ATLANTA – Georgia’s election last year in which voters bypassed veteran politicians to elect an outsider to the U.S. Senate gives added encouragement to presidential candidate Carly Fiorina, who will announce today (TUESDAY) 15 veteran Republicans are joining her Peach State leadership team as she pushed for inclusion in the next televised debate.

“The U.S. Senate race was the most recent example that the voter base is not satisfied with what’s going on in Washington, and they want real-world experience, and they recognize that Carly Fiorina has that experience just like (Sen.) David Perdue,” said Loretta Lepore, a public-relations consultant and onetime candidate who is co-chairing the former Hewlett-Packard CEO’s Georgia campaign.

The list Morris News Service obtained Monday includes Rep. Earl Ehrhart of Powder Springs, the longest-serving Georgia legislator originally elected as a Republican, and Rep. Penny Houston of Nashville, vice chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee.

It also includes Donna Sheldon of Dacula, who chaired the House Republican Caucus before she resigned her House seat to run unsuccessfully for Congress in the 10th District.

“Carly began her career as a secretary, and through hard work and determination, eventually became the CEO of one of the largest companies in the world,” Sheldon said. “The insight and know-how Carly used to grow companies in the business world are exactly what we need to grow the American economy, so our children and grandchildren have the opportunity to live the American Dream as we did.”

Other members are activists, local elected officials and former candidates.

Among the list are two former CNN anchors, Lepore and Kathleen Kennedy. That could have come in handy because CNN is staging the next in the series of monthly televised debates sanctioned by the Republican National Committee.

Under the rules the Georgia-based network announced six months ago, Fiorina wouldn’t be in the main debate. It was going to rely on an average of national opinion polls, including some taken prior to the first debate last month in Cleveland.

Fox News relegated her and six other candidates to an earlier debate that wags have called the “kiddie table.” Viewers who saw it were impressed with her performance, and as a result, she’s been rapidly moving up in the polls, from 1 percent to as high as 10 percent in one recent poll in Iowa.

That puts her in either fifth or sixth place in the 17-candidate Republican field. So, her campaign started lobbying to get her included among the 10 in the main stage Sept. 16.

However, Monday, CNN announced it was revising its criteria because it said too few national polls were being conducted in a timely fashion.

“In a world where we expected there to be at least 15 national polls, based on historic precedent, it appears there will be only five,” the network said in a statement. “As a result, we now believe we should adjust the criteria to ensure the next debate best reflects the most current state of the national race.”

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus issued his own statement late Monday endorsing the change as have other candidates, like Ben Carson.

“Carly has proven her viability and standing and deserves the same platform as the rest of the candidates,” the retired neurosurgeon said.

Follow Walter Jones on Twitter @MorrisNews and Facebook or contact him at walter.jones@morris.com.

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