BLAIRSVILLE, GA – Incumbent Georgia District Eight State Representative Matt Gurtler officially kicked-off his 2020 campaign on Nov. 19 and addressed comments made by his opponent about the representative’s effectiveness in the state capitol.
Gurtler spoke to a crowd of supporters at the Pat Haralson Civic Center and fielded questions about Georgia’s General Assembly, the Republican Party, and his goals while in office.
The state representative and establishment Republicans have a contentious relationship. They continually butt-heads over bills due to government or budget growth.
“If a bill grows government, you vote no. If it violates the constitution, you vote no,” stated Gurtler, who originally ran in 2016 to bring principles back to politics.
According to Gurtler, his position to follow the ideas of limited government earned him a lot of heat within the capitol.
He called out fellow Republicans during his speech saying, “The largest tax increase, in Georgia’s history, passed under a Republican regime.”
The budget receives a lot of attention from Gurtler. When he started as an aide, he saw it growing every year. Originally, it was $19B, and now it is $30B. One reason for the ever-expanding budget is the movie industry in Georgia. Hollywood receives massive tax incentives to come to the state. The influx of the film industry into the state also threatens to flip it from Red to Blue, which can be seen in every election cycle. Most notably in the 2018 Governor’s race, where Democrat Stacy Abrams only lost by 1.4 percentage points.
District Eight Representative believes those elected to the General Assembly should stop cow-towing to Hollywood and start looking into how to aid local Georgians.
“I do vote no a lot,” explained Gurtler, “That first year was pretty tough, a lot of threats and intimidation, all kinds of tactics from leadership and establishment, used against me to get me to falter and come to their side.”
After the first three months of alleged intimidation, leadership left Gurtler alone, and he gained some respect from his colleagues for not changing his position.
However, his tendency to vote no serves as a point of contention with his 2020 opponent retired judge Stan Gunter. Fetch Your News asked Gurtler to respond to Gunter’s challenge that Gurtler is hard to work with, causing constituents to seek out Senator Steve Gooch for assistance.
“This is the same tactic that was used last time against me. It’s a falsehood,” admonished Gurtler, “If what my opponent says is true, that you’re voting off principle, and district money is being taken away, wouldn’t that prove we have a corrupt government?”
Gunter previously stated he has better connections in the capitol and that Gurtler’s positions have hurt the overall welfare of District Eight.
“Of course, my opponent is the establishment candidate because the establishment is going to behind him. The same people who supported my last opponent will be supporting him…The culture of the capitol, in my experience, is pretty corrupt. People come in with the greatest intentions and through fear and intimidation falter to the establishment,” said Gurtler.
He’s very open about establishment Republicans corrupting the party’s ideals, citing Speaker Ralston’s continuances scandal from the past legislative session as part of the problem. The District Eight Representative is one of ten who signed the resolution stating that the multiple continuances issued by Ralston reflected poorly on the Georgia government and the Republican Party.
Previously, Governor Nathan Deal and Ralston campaigned against Gurtler in 2018 – a move typically unprecedented in Georgia politics. Still, he has faith in his constituents, “The people have spoken twice now, overwhelmingly, winning by 20 points the last two elections, so we’re going to continue doing that, continue to lead by example, and that’s why we’re here.”
BLAIRSVILLE, Ga. – Georgia House District 8 Representative Matt Gurtler won re-election over challenger Mickey Cummings and the county referendum for the Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (ESPLOST) passed in last night’s primary election.
Gurtler, the Republican incumbent, took 5,965 overall votes (60.18 percent) across the district, which is comprised of Union, Towns, and Rabun counties as well as a portion of White County. His challenger, Cummings, garnered 3,947 district-wide votes for 39.82 percent overall.
However, in Union County, Cummings’ home county, the race was much tighter as Gurtler won with 2,458 votes (54.32 percent) over Cummings’ 2,067 votes (45.68 percent) in Union.
No Democrat qualified in the election to face Gurtler in November; therefore, Gurtler will remain as Union County’s state representative for another term of two years.
Another hotly contested vote was the county referendum on the one-cent ESPLOST. While two groups within the county held strongly opposing viewpoints on the need of this sales tax, the vote itself was not close. The referendum passed handily 3,753 votes to 1,635 (69.65 percent to 30.35 percent). The new ESPLOST will go into effect on July 1, 2018, and will continue for five years or until $21 million in revenue is generated, whichever comes first.
