Cobb GOP at crossroad — Establishment trying to stave off hostile takeover
by Bill Kinney & Joe Kirby
March 09, 2013 12:00 AM | 7425 views | 13 13 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
COBB COUNTY has often been called the “center of the Republican Universe,” especially as far as Georgia is concerned. But the definition of what the Cobb GOP stands for might well have to be updated, depending on whether the party’s Old Guard can withstand what amounts to a hostile takeover attempt mounted at this morning’s county convention by acolytes of Libertarian Ron Paul.

Cobb Party Chairman Joe Dendy is seeking a second-two year term and is being challenged by Oleg Ivutin, a native Russian and fervent Paul supporter.

The party’s mainliners are so concerned about their prospects today that airline pilot Darryl Wilson, who had been the third candidate in the race, dropped out on Wednesday rather than see the mainstreamers’ votes diluted and thereby enhance Ivutin’s chances.


THE RON PAUL MOVEMENT has found fertile ground in Cobb. At least five and possibly six of the 15 House District chairs in Cobb are said to be Paul supporters. Charles Gregory was the first Paul supporter to win elective office in Cobb with his surprise primary victory in 2012 over seemingly entrenched Republican state Rep. Judy Manning of Marietta. Gregory played up his conservatism during the campaign and made little or no mention in his campaign materials of his support for Paul. Many Mariettans told Around Town after learning of his victory that they had no idea that they’d voted for a Libertarian, in fact.

Gregory was quick to make a name for himself in this year’s legislative session, introducing a number of gun-rights bills, including one that would allow nearly anybody to carry a concealed weapon without a license. But he was one of only three Republicans on Thursday to vote against a bill that in most ways would increase the rights of gun owners. He voted as he did because, he said, it would allow a police officer who overhears someone making a threat to then add the speaker’s name to a database that a judge could later use to prohibit the person from obtaining a weapons license.

Gregory attended last summer’s Republican National Convention in Tampa not as a delegate but as the guest of a Ron Paul delegate — Oleg Ivutin. Gregory told an MDJ reporter that week that the Republican nominating process that produced Mitt Romney had made it clear to him that, “We live in an oligarchy and no longer a Republic” and that the convention had “brought my disillusionment to an entirely new level.” He also told the MDJ editorial board he was undecided whether that fall he would vote for Romney or stay home instead.


IVUTIN HAS POSTED a video on YouTube touting his candidacy, and in it he hammers on some of the same themes. (

“The Republican Party is at a crossroads,” he says. “Our party keeps electing ‘RINOs,’ (or ‘Republicans In Name Only’) or shoving them down people’s throats. Once they are elected they act like socialists. When you compare their voting record to the Democrats’ you don’t see a major difference. They say they are Republicans, but they vote like socialists. They live in a bubble, separated from the people. The only time we see them is when they are running for re-election. When Republican members vote for socialism, that is dangerous.”

And in a perhaps unwitting paraphrase of 1960s conservative icon Barry Goldwater, Ivutin asks, “Are we going to be a voice or an echo?”


IVUTIN’S STORY is inspirational in many ways and is an unusual one in Cobb politics, to say the least. He was raised in Siberia near the Chinese border. His maternal great-grandfather was executed in Stalin’s labor camps and his grandfather was declared “an enemy of the state.” His paternal grandfather also was sentenced to the labor camps.

He came to this country in 2001 with $1,500 hidden in his duffel bag and today owns a manufacturing business, a shipping business and a real estate business.

“I make things that ad value, rather than asking for things,” says Ivutin, who became a U.S. citizen in 2006. “I created my own job and other jobs.”

“Would you believe this would be possible, an immigrant coming and 10 years later running for party chairman?” he asks.

But as for the political system, “the road the current administration and the bipartisan Congress are on reminds me a lot of the country I left. … So it should be no surprise that I am not a fan of any totalitarian system, or any system that’s trying to become a totalitarian system.”


RETORTS DENDY, who is a South Carolina native with a degree from Clemson and an Army veteran of the Vietnam War, “The conspiracy theory of the Ron Paulers that the Republican establishment is corrupt and is made up of a bunch of socialists is not true. These folks believe that anyone that does not subscribe to their Libertarian ideologies is the enemy and must be ousted.”

The Paulers realize the Libertarian Party has very little in the way of an infrastructure, so they are trying to take over that of the Republicans, according to Dendy.

“And they’re doing it by any means necessary. Like the liberal Democrats, they truly believe their end justifies whatever means are necessary,” he said.

The Paul forces have pushed the party to vet and pick the candidates that run on its ticket, Dendy complains.

“They say this would do away with RINOs by allowing only ‘pure’ Republicans to run,” he said. “They actually mean ‘pure Libertarians.’ And isn’t that system of picking leaders the way they do it in Mr. Ivutin’s old country?”

