COLUMBUS, Georgia (WRBL) — As some 2,000 Georgia Republicans prepare to make their way to Columbus this weekend, many of those delegates will know one Columbus Republican – Alton Russell.
He is a fixture in the state party.
And the city of Columbus has Russell to thank for the state convention — and hundreds of thousands of dollars — landing here this week.
Just listen to the story.
“In 2019, the Georgia party voted to go to the Cobb Galleria and that was written in stone for 19,” Russell said. “Well, that didn’t happen. So the Cobb Galleria is saying, well, you can come in 2023.”
This is this year. That didn’t happen either. And Russell had inside information that there might be a conflict at the Cobb Galeria.
“The motion was up to the people making the decisions,” Russell said. “It would go to the Cobb Galleria. Well, when that motion came up — I’m not that smart — I asked if we could change that motion and make Columbus, Georgia the second choice. It was accepted unanimously.”
Russell knew at the time what he might have done, but others did not.
“I knew otherwise and they didn’t know any differently,” he said. “When we later found out we couldn’t go to the Cobb Galleria, we moved to Columbus because there was no other choice. This vote has already been taken.”
That’s why Republicans from across Georgia will be gathering at the Columbus Convention and Trade Center this week. And they have Alton Russell — a key player in Georgia Republican Party politics for more than two decades — to thank for the trip.
“I guess we sort of blew her mind,” he said. “When they came for this little site visit, they came back a few weeks later. And of course the convention bureau said they would help us get hotel rooms and work with Hayley Tillery. We already knew this was done because we had already taken care of it before the Visitors Office, the Chamber or anyone else knew about the upcoming meeting.”
And Russell can’t wait to showcase his city and downtown.
“If you go anywhere outside of Columbus and say something about you from Columbus, the first thing they say is Ohio. Why are you here?” he said. “Well, my answer is that there’s only one major Columbus in America, and that’s Columbus, Georgia. I think one thing we’re going to do is people know let’s say who we are and what columbus is and that we’re a great city not just a convention city but we’re a great city we’ve got more great things going on here than you can ever imagine I’m proud of “My city and I think these delegates are going to find that out. We probably have 80 percent of them that have never been to Columbus, Georgia.”
The Republican convention is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. Friday afternoon. Former President Trump will speak on Saturday afternoon.