Political Vine: The Insider's Source on Georgia Politics

Political Vine: The Insider's Source on Georgia Politics

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Political Astroturf: The Truth About Tricia Pridemore & Justin Tomczak

by Bill Simon

What is the definition of a “grassroots activist?”

I’m certain most of you newbies think you know what being a “grassroots activist” means. Based on the number of newbies who have joined the campaigns of Tricia Pridemore and Justin Tomczak because they say they are the “grassroots candidate,” it is clear that you folks don’t have a clue as to what the term really means.

Tomczak is in my mind right now for two reasons: 1) a specific conversation I had with him on March 6th, while we were both waiting to go through the nominating committee of the Cobb GOP, and 2) because he is one of two people who have put their name out there as “witnesses” to Pridemore’s supposed “College Republican days” in the late 1990s at Kennesaw State.

Since my only knowledge of Justin Tomczak was his work (for pay) on Saxby’s 2002 campaign, and his subsequent paid work with the state GOP, his paid work on the reelection campaign of Sonny Perdue, and his most recent paid work as a campaign staffer for Congressman Tom Graves, I asked Justin what had he done as “grassroots” since he appeared to only have paid positions in all the roles I ever saw his name appear in.

Justin’s response was “Well, what do you call grassroots?” I told him what I thought it was in terms of volunteer work with the party at different levels. Key word being “volunteer.” His response was “Oh, well, I think I did that in 1998. I worked for the party back then.” And, then that was the end of that conversation.

So, before we continue here, let me offer you what my basic definition of what true grassroots activism means, and then the analysis will proceed from that point.

The fact that one votes in a Republican primary does not mean that person is a “grassroots activist.” Consistently showing-up at the election polls on primary day, and choosing to vote Republican, does not mean one is a “grassroots activist” either.

A “grassroots activist” means you are involved in volunteering your time to work at building a county, district, or state party organization by working in activities designed to promote the organization to the public in order to attract other like-minded political people. Anyone who is a true “grassroots activist” would consider it their personal duty to the party and to themselves to vote in every party primary that shows-up on the ballot.

SO, if you are a “grassroots Republican activist,” then your name had better be consistently appearing on the voter record as actually showing-up to vote on every Republican primary that comes up. Because, otherwise, you’re clearly not a “grassroots activist.” All you are is a Republican primary voter. And that ain’t “grassroots.”

The True Nature of Tricia Pridemore’s “Grassroots” Experience.

Apparently, the brain trust of the Pridemore campaign isn’t too familiar with this new-fangled technology we gots here in Georgia called a “voter file.” A voter file is the documented record of everyone who is registered to vote actually showing-up to vote in any particular election. By “showing-up”, that means either in person or via absentee.

Each county maintains such voter files on their own system at the Board of Elections for every voter in that county.

It is at the Cobb County Board of Elections that the voting record for Tricia Pridemore was obtained at a cost of $1.00. (Note to Senator Jeff Mullis: This money goes to the Board of Elections and it does not go to the State of Georgia. So don’t go doubling the prices for obtaining voting records because it’s not state revenue, got it?)

This is a copy of her voting record, converted to a PDF file.

Pridemore voted Democrat in the 1998 Primary and the 1998 Primary Run-off in an election year in which it was an open race for Governor, as well as an open race for Lt. Governor on both sides of the aisle. There was no strategy needed for any kind of “crossover vote” to screw-up the other side in 1998.

Additionally, Pridemore failed to vote in the 2006 Republican Primary, the 2008 Presidential Preference Primary, and the 2008 Georgia Republican Primary.

In last Saturday night’s chairman’s debate at Collins Hill High School, Pridemore was asked the following question by Sue Everhart: “Tricia, on your Website for chair, you state that you served ‘as a deployed volunteer for the McCain Presidential campaign in Ohio.’ But, according to your voting record, you didn’t vote in the 2006 Republican primary, you did not vote in the 2008 Presidential Preference Primary, nor did you even vote in the 2008 Georgia Republican primary. Tricia, the definition of ‘grassroots’ means that you are involved in the party to the point of voting in the important Republican elections. How can you claim you’ve been involved in grassroots for so many years when you clearly were not involved enough to bother to vote in these primaries in 2006 and 2008?”

And, what was Tricia’s answer? Hey, don’t take my word for it…take AJC’s Political Insider’s columnist (and, debate moderator) Jim Galloway’s word for it from his story about it: “Pridemore said she did vote in the 2008 presidential primary, while she and her husband volunteered for McCain in Ohio.”

Hmm. Interesting. Golly, seems that the Cobb County Elections really must be slackers over there because they just don’t seem to have that record of Pridemore voting in that election. But, wait, there’s even more…

Shawn Hanley followed-up with a rebuttal question, which Galloway, at the beginning of the debate, had laid-out ground rules that allowed such a question to occur: “We didn’t even get to 1998 voting records, where you voted in the Democratic primary. And you voted in the Democratic primary runoff. How is that?”

And…what was Tricia’s response? Well, again, from Galloway’s column: “That was the same time that I was president of the Kennesaw State University College Republicans, and I’ll be real frank: College Republicans get into some mischief. I don’t exactly remember that vote. I have contacted Cobb County [elections board].”

HUH? “College Republicans get into some mischief”? Really? Is this the kind of mischief you see while watching the movie Animal House where the members of Delta Tau Chi fraternity lead a horse to the dean’s office and it dies?

