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Political Pulse: Campaign season will be intense

Lanier Tea Party Patriots gathering Saturday

POSTED: April 12, 2012 11:53 p.m.

Before I do anything, let me offer a big “mea culpa” for two things I reported earlier this week.

When I reported on fundraising for the sheriff’s race, I incorrectly stated that Jeff Strickland loaned his campaign money. None of his campaign is self-funded.

I also wrote that Jon P. Strickland had spent less than half of the $2,350 he raised in the last three months. What I meant was, he has about half of that left. In all, Strickland’s raised about $18,700; he has about $1,370 left.

I’m not sure how I got these things wrong. But I did. And I want to make sure that the correct information is clear.

After I reported that story, I spoke with two candidates I couldn’t reach on Monday, one of them being Jon P. Strickland. The other was Chuck Hewett.

Unlike Jeff Strickland, neither Hewett nor Jon P. Strickland said he was worried about money.

Hewett said he doesn’t think a countywide race should cost a lot of money.

Both he and Jon P. Strickland said that the candidate who wins will be the one who worked the hardest, not bought the most signs.

“At the end of the day, I hope wearing shoe leather out to get in front of the people of Hall County will make the difference,” said Jon P. Strickland.

Hewett said the differences will not come in money spent but in candidates’ stances on the issues.

It’s early in the race, and even if these guys are right about what it takes to win, the sheer amount of money that’s been poured into this race is a sign that this campaign season is going to be very — well, intense — on the local level this year.

On that note, the 9th District GOP convention is this weekend in Jefferson, and some 300 Republicans from the district are expected to attend in what will be the biggest districtwide Republican event between now and the primary.

Gov. Nathan Deal, Secretary of State Brian Kemp and state party boss Sue Everhart are scheduled to speak at tonight’s banquet. And on Saturday, the district party will choose its delegates for the national GOP convention where they’ll nominate their candidate for president.

The district’s chairman, Andrew Turnage, tells me that about 35 people have interviewed to be chosen to represent the district at the national convention.

Of those, six will be chosen on Saturday — three of which will serve as alternates — to head to Tampa.

As the 9th District of Georgia calls itself the third-most Republican district in the nation, the campaigns will be centered on hard work by “good, hard-core, longtime serving Republicans” who say they’re “the best of the bunch,” Turnage said.

Once they’re chosen, their decision in Tampa will be easy, because they’ll all be required to vote for Newt Gingrich as the Republican presidential nominee.

In the March presidential preference primary, Gingrich won 52.2 percent of the district’s vote, and according to party rules, he will get the votes of the district’s three delegates.

In the midst of all that, the 300 or so Republicans in the room will get a good look at the five folks vying to represent them in the U.S. House of Representatives. Turnage says it’s the first time the candidates — Clifton McDuffie, Doug Collins, Hunter Bicknell, Martha Zoller, Roger Fitzpatrick — will stand before all of the district’s delegates.

Later on Saturday, the Lanier Tea Party Patriots are getting together at Poultry Park in Gainesville for their tax day rally.

I imagine they’ll be protesting more than income taxes with the July 31 vote for a transportation sales tax coming up.
I think some have called it the “tax trap.” And I’m sure they’ll be glad to educate you on their opinion if you show.

Aren’t election years fun?

Ashley Fielding is the senior political reporter for The Times. Share your thoughts, news tips and questions with her:
afielding@gainesvilletimes.com, facebook.com/ashleylfielding, @gtimesPolitics


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