Frustrated Cobb Republicans ousted chairman Rose Wing over the weekend and replaced her with an avowed Donald Trump supporter, months after the county voted for a Democrat in the presidential race for the first time since 1976.
Jason Shepherd, running on a “Make Cobb Red Again” platform, beat Wing by a 173-114 vote. We’re told his support came from a mix of Trump partisans and Libertarians from the party’s Ron Paul flank.
“We must come together now,” he said after the vote. “We came together for one goal. ‘Make Cobb Red Again’ is not a slogan – it’s a mission statement. Get ready.”
Trump won a 5-point victory over Hillary Clinton in Georgia by running up huge margins in rural and exurban parts of the state. But he lost every core metro Atlanta county to Clinton, giving Democrats a silver lining in an otherwise rough night.
Shepherd, a longtime GOP operative who once worked for Newt Gingrich, ran for county Republican chairman in 2015 and lost by a 169-108 margin. This year, he campaigned against what he called the local GOP chapter’s “bunker mentality” that’s averse to newcomers and too willing to rest on its laurels.
In an interview Monday morning, Shepherd agreed that Clinton’s victory in Cobb was the main theme of his campaign. But beneath that argument, he said, was six years of ineffective use of data that showed a Cobb County voting environment in flux.
Voter registration lists, if they were developed, were withheld from party activists who needed them, Shepherd said. “We had all these precinct chairmen and house district chairs sitting around, basically doing nothing,” the new chairman said. “When I ran two years ago, I mentioned that there were about 18,000 new registered voters in Cobb County, but a Republican vote gain of a little under 800. So the writing was kind of on the wall.”
Shepherd and Wing also argued over Joe Dendy, whom Wing replaced as Cobb GOP chair. Dendy now sits in the county jail, awaiting trial on child molestation charges. Dendy still has some associations with the party, and Shepherd argued for his formal expulsion. Said Shepherd:
“There are a lot of folks who don’t think that we should do anything to him – he’s innocent until proven guilty. I look at it a little bit differently, in the sense that we are the Republican Party of Cobb County, Inc.
“We are a business. And I’ve talked to business leaders in Cobb County…They’re saying, ‘I run my business and something like that happens to one of my employees, and they’re out. I’m not waiting ‘til they’re found guilty.’ If he’s found not guilty, he can come back with a simple vote.”
However, a resolution introduced on Saturday, to suspend the party membership of anyone charged with a felony involving “moral turpitude,” was defeated on a voice vote. From the Marietta Daily Journal:
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.