Republican State Chairman David Shafer discussed his plans and concerns for the Republican Party moving forward during a visit to Hall County’s local GOP organization on Saturday, June 8.
The speech Shafer gave was part of an effort to reach out to party organizers on a local level and propose solutions to issues of voter turnout and coordination leading into the 2020 elections.
“I think our Republican Party is in trouble,” Shafer said. “I think if you look at the last election cycle, the statewide margins had narrowed to a very uncomfortable level and we lost seats that we shouldn’t have lost in the suburbs of Atlanta. I think there are a number of reasons why that happened, but one of them is I think there’s been a complacency that’s overtaken us in the 15 years of Republic supermajority. We’ve allowed it to become weaker, and I think that we don’t have any margin of error going forward. We’ve got to pull everything together.”
Shafer stated he believed much of the Republican Party’s lack of voter turnout in the 2018 elections boiled down to a need for local outreach and organization, as the same counties that saw fewer Republican voters in the midterm elections weren’t lacking in party support during the presidential election.
“Most of the counties that are unorganized today are counties that were carried overwhelmingly by Donald Trump and Brian Kemp,” Shafer said. “So, we know there are Republicans there, we just haven’t taken the time to plant and nurture local party organizations.”
Theresa Webb, the chairman of the Hall County Republican Party, said she agreed with much of Shafer’s proposed initiatives.
“I am very excited about his vision,” Webb said. “He has already reached out more to the county chairman and is talking more of training and grassroots work, so I’m really looking forward to working with him.”
Local elected officials echoed Shafer’s sentiments, including District 2 County Commissioner Billy Powell, who hopes that more organization will be a shot in the arm for the Republican Party ahead of the 2020 elections.
“I think he had some very good points, Powell said. “I think Republicans have gotten complacent. We need to re-energize the party and get more people active in the election process and make sure that we have a good voter turnout for the Republican party.”
Beyond local organizations, Shafer hopes to use voter data accumulated by the Republican Party to help inform areas and communities of interest, with plans to begin training sessions on how to best utilize the data expected to begin next month.
“The national Republican Party, in the last six years, has spent $300 million on data,” Shafer said. “In fact, the Republican National Committee is the largest owner of proprietary data in the United States of America, and that data has not been effectively used by the Georgia Republican Party and has not, frankly, even been shared with the local Republican parties. We’re going to make that data freely available to everybody. Just giving you a password to the data isn’t of any real help at all, we’re gonna start intensively training you on how to approach training sessions is in mid-July.”
Shafer hopes that by making this data public it will ultimately lead to more Republican voters at the polls next year, which is something he admits Democrats outdid the party on during the midterms, leading to “presidential-level” turnout in suburban areas in Georgia.
“We’ve allowed the Democrats to out organize and out work us,” Shafer said. “You saw the damage from that in the last election cycle. When I look at what happened in 2018, I don’t think that what happened in the suburbs is that people who were Republican earlier just decided to become Democrats, what happened is that Democrats did a better job turning out Democrats than we did Republicans. We can’t allow that to happen in 2020, and we’re going to do everything we can to get ready for those 2020 elections.”