Political Insider

An AJC blog about Atlanta politics, Georgia politics, Georgia and metro Atlanta election campaigns. Because all politics is local.

State GOP chair says party will handle Donald Trump's ground game in Georgia

The GOP presidential campaign of Donald Trump is putting his ground game in the hands of people who a) may not like him; b) may not have all that much cash; or c) may have the cash, and may like him, but have other priorities.


Donald J. Trump is leaning heavily on Republican Party organizations to provide crucial campaign functions like getting out the vote, digital outreach and fund-raising, at a time when some leading Republicans have called for party officials to cut off Mr. Trump and focus instead on maintaining control of Congress.

This also means this fall's Trump campaign in Georgia will look – well, somewhat like it does now. Last week, state GOP Chairman John Padgett was in Troup County to address local Republicans. Here’s how Padgett described the coming ground game in Georgia, via the LaGrange News:

“Last time, we had about 21 offices scattered around the state,” Padgett said. “This year, we’re going to use your offices. We’re going to come in, and in some parts of the state share with you, and it’s going to be Trump-Troup County GOP. We’re in the process of working all that out and talking to chairmen around the state. We are going to be Trump’s ground folks.”

He said the state GOP plans to mobilize campaigners to knock on doors and make telephone calls in support of Trump.

Brandon Phillips, Trump's Georgia director, elaborates a bit:

Here’s the thing: Now, two months have gone by since the Republican Party of Georgia filed its last financial report, so the situation could well have changed.

But as of June 30, the state party reported about $250,000 in cash on hand, thanks in part to a stream of large corporate donations. But that’s a far cry from the millions it commanded a half-dozen years ago and must be counterbalanced with roughly $200,000 in debt documented in the same June report.

Clearly, if forces are sending greenbacks the way of the state party, allowing it to act as a pass-through, the dynamics change. But a program based on shared office space hints that a low cash-flow situation still exists. Which means that a GOTV effort in Trump’s name will have limited resources available to it.


Last Friday, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle was in the studio with Tim Bryant and Jennifer Pointer on WGAU (1340AM) in Athens. The topic of Donald Trump's struggles came up. Though there's still time, the Republican (who will likely be running for governor in two years) said his party's presidential nominee has a messaging problem. Cagle was also asked whether he stood by Trump. His reply:

"I can tell you, I'm not going to vote for Hillary Clinton. I think that we win on ideas and whether you're a Democrat or a Republican, you still win on ideas. And right now Donald Trump needs to be focused on the economy. ... Donald Trump needs to be talking about those issues as opposed to other things that are distracting...

"I wouldn't say that this was his best moment, but there's still time. It has to be centered around issues, around ideas and a future for where our country is going to go. If you look at some of the great leaders throughout history - John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan - they had greater visions for our country that really transcended politics."


The lieutenant governor also mounted a defense of Gov. Nathan Deal's school takeover plan, which voters will weigh on November's ballot -- arguing that state government doesn't have the wherewithal to go on hiring and firing binges.

WGAU's Tim Bryant noted that he has yet to hear a superintendent or teacher favor the Opportunity School District, which would let the state take control of perennially failing schools.

"Oftentimes, change is difficult. It's hard to create those paradigm shifts. But it's a tool in the toolbox to ensure we have better results," Cagle said, adding: "I envision the way this comes about - it's not a real takeover in the sense where you come in and fire everybody and say we're coming in and bringing all of our teachers and infrastructure to take this over. That's not practical."


Donald Trump's new campaign manager on Sunday insisted that the Republican nominee is not changing course on immigration, despite some speculation that he might be softening his stance in private.

Kellyanne Conway, Trump's brand new top campaign official, via the CNN website:

"So what Donald Trump said yesterday in that meeting ... varied little from what he has said publicly," Conway said. "What he supports is to make sure we enforce the law, that we are respectful of those Americans who are looking for jobs, and that we are fair and humane to those who live among us."

Then there was this, via The Washington Post:

Donald Trump's campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, said Sunday morning that she does not want the Republican presidential nominee to release his tax returns until an audit by the Internal Revenue Service is completed, abandoning a position that she took five months ago, when she didn't work for the campaign and urged Trump to "be transparent" and release the filings.


On this November’s ballot is a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would abolish an independent judicial watchdog agency so that it can be replaced with one more under the control of the state Legislature.

We long ago reported that state Rep. Johnny Caldwell, R-Thomaston, one of the backers of the proposal, had been forced from his Griffin Circuit judgeship by that same commission after he was accused of making rude, sexually suggestive comments to a female attorney.

It is one thing to see that accusation in print. It’s another to broadcast excerpts of the recorded deposition, as Brendan Keefe of 11Alive did over the weekend. “He leaned in to give me a hug and crammed his tongue in my mouth,” the attorney said. Watch:

More can be found on the TV station's website here.

Reader Comments ...

About the Author

Tamar Hallerman is The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Washington correspondent, covering Congress, federal agencies and other government activities that impact Georgia.