Deal's GOP rivals for governor debate without him

Candidates discuss health care, guns



ATLANTA — Two longshot candidates in the Republican primary for Georgia governor disagreed Saturday on whether to participate in a national health insurance overhaul and whether to expand the places people can carry firearms.

Former Dalton Mayor David Pen­nin­gton and state Schools Super­intendent John Barge met in the debate held by WSB-TV. Both are seeking to replace incumbent Gov. Na­than Deal as their party’s nominee.

Notably absent was Deal, who spent part of the day at a campaign fundraiser called “Grilling With The Governor” at Lake Lanier.

“A debate isn’t necessary for Geor­gians to learn where he stands,” Deal spokeswoman Jennifer Talaber said in a written statement.

The winner of Tuesday’s primary will face Democratic state Sen. Ja­son Carter, the grandson of former President Jimmy Carter.

A nuanced difference emerged when Barge and Pennington were asked whether they would back a Dem­ocratic plan to expand the Medicaid system in Georgia so more low-income residents could have health insurance.

Barge said he agreed with Deal’s decision not to accept an expansion, though Barge also said the state has an obligation to care for the poor and hinted that a compromise with federal officials might be possible.

“If you can find ways to do what meets your needs and your state the way you need to do it, and it still meets what they’ve requested, they will work with you,” Barge said. “And so I think there can be a better partnership there.”

Pennington said a Medicaid expansion would not solve the state’s health care access issues.

“What we need to do is get Georgia back to where we were 15 years ago, which is the most powerful, successful economy in the South with good jobs with health care benefits,” he said. “That’s the only way you’re going to be able to provide health care for citizens.”

Pennington said he supported recent legislation from the GOP-dominated General Assembly that would let people take firearms into bars if they have a license to carry a weapon. He also wants to allow those with licenses to take their weapons onto college campuses, a proposal that did not become law.

“The bad guys are going to have guns, I assure you of that,” Penning­ton said. “Don’t take my freedoms away.”

Barge said he has a license to carry a weapon, but he had concerns about letting people have guns in bars.

“I don’t think that alcohol and guns mix,” he said.


A lot of attention has been devoted to the race in Georgia’s 12th Congressional District, where five Republicans are fighting to be the GOP’s chosen candidate to challenge John Barrow, the last white Democratic congressman in the Deep South. But there are other House primary races to watch Tuesday.


10TH DISTRICT: With Paul Broun running for U.S. Senate, seven Republicans are competing to win his House seat.

Pastor and conservative radio host Jody Hice of Monroe has pitched himself as an ideological successor to Broun. Trucking company owner Mike Collins of Jackson is the son of former U.S. Rep. Mac Collins. Donna Sheldon of Dacula is a former state legislator.

The GOP field also includes former Army officer Stephen Simpson of Milledgeville, Athens attorney Garry Gerrard, Marine Corps reservist Mitchell Swan of Athens and retired businessman Brian Slowinski of White Plains. The Republican nominee will face Democrat Ken Dious of Athens this fall.


4TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT: Rep. Hank Johnson of Lithonia will lose his job Tuesday unless he can overcome a challenge by one of his district’s veteran lawmen. After 13 years as DeKalb County sheriff, Tom Brown turned in his badge in February and signed up to oppose Johnson.

Brown said Johnson doesn’t deserve a fifth term because he’s failed to attract enough federal spending to the 4th District to help it weather a turbulent economy. Johnson insists his constituents have benefited from $250 million in federal aid since he took office in 2007.

No Republicans are running in the heavily Democratic district anchored in DeKalb County.

– Associated Press



Wed, 01/17/2018 - 23:14

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