Several Republican candidates running for state and local offices in the upcoming primary elections spoke to voters and answered questions on Monday, April 25, at a Forsyth County Tea Party meeting.
The guest speakers included U.S. Congress District 6 candidate Rich McCormick, U.S. Senate candidate Josh Clark, Georgia Labor Commissioner candidate Bruce Thompson, Georgia House District 28 candidate Blake McClellan and Forsyth County Board of Education District 1 candidate Wes McCall.
They each spoke about pressing issues for the Republican party ahead of the primary elections on May 24, emphasizing the need for strong conservatives at the state and local levels. Advanced voting for the 2022 General Primary and Nonpartisan General Election begins on Monday, May 2.
Here is what the candidates had to say at Monday’s meeting:
Dr. Rich McCormick
McCormick served as a marine in the U.S. military for more than 20 years before starting his work as an emergency room physician. Now, he is running for U.S. Congress District 6 where he said, if elected, he would stand up for the public and individuals’ rights.
He told the crowd at Monday’s meeting that he is concerned about the direction the country is heading, saying he has seen the federal government become more involved in creating mandates and rules for small businesses and residents during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are the people,” McCormick said. “We are supposed to tell the government what to do. We are supposed to have a government accountable to us, not vice versa.”
He said there needs to be a representative in the U.S. Congress who is not afraid to step up and speak against politicians working for special interest groups or not serving their constituents.
McCormick said he also wants to face issues in education where he said children are being “brainwashed” inside public schools; with big tech companies he said are not using capabilities to block explicit content on their various platforms; and said the federal government needs to allow for more local control.
Fellow Republicans Jake Evans, Paulette Smith, Mallory Staples, Byron Gatewood, Blake Harbin, Suzi Voyles, Meagan Hanson and Eugene Yu, and Democrats Wayne White, Bob Christian have also qualified for this race.
U.S. Congress District 6 represents all of Forsyth and Dawson counties along with portions of Cherokee, Cobb, Fulton and Gwinnett counties.
Clark served as a Georgia state representative for District 98 from 2011 to 2015 before continuing his career as a business owner and manager. A lifelong Republican, Clark said he is concerned about leadership within the U.S. government, especially since the start of the pandemic.
Now that he is running for the U.S. Senate, he emphasized that he wants to help protect the freedom and liberty he believes are currently being threatened in the country.
To do this, he said he has sold all of his stocks and has promised not to trade while in office “because I’m sick and tired of people enriching themselves at our expense.”
He said he is running to serve the residents of Georgia, solve issues along the southern border and reinstate legislation in Georgia that he said was undone by President Joe Biden’s administration.
“I will work, I will sacrifice, I will save, I’ll endure, I’ll give my utmost, cheerfully, as if the issue of the whole depended on me and me alone,” Clark said. “That’s the attitude, by God’s grace, you are going to get from me.”
Clark is running against fellow Republicans Gary Black, Kelvin King, Jonathan McColumn, Latham Saddler and Herschel Walker in the primaries.Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock will face Tamara Johnson-Shealey in the primary.
Sen. Bruce Thompson
Current Georgia state Sen. Bruce Thompson, who represents District 14, talked about his background in the military as an entrepreneur in the state. He is running for the state labor commission seat and he said he hopes to solve what he said are major issues within the Georgia Department of Labor.
He said many of these issues were made apparent to the public during the pandemic as workers across the country lost jobs and business owners started to struggle to bring employees back into the workforce.
“It’s time for a change,” Thompson said. “Ladies and gentlemen, I am that change.”
Thompson said one of his first steps would be to modernize the agency and update its technology to allow claims for benefits to be filed faster and more accurately. He said he would also focus on workforce development to bring residents back into the workforce, find employees for business owners and help support veterans who need work.
Thompson is running against fellow Republicans Kartik Bhatt and Mike Coan in the primaries. The current state labor commissioner, Republican Mark Butler, who was first elected in 2010, did not to seek re-election.
Running for Georgia House District 28, McClellan has a background in medical sales and as a business owner in the Forsyth County.
He agreed with many of the other candidates at Monday’s meeting, emphasizing a need for strong conservative representatives within state and local government who will stand up for what the public wants.
“Enough is enough,” McClellan said. “We need strong conservatives who will fight. It’s easy to put an ‘R’ behind your name. It’s hard to be a conservative and stand up to bad bills.”
McClellan said a strong conservative is one who reads the bills, works closely with the community, and has principles inside the legislature. With these qualities, he said he wants to fight to make sure explicit content is taken out of public schools, to stop divisiveness, give the public confidence in the election processes again and ensure big technology companies block explicit content from their platforms.
“It’s very simple,” McClellan said. “I want to fight for this constitution. I want to fight for this republic. I want to fight for the people.”
McClellan is running against Republicans Brent Cox, Tim Short, Donald Lannom, John Luchetti, and Julie Tressler in the upcoming primaries. Georgia House District 28 represents potions of north Forsyth County and a portion of Hall County.
The winner will face Democrat Claudia Wood in the Nov. 8 election.
Forsyth County Board of Education Chairman Wes McCall spoke to the crowd about several debates facing Forsyth County Schools, including media center book removals and the Diversity Equity and Inclusion plan, as he runs for re-election to the District 1 seat.
First elected in 2019, McCall said when he first heard of the DEI plan, he was unaware of critical race theory, which is a scholarly body of work that theorizes different aspects of American life and societal systems are based in discriminatory practices. But after researching, he said his “heart sunk.”
From that point, he said he’s been against the DEI plan, working with district leaders to place the plan on hold. McCall said he felt the same way when he learned from parents that there were “inappropriate” materials in the schools’ media centers.
“Inappropriate material should not be in our schools,” McCall said. “However, we have to do this right so that these books remain out of our school system forever. Not for a judge to come back and put them back on the shelves.”
When the district administratively removed eight books from the school media centers in January, McCall said they “received a legal notification” saying they must have a strict process for removing media center books that is run by a board and backed by state law. He reminded the crowd that the district is working on a new book challenge process.
McCall is running against Republic Dennis Scheidt for the District 1 seat in the primaries.
The winner will face Democrat Janna Kregoski in the Nov. 8 election.