DeKalb County Sheriff Thomas Brown announced today the formation of an exploratory committee for the Fourth Congressional District seat, currently held by incumbent Congressman Hank Johnson.
Brown, a four-term Sheriff for DeKalb County, said "I like the job that I have. It's an honor for me to serve the people of DeKalb County. But I look forward to the opportunity, if it presents itself, to serve the people of DeKalb, of Rockdale, of Newton and the people of Gwinnett County in representing the Fourth District," said Brown at a press conference outside the restaurant Arizona's at the Mall at Stonecrest on Wednesday.
"There are a number of things I think I can do. I think I can bring dynamic leadership and a strong voice, something I don't believe we have had to the level that we've had before. I want to be that voice if I choose to do this."
He added, "I will work not only to be a strong voice for the Democratic side, but to bring and develop relationships on the Republican side as well as we move the whole pendulum more to the center so we can deal with the problems we have in Washington but to bring real solutions."
He questioned the influence incumbent Congressman Hank Johnson had in Washington. "What has been brought back from Washington?" Brown asked. "(Congressman Johnson is) close friends with the President. He has a seat on the transportation committee. Unless he can articulate why nothing sufficiently has been brought back here, then it would only lead me to believe that maybe not a whole lot of influence is being exerted in a powerful enough way."
According to his website, www.thomasbrownforcongress.com, Brown began his public safety career in the Atlanta fire department, became DeKalb County fire chief and was eventually appointed public safety director in DeKalb by then DeKalb CEO Manuel Maloof. Brown first ran for sheriff in 2001 and is currently serving his fourth term.
Brown said the determining factors to his decision whether or not to run will be poll numbers and fundraising.
"I want to see the votes... Secondly, I'm not naive enough to know I can't go to a football game without some shoulder pads. I'm going to have to see some money. I can't go to this race and try to win this race with $50,000."
"Realistically I know I can't outraise a fourth-term congressman in raising funds. But if I can raise enough to get my message out and talk about the issues and hear what the issues are, that will be a guiding force," said Brown. "I'm not hung up on having the most money, but I need enough money."
Brown said there was no real decision deadline, but he would give himself until around February 2014 to see the funding and polling numbers. "And if it's just not there, it's just not there, and there's nothing wrong with being sheriff." He said he had one set of encouraging poll numbers but was waiting to see more.
Regarding the Rockdale and Newton County portions of the Fourth District, Brown said, "If I decide to take this trip, if I'm elected to be their congressman, I'm not going to be the DeKalb County congressman. I'm going to be the Fourth District congressman." He added that he knew many people in Rockdale and Newton and had been spending more time there in the last eight or nine months.
A spokesperson for Hank Johnson confirmed the Congressman is running for reelection in 2014. In a released statement, Congressman Johnson said, "I look forward to participating in the electoral process that has made this country the envy of the world... I love this country and love serving the people of the Fourth District. I have a strong record and look forward to running on my record. We need a strong Democrat to continue representing the Fourth District."
Johnson is also serving his fourth term in office. He defeated Republican candidate Chris Vaughn in the 2012 election with 73 percent of the vote to Vaughn's 26 percent of the vote. In the 2012 Democratic primary, Johnson won 67 percent of the vote versus challengers Courtney Dillard, who had 24 percent and Lincoln Nunnally, who had 8 percent.
The Fourth Congressional District covers parts of Rockdale, Newton, Gwinnett and DeKalb counties.