Though Jack Kingston is campaigning on several positions during his July 22 primary runoff race for the U.S. Senate, his support of the recent 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. After lobbying by state officials and Georgia's federal delegation including Sen. Saxby Chambliss, who is retiring this year and who Kingston looks to succeed, President Barack Obama signed the budget bill last month that included the project. 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."
On Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act that became law in 2010, Kingston promised to work to have it repealed.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 able 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 and behind businessman David Perdue, who garnered 31 percent of the vote. Since then, Kingston has obtained the endorsements from primary opponents Karen Handel and Phil Gingrey. Former House Speaker and GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich.
Kingston said he feels the momentum swinging toward him but believed the campaign will get tougher. Both Kingston and Perdue has 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."
Perdue recently released a new television ad that portrayed Kingston as a liberal. Kingston paints his opponent as someone who has no defined positions.
"I think he's having trouble keeping his position," Kingston said. "He reads a lot of polls and says something then finds that's not popular then changes his position."
Kingston also believed comprehensive immigration reform is dead at the federal level. He said reform will best come in steps and must include four stipulations: No amnesty, securing the U.S. border, no welfare benefits for illegal immigrants and cracking down on employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants.
He said in a way immigration reform is tied to welfare reform and getting Americans to take jobs.
"I talked to an employer the other day in landscaping who pays $14 an hour for a starting wage for somebody who would rake or cut grass," he said. "He has trouble competing against the welfare system because a lot of people would rather not work. We have to have a strong incentive for able-bodied people to work."
Kingston noted an amendment he co-authored to the Federal Food Stamp bill that included a work requirement for all able-bodied recipients. That amendment was adopted in the Senate as a pilot program in 10 states in the bill's final version, Kingston said.