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Gainesvilles Ashley Bell joins Republican National Committee
Ashley Bell
Ashley Bell

Former Hall County Commissioner Ashley Bell has joined the Republican National Committee as a senior strategist and national director of African-American political engagement, a move that could direct his efforts back home to Georgia.

“I didn’t look for this job,” Bell said by phone on Tuesday, adding that it was a “tough decision” and “large challenge.”

He plans on splitting his time between Gainesville — Bell said he didn't want to miss football season with his son and time with his daughter — but with the “future of the country at stake” will work out of Washington, D.C.

Bell said he plans to work alongside communications and policy experts to ensure “we have an effective plan in all battleground states.”

Republicans have dominated Georgia politics in the 21st century, “so normally this would not be an issue,” Bell said.

But Donald Trump’s candidacy has exposed potential inroads for Democrats, according to recent public polling.

Consolidating the GOP’s base, making the case against Hillary Clinton and developing inroads that “resonates with people of color,” Bell said, are critical now that “Georgia will be a part of the big picture” on Election Day.

Bell is the chair of the African-American criminal justice reform advocacy organization the 20/20 Leaders of America, which grew out of a Gainesville-based effort to connect minorities with GOP values.

In that role Bell has partnered with Facebook, Google, Fusion Network and National Association of Black Officers.

Bell was a delegate at the 2016 Republican National Convention representing Georgia’s 9th District, which includes Gainesville, and was recently named one of the American Bar Association’s Top 40 young lawyers in the nation. He is also a regular cable news political commentator and former Fox News radio host in the Atlanta area.

“With these new additions to our strategic initiatives team, we are growing our long-term commitment to engaging with black voters and being the party that promotes new models to solve old problems,” RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement. “One of the RNC’s key goals has been to take our message to the black community and make the case why we are the only party capable of delivering prosperity, security and freedom for every neighborhood in America.”