Back in early March, I was interviewing Georgia Association of College Republicans Chairman Will Kremer for what eventually became this post. As we talked about what the CRs had accomplished during the 2013-2014 year, he mentioned the newly chartered CR chapter at Georgia Regents University in Augusta, which he hoped would help lead the effort to replace 12th District congressman John Barrow with a Republican.
The person who started the GRU CRs is Caleb Woods. Not only did he get the new chapter started, he interned at the Georgia GOP office in Augusta. Caleb is the Southeast Regional Director of the GACRs, and he’s presently volunteering as a field staffer in one of the Republican congressional campaigns. The other interesting thing about Caleb is that he used to be a Young Democrat, and previously worked on a Democratic campaign in Statesboro.
Caleb isn’t the first Democrat to become a Republican, of course. Former Hall County Commissioner and State School Superintendent candidate Ashley Bell was once National Chair of the Young Democrats before joining the GOP. Other notable party switchers include Governor Nathan Deal and President Ronald Reagan.
Republicans should celebrate when Democrats decide to switch parties. Unfortunately, a person’s Democratic past is often held against him or her, especially when seeking elected office or a leadership position within the party. This past primary cycle, there was a loud rumor mongering campaign waged against Mr. Bell. Representative Mike Jacobs was harassed by Catherine Bernard because he was originally elected to the Georgia House as a Democrat. And, I’ve heard quiet whispers about Governor Deal’s past.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t vet our candidates–we absolutely should. But, we should also be prepared to welcome those who join the GOP. After all, the Democrats welcomed the former President of the Wellesley College Republicans when Hillary Clinton decided to change parties because of the Vietnam War.
Regarding Caleb Woods, I have heard nothing but praise regarding his efforts to assist the College Republicans, Republican candidates, and the party. Instead, the biggest complainers seem to be some of the young Democrats he formerly associated with. Showing their immaturity, they have gone to the GRU College Republicans Facebook page, and posted ad-hominem attacks on his character.
The instigator of these attacks appears to be one Marc Silver. On his Facebook profile, he claims to be Deputy Campaign Manager for Democrat Amy Tavio, who is in a runoff against Brian Reese for the Democratic nomination to replace Jack Kingston in the First Congressional District.
There is an old saying that goes, “You are known by the company you keep.” First District Democratic voters might want to keep Tavio’s decision to hire Silver in mind as they cast their ballots on Tuesday. Meanwhile, I’m happy to say I support Caleb and his efforts to grow the GOP.