Republicans focus on grassroot efforts - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Republicans focus on grassroot efforts

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August 21, 2003

Albany- Paul Bennecke is a young Republican.

In fact, he's the 25-year-old party member helping lead Georgia Republican campaigns into the future. He's been working in politics since he was a college student and became Sonny Perdue's political director shortly after. The rest is history.

"Pulled off probably the greatest upset in America that night," Bennecke said Thursday before he began his seminar in Albany at the Southwest Regional Airport.

Now he's teaching Republicans all over Georgia how to do it again. They study Perdue's campaign and how it worked and look at trends and challenges for 2004.

"From the knowledge that we learned here we'll be able to apply more of what helped Sonny Perdue and his campaign to hopefully help win future campaigns," said Lauren Williams, a Republican attending the seminar.

And of course plan for Perdue's next stop at the polls. But while they're sharpening the blades of their grassroot strategies, a similar campaign is sweeping through America. Paul admits Presidential Candidate Howard Dean is good at the same game.

"He's doing a lot of fundraising via e-mail and website. Sonny Perdue did the same thing," Bennecke said.

Aside from the internet, Dean also has people gathering for meet-up groups to discuss issues and spread Dean's message.

"See, what I'm hoping for is that people will be educated and realize there's a different point of view from the talk radio point of view," said Ray Johnson, a local Dean supporter.

But regardless of which side of the political fence you fall on, campaign leaders everywhere are taking a closer look at grassroot strategies.

"So there's a lot of people who want to know how to do it," Bennecke said. "It's the old way of doing it, but I think it's the new trend coming into."

And Paul hopes the pastures will keep getting greener for their grassroot efforts.

posted at 11:05 p.m. by brannon.stewart@walb.com