A Republican candidate forum Monday night appeared to be more of a conversation among running mates than a debate between July 31 primary opponents for the District 7 and 9 congressional seats.
“It was a little bit more canned than I would have liked,” said attendee Don Osborne. “But I still got a good feel of where they’re headed, the way they’re leaning and what their thought process is, and that was helpful.”
Monday’s forum was the fourth in a five-event series that wraps up tonight with candidates for Forsyth’s state legislative districts.
The session is set for 6:30 p.m. in the commissioner’s meeting room at the Forsyth County Administration Building in downtown Cumming.
Forsyth falls in two congressional districts, 7 and 9. As a result of the recent redistricting, District 7 has grown north to include all of south Forsyth and Cumming. District 9 covers north Forsyth.
During Monday night’s proceedings, candidates in both races for U.S. House of Representatives offered many rebuttals that included a variation of the phrase “I agree with my opponent.”
The District 7 hopefuls, incumbent Rob Woodall and David Hancock, were asked how they would handle Obama’s health care plan, same-sex marriage, the debt ceiling, the banking industry and the second amendment, among other topics.
Both candidates dislike the health care plan and both are in favor of state legislatures appointing U.S. senators instead of voters.
Both also disagreed with same-sex marriage, though they said it’s an issue for individual states and not the federal government.
Woodall said his top legislative priorities are to cut spending, implement the Fair Tax and to pass the competitive elections act.
For Hancock, the most important issues include solving the entitlement problem, cutting spending and reducing the size and scope of federal government.
The big difference between the two men came in their closing statements. Woodall said the process could be slow.
“We didn’t get into this situation overnight and we’re not going to get out of it overnight,” he said. “But we have to make sure we’re moving the ball forward on every single down.
“You will not find — and I hope you look at my record aggressively — a single vote I’ve taken in Washington to push the ball backwards in the name of compromise. I’m not compromising to move back. I’m interesting in finding consensus that moves us forward.”
Hancock said “I would just say no.”
“I think we’re in a time for a Hail-Mary pass,” he said. “I visualize it as a stage coach running toward a cliff … it’s time to cut the horses off the wagon.
“Congressmen have made a career out of this and congressmen have decided that they want to continue to make the friends they have made in Washington and I’m not. I’m going to be a citizen in the legislature. I want to go up there and I want to do the things for one term, maybe two if I have to, and come home to my family.”
For District 9, candidate Martha Zoller was unable to attend due to a She-PAC endorsement event in Washington, D.C.
However, a representative for her campaign offered a testimonial on her behalf before fellow candidates Doug Collins and Roger Fitzpatrick squared off.
But like the District 7 candidates, both Collins and Fitzpatrick had similar viewpoints.
They are pro-life candidates who both have served in the U.S. armed forces. Both are against same-sex marriage and have plans to stop illegal immigration.
They also say the nation doesn’t have a revenue problem, but a spending problem and offer similar plans for stopping Obama’s health care plan.
While there may have been similarities in their words, Osborne said there are other ways to differentiate the candidates, which is why attending the local political forums are so important.
“It’s always better to see the body language and also how they’re describing something,” he said. “Even through their voice inflection, you can tell how passionate they may be about different things.”
Both District 9 candidates presented plans to cut spending and solve the future of Social Security, which likely would include allowing younger citizens to create private plans and allowing seniors to maintain the benefits they’ve paid into.
On illegal immigration, Fitzpatrick said the U.S. is “a nation of laws, and what that means simply is if it’s a law, you obey it. If it’s a bad law, change it.”
“I am more than willing to sit down and discuss and come to some kind of solution on what immigration needs to be, but at the very least, we must expect people to come here legally and if you are not here legally, then you have violated the law,” he said.
Collins said he’s disappointed the federal government isn’t stepping up.
“The problem we have right now is it’s been put to the states,” he said. “The federal government is not acting. The federal government has pandered. The federal government has said ‘we’ll do it,’ then the president said we’ll do it on a case-by-case basis.
“What we’ve not had is coming together and saying we have to enforce the law.”