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Candidates call for a different direction

POSTED: March 31, 2014 9:00 p.m.
Photo by Pat Donahue/

Moderator Ken Lee has a chuckle as U.S. House 1st District candidate Darwin Carter shares a light moment Saturday morning.

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Office seekers at Saturday morning’s candidates’ forum on ethics, morality and principles agreed that the country is on the wrong track and needs to return toward a Judeo-Christian foundation.

U.S. Rep. Paul Broun (R-Athens), who is running to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, and eight Congressional hopefuls — state Rep. Delvis Dutton, John Stone and Eugene Yu in the 12th District and 1st District contestants Darwin Carter, state Rep. Jeff Chapman, Dr. Bob Johnson, Dr. Earl Martin and John McCallum —took part in the event. Candidates answered questions such as if they foresaw an instance where they would compromise their principles and their views on the Bible.

But they all agreed something must be done soon to avert what they see as a quickly-growing government and they decried the spending and a $17 trillion national debt.

“The country is going in the wrong direction,” said Stone, who also ran for the 12th District seat in 2008. “The baby boomers may be the first generation to leave it worse off than what they inherited. We also have to look at ourselves — have we as a nation turned away from God?”

Said Broun: “We’re losing our country. We’re losing the principles that made this country great. I believe God has called me to help rebuild those foundational principles this nation was founded upon.”

Broun, the only senatorial candidate to attend, said he asks himself four questions before voting on a legislative proposal. He inquires if it is right, constitutional, needed and affordable. If the answer to any of the four is no, he said, then he votes no.

“It’s important to have principles to stand firm on,” he said.

Stone, running as a Republican, as were all the candidates at Saturday’s event, didn’t spare the party leadership, either.

“We have to have leadership in the Republican party that will stand up and be counted. And right now, we don’t,” he said. “I am the only candidate who can beat John Barrow and I am the only candidate who has pledged in writing to vote out the entire sellout political leadership that knuckles under to Barack Obama at every turn. We have to win back our party for constitutional principles and restore Judeo-Christian foundations of this country. If we don’t do it, it won’t matter if we vote John Barrow out. No one else can win this race.”

Broun also voiced his displeasure with the Republican Congressional leadership, pointing out he did not vote for current Speaker of the House John Boehner to retain his position.

“We needed someone with a backbone to stand up to Barack Obama and Harry Reid,” he said.

Stone said he stayed out of the race in 2012 because there were already four candidates — former state Rep. Lee Anderson lost to Barrow in the general election. But it’s a Republican-leaning district, and Mitt Romney got 57 percent of the district’s votes for president in 2012.

“We lost because we got terrible advice from the NRCC,” he said of the National Republican Congressional Committee. “They’re interfering again.”

Yu, a South Korean immigrant, said he is the only candidate who can beat Barrow.

“I am going to bring jobs to the 12th District,” he said.

Yu said he worked the midnight shift at a factory while he was still in high school and now runs a company that refurbishes military vehicles.

“When I first came to this country, I couldn’t even speak English,” he said. “I only had 29 dollars in my pocket. I didn’t have enough money for a midnight snack. But I was proud.”

The war on poverty and spending
The candidates also concurred on the war on poverty, with each calling it a failure.

“Our country is going absolutely bankrupt because of this war on poverty that has absolutely failed,” said Stone. “We made one brief period of progress. We cut our welfare rolls by a half to two-thirds. The Obama administration overruled the work requirement.”

“The war on poverty has been just an abject failure,” added Broun.” We have enough money across our society to take care of poor people, to take care of senior citizens in need, and we must do so. The problem is we are spending money on fat-cat bureaucrats in Washington, D.C.”

Carter, an Alma businessman who served in the Department of Agriculture under President Reagan, said the local post office has to add extra delivery people and the banks have to add extra tellers in his town on the day government subsidy checks come in.

“Lyndon Baines Johnson declared war on poverty. Guess who won? Poverty,” he said. “We have to break the poverty cycle. We have to get people off food stamps. We have to teach them that a paycheck has more value than sitting on the front porch of that public housing unit, waiting for the postman to bring that check.”

Martin, a Pierce County physician, said poverty is a mindset.

“If you want to see poverty, go to the garbage dumps of Cairo and see the people living off the garbage,” he said. “We’re trying to cure a mindset with stuff that doesn’t work. The gospel says preach good news to the poor. And it’s not stuff. It’s the responsibility of the church and of us to show them who they really are and not somebody who needs a handout.”

A former Army Ranger, Johnson described how he has spent Christmas mornings serving breakfast to the homeless near Savannah’s Telfair Square. The vast majority of those being helped are  men and most of them have a mental illness.

“We have done a dismal job taking care of the mentally ill,” he said. “We have done a horrible job of helping the mentally ill.”

Johnson also called for the federal government to get out of the assistance business and let churches and communities handle the load.

McCallum said his family lost everything while he was in college, and he had to wish dishes in the athletic department.

“I wasn’t sure I could go back to college,” he said, though he eventually earned a bachelor’s degree from Washington and Lee University.

He also said help for the poor begins at home.

“We’ve all been willing to trade all of that to the federal government for the lie that they are going to take care of it all,” McCallum said.

Chapman said he only got into politics after attending a Glynn County commission meeting and saw how the commissioners treated regular citizens. He ran against an incumbent who eventually dropped out of the race. Chapman also has served in the state Senate.

“I had the most fiscally responsible voting record in this district, and I’m proud of that,” he said. “I got a lot of hard licks for voting against things our party wanted to pass. I despise lazy politicians and selfish politicians, and we have a lot of that in Washington today.”

Chapman said he fought to thwart a development deal on Jekyll Island and to stop Georgia Power from tacking on an extra 11 percent to power bills to pay for the Plant Vogtle expansion.

“I have a proven record I am not going to cave in to special interests and party bosses,” he said. “The leadership in every party wants you to be an echo, not a voice.”

Dutton said he could have remained in the state House of Representatives with a fairly safe seat. The owner of a well-drilling business, the Glennville resident was first elected to the General Assembly in 2010. “I didn’t have gray hair then,” quipped the youngest of the candidates.

“We have failed my children’s generation,” said Dutton. “I truly believe everyone on this panel is running for the right reason. I’m the only one in the 12th District who has the example of doing that for four years.”

Broun said he helped bring Caterpillar to the state and that will result in 3,600 jobs in northeast Georgia. He supports the deepening of the Savannah port but added more work needs to be done to put in the roads necessary to spur more economic development.

Carter noted the 1st District has two seaports, interstate highways, two class 1 rail lines and ample labor for growth and jobs.

“We’ve got all the assets necessary,” he said. “The only thing we need is leadership and I want to provide that.”

Stone said the Tea Party deserves credit for applying the brakes to runaway government spending and intrusion.

“Without the Tea Party, we’d have a socialist France at best,” he said. “We have to start fighting to take our country back. We have to take our party back.”

Martin may be running the barest-bones campaign of any — his campaign disclosure of Dec. 31 noted no money in his coffers.

“Money is the corrupting influence in the politics. All that money has strings attached to it,” he said. “I love this country, and I love this state and our country is going in the wrong direction. I have yet to meet anybody who says we are going in the right direction.”

Said McCallum: “Every generation has left things better than they found it. But we’re at a tipping point. The future of our country hangs in the balance.”

The former Newt Gingrich staffer sounded an optimistic tone as well.

“I believe America’s best days are ahead,” he said.

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