The Newton County Republican Party wants to make sure this year’s crop of Republican candidates is truly conservative.
Local GOP Chairwoman Delia Fleming said party officials plan to be very active in the 2012 local elections, including vetting local candidates for the first time and giving them training on how to run a campaign. The party will focus on the races for four county commission seats, two school board seats and sheriff.
The party will vet candidates and offer campaign training April 21 at the Covington Woman’s Club. In the morning, Republican candidates will be individually vetted by a committee consisting of one GOP board member, one former politician and one citizen. A campaign training class will follow for all candidates in the afternoon.
The party is opposed to any local tax increases, so the committee will ask candidates for their stance on the budget.
“We have a lack of income in the county, so will they be willing to look for and make tough budget cuts?” Fleming asked. “People can’t pay their gas and groceries bills now…(proponents for a property tax rate increase) may say ‘What’s the big deal over paying $78 more this year?’ But next year it will be more, and the same the year after.”
Another likely question will ask candidates their stance on the creation of a county manager position.
“We believe less government intrusion, but one person can’t be in charge of all 100,000 residents,” she said.
Other questions will be up to the committee.
The GOP also wants to make sure that all candidates running for office are prepared for the time and effort required to run a successful campaign and be a successful once in office.
People who have previously run local and state campaigns will speak and answer questions about campaign consultants, the dos and don’ts of placing campaign signs, the qualifying timeline, use of mailers, fundraising and the overall cost of running various races.
“The money is just not there. Someone who used to give $500, may not just give $50. You have to be more prepared to pay out of your own pocket,” Fleming said.
“We want to make sure they have a fire in their belly, that they really want this job,” said Fleming. “We want people to run because they want to promote and improve Newton County, not for any other reason.
“None of these jobs are easy; your phone will ring all the time because people can reach out and touch you (at the local level). You have to be prepared for that.”
Fleming said the party doesn’t want to dissuade people from running, but it wants to be sure that any candidates it supports are serious.
“We’re not hunting up people to run, because you don’t want it yourself, it won’t work,” she said. The party will help financially as much as we can, and we’ll get people on the ground.”
Other GOP notes
In other party news, U.S. Congressman Paul Broun (R-Athens) will speak about the lack of respect for the U.S. Constitution in government at 1 p.m., Feb. 18 at the Covington Woman’s Club.
The GOP is also going to resurrect its scholarship fund for graduating seniors.
Finally, the party will host a skeet shoot March 23 at the South River Gun Club to raise money to support candidates, Democrats or Republicans, who are staunch supporters of 2nd Amendment rights.
For more information on any event, contact Fleming at (770) 364-4429.