>Click the above box for the audio version of this rant.
There was a definite buzz at Tuesday’s meeting of the Floyd County Republican Women. On tap were three GOP candidates who want to be your next sheriff; only one of them will make it to the Nov. 3 ballot and with a primary set for May 19, each knows every vote counts.
And in that meeting room at the Red Lobster on Shorter Avenue, 60 people were crammed together like proverbial sardines (it was a seafood restaurant, after all).
Most of that five dozen and another dozen or so in the adjoining room will vote in the elections later this year so this was prime time.
>Click the above box to see a 30-second video of the crowd at Tuesday’s GOP Women meeting.
The drawing card was the sheriff’s candidates: Tom Caldwell, Ronnie Kilgo and Dave Roberson. But the real story? How about those considering a run for the U.S. House seat Tom Graves will leave at the end of the year.
Two declared candidates, Majorie Taylor Greene of Alpharetta and Clayton Fuller of Lookout Moutain, were seated among the masses. Standing in the doorway was Dr. John Cowan, a neurosurgeon and entrepreneur teetering on entering the race. Also there, making a time-crunched cameo appearence, was Katie Dempsey who’s thinking of changes Houses – state for federal.
There were other candidates for local office at this first sitdown of any political party of the year but the House candidates were the eye candy; the sheriff’s candidates, the ear candy.
Conversations just outside the main room – both verbal and via text with a few of those inside – were mostly about the House race.
We’ll start with Majorie Taylor Greene. She had been in Floyd County since Tuesday morning, first working out at CrossFit on First Avenue and then putting signs out across the area. She put up a Facebook video from outside CrossFit.
She then made the rounds at the Republican women’s meeting as well, which is documented by a series of photos from the meeting. Outside, a massive black pickup truck parked behind the restaurant likewise had her campaign sign affixed to the bed.
Fuller kept a lower profile. He came across as a young, clean-cut guy from the northern end of the district who has a resume with definitive ties to criminal prosecution and a White House Fellowship. Through Tuesday evening, there was nothing up on Facebook about his stop in Rome. Some of the local GOP Facebook pages had a few images of him and the other candidates as well.
And then Katie Dempsey. She was given a few minutes to address the club Tuesday afternoon, acknowledging the rumors of her potential congressional candidacy and asking for both support and kind thoughts. She departed soon after, en route to a legislative meeting.
The resulting scuttlebutt was who might be pushing her campaign from outside the region – possible statewide officials and such. There was no consensus.
What is known is that a possible Dempsey candidacy and that of John Cowan have split the local Republican Party. Never mind that a few other locals already are working on behalf of Majorie Greene. There’s a wing of the Floyd GOP that is loyal to Dempsey and won’t commit until she makes her final decision.
There are others who already are in the Cowan camp and have openly pledged support. Among them was another Floyd resident who had considered a congressional run. We assume they’ve written a few checks already as well. We hear a campaign manager is in place and a treasury team as well. All that’s lacking is Cowan’s expected declaration, perhaps as early as today or Thursday.
Finally there are a few other names floating out there, several from Paulding County and we expect perhaps another player from the northern end of the district as well. We doubt Dalton will sit this one out.
All of this will be as clear as the Oostanaula River in a few weeks. We can guarantee the House race is headed toward the July runoff after a very heated primary.
For now, a few more commitments are being weighed. The beancounters are working with potential budgets that will need anywhere from $500,000 to $850,000 – mostly for TV advertising in both Chattanooga and Atlanta markets given the length of the 14 Congressional District.
Perhaps the best short assessment of it all is this: If you thought the 2019 City Commission race was interesting, you’re going to love the 2020 House primary.