Georgia Republicans gather at one of dozens of watching parties around the state to listen to President Donald Trump's campaign kickoff. AJC/special

Georgia has become a training ground for partisan operatives 

President Donald Trump’s campaign kickoff Tuesday wasn’t just a chance to energize Republicans. It was also an opening for the national GOP to ramp up training for a core of volunteers who will help his 2020 re-election bid.

The Republican National Committee unveiled a “week of training” in Georgia and every other state that involves a series of sessions to educate activists on the art of fundraising, digital messaging and grassroots organizing. 

The program, known as the Trump Victory Leadership Initiative, has trained about 30,000 fellows nationally, according to the RNC, and expects to add hundreds more from Georgia this week. 

The party held more than 30 “MAGA Meet Ups” around the state to coincide with Trump’s roll-out, where hundreds of Republicans traded tips about politicking. 

Senior Republicans say there’s a pressing need for the training. U.S. Sen. David Perdue, who is seeking a second term next year, noted how nearly every Democratic contender has already visited the state because “they believe their path to the presidency runs through Georgia.”

“We’re not taking anything for granted, and that’s why we’re working with local grassroots activists and Trump Victory to build the strongest ground game in Georgia’s history,” Perdue said. 

Democrats, too, are fast boosting their training initiatives in Georgia. The Democratic National Committee launched Organizing Corps 2020 to train 1,000 college-aged students in Georgia and a handful of other potential swing states. 

And the National Democratic Training Committee recently ran a day-long training session in Macon to prepare candidates to run for office – and operatives to work on campaigns. 

Rose Clouston, one of the group’s directors, helped shepherd dozens through separate tracks on fundraising, communications, digital and field operations. 

The training comes at a pivotal time for the Georgia GOP. Republicans held every statewide office for the third midterm vote in a row, but they lost a sweep of legislative seats in the suburbs and Democrat Lucy McBath pulled off an upset against Republican U.S. Rep. Karen Handel.

Georgia GOP chair David Shafer, who recently said state Republicans are “in trouble” and need to ramp up quickly, said the initiative is a key part of prepping for 2020. 

“This week’s trainings will mobilize our volunteers around the state as we strengthen and grow our ground game that we’ve had in place for several election cycles,” Shafer said. 

An image from another Trump watch party in Georgia. AJC/special

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About the Author

Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.