A trio of presidential wannabes will address the Georgia Republican Party’s annual convention Friday in Athens, catering to local conservative activists in a manner unseen for decades as local party elders attempt to position the state as a new power player in the looming nominating contest.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie set off the junior cattle call at a Friday breakfast, telling delegates that he’s been able to advance a conservative reform agenda despite the roadblocks erected by a Democratic legislature.
“In a state like mine, I don’t have the luxury of having a Republican legislature,” he said. “You don’t have the option to stand in the corner, hold your breath and wait for the world to turn. You’ve got to make the world turn.”
The bombastic governor hasn’t formally announced a bid for the White House but has been touring the early nominating states and making key hires, including a pair of well-regarded aides that were rolled out Friday by his would-be campaign.
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio is slated to speak mid-afternoon while Sen. Ted Cruz will deliver the keynote address as delegates dine on a rubber-chicken dinner.
A measure of the state’s sudden popularity on the nominating circuit is borne of Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s campaign to forge a unified southern Super Tuesday—the “SEC primary”—in which the deep south states, generally overlooked in presidential contests, would flex some muscle by holding their primaries in tandem.
Still, some of it is simply the result of coincidence.
Erick Erickson, the editor in chief of the popular conservative blog RedState who’s been called “the most powerful conservative in America,” calls Georgia home. And it’s his home that Erickson has selected as the site for RedState’s annual confab this year.
Already Govs. Scott Walker, Rick Perry, Bobby Jindal, and Jeb Bush and Rubio* have committed to attending the event, to be held in Atlanta in Augusta, as well as former HP CEO Carly Fiorina. Others, like Cruz, are likely to ultimately attend the gathering.
But whether by design or dumb luck, aggrieved Georgia Republicans are finally getting their moment in the limelight.
*The post has been updated to correctly reflect that Sen. Marco Rubio’s intentions to attend the RedState Gathering.