In the style of 19th century politics, the Grovetown Merchants Association is holding an old-fashioned stump meeting Thursday for congressional and state Senate candidates to voice their views.
Association President Sonny McDowell said he is from Horry County, S.C., where the Galivants Ferry Stump Meeting has been a biennial event for more than 100 years.
"It is just always an exciting event. It is an opportunity for the candidates to get in front of the people personally," McDowell said. "We would like to make this a regular event in the election cycle, that we would bring the public together with candidates for office during the election cycle each time."
In the 1800s, one way political candidates sought votes and got public exposure was by delivering speeches, often atop tree stumps in towns in their district.
The event will give candidates in the 10th District U.S. House and the Georgia Senate District 24 races a chance to do just that.
The stump meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Grovetown's Liberty Park Community Center, 1040 Newmantown Road.
Ten candidates qualified by April 24 for the chance to fill the remaining term of U.S. Rep. Charlie Norwood, who died in February after battling lung disease and cancer. The congressional candidates are: Jim L. Whitehead, R-Evans; Evita Paschall, D-Evans; James Marlow Jr., D-Lincolnton; Erik M. Underwood, R-Atlanta; Paul Broun Jr., R-Athens; Nate Pulliam, R-Conyers; Jim Sendelbach, L-Conyers; Denise Freeman, D-Tignall; Mark Myers, R-Loganville; and Bill Greene, R-Braselton.
McDowell said seven of the candidates have confirmed they will participate in the meeting - Broun, Marlow, Underwood, Sendelbach, Freeman, Myers and Greene. Whitehead will not participate but will send a representative to speak on his behalf, McDowell said. As of Friday afternoon, McDowell said he had not received responses from Pulliam and Paschall.
The three people that have announced they plan to run for the state District 24 Senate seat vacated by Whitehead - former state Rep. Bill Jackson, Brett McGuire and Lee Benedict - will be participating, McDowell said. Qualifying for the seat opened Tuesday and closes Thursday.
McDowell said the format does not include debates between the candidates or questions from the audience.
"Basically, they get 10 minutes to talk about their candidacy," McDowell said. "If they are given 10 minutes, they can talk about what they want to talk about and that gives the voters a lot of insight. That's why I like the format."
The meeting will be moderated by Barry Paschal, the publisher of The Columbia County News-Times.
Candidates will be allowed to set up exhibit tables, where voters can pick up brochures, campaign buttons and speak with the campaign team.
The stump meeting not only gives voters a chance to hear from candidates, but it also supports merchants association goals.
"One of the objectives of the merchants association is to draw folks to Grovetown, folks from within the city, from the suburbs, and from all over the county. That is just one of the objectives is to draw them here. This is sort of a baby step in that direction."
For more information, call McDowell at (706) 860-9699.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.