APN Guide to Congressional Races in Georgia
With additional reporting by Jonathan Springston.
(APN) ATLANTA — This year, there is a US Senate contest in Georgia for the seat held by US. Sen Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), and in addition, as is the case every two years, there are contests for all 13 Congressional seats.
Here is a breakdown of the 14 total Georgia Congressional races:
US SENATE SEAT–INCUMBENT, SAXBY CHAMBLISS
Incumbent US Sen. Chambliss, a Republican who has served one term, defeated former US Sen. Max Cleland (D-GA) in 2002 with 52.8% of the vote.
In his short time, Chambliss has become a powerful figure, serving on the Armed Services, Select Committee on Intelligence, and Rules Committees. He is now Georgia’s Senior US Senator. Roll Call newspaper and the Cook Political Report rate this seat as “safe Republican.”
Democratic challengers include Dale Cardwell, a former reporter for WSB television news; Vernon Jones, CEO of Dekalb County; Rand Knight, an environmental engineer and businessman; Josh Lanier, a Vietnam veteran and former Congressional aide; and Jim Martin, a 2006 candidate for Lieutenant Governor and former State legislator.
APN has previously published interviews with both Mr. Cardwell and Mr. Knight. Neither the Campaigns of Jones nor Martin have responded to repeated APN interview requests; they have also skipped local debates.
Martin, a development director for Georgia State University’s Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, who entered the race late but raised campaign dollars quickly, received APN’s endorsement for Lt. Governor in 2006.
Cardwell, in his interview with APN, resembled a Republican on a variety of issues.
The most progressive candidate this year based on APN’s analysis of issues is Rand Knight. He was recently endorsed by the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) of Georgia.
A May 12, 2008, poll showed that most likely Primary voters would select Jones, followed by Cardwell, then Lanier, then Martin, followed by Knight.
A more recent poll conducted by Insider Advantage and published by The Hill magazine on May 25, 2008, suggests that Chambliss could be vulnerable. Chambliss still leads Vernon Jones by 48 to 31 in the poll, and Chambliss’s lead is down from what it was in earlier polls.
Maggie Martinez had previously run for this seat as a Democrat but dropped out of the race.
Tax attorney Allen Buckley is running on the Libertarian ticket, but is not listed as a candidate on the Secretary of State’s list of qualified Primary candidates, because Libertarians nominate by convention. Buckley received 3.6% of the vote when he ran for Lt. Governor against Cagle and Martin in 2006.
Eleanor Garcia is also running as a Socialist Workers Party candidate but is also not listed as a candidate on the Secretary of State’s website. The Socialist Workers Party has not qualified to be on the US Senate ballot in Georgia.
Georgia’s ballot access laws are somewhat easier at the statewide level than they are for races organized by Congressional District, Richard Winger, Editor of Ballot Access News, told Atlanta Progressive News.
The Libertarian Party has been able to have a candidate for a statewide race every two years because they got more than 1% of the vote once in the 1980s and have been able to do so every two years since, Winger said.
Georgia has not had a minor party US House candidate on the ballot for a regularly-scheduled election since 1942, however, Winger said, with the exception being Special Elections where usual conditions do not apply. Ballot access laws in Georgia require signatures from 5% of registered voters in a Congressional District for a candidate to run for a US House seat in the District.
Republican and Democrat candidates are exempted from having to get signatures for US House races because, per Georgia law, they keep getting 20% or more of the vote across the country in the Presidential Elections.
The Green Party of Georgia is not running any Congressional candidates this year, Denice Traina, Co-Chair, told Atlanta Progressive News.
1ST CONGRESSIONAL SEAT–INCUMBENT, JACK KINGSTON
Incumbent US Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) has served eight terms and was reelected in 2006 with 65.8 percent of the vote.
This District includes 25 counties in South Georgia, extending south from Savannah to the Florida border, west to Adel, and north to Alamo. The National Journal magazine rated Kingston “the most conservative member of the House” in 2005 based on his 2004 voting record.
According to Roll Call and the Congressional Quarterly’s Scorecard, this seat is “safe Republican.”
Former Lt. Col. Bill Gillespie is challenging Kingston. Gillespie received a Bronze Star while serving as Senior Logistician for the Third Infantry Division in Iraq in 2003. He is currently an instructor at Fort Stewart in Hinesville.