A couple of Paul Libertarians were so disruptive at the GOP’s monthly meetings last summer that Dendy had to have them ejected.

“They were openly campaigning at our breakfasts against Romney, and were instead promoting the Libertarian candidate, (New Mexico Gov.) Gary Johnson,” Dendy said. “I would do the same thing to anyone who was promoting Obama, and I really don’t think Cobb Democratic Party Chair Melissa Pike would allow someone openly promoting a Republican or a Libertarian into their meetings.”


TODAY’S CONVENTION takes place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Roswell Street Baptist Church, across the street from the Cobb GOP headquarters building, and around 400 people are expected to be on hand as party members elect not just a chair and other executive officers but also delegates to the upcoming district and state conventions.

Running along with Dendy are Rose Wing for first vice chair, Justin Tomzcak for 2nd vice chair, Robert Potts for secretary, Helen Story as assistant secretary, Vince Clanton as treasurer and Gus Makris as assistant treasurer.

The competing slate features Ivutin for chairman, Daniel Galloway for first vice chair, Nathaniel Darnell for secretary, Richard Clark for assistant secretary and Chad Teague for assistant treasurer.

Keynote speaker for today’s event is longtime Georgia Party Chairwoman Sue Everhart of east Cobb.


KNOW ANY up-and-comers? If so, be sure to read the March issue of Cobb Life magazine in Sunday’s MDJ, which features “20 Rising Stars Under 40,” reports editor Mark Maguire. Incidentally, it also mentions that the Diamond Awards will take place March 16 at the Strand Theatre. Unfortunately, after press time the location was abruptly switched to the Marietta Hilton by organizer The Not Alone Foundation, which raises money to fight kidney disease. Cobb Life and the Strand apologize for any confusion, even though it’s not their fault. The event will feature such A-listers as “Dr. Drew,” Paula Abdul and Dionne Warwick. No word on why the switcheroo. … Look for a retrospective on the long career of retiring MDJ associate editor Bill Kinney in Sunday’s MDJ by Joe Kirby.


THE MADISON FORUM will host Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp at its Monday lunch at the Rib Ranch Restaurant on Canton Road in east Cobb. U.S. Senate candidate Paul Broun of Athens is also expected to be on hand, says Madison spokesman Michael Opitz.

The Cobb Taxpayers Association will hold a “Rock the E-SPLOST” rally at 1 p.m. Sunday on Marietta Square to oppose the March 19 tax referendum. Speakers will include former F&T Committee head Kim Euston, former Cobb Commission Chairman Bill Byrne, Georgia Tea Party board members and Cobb Taxpayers Association founder Lance Lamberton. For more, call David Staples at (678) 699-7062.


THE MARIETTA KIWANIS CLUB inducted new members last week and each took a turn telling the crowd about him or herself.

Among the inductees was Cobb’s new District Attorney Vic Reynolds. When it came his turn to speak, he brought down the house by drawling his name and title, followed by, “My advice to you is this: Stay as far away from me as you can!”

Comments-icon Post a Comment
Melissa Pike
March 10, 2013
Congratulations on your re-election, Joe. And no, I would NOT allow someone openly railing against my party to stay at my meeting.
liberty first repub.
March 11, 2013
First of all it's not Joe's meetings, as the Cobb GOP expresses: “We welcome all those who support the principles of the Republican Party”. We have current Republican GA Congressmen who voted for Medicare Part D, a big government measure if I’ve ever seen one. That doesn’t mean I think the Cobb GOP breakfast should be shut out to Phil Gingery even if I believe that vote alone makes him a moderate at best. Yet my opinion is subjective, I will only use force were legitimate, which means my private property.
Pat H
March 12, 2013
We have 2 GA Senators who conspired behind our backs with McCain and Kennedy to pass Amnesty. And then they didn't have the guts to vote for it after citizen outrage.

Where was the backlash by so-called Republican leaders?
March 09, 2013
dendy's quote sounds a lot like sen. mccain's and graham's response to senator rand paul's and cruz's filibuster. i was a delegate to the county convention and what i witnessed today was the swan song of the big govt neo cons in the cobb gop... which reminded me of what is happening on the national level. oh.. and I remember when goldwater and even ronald reagan were accused of being libertarians.
March 11, 2013
Indeed, it was as if Dendy had conferred with McCain and Graham before he made his comments on Saturday. Sadly, like McCain, it only makes him sound like a real "whacko bird" who is resisting others calls for fiscal responsibility, adherence to constitutional principles and limited involvement of government in the lives of Americans.

So glad to hear your take on what you observed gives me a glimmer of hope that we may be able to move the big spending crony rino/establishment capitalists out of the way before they help Obama crash it all into the ground.

We have been soooo disserved by the Republicians for the past ten (10) years.

