Walker County GOP Straw Poll Results

It’s Midnight, and I’m at IHOP in Ft. Oglethorpe GA (TN?) to give you the late breaking Walker County GOP Straw Poll results.

First, a note about the gathering. Frequent Peach Pundit commenter Nathan Smith is the 23 year old Chairman of the Walker GOP, and handles his job with a level of professionalism that made the event run smoother than many I’ve attended. Good job Mr. Chairman and your committee.

Despite a passing tropical storm, over 200 people attended a full house with about 170 voting at the end of the evening.

Of those attendees, at least 3 campaigns whispered in my ear that “be sure you mention that Tom Graves brought about 14 kids” when you report these results. When you read them below, please be sure to figure these in as you determine that Tom Graves still kicked everyone’s butt.

9th District candidates in attendance included Graves, Mike Evans, Jeremy Jones, Tom Dooley, Steve Tarvin, and newcomer Bert Loftman. Billy Todd and Mrs. Lee Hawkins represented Senator Hawkins who was attending an ACCG meeting, and Bill Stephens had car trouble on the way to the event. I can attest that it took me 3.5 hours to drive up from Atlanta this afternoon, and I would not have wanted to be stranded on the side of the road in this weather.

I was allowed to sit at the Chairman’s table, and was joined by 9th District Chairman Doug Grammer, SOS candidate Doug MacGinnitie and AG candidate Max Woods. Other candidates in attendance included Insurance Commissioner Gerry Percell, School Superintendent Candidate Roger Hines, and Agriculture Commish candidate Darwin Carter was well represented though I don’t believe he was actually there.

In the interest of time, I’ll post results in the order they appeared on the ballot, as typing this will take long enough without me trying to rank folks at this hour. Feel free to complain that somehow I’m screwing over your favorite candidate by doing this. I can take it.


Tom Dooley 13
Lee Hawkins 9
Steve Tavin 16
Mike Evans 35
Jeremy Jones 25
Bobby Reese 0
Tom Graves 80
Bert Loftman 2
Bill Stephens 0

Jeff Chapman 0
Eric Johnson 6
Austin Scott 9
Nathan Deal 97
John Oxendine 14
Karen Handel 20
Ray McBerry 29

Attorney General

Sam Olens 65
Max Woods 54
Ligon William 9

Agriculture Commish

Gary Black 101
Darwin Carter 51

Labor Commissioner
Melvin Everson 112

Insurance Commish
Seth Harp 6
Stephen Northington 12
Ralph Hudgens 8
Gerry Purcell 129
Harold Logsdon 3
Maria Sheffield 6

Secretary of State
Brian Kemp 54
Doug Macginnitie 106

School Superintendent
Kathy Cox 49
Roger Hines 82
Richard Lee Woods 9

And though it was not on the ballot, Aleq Boyle was working the crowd as an “exploratory effort” to run for Lt. Governor, and received 5 write in votes for a race not on the ballot.

There was a Presidential Preference Question for 2012, and the top 3 were Huckabee (53), Palin (38), and Gingrich (17).

I’ll try to write more about the individual speeches from the Congressional candidates later. I was genuinely impressed by the talent, including several of the lesser known names.

But for now, it’s late, still raining, and I’m far from home. Interpret as you will, I’m heading to I-75.


  1. GeorgiaValues says:

    Tom Graves clearly has strong support all across the district. This is his second massive win from a GOP straw poll and follows his impressive 3rd Quarter FEC numbers (most raised of any candidate).

    Despite what the other campaigns are saying to try to downplay this overwhelming victory…I’m sure in the posts to follow we’ll hear how 80 out of 180 votes with 9 candidates on the ballot isn’t really a win, we’ll hear supporters of other candidates claiming Tom spent thousands of dollars on mail pieces (a claim already on Facebook), robo-calls, print and TV buys, and we’ll hear how despite significant efforts from the other campaigns…this somehow doesn’t count and should be quickly forgotten.

    Bottom line – congratulations to Tom Graves. Well deserved victory. Kudos to the other campaigns as well, a lot of time and effort went into tonight’s event, which was a huge success!

