by JASON SHEPHERD
2018 was a tough year for metro area Republicans. No statewide candidate won Gwinnett, north Fulton, Henry, or Cobb County for the first time in decades. We lost two legislative seats and two school board seats (one because no Republican candidate could be found to challenge for that seat).
That’s not to say we did not have numerous successes:
- Nearly $130,000.00 raised in 2018.
- Largest single contribution ever to the Cobb GOP of $17,600 by one donor.
- Three other donations of over $6,000 each.
- Winning Cobb for Brad Raffensperger on December 4.
- More than 100 new dues paid members.
- A strong South Cobb Outreach program.
- Visits from Marco Rubio, Lara Trump, Sean Spicer, and Gov. Bob Ehrlich.
- More than 500 new members of our Cobb GOP Facebook page (2,156 to 2,684).
While winning statewide was the most important goal, and on that we succeeded, and not without the hundreds of thousands of calls to rural voters made by Cobb County Republicans working out of our headquarters, we have rebuilding to do in Cobb, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry, and DeKalb. We will not hold Georgia long if we do not pursue a strategy that is focused on winning all regions, not just rural voters.
When I started in GOP politics in the mid-1990’s, we had the suburbs, but we lost nearly every race in rural Georgia. Sonny Perdue changed that in 2002 and with the new alliance of rural and suburban Republicans, we won every statewide office and took a super-majority (more than 2/3 of both chambers) in the General Assembly.
Now, however, that alliance seems to be strained as suburban voters voted Democrat while our winning margins in rural Georgia increased substantially.
The Cobb GOP ran its most aggressive ground-game in years, focusing on strategically targeted districts and worked to maximize cross-candidate promotion, but without the resources of funds and out-of-state paid “volunteers”, the Democrats had at their disposal. It’s not easy to compete when the opposition can count Oprah Winfrey and Will Farrell as part of their door-to-door teams.
However, without the efforts of hundreds of Cobb GOP volunteers, 2018 would have been much worse in Cobb.
The Democrats outspent us in media as well. In the north metro area, the Democrats spent over $1.1 million in digital ads alone. They mailed, called, and texted Republican voters over and over (doing the same to swing voters).
They were more aggressive too during early voting and on Election Day where they, along with liberal-leaning organizations like the ACLU and Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights, actually, in violation of state law, approached and engaged voters in line waiting to vote. On Election Day, it was like playing the old Wack-a-Mole game. They would be pop up at a poll – we would receive the information – we report them – they would move on to another location and pop up at a poll – we would receive the information – we report them and this would continue throughout the day.
And when they were called on their illegal behavior, they claimed “voter suppression.”
Given the results of the election, over the last few weeks, the Democrats, the media, and even some of our own Cobb Republicans have mocked our mission statement: Make Cobb Red Again.
It would seem they would prefer a Republican Party that is fine with a mission statement of “Purple Ain’t So Bad,” but I do not and I doubt you do either.
Coach Bear Bryant once said, “It’s not the will to win that matters – everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters.”
At our December County Committee meeting, I outlined several goals for 2019 that we must achieve to gain our lost ground in 2020.
The first I am calling “Project 171.”
The high-water mark for the Republican vote in Cobb County was just six years ago in 2012 when over 171,000 Cobb voters voted for Mitt Romney for President. We had never before and have never since had 171,000 voters vote Republican in Cobb. However, the Democrats have not either. We must identify those voters and get them back to the polls in 2020.
We will also continue training. Baseball players have spring training. Soldiers have basic training. We need to train and we need more than an average of 20 out of 400 dues paid Cobb Republicans attending.
These two topics are just the tip of the iceberg, and more information will be coming in January and February.
That is part of the will to prepare to win we must engage in.
Finally though, I want to thank you. Everything you did to make a difference in 2018 helped to provide a defense against the Blue Wave. While it was not the tsunami the Democrats had hoped for, it did sweep out enough Republicans that we lost the House of Representatives and are once again looking at Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
I’ve said for months, mid-term elections do not favor the party that has the White House.
Because of this historic trends, we do ourselves a disservice if we read too much into the results and think we need to change everything, but we also do ourselves a disservice if we read too little and do not learn the lessons that 2018 has to teach. If nothing else, it should teach us that to win, we must have the will to prepare to win.