• Ground game going to be big for GOP and Dems in Georgia

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    ATLANTA - Georgia primary voters are paying attention after the close finish in the Iowa Caucuses.
     

    On the Republican side, Ted Cruz, Donald Trump and Marco Rubio were within three percentage points.
     
    For the Democrats, it was a near tie for Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.
     
    Top supporters say the south is critically important in this election. .
     
    Georgia is part of the March 1 SEC Primary, better known as Super Tuesday.
     
    Some 1,100 delegates are in play for the candidates.
     
    So the candidates come to Georgia to get support from local legislators and their home town political organizations.
     
    No one is more excited about Cruz's big win in Iowa than Louie Hunter, the senator's grassroots co-chairman in Georgia.
     
    But he says they have a lot of work to do before the big march first primary.
     
    “We're real excited about it,” Hunter told Channel 2’s Richard Elliot. “We're doing the same thing here that we did in Iowa. We have county co-chairs, chairs and co-chairs in almost all 159 counties in Georgia.”
     
    Pundits believe the Cruz campaign ran a much better ground game in Iowa than Trump, who came in a surprising second.
     
    “I think it was a hard fought battle in Iowa,” said Georgia state Sen. Bert Jones, who is a big Trump supporter.
     
    Now comes the New Hampshire primary and Jones believes his candidate will do well there.
     
    “Iowa's behind him now, and now it's on to New Hampshire and which I think Mr. Trump will do very well,” Jones said.
     
    Jones acknowledges the ground game there and in Georgia will be key.
     
    State Rep. Buzz Brockaway has been in the Rubio camp for months and is excited his candidate finished third, but showed a lot of momentum.
     
    Brockaway told Elliot that Rubio's Georgia organization is getting stronger every day.
     
    “We've got a good ground game. We've got a lot of good folks coming to us every day to help support senator Rubio and volunteer for his campaign, so we feel confident that we're ready to roll,” Brockaway said.
     
    Trump supporters feel he will do well in the south but so do Cruz supporters.
     
    Rubio supporters believe their candidate's momentum is just increasing.

    Clinton and Sanders supports say the ground game is everything for them as well.
     
    “To us what we saw last night was a win,” said state Rep. LaDawn Jones,  Sanders' Georgia campaign director.
     
    Sanders lost Iowa by a razor-thin margin, but she still considers it a win. But Clinton supporters point out he didn't.
    “It was razor thin, but it was still a win, and that's what counts,” said longtime Clinton supporter state Rep. Stacey Abrams
     
    Abrams told Elliot that she believes Sanders' message is resonating with some voters but says Clinton is the only candidate with the experience to implement them.
     
    After New Hampshire and South Carolina, the candidates will come south.
              
    Abrams says Clinton has been working on her ground game for years.
     
    “There is a Hillary fever around this state, and we believe when she gets to Georgia, we're going to welcome her, and we're going to send her out of here with another victory,” Abrams said.
     
    Sanders recently opened his Georgia campaign offices and Jones said they're organizing all over the state.
     
    “Now that we're here with all the organized offices, we're opening offices all across the state both in Savannah, we have an office, and then in downtown Atlanta. So we're making sure that we reach out to all the parts of Georgia so they know who Bernie Sanders is and what he stands for,” Jones said.
     
    Jones believes Sanders is running a new, bottom-up campaign rather than what she calls Clinton's traditional top-down campaign.


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