State GOP chair visits local party

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 20, 2016

LaGRANGE — The Georgia Republican Party chairman visited Troup County GOP members Thursday and updated them about the state party’s efforts to elect Donald Trump as president in November.

During the county party’s regularly scheduled meeting at Hollis Hand Elementary School, state GOP chairman John Padgett was optimistic about Trump’s chances to take Georgia’s 14 Electoral College votes in the Nov. 8 general election.

Polls, though, show Georgia could turn blue in November. The Real Clear Politics average for polls conducted between July 29 and Aug. 17 shows Democrat Hillary Clinton with a 0.3 percent lead over Trump — a statistical tie in a state that hasn’t gone for a Democrat since Bill Clinton in 1992.

Padgett was unfazed. He said he was “not concerned” about the current polls, and confident Trump would win Georgia. As for Republicans who have defected from the party and declined to endorse Trump, he was similarly not bothered.

“I’m not concerned,” he said of those Republicans who have not endorsed the party’s candidate. “They’re either going to get on board or they’re not. I’ll tell you this, I wouldn’t want to be one of those national Republicans who didn’t get on board, and then he wins.”

Padgett also said the Trump campaign will likely lean heavily on Georgia’s local Republican parties for support and get-out-the-vote efforts. Meanwhile, the Democratic Party of Georgia is opening seven field offices across the state, and the Clinton campaign has said it will pour a six-figure amount of money into the state, according to Michael Smith, a spokesman for the state Democratic party. Padgett was dismissive of Democrats’ efforts.

“Last time, we had about 21 offices scattered around the state,” Padgett said. “This year, we’re going to use your offices. We’re going to come in, and in some parts of the state share with you, and it’s going to be Trump-Troup County GOP. We’re in the process of working all that out and talking to chairmen around the state. We are going to be Trump’s ground folks.”

He said the state GOP plans to mobilize campaigners to knock on doors and make telephone calls in support of Trump.

Padgett said the Democrats’ efforts to turn Georgia blue in November were in vain.

“Am I concerned about Georgia being a purple state? No, no I’m not,” he said. “You have to understand about what the Democrats are saying. They’re saying the Clinton campaign is going to put six figures in Georgia. Is that $100,000 or $900,000? My guess is it’s closer to $100,000, and that’s nothing.”

Padgett was also untroubled about changing demographics in Georgia, especially in metro Atlanta, where the population has grown since 2014.

“At some point in time” Georgia’s population could shift in favor of Democrats, “but not right now,” he said.

The Troup County Republican Party plans to open a field office in the coming weeks, according to Peter Alford, the county party chairman. The office will likely be located on Lafayette Square, but negotiations regarding a lease are pending.

State GOP chairman John Padgett, left, speaks with a memeber of the Troup County Republican Party at a meeting Thursday at Hollis Hand Elementary School. GOP chairman John Padgett, left, speaks with a memeber of the Troup County Republican Party at a meeting Thursday at Hollis Hand Elementary School.

Tyler H. Jones | Daily News

By Tyler H. Jones

Tyler H. Jones is a reporter with LaGrange Daily News. He can be reached at 706-884-7311, ext. 2155.