“What it really comes down to in the end is: are you putting yourself out there with stands you believe in,” she said of her philosophy. “I’m not trying to be politically divisive, but I’ve got a conservative perspective and I won’t give in to what the other side wants.”
About 500 candidates have applied to succeed Isakson, who is stepping down at the end of the year because of health concerns. The majority won't be seriously considered, but those who will include U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, former Health Secretary Tom Price and Jones, the No. 2 Republican in the state House.
Kemp could consider two broad strategies for his pick, who would have to stand for election in 2020 to fill out the remaining two years on Isakson’s term.
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He could aim for a base-pleasing conservative who could help energize the party faithful. Or he could use his selection to target the Georgia GOP’s most glaring weakness – the Democratic surge across metro Atlanta’s suburbs that almost cost Republicans the governor’s race last year.
Gingrich Cushman, who recently authored “Our Broken America” about the lack of consensus in politics, sees herself as a serious contender– particularly if Kemp wants to keep an eye on the suburbs.
She said her frequent media appearances for her father’s failed 2012 presidential run will come in handy, as well as her financial background. Her resume includes a five-year stint as director of financial planning for Bellsouth Mobility and a role as a senior adviser for her father.
“I’ve learned how to be cheerfully persistent and positive, with a belief that things can be better,” she said. “You need someone who can take the heat, stand by their conservative convictions and still be positive.”