The Fayette Citizen-News Page

Wednesday, November 14, 2001

Republicans rally for 2002


More than 14 Fayette County Republicans joined about 850 Georgia Republicans at Callaway Gardens this past weekend at the Road to Majority Conference, aimed at taking over the state Legislature and key offices in 2002.

Purpose of the two-day gathering was to introduce candidates to supporters, encourage grassroots Republcians to get involved, and to educate those who will be involved in future elections.

Fayette County Republicans attended sessions regarding various aspects of campaigning and attracting new members to the party. A large contingency of black Republicans also were on hand to share their successes in broadening the appeal of the party.

Well-known conservative columnist Dick Williams and Martha Zoeler from the local television program "The Georgia Gang" cohosted a session on dealing with the media and getting one's message out.

Fayette Republicans attending included County Commission Chairman Greg Dunn, Commissioner Peter Pfeifer, Jean Studdard, Chasity Mundy, Eric Manning, Ronnie Chance, Ora Jean Gunnin, Olen Gunnin, Cathy Chamberlain, Charlie Harper, Marilyn Watts, Lane Watts and John Wright.

Speakers and attendees read like a list of who's who in the Republican Party. J.C. Watts of Oklahomea, Roy Blunt of Missouri, Mac Collins, Bob Barr, Saxby Chambliss, Johnny Isakson, John Linder, Charlie Norwood and Nathan Deal, all from Georgia, were just a few of the congressional speakers who shared insights and rallied the group for the upcoming elections.

Sean Hannity, cohost of television show "Hannity & Colmes" on Fox News, and John Kasich, former chairman of the U.S. House Budget Committee, also spoke to a packed room of enthusiastic listeners. Other speakers included state House Minority Leader Lynn Westmoreland; state Sen. Mitch Seabaugh; Jack Oliver, deputy chairman of the Republican National Committee; Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association; Ken Conner, president of the Family Research Council, and state Rep. Bob Irvin, who is a candidate for the seat currently held by U.S. Sen. Max Cleland.

Currently three announced Republican candidates are vying to run against Gov. Roy Barnes. Cobb County Commission Chairman Bill Byrne, state Sen. Sonny Perdue of Houston County and state Superintendent of Schools Linda Schrenko spent time talking with attendees and working to gain support.

State Sen. Mike Beatty, Al Bartell and state Rep. Steve Stancil currently plan to run for lieutenant governor. U.S. Rep. Saxby Chambliss and state Rep. Bob Irvin are challenging each other for the spot to run against U.S. Sen. Max Cleland. State Rep. Cathy Cox from Peachtree City and Mitchell Kaye both hope to be the next state superintendent of schools.

The message of the weekend was inclusion, moderation and congeniality. Although the race between U.S. Reps. Bob Barr and John Linder for the newly created congressional district is expected to be spirited, the message from both was one that focused on the overall goals of the party. Repeatedly, Republicans were admonished to avoid divisive primaries and to keep the ultimate goal in mind attaining the elected office in November.

"The Democrats have shown us how to win and we've shown them how to lose," said Cobb County's Bill Byrne.

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