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Fish fry provides political insight

While there’s a strong possibly that the aroma of fried fish; gracious supply of grits; sweet cole slaw; and devine chocolate delight may coax them to the spot tucked away just off Highway 301 in the woods, candidates for statewide offices attend the annual 12th Congressional District out of tradition and support for the event’s organizers.
Although not all those who have announced their intentions to seek office in Georgia were able to be at the fish fry event at the Pathway Center, 3 miles south of Sylvania, many were at the gathering now in its 20th year. The primary organizers of the event that has drawn Republican candidates from the district and beyond has been the owners of the property Screven County Republican Party chair Osal Evans and his wife former Sylvania Mayor Margaret Evans.
“As chairman of the Screven County Republican Party, and on behalf of its members, we were honored to host the 20th Annual 12th Congressional District Fish Fry last Thursday evening,” said Osal Evans. “Outstanding citizens and business leaders from not only the 12th District, but throughout the state of Georgia were in attendance to hear from candidates from all levels of government.  
“Mrs. Robin Allen, wife of Congressman Rick Allen traveled from Washington to be the keynote speaker,” Evans said. “She represented Congressman Allen,  who was in  session in Washington D.C. Our state representatives Sen. Jesse Stone and Majority Leader Jon Burns were also on hand to help welcome the group to Screven County.
“The Screven County Republican Party expresses its sincere thanks to all those who gave of their time and talent to make this meeting a success,” Evans said. “Screven County is highly regarded for its interest in better government and the Republican Party officials encourage others to become active in the Party.”
Margaret Evans: “I was honored to be a part of the 20th Annual 12th Congressional District Fish Fry. It was a great experience to meet and hear from the large number of candidates present, who are running for office in the upcoming 2018 election. I certainly left the meeting more informed and excited about having been there!”
In a room filled with superior court judges, law enforcement, state officials, as well as just interested voters, candidates with their stomachs full after a good meal were afforded 5 minutes to speak all those in attendance. Several of whom had already spoken with most all in attendance prior to the meal being served.
The Nov. 6 ballot this year for Screven County voters will have only have local municipality races. The 2018 November ballot, however, will have the statewide ones, but to garner enough votes from Brasstown Bald to the Okeefenokee Swamp lots of months of campaigning are necessary.
The district fish fry provides an opportunity for the candidates to greet Southeast Georgia voters almost a full 13 months before their election, and offers the chance to return to the area in October 2018 as the election fast approaches.  
With her husband U.S. Rep. Rick Allen in Washington, D.C., his wife Robin was the event’s keynote speaker.
Lisa Muldrew sang the national anthem and “God Bless America” and Al Freeland, former Screven County Middle School principal, presented the candidate program guests.
In attendance seeking to become the next governor of Georgia were Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and State Sen. Hunter Hill. Fellow Republican Brian Kemp, the current secretary of state, was unable to attend.
Running for lieutenant governor, State Sen. David Shafer was the lone candidate in attendance.
Shafer and others are seeking the GOP nomination to potentially face former multiple-term 12th congressman Democrat John Barrow.
Two candidates were in attendance to campaign for the secretary of state post -- State Sen. Josh Mckoon and State Rep. Brad Raffensperger.
Shane Mobley, with a background in the medical and financial fields, was the lone candidate at the event to become the state’s insurance commissioner. However, a person did speak for the candidacy of Jim Beck, a former state deputy insurance and safety fire commissioner.
Joe Underwood spoke on behalf of Jim Beck, who was not in attendance