including our gay and lesbian citizens,” said Jamie Ensley, president of the Georgia Log Cabin Republicans, in a press release.

House District 78 includes southeast Clayton County and parts of Henry County as well as portions of Jonesboro and Stockbridge and all of Lovejoy.

But Deraney has a long road ahead, considering that as of a March 31 disclosure report, he had raised only $975 versus $11,993.46 raised by his opponent, state Rep. Douglas.

FAITH AND CHOICE
“I’m not your daddy’s Republican,” Deraney tells the GA Voice.

The 33-year old Fayetteville native was raised in a Christian household and his religion remains a vital part of his life, saying that his “faith is [his] world.”

While it’s Deraney’s sexual orientation and political affiliation that are making people’s heads turn in this race, his path to the ballot stands out as well. Deraney was a professional opera singer until a near-fatal 2011 car accident left him unable to continue performing at that level. He moved on to a job with Delta Air Lines, and now looks to have his voice heard in a much different way by entering public service.

He acknowledges the difficulty gay men have had winning elected office in and around metro Atlanta, saying, “If I had to guess I would say it’s an image thing. It’s how people here in the south perceive masculinity vs. femininity.”

When asked to cite his conservative bona fides, Deraney mentions his strong support for constitutional rights, and considers him- self “fiscally very conservative.”

“People want to work for their money and they want to keep it. We’re just taxing and spending people,” he says. “It’s slowly coming back around, but it’s not going to get back to the boom years if we keep taxing the hell out of everybody.”

He’s also pro-life, but unlike most male Republicans with the same position on abortion, Deraney has personal reasons for his view—he was adopted.

“I don’t have the right to tell people what to do with their body, but I also know I was given a shot at life by someone placing me up for adoption instead of the alternative,” he says. “I know Republicans have shot themselves in both feet with how they respond to that, but I know there is a time and a reason for everything. It’s not black and white.”

ON TRANS RIGHTS AND ‘RELIGIOUS FREEDOM’
In the “Equal Rights” section on his campaign website, he includes age, gender, origin and sexual orientation, but noticeably leaves out gender identify.

However when questioned about it, Deraney says he supports trans rights. “The statement on my website is an umbrella statement covering basic groups. However, because I do support trans rights, I am willing to readdress it more finitely,” he explains.

Regarding the anti-gay “religious freedom” bills that failed in this year’s legislative session, and which are bound to come back up again in 2015, Deraney believes it should be a business owner’s right to serve or not serve whomever they want, just as it’s up to consumers whether to patronize a business.

“But the wording of the bill was ambiguous and left the door open to discrimination,” he says. “If they’re going to pass a bill like that, we have to make sure it’s worded so it doesn’t encourage or promote further discrimination.”

LGBT BACKLASH AND GOP FUTURE
Soon after Deraney’s announcement last month that he was jumping into the race, the backlash of LGBT voices in comments sections and message boards began, with some calling him “blind” and a “masochist.”

Deraney has seen and heard it all, calling it “quite an eye opener” and saying he doesn’t see the logic in wishing for acceptance on the one hand, while being intolerant of certain people on the other.

The candidate foresees a future where his party comes around on LGBT issues, causing a significant number of those in the LGBT community to switch to the Republican Party.

“Younger conservatives are recognizing that if we are to be for freedom and liberty then we have to actually do that,” he says. “Younger conservatives want to make that change and start being more inclusive.”

“I think it’s just going to take a handful of us gay Republicans who are willing to put our necks on the line to be the whipping boy to make that happen. It’s not going to be an easy road, but it will happen,” he promises.

And if it doesn’t happen?

“Then you’re not going to have a Republican Party anymore,” he says.

psaunders@thegavoice.com | @patricksaunders

Deraney to run for State House District 78 as a Republican

JONESBORO — Christopher Deraney knows it’s not easy to run as a Republican in a state House of Representatives district that lies partially in Democrat territory.

It’s not often that a Republican even runs for an office that represents part of Clayton County, but Deraney believes he has a message that will boost his chances. The 32-year old Jonesboro resident announced his candidacy for state House District 78 Saturday during a party at his Lake Spivey-area home.

