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Rally brings Republican candidates to Rome

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After the Republican candidates running for statewide seats in the 2018 election delivered their speeches at the Rome Rally on Saturday, the event at Richard B. Russell Regional Airport took a local turn with the announcement of Randy Quick’s bid for a City Commission seat.

Georgia GOP Chairman John Watson called Quick up to the front of a crowd of over 350 at the Tillman Hangar and said even though the commission seats are nonpartisan his presence at the rally meant something. Quick, the general manager of Rome Radio Partners LLC, with a 42-year career in radio, will aim to grab one of the three Ward 2 commission spots up for grabs in November’s municipal election. He would be up against incumbents Jamie Doss, Sue Lee and Wendy Davis — who have said they intend to seek re-election — and Monica Sheppard, a freelance graphic designer and beekeeper, is campaigning as well.

The four announced GOP gubernatorial candidates — Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, Secretary of State Brian Kemp and State Sens. Hunter Hill, of Atlanta, and Michael Williams, of Cumming — attended the rally put on by the Floyd County Republican Party. Of the four, Cagle spoke first, following up an address from U.S. Rep. Tom Graves, of Ranger.

Graves called on Republicans to take the energy and momentum from President Donald Trump’s election victory and carry it into state and local races. He poked at the Democrats’ motto of resist, saying, “The only thing they’re for is everything we’re against.”

Cagle pledged to cut taxes by $100 million in his first 100 days as governor, while Hill and Williams called for eliminating the income tax all together.

The Floyd County College and Career Academy received a name drop from Cagle, mentioning it as part of a statewide push he headed as lieutenant governor to better prepare students for the workforce through access to similar academies. Cagle said he’d like to expand the horizons of career programs to include more apprenticeship opportunities, fueling business growth with a pipeline of job-ready workers. CCAs can create an environment where kids fight to get into public education rather than trying to get out.

Hill and Williams spoke to a need for more options in education, promoting school choice and putting parents in the driver’s seat of determining their children’s education.

In an alignment with Trump, Hill said there will be no sanctuary cities in Georgia, vowing that any city that tried it would have all of its avenues of state funding cut off. Williams emphasized that he was the first elected official in the state to back then-candidate Trump for the presidency.

Kemp focused on making sure the growth of business in the state reaches rural communities and doesn’t just center itself in larger cities, supporting the growth of small startups. He decried the left’s attacks on voter ID laws, saying it was common sense that people should prove who they are before filling out a ballot. It’s unacceptable, he said, for those living in the U.S. illegally to receive government benefits.

Other candidates were Rep. Geoff Duncan, of Cumming, and Sen. David Shafer, of Duluth, who are both running to replace Cagle’s spot; Attorney General Chris Carr, who spoke to the need to take action against the opioid crisis and human trafficking; and Sen. Josh McKoon, of Columbus, and Rep. Brad Raffensperger, of Johns Creek, who are both running to replace Kemp. Also, members of the Floyd County legislative delegation — Rep. Katie Dempsey, Rep. Eddie Lumsden, Rep. Christian Coomer and Sen. Chuck Hufstetler — rounded out the speeches from elected officials.