This is part 2 in a series. You can view part 1 here. Today’s response is from Michael McNeely.
Nathan Smith (GeorgiaPol.com): Tell me a little about yourself. (e.g., where you live, what you do outside of politics (professionally and hobbies, if you will), etc.)
Michael McNeely: I’m a Georgia native and grew up in the rural town of Wrens, GA. My father and mother adopted me when I was nine months old and raised me with a focus on serving God and Country. I’m a proud Eagle Scout. I graduated from Georgia Southern University and was a police officer in Fulton County. I served in the Georgia Army National Guard and I’m now an executive with Georgia Juvenile Justice.
Outside of politics, I am a deacon at my church and serve on the Board of Directors of the West Georgia Technical College. My most important relationships are with my wife, Jennifer, and our daughter, Iyanna. I also enjoy reading and working out at the gym.
NS: When did you get involved in politics and Republican Party?
MM: I first got involved in politics during the re-election campaign for Gov. Sonny Perdue and was named one of the Volunteers of the Week. Later, I worked in my county party to help get Republicans elected. In 2008, I was an alternate delegate at the Republican National Convention. On CNN, I shared a stage with fellow black Republicans in support of our nominee, John McCain. Since then, I have served in party leadership at the county and state levels.
NS: What have you recently done for your local (either county or district) Republican Party? I’ll explain why I’m asking this question. Auxiliary Republican organizations are important conduits for people to get involved with their local party, but you are running for a position to serve at the top of the Georgia Republican Party. I believe it’s important to understand how involved you are with either your county and/or district Republican Party if you intend to lead the organization at the top.
MM: I’m a member of my local county party (Douglas County) and have worked with our local county Republican leaders to help with recent local/county campaigns and attended fundraisers for Republican candidates and elected officials. I nominated an elected Republican official to Republican Leadership for Georgia and he is currently in the program. I’ve also volunteered locally in support of area youth.
NS: Why are you running?
MM: I am running for Georgia Republican Party Chairman because we need leadership that is principled, from the grassroots, able to communicate a vision that resonates in all communities, and someone who can unite conservatives.
I have worked my way through the ranks of our party as a volunteer, Douglas County Vice Chairman positions, Georgia Young Republican Political Director, Black Republican Council Chairman, Georgia Republican Party First Vice Chairman, and Chairman of the Community Service Committee. I understand the importance of welcoming, respecting, and listening to all fellow conservatives in all 159 counties of our state. I’m focused on getting back to the basics of messaging core conservative principles, reviving fundraising, fiscal accountability, providing grassroots training, and engaging all communities.
NS: What do you consider the role of the office in which you seek?
MM: The Georgia Republican Party Chairman is the chief executive officer and spokesman. It is this person’s responsibility to cast a vison that will unite grassroots conservatives, our Republican elected officials, and the party’s donor base.
NS: What is your vision for the Georgia Republican Party?
MM: My vision is to lead a party this is unified, trained, fiscally sound, engaged in communities, and one that collaborates with Republican elected officials and candidates to keep Georgia red.
NS: Tell me three things you hope to accomplish in the next two years.
- Eliminate the party’s debt
- Establish grassroots training
- Grow Republican majorities
NS: Throughout my tenure in Republican leadership, I’ve seen social media posts and heard discussions that seemingly advocate that the Georgia Republican Party shouldn’t allow “some candidates” to qualify as Republican candidates. Currently, state law doesn’t allow for political parties to prevent candidates from qualifying if they attest that they are legally qualified and pay their fee. Should the Georgia Republican Party advocate for a change to allow a litmus test by the GAGOP, or should we let our primary process be the litmus test?
MM: I believe the Georgia Republican Party should consistently message conservative ideals, but should support the primary process allowing the people to decide who will be the Republican nominees.
NS: There are a lot of individual county Republican Parties. County chairmen can vary from being self-sufficient to needing a lot of help. What will you do to help ensure that counties are supported with resources and training to help grow party membership as well as to conduct functional aspects of local parties (like candidate qualifying, precinct mass meeting and convention procedures, etc.)?
MM: We should have grassroots training for party leaders, Republican candidates, and for the delegate process. It is also important that the next chairman and his team meet regularly with county parties to ensure needs and goals are met leading to success.
NS: Organizations aren’t perfect because they’re run by imperfect people. If you had a magic wand to fix one issue that bugs you with the Georgia Republican Party, what would it be? I know that the top answer for most candidates will most likely be either “fundraising” or “money in the bank”, so give me an issue of something other than fundraising/money/etc.
MM: If I had a magic wand I would immediately fix the disconnect between Republicans in and around I-285 and those in more rural areas that feel disconnected from the state party. We will correct this through meeting with leaders in their counties regularly, renewing a grassroots newsletter, establish training, making good customer service a priority, and having grassroots events around the state.
NS: This is your opportunity to sell yourself. In 50 words or less, why should a delegate vote for you?
MM: I have a clear history of grassroots work in helping elect Republicans and grow our party. As I travel the state as a candidate for chairman, I’m not visiting for the first time and I understand the concerns of those who often feel overlooked. I have worked my way up through the ranks and have seen what works and what does not in having a properly functioning state party.
I’ve been willing to stand firm on conservative principles on key issues such as religious freedom, civil asset forfeiture reform, and being against casino gambling. If you don’t stand for something you will fall for anything.
I am a servant leader. Servant leaders focus on things such valuing the opinions of others, creating a culture of trust, developing other people, and thinking long-term. If elected chairman, we will work as a team to implement a winning strategy. We will be transparent, revive fundraising, and support conservative men and women from around the state.
Who we elect as Chairman of the Georgia Republican Party will speak volumes to individuals and families beyond the walls of the convention.