This time last year, pundits in Georgia and nationwide were authoring pieces on why the Georgia Republican Party would face defeat in November. They said that both former State Senator Jason Carter and Michelle Nunn would take the governor’s mansion and/or the open US Senate seat being vacated by Senator Saxby Chambliss. Georgia was turning purple because of changing demographics that Georgia Republicans couldn’t appeal to. The writing was on the wall, and I believe Republicans across the state were cautiously optimistic about winning, but we were concerned…and we weren’t going down without a fight at least.
We expected a run-off in December and, God-forbid, in January had the Libertarian candidate siphoned off enough votes to propel either race into a run-off. A solid win in November was the seemingly unattainable prize, but we got it and, thankfully, we didn’t have to hear attack ads over both Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner. We won, and we even got another prize: a Republican in the elusive GA-12 district. Representative John Barrow seemed unbeatable even though the district was drawn to the GOP’s advantage.
I believe a lot of credit for these big wins in November 2014 goes to the leadership team of the Georgia Republican Party. The GAGOP did a lot to encourage outreach and voter mobilization this past election cycle. The Minority Outreach arm was created when John Padgett was elected and even continues although the Republican National Committee decided to halt its Minority Outreach program this year. That, on top of creating field offices (Victory Centers) and identifying committed folks in inactive counties in the 12th congressional district, went a long way in mobilizing the vote for our Republican ticket.
The GAGOP’s executive committee also took a risk by buying late-game ad time and other media to reach out to voters. It looks like it worked since we won. It was a gamble, but it did pay off. Now the GAGOP’s treasury is light, but we don’t have a negative balance (from my understanding, at least). It’s time to raise funds and build up our treasury, and I believe 2015 is a prime opportunity to do that since Georgia looks to have a bigger role to play in presidential politics.
Our editor-emeritus, Erick Erickson, endorsed Alex Johnson over John Padgett for Chairman of the Georgia Republican Party last week. Erick’s endorsement focused more on policy differences between him and elected Republicans in state government versus what leadership in the Republican Party Alex brings to the table. I, as a delegate, would be more inclined to listen to an endorsement that outlined what Alex has done to advance the Party and what he would do better as chairman than John. Erick has every right to express his opinion on who should lead our Party to delegates who actually elect the leadership. That being said, he also has a combined 90 kilowatt flamethrower plus a large online following that most Republican non-delegates (or delegates for that matter) do not have.
Personally, I believe that John Padgett has shown he can do the job very effectively and will be voting for him in Athens on the 16th. Had we lost either the governor’s mansion or the open US Senate seat, then we should be talking on if he should stay on for a second term. We didn’t, and I believe he should stay on for a second term. Some of my Republican friends will probably disagree with me, and that’s fine. I’m just expressing my opinion as a delegate to the state convention.
I promise to work with the chairman and the Party as a whole to elect Republicans in 2016. I hope those supporting either John or Alex will commit to do the same.