By Phil Kent –
As Donald Trump celebrates victory in the Indiana presidential primary, he can thank three Georgians who impacted his campaign, in significant but different ways, as he has ploughed toward the Republican presidential nomination.
I’m referring to three movers-and-shakers who have worked with each other in the political arena over the past couple of decades: Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Atlanta businesswoman Rayna Casey and pollster and attorney Matt Towery with Atlanta’s Hall Booth Smith firm.
After the Iowa caucuses, Gingrich – from his national soapbox as a Fox News Channel analyst— began positively noting that Trump was gaining traction by tapping into massive voter dissatisfaction with America’s direction. The former speaker still predicted, even after mainstream media criticism of Trump’s insults toward other candidates, that the New York businessman could ultimately be the leading candidate for the GOP.
Trump naturally listens to the former speaker’s political advice aired on Fox News, even though Gingrich can’t endorse anyone. And Gingrich obviously listens to Towery— even praising him in a March 3 Washington Times oped piece and citing Towery’s now-famous 2014 “Why Trump Should Run” column. But more about that later.
Casey, a former Buckhead Coalition vice president and Georgia Lottery Corp. board member, is a major donor, fund-raiser and advisor to various GOP candidates. She jumped on the Trump train as state co-chair to prepare for Georgia’s March 1 “SEC Presidential Primary.” It was Casey, for example, who negotiated the contract with the Georgia World Congress Center Authority for Trump’s huge February rally and is a Trump campaign favorite for an at-large national delegate slot when the state GOP convention convenes in Augusta. (Casey started the Nicole Miller store in Atlanta with her daughter in 1997 and, before that, operated Mode Inc. which provided interior design for optical stores and offices nationwide. She was also a major shareholder in the Atlanta-based National Vision Associates.)
Towery, relying on polling done with his son Matt Jr. of the Atlanta-based Opinion Savvy agency, very early predicted the success of a Trump candidacy. In a December 14, 2014, Creators Syndicate column titled “Why Trump Should Run,” the one-time state legislator from Vinings became the first nationally syndicated columnist to not only encourage Trump, but to predict the nascent political power of the billionaire businessman who is now poised to be the Republican presidential nominee.
“The elite media will scoff at a potential Donald Trump candidacy for president,” Towery wrote. “They will consider it a publicity move and a bluff. The Washington insiders will write off Trump as completely unqualified to be a presidential candidate, much less president. And as usual, they will be wrong.”
Those words of encouraging analysis were incredibly prescient. And he concluded by saying, “Sure, his candidacy might be a long shot. But so too was Obama’s in 2008. And regardless, Trump would shake up the GOP field and a bunch of stale, complacent D.C. insiders and consultants who need to be told, ‘You’re fired.’”
Trump triumphantly tweeted out Towery’s article for his followers.
Trump’s most recent note to Towery came after one of Towery’s final syndicated columns comparing his continued prediction of a Trump nomination to smart stock investing. Trump’s comment was simple: “Matt, great pick! Donald J. Trump.”
And speaking of picks, the latest buzz is Gingrich could be a possibility as a Trump vice presidential candidate. An American Spectator writer just this week declared that he “is the veep to complete Trump’s transformation of the GOP.”
Think about it: Between Gingrich, Towery as the first analyst to get it right, and Casey as a force for Trump not just in Georgia but other Southern states — Georgia has Trump’s attention more than most would guess!
The author is the CEO of Atlanta-based InsiderAdvantage and James magazine, as well as a panelist on WAGA-TV’s The Georgia Gang.