Howard, who has been involved with the party since moving to Washington in 1989, is president-elect of the Buckhead Republican Women’s Club.
She is one of 76 Georgia delegates and alternates, including eight local ones, going to the event at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. It starts Monday and ends Friday. Every four years, the Democratic and Republican parties host a convention to nominate or affirm a presidential candidate.
“I get to cast my vote,” said Howard, owner of the Ginger Howard Selections clothing boutique in Buckhead and a representative of the Fifth Congressional District. “Whoever won your state or won your district, you get paired up with that person. Since Newt Gingrich won 156 of 159 counties, I had to sign a [form] that stated I would vote for Newt. But [Wednesday] Newt released his delegates so I can vote for [Mitt] Romney now.”
The Georgia Republican Party is sending three delegates and three alternates from each of its 14 Congressional districts, plus 34 at-large delegates. The other local ones are Fifth District delegate Hank Schwab and alternates Catherine McDonald and Orit Sklar, all of Buckhead; Sixth District alternates Ric Mayfield and Suzi Voyles, both of Sandy Springs; Eleventh District alternate Brad Carver of Buckhead and at-large delegate Eric Tannenblatt of Buckhead.
Mayfield, who works in the investment management business, has been involved with the party since 1996 and is Romney’s statewide grassroots coordinator.
“This is a very important election, and to be a part of the group that is going to nominate Gov. Romney is a very exciting opportunity," said Mayfield, who has been involved with Romney's 2008 and 2012 campaigns. "I’m really looking forward to being down there.”
Voyles, a third-grade teacher at the Heiskell School in Buckhead, has been involved with the party since 1959, when as a 4-year-old she tagged along with her father, Harry Foster, who volunteered for political campaigns.
“I’m really excited,” Voyles said. “This is not my first convention. I don’t think this is going to be your typical convention. I think there’s a lot of internal things that are going to be great to decide and a lot of external things that don’t really have anything to do with the convention that are going to highlight some of the grand divisions we have in our country.”
Schwab, an architect and owner of Architecture Plus Engineering in Buckhead, has been involved with the party since he volunteered for Barry Goldwater’s presidential campaign in 1964.
“It’s an honor to go and it’s something I’ve very much looking forward to participating in,” he said of the trip. “It’s going to be a terrific event if we don’t get blown off the map [by Tropical Storm Isaac]. We hope it will be mild. I’m originally from Miami, Fla., and I’m used to hurricanes. But some of my fellow delegates are concerned about going down there in the middle of a big storm.”
McDonald, who works in corporate accounting, has been involved with the party for “about four years.”
“I think it’s going to be one of those lifetime things that you think about and remember for a long time,” McDonald said of the convention. “It think it’s going to be very big. I’m really looking forward to the keynote speeches, especially [vice presidential candidate] Paul Ryan’s. I’m a big fan of his.”
Carver is a Buckhead resident and an attorney and lobbyist with Hall, Booth, Smith and Slover in downtown Atlanta. He has been involved with the party since he was a student at Gwinnett County's Brookwood High School but this is his first convention.
“I’m just really excited,” he said. “I was excited to begin with, but when our nominee, Governor Romney, picked Paul Ryan to be his running mate, it’s just amped up the enthusiasm. I’m 40 years old and it’s great to have someone our age, from Generation X, who’s concerned about the future. Now that my wife [Michelle] and I have a baby [9-month-old Bradley], we’re glad to see [Romney] tackling these issues, which are entitlement reform and balancing this budget.”
Tannenblatt is senior managing director and head of the government affairs group with McKenna Long and Aldridge in downtown Atlanta. He has been involved with the party for more than 25 years and is also on the Convention Committee on Credentials.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” he said of the convention. “I have been a longtime supporter of Mitt Romney. I headed his campaign in 2008 and am one of his national finance co-chairs and the Georgia finance chair. For me, it’s going to be a special occasion because we’re going to nominate a person who has the potential to be one of our greatest presidents. His selection of Paul Ryan means he is serious about tackling the economic challenges facing our country.”
Sklar, a communications and fundraising consultant, has been involved with the party since 2003, when she was a student at Georgia Tech.
“I’m very excited because I’ve been a supporter of Mitt Romney since 2006, so the opportunity to see this through is absolutely incredible,” she said of the convention Friday. “I think the convention serves a really important role to unify the party and to gain momentum, especially with us being 74 days from the election. It’s certainly the most important election in my lifetime, and talking to others, it seems to be for them, too.”
The Democratic National Convention will take place Sept. 4 through 6 in Charlotte, N.C.