2ND CONGRESSIONAL SEAT–INCUMBENT, SANFORD BISHOP
Incumbent US Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-GA) is a centrist Democrat who has served eight terms. He was reelected in 2006 with 67.9 percent of the vote.
This District includes parts or all of 32 counties in the southwest corner of Georgia.
Bishop, a member of the “Blue Dog” conservative Democrat coalition of the House, takes some Republican positions but also supports progressive issues like single-payer universal health care coverage and recently sought accountability on the former School of the Americas.
Bishop is opposed by Republican Lee Ferrell, a disabled veteran.
3RD CONGRESSIONAL SEAT–INCUMBENT, LYNN WESTMORELAND
Incumbent Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA) has served two terms. He was reelected in 2006 with 67.6 percent of the vote.
This District extends from the state’s western border east to Henry County and from Douglasville and Carrolton south to Columbus. Westmoreland entered the US House in January 2005 and serves on the Small Business, Transportation and Infrastructure, and the Government Reform and Oversight Committees.
Roll Call and Congressional Quarterly rate this seat as “safe Republican.”
Democratic challenger Stephen Camp is an attorney.
Socialist Workers challenger is Loretta Van Pelt, although she is not listed on the Secretary of State’s website.
4TH CONGRESSIONAL SEAT–INCUMBENT, HANK JOHNSON
Incumbent, US Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) was elected in 2006 with 75.4 percent of the vote, after defeating former US Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) in a 2006 Primary run-off. Johnson was formerly a Dekalb County Commissioner.
There had been rumors that either Vernon Jones, former US Rep. Denise Majette, or the Mayor of Macon Jack Ellis would run for this seat, but no other candidates have qualified to run for the seat.
Independent candidate Faye Coffield, a private investigator who previously assisted McKinney, is also running as a write-in candidate, Atlanta Progressive News has learned.
This District includes parts of DeKalb, Gwinnett, and Rockdale Counties. Roll Call and Congressional Quarterly rate this seat as “safe Democratic.”
While in Congress, US Rep. Johnson had a mostly progressive voting record and supported the impeachment of Vice President Dick Cheney. He initially voted to continue funding the US Occuption of Iraq, however, despite claims on his website to the contrary.
As previously reported by APN, McKinney is running as a Green Party candidate for President of the US. APN was the first to report her likelihood to win the nomination. APN can now confirm McKinney has over 50% of delegates pledged to her.
APN endorsed McKinney for this seat in 2006.
5TH CONGRESSIONAL SEAT–INCUMBENT, JOHN LEWIS
Incumbent, US Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), has served seven terms and won an uncontested reelection in 2006.
Atlanta Progressive News broke the story that State Rep. “Able” Mable Thomas was pondering a run against Lewis. State Rep. Thomas is now officially running, along with Atlanta minister Markel Hutchins. APN expects to run a full feature on this race in the coming weeks.
This District includes portions of Fulton, DeKalb, and Clayton Counties.
Lewis, a member of civil rights pioneer Martin Luther King, Jr.’s inner circle, is Georgia’s currently longest serving member of Congress. Thomas told reporters upon qualifying at the State Capitol that being a civil rights icon earned Lewis the right to win the seat, but not to keep it. Thomas said she was offering Lewis an “exit strategy.”
As previously reported by APN, Lewis did not support McKinney during her 2006 struggle against then-opponent Hank Johnson. Lewis endorsed centrist Joe Lieberman, who later left the Democratic Party, in a Connecticut US Senate race. Lewis also supports demolition of public housing in Atlanta and the privatization of Grady Hospital.
Mr. Hutchins criticized Lewis for supporting US Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) for President of the US, instead of US Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL). Lewis changed his position after being pressured by Black leaders in Georgia.
Roll Call and Congressional Quarterly rate this seat as “safe Democratic.”
APN endorsed Lewis for this seat in 2006 but is unlikely to do so again this year.
6TH CONGRESSIONAL SEAT–INCUMBENT, TOM PRICE
Incumbent, US Rep. Thomas E. Price (R-GA) has served two terms and was reelected in 2006 with 72.2% of the vote.
This District includes Atlanta’s northern suburbs, all of Cherokee, eastern Cobb, and north DeKalb Counties.
Before going to US Congress in 2004, Price, a Roswell doctor, served four terms in the Georgia State Senate, where he became the first Republican Majority Leader in the history of Georgia.
Price is now the US House Deputy Whip for the minority party. Roll Call and Congressional Quarterly rate his seat as “safe Republican.”
