The voting record of a 29-year-old general contractor from the little town of Tiger, Georgia, makes him by far the most independent member of the Georgia House of Representatives.
In addition to his construction business, Matt Gurtler has worked as a political consultant since 2015, learning about the political process by volunteering for Texas Congressman Ron Paul's presidential campaigns in 2008 and 2012, and serving as a Delegate to the Georgia Republican Party in 2013 and 2015.
Since winning his seat to represent the Georgia House of Representative's 8th District in 2016, Matt has voted his conscience even on bills popular with his own party, preferring to legislate based on the principles of limited government and free market economics that inform his governing philosophy, rather than going along to get along with party leaders. This has earned him a reputation among limited government Republicans and independents, even outside his state, as "the Ron Paul of the Georgia legislature."
He's got the votes to back up the reputation, as well as the scorn of the two-party establishment in his state. One Georgia political analyst, the publisher of GeorgiaPol, accused Gurtler of acting like a child for being the only rep in the state to vote against the supplemental budget, as well as the only vote against the House Speaker's pet initiative to increase benefits for state employees.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
"Gurtler voted no 40 percent of the time in 2017 and 2018, making him the strongest voice of dissent in either the state House or Senate, according to an analysis of voting records by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. In all, he opposed 215 measures and supported 323. Overall, Republicans voted no 6 percent of the time, compared with 12 percent among Democrats. Gurtler’s supporters said his voice for limited government is needed at the Capitol."
For this article, I recently interviewed a Georgia businessman and Gurtler supporter, who told me about standing in the House gallery one day and watching the votes come in on a bill to devote taxpayer funds to Alzheimer's research. Gurtler's was the only "No" vote on the bill: "No politician wants to explain why they voted against Alzheimer's research, but [Gurtler] just doesn't believe that's the proper role of government, or that taxpayers should be forced to pay for it instead of something else they believe in."
All those no votes, however, are principled, unflinchingly independent, and in line with a consistent view of the role of government, which is to maintain law, not to fund special interests, even well-intended ones. In the end, the taxpayer has to pay for all those well-intended ideas, and no politician wants to take responsibility for fiscal policy and ballooning state deficits around the country, not to mention the dauntingly massive U.S. national debt hanging like a millstone around the neck of the millennial generation and their children.
With all these no votes, despite what's popular, despite how it might be spun against him in future elections, Matt Gurtler really is shaping up to be one of the next generation of Ron Pauls, influenced by the former Texas congressman's message of constitutional government, fiscal restraint, and free market capitalism.