Political Insider

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

A watershed moment in the evolution of booze and GOP politics in Georgia

It wasn’t quite happy hour yet, but the Red Hare Brewing Co. in Marietta was already filling up with locals sneaking off early from work to grab a drink Friday when Republican Hunter Hill stepped in.

For about 45 minutes, the former state senator brought his campaign for governor to the rustic brew pub, chatting amiably with its gregarious owner and touring its sprawling grounds.

It wasn’t so long ago that Georgia social conservatives and microbreweries mixed about as well as oil and water. An effort to allow Sunday alcohol sales stalled for years, and a generation of rural politicians worried that easing Georgia’s strict blue laws would alienate religious voters.

But Friday marked a watershed moment in the brewing evolution of booze and Republican politics. Three GOP candidates for higher office — Hill, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and state Sen. Rick Jeffares — campaigned in local brew pubs to celebrate an expansion of alcohol sales. A fourth, Secretary of State Brian Kemp, held an event Thursday at a Dalton distillery.

Read more: A new relationship brewing between Georgia Republicans and alcohol

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About the Author

Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.