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State GOP Chairman’s Race Heats Up

    From left, Seth Harp, Alex Johnson, John Padgett, B. J. Van Gundy. (credit: Todd Rehm)

Animosity between upstart Ron Paul supporters and other Republicans apparently is alive and well.

At a Gwinnett County forum for candidates to replace Sue Everhart as chair of the state Republican Party, B.J. Van Gundy quizzed former Athens GOP chairman and current state party secretary John Padgett about an attempted takeover of the county party by Ron Paul supporters. The episode grew so heated it led to a fistfight after a party meeting.

Padgett helped put down the uprising—illegally, Paul supporters say, although he was later cleared of wrongdoing. Here’s a recap of the debate from Z Politics:

Then it was Van Gundy’s turn to ask a question and he asked John Padgett about his involvement in the Clarke County GOP Convention and if he would do anything differently.  Padgett was a delegate to the convention last year where Matt Brewster, the Clarke County GOP Chair lost control of the convention and ultimately, this led to the Clarke County delegates not being seated at the State Convention. Padgett shot back that Van Gundy’s question reflected a desire to deflect from the fact Van Gundy is “losing this race”and speaks “volumes on how you would chair this party.”

The unnamed author theorizes that Padgett and fellow candidates Seth Harp and Alex Johnson are ganging up on frontrunner Van Gundy and will united behind whichever of the three makes it to the second round of voting.

Political consultant Todd Rehm has the full exchange over at his blog:

“Well, first of all, let me be clear. At that convention, I was a delegate. I was only a delegate. I wasn’t an officer of the convention. I wasn’t on any committee of the convention. I wasn’t there serving as Secretary of the Georgia Republican Party, I was a delegate.

“Now, in the last two-and-a-half-three months, Seth and Alex and I have gone all over this state and we’ve made every effort to talk to every group when we’ve been together to bring this party together and to be sure that this party is on the right footing for the next several years and everybody is included in the party and welcome in the party.”

“Those of you who’ve heard me talk before understand that I’ve said the same thing, haven’t changed my story, been the same story I’ve been telling since I got in this race.”

“Now BJ, the fact that you’re losing this race does not justify your attempts to divide this party… bringing negativity into this race, and it speaks volumes about how you would chair this party.”

Delegates will elect a new chairman May 18 at the state convention in Athens.