It was warm and sunny on Tuesday afternoon, as buses filled with some of the state’s most prominent Republicans stopped by to rally voters with a week to go before the Nov. 6 election.
Part of Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp’s “Road to Victory” Bus Tour, the event gave local voters a chance to hear from Kemp, Gov. Nathan Deal, lieutenant gubernatorial candidate Geoff Duncan and Congressmen Rob Woodall, of District 7, and Doug Collins, District 9, both of whom are running for re-election.
“I came out today because I wanted to show my support for Brian Kemp and the Republican Party as a whole as we’re coming into this election that I feel is probably one of the most important ones we’ve had in my lifetime,” said Forsyth County resident Dennis Skaggs.
Skaggs said he had lived in Georgia since 1982 and in Forsyth since 1990 and wanted the state to stay on track with the changes he has experienced in that time.
“I see all the positive changes that have happened over the last 10-12 years, and I think it’s important that we continue to go the right way,” he said.
His friend, Michelle Michalec, described herself as a lifelong conservative and Republican and said she is excited to see what Kemp may bring to the state.
“I love all the great changes and everything we’ve been doing here since Deal, and I think Kemp is going to keep us going in the right direction,” she said. “He’s a strong supporter of Trump, and that’s where I stand.”
Like many this election cycle, Michalec chose to vote early and said was feeling good about the races going Republicans’ way next week.
“I’ve already voted, so I feel good,” she said. “I see the numbers coming up, and I’m going to be watching like a hawk on (Nov. 6). I’m going to do it with a glass of wine in my hand, and champagne waiting to pop the top when we win.”
Forsyth County has a reputation as a Republican stronghold, and Kemp has made several trips to the county in recent weeks. Duncan previously represented the area as District 26 state Representative from 2013 until stepping down last year to focus on the lieutenant governor’s race.
Also at the rally were Eddie Escalante and Mariella Gimenez, who live in Suwanee and work with the group A Voice for Freedom.
Gimenez said they likely have a different viewpoint than most conservative voters.
“We have worked years back in Venezuela in politics, and I have to say that when you come from a country, even though I have been an American citizen all my life, and you have fought against a dictatorship like the one we fought with (former President of Venezuelan Hugo) Chávez, you have to be sure that you don’t want that radicalism that the Democrats are standing for,” she said. “You want to stand for those Republican values.”
Escalante praised Deal’s track record during his term and said it was important to send him off with a victory.
“It’s a matter of what you want,” said Escalante, echoing statements made by Kemp. “Do you want to keep on going the way we’re going or do you want to change the course. We believe that we’re going the right path and want to keep going on the right path.”
Attendee Cory Palmerini said he hasn’t voted yet, instead waiting to do so on election day, but said amid talk of blue or red waves, he was expecting “a red tsunami.”
“I moved down here from New Jersey, and the quality of life here is night and day,” Palmerini said. “I think that they have a good stance of what they are promoting. It’s positive. They seem to want to grow. I can see that things have been happening positively here since I got here. It’s a positive thing for the people in general. They’re trying to take care of people by lowering taxes and doing the right thing.”