Nearly 2,000 people from all over the state and all walks of life gathered in the swank and humidity of Jekyll Island over the weekend, where I learned, among other things, that the staff of the Westin there will in fact store your recently processed wild hog in the freezer for you.
If your bingo card for the convention included phrases like, “boot Brad,” “socialism,” “Georgia first,” “election integrity,” “stolen election,” or even, “man is it hot in this room or is it just me?” then you stood an excellent chance of cashing in during the event’s opening hours.
I have been attending state GOP conventions since 2010, and this is by far the most people I have ever seen at one. The State GOP gets a pass from me for all of the problems the convention experienced, long wait lines for registration, lack of parking, a meeting hall that could not keep up with the AC needs of the delegates, and even the over priced nature of all of it, because they were on a very condensed timeline with few if any options for a venue. But that doesn’t mean that I’d want to attend another convention there.
Thank God for cargo shorts and Kemp for Governor t-shirts. I think I’d have melted if I wore the politicians’ uniform this go round.
You already know that Gary Black announced he is running for US Senate because Buzz wrote about it on Friday. We had been telling you that Remy, our rumor mill, had predicted this would happen some weeks ago. Turns out Remy is in fact an oracle into the future.
Speaking of the US Senate Race, both Lathem Saddler and Kelvin King had booths set up and a strong presence at the Convention. I only saw Mr. King speak to the convention and he gave a powerful speech. I was impressed, and that is saying something. And although the David Ralston staff seem to be trying to convince people he is considering a run you would not have known that as there were no banners or t-shirts worn by those in attendance.
Senators Tyler Harper and Burt Jones teamed up to host a hospitality suite throughout the weekend and neither of them took the opportunity to announce their intentions while they were there. But it was obvious that they were gearing up for something and Remy seems to think that a run for Commissioner of Agriculture is a sure bet for Tyler Harper.
We are told, by a person who would know, that Senator Burt Jones is gearing up for a run at Lieutenant Governor. When I asked Senator Jones what he was running for he demurred. But I would not be surprised to see him challenge Butch Miller for the GOP nomination for that slot considering the source of that information.
For those who may not know, Burt Jones was part of the group of State Senators who joined a brief in the Texas Supreme Court case that attempted to overturn Georgia’s election results. Another, separate lawsuit was filed by other Senators which sued Butch Miller among others over the election. We have heard the story repeated several times that Senator Miller received his legal service for the lawsuit on Christmas Eve. A Jones vs Miller race might turn into a cage match.
No segue topic change: During the Saturday session, I personally witnessed people growing angry when they were not initially allowed to enter the convention hall with their campaign signs for their preferred candidates. People started grabbing their cell phones to record the interactions with the sergeant at arms and shouting could be heard inside the hall. Eventually the campaign volunteers were allowed in with their signs.
We spotted Meagan Hanson in attendance as she still seems to be doing the ground work for a Congressional race in the 6th District. Speaking of the 6th, Suzy Voyles, a long time GOP activist from Fulton announced she is running for the nomination as well. One other rumored candidate is Jake Evans, son of Ambassador Randy Evans.
Vernon Jones was given time to speak and his speech was the most dishonest I have heard ever delivered at a state convention. Jones attempted to reframe his opposition to the heartbeat bill because it did not go far enough. That is a lie. I sat next to Vernon Jones for 6 years, and I know he voted against the heart beat bill because he is pro abortion. He knows it is a lie, but he doesn’t care because Republicans now cheer him when he speaks that lie. Vernon Jones also had several testy exchanges with various women who tried to ask him questions about his record. He was described as, “blowing up,” in response to their inquiries because he felt the questions were disrespectful.
Which brings us to the booing of Governor Brian Kemp. Yes, he was booed, and I would say loudly initially. I would go on to say by the end those who supported Kemp drowned out the boos with cheers, especially when he said that he’s the only person in this state who has ever beaten Stacey Abrams. I was disappointed in the handful of people who decided to boo when he introduced his wife and daughters. Classless.
The elections for officers went largely as predicted, with David Shafer winning a second term as party chair. The race between him and Jason Shepherd had grown increasingly acrimonious in the closing days. Shepherd sent out an endorsement from Sydney Powell on Friday, which I can personally attest turned off some people. But the star of the show, for me, was Surrea Ivey. She gave the best speech of the weekend by far, and I plan to post it here when I have the video. It was amazing. In short, a group of old white people were cheering loudly for an African American Woman who boldly defended our party and what it stands for. Had she run a true campaign, she just might of won. Shafer needs to find a place for her within the party, to do otherwise is unacceptable.
Resolutions. Yeah… I left; I had had enough by then. And I know they don’t do anything anyway.
Parting shot: the outrage at Brad Raffensperger was nearly universal. He was not invited and did not have a campaign presence there either. He was booed the loudest anytime anyone mentioned his name, and people cheered when they heard the phrase, “boot Brad,”
…Checks bingo card…. BINGO!
Author’s note, an earlier version of this post featured a mistake about Burt Jones being part of the suit against Butch Miller, which Burt Jones did not sign on to. We regret the mistake and blame others.