ATLANTA — Georgia Republicans are choosing a new party leader this weekend. They are doing so at a time when the party is facing down losses in congressional and legislative seats – and scandal among some of its leaders.
Harshly criticized for abusing his office, Georgia’s Republican House speaker Rep. David Ralston says he won’t resign.
Indicted for fraud, Georgia’s Republican Insurance Commissioner Jim Beck stepped aside to fight federal charges. And Georgia Republicans have lost seats in Congress and the legislature faster than they have in decades.
Republicans are still in charge – and can stay in charge if they adapt to changing demographics and shun corruption, said Republican Clay Tippins.
"Whatever party’s in power has got the challenge of basically keeping their house in order. And Republicans have been in power for a long time. And so we, a hundred percent, have to be on the right side of that. And we can’t tolerate corruption," Tippins said Friday.
Tippins was the candidate for governor who secretly recorded Republican Casey Cagle talking about passing a bad bill in order to influence campaign contributions. Cagle went down, but the man who beat him Brian Kemp has vigorously advanced a conservative agenda as governor – even as Georgia’s conservative majority has softened.
Tippins said Republicans can hold power, without changing their values. Democrats have crept closer in gubernatorial elections since 2006.
Democrat Stacey Abrams came within one and a half percentage points of beating Brian Kemp last year. Kemp has responded with a string of high visibility events as governor – mirroring the pace of an ongoing campaign.
Georgia Republicans will name a new chairman Saturday who will serve the party the next two years. That sound he or she will be hearing will be Georgia Democrats knocking at the door.
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