If you did, you would be making a statement. Pridemore would become the first female Republican from Georgia to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives. Republicans seem to have this penchant for electing white guys to Congress. She would also be the first-ever Kennesaw State University graduate to walk those hallowed halls. Sturgis, the KSU Horned Owl mascot, almost fell out of the tree when I told him that. Sturgis doesn’t get out much.
I sat down over a cup of coffee with the candidate this week to talk about her campaign. She looked relaxed and confident. She should. Pridemore had a boffo fundraising quarter. As reported in last Saturday’s Around Town, she now has the most money of all the candidates in the bank as of the Sept. 30 end-of-quarter reporting period: $188,535, including a $50,000 loan from herself to the campaign.
Her rivals in the race, former Cobb County congressman Bob Barr of Smyrna, has $101,057; State House Minority Whip Edward Lindsey of Buckhead reports the second-largest amount, $161,673, including a $35,000 personal loan to his campaign; and former state Sen. Barry Loudermilk of Cassville has $64,122 in his war chest.
Sorry if all these numbers give you eye-glaze but like it or not, campaign contributions are a good barometer of a candidate’s political viability and Pridemore is hanging with the guys very nicely. Rep. Gingrey’s daughter, attorney Phyllis Gingrey Collins, has contributed to Pridemore’s campaign as has the congressman’s brother, James. I asked Pridemore if that is a subtle hint that Mr. Gingrey would like to see her succeed him. She laughed and said the Gingreys are a longtime politically-active family. I don’t know if that means yes or no.
This is Tricia Pridemore’s first effort at elected office, although she did run for chair of the state Republican Party in 2011 against Sue Everhart, also of Cobb County, and lost.
The candidate is a longtime volunteer in Republican Party activities in Cobb County. She said she began her efforts while a student at Kennesaw State and later worked in the campaigns of both Gov. Nathan Deal and Attorney General Sam Olens, former Cobb Commission chair.
Deal appointed her to the Board of Governors of the Georgia World Congress Center and later as executive director of the Governor’s Office of Workforce Development, a position she held until this past April, when she decided to throw her hat in the ring and run for Congress as a conservative candidate. In the 11th District, who isn’t a conservative candidate?
A couple of months later, she won an admittedly unscientific straw poll at the GOP Independence Day activities, but says this is an indication that she has strong grassroots support in the district.
She feels one of her strengths is that she is has been a small business owner. Pridemore and her husband, Michael, started a software company in a spare bedroom of their Marietta home and turned it into a multi-million dollar business. Small business, she says, will be one of her hot-button issues if and when she gets to Congress.
“The climate for small business in Washington is not good and it is not getting any better,” she states, “I want to see people who have actually signed paychecks go to Washington — people with business experience who know the challenges small businesses face.”
She also thinks she is the ideal candidate to bring the leaders of Cobb and surrounding counties in the district together in a cooperative manner. Pridemore says, “We need to think about our needs not only county-by-county but as a district, too. Each county in the 11th District has unique assets that could be shared with its neighbors for the benefit of all. Business and political leaders in the district have shown that they can work together and I intend to encourage more of that.”
I asked her to tell you why you should vote for her. “I am the only person in the race who has not made a career of politics,” she says flatly, “It is time for some fresh thinking and that is what I offer.”
Given the debacle that has taken place in Washington recently, identifying yourself as a “non-career politician” can’t hurt.
There is a lot of time left before we elect someone to represent us from Georgia’s 11th District and a lot of things can happen in the meantime, including the predictable and dreary attack ads that are sure to sprout like poisonous mushrooms.
But as of this writing, don’t underestimate Tricia Pridemore’s chances. She is running hard and running well.
You can reach Dick Yarbrough at firstname.lastname@example.org .