Or maybe those wascally KSU college Republicans were so, like, really computer nerds and they hacked into the voter files of the Cobb County Board of Elections and just, you know, as a lark, switched Tricia Pridemore’s primary election party choice so that it showed that she voted…Ha-Ha-Ha!….tee-hee-hee!…actually in the Democrat elections when she originally voted in the Republican election. Yeah, yeah! That’s the ticket! That’s what happened!

But, wait…yes…there’s even more to this story. On February 12th, 2011, BeaconCastMedia.com published a very in-depth story about the state GOP chairman’s race. Here’s a link to the PDF version of this article.

In this story (on Page 5 of 11 Pages), when the subject of Pridemore’s Democrat voting record came up (and, it came up because she had been telling people for the longest time that she worked for Guy Millner as part of her “bona fides” in grassroots), this was the answer: “When questioned, Pridemore said she voted in the GOP primary and run-off, and surmised that the voting rolls were in error. But the Secretary of State’s office said that was next to impossible. When contacted by phone, a spokesperson for Milner who was involved in all the former candidate’s campaigns could not recall Pridemore’s involvement.”

So, in the Beaconcast article, Pridemore says the records must be wrong. In the Collins High School debate, Pridemore says her records appear as being Democrat votes due to “College Republicans” engaging in “mischief.”

You want to know what _I_ think? She was a closet Democrat and did vote in both Democrat primary elections in 1998 because either she was making a choice in the Barnes/Massey race or the Oliver/Taylor race, because those were the only two Dem races that required run-offs in 1998, and there was no need for any kind of crossover vote to “spoil” the other side’s votes. No county chairmen or district chairmen from that era recommended the political party line crossing as a “strategy.”

All this other stuff is a lot of fluffy crappola from her and her “supporters.” Tricia Pridemore is not a “longtime Republican”. Nor is she a “longtime grassroots activist.” She has never gotten elected as a county, district, or state party position (”house district chair” positions do not actually count as being on the same level as a party chair, vice-chair, etc. in terms of party working responsibilities.)

AND…the “9-12 Group” stuff? You want to know how you become a leader in 9-12? You go to their Website and you SIGN-UP! Wow. Tough qualifications there. Tough “nominating” process, eh? And…what are some of the “principles” of 9-12? Something to do with being an “honest” person, I seem to recall…?

I’m not dissing 9-12 here. I’m dissing the concept that Pridemore and her followers have of her “experience” as a “leader” in that organization to be something of some value that is equivalent to running a political party. It’s not. It’s not even close. Not in a million years is it equivalent.

The Republican Party of Georgia requires a grassroots leader at its helm, not a piece of Astroturf. You can water Astroturf all you want, but it will forever remain a piece of plastic and never grow roots, or grow-up.

Tricia Pridemore is about as qualified to run the Georgia State Republican Party as Barrack Obama is qualified to be president of the United States. Pridemore’s lack of knowledge and experience will screw-up this state’s Republican Party for many years to come if she gets elected. This is not a job that allows for on-the-job-training.

The True Nature of Justin Tomczak’s “Grassroots” Experience

At the beginning, I mentioned Tomczak’s name because he is one of two people who have put their name out there as “witnesses” to Pridemore’s supposed “College Republican days” in the late 1990s at Kennesaw State. And, that he told me that he recalls doing some work with the state GOP in 1998.

Well, at that very same Cobb County Board of Elections, another voting record was obtained…for, again, $1.00. Here is Justin Tomczak’s Voting Record in PDF format.

It clearly shows Tomczak’s voting record for the period of concern here (the period of the 1995-1998 time period which Tricia Pridemore claims to be the time she attended KSU and became involved in the College Republicans) consist of the following:

1996 General Election – Voted Absentee (“A” means “Absentee”)
2000 General Election – Voted

Tomczak did not vote in the 1998 Republican Primary, or even that year’s general election. He didn’t vote in the 2000 Presidential Preference Primary, nor did he vote in the 2000 Georgia Republican Primary.

I don’t believe Tomczak “knew” Pridemore to be a “College Republican” in that time period. How would he know? He wasn’t one himself.

Sorry, Kiddies, but Justin Tomczak is just as much Astroturf as Tricia Pridemore is. He’s not “grassroots.” He’s spent his time in GOP politics as a paid staffer. That’s not “grassroots.”

3 Responses to “Political Astroturf: The Truth About Tricia Pridemore & Justin Tomczak”

  1. SOGTP Says:

    My definition is much different than yours. Justin identified, nurtured, and helped to elect a Conservative candidate to the US House of Representative. Not one other candidate for 1st Vice Chair has done that.

    They’ve helped elect many RINO’s but not a conservative.

  2. Bill Simon Says:

    Justin Tomczak was PAID to help elect Tom Graves. Being PAID to do a job is quite different than anything else.

    The only thing Justin Tomczak has ever done in all his “grassroots” experience is get PAID for doing his work. So, while volunteers are out breaking their backs, Justin Tomczak is sipping Margaritas in the cool office playing on a computer while acting like he’s working “so hard.”

  3. SOGTP Says:

    You’re wrong. Being paid is fine, provided decent Republicans, not Liberal Re-PUKE-icans are continually elected.

    You’re just wrong, drop it.

Today's Deep Thought

If I was the head of a country that lost a war, and I had to sign a peace treaty, just as I was signing, I'd glance over the treaty and then suddenly act surprised. 'Wait a minute! I thought we won!'


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