Other local races featured three seats on the Board of Education. In District 2, Republican incumbent Tony Hunter overcame challenger Joan Anderson, taking 2,790 votes (68.07 percent) to Anderson’s 1,309 (31.93 percent). Hunter is unopposed in the November general election.
The District 4 race saw Republican incumbent Keith Potts defeat challengers John T. Strickland and William McQuillan. Potts took 2,599 votes (64.44 percent) to Strickland’s 808 (20.03 percent) and McQuillan’s 626 (15.52 percent). Potts is also unopposed in the November general election.
In District 5, incumbent Patrick White ran unopposed in the Republican primary and will also run unopposed in November as well. White took a total of 3,435 votes.
In other state-level races, runoff elections will be required to determine the Republican winners of the gubernatorial race, the race for lieutenant governor, and the race for secretary of state.
For governor, current Lt. Governor Casey Cagle will face current Secretary of State Brian Kemp in a runoff election July 24. Cagle took 39.01 percent of the statewide votes to Kemp’s 25.55 percent. The winner of this runoff will move on to face state Representative Stacey Abrams, who handily defeated fellow state Representative Stacey Evans in the Democratic primary. Abrams garnered 76.44 percent of the statewide Democratic votes to Evans’ 23.56 percent.
In the lieutenant governor’s election David Shafer will face Geoff Duncan in the July runoff for the Republican nomination. Shafer won 48.91 percent of the Republican votes statewide while Duncan received 26.65 percent. The winner of the runoff will face Democratic primary winner Sarah Riggs Amico in November.
The secretary of state’s race will also be decided in the July 24 runoff as Republicans Brad Raffensperger and David Belle Isle will meet for their’s party nod. Raffensperger took 34.98 percent of the Republican votes while Belle Isle took in 28.53 percent. The winner will face Democrat John Barrow in the fall general election.
Georgia state Senator Steve Gooch ran unopposed in the Republican primary and will be unopposed in the general election for Senate District 51. Gooch received 19,706 votes across the district.
On the federal level, U.S. House District 9 Representative Doug Collins ran unopposed in the Republican primary and received a total of 63,592 votes in the district – 3,775 of which were from Union County. Collins will continue to November when he will face Democrat Josh McCall in the general election. McCall defeated Dave Cooper in a tight race 6,936 votes (52.71 percent) to 6,224 (47.29 percent).
Blairsville, GA – The latest class of Leadership Union experienced the culmination of two years of planning and hard work on Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017 with the celebration and unveiling of “Transcendent”, a 10-foot tall statue cast in bronze by the renown Oklahoma, Native American, Pawnee Cherokee artist, Daniel Horsechief, who was on hand for the “We Are Still Here” event.
The unveiling event was an all-day affair that started at 10 a.m. with an opening prayer by Beloved Man-Jerry Wolfe, then singing in both English and Native Cherokee performed by the Native Praise Choir.
Blairsville Mayor Jim Conley, Union County Sole Commissioner Lamar Paris, Georgia State Representative Matt Gurtler and a representative for Hunter Hill, who wasn’t able to be there, all spoke to the hard work of the Leadership Union class, especially that of Chairman Jim Brown, which put on the event. They spoke of what an honor it is to be a part of this recognition of Native Americans, the Cherokee Nation, the Choctaw, the Chickasaw and the Muscogee Creek that inhabited these very mountains long before Americans set foot here.
Muscogee Creek Deputy Chief Louis Hicks, Cherokee Nation Tribal Council Deputy Speaker Victoria Vazquez, United Keetoowah Band Chief Joe Bunch and Eastern Band of Cherokee Representative Councilman French all spoke of the honor they felt in being a part of the event, of their welcome back and of the memory of those Native Americans who were torn from their mountain home here in Georgia two hundred years ago as a result of the discovery of gold.
The actual unveiling took place immediately following the speeches. Daniel Horsechief spoke of the initial mistrust his people felt when they were first approached about this event, the genuineness of Mr. Jim Brown that convinced them otherwise; of the shrinking world we are experiencing today and the need for cooperation between peoples all over the world.
The afternoon, following the unveiling, entailed a barbecue lunch, a stickball game, a demonstration Stomp Dance by Cherokee Nation dancers, dinner at 6 p.m. and a praise and worship service with Native Preachers and Native Hymns.
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