Saturday, November 27, 2021

Oconee County Republican Party Features Representatives Wiedower And Gaines, Gov. Kemp, At Nov. 29 Meeting

***Redistricting Topic For Legislators***

Oconee County’s Republican Party is giving Oconee County citizens a chance on Monday night to hear from their two representatives in the Georgia House, Marcus Wiedower and Houston Gaines, regarding the just completed redistricting in the state.

Gov. Brian Kemp is the featured speaker at the meeting, scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m. at Hadden Estates at DGD Farms, 1112 Cliff Dawson Road, but the two representatives are scheduled to give what is being called a “redistricting update” as well.

Wiedower and Gaines, both Republicans, oversaw a slight change in their districts, with Gaines’ District giving up the East Oconee Precinct, and Wiedower’s Districting, adding East Oconee.

Both Wiedower and Gaines also voted in favor of a new Senate district map, which has Oconee joining with parts of Gwinnett, Barrow, Walton, and Clarke counties in a reconfigured 46th Senate District.

The current 46th Senate District consists of all of Oconee County plus parts of Clarke and Walton counties and is represented by Bill Cowsert, also a Republican.

Wiedower and Gaines also approved new congressional maps that radically changed the 10th Congressional District, in which Oconee County falls, and make it likely that Republicans will gain a seat in Congress, giving the party a 9 to 5 advantage in the Georgia delegation instead of the current 8 to 6 advantage.

The Oconee County Republican Party is banning video recording of the meeting on Monday, so citizens will have to turn out in-person to see Wiedower, Gaines, and Kemp speak.

Registration Requested

The Party meeting on Monday is open to the public, but those wishing to attend are asked to register in advance. The link to the registration is on the party’s Facebook page.

Flier For Nov. 29 Meeting

Neither Wiedower nor Gaines held any public meetings with citizens of their districts before redistricting or after, so the meeting on Monday will be the first time the public will get a chance to hear from them.

The Republican Party released two different maps for the House before adopting the second map.

Both of the maps renumbered the districts, with Gaines’ 117th becoming the new 120th and Wiedower’s 119th becoming the new 121st.

In both maps, the East Oconee Precinct was switched from the 117th to the 121st, meaning that Wiedower will represent 10 of Oconee County’s 12 precincts in the new 121st and Gaines will represent only two, Bogart and Marswood Hall in the 120st—if the two seek re-election and are successful.

The first map released by House Republicans removed all of Barrow County from the new 120th. The second map—passed by the House along party lines--gave back to the 120th a small part of Barrow County.

I asked Gaines via a text message on the Nov. 10, after the revised map was passed, for an explanation for the change.

The message was shown as delivered, but Gaines did not respond.

Kemp’s Opportunity

The party also is offering Republican Gov. Brian Kemp the opportunity to make his case for re-election following a party meeting on Sept. 27 in which announced challenger Vernon Jones made his pitch to the local party.

Flier For Sept. 27 Meeting

That meeting in September was before David Perdue had hinted that he might join in the challenge of Kemp in the May 24 Republican Party primary.

Kemp formerly represented Oconee County in the state Senate, and Oconee County is part of his home base in Athens.

Jones spoke for 30 minutes and then took questions for another six.

Jones told the gathered audience that the May primary will be “a referendum on Brian Kemp.”

Jones criticized Kemp for not conducting a “forensic audit” of the 2020 presidential election in each of the 159 counties in Georgia, saying “Let’s get to the bottom of the election. We just want our questions answered.”

“Did he fight for us or he didn’t fight for us?” Jones asked as he concluded his comments. “I’m going to fight for you.”

Jones received loud applause at many point during his talk, and particularly when he called for the audit of the election.

The response when he finished was loud and prolonged. Based on the pictures on the party’s Facebook page, about 40 people were in attendance.

Video Prohibition

Upon announcement of meeting with Wiedower, Gaines, and Kemp, I asked Kathy Hurley, party chair, via email if I could arrange to have the meeting video recorded.

I offered to make available to the party a copy of the video recording.

“I know you would really like to record the event,” Hurley responded via email on Nov. 15, “but since this will not be a forum style event (we will have questions and answers from the floor) we are not going to allow video recording per our policy. I'm sorry.”

Adam Hammond, vice chair of communication and outreach for the local party, is a former television journalist and anchor, but he has accepted this prohibition against video recording.

Hurley did not make reference to audio recording in her email to me on Nov. 15, and it is very difficult to prohibit audio recording, given that anyone with a cell phone out on the table can be recording the event.

I also was prohibited from video recording the September meeting at which Jones spoke, but someone made an audio recording and sent me a copy.

I do not attend public meetings on the advice of my doctor.

Video Presentation on Redistricting

I gave a summary of how redistricting affects Oconee County voters on Nov. 18 at the invitation of the Oconee County Democratic Party.

I would gladly give the presentation to any others who requested it.

The video is embedded in the post from Nov. 20.

It also is possible to go directly to the video on my Vimeo site.

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