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Posted: July 5, 2014 10:00 p.m.

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The fight is on: Perdue vs Kingston

GOP Senate contenders compete for your vote

Perdue trumpets his business experience to focus on economy

Touting his business experience and dismissing his opponent as a “career politician,” Republican U.S. Senate candidate David Perdue told the News he’s better equipped to help the economy in Rockdale and the entire country.

A former CEO of Dollar General and Reebok, Perdue is competing with U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston in the July 22 runoff for the Republican nomination in this fall’s Senate race. The winner will face Democrat Michelle Nunn and Libertarian Amanda Swafford in the final election.

“What pulled me into this race is, I believe we have a full-blown economic and financial crisis,” said Perdue, who has never run for office before. “The problem is, in the United States Senate, there are only about 20 people with real business experience. I’m [running] against the poster child of a career politician.”

His two main agendas as senator would be instituting Congressional term limits and tackling the national “debt crisis.”
“The Founding Fathers never imagined the rise of career politicians,” Perdue said, saying the lack of term limits gives lobbyists and special interests too much influence over legislators. “It really does distort the priorities and sense of urgency.”

As for the national debt, he focuses on “reducing spending and getting the economy going.” He claimed there are 480 “redundant federal agencies” that are “low-hanging fruit” to cut spending on.

“Let’s take the Department of Education as an example,” Perdue said. It spends over $70 billion a year, he said, “and yet the results we’re seeing are not acceptable. And this is not partisan. We’re talking about both sides here.”

As a businessman, he said, he views the Department of Education as a corporate division that is underperforming and should be “defunded” and fixed. More education spending decisions should be made at the local level, he said.

Like outgoing Sen. Saxby Chambliss, Perdue is a support of the “FairTax,” a proposal to replace federal income and payroll taxes with a large flat sales tax on all goods and services. Admitting he knew little about the FairTax before the race, Perdue said he now believes it would help industries in places such as Rockdale.

The current tax code “has created an unlevel playing field for our manufacturers,” he said. “We have the highest corporate tax rate in the world…It puts our manufacturers at a great disadvantage. I believe [the FairTax] can make a huge difference in our economy.”

Perdue’s platform includes strong support for gun ownership rights. But he declined to comment on Rockdale’s ongoing Second Amendment controversy over a new state law allowing guns to be carried into unsecured government buildings.
“I’m a purist” on the Second Amendment, he said, noting the Founding Fathers placed gun rights immediately after the freedoms of speech and religion in the Bill of Rights. “I’m going to go up [to Washington] and fight for that.”

“I’m proud to be from a state that has passed one of the most comprehensive gun bills in the country,” he said, referring to Georgia’s recent new gun laws. But he repeatedly declined to comment specifically about the guns in government buildings part of that package, calling it a “state issue” that it would be “irresponsible” for a federal office-seeker to comment on.

Kingston touts his record on job growth, taxes in his run for Senate

Though Jack Kingston is campaigning on several positions during his July 22 primary runoff race for the U.S. Senate, his support of the recently announced expansion of the Port of Savannah hits home for a lot of Georgians.

The $706 million state and federal dredging project that was announced last month is expected to be a huge benefit for Georgia. Kingston, a 10-term Republican Congressman from Savannah, said the port has a huge impact on jobs for Georgia and will continue with the expansion.

Kingston alone did not bring the dredging project to fruition. President Barack Obama signed the budget bill last month that included the project and followed lobbying by state officials and Georgia’s federal delegation including Sen. Saxby Chambliss, who is retiring this year and who Kingston looks to succeed. Kingston said projects like the Port of Savannah are ones he will work hard for in the Senate.

“To have a facility that is competitive internationally and deep enough to accommodate the big ships so we can get our Georgia-manufactured goods overseas, it will absolutely help Rockdale County and all of metro Atlanta,” he said.

He sees the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and the federal Environmental Protection Agency as blocking economic growth with over regulation. Kingston also supports construction of the Keystone gas pipeline as a way to energy independence that he said would also help the economy.

“When Obama was sworn in on January 2009, gas prices were $1.87 per gallon. Today, it’s $2.64,” he said. “If gas l went down below $2.50 a gallon, what a boost it would be for the economy and for middle class families.”

Kingston shares the opinion of many Republicans on Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act that became law in 2010, and promised to work to have it repealed. He criticized the law that it had not lived up to promises like people being able to keep their existing healthcare plans or to continue seeing their physicians. Kingston added that Obamacare also has had a bad effect on business and job creation.

“I think we need to repeal it and throw myself into that project,” he said. “It is a drag on the foot of job creation, and it will give us the worst healthcare in the long run. We will not have the best and brightest people going into medicine because they don’t want to deal with the bureaucracy.”

Kingston came in second with 26 percent of the vote in the May 20 Republican primary behind businessman David Perdue, who garnered 31 percent of the vote. Since then, Kingston has obtained endorsements from primary opponents Karen Handel and Phil Gingrey and former House Speaker and GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich.

Kingston said he feels the momentum swinging toward him but believes the campaign will get tougher. Both Kingston and Perdue have raised millions for their campaigns. Perdue, a former executive with Reebok, Sara Lee and Dollar General, has donated or loaned his own campaign $2.65 million, according to the Federal Elections Commission’s most recent campaign reports.

“I think it is a competitive race and I’m going against a self-funder who’s got very slick, insider people running his campaign,” he said. “They put a million dollars of attack ads on me back in April, so I think I would be naive to think they’re not going to bring those back.”

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