The Forsyth County Republican Party will not endorse a candidate until one is nominated, but its officers are grateful for Newt Gingrich’s visit Saturday during the party’s mass precinct meeting.
"We usually have just under 200 people. This year we had 385," said Peggy Green, a party executive committee member.
"We’re really happy about that because we’re hoping to get more people involved in the political process."
Gingrich, a Republican presidential candidate and former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, attracted a record crowd, Green said.
But more importantly, people stayed and participated in the meeting, electing delegates to represent various precincts in Forsyth.
"Usually, we have one or two precincts where nobody shows up," Green said. "And if nobody shows up, there can’t be any delegates elected. But we had every single precinct represented this year, all 25."
The Midway precinct was one of the best attended, with all 25 allowed delegates and 25 alternates elected.
Piney Grove was the smallest, with just three people. The biggest surprise was Brandywine’s precinct, Green said.
"They’re usually the one that doesn’t have any and this year … they were allowed to have 15 and they elected 15," she said. "That was an unusual one."
The number of delegates per precinct is based on the percentage of Republican votes from the 2008 election.
Next up for the party is the county convention March 10, which will also be held at South Forsyth High.
During the convention, delegates will be elected to represent Forsyth at the district and state levels.
Green said she hopes to build on the momentum from Saturday.
"We were all pleased with the widespread participation," Green said. "This is such an important election year."