The Republican world – at least the Georgia part of it – is headed down to Columbus today for its two-day state convention.
Delegates will be pointed to November and, in at least one case, beyond. Among the many fliers on their seats will be one from former state Sen. Chip Pearson of Dawsonville, announcing his candidacy for state party chairman in 2013.
He’s already got a website that includes this shout-out to the current term-limited chairman, Sue Everhart:
With your help, we will continue Sue Everhart’s proud tradition of grassroots leadership and build on her great successes. I want to hear your ideas on how we can build on the successes of the Georgia GOP and make our Party even stronger…
Pearson, who has spent the last year raising money for the party, will be emphasizing his loyalty to the grassroots rather than officialdom. “People don’t know that there’s a whole lot more of me in the party than there is in the Senate,” he said.
Pearson’s first test comes over the next two days. He’s chairman of the resolutions committee, which will decide whether to offer delegates a chance to rebuke fellow Republicans in the Legislature for their failure to take up ethics reform.
One thing to watch at the GOP convention on Saturday will be the crowd’s reaction to Gov. Nathan Deal, who was booed last year when he backed an opponent to state GOP chairman Sue Everhart.
No doubt, delegates will also be discussing this, from my AJC colleague Aaron Gould Sheinin:
A member of the State Properties Commission resigned Thursday after The Atlanta Journal-Constitution discovered he signed a $1.4 million deal to lease office space to the state while serving on the panel.
No law or guideline prohibits such a deal. But a spokesman for Gov. Nathan Deal, who appointed Dr. Larry “Jeff” Payne to the commission in September, said it “does present the appearance of a conflict of interest.” The spokesman said the resignation was a “mutual decision” between Payne and the governor.
As you may have heard, an ethics complaint has been renewed against Senate Rules Chairman Don Balfour, R-Snellville, less than a week before qualifying begins. From my AJC colleague Chris Joyner:
Debbie Dooley, state coordinator of the Georgia Tea Party Patriots, filed the complaint with the Senate Ethics Committee. Dooley said Balfour, R-Snellville, violated Senate rules and state law and called on GOP leaders to strip him of his chairmanship.
In a statement, Balfour said the complaint “smacks of campaign politics.” He said he reimbursed the state for what he claimed were “inadvertent” errors and filed corrected paperwork.
Dooley says she plans keep the pressure on state officials to act on the complaint by handing out copies of the complaint at the state Republican convention in Columbus. She also plans to mail it out to conservative activists.
Dooley will also be attempting to make friends with the governor by handing out lapel stickers — an example is above, right — calling for opposition to the transportation sales tax referendums on the July 31 ballot.
Speaking tonight before a number of major GOP donors in Columbus will be former GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, in the midst of refashioning himself into a supporter of the presumptive nominee, Mitt Romney. My AJC colleague Daniel Malloy caught up with Gingrich on Thursday:
Gingrich did not exactly recant, but did acknowledge the ineffectiveness of one attack he used on Romney – the private equity firm Bain Capital. When Gingrich accused Romney and Bain of taking over companies and downsizing them at the expense of workers, he was widely condemned by fellow Republicans and eventually backed off.
This week the Obama campaign released an ad along those same lines. Gingrich said his experience should be a lesson to Obama: “that dog won’t hunt.”
Gingrich said the attack will not resonate in voters’ minds as they think: “You want me to be mad because in one company somewhere Romney may have in fact been involved in someone losing their job while you as president have been involved in millions of people losing their jobs?”
If you’ve already imbibed your daily allowance of irony this morning, prepare for an overdose. We told you Thursday that U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Savannah, had slipped into a defense authorization bill a ban on Pentagon sponsorships of sporting events. Politico offers more this morning:
NASCAR commands the lion’s share of these expenditures, estimated at about $80 million in 2012 altogether. And new estimates from the National Guard show that more than $135 million has been spent over the past five years just for the Guard’s sponsorship and branding efforts through Hendricks Motorsports in North Carolina and the racing team of star driver Dale Earnhardt Jr.
“The old question always in politics is, ‘If not here, where, if not now, when, if not us, who?’” Kingston told his colleagues. “I am a conservative Republican. I’m very pro-military but at some point we have to get in the habit of cutting programs that are less efficient, less effective… Would you still spend this money if it was you?”
“They can still go to events. They can still put up banners. They can be all over the high school sporting events,” he said of the recruitment campaigns. “But $20 million for one NASCAR race (team)? Have we lost our minds?”
And who spoke up to defend military targeting of a sport that specializes in left-hand turns? Again, from Politico:
His fellow Georgian, Democratic Rep. Sanford Bishop, remained unconvinced, spinning his own picture of modern Sergeant York’s being uncovered at the speedways.
“NASCAR is big and particularly in rural communities,” Bishop said. “We’ve got to go where the potential recruits are. These youngsters who work on the tractors… who are the mechanics who can take those skills to the military who hunt, who fish, who become expert marksmen because they’re accustomed to hunting in the woods. I think we need to target those folks.”
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider