Georgia Republicans face a ‘no going back’ moment at state meeting

U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, center, U.S. Rep. Doug Collins (back, left) and U.S. Rep. Tom Graves (back, center) at a rally in Marietta in November. Curtis Compton,ccompton@ajc.com

Antsy Georgia Republicans gather in Augusta on Friday to kick off their annual meeting under a new strain of electoral duress.

They’ve been at the top of Georgia’s political heap for more than a decade, but Democrat Jon Ossoff’s campaign has highlighted the GOP’s vulnerabilities in districts once considered Republican strongholds — and underlined the tempestuous effect that President Donald Trump could have on contests.

A tumultuous fight is underway to lead the cash-strapped state party, and its outcome could determine whether the party veers to the right or aims for a more mainstream message. And candidates in the pitched battle for governor and other 2018 races face an early test from grass-roots activists.

It’s a fraught time for Republicans, and many of the hundreds of activists gathering for the two-day event have poured their energy into the vote over the party’s leadership. W. John Wood, the chairman of the Savannah-based 1st Republican District, said the mood is undeniably “anxious.”

“Across the state, you have this feeling where you are in the locker room, lights out trying to stay focused — but you know once you walk out the tunnel there is no going back,” he said. “The party has the resolve, but the real question is who we will follow out of that tunnel.”

The dynamics of the race were set well before Trump’s victory or Ossoff’s emergence as a rising Democratic star. A lawsuit filed by a black former Georgia GOP staffer claiming she was racially discriminated against by party Chairman John Padgett has sapped its coffers and hobbled its leadership.

Republican leaders complain about an ineffective party operation that provides them little help. Contributions have largely dried up, and the Georgia GOP’s balance sheet is mired in red ink. The latest federal filings show the party has $223,000 in the bank — and $317,000 in debts.

The uncertainty that surrounds the Trump presidency, which has seen national approval ratings steadily fall below 50 percent, has further roiled the fight to lead the state party, a contest that features four veteran GOP activists. Each represents a distinct bloc of the GOP, and each pledges to reinvigorate fundraising and restore some of the party’s lost luster.

Read the rest of the story at MyAJC: Georgia GOP faces big questions at state convention

Reader Comments 0

47 comments
W.w. Reid
W.w. Reid

Just more fake news from ajc.

Charles Jones
Charles Jones

I'm here as a delegate at this convention now, representing the Republicans of Cherokee County. This is an outstanding gathering of conservatives who will advance the conservative values of Georgia. Pro-life, pro-family, pro-God, pro-gun.

Lexa King
Lexa King

May you all rot in hell. Progun and prolife in the same sentence? Nut jobs.

Joe Fincher
Joe Fincher

Thank you for what you do!! May God bless you all!! I'm wondering what the dem platform is. Anti everything you mentioned I suppose. Red State Rising

Louise Frazier
Louise Frazier

I see a lot of chickens coming home to roost as a result of policies that for too long have benefited too little of the population of this state. Georgia is also failing to embrace its future which will be directly affected, especially on the coast by climate change. The GOP is failing us every day. They have focused on policies that have largely benefited their wealthiest politicians and as a result their "trickle down economic benefits" have slowed to a drip, drip. Rural hospitals are closing and city hospitals are in danger of growing bankrupt. If we are not already, we are about to reap the consequences of Donald Trump policies in loss of tourism revenue. Foreign tourists are already choosing countries more hospitable like Canada and Mexico. I have not even stated on all the inequality isues, but I think I will stop there.

HELLNOMARTA
HELLNOMARTA

Pledging their loyalty to the fuhrer.

Barbara Phillips
Barbara Phillips

I will NEVER vote for a GA republican. Especially Deal because of campus carry mainly ...Austin Scott a no show in his own home town...and Perdue a no show also...non have the integrity to put the citizens before party.

Joe Fincher
Joe Fincher

I'm thinking you've never voted Republican anyway. You should become more informed. Red State Rising

Jeremy Arieh
Jeremy Arieh

Why does every analogy these days have something to do with "the locker room"?

Chris Knowles
Chris Knowles

Can you people be any more openly liberal?? Please stop calling yourselves journalists and start calling yourselves #Liberal pundits. #EndTheAJC

Mike DiPrima
Mike DiPrima

Sorry old-school conservatives. Liberal worldviews always win eventually.

Joe Fincher
Joe Fincher

Republicans are in no danger of losing anything. Its funny every election cycle the ajc colludes with the dem party to deceive voters in to believing the state is turning blue. You'd think reality would set in sooner or later. Red State Rising

Richard Cowan
Richard Cowan

Vote out all Democrats the country will be in great shape

Andy Young
Andy Young

Heartless Isaakson is reaching for the pain in his side.

Bill Mullen
Bill Mullen

They have nothing to worry about against these unhinged a liberal activist, people are sick of this screaming from the liberals and the lies from the mainstream media

Larry Williamson
Larry Williamson

The democrats face the challenge of representing the working people. The gop is fine.

Gary Branch
Gary Branch

Ga Republican Party is in debt for over 100K.

Thomas E. Sims Sr.
Thomas E. Sims Sr.

Nothing or anything last for ever. The REPUBLICAN party will soon be out of power because the party doesn't represent all of the people. What goes around comes back around.WE THE PEOPLE.

TJ Dearman
TJ Dearman

Capitalism represents all people and that's our platform

Richard Cowan
Richard Cowan

Hahahaha yeah vote Obama back in there won't be a Democrat left Give it up loser

TJ Dearman
TJ Dearman

Thomas E. Sims Sr. Not true at all. Lowering taxes is always accompanied by economic growth.

Joe Fincher
Joe Fincher

And who exactly do democrats represent? Christians? Conservatives? Traditional minded voters? The middle class? Stop kidding yourself. The dem party's main focus is on identity politics to keep the uninformed all riled up using deception and deceit.

Thomas E. Sims Sr.
Thomas E. Sims Sr.

Joe, talk to ppl who thinks like you. Republican party for the Rich and please never mention republicans and Christians in the same sentence. Under republican Presidents, 159 Felonies, 89 conviction and under Democrat presidents 3 Feliones 1 convicted. So Joe keep voting republican and you might be standing in a soup line.

Elaine Daprano
Elaine Daprano

If you're going to do the job, you have to represent ALL, not just Republicans. A 2 party government was always warranted, but these slackers have rarely even TRIED. Now that Deal isn't running and running and, we see what he's made of..sorta? And some advice...don't follow the Evil One down the rabbit hole of dementia.

Nelms Graham
Nelms Graham

LIke Obama asked the Republicans for their input on Obamacare? Like the Supremes said, "Its a Tax" and mainly on the middle class.

Elaine Daprano
Elaine Daprano

Which they never gave...sigh...and still don't have...sigh

Chris Knowles
Chris Knowles

Are you kidding? These clowns are about as conservative as Jon Osshole and they certainly have ensured that all of your big government entitlements get fed ... geez, Osshat liberals won't shut up until they steal a seat from somebody - Theft got too easy over the last 10 years.

Elaine Daprano
Elaine Daprano

Uh oh...they're realizing they can't make a district out of 3 acres?

Tom Jefferson
Tom Jefferson

Jon Ossoff did what? If he actually accomplishes something, Then brag.

Mark Cotner
Mark Cotner

Maybe your coverage should be negative toward our 50% increase in taxes in a single year. Maybe that's where your focus should be.