East Central Georgia turned out en masse Wednesday to share ice cream with Governor Sonny Perdue at the Old Box Factory in Thomson.
More than 400 people gathered to catch a glimpse of Gov. Perdue who is facing a reelection battle against current Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor. Several other dignitaries such as U.S. Rep. Charlie Norwood and State Senator Jim Whitehead addressed the crowd prior to the governor's speech.
"That's why it's important to come out to events like this and look people in the eye," Gov. Perdue told the crowd. "...This is really old-fashioned politics where you can get out and touch people."
Georgia's First Lady Mary Perdue told The Mirror that she and her husband enjoyed the event as a nice end to their long day which began in Elberton and continued through Lincolnton and Warrenton.
"Oh, it's been wonderful. It was a great event. We've had a good time here tonight," she said.
Gov. Perdue highlighted a local connection during his speech to illustrate how he feels his values have not changed over his years of public service. He read a brochure from his first senate race in 1990 that local business owner Dena Williams gave to him. Her family lived near Gov. Perdue in Bonaire, Ga., years ago.
"Our kids played ball together. They were on the same tee-ball leagues," Mrs. Williams said. "...Me and Jimmy campaigned for him back then. And I don't know why but there were a bunch left over, and I just kept them. I was kind of teasing him because he had a whole lot more hair then."
The event was organized by local Republicans, but that didn't stop Democrats like State Rep. Sistie Hudson from taking part in the gathering.
"This is my district, and I'm very very fond of McDuffie County and the City of Thomson," Rep. Hudson said. "And I had a call from my very good friend (McDuffie County Commission Chairman) Charlie Newton. He asked me if I would help him out on the program. ... I have been treated very fairly by Sonny, and I appreciate his help in my district."
Chairman Newton, one of the event's organizers, was pleased with the turnout for the ice cream social.
"I really appreciate everybody in this area coming out to support the governor," he said. "...It was lucky that it wrapped in with some other things he was able to do in this area, but it is very difficult to get a sitting governor, or really anyone who is running for governor, to come to your community. We're just glad the governor thought enough of us to do it. It's tremendous for us."
It was also a good opportunity for local folks to talk to Gov. Perdue about issues touching their lives. Eric Wilkerson, with his sons, Aaron Donnally, 11, and J.D. Donnally, 14, got the Governor's autograph in which he signed "Study hard and mind your Mama."
"I brought my sons. They are home schooled, so I thought this is a good opportunity for them to learn something," Mr. Wilkerson said.
Glascock County resident Bobby Rogers had hoped to speak with the governor, but had to leave early to teach Bible study at his church.
"I wanted to meet the governor and try to get his help paving our roads," Mr. Rogers said. "We are the poorest county."