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POLITICAL NOTEBOOK: GOP chili event called a success

The Gwinnett GOP’s “Republican Rumble” is likely to become an annual event after a successful first year last weekend.

Party Chairwoman Rachel Little said about 200 to 250 people came out to Thrasher Park in Norcross, including elected officials, candidates, conservative groups and interested voters. The chili was pretty good, too.

“(Last Saturday) was a busy day in Georgia with events scheduled all over the State. The candidates for U.S. Senate and Congressional District 10 made Gwinnett County a priority because they understand that the road to D.C. runs through Gwinnett,” Little said. “Everyone had a great time and experienced a unique opportunity to meet the candidates and talk to them about issues that are important to Gwinnett County.”

If the chili is any indication, Karen Handel could do well in the U.S. Senate race, as her team’s recipe won the “People Choice” honor in the contest. And while Eugene Yu may be one of the least known candidates, tasters named his team’s chili the best among his fellow candidates.

The U.S. House District 10 competition went to Gary Gerrard’s team, while Chuck Efstration’s team won among the State House District 104 contenders, who will be on ballots Tuesday.

But leaders didn’t just let the chili do the talking. While the candidates glad-handed, the party conducted a straw poll.

In next year’s GOP Senate race, current District 10 Rep. Paul Broun came out on top with 35.3 percent of the vote, with Karen Handel winning 32.6 percent. Savannah Rep. Jack Kingston, who made his way back to Gwinnett this weekend, garnered 16.8 percent, with Rep. Phil Gingrey taking 6.4 percent and businessman David Perdue picking up 5.8 percent.

In the race to replace Broun in the House of Representatives, the Rev. Jody Hice took a big lead with 56.5 percent. Mike Collins, the son of former Rep. Mac Collins, came in second with 32.6 percent, while others were in the single digits.

Stephen Simpson picked up 6.5 percent support while local state Rep. Donna Sheldon received 4.3 percent.

“We were thrilled that as many as 250 people from all over the state came to the event,” Little said. “Georgia voters are engaged and are looking for opportunities to look these candidates in the eye and ask hard questions and talk about things that are important to them.”

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

Camie Young can be reached via email at camie.young@gwinnettdailypost.com.

For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/politics.