COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — As about 2,000 Georgia Republicans prepare to descend on Columbus this weekend, many of those delegates will know one Columbus Republican – Alton Russell.

He’s a fixture in the state party.

And the city of Columbus has Russell to thank for the state convention – and hundreds of thousands of dollars — landing here this week.

Just listen to the story.

“In 2019 with Georgia party had voted to go to the Cobb Galleria, and that was set in stone for ‘19.” Russell said. “Well, that didn’t happen. So, the Cobb Galleria says, well you can come in 2023.”

That’s this year. That one didn’t happen, either. And Russell had some inside information that there might be a conflict at the Cobb Galeria.

“The motion was on the floor for the people who make the decisions,” Russell said. “It would go to the Cobb Galleria. Well, when that motion was made — I’m not real smart — so I asked if we could amend that motion and make Columbus, Georgia be the second choice. It passed unanimously.”

At the time, Russell knew what he possibly had done, but others didn’t.

“I knew different and they didn’t know different,” he said. “So, down the road when we found out we couldn’t go to the Cobb Galleria, well then it was going to come to Columbus because there was no choice. That vote was already made.”

So, this week, Republicans from across Georgia will gather at the Columbus Convention and Trade Center. And they have Alton Russell – a key player in Georgia Republican Party politics for more than two decades — to thank for the trip.

“I guess we kind of snookered them,” he said. “When they came for that little site visit, they came back several weeks later. And, of course, the convention bureau said they would help us get hotel rooms and work with Hayley Tillery. We already knew that was done because we had already taken care of that before the Visitor’s Bureau, the chamber of anybody else knew anything about this convention coming.”

And Russell can’t wait to show off his city and his downtown.

“If you go somewhere outside of Columbus and say something about you from Columbus, the first thing they say is Ohio. Why are you here?” he said. “Well, my response is there’s only one significant Columbus in America, and that’s Columbus, Georgia. I think one thing we’re going to do is let people know who we are and what Columbus is, and that we are a great city, not just a convention city, but we’re a great city. We got more great things going on here than you could ever imagine. I’m proud of my city, and I think those delegates are going to find that out. We got probably 80 percent of them who have never been to Columbus, Georgia.”

The Republican convention is scheduled to begin at 2 Friday afternoon. Former President Trump will speak Saturday afternoon.