March 09, 2013
It's funny how the author of this article tries to paint libertarianism as something opposed to conservatism. If you call yourself "conservative", ask yourself what it is you are hoping to conserve? Is it not the principles of limited small decentralized govt that the American revolutionaries fought for? In their day, they were referred to as "liberal". In our day, "liberal" means those who support big centralized govt. This could therefore include many in the Republican Party today. "LiberTARIANS" (as opposed to "LiberALS") are those who want to conserve the small, limited, decentralized, representative govt that the American Revolutionaries fought for and that the GOP says it stands for. You can be libertarian without being a member of the Libertarian Party, because libertarianism is a political philosophy, not a political party. It is about Liberty. Some libertarians espouse a liberal concept: they deny Natural Law, but true libertarians recognize Natural Law as the only source of justice & order in a pluralistic society - just as our founders did. So Republicans should welcome true libertarians as the needed pep rally and renewal of the values & philosophy their Party claims to espouse. And Cobb County should count itself extremely blessed for the persistence of Patriots who desire to be this wave of renewal despite the bully tactics employed to resist their legitimate exercise of Roberts Rules of Order at party conventions in past years.
March 09, 2013
The word "Libertarian" should be capitalized only when referring to the Libertarian Party (unless of course, the word starts a sentence.) The word "libertarian" with a lower-case "L" refers to the ideology.

Those in the movement refer to "large-L libertarians" and "small-L libertarians". The large-L libertarians are members of the Libertarian Party. The small-L libertarians are not.

Oleg Ivutin and Charles Gregory are not Libertarians. They are libertarians. They are also Republicans.

Those who consider themselves libertarian Republicans are not in the Libertarian Party not because it has "no infrastructure," but because in the U.S., we have a two-party system. The Democrats and the Republicans made it that way.
Samuel Adams
March 09, 2013
I went to Gregory's first town hall meeting with I thought an open mind. The attendees who came to support the new state legislator had nothing relevant to state politics to talk about. They and the newly-elected Gregory bashed the Republican national convention and spoke of drones, on and on. A question about the HOPE scholarship produced a blank look from the representative. It's obvious the Paul agenda has nothing to offer in the way of real governing, and the Paulites have no idea how to really translate their zeal into real life politics. The are just clueless unless they are agitating and complaining. In this regard, they are no different than the left. I consider myself a libertarian-leaning Republican, but have little in common with people who don't have solutions, such as Gregory, Ivutin and the like.

Dendy and the old Guard: update yourselves, but please try to hold against this barrage of nutcases. And stop foisting the RINOS on us and you will do better.
Dendy is a RINO
March 11, 2013
And so is Rose Wing. Both of them went around espousing the virtues of the SPLOST. They need to go.

So does Tim Lee and Helen Goreham. In fact, they would all make better Dimocrats.
Wacko Bird
March 11, 2013
Samuel Adams, we get it. The stink of the Cobb you political operatives coming out to discredit those "wacko birds" is strong.

Your comments concerning Mr. Gregory and Mr. Ivutin are so from from reality that I almost thought you might be John McCain.

You guys don't like fiscally responsible government or upholding the protections provided by our constitution.

You like talking about it...but you don't really think we need to take it "so seriously". Thats what "wack birds" do. ...we get it.

You think it is all a game for how the chamber gets the tax payers to fund a bunch of projects that keep the chamber members in a fountain of cash. Crony capitalism.

We get it. We have been had by your bunch of crap talking rinos for a long time now.

We have been voting for your crowd of "stand for nothing" candidates since way before G W Bush thrust on us the the Patriot act, DHS, TSA (and regular assaults on the traveling public), no child left behind, prescription drug bill, TARP, GM bail out, continued prohibitions on offshore drilling, no comprehensive energy policy...all under the guise of "compassionate conservatism".

We get what you guys are about...and it has nothing to do with freedom, our constitution or limited government.

Samuel Adams, you are full of BS. And you owe Mr. Gregory and Mr. Ivutin an apology for your BS comments about them (...but apologies are something rinos reserve only for the cool kids on the other side of the aisle, right?)

March 09, 2013
Rino's John Mccain, Lindsey Grahman.

Alia's Amesty McCain and Bengalz Graham.

All bark and no bite.
Joseph Pond
March 09, 2013
I would like to see the Libertarians support the Cobb LP, instead of hanging with a group that clearly does not want or support them. If the Libertarians banded together, we could make a Difference!
James Bell
March 09, 2013
The hatred for Ron Paul and his supporters among some in the GOP is helping to undermine the party. They claim "Big Tent" but they only use the canvas to smother those who think liberty is an important issue.

The GOP claims to be for less government, lower taxes and more freedom, but once elected they look a lot like their counter parts.

I applaud Charles Gregory for sticking to principles.

BTW why would you play up support for any particular candidate in your own campaign literature. Charles was selling himself not Ron Paul.
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