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State GOP Chair hopefuls speak to Forsyth Couty Tea Party
Alex Johnson WEB
Alex Johnson. - photo by Kelly Whitmire

A local political group heard from two candidates for chairman of the Georgia Republican Party this week.

On Monday, the United Tea Party of Georgia hosted candidates Alex Johnson and Michael McNeely at the group’s monthly meeting at VFW Post 9143 on Dahlonega Highway. The next chairman will be chosen at the party’s state convention in Augusta on June 2-3.

Johnson, an attorney and former state Senate candidate from DeKalb County, said the state party needs to expand its outreach.

“We should be thinking big; we should be doing better,” Johnson said. “We should be working with groups around the state to get more people involved in Republican politics. The Georgia GOP needs to be a one-stop shop for political involvement; it needs to be working with groups that are not necessarily called Republican, but getting involved with gun rights groups, Tea Party groups, 9/12 groups.”

The state party has run into financial issues, which Johnson said could be tackled by reaching out to smaller donors.

“If we expect to be a strong growing party, the state GOP, we will serve you,” Johnson said. “That’s the culture I’ll be putting out in every way I possibly can, is that we need to be standing for the people. We need to be letting people know how to be empowered in politics so they can make a difference.”

McNeely, a former police officer and current first vice chairman of the party, also spoke on the need to build relationships with voters moving forward, including hosting training for selecting delegates and other party functions.

“Talking about our principles in a very real way that speaks to people by knowing them and engaging them personally; it’s a win for Republicans, and I’ve done that for many, many years,” he said. “We want to recruit conservative men and women to serve in our party.”

Though having a top position with the party, McNeely said his role was to serve in the absence of the chairman and do what the chair gave him to do.

“That doesn’t bode well for me and what I might want to do different than the current chair,” he said. “When you talk about who the chairman needs to be, that’s why it’s so important is because that person, they run the show.”

Both Johnson and McNeely will return to Forsyth to speak to the Forsyth County Republican Party. McNeely will speak at the April 13 meeting, and Johnson and candidate Mike Welsh will speak at the May 11 meeting.

Earlier this month, the party heard from John Watson, who is also running for chair, and Mansell McCord, the party’s current treasurer who is running for re-election.

Whoever is chosen as the new chairman could serve with a local candidate, as Carolyn Hall Fisher, former chair of the local party, is running for first vice chair.

“Whoever the chairman is will need a very, very good first vice chair that will be joined with you at the hip,” Fisher joked at the meeting.