Republicans for 2nd Congressional District spar over who is the most Georgian
The two Republicans vying to replace Democratic Rep. Sanford Bishop in Georgia’s 2nd Congressional District sparred over which was the true conservative or even a real Georgian in their debate Monday.
Chris West and Jeremy Hunt want to represent the district, which stretches from Macon to the very southwest corner of the state below Bainbridge.
West is staff attorney with Southwest Georgia-based retail shopping center construction company Teramore Development LLC. According to the Federal Election Commission, Teramore’s owner is West’s largest single contributor.
Hunt is a Fox News contributor and Yale Law School student whose campaign is being funded almost entirely by out-of-state money, including from the national GOP fundraising group WINRED.
Of the two, Hunt is the better financed.
West, who is endorsed by former District 2 candidates Vivian Childs and Wayne Johnson, tried to paint Hunt as an outsider with little knowledge of the communities seeks to represent.
“I’d just like for you to demonstrate to the audience that you do know this district and tell us which three counties the city of Jakin lies in, the city of Brinson lies in and the city of Mauk?” West asked. "What counties are those?"
Hunt successfully named Early County for Jakin, but did not name Decatur County for Brinson or Taylor County for Mauk.
Beyond jibes about who was the most Georgian or the most conservative, there was also some distance between the two on key policy questions, such as what to do about gun violence in the wake of recent mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas, and elsewhere.
“Well, you know, I think the best way to protect somebody against violence with a gun is with your own right to protect yourself with your own weapon,” West said. “So, you know, in the event of school shootings, I would say let's make sure that we have teachers and personnel that can have the right to defend themselves.”
Armed school resource officers were at Robb Elementary in Uvalde before and during the shooting there.
Hunt said protecting Second Amendment rights is a top priority. He framed gun violence as a mental health issue.
“We have had guns in our country for a very long time; that is part of the American way,” Hunt said. “What has changed in the last few years is these young men who have been just infiltrated with all this negativity on social media and everything.”
Health care access, or the lack of it, is a major issue in District 2. West pointed to some of his work in retail construction as a solution.
“Some of the commercial developments that our company has done have actually been a way to provide jobs, sustainability and communities that are hurting economically over the past several years,” West said. “And when we've been able to create job opportunities and economic development, that has allowed hospitals to be sustainable.”
Hunt put the blame for the lack of medical care on employer-provided health care plans he called too expensive for farmers to provide their employees as well as on the Affordable Healthcare Act.
“I’m definitely a free market capitalist,” Hunt said. “When we have more options, people get better health care.”
Hunt stopped short of describing what those options might be.
The Muscogee County GOP and the Thomas County GOP are both hosting debates later in the week, but the Hunt campaign has already said Hunt won’t attend, even though he lives in Muscogee County.
The runoff to pick a House District 2 Republican candidate, who will face the incumbent Bishop, is June 21.