Like two of his three opponents seeking the Republican nomination July 31 to run against Democratic incumbent John Barrow, Allen has no experience holding elected office.
Instead, he proudly touts his success in business – R.W. Allen & Associates, the large Augusta construction company he and his wife, Robin, founded with their savings in 1976 – as ideal preparation for success in Washington.
At debates around the district, Allen has mentioned how his business has helped people pull themselves out of poverty.
“I’m proud of that business,” he said in a Wednesday debate in Augusta. “That business is a leader not only in the community but in this state, this nation. We’ve created thousands of jobs. We’ve provided a way for families to provide for their children.”
Besides its work in private industry, R.W. Allen has become the go-to contractor for government construction projects. While other contractors bemoan Augusta’s stringent procurement process, R.W. Allen has won some of the largest, including Augusta’s new public library and the city’s downtown convention center now under construction.
The son of a Columbia County farmer and school librarian, Allen was an honors graduate in high school and graduated from Auburn University’s architecture school with a bachelor’s degree in building construction. His brother, Charles Allen, is a Columbia County commissioner. The father of four and grandfather of five, Allen’s resume is full of board memberships at schools, colleges and development organizations.
He has also out-raised his Republican primary opponents. His July 19 filings with the Federal Elections Commission show Allen collecting $662,569 so far, including $250,000 of his own money. His nearest opponent, state Rep. Lee Anderson, has $514,755. which includes a $178,000 loan to himself. Evans attorney Wright McLeod has raised $485,827, including a $100,000 personal loan.
The only candidate in the July 31 primary from outside the Augusta area, Dublin attorney and former Georgia insurance commissioner candidate Maria Sheffield, reported raising only $10,125 in her most recent filings. Sheffield, who almost won the state insurance commissioner’s seat in 2010, said recently that primary fundraising doesn’t matter and that the Republican Party will pour millions into defeating Barrow in the general election.
During his campaign Allen also has taken the offensive against one of his opponents, McLeod. He surprised some of his Augusta supporters when his campaign manager, Scott Paradise, filed a complaint against McLeod alleging several campaign finance disclosure violations. McLeod, a retired Navy officer and the congressional heir apparent among Augusta-area Republicans, mostly ignored the allegations but amended his filings after the FEC agreed with one of Paradise’s four allegations.