September 19, 2016 8:01 AM
The man who helped put the first Republican in the Governor’s mansion since Reconstruction is contemplating a run for the top job at the Georgia Republican Party, according to a story by Greg Bluestein of hte AJC. John Watson, who worked as a consultant to Governor Sonny Perdue’s campaign before becoming Perdue’s Chief of Staff, is presently a partner of the lobbying firm Massey, Watson, Bowers and Hembree. In addition to working for Governor Perdue, he assisted with Governor Nathan Deal’s transition team, and advised David Perdue’s Senate campaign. He was also a senior adviser to Citizens for Transportation Mobility, the Atlanta Chamber led effort to pass the TSPLOST in 2012.
Watson sits on the Board of Advisers of the Metro Atlanta Chamber, and the Board of Directors of the Georgia Chamber. As such, his establishment connections could help the party, which has suffered from lackluster fundraising following the 2014 election cycle. From the AJC story:
Watson’s allies say he’s exactly what the party, beset with financial and legal troubles, needs to face a resurgent Democratic Party aiming to win back the governor’s office in two years. Dan McLagan, a GOP operative and close Watson friend, called him a “war-time consigliere” who would keep Democrats awake at night.
“There’s a fight looming on the horizon and John is the guy to take that fight to the Dems and get our GOP candidates elected,” said McLagan. “John is the last person the Democrats want at the helm of the state GOP. He is their nightmare.”
Current GOP chair John Padgett will not run again. Other names mentioned as possible candidates include current first vice chair Michael McNeely, former Tea Party chair Julianne Thompson, current GAGOP Treasurer Mansell McCord, two-time candidate Alex Johnson,, and former 11th District Chair Scott Johnson. The party will elect new officers in May.