South Hall will host a Republican gubernatorial debate in the thick of primary season.
All six announced GOP candidates to succeed Nathan Deal as governor have signed on for the 5:30 p.m. March 31 event at The Venue at Friendship Springs. The 9th District Republican Party of Georgia has organized the 90-minute debate, which will be moderated by Atlanta Journal-Constitution political reporter Greg Bluestein.
Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, Secretary of State Brian Kemp, state Sen. Michael Williams, former state Sen. Hunter Hill, Clay Tippins and Marc Urbach are running in the Republican primary set for May 22. Early voting will run from April 30 through May 18.
Rebecca Yardley, first vice chairman of the 9th District Republican Party, said seating will be limited to 500, with an optional overflow in an adjacent room at The Venue.
“Stuff like this is important for a gubernatorial race to be able to get out and see firsthand what their candidates are planning and pledging to do,” said Matt Smith, Hall County GOP chairman, who is one of the county party leaders helping with the event.
An electronic straw poll will also be held the day of the event, with results announced at an after-party immediately after the debate. The party will give residents a chance to “mix and mingle with candidates,” Yardley said.
Heavy hor’d’oeuvres and a cash bar will be available at the party.
Smith said having a large field of Republican candidates isn’t “a bad thing.”
“You get to hear from a number of different people,” Smith said. “It pushes them to be more direct and more forthcoming about what they want to do to set themselves apart from the other guys.”
Two candidates, Stacey Abrams and Stacey Evans, are running for the Democratic nomination.