The Republican primary for the Senate seat of the retiring Saxby Chambliss is heating up. No fewer than seven candidates are vying for the opportunity to represent Georgia Republicans against the presumed Democratic nominee, Michelle Nunn, daughter of longtime Georgia senator, Sam Nunn. Without a strong GOP frontrunner, the general election is considered a tossup by some analysts.
Recent polls show businessman David Perdue with a small lead over the other candidates. Perdue, a native of Macon and a graduate of Georgia Tech, is a management consultant and has served as an officer at several well known corporations including Reebok and Dollar General. He has two sons and two grandsons and currently lives in St. Simon’s.
Perdue believes that the federal debt has reached crisis proportions. As a corporate CEO who has revitalized several companies, Perdue believes that he is “uniquely qualified to help get our economy growing again and get government spending under control.”
Rep. Jack Kingston is currently polling second in the primary. Kingston currently represents Georgia’s first congressional district (Savannah) in the House of Representatives. Kingston grew up in Athens and was an economics major at the University of Georgia. He worked in insurance sales in Savannah before launching his political career in the Georgia House of Representatives.
Kingston favors tax reform that would eliminate the federal income tax in favor of the Fair Tax. Kingston is also critical of federal spending. He says, “The Appropriations Committee on which I serve is on the front lines of spending fight. Rather than just talking about spending cuts, I have personally fought to have them signed into law. I have worked to reduce waste and duplication so your government is more efficient and accountable.”
Paul Broun, a medical doctor, is a graduate of the University of Georgia and the Medical College of Georgia. He served in the U.S. Marines as a young man and was deployed to Afghanistan as a U.S. Navy medical officer in 2012. He currently serves in the U.S. House of Representatives in Georgia’s tenth district (Athens). Broun is considered a Tea Party candidate.
Broun, like the other candidates, is a strong opponent of Obamacare. On his website, he says, “As a physician, I know that President Obama has misdiagnosed American health care. ObamaCare is the wrong prescription…. Every promise about ObamaCare was false. Under ObamaCare, the quality of health care decreases, cost increases, taxes go up, privacy in health care decision-making and the privacy of your personal health records will be destroyed. Denial of care and rationing of care will become inevitable.”
In fourth place is Rep. Phil Gingrey, currently the congressman representing Georgia’s 11th district (Marietta). Gingrey, who was born in Augusta, is also a medical doctor. He is a graduate of Georgia Tech and the Medical College of Georgia and has had an OBGYN practice in Marietta for more than 20 years. He is chairman of the GOP doctor’s caucus and a proponent of measures to reduce waste and fraud in Medicare.
Gingrey agrees that Obamacare has hurt the economy and must be repealed. “The Un-Affordable Care Act has not only wrecked our health care system, it is wrecking our economy,” he says on his website. “I’ve heard from small business owners all across Georgia about the disastrous effects the law will have on their businesses. The answer to jump starting our economy is very simple; we must lower tax rates, eliminate burdensome regulations, and get government off the backs of our entrepreneurs and job creators.”
The last ranked candidate is Karen Handel. Originally from Washington, D.C. and Maryland, Handel is perhaps best known by Georgians as the state’s first Republican Secretary of State. She served in that position from 2007 to 2009. In that role she defended and implemented Georgia’s voter ID law. She also ran for governor of Georgia in 2010 campaigning on ethics reform. She ultimately lost a runoff election to Nathan Deal. Handel also served as Deputy Chief of Staff to Marilyn Quayle and as Chief of Staff to Governor Sonny Perdue.
Handel made national news as the Senior Vice President for Public Policy of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation when she became involved in the group’s decision, later reversed, to end grants to Planned Parenthood. Handel received extensive criticism from liberals for her role in the decision and eventually wrote a book, “Planned Bullyhood,” about the experience.
Handel’s campaign centers around her four step plan to return America to fiscal soundness and economic prosperity. Her first step is to repeal Obamacare and replace it with Rep. Tom Price’s Empowering Patients Act. Second, she would reform the budgeting process with a balanced budget amendment and zero based budgeting while cutting spending by one percent across the board. Third, she would enact the Fair Tax and repeal the 16th amendment. Finally, she would reform the federal regulatory process with the REINS Act, a comprehensive review of federal regulations and 10 year sunset rule.
In addition to these candidates, two others, Art Gardner and Derrick Grayson, did not receive enough support to register in recent polling. Gardner is a patent attorney who lives in East Cobb and Grayson, of Lithonia, is a MARTA engineer and minister.
Georgia’s congressional primary will be held on May 20. Advance voting begins on April 28. If needed, a runoff will be held on July 22.