File photo of Congress. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)
The most watched race in Gwinnett County on May 22 may not be the race for governor, lieutenant governor or some other statewide race, but rather the one for U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall’s seat.
Woodall, R-Ga., is running for re-election for his 7th Congressional District seat, but he’s facing opposition from both sides of the political aisle in a race that national Democrats have pegged as one of their targets in this year’s elections.
There are six Democrats — Kathleen Allen, Carolyn Bourdeaux, Melissa Davis, David Kim, Ethan Pham and Steve Reilly — but Woodall has to first survive a challenge from former Marine Shane Hazel in the Republican primary before he can turn his attention to a fall race.
Elsewhere, U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., is being challenged by fellow Democrat Juan Parks in the 4th Congressional District’s Democratic Primary, with the winner facing Republican Joe Profit in the fall.
Over in the 10th Congressional District, U.S. Rep. Jody Hice, R-Ga., is facing Joe Hunt and Bradley Griffin in the Republican primary, with the winner of that contest facing the winner of the Democratic primary race between Chalis Montgomery, Richard Dien Winfield and Tabitha A. Johnson-Green in the fall.
Johnson is seeking what would be his seventh term in office if he is elected. He said last fall that he wants to focus on improving access to health care, livable wages for workers, adequate resources for public education, affordable college tuition and vocational training programs if he is re-elected this year.
“Having served during the terms of three presidents, I am committed now more than ever to public service,” Johnson said in his re-election campaign launch announcement in November. “Because of the daunting challenges we face as a nation, I want to continue working to bring people together to get things done in Congress for the American people and my constituents specifically.”
Challenging Johnson, however, is Parks, a Marine Corps veteran and Newton High School JROTC instructor who said on his campaign website that “now is the time for change in Congress.” He has said he wants to address sex trafficking, the resources through HUD to address affordable housing, a bipartisan approach to health care, mental illness and gun ownership training.
Woodall said on his campaign website that he favors implementing the FairTax, cutting red tape that small businesses deal with, protecting Second Amendment rights, letting local officials make decisions about education, enforcing existing immigration laws, protecting unborn children and shrinking the size of government.
Hazel said he feels the government is acting unconstitutionally and that Woodall was not upholding his oath of office. He accused the congressman of not being accessible, accountable or transparent. He said the way the government itself is operating is the biggest issue facing the country right now.
“History is replete with the horrors of democide,” Hazel said. “I started addressing this very problem a couple years ago by teaching the history of the Constitution and the Constitution itself. We must educate Americans in this fashion so that they may through law, throw off these usurpers and would be tyrants.”
On the Democratic side of the race, Kim said federal leaders should ensure access to health care while keeping premiums and deductibles affordable, negotiate lower prescription drug prices for people on Medicare and Medicaid, offer “Dreamers” a pathway to citizenship, provide tax relief to families, ensuring schools are safe, make the VA do its job and protect Social Security.
“Washington is broken,” Kim said. “Our representative puts party over country and the special interests control the agenda while working families continue to see their living costs go up but their wages remain stagnant. Stop the madness; end the chaos and gridlock and bring back common sense and integrity to Washington.”
Meanwhile, Pham — an immigrant whose family immigrated from Vietnam in the 1990s — said Americans should have equal access to health care, education and be treated equally in the criminal justice system. He tied Woodall to President Donald Trump and said the biggest issue facing the country right now is a “never-before-seen crisis in American leadership.”
“There is (also) work to be done on broadband issues on the federal level,” Hice said. “Here at home, of the 25 counties that I represent, the majority of them are rural and the broadband issues are enormously critical. I want to see to it that it is included in the infrastructure bill that is in discussion now.”
But, another Republican in the race, Hunt, said officials in Washington D.C. have “run out of ideas that move the country forward” and “‘zero-sum politics’ have hijacked our country.” He said the need for economic empowerment is a key issue facing the country right now. He said one way to address the issue is to address training for various trades, whether it be through trade schools or apprenticeships.
“We propose the Trade Industry Apprenticeship program, which allows students who don’t intend to enroll at a four-year institution to apprentice in their chosen craft,” Hunt said. “This time in an apprenticeship will earn the individual experience, as well as tuition money for a technical school through public and private partnerships with tax credits. This is similar to the G.I. Bill for technical and trade workers.”
Meanwhile, Griffin, the third Republican in the race, said health care is the biggest issue facing the country right now and he specifically pointed to drug prices. His plan includes letting Medicare negotiate fair prices with drug companies, cutting drug patent lengths from 20 to 15 years, getting generic drugs approved by the FDA sooner and letting Medicare switch patients to generic drugs without patient consent.