Republican Party Chairman Jason Shepherd recognized elected officials in the audience during Saturday’s Cobb GOP breakfast, as is the custom, referring to Commissioner JoAnn Birrell as one of two dissenting votes on the commission’s tax hike, which prompted applause from the crowd.
“I tried,” responded Birrell, to which Shepherd said, “Thank you for the effort. Maybe there will be a little help in a couple months,” a reference to Keli Gambrill ousting Commissioner Bob Weatherford in the July 24 runoff.
“Right now it looks like starting next year we’ll have a majority female county commission. What we need to do is work on possibly getting a majority conservative female commission,” Shepherd said.
Birrell congratulated Gambrill on her win.
“Welcome aboard,” Birrell said, adding that if Birrell lost in November to Democratic challenger Caroline Holko, “We’ll have a female majority, but not conservative.”
In his remarks to the audience, Republican Travis Klavohn, who is challenging state Sen. Horacena Tate, D-Atlanta, this fall, said his district, which includes South Cobb and Fulton County, doesn’t get the kind of economic development that it should.
“And the scary thing is that economic development is now happening in our part of the state, and it’s not good economic development,” he said. “If you live in a neighborhood, you do not want to live next to a 24-hour truck depot, let me tell you. That wrecks your quality of life.”
Klavohn also decried what he believes is a lack of interaction between the different ethnicities living in the district.
“We have a 1,000 homes in our neighborhood. We have black families, Hispanic families, Asian families, white families that all live next to each other, but we don’t necessarily have friendships. We don’t have trust. And let me tell you folks, we are one nation under God. And if we don’t fix that problem, we are not going to have a successful nation for very long,” Klavohn said.
It was from Democrats that Klavohn said he first heard of his opponent’s nickname “Horacena Haven’t Seen Ya,” a nickname he’s borrowed.
“In reality, every person in this world has two names, one they’re given at birth and that is always a good name. Every child is born a good soul, I believe that. But a second name is earned through deeds and through the choices you make in life, and she has earned her name ‘Horacena Haven’t Seen Ya.’”
Yet while Tate is his opponent in the race, she is not his enemy, Klavohn said.
“My enemy in this race is a different ideology, and we’re seeing it in the Democrat Party. Intersectionalism is what it’s called. They are subdividing the human race into different categories that petition the government for rights and benefits really, special privileges that are paid for by other people and this can only end badly. The successful outcome of my campaign must be to reinforce the values that have always made our nation very strong, that individual rights come from God, and we must be able to see each other as children of God.”
Also speaking was Republican attorney Matt Bentley, who is running against Democrat Erick Allen to fill retiring state Rep. Rich Golick’s seat.
“This seat has been Republican for 20 years, and over the course of that 20 years it’s gotten more and more difficult to keep it Republican,” Bentley said. “With that being said, with your help, we have a legitimate chance to make sure we keep this in Republican hands for a long time.”
One of the reasons it’s crucial to win is that redistricting comes up in 2020, he said.
Bentley said he thought about how he could prove to the audience how he was in fact a conservative Republican. Examples he used were campaign t-shirts and signs he had recycled from his failed bid in the 2017 special election to fill the seat vacated by former state Sen. Hunter Hill, R-Smyrna.
Another example was his first day at Emory Law School where his constitutional law professor gave a talk about how more gun restrictions would help reduce gun violence, inquiring if anyone disagreed. Bentley rose to the challenge, mentioning that when Kennesaw’s gun law went into effect, requiring the head of every household to own a gun, gun violence in that city plummeted.
“Of course she disagreed and told me whoever wrote that law was a crazy redneck,” Bentley said. “To make sure that I didn’t fail the class on Day 1, I decided to sit down and not tell her that my grandfather wrote that law and my dad over here made sure that it stayed constitutional,” Bentley said.
Cobb school board member Scott Sweeney warned of his Democratic opposition, Charisse Davis. Neither were challenged in the primary, where Sweeney received 4,844 votes and Davis received 4,562.
“Most people consider Cobb County, east Cobb County particularly as a very, very conservative area, probably about a 60-40 split on the conservative side,” Sweeney said. “Would it surprise you to know that my Democrat opponent and I were separated by a mere 300 votes in the primary? The importance of getting out the vote as Jason so clearly articulated … cannot be underestimated.”
Sweeney said he would endorse any Republican on the ballot and asked them to return the favor.
Republican Leah Aldridge, who is challenging state Sen. Jen Jordan, D-Buckhead, this November, was another breakfast speaker, pointing out her endorsement by Commissioner Bob Ott, who joined Birrell in voting against the county tax hike. Aldridge launched into criticism of Jordan, saying, “She thinks that it takes government to achieve dreams, to educate our children, take a loan, to start a business. She voted to make it easier for teens to achieve abortions in Georgia. She voted against free speech on college campuses. She voted to raise your taxes last session. She has spent her position of power ridiculing our Republican leaders.”
Republican DeAnna Harris, who is challenging state Rep. Michael Smith, D-Marietta, was another speaker, telling the crowd, “We cannot let these Democrats and Stacey Abrams win with their liberal views. My family has instilled in me the values that we all share, which is God, faith, hard work, honesty and leadership. …
Harris said her district will have about 15,000 voters in the general election.
“And contrary to the belief there are not as many Democrats as expected. I have a large population of swing voters. And really it’s about getting out our message, showing what we really stand for.”
In June, the Cobb GOP held a special committee meeting where it officially passed a resolution in honor of Barbara Hickey. Part of that resolution says it will be permanently displayed in the front of the GOP headquarters, which will henceforth be known as the Barbara Hickey Hospitality Area, Shepherd said, presenting Mrs. Hickey with the resolution as the crowd rose to give her a standing ovation.
Speaking of former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s September 18 visit to Cobb County, a man Shepherd described as “an old friend of mine from my days when I was a Young Republican,” Shepherd observed that President Donald Trump had tweeted out his endorsement of Spicer’s new book, entitled, “The Briefing: Politics, the Press, and the President.”
“We all know how powerful an endorsement from Donald Trump is,” Shepherd said.
“Casey knows,” quipped state Rep. Earl Ehrhart, R-Powder Springs, referring to Trump’s endorsement of Secretary of State Brian Kemp in the runoff election for the GOP nomination for governor against Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, which Kemp won.
The Spicer event is from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on Sept. 18 at the Cobb Galleria Center. For information, call 770-265-5268.