"The grand ideas of Ronald Reagan live…in young Americans like Jason Shepherd…"

MDJ: Cobb GOP elects Jason Shepherd new chairman

MARIETTA — In perhaps a sign of disapproval over the county “going blue” in November’s presidential election, delegates at Saturdays’ Cobb County Republican Party chose Jason Shepherd over incumbent Rose Wing as the party’s chair.

Shepherd was elected by a 173-114 secret ballot vote — a near flip-flop of the results two years ago when a 169-108 vote led to Wing being named the chair over Shepherd.

Minutes prior to Saturday’s vote, Wing had touted the party’s work record under her leadership.

“We placed 280,000 phone calls from the Cobb GOP, 8,000 volunteer hours, thousands of doors knocked (on) and thousands of signs pushed out. And this was only from August to November,” Wing said.

But the party’s effort didn’t put Cobb County in Donald Trump’s win column in November’s presidential election. Though the Republican won 82 of Cobb County’s 144 voting precincts and went on to win the state and the presidency, Hillary Clinton received 7,209 more votes overall to “win” the county, becoming the first Democrat to take Cobb since President Jimmy Carter in 1976.

“The results speak for themselves,” Shepherd said after winning Saturday’s vote. He had campaigned on the motto of “Make Cobb Red Again.”

“I think people were a little taken aback that Cobb went blue, and (Wing’s) campaign was based on numbers, phone calls and things like that,” he added. “If I worked in sales, and I told my boss I made all those sales calls, but didn’t have a single sale, there’d be a problem there, too.”

Wing will remain on the executive and county committees by virtue of being the party’s immediate past chair, and she said she anticipates a successful 2018 election season as long as the party maintains a “real vision.”

“The main thing is that the party maintains to be unified, and that we work together to keep our principles to elect good Republicans into office,” she said.

The vote to select the party’s chairman began about 1:45 p.m., 45 minutes after the event’s expected end time of 1 p.m. One reason for the delay was an effort during the convention to sign up Cobb GOP members hoping to become party delegates at the district and state levels.

“There was some confusion about the nominating process,” said Nathaniel Darnell, chairman of the Cobb County Republican Assembly, who was among those who launched the effort.

Toria Morgan, who serves as nominating committee chairman for the county party, defended the party’s process, saying members had been sent letters highlighting what they needed to do to be considered to become delegates. “Basically what you had, I think, is a lot of people who just didn’t read the directions and got upset when their names were left off” the lists displayed during Saturday’s convention, she said.

Shortly after Saturday’s convention began at 10 a.m., party leaders reported 312 delegates were eligible to cast ballots for chairman. When the vote began almost four hours later, that number had dropped by about two dozen.

Darnell said his effort was not aimed at helping either candidate’s chances in the vote by causing a delay.

“I wasn’t doing it on either candidate’s behest. Neither one asked me to do what I did,” he said.

SHEPHERD LISTS DISTRICT 6 AS PRIORITY 1

Also extending the convention’s length were stump speeches from nine of the 11 Republicans seeking to take Tom Price’s seat representing Georgia’s District 6 in Congress. Eighteen candidates are vying for the seat.

Attendees heard from business executive David Abroms of Atlanta, Marietta entrepreneur and professor Mohammad Ali Bhuiyan, technology executive Bob Gray, former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel, former State Sen. Judson Hill of east Cobb, Roswell political activist Amy Kremer, Atlanta accountant William Llop, Roswell engineer Dan Moody and entrepreneur Kurt Wilson of Alpharetta.

Of the GOP field, not present were Air National Guard Maj. Keith Grawert of Dunwoody and business owner Bruce LeVell of Sandy Springs. Joining the Republicans in the crowded race are five Democrats — sales operations manager Ragin Edwards of east Cobb, professor Richard Keatley of Tucker, physician Rebecca Quigg of Marietta, documentary producer Jon Ossoff and former state Sen. Ron Slotin, D-Atlanta.

Running as independents are Milton-based computer systems engineer Andre Pollard and property craftsperson Alexander Hernandez.

Shepherd after Saturday’s convention said the April 18 special election is the party’s top focus moving forward.

“With Ossoff being in some of the polls in the lead, it’s to make sure he only stays at that 30 percent or 40 percent or less, and that when we finally have a Republican nominee for that, that we really get out the vote for that individual, and do whatever we can in Cobb County and working across counties with Fulton and DeKalb to make sure the Republican wins,” Shepherd said.

If none of the 18 candidates win a majority of the votes in the April 18 election, there will be a runoff between the two top vote-getters June 20.

FORMER CHAIRMAN FOCUS OF PARTY RESOLUTION VOTE

Saturday’s convention also saw delegates vote on more than a half dozen resolutions. All but one passed, with the one voted down seeking to suspend party membership to anyone charged with a felony involving “moral turpitude.”

Though not named in its language, the resolution seemingly targeted former Cobb GOP Chairman Joe Dendy, who is now awaiting trial on charges of child molestation.

Several delegates spoke against the resolution.

“We all know what this is a veiled reference to. If you get charged with anything these days, you are in trouble. That’s true of the culture generally, and it’s true in our Republican family,” said Roger Hines, a retired high school English teacher and former state legislator. Hines had testified at Dendy’s bond hearings in June and January, saying he had known the man for 21 years. Dendy also served as Hines’ campaign manager in two races.

“I wish we would defeat this thing and drop this — there is a hurting family, and I wish we would not do that and make them hurt more,” Hines added.

Also speaking against the resolution was Tricia Pridemore, former executive director of the Governor’s Office of Workforce Development who has been active in the Republican Party for many years.

“We are a nation of laws, and every single one of us who are charged with a crime before a conviction is handed down, we have the right to a jury of our peers,” Pridemore said. “We all know what this is about, and I’m not here to speak in defense or against the situation. However, every single one of us in this room has a right to due process.”

Despite the resolution changed to read that anyone convicted of a felony of “moral turpitude” would be terminated from the organization, it was defeated by voice vote.

Resolutions approved by delegates included one urging the Georgia General Assembly to oppose casino gambling, while another encouraged legislators to support school choice through education savings accounts. Delegates also emphatically approved a resolution congratulating and expressing support to President Donald Trump.

Current and former Republican elected officials taking part in Saturday’s convention included former Congressman Bob Barr; former chairman of the Georgia Republican Party and former State Sen. Chuck Clay; state Sen. Hunter Hill (Smyrna); state representatives Sharon Cooper (east Cobb), Bert Reeves (Marietta) and Sam Teasley (Marietta); Cobb Chairman Mike Boyce, Cobb commissioners JoAnn Birrell and Bob Ott; and Cobb School Board member Randy Scamihorn.

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