Deraney, a former opera singer, pledged to run on a platform of openness and inclusion, regardless of race, beliefs or socio-economic status.

“Our message is an all-encompassing message,” said Deraney. “It’s one that invites people in, be inclusive and not block anybody out. I think if we really start engaging our citizens in a more positive way, that is the message that is going to resonate.”

The district includes southeast Clayton County and parts of Republican-leaning Henry County. Portions of Jonesboro and Stockbridge and all of Lovejoy are in the district.

Parts of Deraney’s message aren’t typical for a Republican, and he acknowledges that fact. Some of the people he said should be reached out to are lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgendered individuals who are not usually embraced by the Republican party.

But Deraney’s candidacy announcement wasn’t the typical political coming out party. From the beginning, it oozed a feeling of reaching out and inclusion when he was introduced by Young Democrats of Atlanta President T.J. Copeland, an old classmate and friend of Deraney.

Copeland said voters shouldn’t confine themselves to one political party when trying to find a candidate to rally behind, and expressed his belief that Deraney would do a good job in the legislature.

“The biggest thing is finding individuals that represent the state of Georgia and represent your ideology, and not just sticking to one particular person in a party, or one particular party,” said Copeland.

“It’s about finding out who that person is and what they will represent when they go to represent you down at the Capital or in D.C., and I honestly cannot think of one individual in this district that will do a better job than Chris,” Copeland added.

Copeland also implored attendees to give money to Deraney’s campaign, explaining it could cost the candidate as much as $40,000 to run what is expected to be a campaign against incumbent Rep. Demetrius Douglas (D-Stockbridge).

Deraney said to spur economic development in District 78 in part by Clayton County’s budding film industry and the proximity to the new Pinewood Studios being built in Fayette County. He also said the district needs to attract businesses that demand a higher skill set than is required of workers.

But while some Deraney’s platform was more broad than a traditional Republican platform in terms of the groups to whom he is reaching out, he did espouse traditional conservative themes of smaller and less intrusive government as well.

“Keep it simple, keep it small, let the states speak for themselves and, above all, support individual liberty and the Constitution of the United States of America,” said Deraney to the applause of supporters. “I truly believe, as was the mission of our founding fathers, that the government should be limited to the protection of its people, and to the maintenance of our liberties.”

Deraney has launched his campaign website at www.christopherjderaney.com/.

Although Deraney has announced his candidacy to run as a Republican for the house seat, qualifying is still months away. Due to a federal court decision to set Georgia primaries for federal seats in May, there is uncertainty about when state and local primaries will be held.

State officials and local elections offices are expected to push legislators to move the primaries for state and local offices to May as well because it would be costly to conduct two sets of primaries a couple of months apart. That would put qualifying for state house seats in March.

However, it’s not clear that legislators will abide by the anticipated request, so qualifying could be held in May, with a primary in July.

Official Declaration of Candidacy Speech

 

Good afternoon and thank you all so very much for coming today. I know it’s a lot to ask to give up some Saturday time when football is in full swing, so I am very appreciative. As you all know, I am a man of few words, so I will try to keep this brief.

Two years ago, I awoke after a two-month coma and realized that I had nearly lost my life. I immediately remembered that I had recently lost the man that taught me how to be one and also the younger brother I never had the chance to help become one. I also realized that God had blessed me with another opportunity to live. While my head immediately told me that I would once again grace the stage and sing, my heart told me that this once operatic voice, taken from me by a Divine plan, would one day be repurposed to change the world in a much different capacity. 

A very wise man once told me that, “If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.” I owe my dad and my mom a great deal. Integrity abounds, my friends, and I am confirming for you today that I know that there is a hurting people out there. I know that we have not been duly represented by those we have elected. I KNOW — that there is a chance for a better tomorrow...I am still here and I am ready and I will stand. 

