Elected officials and conservative voters from Forsyth County and across Georgia filled the Forsyth Conference Center at Lanier Technical College this weekend for a first-of-its-kind political event.
The Forsyth County Republican Party hosted the inaugural FoCo Stump Stop on Saturday. The event featured remarks from several local and state politicians and South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy, who rose to prominence in the Republican Party by being a key figure in the Benghazi hearings of Hillary Clinton.
“I could not be more proud of my community,” Forsyth GOP Chairman Justin Hawkins said. “We united all business, political and religious leaders on both sides of the spectrum to unite and take one step together to produce results under the conservative cause.”
Hawkins said the organizers expected about 250 people to show up but far exceed that figure with more than 400 attendees on Saturday.
“It was the largest event the Forsyth GOP has ever put on, from the fundraising to event coordinating to a mobilizing and energizing of the grass roots,” Hawkins said. “The Forsyth GOP raised tens of thousands of dollars, which totaled more money than ever being raised in one single event.”
Besides Gowdy, other speakers included: District 7 U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall, who is running for re-election; lieutenant governor candidates Alpharetta Mayor David Belle Isle, District 45 state Sen. David Shafer and District 26 state Rep. Geoff Duncan, who represents west and northwest Forsyth; and gubernatorial candidates Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and District 27 state Sen. Michael Williams, who represents the majority of Forsyth.
During a question-and-answer session with the congressmen, questions came up about repealing Obamacare, whether a special prosecutor was needed to look into Hillary Clinton’s emails and the treatment of Trump by the national media.
“Congressmen Rob Woodall and Trey Gowdy were genuine and addressed concerns of the premise we hear in the media as chaotic under President [Donald] Trump’s leadership, and they painted a vision of hope and dialogue that we don’t see in today’s dialogue,” Hawkins said.
Another session was held with Cagle and Williams, allowing both men to say why they think they should be the state’s next governor and to discuss issues facing the state, such as pay for law enforcement, traffic and drug addiction.
“Both men are seeking the highest office in the state,” Hawkins said. “Our questions were straight-forward and complex, and their responses were thoughtful and direct, as well, so we thank them for coming to our local party.”
Hawkins said conservatives from across the state showed up to Saturday’s event and that they told him they were impressed with the outcome.
“I’ve been hearing that it was something that surprised a lot of people from around the state,” he said. “They were expecting the typical political rally. This was something where we brought all sides together and we laid out different opportunities to hear the candidates themselves speak, but also to task very straightforward and tough questions.”
Among those impressed was Paulding County’s Virginia Galloway, who attended with the Faith and Freedom Coalition and said she was impressed with what she heard from speakers.
“I love Trey Gowdy. He’s very conservative, very strong on our issues,” she said. “This is what a local party should do – bring as many candidates as possible before their people so their voters can decide who to support.”