With the battle over Michigan and Arizona voters coming to a climax Tuesday, Republican presidential candidates are already looking ahead to other states, including Georgia, ready to cast ballots in the March 6 Super Tuesday contests.
But don’t expect them to come courting votes in Augusta.
For a number of reasons, Augusta isn’t likely to attract the same attention Aiken County received from candidates in the build-up to the South Carolina primary.
The main reason is that compared with other counties in the state, Richmond County doesn’t have very many Republican voters. Travis Doss, the assistant director of the Richmond County Board of Elections, said that although voters don’t have to register with a particular party in Georgia, Democrats tend to win in Richmond County.
“Columbia County is exactly the opposite,” he said. “I don’t even think they have a Democratic Party there.”
So if a GOP candidate were to come to the area, they would likely be stopping in Columbia County.
“They go where the Republican voters are going to be, and that’s the suburbs,” said Merle Black, a political science professor at Emory University and an expert on Southern politics. “I wouldn’t expect a lot of campaigning outside suburban Atlanta.”
Black said although Georgia has a large number of delegates, it isn’t a battleground state this year because former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has the home court advantage. He doesn’t expect the other candidates to put much effort in challenging Gingrich here.
“That would be like challenging (Mitt) Romney in Massachusetts,” he said. “It’s just not a good use of their time or resources. I think a much more important state is Ohio.”
Aside from Georgia, Super Tuesday will include contests in Alaska, Idaho, Massachusetts, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Vermont and Virginia.
Brian Slowinski, the chairman of the Columbia County Republican Party, said he has heard at least one candidate is considering a stop in his county, but he didn’t want to say until the event was confirmed.
So far, Gingrich is the only candidate with events planned for Georgia. He has a bus tour planned for Tuesday and Wednesday, but so far there are no plans to come to Augusta, said Sarah Harper Scott, who works for the Gingrich campaign in Georgia.
Scott said Gingrich hasn’t much time and has a lot of ground to cover before Super Tuesday.
“There are 159 counties in Georgia we want everyone to be able to make good decision in the primary,” Scott said.
She wouldn’t rule out a visit, however.
“I would say there is a possibility he’s coming to the greater Augusta area,” she said. “Augusta is a huge dot on our map and it will not be forgotten.”