Folks, it’s simple. As individuals, we can agree or disagree, but as Americans, the less our government intrudes on our individual liberties, the freer we are to live as a people.    My impression of our current state of government is this: shambles and confusion. Right now, we have a fleet of incompetence in our government, that instead of working for its people, is steadily taking away from them. I am not in the business of instituting change. TOO much has changed. I am in the business of fixing what is broken. Keep it simple — keep it small — let the states speak for themselves — and above all, support individual liberty and the constitution of the United States of America. I truly believe, as was the mission of our founders, that the government should be limited to the protection of its people and to the maintenance of our liberties. Freedom and independence are neither free, nor independent. One former president captured it best in a State of the Union address, when he said, “The liberty we prize is not America’s gift to the world, it is God’s gift to humanity.”

The country has headed down a path that was never intended. We were purposed for freedom and prosperity. We were designed to break down tyrannical barriers and commit ourselves to the betterment of our brothers and sisters. We escaped control in order to entrust freedom to our fellow man, but today...today...we have seemingly given it back and become those we first sought to abandon. 

I want you to know that there are people out there, regular everyday citizens that know that America is reaching its threshold. In life, we want to work, to pay our bills, to raise our children and retire with a smile on our face and grandchildren at our feet. We can only do that when we realize that the power of our voices and the freedom of our votes can and will make a difference. 

The American Dream that seems to be under foot has not disappeared, it has simply been muffled. If you can dream it, you can do it. No matter your race, your creed or your station in life — your determination dictates where your life will go. I am a living example of that. I work hard, I don’t make a lot of money, but I know that if I press on, I, too, can achieve that dream. Unfortunately, the values of the American Dream that I hold dear are unfamiliar to many of the younger generation. It is the task of all Americans, and a personal focus of mine to pass on the ideals of a hard work ethic, the spirit of volunteerism, the benefits of a comprehensive education, and above all, a great love and respect for our country.

I want everyone here to go home every week with more money in their pockets.  You worked hard for your money, you should keep it. I will work hard to foster a fertile environment for new business in our district and our state. I want to attract new business to our own district, along the lines of the new movie studio in Fayette County,  to make employment opportunities a top priority for residents of Clayton County who have the ability and the desire to work. Our current situation in which workers have to compete for limited jobs, often beneath their skill level and pay grade is not how our economy should work, and is unacceptable. I want to see a day where once again, businesses will compete for the best and brightest employees, which will be reflected by higher wages and better benefits across the board. A rising tide lifts all boats. But folks, economic prosperity doesn’t happen the way we’ve been forced to believe here recently. To quote Adrian Rogers, “You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity.” Prosperity has always been the catalyst for innovation in our economy, and with innovation comes new, unforeseen opportunities for all of us. 

I want to protect your rights, your constitutional property. I support your constitutional right to protect yourself and your family. I also want to ensure that you, me, your children, and your grandchildren, all have the God-given right to life that our Savior promised us. I believe that our lives begin at conception and our equality does not stop at skin color. Your gender, your age, your origin, your sexual orientation, should never be the reason you are denied basic liberties and rights. As many of you know, I am adopted. My birth parents, who are also here today, made a choice thirty-two years ago that saved a child, that gave him an opportunity to live — to grow — and to one day stand up for the voices that have yet to be heard. Isaiah Chapter 33 verses 15 and 16 says, “He who walks righteously and speaks what is right, who rejects gain from extortion and keeps his hand from accepting bribes, who stops his ears against plots of murder and shuts his eyes against contemplating evil — this is the man who will dwell on the heights, whose refuge will be the mountain fortress.” Because my mom and dad were the helm of my integrity and the foundation of my faith, I will never stop standing. 

Here today are members of my family; dear friends of mine that I have confided in and counted on for decades; even former teachers of mine, that without their wisdom and formidable patience, I would not have even had the fortitude to stand here. Most of you here know that I am a horse of a different color. And we realize now more than ever, that that is okay and perhaps what is needed. The future of our nation is depending on us to start standing together, side by side, hand in hand. 

I have so much to be thankful for — more than I could scribble on paper. The time has come for us to step back from the precipice of division and for me to stand up for us on the prominence of solidarity. I am honored to believe that my country is the bulwark of nations and the ultimate bastion of freedom. For all that we stand for, we are a beacon of hope to the rest of the world. With your votes, your financial support, and most importantly, your prayers — this regular man can make a difference. It’s not enough to have the courage of my own convictions, I have to have the courage of others’, too. 

