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Friday, June 8, 2012 - 11:24am

Republican Defends Democratic Votes

Updated: 2 years ago.
Wright McLeod is running in a Republican primary. His opponents question his conservative credentials because he voted in Democratic primaries and gave money to a Democratic statewide candidate. (photo Wright McLeod for Congress)

A Republican Congressional candidate from Augusta is defending his voting record -- and he's never held office before.

Former Navy officer Wright McLeod hopes to carry the GOP banner in the fall but voted in five Democratic primaries and gave campaign cash to a Democrat.

McLeod is the fundraising leader in a four-way Republican primary in Georgia's 12th Congressional District.

That's where Democrat John Barrow has held office for 10 years.

Republicans think they have a good shot at toppling the incumbent this time and some are calling for purity in their nominee.

McLeod defends both his conservative stances and his decision to support a Democrat, Rob Telheit, who ran unsuccessfully for state attorney general in 2010.

"I had a very good friend in law school," McLeod says. "He was a wonderful friend of mine who helped me and my wife. And when he decided to run for political office, he said he needed to run as a Democrat. And I helped him. I make no apologies for that."

McLeod says, he voted for Democrat Bill Richardson in the 2008 presidential race to stop Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton from gaining the nomination.

And he says, voting in the Democratic primary gave him more of a say in local politics.

"I live in Richmond County which is primarily a Democratic county," McLeod says. "If you want your vote to be heard then there are times when you have to vote in the Democratic Primary."

He faces Augusta businessman Rick Allen, Grovetown State Representative Lee Anderson and Dublin attorney Maria Sheffield on the July 31st ballot.

COMING SOON: GPB is working on profile interviews of all the Republican candidates running in this race and a story about them. Keep listening for continuing coverage of Georgia's most competitive Congressional district.

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