Georgia Republican Party

This article is on the political party of the U.S. state of Georgia. For a political party in the Caucasian nation of Georgia, see Republican Party of Georgia.
Georgia Republican Party
Chairperson John Padgett
Senate leader Casey Cagle
House leader David Ralston
Founded 1854
Headquarters 3110 Maple Drive
Atlanta, GA 30305
Ideology Conservatism
Fiscal conservatism
Social conservatism
National affiliation Republican Party
Colors Red
Seats in the Upper House
38 / 56
Seats in the Lower House
119 / 180

The Georgia Republican Party is one of the two major political parties in the U.S. state of Georgia. It is affiliated with the United States Republican Party (GOP).

Current structure

Governor Nathan Deal is the titular head of the Georgia Republican Party. John Padgett is the current State Chairman. Adam Pipkin is the executive director. Randy Evans serves as Republican National Committeeman representing Georgia. Linda Herren is the past National Committeewoman. Ginger Howard was elected at the 2016 State Convention as the current RNC Committeewoman. Leo J Smith is the much interviewed state director for minority engagement. Republicans hold every elected position in the state for the first time since Reconstruction.

The Republican National Committee (RNC) handles the national party day-to-day operations. Campaigns, events, and other party related activities are handled by the RNC. Reince Priebus is the current Chairman of RNC, having won the last election after controversial Chairman Michael Steele withdrew his rebid nomination. The chairman of the RNC is chosen by the President when the Republicans have the White House or otherwise by the party's state committees. Interestingly, there has never been a chairman from Georgia. The RNC, under the direction of the party's presidential candidate, supervises the Republican National Convention, raises funds, and coordinates campaign strategy. On the local level there are similar state committees in every state and most large cities, counties and legislative districts, but they have far less money and influence than the national body.[1]

Current and recent officeholders were primarily known as Democrats until the gradual change of the South. It was also customary for Southern States to propel actual skilled candidates to office, not career politicians. Character and experience in the South is seemingly a bigger deal than a charismatic figure.


Reconstruction and Jim Crow

After the American Civil War, Georgia was initially placed under a military governorship, but in 1868 the Republican Party succeeded in capturing the legislature and electing Rufus Bullock as governor. Support for the Republicans came from the 44% of the state's population that was African American, along with whites from the mountainous north. Bullock was the first Republican governor of Georgia, but he was threatened with impeachment and fled the state in 1871, leaving the governorship to Benjamin Conley, the president of the Georgia Senate. (In modern times the lieutenant governor is the next in line if the governor cannot serve, but the role of lieutenant governor had not yet been created by that time.) Conley, the second Republican governor of the state, only lasted 72 days: the legislature quickly called a special election, and Conley was succeeded by a Democrat, James Milton Smith, resulting in the end of Reconstruction in Georgia.[2]

After 1882, the Republican Party did not offer a full slate of candidates in Georgia (gubernatorial nor otherwise), cementing Democratic one-party rule in the state. By the turn of the 20th century, the party had developed a reputation among white Georgians as a "Negro party" led by corrupt whites and plagued by local infighting. Black Georgians who could register to vote tended to vote for Republicans, who remained a minority in the General Assembly throughout the Jim Crow era. After the resignation of W. H. Rogers of McIntosh County in 1907 and the full defranchisement of African-Americans was completed in 1908, only white legislators could be elected by black voters.[3]

Resurgence (1961–present)

In 1961, a young man came to meet Georgia Republican Campaign Chairman Jeff Davis. The young man was Newt Gingrich, freshly introducing himself into Georgia Republican politics. He envisioned a competitive Republican Party with vast influence in the nation. Chairman Davis, being optimistic and cautious, worked with this young man to ensure victorious future elections.[4] In 1966 Republican Howard Callaway received the plurality of votes for governor but failed to win, when the election was decided by the Democratic Party-controlled Georgia legislature in favor of Democrat Lester Maddox. In the 1970s, amid the Watergate Scandal, the rise of Democratic President Jimmy Carter from Georgia, led to the self-proclaimed "dark days" for the Republican Party that led to a decade of failed elections and tough incidents. Georgia Republicans struggled through the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s to become a major party, occasionally winning victories such as the election of House member Newt Gingrich in 1979. Also U.S. Senator Mack Mattingly was elected after, in 1980, only to see those gains erased in subsequent elections.

The Party's fortunes finally began to turn in the 1990s. During the decade, Republicans gained a majority in the congressional delegation after a redistricting plan adopted by the General Assembly Democrats backfired.[5] Also, Georgia played a pivotal role in national affairs, as Congressman Newt Gingrich propelled to the top, becoming Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.

In 2002 Sonny Perdue was elected as the first Republican governor of Georgia since Reconstruction. He served as Governor from 2003-2011 for two terms.[6] Republicans gained control of both chambers the state legislature in 2002 and 2004.


On September 28, 2011, it was revealed that Georgia intends to move their Republican Primary to Super Tuesday by December 1. The party feels that it should play a bigger role due to its size and number of delegates, and is moving forward with the notion that it can have an important say in this next election. Georgia Republican Party Chairwoman Sue Everhart said that having an early primary would make Georgia a bigger player in 2012. She added that she did not want to see the state lose delegates by going before March. "Since we became a red state, they haven't paid much attention to us," Everhart said, referring to GOP candidates and the RNC. "They use us as a donor state."[7]

Symbols and name

The mascot (symbol) of the Georgia Republican Party is the elephant. The elephant was originally constructed by artist Thomas Nast, in response to the criticism of a possible third term by President Ulysses S. Grant.

Depiction of party symbols

The cartoon's image was taken from one of Aesop's fables, "The Ass in the Lion's Skin." It follows up with, "At last coming upon a fox, he [the ass] tried to frighten him also, but the fox no sooner heard the sound of his voice than he exclaimed, 'I might possibly have been frightened myself, if I had not hear your bray.'" "The moral of the fable is that although a fool may disguise his appearance, his words will reveal his true nature. To Nast, the New York Herald is not a roaring lion to be feared, but a braying ass to be ridiculed. The reference in the citation to "Shakespeare or Bacon" is a jibe at Bennett's contention that Shakespeare's works were actually written by Sir Francis Bacon."

In modern day, the symbol of the elephant is seen as a regular commodity, showing up on campaign merchandise and other party materials. Ordinary people would most likely not understand the rise of the elephant, or its history, but understand the symbolic nature of the beast in today's political climate.

The elephant for the GOP rivals the Democrats' donkey.[8]

Current Republican officeholders

The Republican Party of Georgia controls both U.S. Senate seats and 10 of the 14 U.S. House seats. Republicans also control all 13 of the 13 state constitutional offices.


Past Republican governors

In 2002 Sonny Perdue was elected as the first Republican governor of Georgia since Reconstruction. He earned a doctorate from University of Georgia in 1971 in Veterinary Medicine. He served in the US Air Force, earning the rank of Captain, before receiving his honorable discharge and starting up a small business in Raleigh, N.C. He served 10 years beginning in 1990 as a Democrat in the Georgia State Senate, including a tenure as majority leader in 1995-1996. He served as Governor from 2003-2011 for two terms.[9]


External links

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