MARIETTA — Between bites of lamb chops and chicken pot pie, former U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler and a small group of Cobb County Republicans mulled how the GOP can dominate again in Georgia at the Marietta Diner on Friday.
Conceived as a roundtable on Loeffler’s new non-profit Greater Georgia, she was joined by Commissioner JoAnn Birrell; Salleigh Grubbs, the new chair of the Cobb Republican Party, and other local Republicans. Greater Georgia was founded earlier this year, billed as the right’s answer to Stacey Abrams’ organizing and fundraising juggernaut, Fair Fight.
“(Republicans) woke up in November and January, and went, ‘What the heck happened?’” Nancy Couch, head of Cobb Republican Women, said of the elections, in which Republicans did well in down-ballot races but lost statewide, federal contests.
Loeffler and Sen. David Perdue, R-Georgia, were swept out of office. Donald Trump became the first Republican presidential candidate to lose the state since 1992.
Loeffler’s theory? Republicans lost the ground game, and lost it bad.
“We can’t have what happened happen again,” Loeffler told the group. She pointed to a major deficit in volunteers and field personnel as one of the deciding factors in her and Perdue’s January runoff defeats.
To that end, Loeffler said Greater Georgia will be holding training seminars with grassroots Republican organizations, like the Cobb GOP, emphasizing voter registration and engagement, especially in off years. One such event in DeKalb County last week turned out 75 activists, a dozen of whom had no prior political experience. In Cobb alone, she said, there are 30,000 conservatives who aren’t registered to vote.
Loeffler said several times Friday the GOP can only “grow the tent by not taking it down,” field-testing a slogan she hopes will become a rallying cry for an embattled party trying to find its way forward.
But, Loeffler told the group, Republicans have to act fast. Between the pulling of the All-Star Game from Cobb and President Joe Biden’s plans to “put government in the center of everyone’s lives,” the left, she said, is on the march.
“They’re just getting started,” Loeffler intoned, the group nodding along.
“Losing MLB,” Birrell said of the game, “is a huge hit to not just Cobb and the Braves, but Atlanta in general … the boycotting and all that isn’t helping, it’s only hurting all businesses. Minority businesses too.”
Grubbs turned the discussion to the June 15 special election to replace State Rep. Bert Reeves, R-Marietta, a critical and fast-approaching fight for the party. Loeffler framed the race as a battle to defend Cobb’s status as “a tremendously important engine for business in Georgia.”
“We saw the impact of Stacey Abrams’ and Joe Biden’s lies about our Election Integrity Act, the impact on that was $100 million right here,” she said, citing a contested figure from Cobb Travel & Tourism. (Greater Georgia recently purchased billboards near Truist Park blaming Democrats for the All-Star Game’s loss). “It’s so important that we have a strong conservative representation and support small businesses and families.”
After the roundtable, the MDJ asked Loeffler — a relative political neophyte — why she chose to keep her hat in the arena rather than return to private life.
“I’m a lifelong conservative and I’ve been involved in our party here in Georgia for over a decade,” she said, shortly after an admirer asked for a photo with her.
“Our values as a country are under attack by the left, and we need people who will stand up and fight,” she said.