    • ReaganRepublican says:

      There was 96 people from the 9th district in attendance, the rest were imported. And yes, they all voted for Nathan Deal.

      • Ramblinwreck says:

        I live in the 9th District, my wife and I were there and we definitely did NOT vote for Nathan Deal. In fact, I was at a table with 8 people, 7 from the 9th District, and I’m not sure anyone at that table voted for Deal.

        • Icarus says:

          Come on Ben, fess up. You know McBerry bussed in all his 29 votes from Buckhead, Decatur, and College Park. All you guys from the 9th voted for Deal. It’s the law…

          Sorry I didn’t make it over to speak to you last night. Saw you across the room several times, but was intercepted every time I headed that way.

          • Ramblinwreck says:

            I thought you were just “high hattin'” me as they say up here. Just kidding. I was sitting two tables away from a friend who came up from Buford and never even saw him either. Good crowd.

  2. Chuck Payne says:

    Tom Graves, now with two decisive straw poll wins from both sides of the 9th District (Union County, Walker County) along with his leading in campaign contributions, has clearly asserted himself as the front runner in the race for Georgia’s Ninth District Congressional race. Just goes to show you that a solid grassroots campaign for a candidate with a solid track record, as Graves has established in the State Legislature, can even beat a high $$$ roller like Hawkins, while the campaign continues to gain strength and support along the way.

    Although it is early in the race, I think we might be witnessing the rise of a new conservative star for North Georgia Republicans, if not for conservatives all across Georgia.

  3. Ramblinwreck says:

    Thanks to all the candidates for sharing their positions with us last night in Walker County. A special thanks to Walker County Chairman Nathan Smith for hosting a very well run event for the candidates and voters in NW Georgia. Kudos Nathan.

  4. MasterHiggins says:

    Congratulations to Tom Graves.

    Most impressive was Jeremy Jones who recieved a standing ovation from several tables.

    As Steve Tarvin was speaking I could not help but think his real intentions is angling for County Commission at some point in the future.

    Nathan Smith did a great job on hosting…

    • provisional says:

      Since it was more important to Senator Hawkins to attend an ACCG meeting than the Walker GOP event, maybe it is he who is angling for County Commisioner?

      • Icarus says:

        I spoke with Senator Hawkins people about that. Each voter will have to decide for themselves where they think he should have been, but he currently serves as an officer in the organization as I understand it, and there are major issues there as well. He didn’t RSVP and then stand them up, but instead made a choice to honor his committment to a group where relations between the state and local governments are quite strained at the moment.

        There was a great piece by Aaron Gould Sheinin and James Salazar in Sunday’s AJC that highlighted some of these issues. I haven’t had time to do it justice yet here at PP, but hope to get around to posting it today.

      • Nathan says:

        It was a scheduling error. The ACCG meeting was marked in the calendar before we invited him to our event. I believe that someone on his campaign said that there is a work calendar and a campaign calendar, so they probably forgot to cross check for conflicts. He and his campaign worked hard to have Sen. Hawkins attend both, but he ultimately had to honor his prior commitment.

        • steelfist says:

          Lee’s campaign spokesperson said he was at the capitol cutting the budget and making the difficult decisions to balance the state’s budget. He was at a meeting of county commissioners? Why wouldn’t he just say that? That’s dishonest from the Hawkins’ camp.

      • Cajun says:

        Given what’s going on in the White House and in Congress these days, Republicans are revolting against anything and everything to the left of center. Lee Hawkins penchant for donating to Democratic candidates has been a giant turn off. Maybe that’s why he got only 9 votes and came in sixth among nine candidates.

        • GOPGeorgia says:

          I would guess it’s because most people in Walker County don’t have any idea of who he is. We had advertised that he would be there and did not know there was a scheduling conflict until the day before. Someone spoke on his behalf, but it’s not the same thing as a candidate speaking.

          • provisional says:

            Based on Cajun’s comments and Doug’s comments, it was best if he wasn’t there. Maybe if the people of Walker County knew more about him, he wouldn’t have gotten that many votes?

