We’re only a few months away from the Georgia Republican Party state convention to elect leadership for the next two years, and it’s been fairly quiet. GAGOP 1st Vice Chairman Michael McNeely has been making his rounds to various GOP events around the state to earn the support of grassroots Republicans, and perennial candidate Alex Johnson recently announced his latest crusade to save the state Party. Other names have been floating around for some time including former 11th District Chairman Scott Johnson and my colleague from the 12th District Mike Welsh.
Jon mentioned back in September that John Watson, former chief of staff to Governor Sonny Perdue, was contemplating running for Chairman of the Georgia Republican Party. Today, he’s made it official. From the AJC:
“I’m in the race. The role of the state party chair is to raise resources and partner with grassroots volunteers to win elections. I’ve got the history and track record that proves I can do that as chairman,” said Watson. “We’re in this to win.”
Watson has been around in Republican circles for a while, but he’s hoping to capitalize upon the anti-establishment sentiment that propelled President-elect Donald Trump to the Republican nomination and, ultimately, the White House:
Watson is firmly associated with the party’s establishment wing, with stints on the boards of the Georgia Lottery, the Metro Atlanta Chamber and the Georgia Chamber. His challenge ahead is to lock up some in the Georgia GOP’s grassroots base, including newly-involved Trump supporters, who have rebuked Gov. Nathan Deal for his veto of the “religious liberty” legislation.
Watson also served as an advisor to Senator David Perdue, who won the US senate race in 2014 with his “outsider” approach, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he tries to take the same outsider avenue and ride that denim jacket horse all the way to the chairman’s election in Augusta.