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Republicans to hold rally at Veterans Park

CONYERS — Sen. Johnny Isakson will kick off a rally involving 27 Republican candidates at the Georgia Veteran's Memorial Park next month.

"A Taste Of Conservatism" barbecue will be held at 11 a.m. April 10 and is hosted by the Rockdale County Republican Party, along with the local Republican organizations of Clayton, Fulton, Gwinnett and Newton counties.

Isakson is scheduled to speak around noon and will be introduced by Carl Dendy, past chairman of Rockdale Republican Party. Following Isakson will be Republican candidates running for office in the July 20 primary election in races at every level of government. Incumbent Rockdale County Commissioner JaNice Van Ness is scheduled to appear at the event along with candidates for the state Legislature, Congress and statewide offices.

Seven Republican candidates for governor are also scheduled to speak at the event — Jeff Chapman, Nathan Deal, Karen Handel, Eric Johnson, Ray McBerry, John Oxendine and Austin Scott.

Kellie Pharr, Rockdale County GOP chairwoman, said the idea behind the event is to educate voters on the choices they have in what is considered one of the most significant non-presidential elections for Georgia in recent memory.

"One of the biggest challenges that a voter faces is being able to educate himself or herself on any candidate's credentials and issues so an informed choice can be made on Election Day," Pharr said.

Gov. Sonny Perdue is limited to two terms and is not running this year. The Democratic primary field of gubernatorial candidates is just as large as the Republican group and includes former Gov. Roy Barnes.

All of Georgia's 13 Congressional representatives are up for re-election.

Also, seven other state constitutional offices are up for election this year — lieutenant governor, attorney general, state school superintendent, secretary of state and commissioners of agriculture, insurance and labor.

The choice of venue at the Veteran's Park was meant to highlight the Rockdale GOP's efforts to support veterans and active duty military personnel, Pharr said. The event also kicks off a book drive for servicemen and women stationed overseas, veterans hospitals and USO transit points through Operation Paperback.

It's the second book drive locally. Last year, the Rockdale GOP collected 3,000 paperback books.

"This year we are starting up our second drive that will run until July 2 with a goal of 25,000 books, which will represent the total number of books shipped each month nationwide," she said. "We have challenged all of our candidates to collect and bring paperback books and drop them into the drop box on stage. We strongly encourage our residents to bring their own collected books and really help push this effort forward."

Tickets are $5 per person and $2 per child under 12 years old. With a barbecue lunch the price is $15 per person, $12 for children 6 years old and younger with admission included. Tickets can be purchased online at www.rockdalegop.com.

For more information, call Don or Lyn Williamson, event co-chairmen, at 770-401-3573 or 770-356-1013 or e-mail events@rockdalegop.com.

Editor's note: a clarification on admission charges with and without lunch was done after this story originally appeared.