Democrat, former Air Force Reserve pilot Bill Jones, has served as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Marietta-based SA Technologies, a high technology business, since 2005.
Socialist Workers candidate Jeanne FitzMaurice is running but is not listed on the Secretary of State’s website.
7TH CONGRESSIONAL SEAT–INCUMBENT, JOHN LINDER
Incumbent, US Rep. John Linder (R-GA), has served eight terms and was reelected in 2006 with 70.9% of the vote.
This District includes Atlanta’s eastern suburbs incorporating parts of Barrow, Forsyth, Gwinnett, Newton, and Walton Counties.
Linder, a leader for the Fair Tax cause, a national sales tax proposal which would eliminate income tax, served as Chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) from 1996 to 1998.
Linder currently serves on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee. Roll Call and Congressional Quarterly rate his seat as “safe Republican.”
Democratic candidate, Doug Heckman, is an Army reservist.
Socialist Workers candidate Jacob Perasso is also challenging Linder, although he is not listed in the Secretary of State’s website.
8TH CONGRESSIONAL SEAT–INCUMBENT, JIM MARSHALL
Incumbent, US Rep. Jim Marshall (D-GA) is a centrist Democrat who has served three terms. He was reelected in 2006 with only 50.5% of the vote.
This District includes 21 counties stretching south through middle Georgia from Atlanta’s southern suburbs.
Widely recognized as an expert on military matters, Marshall serves on the Armed Services, Financial Services, and Agriculture Committees.
However, this seat could likely change hands in November. Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post newspaper rated this as the “8th most likely seat to switch parties.” The Rothenberg Report calls the race a “toss up” and a “NRCC target.” Marshall also faces a primary challenger.
“That’s pretty much the same thing they said two years ago and two years before that. Sometimes the pundits like to have something to seize on,” Democratic Party of Georgia spokesman, Martin Matheny, told APN.
“It’s not the safest Democratic seat but I think we’re going to be okay down there. One of the things we have working for us is kind of the real excitement and enthusiasm,” for Democrats in the Presidential Election year, Matheny said.
Democratic Primary challenger, Robert Nowak, is a teacher in Macon.
The Republican candidate is retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Rick Goddard.
9TH CONGRESSIONAL SEAT–INCUMBENT, NATHAN DEAL
Incumbent, US Rep. Nathan Deal (R-GA), has served eight terms and was reelected in 2006 with 76.6% of the vote.
This northern District runs from Rockdale and Hall Counties in the south and east, up to North Carolina and Tennessee and back down to the Alabama border.
A former attorney, judge, and State Senator, Deal is a member of the Committee on Energy and Commerce.
Roll Call and Congressional Quarterly rate this seat as “safe Republican.”
Democratic candidate Jeff Scott is an educator.
10TH CONGRESSIONAL SEAT–INCUMBENT, PAUL BROUN
Incumbent, US Rep. Paul Broun, Jr. (R-GA), has served one term. He was elected in a 2007 Special Election with 50.4% of the vote, after former US Rep. Charlie Norwood (R-GA) passed away.
This District includes 21 counties in northeast Georgia, running south from North Carolina along the South Carolina border down to Augusta, west to Athens.
Georgia’s only 100 percent house-call doctor and strong Republican voice, Broun sponsored a bill making English the official US language and another providing that life begins at fertilization, among others in his short time in Congress.
Roll Call and Congressional Quarterly rate this seat as “safe Republican” but Broun will face a Primary challenge.
The Democratic candidate is businessman and veteran Bobby Saxon.
Republican State House Majority Whip Barry Fleming is challenging Broun in the Republican Primary.
11TH CONGRESSIONAL SEAT–INCUMBENT, PHIL GINGREY
Incumbent, US Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) has served three terms and won reelection in 2006 with 71.1% of the vote.
This District includes nine counties near the northwest corner of Georgia, incorporating Rome, Kennesaw, Cartersville, and Marietta.
While serving on the powerful House Rules Committee, Gingrey works to protect Second Amendment rights, fights for lower taxes, and is a strong opponent of abortion.
Roll Call and Congressional Quarterly rate this seat as “safe Republican.”
The Democratic challenger is former Air Force pilot Hugh “Bud” Gammon.
