Republicans debate in 12th District race

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The four Republicans seeking the nomination to run against Democrat John Barrow to represent the 12th Congressional District did their best to distinguish themselves from one another in a televised debate Wednesday.

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Georgia's 12th Congressional District Republican candidates (from left) Rick Allen, Lee Anderson, Wright McLeod and Maria Sheffield speak in a debate at St. Paul's Church in Augusta. The debate was televised live.  SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
Georgia's 12th Congressional District Republican candidates (from left) Rick Allen, Lee Anderson, Wright McLeod and Maria Sheffield speak in a debate at St. Paul's Church in Augusta. The debate was televised live.

The farmer and businessman from Grovetown, state Rep. Lee Anderson, gave his cellphone number out during the live broadcast.

“I’m fed up with Obama and Barrow for wanting to shove the largest tax increase down our throat in American history and call it
health care reform,” Anderson said. “I’m fed up with Barrow and Obama for not wanting to balance the budget.”

Wright McLeod, the Augusta-born retired Navy officer who now works as a real estate attorney, spoke of the complaint opponent Rick Allen filed against him with the Federal Elections Commission, calling the move “big-boy politics.” McLeod has since itemized several campaign finance disclosures at the FEC’s request.

“I’m the only candidate here that’s been shot at before,” McLeod said, quoting Winston Churchill. “There’s nothing more exhilarating than being shot at, especially when they miss the mark.”

The only candidate from outside metro Augusta and the youngest, Maria Sheffield, said she’d been a Republican since “you could put us in a telephone booth and we could dance together” and defended her job as a regulatory compliance attorney as useful in dealing with the minutiae of federal legislation.

Allen talked about his successful contracting business.

“It’s sad in this country when people work in a business and they’re criticized. We see it on the national scene right now. I’m proud of that business. That business is a leader not only in the community but in the state, in this nation. We’ve created thousands of jobs; we’ve
provided a way for families to provide for their children.”

Voters already are casting ballots early in the July 31 primary. The 12th Congressional District was redrawn to increase a Republican’s chance of winning, but the candidates fear many Augusta Republicans will cast ballots in the Democratic primary instead to select a candidate for sheriff.

The only candidate to endorse Georgia’s new regional transportation sales tax, Anderson defended his support for the plan developed while he served in the state Legislature.

“What we did is give you the freedom to choose whether you want to pass it or not,” he said.

CHECK OUT ‘MY VOTER PAGE’

Find your poll location and see a sample ballot on the Georgia Secretary of State’s My Voter Page, mvp.sos.state.ga.us.

Comments (7) Add comment
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Riverman1
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Riverman1 07/19/12 - 02:44 am
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Excellent Forum

Wright McLeod came across very well... intelligent, well spoken and friendly. He and Sheffield. Lee Anderson and Rick Allen reminded me of each other with their basic, down home demeanor.

Dixieman
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Dixieman 07/19/12 - 06:33 am
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I am having a hard time choosing

But any of them are better than John Barrow.

CobaltGeorge
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CobaltGeorge 07/19/12 - 09:10 am
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Forget Lee Anderson......

Forget Lee Anderson......

john
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john 07/19/12 - 09:32 am
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agree

I agree with RM. This was the first time I have seen any of them. Im not in anyones camp. McLeod and Sheffield were impressive. Did Allen actually answer any questions posed to him? It seemed like he stuck to talking points instead of answer questions, which I know is common in politics. Anderson..... Im sure he is a nice guy. The only thing about McLeod is he harps on his veterans status a bit too much IMHO.

Fiat_Lux
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Fiat_Lux 07/19/12 - 09:49 am
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Do they have websites?

I couldn't watch the debate and would love to see something substantive instead of just the lists of qualifications they each have. Does anyone know if there are lists anywhere that explain their positions on specific issues?

Riverman1
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Riverman1 07/19/12 - 10:07 am
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John, Good Points

We may as well get into a little political debate here. I'm favoring Wright McLeod and he did very well at the debate. However, although I'm a vet, I, too, think it's time for him to stop mentioning his service. The fact is few voters are vets and sometimes that can create a backlash of sorts. The public already knows about his service by now. That's my only instructive criticism.

With Allen, I had a feeling he was going to come across this way. He is surprisingly weak with his likability and focus. We all knew how Lee Anderson would come across, but Allen is much the same way. I just don't see him as Congressional material after viewing the forum for almost an hour.

Maria Sheffield comes across well, but I can't figure her out. She has lots of money and has done well in past elections and has Tea Party like credentials. I thought before she would do pretty good, but her campaign is not catching on around here and without our area, she can't win.

By the way, the forum panel members and moderator were excellent.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 07/19/12 - 10:14 am
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Question for the Chronicle They Won't Answer

We all know the Chronicle has been favoring Rick Allen. But I wonder if after watching the debates if they are thinking of changing their tacit support to McCleod? After all, editor Mike Ryan saw it all as one of the panel members.

All politics aside if we were going to hire somebody to represent us in Washington, that person has come to the forefront with the debates. I hope he gets to take on Barrow.

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