On Leadership Of The GAGOP, I Choose Proof Over Talk

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.


  1. northside101 says:

    In one sense, it was easier to run for GOP chairman 15 or so years ago, when there was still a lot of potential for GOP gains—back then, the Democrats controlled most of the statewide offices and had fairly strong numbers in the General Assembly. The GOP did have control of the congressional delegation back then—the silver lining—and has had such control since the 1994 election cycle. Today, however, there are no statewide offices left for Republicans to win, nor are there any realistic chances of winning any of the 4 remaining Democratic congressional districts in the state or anything else in the State Senate (which is already 2-1 Republican). In the State House, maybe a Democratic seat or two could flip but most House Democrats are in overwhelmingly (60%+) Democratic districts while a few Republicans are in increasingly marginal districts. The 2016 cycle should not be much of a test for the State GOP—Isakson is expected to be re-elected easily, and Georgia is sure to vote GOP for president, and the congressional delegation will remain 10-4 in favor of the GOP next year. But 2018—the last gubernatorial election before congressional and state legislative redistricting (which will happen in 2021, maybe into 2022 after the 2020 census)—will be a high stakes year for the parties.

    • Nathan says:

      2016 may not be a challenge, per se, but I believe 2018 will be. It’ll be an open seat for the governor’s race, and I believe you’ll see a lot of shifting around in statewide offices as folks gear up and declare to run for the GOP gubernatorial nomination. I believe we can continue to lay the groundwork that Chairman Padgett has started to grow the Party as we move towards 2018.

  2. kitty says:

    Isakson will not be re-elected easily. Trust me. He will have an opponent and the opponent will be a conservative, something Johnny has forgotten while voting in DC. His voting record will be distributed for all his constituents to see, and it is not pretty.

    • TheEiger says:

      Please tell us about this inside knowledge you seem to have. Who will be running against Isakson?

    • Nathan says:

      Senator Isakson has already kicked off his 2016 campaign and is making rounds around the state. Any challengers (primary or otherwise) to the Senator are already behind, so they might want to kick it in to gear if they’re expecting to be a credible threat to him winning re-election.

    • Noway says:

      Just don’t see it, Kitty. None of the guys who ran and lost against Perdue has the heft to oust Johnny. Who are you thinking about?

  3. northside101 says:

    Maybe Kitty is looking for someone viable to challenge Isakson in the primary—someone like Erick “I’m mad as Hades” Erickson, Herman “999” Cain, or “evolution is from the pit of Hell” Paul Broun. She must be assuming that the GOP primary electorate in Georgia is a far, far right type of crowd, even after years of rejecting (usually) the most conservative candidates (like Pat Robertson in 1988, Pat Buchanan in 1992 and 1996, Clint Day for Senate 1996 and Lieutenant Governor 1998, and Ralph Reed in 2006). An electorate for instance that would never approve of Sunday alcohol sales….

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