Georgia GOP Convention Review

The Georgia Republican Party held its regular convention last weekend in Augusta. The big agenda item was the election of the next State Party Chairman. John Padgett had served two terms and party rules have a two term limit to allow fresh leaders to emerge.

Four excellent candidates offered to lead the party: Alex Johnson, Michael McNeely, John Watson, and Mike Welsh. Each offered their vision and their strengths. After three rounds of voting, the delegates elected John Watson as the next state party chair.

The Georgia GOP Conventions at times have been tumultuous events. This one was not tumultuous or rancorous. There were teams promoting their respective candidates for many offices zealously without being confrontational.

Tensions did get a little high over a couple of things. One, was the time involved for the credentials report and moving alternates into the available delegate slots. Another was the time involved to count the ballots for party chair.

The convention hall restrooms appeared to be politically correct designed rather than conventionally designed. I could not tell if the rooms were for men or women.

One time I would see women coming out, and a few minutes later there would be men standing in line. I think most people finally just walked the long distance to the hotel lobby where they could find conventional restrooms clearly marked for men or women.

I heard more than a few complaints about that. One delegate took to the microphone on the floor to express her frustration (understandably so) for missing one of the votes. She said that she had to go all the way to the other building to find a restroom because she was “not going to to some bathroom designed by a Democrat.”

When the candidates for party offices made their presentations, they received strong applause and cheers from their supporters. There were no jeers or boos from the delegates directed toward any of the candidates.

While there was no big floor fight, each candidate did have a strong following for reasons that must be incorporated into building a strong state party. I am confident that the new chairman, John Watson, will lead the party to address these points because every candidate shared them all.

One of the main points of Alex Johnson was that conservative Republicans are not there to serve and do the bidding of the party. The party is there to support and help conservative Republicans.

Alex Johnson gained a strong passionate following because he hit on the same nerve that led to the election of Donald Trump. I believe that Alex and those who supported him will be engaged and are a vital part of the future of the Georgia Republican party.

Michael McNeely and Mike Welsh had a strong following among what I would call the traditional grassroots of the party. These had worked campaign and party events for years. They served in many different roles from precinct level all the way to state executive committee.

They want to see the party expand and grow strong in every corner of the state, not just metro Atlanta. Their continued positive influence and leadership will help expand the conservative message of Georgia Republicans beyond the traditional boundaries.

John Watson’s supporters shared the same concerns of every other candidate. Watson’s strength of having raised millions for candidates and working in successful statewide campaigns along with his strong organizational and leadership skills gave him a plurality of votes in the first two rounds and finally a majority in the final round of balloting.

The candidates all had the same overall platform. From my perspective that is a sign of strength in our party.

John Watson will engage and maximize the strength, focus, and energy that all candidates and their supporters brought to the convention. John is already working closely with the state party staff and volunteers to help Karen Handel in the 6th Congressional District.

John Watson hit the ground running and he is not concerned about who anyone supported for state party chair. His primary concern is how he can best serve all Georgia Republicans.

Signature-Donald E. Cole

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