12TH CONGRESSIONAL SEAT–INCUMBENT, JOHN BARROW
Incumbent, US Rep. John Barrow (R-GA) is a centrist Democrat who has served two terms. He won reelection in 2006 with only 50.3% of the vote and is in a similar position as Jim Marshall in the 8th District.
This southeastern District runs south along the South Carolina border to include Statesboro and Savannah and extends west to include Valdosta and Milledgeville.
While in Congress, Barrow opposed plans to privatize Social Security, voted for a federal minimum wage increase, and opposed a timetable for troop withdrawal from Iraq.
Barrow survived a close 2006 election but faces another tough test again in 2008. Roll Call and Congressional Quarterly rate this seat as “leans Democratic” but could be a target of the NRCC.
Democratic State Sen. Regina Thomas is challenging Barrow in the Primary. The Savannah Morning News newspaper wrote that the demographics of this District might be favoring Thomas, who is Black. 45% of Primary voters in the District are Black females; only 11.9% are White males.
Barrow also faces several Republican challengers.
These are former Savannah radio talk show host Ben Crystal, who described himself as “a professional a-hole who earns less than $30,000 a year” on his MySpace page; mechanical engineer, Ray McKinney; and John E. Stone, former President of the US Freedom Foundation, and former deputy chief of staff and communications director for US Reps. Charlie Norwood and Max Burns.
APN is planning on running a fuller feature in this race in the coming weeks.
“Thomas and Barrow are both good Democrats and hardworking Democrats and we’ll let them make their cases to the voters,” Matheny of the DPG said.
“When you see seats like the 12th and the 8th, I don’t see them swining backwards to the Republican column,” Matheny said.
“Georgia is gaining population. We’re projected to pick up 1 to 2 Congressional seats added to Georgia after the Census. We’re gaining population and the demographics of Georgia are kind of changing as well. Ultimately, that helps Democrats,” Matheny said.
“Younger people are moving in. A substantial number are [moving to Atlanta]. You’ll see people coming into lots of cities around Georgia: Savannah, Macon, Athens. It’s something I can see in my own neighborhood here. People are realizing that the Republican politics of Westmoreland, Kingston, Linder, those guys don’t share the people of Georgia’s values,” Matheny said.
“As long as we on our side of the aisle can do a good job of telling people what our core values are, we’re going to pick up votes, and of course we have to work harder than the other guys,” Matheny said.
13TH CONGRESSIONAL SEAT–INCUMBENT, DAVID SCOTT
Incumbent, US Rep. David Scott (D-GA), is a centrist Democrat who served three terms. He was reelected in 2006 with 69.2% of the vote.
This District incorporates portions of six western metro Atlanta counties. Scott is a member of the influential Financial Services Committee and co-chair of the Democratic Group on National Security.
Roll Call and Congressional Quarterly rate this seat as “safe Democratic” but Scott will face a Primary challenge.
Former State Senator Donzella James is running again to unseat Scott. She received about one third of the vote in the 2006 Primary. She is a progressive candidate who supports ending funding for the US Invasion of Iraq and is a plaintiff in a VoterGA lawsuit opposing electronic voting in Georgia.
APN endorsed James for this seat in 2006.
Republican candidate, Deborah Travis Honeycutt, is a Physician and also was the Republican nominee for this seat in 2006.
Since 2006, The Politico newspaper revealed major scandals involving US Rep. Scott, including tax liens and family members on his campaign staff receiving substantial payments. US Rep. Scott was named one of the most corrupt members of Congress by the Congressional watchdog group, Citizens for Responsility and Ethics and Washington (CREW).
US Rep. Scott could face charges, James said, adding that Republicans have funnelled a million dollars to Honeycutt’s campaign. Honeycutt has been sending out literature about Scott’s scandals to residents of the 13th District.
If Scott wins the Primary again this year, he will face a difficult battle against Honeycutt, although Matheny did not seem worried. “That’s a Demoratic District and it’s going to continue to be a Democrat District. The Republicans drew it that way so they’re going to have to live with it.”
James told Atlanta Progressive News she expects to win this race and is getting an enthusiastic response from voters.
Matheny did not seem worried about the controversy surrounding Scott. “I think that’s something the voters in the 13th are going to have to make up their mind on. That’s something that he has to talk about with his constituency.”
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Matthew Cardinale is a News Editor for Atlanta Progressive News and may be reached at email@example.com. Jonathan Springston is a Senior Staff Writer for Atlanta Progressive News. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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