Speaker Ralston’s opponent for State House 7th District Sam Snider spoke Tuesday night at the monthly Fannin County GOP meeting. Fannin County is home to Speaker Ralston. The Fannin GOP is where Speaker Ralston announced his bid for re-election just a few months ago before heading to start the January legislative session at the Capitol.
It was clear the room was a hometown Ralston crowd. When entering the room people where eager to put a Ralston sticker on you. Snider received a cold reception as he was introduced to a crowd of around 60, mostly wearing Ralston stickers. After his opening remarks Snider did not let the cold chill in the room deter him from going directly after his opponent. Snider held up a copy of the AJC and referred to an article last week that he stated referred to him as
“just a wrestling coach”
and that the Incumbents have more money, that’s just the way it is. Snider said he was more than a wrestling coach and when into detail about being a husband, father, and a teacher for 23 years. Snider asked the crowd
“Does it take money to buy your vote? Because a man can put more flyers in your mailbox, is that what we have come to in this county? If you got a sticker placed on you that says Ralston and it wasn’t your choice, you can take it off, it’s your choice.”
It was noticeable these remarks created some tension in the room. When Snider stated to the people it was time to end handouts for people who could work and time to bring back the work ethic in this country. These were his first real applause lines of the night.
Snider responded to accusations that he was someone’s puppet. He told the room to go look at his fund raising report and see if they could find any special interest groups.
“Then go look at the $620,000 in the others person’s account and see where the money goes, now if money can buy your vote go ahead. I am nobody’s puppet.”
These statements were clearly starting to get the attention of the room.
Snider continued by telling the room that he had been fully endorsed by Mike Griffin from Georgia Right to Life. Snider had his two sons hand out a list of bills that protected life and made claim that Speaker Ralston did not allow the bills to come to the floor for a vote. Snider said he was not questioning his opponent’s pro-life status just presenting the facts to allow people to decide.
Snider then challenged the increased spending in the state budget over the last three years. Stating that the budget in 2012 was 18.3 billion, 2013 - 19 billion and 2014 - 19.9 billion. He disputed Speaker Ralston’s claims that he had not raised taxes. Snider said Ralston voted for TSPLOST that failed miserably also the hospital bed tax of $17 per bed in nursing homes and if a person wants to sell a car to another person they have to pay a tax.
Snider attacked Ralston’s law practice by calling legislative leave, legislative excuse. He brought up cases that have taken years to come to court due to the fact that the Speaker was busy in Atlanta with legislation. The law allows for legislators to ask for what is called legislative leave to excuse them from bringing a case to trial during a legislative session. Some critics of the law have said that it seems like legislators’ cases only get put on a court calendar when session is going so they can ask for a leave and delay the case. Snider said
“If you’re going to be full time down there don’t take the case.”
In closing Snider made a firm statement and then he challenged the voters.
“I’m not running for Speaker of the House. Write down two things the Speaker of the House has done for your county. If you have a list vote for him, if your page is blank? The man started coming here when I announced in October. You’re going to see a lot more of him, but ask yourself how much have you seen the Speaker prior to this.”
“Wouldn’t you like to see a debate between me and Mr. Ralston? You have asked for it.”
Snider took questions. First a lady asked about HB707 that would basically defund Obama Care in Georgia. She claimed that Ralston had stripped the bill and asked for his opinion. Snider responded
“Follow the money. Who is putting the money in the coffers of the Incumbents. Just go look online it will tell you, if someone gave you $30,000 this year how are you going to vote? That is the reason it gets stripped down.”
The lady asking the question was clearly a Snider supporter.
Now a final question from a Ralston supporter. How would Snider do as a freshmen Representative and how long would it take him to get on a committee?
“You’re replacing a beloved Speaker, how long is it going to take you to get on a committee or the chairmanship of a committee?”
Snider did not give a clear answer on how he would accomplish getting on a committee. He could only refer to the challenges he faced as a freshmen wrestling coach. Snider did answer the comment about a beloved speaker by saying,
“I got 40 people down there you need to ask about being a beloved speaker and that number is growing and is going to keep growing.”
We found Snider weak on substance and he did not bring up any specific legislation to challenge Ralston. He plans to put on his sneakers and go door to door campaigning. Snider’s challenge of the speaker will take a lot of study on his part if Ralston accepts the debate challenge. Something tells me the speaker may say-bring it on!
I have offered both campaigns my service to moderate the debate.
The house session ends March 20th and FYN offers the Speaker an opportunity to do a video and respond to this article. The speaker has been busy doing the work of the people and will receive equal response time from FYN.