          • GOPGeorgia says:

            Bill Stephens and Bobby Reese did not attend and they got no votes. (they had different but reasonably good reasons why they couldn’t make it.) I think it’s better to attend and get some votes than not attend and get no votes, but that’s just me.

          • Joshua Morris says:

            A “penchant?” Not even close to the truth. A “history?” Disingenuous at best. Is that how your guy’s campaign works?

          • provisional says:

            so Lee Hawkins does not have a history of giving to Deomcratic candidates????
            who is really being dishonest is “your guy’s campaign”. Just because you say you are a conservative and put it on your campaign literature doesn’t make it so.

          • Joshua Morris says:

            Lee Hawkins’ record overwhelmingly consists of giving to conservative republican candidates. Prove me wrong.

          • steelfist says:

            Lee Hawkins has given to Charlie Norwood, a dentist (surprise) and Nathan Deal, his Congressman. Those are the only Republicans Lee has donated to. Hardly say he has a record that “consists of giving to conservative republican candidates.” 2 Republicans – his friend and colleague – and his Congressman.

            Lee Hawkins has made multiple contributions to both Greg Hecht, who ran for Lt. Gov. when Casey was running, and to Max Cleland, hardly a conservative stalwart in the U.S. Senate.

          • provisional says:

            Lee Hawkins’ record overwhelmingly consists of giving to liberal Democratic candidates. Prove me wrong.

          • Joshua Morris says:

            LEE HAWKINS (DENTIST), (Zip code: 30506) $300 to NORWOOD FOR CONGRESS on 10/27/94

            LEE HAWKINS (DENTIST), (Zip code: 30506) $250 to NATHAN DEAL FOR CONGRESS on 11/06/95

            LEE HAWKINS (DENTIST), (Zip code: 30506) $250 to NATHAN DEAL FOR CONGRESS on 09/15/97

            LEE HAWKINS (DENTIST), (Zip code: 30506) $250 to NORWOOD FOR CONGRESS on 11/25/98

            LEE HAWKINS (DENTIST), (Zip code: 30506) $500 to NORWOOD FOR CONGRESS on 01/12/00

            Lee Hawkins (Self-Employed/Dentist), (Zip code: 30501) $200 to NORWOOD FOR CONGRESS on 01/31/02

            Hawkins, Lee (Self-Employed/Dentist), (Zip code: 30501) $300 to NORWOOD FOR CONGRESS on 01/29/03

            Lee Hawkins (Self-Employed/Dentist), (Zip code: 30501) $250 to NORWOOD FOR CONGRESS on 03/09/05

          • Part-Time Atlanta says:

            Not really trying to pick a side in this, but…isn’t that the same as:

            “Lee Hawkins has given to Charlie Norwood, a dentist (surprise) and Nathan Deal, his Congressman. Those are the only Republicans Lee has donated to” -steelfist

          • Joshua Morris says:

            Here’s the gist, PTA. Graves’ minions are taking two token donations out of context and misrepresenting the record with misleading comments. As I have explained on other threads, Dr. Hawkins served as the treasurer and president of the Georgia Dental Association, and as their legislative spokesperson, various donations were made. To try to paint Dr. Hawkins as a supporter of liberal democrats by cherrypicking items like this and misrepresenting them is dishonest, but that seems to be those guys’ MO.

          • provisional says:

            If they were made on behalf of the GDA, they should have come from the GDA PAC not Hawkins personal, hard earned dollars. But the fact that he donated his personal money is the problem. Was he so easy to sell his personal conservative principles, that you claim he has, to support liberal democrats from his own wallet, because he wanted to hold an officer position with the GDA? What will he do, and what values will he compromise to hold a seat in Congress?

          • steelfist says:

            Dishonest. No. All we said is that he gave to liberal democrats, which he did.

            Quite frankly, I don’t care who the GDA contributes their money to – that’s between the GDA and their members. What I do know is that the FEC shows Hawkins giving HIS OWN money to Max Cleland, one of the most liberal members of the United States Senate when he was in office.

            How is that dishonest?

  5. Huckabee at 53 percent? I didn’t see that one coming!

    Do those folks need a reminder that Huckabee was for tax increases to balance Arkansas’s budget, that he supported state-paid scholarships for illegal immigrants, and that he sat on the fence about the Iraq surge until it became obvious that it was working?

