New Lawmaker

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Money Doesn’t Always Triumph

MARIETTA — The dust has settled from the unseating of longtime state Rep. Judy Manning, 69, and soon District 34, in central Cobb, will have a new lawmaker in Charles Gregory, 33.

Many politicos were wondering Wednesday how exactly Gregory was able to defeat a well-known and well-funded incumbent.
“Money doesn’t always win elections,” Gregory said. “There is way too much emphasis on money. I was able to get out and connect with voters. I was able to meet and be available to people. I think that’s the most important thing. I know (Manning) wasn’t as available.”
Gregory prevailed with 4,061 votes (56%) to Manning’s 3,241 votes (44%). Interestingly, Manning led Gregory in votes cast during early voting and by mail, though Gregory’s election-day turnout put him in the lead.
Manning has represented the district, which lies mostly between Dallas Highway and Interstate 75, since 1997. She owns Manning Properties, a real-estate firm, with her husband, Aymar.
The incumbent could not be reached on Wednesday, but late Tuesday she told the Journal: “I’ve worked really hard to serve my constituents. We’ll continue to work and be active in the community and do what we need to do. I want to say thank you to my voters for their support for the years I’ve been in service, and I want to the thank them for the years going forward.”
In the latest campaign-finance reports, filed in early July just three weeks before the primary, Manning had more than $78,000 in cash on hand, compared to Gregory, who had just over $9,000 on hand.
“My campaign was 100 percent individual contributions,” Gregory said. “I was connecting with people who were passionate about my campaign. Judy has an entrenched establishment, and she gets money because she is on committees and she has people who are interested in her vote. It’s about representing the people, not the establishment.”
Most of Manning’s donations indeed came from fellow House Republican incumbents and special-interest groups like the Georgia Association of Realtors, who gave her $1,500. She also cashed a $5,000 check from House Speaker David Ralston, a Blue Ridge Republican, and took in $2,500 from the Friends of Jan Jones. Jones is a Republican state representative from Alpharetta.
David Chastain, a libertarian activist in Cobb, said he believes the district needed a new face. Chastain does not live in District 34.
“I had heard from my Republican friends that they were concerned that Judy was not helping the party,” Chastain said. “I think the Republicans felt the party would be better served by a different candidate. It could be a good thing for Marietta. … Judy has been a good representative for her district, but the people are ready for someone new. People in the district may want some smaller government and are looking for change.”

Gregory has lived in Cobb most of his life. He is a 1997 graduate of Lassiter High School and attended the University of Georgia for three years before starting his own business. He has lived near Kennesaw Mountain battlefield since college.
Gregory and his wife, Samantha, have been married for 10 years and have three children: Sara, Preston, and Chase, all of whom will attend Hayes Elementary this fall. Some voters reported being swayed by an apparently hand-written note they received from Gregory’s wife.
Gregory is also the founder and owner of Possumdelight Inc., a computer software and technology firm that he said has about $100,000 in annual revenues.
He is unabashed in his support for Ron Paul. Last January, he became state director of Paul’s presidential campaign here.
Manning’s own presidential preference remarks drew some criticism early this year. She supported Newt Gingrich in his GOP presidential bid, saying of Mitt Romney that she was “afraid of his Mormon faith,” but adding, “It’s better than a Muslim.”

by Rachael Cooper
The Marietta Daily Journal »