MONROE, Ga. — The crowd at Roy Roberts’ farm Monday night was not a hard sell on the conservative agenda on display.
Local elected officials, state officials and others drew cheers of enthusiastic support as they worked to pump up the crowd leading up to the Jan. 5 runoff election to vote for who will fill two Senate seats from Georgia, an election that will determine control of the upper house of Congress for the next two years.
They were fired up for appearances by current Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, both of whom drew cheers in their push for reelection in this runoff vote.
The crowed appeared less than pleased, however, when anything was said that seemed less than sufficiently loyal to President Donald Trump, who remained a vital figure for the assembled Republican voters.
Lauren “Bubba” McDonald, who is running in the Jan. 5 election to try and secure reelection on the Public Service Commission, was the first to face a bit of backlash.
McDonald, who failed to reach 50% of the vote to win the election outright due to a Libertarian challenger, said the November election was over and it was time to look to the future.
“We gotta turn the page and get over it,” McDonald said to immediate boos from portions of the crowd, who began to chant “Fight for Trump.” “We got to reach out to the Libertarians and the independents and the thinking Democrats and get them to join us to keep this land the one we love.”
If McDonald’s comments suggested it was time to stop trying to overturn the results of the presidential election, however, portions of the crowd were especially hostile to the next speaker, Gov. Brian Kemp, who has earned the ire of the “Stop the Steal” contingent for not doing enough in their eyes to help Trump win the state, which Biden won by only a sliver of votes.
Kemp walked out a mixture of cheers and boos from a divided crowd on his recent performance as governor, as the “Fight for Trump” chants resumed and others shouted out slogans about Dominion voting machines and other theories about how Democrats allegedly stole the election, despite no evidence of the level of mass fraud needed to do such a thing.
“Thank you for coming out to support these great friends of mine,” Kemp said, ignoring attacks from both Perdue and Loeffler in recent weeks over his stance on the election, but he chose not to ignore the continued shouts from the crowd.
“There is no one in this state who has fought harder for Donald Trump than I have,” Kemp said to renewed jeers.
“But I will also follow the laws of this state and I will never deviate from that.”
Kemp refused to call a special session of the General Assembly to try and overturn the election results or appoint a Republican slate of electors instead of the Democrats who voted on Dec. 14, saying he did not have the authority to do such a thing in this situation.
Later, as further jeers and catcalls came from portions of the crowd, Kemp responded simply with “Merry Christmas!”
Those who came out to attend the event had various opinions on the situation. Some chose not to comment on it, instead focusing on the common enemy of Democrats and their “liberal agenda.”
“I’m here to support those who promote my conservative beliefs,” Ted Udell, of Walton County, said. “Democrats are going to do what they say they’re going to do and try to bring socialism to this country. We need to stop them and vote for those who will prevent that from happening.”
Debbie Bird, of Walton County, also did not mention the governor or the presidential election, though she was disappointed planned guest Ivanka Trump couldn’t make it after changes in the congressional voting schedule kept her in Washington, D.C.
“I understand why she couldn’t make it,” Bird said.
“They’re fighting for us so we’ve got to fight for them.”
Bird spoke highly of all the speakers and said she was encouraged by their message.
“I really enjoyed what I heard,” Bird said. “I’m here for America.”
Randall Wheeler of Gratis said he thought the entire event was a strong one and praised all involved.
“I think it was great,” Wheeler said. “I highly support David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler … AND Brian Kemp.”
Stephanie Eisenhart of Athens was less enthusiastic about the governor’s position but remained diplomatic on his position.
“Most people just want to stop the steal,” Eisenhart said, referencing the spreading Republican talking point on trying to prevent what they claim is widespread voter fraud to turn the election from Trump to Democrat Joe Biden despite a lack of any evidence suggesting such a thing.
“Some feel not everything was done that could have been, especially by Kemp.”
Eisenhart was also more concerned with the messaging and the unfortunate absences.
“I was hoping we’d get to see Ivanka and (Rep.) Dan (Crenshaw, also originally scheduled to appear). But we were here to support the senators and it was a good event.”