In a rapid-fire presentation to Oconee County Republicans on Monday evening, U.S. Senate candidate Doug Collins attacked former Democratic presidential candidates Beto O’Rourke and Bernie Sanders, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, and Democrats in general.
He also attacked Kelly Loeffler, his most prominent Republican rival in the special election to fill the unexpired seat of Johnny Isakson, saying “she has tried to smear me to make you think that I’m not a conservative.”
Collins praised local Republicans for their enthusiasm, urged those present to vote and get others to vote for him, praised president Donald Trump, and predicted a victory for the president and Republicans generally on Tuesday.
Collins was the last of the six Republicans candidates to speak to Oconee County Republicans, with Loeffler having spoken in May, Wayne Johnson in June, Annette Davis Jackson in August, and Kandiss Taylor and Derrick Grayson in September.
Twenty names are on the ballot in the nonprimaried special election, with eight of them running as Democrats. Another candidate has qualified as a write-in candidate.
Names are listed alphabetically on the ballot, and Collins told those gathered at the Republican Party meeting on Monday night to remember that his was the third on the list.
As of the end of the day on Tuesday, 13,042 Oconee County voters had cast their ballots at in-person voting at the Civic Center, and another 5,067 absentee ballots have been received, for a total of 18,109 votes cast.
Oconee County has 31,594 registered voters, and 30,033 are active. The 18,109 voters represent 57.3 percent of the total voters and 60.3 percent of the active voters.
The 18,109 voters compared with the 20,476 who cast a ballot in the Nov. 8 election in 2016. That 20,476 represented 85.1 percent of the county’s then 24,058 active voters.
Of the 2016 voters, 57.5 percent had voted advanced in-person, 4.5 percent had voted absentee, and 38.0 percent had voted in-person on election day.
Collins was preceded at the Monday event by Tim Burgess, running as a Republican to retain his Post 4 seat on the Board of Education, and James Chafin, running without a party label in the special election for District Attorney for the Western Judicial Circuit, made up of Oconee and Clarke counties.
Burgess, Chafin and Collins spoke from the front porch of the party headquarters, 1050 Barber Creek Drive, off Mars Hill Road, to a crowd spread in the parking lot.
It was difficult to hear all of the speakers, and Burgess was inaudible much of the time because of the weakness of the amplification system and noise from Mars Hill Road.
Burgess praised Michael Ransom in the audience, the Republican Party nominee for open Post 5 on the Board of Education, as someone who “shares the same values as the rest of us on the Board and the superintendent share. He will be a great addition to the Board.”
“I believe that public education in this county is critical, is critical, to the economic prosperity and quality of life that we all enjoy,” Burgess said.
Burgess has Democratic opposition in Laura Ormes, and Ransom and Democrat Joan Parker are competing for Post 5 on the Board.
Chafin, joined by Democrats Deborah Gonzalez and Brian Patterson in the special election for District Attorney, said “experience is critical in the District Attorney Office” and cited his experience as Deputy Chief Assistant District Attorney as a qualification.
Chafin said “it is important to keep politics out of the courtroom and that is why I am running as a nonpartisan candidate.”
Collins on Enthusiasm
Collins spoke for nearly 25 minutes, and he had the crowd clapping with him frequently.
“I’ve got a little Baptist preacher in me,” he said. “I’m tired of Republicans being boring. I’m tired for conservatives sitting back and not getting excited,” he said.
“These local races,” Collins said. “What you are doing right now is the most important thing we’ve got, not only from the top of the ticket with Donald Trump but all the way down to our school board, our District Attorneys, and everywhere else.”
“We cannot afford to let up,” he said. “If anything, it is now a time for us to ramp it up. Eight more days, and we’ll keep Georgia Red. But we’ve got to have your help.”
Collins On Opposition
Democrats “are the Bernie Sanders wing of the party. No. We’re going to make Medicare for all.
“Now they’ve got Beto O’Rourke saying, yea, we’re going to come get your guns,” Collins said.
“This is no longer the battle between two that are similar,” Collins said. “This is a battle between liberty and freedom and justice on the Republican Party and it is a battle for the big government socialism on the left.”
“I don’t understand, really, how you look at it,” Collins said. “You see Joe Biden. You see Donald Trump. I mean one man who actually has a hard time finding his way around his own basement. And one man who is out there doing three rallies a day in Pennsylvania.”
“I’m tired of the country shut down,” Collins said “I don’t want Joe Biden telling me we need to go backwards to go forward. We need to go forward because we need to make our economy, our schools, and our system is open for everybody so we can get past this virus.”
“I’ve been so proud of watching this president reach out to all communities,” Collins said.
Collins criticized Loeffler for the money she has spent in the campaign and the commercials she has used.
“She doesn’t want you to think that I’m a conservative,” he said. “She wants you to ignore the last eight years. She wants you to ignore the last two years in which I fought for this president.”
Collins cited his opposition to abortion as one of his conservative credentials.
Philip Ashford attended the meeting on Monday and recorded the speakers on his cell phone. He was unable to record Burgess because of the noise, but the meeting was live streamed on the party’s Facebook page, and I was able to capture Burgess’ comments from there.
I have put all three of the videos together in the single video below.
The audio is a problem on all of the videos. I amplified the audio when I edited the three clips to create the video below, but the solution is far from perfect.
Burgess begins speaking at the very beginning of the video.
Chafin is at 5:17 in the video.
Collins begins his presentation at 10:20 in the video.
Ashford estimated the crowd to be about 40. Steven Strickland, party chair, told me after this story was posted that he counted the number in the audience when Collins began to speak and it was more than 90.