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February 2, 2012

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The hamilton county Democratic Party is shaking up the competition. As they prepare to host their Feb. 18 fundraiser at Olivet Baptist Church, they will take a much different approach than their Republican competitors.

U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) will deliver the keynote address at 6:30 p.m. for the themed fundraiser, “Delivering America’s Promise … Delivering America’s Dream.” Highly regarded as “one of the most courageous persons the civil rights movement ever produced,” Lewis will share his thoughts on renewing Democratic principles for today’s Americans.

“He was instrumental on getting voting rights passed in the 1960s,” said Janis Hashe, spokesperson for the Hamilton County Democratic Party.

The son of sharecroppers, Lewis’ journey has taken him from rural Alabama to risky Nashville sit-ins, director of the Voter Education Project to a seasoned political career as representative of Georgia’s 5th Congressional District since 1987.

“It’s a convergence of destiny,” said Hashe, who acknowledged that voter fraud is a current concern with Voter Suppression Acts sweeping the nation—all too familiar territory for Lewis.

With $10 admission, and meet-and-greets with the congressman set at $100 per couple, the party still hopes to raise between $10,000 and $15,000 during the event. The proceeds will not benefit any one candidate, but instead go toward the campaign of the Democratic primary victor in August.

Republican candidates Chuck Fleischmann and Weston Wamp weren’t as generous with admission to their recent fundraisers as their donors were to their respective campaigns.

Fleischmann raised more than $200,000 in two hours with U.S. House Speaker John Boehner as his headliner. With “the face of conservative power in Washington” by his side, guests coughed up $1,000 per couple, another $1,500 for a photo with Boehner  and $10,000 for the aforementioned plus seats close to Fleischmann and Boehner.

Wamp broke a district record by raising $250,000 in one night on Dec. 5, 2011, at the home of Alexis and Barry Bogo in Chattanooga. Dubbed the largest single congressional event in Tennessee’s 3rd Congressional District history, Wamp’s supporters paid $500 and $5,000 for the chance to meet and listen to the young son of former U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp.

The local Democratic Party wanted to make the event available to anyone wishing to attend, hence the discounted admission. Hashe said there was much debate over pricing, but the party settled on a “fair price” of $10, which is still a lot of money for some people, she said.

“For some people who were too young, or lived in other parts of the country, they may not have had the opportunity to hear someone from that time speak,” Hashe said. “Lewis is living history, and there’s no telling how much more time we will have to hear from these people. Hopefully we will be re-motivated with the passion that drove that generation.”

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February 2, 2012

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