2ND UPDATE at 4:45 p.m.:
Sue Everhart was re-elected chair of the Georgia GOP on the second ballot, 946 to 755 over Tricia Pridemore.
“Now is the time for us to come together, set aside the petty talk, set aside the petty differences, and work hard to further our conservative cause across Georgia and across these United States of America,” Pridemore said moments after the vote totals were announced.
UPDATE at 4 p.m.:
In the Georgia GOP chairman’s race, incumbent Sue Everhart got 48 percent of the vote on the first ballot, precipitating a second ballot. It’s down to Everhart and Tricia Pridemore, Gov. Nathan Deal’s favored candidate, who got 36 percent. The lowest vote-getting candidate, Carter Kessler, will be dropped from the ballot and third-place Shawn Hanley has decided to drop out.
Macon – The election for chair of the Georgia GOP is minutes away from beginning. Incumbent Sue Everhart of Cobb County has two challengers: former Fulton County GOP Chairman Shawn Hanley, and Marietta’s Tricia Pridemore, who has the support of Gov. Nathan Deal. This bit of intramural politics has broader intrigue because of the divisiveness of the race: When Deal spoke up in Pridemore’s favor at the end of an otherwise well-received speech, he was booed roundly by the delegates on the floor.
Aside from that election, the focus of the convention has been on the two Georgia-based candidates for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, Newt Gingrich and Herman Cain. Gingrich, who made his candidacy official this past week, spoke Friday night. Saturday morning the crowd heard from Cain, who all but confirmed that he will officially enter the race with an announcement next weekend. (Said Cain: “I’m going to be at Centennial Olympic Park with 10,000 of my closest supporters at high noon. Do you think I’m going to say I’m not running?”)
Gingrich spoke to a dinner crowd that warmed up during the course of his message. He spoke of American exceptionalism and outlined a four-point tax plan: zero capital gains taxes, a corporate income tax rate matching Ireland’s 12.5 percent rate, 100 percent business expensing of new equipment purchases within a year, and a permanent end to the estate tax. He said Barack Obama had been “the most successful food-stamp president in history,” with more people than ever dependent on that government program, and that he wanted to be “the most successful paycheck president.” He also had some zingers about foreign policy, starting with “We should have one,” and focusing on the U.S. relationship with Pakistan given the latter’s apparent harboring of Osama bin Laden for years.
Cain had the advantage of speaking during the convention proceedings themselves, and he seized it. The crowd erupted for standing ovations several times: for his comments on presidential leadership, taxes, energy, immigration and other topics. He outlined a tax policy similar to Gingrich’s: zero capital gains tax, a lower (but unspecified) rate for corporate income tax, zero tax on repatriated profits and a one-year holiday on all payroll taxes. He said America’s struggling economy would eventually make it less secure, and that “Being number two economically or militarily is not in our DNA.” He described “comprehensive immigration reform” as “code for they don’t know what to do.” And he concluded by recalling his father’s admonition when preparing to head into town, and saying, “To the rest of the country: Them that’s going, get on the wagon. Them that ain’t, get outta the way!”
My guess is that Gingrich would have gotten a more boisterous reception on the convention floor and Cain a less raucous one at the dinner, were their speaking slots reversed. Conventioneers raved about Gingrich’s speech Friday night, and even those who have heard Gingrich speak numerous times said they were impressed. But Cain’s ability to connect with a crowd — as we also saw at the first GOP debate, in South Carolina earlier this month — is not matched by anyone in the current GOP field.
More to come as the chairman’s election moves along.
– By Kyle Wingfield