Early Friday afternoon, the Cobb Republican Party met at Jim Miller Park, while members of the Cobb Democratic Party gathered at a union hall about six miles away.
Cobb GOP Chairman Joe Dendy said between 1,000 to 1,200 attended his party’s event, which was catered by Williamson Brothers Bar-B-Q. Organizers at the Democrats’ event said about 100 people turned out, and a member of the party worked the grill to feed guests.
Attendees at both events said their gatherings felt more like celebrations than serious political forums.
“Everyone was very cordial,” said Michael Ware of Marietta, a job recruiter who attended the GOP event. “Nothing negative was said about any candidate.”
Ware said he initially attended to learn more about the candidates running for retiring Cobb Superior Court Judge Jim Bodiford’s seat.
While he said he didn’t learn enough to decide who he wants to vote for, he had a “wonderful” time. “I’ll be there next year for sure,” he said.
The event featured guest speakers, including Gov. Nathan Deal, who thanked voters for not sending him to a runoff, as well as Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, Attorney General Sam Olens and Secretary of State Brian Kemp.
Democrats had a more informal gathering, without any scheduled speeches, but Ruthe Levy of east Cobb said everyone was invited, not just Democrats. Attendees had time to speak with Juanita Stedman, who is running for the District 13 judgeship, labor commissioner candidate Robin Shipp, state school superintendent hopeful Valarie Wilson and Derrick Crump, a candidate for Cobb’s District 1 commission seat.
“It’s a red, white and blue day, and the Dems are the blue part,” said Levy, who owns a Fulton County book and toy shop.
Dendy also asserted his party’s vigor: “Cobb Republicans are here to stay.”
Democrats and Republicans said all the races Cobb voters are facing are important, but many highlighted the contest for U.S. Senate.
“We must keep our Republican seat to take over the Senate,” Dendy said.
Meanwhile, Beverly McMurray, of Marietta, thought more people will take a hard look at Michelle Nunn, who is running for the seat on the Democratic ticket.
She also thinks people shouldn’t pass over Jason Carter, who is running for governor.
“He’s the only Democrat the NRA will talk to,” she said, adding he recognizes that licenced gun carriers “aren’t the problem.”
At the end of the day, both parties also said America’s roots were the most important part about celebrating Independence Day.
“We all like to celebrate our nation’s birthday, our heritage and we want to be a part of that,” Levy said.”
Dendy said, “we’re remembering what this day is really all about: the men and women who fought through the years for our freedoms and to protect those freedoms through the years from our inception in the 1700s to now.”