Brenau University announced on Monday that the Georgia Republican Party on Feb. 22 will hold the third debate of candidates vying for the Republican nomination to the open seat from Georgia in the U.S. Senate on the university's Gainesville campus. Free and open to the public, the debate will be in historic Pearce Auditorium from 6 to 8 p.m.
“You do not have to probe too deeply into the volumes of international news reports and punditry that has already occurred to understand the significance of this election in the future of our country’s politics and government,” said Ed Schrader, the president of the private, non-sectarian non-aligned Brenau. “It is our duty as a university to provide forums for ideas and engagement of citizens in the community.”
The Gainesville debate is the third of seven programs set up by the state GOP after incumbent U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss announced he would not seek re-election. Currently eight candidates – including three members of the Georgia delegation in the U.S. House of Representatives—have announced their candidacy. The winner of the Republican primary will face the Democratic nominee in the general election on Nov. 4.
Among the top GOP contenders are U.S. Reps. Paul Broun of Athens, Phil Gingrey of Marietta and Jack Kingston of Savannah, along with former Secretary of State Karen Handel and former Dollar General CEO David Perdue, cousin of former Gov. Sonny Perdue. The main contender for the Democratic nomination is Michelle Nunn, the daughter of former U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn.
The first debate in the series occurred Jan. 18, in Adel, Ga. The second will be on Feb. 1, in Kennesaw. The Feb. 22 debate at Brenau University in Gainesville will precede the March 8 event in Macon on March 29 in Savannah, April 19 in Augusta, and May 10 in Columbus.
Adam Pipkin, executive director of the Georgia Republican Party, said that the series of events occurring in various parts of the state will provide voters with more access, more information and more opportunities to interact with the candidates than they might have had if fewer debates occurred in more populous cities.
Although the Gainesville event is open to the public, seating in Pearce is limited. Tickets guaranteeing a spot in the audience are available on a first-come, first-served basis through the state party or the various candidates’ campaigns.