Charles Walker Jr., the Democratic front-runner in the 12th Congressional District race, was in Savannah this week pushing his plan to develop the Athens-Savannah-Augusta area into a biotech triangle.
Mr. Walker, the son of state Senate Majority Leader Charles Walker, raised more than $200,000 earlier this year for his bid to be the U.S. representative for the newly created district.
District 12 stretches from Savannah to Augusta to Athens. Seven Democratic candidates qualified for the race last week, including Savannah attorney Tony Center.
Q: Why did you decide to run?
A: "We need leadership to unify this district and bring good-paying jobs here."
Q: How would you unify this district?
A: "In addition to creating a research triangle, we'd have offices in the three major metro areas. This biotech triangle would create jobs for degreed and nondegreed employees."
Q: If you win, what are your main objectives?
A: "First, to improve our education system through a concept we've created called "Best at a Skill," which promotes building vocational skills, because not every student will be able to attend college. "Best at a Skill" advocates a one-on-one instruction and smaller classroom size for students who have different learning styles.
"No. 2, because we need a pool of skilled workers to attract industry, we have already implemented a strategic economic plan that further leverages the business strengths to include our ports and military systems and our booming film industry.
"Third, - enhancing Social Security for seniors basically by making sure we keep our hands off of it. It's a legacy fund that belongs to hard-working people. We can't afford playing the stock market."
Q: How would you politically define yourself?
A: "I'm pro-employee and pro-business. They go hand-in-hand to produce quality and profits. I would say I'm a moderate Democrat. I believe that we should do for ourselves what we can do and have government pick up the slack."
Q: You are widely acknowledged as the front-runner of this race. Are you feeling the pressure?
A: "No, no more pressure. The fund-raising is going great. It's a tedious process. It's rough. But I think raising money is a big part of (campaigning) because an unheard message is not a message at all."
Q: Last week, (12th District Democratic candidate) Tony Center said the Walker family is "making a naked, unprecedented grab for power," and said that if Charles Walker Jr. "wants to run on his dad's money, he's going to have to run on his dad's baggage as well." How do you respond?
A: "First of all, I flew in on Delta and picked up my own baggage. He must have flown in on a plane of propaganda - I think - I know - that his campaign managers must have been out to lunch (when he said that). He sounded like someone who was about to drown reaching for help. I was rather disappointed he would choose to whine rather than work and stand tall."
Q: What do you say to the people who don't know what Charles Walker Jr. is all about?
A: "As a businessman with faith, I believe you have to motivate people to want to do better. In the end, people have to help people and help themselves. We need to get back to prayer.
"I firmly believe we should reward workers by increasing minimum wage by $1.50 so that people can do more than just survive.
"We need to incentivize the entrepreneurial spirit by investing in our best and brightest."