Traditionally, the Georgia Press Association gathers each June on Jekyll Island. And in even years, the collection of Georgia’s medium and small newspapers hosts a debate of the election season’s ticket-toppers.
For candidates, it has been a way to quickly reach those editorial voices heard by voters in distant corners of a very large state.
Individual boycotts aren’t unheard of, certainly. Mark Taylor, who would become the Democratic gubernatorial nominee, snubbed the gathering in 2006. Republican Guy Milner, who would go on to win his party’s nomination for governor, boycotted a GPA debate in 1998.
But this year feels different. The GPA was set to host a gubernatorial forum in Jekyll Island on Thursday that featured Democrat Stacey Abrams and Republicans Casey Cagle and Brian Kemp.
The event has been scrapped. All three cited other commitments and fundraising duties, said Robin Rhodes, the association’s director. That’s a blow to public discourse. But it’s also a worrisome sign about the waning influence of community newspapers throughout Georgia.
Insider’s note: This item was ripped from the Jolt, which you can read here.
Read more recent AJC stories on the Georgia race for governor