October 9, 2013

McNeely says Georgia Republicans reaching out to all voters

Charles Oliver

— The Republican Party dominates Georgia politics, controlling all statewide offices, a solid majority of both chambers of the Legislature and a majority of its congressional delegation. But the party leadership in the state doesn’t plan to take the party’s future for granted.

Michael McNeely, the party’s state first vice chairman, told a meeting of the Whitfield County GOP Tuesday night that the party plans to make a major drive to reach Hispanics, blacks and other groups who “haven’t voted with us as much in the past.”

“This is about connecting with people where we believe we have a connection but we haven’t been communicating that connection effectively,” he said. “We want all communities, all people regardless of their background, to prosper. And we believe our principles are the ones that will help all people prosper.”

McNeely points to a referendum approved by Georgia voters by 58 percent to 42 percent last year that will allow the state to create charter schools. He said that is an example of how   Republican principles can appeal to a larger coalition if explained properly.

“That was a Republican idea. Democrats in the Legislature, with a few exceptions, opposed it. But their constituents supported it, and it was because we communicated a simple but effective message. We said, ‘We believe parents know what’s best for their children in terms of education,’” he said.

McNeely said the GOP also plans its first statewide voter registration drive in several years.

“There’s about a million potential voters out there we need to reach,” he said.

McNeely noted that the Republican Party is already a diverse party, pointing to individuals such as Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and Oklahoma Speaker of the House T.W. Shannon.

“We are not who the media say we are. We are not who the Democrats say we are,” he said.