Political Notebook: GOP Convention, Candidates, Endorsements

Phil Kent

Thursday, June 3rd, 2021

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· This Friday and Saturday the Georgia Republican Party holds its convention at the Jekyll Island Convention Center, with Gov. Brian Kemp scheduled to speak to attendees on Saturday morning. It will be interesting to see his reception among Trumpers, conservatives and others upset over what they feel was his failure to call a special legislative session in November to enact election reform legislation. They blame him for waiting until after Republicans lost two U.S. Senate seats on Jan. 5 before backing election reforms. Kemp needs the GOP base to be united for him for re-election, and getting some boos won’t help. Trumper Vernon Jones is running against the governor in the 2022 GOP primary, but could there be another GOP candidate against Kemp to emerge?

· Speaking of trying to cement his base, Kemp is also facing some embarrassing resolutions passed by a few county Republican parties. Just last Saturday, for example, the Cobb County GOP passed a resolution saying the governor “betrayed President Trump, pro-enforcement voters and since becoming chief executive has defiantly ignored illegal immigration and his related campaign pledges.”

· Staunch Trump supporter David Shafer is expected to be re-elected for a second term as state party chairman, and attendees will hear remotely from former President Donald Trump himself.  And word from Mar-a-Lago sources is that Trump is still in talks with UGA football legend Herschel Walker and urging him to run for the U.S. Senate against incumbent Democrat Raphael Warnock. Will Walker be at the convention?

· The Republican incumbent opted not to run for re-election for lieutenant governor, so the 2022 GOP primary nomination is wide open. Savannah activist Jeanne Seaver was the first to announce and then state Sen. Butch Miller of Gainesville. But look for another possible candidate who would be a serious challenger: state Sen. Burt Jones of Jackson. (Jones was the first state lawmaker to endorse Donald Trump for president back in 2015 and could expect a presidential endorsement.)

· U.S. Rep. Jody Hice, endorsed by Trump, is giving up his 10th District seat to run for secretary of state. That has led former U.S. Rep. Paul Broun, as well as state Rep. Timothy Barr and a sledgehammer wielding owner of a demolition company named Matt Richards to enter the primary. Trucking company owner Mike Collins might run. And there’s also a formidable contender who is considering an entry for that congressional seat: state Sen. Brandon Beach. He represents part of north Fulton and Cherokee counties but also owns a home on Lake Sinclair.

· The 2nd Congressional District is represented by Democrat Sanford Bishop of Albany. However, Dougherty County GOP chairman Tracy Taylor seeks to mount a serious challenge. And there could be others. At the same time, some prominent Republicans feel that when their party redraws Georgia’s U.S. congressional maps for redistricting that Bishop will be weakened by losing some of his strong precincts.