Republican candidates plead their cases in wide-open 10th District race
Term limits, the economy and social issues dominated the Republican primary debate for east Georgia's 10th Congressional District Sunday.
Candidates in the race have put more than $2.2 million of their own money into this race to replace U.S. Rep. Jody Hice, who is running to unseat incumbent Brad Raffensperger in the Secretary of State primary.
All but one qualified candidate participated in the Atlanta Press Club debate, as the moderator noted state Rep. Timothy Barr was under the weather and did not attend.
Former U.S. Rep. Paul Broun said the U.S. Supreme Court must overturn the Roe v. Wade decision dealing with abortions, touted his previous record in Congress and said he would, if elected, use his seniority to initiate a "deep dive investigation" into President Joe Biden's chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci over the "truth about COVID."
Marc McMain, a self-proclaimed "outsider" from Walton County, drove much of the conversation around a pledge for candidates to term-limit themselves if elected to represent the heavily conservative district.
"I think career politicians are destroying our country," he said. "Nowhere did our founding fathers ever imagine that people were going to Washington, D.C., and make a career out of the House of Representatives, and that's what's happening.
Former Revenue Commissioner David Curry said "we don't have a revenue problem in the state of Georgia" and called to eventually eliminate the state income tax.
But much of the debate centered around two campaigns that are most likely to head to a runoff in this crowded field. Both have strong ties to former President Donald Trump: one has his endorsement and the other has built a campaign around echoing many of Trump's mannerisms, policies and populist appeal.
The latter is Mike Collins, a hard-charging trucking executive and son of former U.S. Rep. Mac Collins, who is running as an unabashed pro-Trump conservative despite not getting the former president's endorsement in the race.
Collins, who leads the pack in loans and money raised, said he plans to stand up to "liberal left-wing wackos, RINOS, elites — and even the Republican establishment," promising to vote against House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) for Speaker of the House if Republicans take control of the chamber in 2023.
"The time for compromise, time for bipartisanship — that's over with," he said, echoing a popular line from his stump speeches. "This is the best time in our lifetime, y'all, to send Republicans to Congress."
And then there's Vernon Jones, backed by Trump in the race as part of an effort to build a slate of candidates to take down Gov. Brian Kemp, Raffensperger and other Republicans who did not overturn Trump's defeat in the 2020 election.
Jones, a former Democrat who switched parties after the 2020 election, originally ran for governor but switched races to clear a path for former Sen. David Perdue's longshot challenge against Kemp.
"I'm an America-First agenda candidate; I was endorsed by President Trump," Jones said in response to one question. "I would like to have President Trump as Speaker of the House."
Jones was criticized by fellow candidates for voting against Georgia's strict abortion law (he said it was because the bill did not go far enough), his history as a Democratic lawmaker and CEO of heavily liberal DeKalb County and for not having ties to the district.
"The smell of liberal whiskey is still on your breath; you voted against the 'heartbeat' bill," McMain said about Jones. "If you've never seen Vernon speak, he is a master at his craft. He is an expert politician. His mouth is like a circus: get out your popcorn and watch the show."
Many of the candidates also attacked Broun for running for office again.
"Since he left his seat with a powerful voting record, he has yet to be elected in any of the other positions he's run for, and I'm skeptical why we should elect him again," Mitchell Swan said.
In-person early voting begins Monday, May 2. Election day for the primary is May 24.