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State candidates greet Forsyth County voters at annual GOP cookout
Greg Dolezal
Greg Dolezal - photo by Kelly Whitmire

To kick off the Fourth of July weekend, the Forsyth County Republican Party hosted an event to let local voters meet state candidates.

On Friday, July 2, the Forsyth GOP hosted the party’s annual cookout at McDonald and Son Funeral Home, which featured food, a chance to meet with candidates and a straw poll to see which Republican candidates that local voters favor in contested races.

“It’s a great today,” said Jerry Marinich, with the party. “We’re here to celebrate July 4, our Independence and our freedom because of our soldiers that fought for us, that fight for us now. We can’t forget that as good Republicans, good conservative Republicans, and that’s why we’re here, to celebrate July 4. Let’s not forget the real reason, that’s the men in arms and ladies in the service. It’s great to see a big crowd.”

Here’s what candidates or officials with their campaigns had to say. More information about the party can be found at Forsyth.GOP.

Rich McCormick, seeking Georgia’s 7th Congressional seat

In 2020, Rich McCormick, an emergency medicine physician who served for more than 20 years in the Marine Corps and Navy as a pilot and emergency medicine physician, won the Republican nomination for Georgia’s 7th Congressional District.

Since then, McCormick said he has been asked many times if he was planning a rematch against Democratic incumbent U.S. Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux and, on Friday, he said his answer is “Why, yes I am.”

“We have a lot of things to fight for here in Georgia,” McCormick said. “Don’t forget, when the governor and the Senate are running, we cannot have people sitting on the sidelines. No matter what, we have to unite behind the primary winner and make sure that we do this right. Don’t let anyone take your ball and go home; it’s too important. We need to be team players, you wouldn’t teach your kids to sit on the sidelines when there’s a fight, so make sure you bring it when it comes to this next election cycle.”

Georgia’s 7th Congressional District contains the majority of Forsyth and Gwinnett counties. 

District 27 state Sen. Greg Dolezal

Beginning his second term this year, Greg Dolezal said he was proud of a lot of work that got done this session, such as the passing of the election bill SB 202, and said more is still in the works, including a push to ban Critical Race Theory, or CRT, from Georgia schools and doing a full forensic audit on the 2020 election “[to see] what happened here in Georgia.”

On Friday, Dolezal also said it was good to be able to attend events in the community again.

“What an honor to see so many familiar faces and friends and to be back out and thank God Georgia’s back open. We’ve been through a year it felt like we couldn’t see each other… couldn’t do anything, but it’s good to be back out.”

The District 27 seat makes up the majority of Forsyth County except for the far northeast corner of the county.

Rich McCormick
Rich McCormick - photo by Kelly Whitmire
Kandiss Taylor, running for governor

Kandiss Taylor, a gubernatorial candidate, said she had always heard about Forsyth County from her husband, who grew up here, and was happy to have a chance to meet with voters.

A South Georgia native, Taylor, who previously ran for U.S. Senate, told voters she is pro-life, a supporter of the Second Amendment and has also called for an audit of the 2020 election.

“I want to tell you that for me, it comes down to Jesus, guns and babies every single time,” she said. “It’s non-negotiable. It’s something that I won’t put up with. I’m tired of Hollywood telling Georgia what to do. We’re going to put morality over money every single time. China will not buy our elections when I’m governor of Georgia. In fact, I’ve been spending the last two months fighting in Arizona and trying to get a full forensic audit in Georgia.”

Jody Hice, seeking Georgia Secretary of State seat

Jody Hice, who represents Georgia’s 10th District, has served in the U.S. House since 2015, but in 2022 has his sights on the Georgia Secretary of State seat, which is currently held by incumbent Republican Brad Raffensperger.

Hice was unable to attend Friday’s event due to a family commitment but sent a member of his campaign to meet with local voters.

“I just want to tell y’all, Jody hates that he can’t be here. He and his wife keep their grandkids for a week out of every summer, and it happened to be this week. I pushed back a little bit on it… and I got a look from him, so I just let it go. We’ll try again next time,” said Wesley Ross, Hice’s campaign manager. “We appreciate all of y’all coming out here. We’d love to earn your support, your vote.”

Harold Earls, running for Georgia’s 6th Congressional District

Georgia’s 6th Congressional District, represented by Rep. Lucy McBath, D-Marietta, and made up of voters in Cobb, Fulton and DeKalb counties, won’t be on the ballot for Forsyth County voters, though one candidate said he has a local connection.

Earls attended West Forsyth High School before attending West Point and serving nine years in the U.S. Army, including as an Airborne Ranger and commander at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

“I tell you, in order to win back the House, in order to win back the government, it’s going to take people like you showing up, coming to events like this where it’s hot as can be on the asphalt,” Earls said. “I just want to tell you thank you.”

Gary Black, running for U.S. Senate

Since 2011, Gary Black has served as Georgia’s agriculture commissioner, but in 2022, he is seeking the U.S. Senate seat held by Sen. Raphael Warnock, a Democrat.

On Friday, Black touted his work responding to natural disasters like Hurricane Michael, work with the federal and state agencies and dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

After gains from Democrats in the 2020 election, Black said next year will be an opportunity to turn the tide back to Republicans.

“When we look at the challenges before us that is before us with this wave, I wonder if in Forsyth County tonight, are y’all ready for this wave to stop,” Black asked the crowd. “This wave must stop. It starts with one United States Senate seat, Georgia’s seat.”

David Belle Isle, running for Georgia Secretary of State

David Belle Isle, who served as mayor of Alpharetta from 2012 to 2018 before seeking the Georgia Secretary of State seat in 2020, said he will once again be running for the seat and that his experience as a mayor will serve him well in the role.

“As the former mayor of Alpharetta, the largest Republican city in the state of Georgia, I am proud to be offering myself again for the worst job in politics, but probably the most important job in politics as it stands right now in 2021,” he said. “Here’s the thing, when I ran the city of Alpharetta, I ran a city that is larger than the office of secretary of state in terms of budget, in terms of personnel, in terms of discipline, and we accomplished some amazing things.”

Vernon Jones, running for governor

Vernon Jones, a former Democratic lawmaker representing state District 71 from 1993 to 2001 and state District 91 from 2017 to 2021, said he switched parties in January after a meeting with former President Donald Trump.

“I came to the Grand Old Party on Jan. 6, on the same stage as President Trump, but I didn’t come to the Grand Old Party just to be a member,” “I came to the Grand Old Party, the party of Abraham Lincoln, the party of abolition, the party of Frederick Douglas, the party of Ronald Reagan, the party of many of us, but I came not to be a member, but to bring new ideas, to bring new opportunities and bring new people.”

Jones said he also supported an audit of the 2020 election, was against companies like Coca-Cola and Major League Baseball who had raised issues with SB 202 and said he would be a fighter for Georgians if elected governor. 

Bubba McDonald, for Gov. Brian Kemp

Gov. Brian Kemp, who is seeking re-election, was also among candidates who were not able to attend the event on Friday, and instead, Bubba McDonald, a public service commissioner, said as the election heats up, voters need to look at what candidates have done so far.

“Look at people as what their track record is,” McDonald said. “I would hope that our candidates, whatever the office is, will run for the office, establish their platform, tell you and me what they’re going to do… We want our governor to be governor, and I want to know what the governor is going to stand for. 

“So, what I’m going to do, I’m going to look at where he came from,” McDonald said. “I’m going to look at his track record, I’m going to see what his Georgia politics [have been] but the main part of that is how does he run his business, how does he run the state of Georgia?”

Bubba McDonald