Candidates for Georgia Republican Party Chair to debate in Savannah


Candidates for Georgia Republican Party Chair to debate in Savannah

From the Savannah Morning-News:

Delegates to the Georgia Republican state convention will gather in Athens in the middle of May to select a new state committee chairman but not before Savannah hosts one of two debates showcasing candidates for the job.

Lis Overton, newly elected chairman of the Chatham County Republican Party, said that organization will host the second debate along with the primary organizer, the Georgia Republican Assembly, on May 4 at the Coastal Georgia Center on Fahm Street.

“This is a real honor for our area and the CCRP, given that there will only be two debates among the candidates for this very important post,” Overton said. “This will draw Republicans and media from all over the state to Savannah.”

The debate, which will be moderated by Julianne Thompson of the Georgia Republican Assembly, is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. and will include a panel of three questioners.

The first debate is scheduled for April 27, at a site to be determined in metro Atlanta, according to Brian Keahl, executive director of the Georgia GOP. The state convention, where the new state chairman will be elected, is scheduled for May 17-18 in Athens.

“This is going to be a very contested race,” Keahl said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if it involved at least three ballots and is attended by anywhere from 2,800 to 3,000 delegates, including alternates.”


Keahl said the state constitution allows for candidates for chairman to be nominated from the convention floor, but the likelihood is that one of the four announced candidates will replace outgoing chairman Sue P. Everhart.

He also said it is rare that the election of chairman follows any set pattern, such as the second in command, the first vice chairman, automatically moving into the top post.

“Republican delegates aren’t much for a chain of command structure when it comes to electing a state chairman,” Keahl said.

To date, the four candidates campaigning for the job, which is unpaid and includes a two-year term, are:

BJ Van Gundy, 51, a management consultant from Peachtree Corners and second vice chairman of the Georgia GOP; Alex Johnson, 28, general counsel for the DeKalb County Republican Party; John Padgett, 67, secretary of the Georgia GOP from Athens; and Seth Harp, 70, former state senator from Columbus and the managing partner of the law firm Harp & Poydasheff.

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