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John Watson is a candidate for State Chairman of the Georgia Republican Party.
Think it is coincidence that the candidates for Chairman of the Democratic National Committee are gathering in Atlanta this week? I don’t. National and Georgia Democrats are going to be making a pitch that Georgia could be a key battleground state in the 2018 gubernatorial election. While we’ve heard this rally cry before, we as Republicans need always remember that political dominance and the next election can never be taken for granted. We can never rest. As the old saying goes, “nothing stays the same forever.”
Not long ago, Georgia Republicans had an uphill battle to the majority status we hold today. Having not seen a Republican governor since the Reconstruction period, Republicans were the minority party who saw opportunity in a changing electorate. As the chief political consultant to Sonny Perdue, the man who built Georgia red, I learned firsthand what it takes to organize a statewide grassroots organization. In the following years, I learned the equally important lessons about how to maintain a majority status. I’ll bring these skills with me to the office everyday as chairman of the Georgia Republican Party.
So, as the Democrats organize in preparation of 2018, I’m offering a plan for going on the offensive to ensure the Georgia Republican Party is prepared to fight toe-to-toe with our opponents.
First, the Georgia GOP must increase its cash on hand. As it stands today, Georgia Democrats have more cash to spend than we do. The GAGOP must have a detailed and aggressive finance plan that engages all donor types from the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies to the CEO of a family of five. If we are to compete with the Democratic super-PACs, we must rebuild our war chest. The Chairman’s efforts to engage high-dollar donors will be rounded out by a well-executed online and direct mail fundraising efforts that encourage participation from all Republicans.
Second, we need to use this money wisely. Partnering with the RNC, the GAGOP should invest in year-round voter registration efforts that allow us to determine the playing field in every district. Democrats are focusing heavily on registration, and we should be as well.
Third, and most importantly, activist training should be at the top of the GAGOP’s priority list. If a local county volunteer knows how to organize a phone bank, write a press release for the local paper, or even ask for a donation for their local Republican commissioner, then I have been successful as a leader. Political advice should not be kept secret from our allies. We must engage with the grassroots, share with them our knowledge, and listen to them to learn what else is needed on the ground.
Make no mistake, while the above three points seem simple, each will require millions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of man hours. I have no doubt that every Republican in this state will step up to the plate and do whatever needs to be done to maintain our conservative values. And I promise you this: As Chairman of the Georgia Republican Party, I’ll be fighting right beside them.
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