    • ReaganRepublican says:

      American delight, more like American liar…..Huckabee opposed Bush’s stimulas plan, amnesty plan, & supports building a fence & deporting illegals who commit serious crimes. He understands the unconventional nature of the War on Terror & the Islamo-fascist threat we’re facing around the world. He has a solid conservative record of lowering taxes & favors eliminating income tax & adopting the FAIR TAX instead. He’s also a strong supporter of the 2nd amendment, and he’s never wavered on his pro-life and traditional family values. Huckabee also has great ideas about energy independence, improving education & health & fitness.

      • Debra says:

        ReganRepublican you are incorrect about Huckabee’s position on amnesty. He may have changed his amnesty position since his run for President, but if he has, it’s a day late and a dollar short. You say he supports deporting illegals who commit serious crimes….. Well, goody, goody, for him…. Give me a big break……. That’s a real tuff position against illegals isn’t it! LOL. Huckabee has made some very rude and unnecessary comments about Mitt and Sarah. I hope he stays with his Fox News Show and doesn’t get in the 2012 Presidential mix.

    • Icarus says:

      To be clear, those were the # of votes of the top 3, not percentages. I’ll dig up the totals of all that were on the ballot and post later. But assuming the total number of votes in that race were the same as the number of ballots, Huckabee got about 53 of 170, or not quite 30%. Still a big win, but not a majority.

    • ksuowls81 says:

      All you have to do is look at the frontrunners who are running for Georgia’s Governors. Republicans, especially in Georgia, do not really look at substance. Rhetoric is what they crave.

        • ksuowls81 says:

          Yeah except Ray would get eaten up by Georgia politicians. I like Ray McBerry, but lets get serious. Georgia’s government is divided into different branches. What McBerry wants to do would never fly with A) Georgia Legislators and B) State and Federal Courts. King McBerry would be a lame duck governor for 4 years. Wish him the best of luck because he is probably one of the nicest guys in that race, but one must look at the big picture and choose what battles to fight.

    • Holly says:

      I believe the citizens of Arkansas chose that tax increase on a ballot before the governor and legislature implemented it.

  6. Brave New World says:

    Graves wins without a runoff against Lee Hawkins, Mike Evans, Bill Stephens, Steve Tarvin, Bert Loftman, Bobby Reese, and Tom Dooley.

    Enter Jeremy Jones and 25 votes, and now we are looking at a runoff. πŸ™‚

    • Ramblinwreck says:

      Win or lose in this race, Jeremy Jones has a very bright future in politics if he chooses to pursue one. Extremely smart candidate with a clear conservative/constitutional grasp of the issues. His challenge will be whether the GOP elite will welcome him or not since he actually believes in the Constitution.

    • Romegaguy says:

      I heard that despite the fact some of them brought a copy of their birth certificates, the outsiders were actually from Kenya

    • Fawkes says:

      That depends. Was Kathy and/or Roger at the event? Meeting candidates face-to-face can heavily influence straw polls.

      • Steve Ellis says:

        Yes, Roger was there and did a very good job of working the crowd. It did not surprise me at all to see him get that many votes last night.

  7. Brave New World says:

    Game Fan, I like it πŸ™‚
    You could substitute “Tennessee River” for Nicaragua and that would make a great movie, starring David Shafer.

    • Game Fan says:

      Brave New World
      I think that’s the same voice from “Red Dawn”. I mean that same trailer voice in probably over 100 movies. I mean that’s classic. πŸ™‚
      You reading this Erick? We need that voice for a new video or movie about Obamacare. And we need it like YESTERDAY. How about combining Obamacare with Texas Chainsaw Massacre? And that kick ass voice too!!

  8. BuckheadConservative says:

    I wonder how Mullis feels about his boys getting taken to the woodshed in his district as Graves cruises past Evans and Maginnitie rolls Kemp (again)

    • Ramblinwreck says:

      I think most folks have trouble believing a stump speech that a candidate will stand up to the feds and end the porkfest when that candidate’s job today is as a lobbyist obtaining pork. He’s selling that line but few are buying. This is similar to a State Senator sponsoring a 10th Amendment resolution but then running to DC to get “stimulus” funds. Sound familiar? Major message disconnect.

