GOP leaders, candidates to converge on Gwinnett

Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson may have decided to skip Gwinnett this week, for the AT&T Classic, but political heavyweights will swing by for this weekend's Georgia Republican Party, which will be held at the Gwinnett Center.

According to a schedule released by party officials Wednesday, Georgia's U.S. Sens. Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss, members of the congressional delegation, Gov. Sonny Perdue, Georgia House Speaker Glenn Richardson and others plan to be part of the festivities.

While former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is the only presidential candidate confirmed to be in attendance, former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who used to represent Gwinnett in Washington, is scheduled to speak at Friday night's "Victory Dinner." Gingrich has not announced his intentions for the White House, but is believed to be a potential candidate.

Gwinnett GOP Chairman Gregory Howard said a grass-roots effort to cajole another Southern politician to the campaign trail will occur at the convention.

Howard said people are setting up a booth at the convention center with a petition to support former Sen. Fred Thompson of Law & Order fame.

With many of the candidates focusing their efforts in nearby South Carolina, Howard said he wouldn't be surprised to see more make an appearance.

"It's a short trip," Howard said. "What a great time to have all the leadership in the state cornered. I would count on some surprises."

Political Notebook appears in the Thursday and Sunday editions of the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Camie Young can be reached via e-mail at camie.young@gwinnettdailypost.com.