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GOP leaders, candidates descend on Dawson
Dawson County Republican Party Chairman Seanie Zapfendorf addresses the crowd at the Georgia GOP Meet and Greet Monday May 13. - Photo by Joshua Demarest

The Dawson County Republican Party played host to statewide GOP party leaders and candidates Monday night at 6140 Events. The event was an opportunity for candidates for both party and public offices to mingle with constituents.

Candidates with the desire to serve as state party officials such as chair or treasurer took to the stage to explain what they hope to accomplish.

Georgia is a very important state to the national Republican Party’s strategy. While Georgia is not considered a swing state like Florida, its 16 Electoral College votes firmly anchor the party’s southern block.

Georgia has played that role in national politics since the 1974 election, with the only exceptions coming when a southern Democrat was on the ballot. In 1976 and 1980, Jimmy Carter took his home state, and in 1992 Bill Clinton won the state.

Themes discussed by candidates included a strong focus on many of the issues in Trump’s presidential platform, such as immigration and the economy, but also local issues such as how to serve the people of Georgia and how to approach the growing Democratic Party momentum after close bids from candidates like Jon Ossoff and Stacey Abrams.

Ossoff nearly stunned the nation with a firm lead in early voting, but Karen Handel went on to secure the election for Tom Price’s vacated Congressional seat in what was considered one of the first true referendums to Trump’s presidency. Abrams lost narrowly to Kemp in what would be the nation’s most expensive gubernatorial race.

Both of these cases point to the importance that both parties place on the state.

“Decisions are made by those who show up,” said Bill Kokaly, senior field representative for Congressman Doug Collins. “The grassroots need to mobilize in 2020.”