    • Steve Ellis says:

      This wasn’t just in Mullis’ district, it was in his home county and actually in his home town. It is also Steve Tarvin’s home town and in Jeremy Jones’ back yard. These facts make Graves’ victory even that more impressive. I mean no offense to the other candidates or to the Senator, I’m just pointing out Graves’ grassroots appeal to the conservative base.

      • Cajun says:

        I mean no offense to Graves, but he’s going to have to prove he can win in the two largest counties in the district — Hall and Forsyth. Until he does that all these little straw polls are virtually meaningless.

  9. Nathan says:

    Thanks to everyone who came to the Victory Dinner. We were very successful in raising funds for the Walker GOP last night. This was definitely one of the most successful events we’ve had in Walker County! Major thanks to Doug Grammer for his help. It certainly was a team effort getting this event together.

    I will put the results on our county website (www.WalkerGOP.com) along with the write-in candidates.

  10. Jeff says:

    Well, Hawkins’ scheduling snafu certainly is no worse than Karen Handel telling the Tift Area Tea Party Patriots that she will show up to their event and after no-showing the event noted on twitter that she had a great turnout in extreme North Ga that same night.

    I don’t know that she was personally at that north Ga event, and I can certainly understand if she did in fact choose to take Saturday completely off the campaign trail, but her campaign most certainly was NOT present in Tifton.

    • Bull Moose says:

      The Karen Handel Campaign notified the organizers of the Tift event 2 weeks prior to their event that we would not be able to attend due to a scheduling conflict.

      She had events in Cherokee County, Fannin County, and Murray County on Saturday.

      • Jeff says:

        The email I got 72 hrs prior was still advertising Handel as being there. Exactly how old that email was, I honestly don’t know. Just saying I got it 72 hrs before the event.

  11. Ag Smith says:

    Looks like Gerry Purcell for insurance commissioner received more votes than anyone. After a string of wins, have the other candidates decided to not compete for the GOP party regulars anymore? Sort of looks that way. Keep on rolling Gerry!

      • Sleepy Tom says:

        You mean candidates going to Republican Party events and participating in straw polls won’t garner enough of a majority of the 425,000 some-odd households that participate in a primary?

        You mean they might have to raise money to communicate their presence to a larger swath of people???

    • ramblin rebecc says:

      I like Gerry too.

      He’s the only one of the Insurance Commissioner candidates I’ve heard talk who has a stinkin’ plan!

      The rest of these guys just want to talk about their daddies and how long their family has lived in GA. ENOUGH good ole boy politics!

      • Ramblinwreck says:

        My favorite line of the night was when candidate Steve Tarvin said he was sure everyone was tired of hearing “sharecropper stories.” Had to stifle an open guffaw about that one.

  12. GOPGeorgia says:

    I had a great time. We had a packed house, almost ran out of food, had to set up an extra table or two. I enjoyed the speeches from the candidates, and I think the Walker County GOP made a little money.

    I echoed what I heard at the Chairman’s dinner the night before. In1992, Bill Clinton was elected President, and many Republicans were not happy. Sen. Paul Coverdell won his run off election in December. Then the GOP started picking up victories here and there with special elections and Governors races. We all know what happened in 1994. In 2008 Obama was elected President. Saxby won a run off election, and we just picked up VA and NJ governorships. I am looking forward to 2010.

  13. RollTide23 says:

    Gerry Purcell gets 79% of the vote in a field of 6! If you have not heard Gerry speak you need to this guy is the real deal and will be Georgia’s next insurance commissioner.

  14. Jeff says:


    McBerry’s right hand man openly called for war against the US Government this morning, and you think McBerry is sane enough to be trusted with ANY elected office???

  15. ready2rumble says:

    Nice job Real Deal Steal for taking 55% of the vote in your district. If that happens in the primary your toast. I can’t find the comment saying that you were a shoe in to take 90% of the vote in your district.

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