A watershed moment in the evolution of booze and GOP politics in Georgia

Republican Hunter Hill shares a laugh with Red Hare Brewing Company owner Roger Davis on the day a new alcohol law took effect. AJC/Greg Bluestein

It wasn’t quite happy hour yet, but the Red Hare Brewing Co. in Marietta was already filling up with locals sneaking off early from work to grab a drink Friday when Republican Hunter Hill stepped in.

For about 45 minutes, the former state senator brought his campaign for governor to the rustic brew pub, chatting amiably with its gregarious owner and touring its sprawling grounds.

It wasn’t so long ago that Georgia social conservatives and microbreweries mixed about as well as oil and water. An effort to allow Sunday alcohol sales stalled for years, and a generation of rural politicians worried that easing Georgia’s strict blue laws would alienate religious voters.

But Friday marked a watershed moment in the brewing evolution of booze and Republican politics. Three GOP candidates for higher office — Hill, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and state Sen. Rick Jeffares — campaigned in local brew pubs to celebrate an expansion of alcohol sales. A fourth, Secretary of State Brian Kemp, held an event Thursday at a Dalton distillery.

Read more: A new relationship brewing between Georgia Republicans and alcohol

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Georgia candidates face big question: keep job or resign

Candidates for governor are showing rural Georgia some love

Health policy splits Georgia gov candidates after repeal’s fail

Governor’s race revives a familiar feud between Kemp, Abrams

How Trump is shaking up the governor’s race

Georgia governor race: Who is running in 2018


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