There was a packed house on Thursday night as the local Republican Party heard from a trio of candidates hoping to be elected to state office.
At the meeting, the Forsyth County Republican Party welcomed District 45 state Sen. David Shafer, who is running for lieutenant governor, District 29 state Sen. Josh McKoon, who is running for secretary of state and county resident Marc Morris, who is running for the District 26 state Representative seat.
Party Chairman Justin Hawkins gave each speaker 10 minutes to lay out their positions before letting the crowd ask questions.
Shafer, who previously spoke to the party at events in July and August, has been in office since 2002 and serves as President Pro Tempore of the state senate. He said he had been the workhorse for the conservative agenda in his time in office and had been recognized for his work.
“I am the only candidate for lieutenant governor who is rated A+ by the National Rifle Association, the only candidate to be named a pro-life hero by Georgia Right to Life,” he said. “In the 15 years I’ve been down there, I’ve done more than just vote the right way I was supposed to, I have led on these issues.”
One of Shafer’s opponents for the seat is District 26 state Rep. Geoff Duncan, who represents east and northeast Forsyth. Duncan stepped down from his seat effective Sept. 18 in a letter in August and in the letter he said Shafer had former Gov. Roy Barnes, a Democrat, campaigning for him and Shafer’s pay-to-play “political charade will soon be coming to an end.”
Shafer shot back at the meeting and said he and Duncan agreed on 99 percent of issues but called the comments “completely ridiculous and sad.”
“If he’s aware of corruption or wrongdoing, he can call 911 or visit the U.S. Attorney,” Shafer said. “I chaired the campaign against Roy Barnes in 1998. I know him, I have a cordial relationship with him, but he’s not donated to my campaign, he’s not raised any money for my campaign, he’s not supporting it.”
He said the closest thing to a donation was Barnes’ law firm giving $500 to Shafer’s re-election campaign five years ago, which Shafer said was from a Republican partner at the firm.
Morris, the only candidate to announce he would run for the unexpired-term of Duncan’s seat, said he wants to bring smaller government to the state.
“The reason that I’m running is I understand government has gotten bigger, expensive and intrusive. We continue to elect Republicans to go to our Capitol, yet we this bigger government,” Morris said, “and that’s got to change.”
Morris was originally planning to run next year before Duncan’s announcement and has said if elected this year he plans to run for re-election in 2018. No date has been set for the election, but officials have said they would prefer Nov. 7, the date for other local elections.
McKoon said handling elections is one of the key areas for secretary of state and criticized District 6 Democratic Candidate Jon Osoff’s campaign using a judge to extend registration dates for the election.
“The next secretary of state will be secretary of state when President [Donald] Trump is up for re-election. If the left was willing to spend $30 million to try to steal a congressional race, imagine what they’re going to do when President Trump is up for re-election,” McKoon said. “You’re going to need someone who is willing to stand up to the criticism from the media, criticism from the far-left, someone who is a fighter.”