Jackson only local invited to closed GOP meeting

Columbus attorney Stacey Jackson will be among a group of Georgia black Republicans scheduled to meet with national party chairman Reince Priebus in Atlanta today.

"The purpose is obviously to identify some ideas and not only bridge the gap between the Republican Party and black Republicans, but to bridge the gap between the Republican Party and blacks, period," Jackson said.

Jackson, the only Columbus Republican invited to the closed meeting, said the discussion would look to 2016 and the next presidential election as well as the 2014 midterm elections.

The former assistant prosecutor has been a criminal defense attorney for the last five years, building a successful practice that has included a number of high-profile cases.

A Harris County native and former college baseball player at Albany State University, Jackson has been careful in the past about being too open with his political views.

"When I was in the district attorney's office -- and working for Gray (Conger), who was an elected official -- I had to be careful," Jackson said. "Now that I am in private practice, I can be more vocal about the Republican Party and my ties to the party."

Muscogee County Republican Party Chairman Seth Harp, a former state senator, said Jackson was "one of a small handful" of African-Americans in the local party.

Jackson has twice been nominated to the Superior Court bench, and made the final cut both times by Republican governors. In 2010, then-Gov. Sonny Perdue selected William Rumer. In late 2011, Gov. Nathan Deal picked Art Smith. Both Rumer and Smith had been longtime, active Republicans.

Harp contends Jackson "would make a good judge one day."

State Sen. Josh McKoon, a Columbus Republican who has been active in local, state and national party politics, was pleased to hear Jackson had been invited to meet with Priebus.

"I think it is very appropriate he be invited," McKoon said.