Republican group tempts closeted conservatives with political action

Representative Trey Kelley speaks to the Georgia State’s College Republicans on Feb. 18. Photo by Zach Salling | The Signal

Peter Minetos, chair of College Republicans at Georgia State, hosted a set a of speakers at the Curve Center to enact grassroots movement among the Georgia State student body. Trey Kelley, representing District 16 and currently the youngest House Majority Whip, and Chad Williams-Owens, the 14-year-old Executive Director of the Black Conservative movement spoke.

Minetos initiated the meeting with volunteer options with prominent Georgia politicians, such as Stewart Bragg, the Georgia Director at the Republican National Committee, and encouraged members to keep an eye out for conservative-minded individuals.

“I always tell the members to bring a friend. Identify some of the conservative friends or students that you see in the classroom or throughout campus and let them know what’s going on,” Minetos said. “We’re here to facilitate that environment, get those speakers in here, get y’all creating relationships with them and then hopefully get you guys some opportunities. That’s why we’re here.”

Following Minetos, Kelley, a Georgia State Law graduate, noted how the government appeared to shortchange his checks while trying to make a living.

“I was struggling, newly married, we had a mortgage, I was trying to deal with student loans, trying to deal with all the things that need to be done in your life when you’re 20 years old. I had a huge amount of withholding. My bonus was withheld at the highest capital tax rate ever,” Kelley said. “I have to send all this money to the Federal and State government, and I’m really not seeing much of what I feel like I’m getting the benefit for.”

Kelley then became active in his local Republican Party and spent time with former Governor Nathan Deal, whom he set to model his career after. Kelley saw a lot of frustration at party meetings with lack of political action.

“Coming to these meetings isn’t about networking, it’s not showing up to talk about what you saw on the news that you didn’t like. I said our local party, when I ran then, was basically being run like a Sunday school class,” Kelley said. “Political parties exist to win elections. When you walk into this room, it’s how can we win elections for Republicans.”

And voters from other parties, Kelley believes, “have more in common [with Republicans] than they realize.”

“Under the House Republican governance, you can get a free education in Georgia through one of our 18 or 19 high demand career initiatives, regardless of your initial grades going in,” Kelley said.

Kelley, a millenial himself, acknowledged the disconnect between the current generation of voters and the Republican party.

“It’s a demographic Republicans are losing and we need to do a better job engaging and I am one,” Kelley said.

One of the primary reasons, Kelley noted, is that “it’s hard for us to explain our message of why conservative values line up versus the Democrats bumper sticker of ‘more free stuff.’”

Kelley described a lot of conservative values lining up with others without them realizing it.

“We’ve made initiatives right now that are expanding transit options in Georgia, but it also means we recognize areas that can be solved with Uber, Lime or Byrd and we don’t need more government regulations on it,” Kelley said.

Kelley noted that non-conservatives often paint an apathetic picture of the Republican party.

“We can be compassionate and conservative at the same time. I think that’s probably the biggest misconception,” Kelley said.