Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Republicans Shift Support after Gramm Texas Senator Was Favorite among Georgia Leaders

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Republicans Shift Support after Gramm Texas Senator Was Favorite among Georgia Leaders

Article excerpt

SMYRNA -- Facing their wildest-ever election season, Republicans

predicted yesterday that GOP candidates for president, U.S.

Senate and secretary of state -- whoever the heck they are --

will carry Georgia.

Democrats go in to the fall knowing their roster: President Bill

Clinton, U.S. Senate candidate Max Cleland and Secretary of

State Lewis Massey, all unopposed as the April qualifying period

nears.

Georgia Republicans lost their favorite presidential son when

Texas Sen. Phil Gramm, a Columbus native, dropped out, and

spirited nomination fights are developing for the top statewide

jobs.

"All that means is that all the action is in the Republican

Party, and there's a malaise in the Democratic Party," said U.S.

Sen. Paul Coverdell, R-Ga., at the party's annual Presidents Day

fundraiser.

"I said at the time of my election that I had to have a primary

to win," said Coverdell, who survived a four-way nomination

struggle in 1992. "It focuses all the attention, it toughens you

as a candidate."

Yesterday's event brought out more than 1,000 people and raised

about $200,000 for party coffers, with some donating far more

than the $125-per-plate entry fee.

Coverdell huddled yesterday woth fellow leaders of the Gramm

presidential campaign -- the best-organized of any candidate's

in Georgia -- to discuss whether to throw support behinf Senate

Majority Leader Bob Dole or remain uncommitted. The senator said

endorsements are expected this week, as preparations intensify

for Georgia's March 5 primary.

Gramm's Georgia chairman, Alec Poitevint of Bainbridge, said he

won't support any other candidate until after the party's

August convention in San Diego, where he has been tapped as

chief fund-raiser.

However, he said he'll support the Republican nominee even if

it's hard-liner Pat Buchanan or Steve Forbes, the New Jersey

publishing heir, who has no Georgia campaign organization and

has made only one visit to the state.

Buchanan boasted several visible converts at the state GOP

function, including state Rep. J. Max Davis, R-Atlanta. …

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