To have the opportunity to serve the people of my district, the people of the great State of Georgia, and the citizens of the United States is not just an honor, but a dedicated investiture in continuing what was started, helping to grow from where we’ve come to where we will be, and most of all — maintaining liberty and justice for all. So today, I am humbled and excited to announce to you, officially, my candidacy for the Georgia State House of Representatives. It will be a long road with bumps along the way. But, if my life experiences have taught me one thing, it’s that a little bit of resolve and a whole lot of brass goes a long way. 

You have honored me with your presence, and I pray that you leave here inspired and resolved with the conviction that help is on the way.

To quote the great classical scientist, Archimedes, “Give me a place to stand, and I shall move the earth.”

Simply Breathe

I have listened quietly over the last several weeks at the events unfolding around us in this country. I've watched our elected officials point fingers, place blame and use lofty rhetoric to tear each other down. Simply put, a government tearing itself to shreds will not last. This kind of behavior will only lend itself to the detriment of our citizens. 

So I say, take a step back. Breathe. There is a new dawn and an uncharted territory of opportunity facing us when we as a common people will stand up and proclaim when enough...is enough. When the government of the people, by the people and for the people forgets about the people, what are you left with? 

I recently had the opportunity to meet with a group of people that crossed all walks of life: black, white, gay, straight, Christian, atheist, democrat, republican. What surprised me most was not that we had more in common than not, but that across the board, everyone had grown weary of the lack of continuity amongst our elected officials. We vote, they don't listen, and it's becoming increasingly more clear every day in their inability to govern. 

No matter your political creed, a smaller, simpler government is not a bad thing. A tighter grasp on the country's checkbook is not a bad thing. Ensuring that the freedoms given to one man and woman is afforded to the next is not  a bad thing. It's not about race, it's not about being a republican or democrat or libertarian. It's about one thing — commonality. We all share it and when you bust it down to its simplest form, we all want it.  

Hold on, folks, help is on the way. Turn off your TV. Turn off your phone, your tablets. Read the constitution and the bill of rights that you were endowed with. Integrity abounds, my friends, and it starts with the simple task of standing up for yourself when you vote. If you desire prosperity, you must educate yourselves. 

Believe it or not, there are men and women out there like you, like me, who live everyday lives that want — that long — to stand up and be the mantle of making a difference.  

 

Official Campaign Kickoff BBQ

The time has come for Christopher to formally announce his candidacy for the Georgia State House of Representatives! 

Join us on Saturday, October 5th, 2013 at Christopher's home in Jonesboro for this grand announcement. Free BBQ, activities for the kids and a wonderful day to meet and greet with District 78's next Representative. 

Please stay tuned for further announcements leading up to the event including the time and the location. If you would like to attend, please email Christopher directly at cid@christopherjderaney.com!

Liberty and Justice for All

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We are driven, as Americans, by our passion and love for freedom. The freedoms we have and the doctrines that guide us were set in motion by a group of people that longed to be out of the control of their government. 

The likes of Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, James Madison, John Jay, Alexander Hamilton...and of course, George Washington, strived to build a framework for a country that would be self-reliant; a country that would be assisted by its government — not controlled by it.

Freedom and Independence are neither free, nor independent. America, and more importantly, her citizens, have paid a large price to ensure that the liberties and freedoms afforded to us in the Constitution of the United States of America remain in tact. 

  

I have traveled abroad to many other countries and have interacted with people of all cultures and creeds. I have studied other governments and how other nations provide — or don’t provide — for their citizens. 

No matter the strife we face and the continual burgeoning of growth our country sees, it’s still the “land of the free and the home of the brave”. I choose to believe...I am honored to believe that my country is the bulwark of nations and the ultimate bastion of freedom. For all that we stand for, we remain a beacon of hope to the rest of the world. 

To have the opportunity to serve the people of my district, the people of the great State of Georgia, and the citizens of the United States is not just an honor, but a dedicated investiture in continuing what was started, helping to grow from where we’ve come to where we will be, and most of all – maintaining the liberty and justice for all.