With nearly 25 years experience as an investigative reporter, Dale Cardwell brings a unique background to the 2008 campaign race for Georgia senator.
An Emmy-award winning reporter for WSB-TV, in the 11 years Cardwell worked at the Atlanta television station, he became known for his stories on political corruption, exposing waste among Georgia governors, county sheriffs and state administrators.
Saturday, a day after leaving WSB-TV, Cardwell formally announced his candidacy for U.S. Senate, challenging Republican incumbent Saxby Chambliss.
Starting work this week as an associate and technical consultant for Estate Planners of Georgia LLC, Cardwell was on hand at the company's Covington office Wednesday morning to answer questions about his campaign.
Dismissing criticisms that he wasn't politically experienced enough to run for senator, Cardwell said his years as an investigative reporter covering politics taught him to be a quick study and that every story has two sides - skills that Caldwell believes are essential to a senator.
"The more I covered the way things worked, the more I saw how dysfunctional things are," Cardwell said of his decision to run. "Georgia voices are no longer heard in Washington, only the special interests."
Already, Cardwell has raised eyebrows with a campaign promise that he will accept no money from political action committees, which bundle party contributions to needy candidates, or from special-interest groups.
Acknowledging he faces an uphill battle raising campaign contributions, Cardwell said he already has one advantage over any other Democratic contender - his years as a broadcast reporter have spread his face and name to the homes of millions of Georgians, and he possesses a reputation for hard-hitting journalism.
"I have a head start. I'm going to start on the 30-yard line because people in Newton County know who I am," Cardwell said.
Cardwell said he believes the campaign promises of the Republican Party - which succeeded brilliantly in 1994 in persuading a flood of socially conservative Democrats to cross aisles to join the GOP - have been revealed to be false. Government in D.C. is bigger than ever, Cardwell says, and wages have not kept pace with the rising cost of living.
"They sold us a bill of goods and they didn't deliver," Cardwell said. "We just continue to grow bigger and bigger."
If elected, Cardwell said he would bring his years of experience exposing political corruption to the Capitol as an independent voice of the people.
"Newton County has no voice in Washington," Cardwell said. "It does not exist because the senator who represents Newton County only serves special interests."
On the issues
Cardwell said he was in support of the Iraq War funding bill, passed by Congress at the end of May after a bitter struggle with President George Bush over stipulations requiring a timetable for withdrawal of troops from Iraq.
"I would have voted to fund the troops," Cardwell said, adding progress benchmarks have to be stressed to the Iraqi people as a condition of the continued American military presence in the war-torn nation.
"If the people fail, then and only then do we redeploy our troops, but we do not unilaterally withdraw," he said.
Cardwell said he was against the Senate bill currently floating around Congress which would give millions of immigrants living in the country illegally a path to citizenship. According to Cardwell, the illegal immigrants working in the U.S. are depressing wages for the rest of Americans.
"It's all about supply and demand," Cardwell said. "Wages can't rise because the immigrants are suppressing the wages."
If elected, Cardwell said he would support building a wall between Mexico and the U.S. He also is in favor of deporting any illegal immigrants who find their way to local jails after being arrested for such offenses as drinking and driving. In addition, Cardwell said the government should adopt stronger penalties for businesses caught employing illegal immigrants.
"I don't advocate a round-up, but through attrition, they'll eventually go home," Cardwell said.
However, Cardwell said he was in favor of a guest-worker program for the nation's agriculture industry, which he says is dependent on immigrant labor.
"We do need a guest-worker program, but it needs to be watched," Cardwell said.
Acknowledging the global warming threat, Cardwell said he wouldn't go as far as placing emission caps on companies to lower their greenhouse gas emissions. He does believe the U.S. government needs to take immediate action to curb global warming, though.
"I think it's a serious problem," Cardwell said. "I think we've ignored it for too long. The U.S. government has to promote clean energy sources."
Cardwell said he believed Georgia farmers, who already grow large amounts of corn and soy beans (which are used in the production of biodiesel fuel), would benefit from a federal policy promoting alternative energy sources.
Cardwell promised Newton County residents will hear more from him in the next year and half.
"I'm going to have to go to Covington, Rome, all over the state to get to people outside of Atlanta," Cardwell said. "This is where the votes are and they've been ignored for so long."
This story was published in The Covington News on June 6, 2007