Augusta native U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey briefly returned to his hometown Wednesday morning to announce his bid for the U.S. Senate.
Standing behind a lectern in a weedy field in front of the Kroger on 15th Street, the Republican said he wanted to make his announcement first in the place where he grew up and attended medical school.
“It’s an honor to formally announce my candidacy in Augusta, and later today in Atlanta, because the foundations of my lifelong commitment to serve Georgians were laid primarily within these two communities,” said the 70-year-old OB-GYN doctor, who has been a resident of Marietta, Ga., for the past four decades.
Gingrey, whose political career began with the Marietta city school board before moving on to two terms in the Georgia state Senate and then Congress, where he represents the 11th District, is seeking to fill the seat being vacated in 2014 by U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, who has announced he will not run again.
He is the second Republican congressman from Georgia to enter what’s expected to be a fierce campaign for the U.S. Senate in 2014. Rep. Paul Broun, R-Watkinsville, announced his bid last month.
Gingrey was first elected to Congress in 2002. He is co-chair of the GOP Doctors Caucus, formed to challenge President Obama’s health care overhaul.
He launches his Senate campaign in a position of financial strength, with about $1.8 million in his congressional campaign account as of Dec. 31.
He touted his years of service as a champion for “traditional conservative family values” and said his training as a physician has aided him because doctors, “listen, they diagnose and then they take action.”
Gingrey railed against the “liberal policies” of the Obama administration and the ineffective leadership of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who he said was responsible for the gridlock in Washington and the growth of the national debt.
Gingrey said he was opposed to raising any taxes to solve the nation’s fiscal problems and said instead the focus should be put on reforming the tax code and cutting entitlement spending.
He compared the responsibilities of physicians for their patients to that of political leaders, who he said were entrusted with the health and welfare of the nation.
“President Obama and Harry Reid have answered the people’s trust with what? A combination of ineptitude and inaction,” he said.
The morning news conference was attended by a few members of the media and the candidate’s staff and family. Gingrey took only two questions before being whisked away to a waiting car.
When asked by a reporter how he expected to be more effective than Chambliss, who announced his retirement in January out of “frustration” with “legislative gridlock and partisan posturing,” Gingrey declined to answer.
He was cut off by spokeswoman, Jen Talaber, who said the candidate had another event to attend in Atlanta.
Associated Press reports were used in this article.