What was once a gleam in the eye of Georgia’s top elections official has become reality in recent months, as most of the South has aligned for a blockbuster March 1, 2016, presidential primary.
Voters in Georgia, where Secretary of State Brian Kemp has been the loudest cheerleader for the college athletics-themed “SEC primary,” will be joined by those in Alabama, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia for the regional vote that could shape what looks to be a drawn-out Republican race. North Carolina also could still move in.
Presidential hopefuls are taking notice, particularly on a Republican side that seems to gain a candidate per day. U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is making four stops in Georgia this holiday weekend. U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., was among three candidates who showed up in Athens in May for the Georgia GOP convention.
“I’m excited about the SEC primary and being an active participant,” Rubio told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution at that meeting. “And you should be excited, too. You’re going to get a lot of people visiting.”