Barry Loudermilk, a former state senator from Bartow County, and former congressman Bob Barr of Cobb County have signed on for the forum, kicking off at 6:15 p.m. at the historic marble courthouse, said Diane Rugg of the women’s group.
Loudermilk and Barr are competing for the seat after they were the two front-runners in the May 20 primary for the Republican nomination to move on to the November general election. Because no Democrats are running, the runoff is expected to decide the winner. The seat covers all of Cherokee and Bartow counties, a portion of Cobb and a small piece of Fulton.
The race has been heating up in recent weeks, with each of the campaign camps taking shots at the other side. But Rugg said she doesn’t expect any “gotcha” questions from the audience. The questions have been emailed in as the forum approached and are about policy, she said.
Rugg said she expects a turnout of about 100 people.
“Interest seems to be running high,” she said Wednesday. “But you would expect that out of a congressional election.”
The runoff candidates for the District 4 seat on the Cherokee Board of Commissioners were also invited, but former Commissioner Larry Singleton declined. Singleton’s opponent, Kenneth Scott Gordon, 47, an architect, has agreed to attend and will be given time to speak and answer a few questions, Rugg said.
Singleton said he appreciated the invitation, but he expects a low turnout of District 4 voters. He said this was the case at other recent forums held by the GOP women’s group at the historic courthouse.
“I can with 90 percent certainty name the District 4 voters who will be at the forum, and I can pretty much tell you who they’re voting for,” Singleton said, adding he spoke with District 4 residents who wouldn’t come because of the location and time. “I could have easily drove up to Canton and gone to this. I think it’s a waste, not only of my time, but the voters’.”
Singleton said he recommended the group have a forum in District 4, as there are multiple good public locations, but the group declined.
Rugg said having other forums at different locations just wasn’t feasible.
“Pretty soon, you water down your attendance,” she said. “However, I also (told Singleton) that people from his district will come to hear Barry Loudermilk and Bob Barr, where they wouldn’t come to hear just commissioners. Barry Loudermilk or Bob Barr will definitely have an impact on their lives.”
Singleton said he’s taken some heat from residents in the Canton area who have accused him of being scared of the “debate,” though he clarified it’s a forum, not a debate.
“I knew I was going to take some heat from Canton,” he said. “I’m going to stick to my guns.”
Singleton said it was a shame no one was having a forum in District 4.