The former Cobb steering committees for Eric Johnson, John Oxendine and Jeff Chapman, who were all eliminated in the primary July 20, now have come aboard the Deal campaign in their entireties, according to Deal spokesmen. So have numerous members of the Cobb legislative delegation.
"What attracts me to Nathan Deal's campaign is what drew me to Eric Johnson's: He's a proven conservative leader who is qualified to lead our state through tough times," said Shawn Davis, who chaired Johnson's steering committee in Cobb County. "Our next governor will face tough decisions. We don't have to guess what Nathan Deal will do as governor. If you liked Eric Johnson's tax cut plans, you'll like Deal's Real Prosperity plan. You don't have to decode his rhetoric on his economic plan; you can read it on his web site."
Expressing similar sentiments was the former chair of Oxendine's Cobb committee, Michael Opitz.
"On election night, nearly 70 percent of Republican voters cast their ballots for conservative candidates. Here in Cobb, conservative voters are realigning behind Nathan Deal," Opitz said. "We know he shares our conservative values and he's never wavered from them. As a Republican, I firmly believe that he's the strongest candidate to beat Roy Barnes. Polls have shown that consistently."
Enlisting in "Team Deal" from the Johnson campaign, in addition to Davis, are co-chair Steven Ellis, Nathan Tippins (son of state Sen.-elect Lindsey Tippins) and former Marietta Councilman Floyd Northcutt. Joining Opitz from the Oxendine team are Donna Rowe, Chris Waldman, Neva Lent, Les Dunaway, Ellen Worley Reed, Charles Reed, Mark Lane, Perry Brummett, Lew Stafford, Debra Lieb and Patrick Crooks.
Also now with Deal is Chapman's former statewide campaign Chairman Joe Dendy of Cobb and wife Billie, who will host a Cobb campaign event for Deal for Governor.
"Grassroots activists look for integrity and strong conservative credentials from the candidate they choose to support," Joe Dendy said. "Nathan Deal and his team in Cobb County have always stood for those principles, so it's no wonder that the Nathan Deal for Governor team is now the largest in Cobb. I'm excited to be a part of it."
Already on board with Deal in Cobb are longtime Deal Cobb co-chairs Tricia Pridemore (chair of the 9-12 Project Action Network) and John Sours (former chairman of Common Cause Georgia).
"We are delighted that these true conservative Republicans have so readily joined our team and, as a result, we have now united our party in this the largest Republican county in Georgia," Sours said.
Others on the Deal Cobb team include U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey of Marietta, former Cobb Commission Chairman Earl Smith, District Attorney Pat Head, clerk of superior court Jay Stephenson, former state DOT board member Johnny Gresham, retired assistant D.A. Rose Wing, Inger Eberhart of the Dustin Inman Society and Tonya Boga, who is state chair of Women for Deal.
Also coming over to Deal since the primary have been state Sen. Majority Leader Chip Rogers (R-Marietta), lame-duck Sen. John Wiles (R-Kennesaw), Sen.-elect Tippins, state Rep. Judy Manning (R-Marietta) and state Rep. Ed Setzler (R-Acworth). Jumping aboard as well in the last week have been former Marietta Mayor Bill Dunaway and Carolyn Meadows of east Cobb, a member of the board of the National Rifle Association as well as three-term member of the Republican Party's National Committee.
MEANWHILE, the Metro Atlanta Steering Committee of Nathan Deal for Governor is having a Family Fun Festival at East Cobb Park from 4 to 8 pm Monday. For info, contact Billie Dendy at firstname.lastname@example.org. ... And the Deal Cobb committee will host a fundraiser at 7:30 a.m. Thursday at The Georgian Club hoping to raise $50,000.
HANDEL'S COBB EFFORT is headed by former Commission Chairman Bill Byrne, who ran unsuccessfully for governor himself in 2002. Others in her corner include Cobb Commission Chairman Tim Lee and Commissioners Helen Goreham and Bob Ott, Kennesaw Mayor Mark Mathews, attorney Lance Cooper and Frank Wigington, past president of the Canton Road Business Association. Her legislative supporters include state Reps. Earl Ehrhart of Powder Springs and Sharon Cooper of east Cobb. U.S. Rep. Tom Price of Roswell, who initially backed Deal, is now supporting Handel, who like him hails from north Fulton.
ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION and what to do about it are at or near the top of the list of hot issues in this campaign, and MDJ oped contributor D.A. King's column this week posed a series of questions to the gubernatorrial candidates on that subject. Their responses were illuminating in some cases and will appear on Sunday's MDJ Oped Page.
THAT'S NOT THE ONLY RUNOFF on tap Aug. 10. Northeast Cobb voters will be choosing a successor to Tim Lee on the county commission. The two candidates JoAnn Birrell and Earl Stine, will face off at a forum Tuesday sponsored by the Cobb County Young Republicans. The 7 p.m. event will take place at Jock's and Jills at the Galleria and will be moderated by MDJ edit page/AT editor Joe Kirby. Contact CCYR vice chair Katelyn Ledford at (407) 756-9992.
THE REPUBLICAN PRIMARY RUNOFF for attorney general heated way up this week with news that former state Sen. Preston Smith of Rome, who faces former Cobb Commission Chairman Sam Olens Aug. 10, was involved in at least two affairs with his staff.
The infidelities were reported by the Atlanta newspaper based on Smith’s testimony under oath leading up to his 2009 divorce. Those divorce proceedings were presided over by Cobb Superior Court Judge Adele Grubbs after the judges in Rome recused themselves.
Smith — a Cobb native — denied in an interview with the Association Press that his infidelity had taken place before the separation. However, AT has learned that Smith admitted in sworn testimony before Judge Grubbs that he had had a romantic relationship with at least one of the women prior to his February 2005 separation from his wife.
Smith’s campaign has stressed his ties to the pro-life movement and membership in the West Rome Baptist Church. The news of his personal life is just the latest in a long string of such stories emanating from the state Capitol in recent years, where critics have long complained that a “frat-house” atmosphere prevails. And you can expect the Smith scandal won’t be the last of its kind.
COBB, OFTEN DESCRIBED as “the center of the Republican universe,” retained that crown in the recent primary — but only by a whisker.
Yes, Cobb led the state in the number of GOP votes cast, with 60,529. But Gwinnett County was right behind with 60,278. Third-place Fulton County was far distant, with 42,407.
PEOPLE: Congratulations again to Alyce Sarno, who’s moving to Bethesda, Md., with husband Bill and their daughter, where she’ll take over as VP of corporate communications for Lockheed Martin. Sarno, along with Lee Rhyant, has been the “face” of the Marietta plant since becoming head of communications and community relations in 2002. It’s people like Alyce that have made Lockheed an outstanding corporate citizen of this community for six decades, and we salute LM’s wisdom in promoting her to the corporate cockpit. … And welcome aboard to little Sarah Elizabeth Poirier, who arrived in Austell via stork Thursday evening. She’s the daughter of MDJ newsroom administrator Damon Poirier and Beth Poirier of the MDJ art department.
AUTHOR C.K. McCusker will be signing copies of his new book “Yankee Air Pirates” at 2 p.m. today at the Borders at The Avenue at East Cobb. The semi-biographical novel deals with the Christmas bombing of Hanoi during the Vietnam War in 1972 and was published by Bob Babcock’s Deeds Publishing of Marietta. McCusker will be joined by the Rev. Robert Certain of St. Peter & St. Paul Episcopal Church in east Cobb, who is a retired military chaplain and former Vietnam War POW who is the basis for one of the book’s characters.
For more information, call (678) 480-4422.
THE MARIETTA MUSEUM OF HISTORY was the victim of a gut punch by the city council this month, which voted to gouge away a huge chunk of funding for the city-owned museum. And Museum board members are still rankled that Councilman Van Pearlberg, who sits on their board, failed to defend the museum from the cuts. Meanwhile, the council has been arguing this week about whether to allow drive-through liquor sales in the city.
But not to fear! Mayor Steve Tumlin, breakfasting with friends on the Square on Friday, joked that Pearlberg could get back in the museum board’s good graces and balance the museum’s budget at the same time. How? By persuading the museum to install a drive-through window.