With the impeachment of President Donald Trump, the COVID-19 pandemic and running a campaign for U.S. Senate, it has been a busy year for Rep. Doug Collins, who represents north Forsyth and several other counties in Georgia’s 9th Congressional District.
On Thursday, Collins stopped in Forsyth County to check out a couple of local manufacturers and talk with business officials before taking a few minutes to speak with the Forsyth County News about the remainder of his term as congressman and his campaign for the Senate seat held by Sen. Kelly Loeffler.
“The campaign’s been great,” Collins said. “We’ve been going all over the state. In the last two days, I’ve probably covered about 1,000 miles. We’ve been in middle Georgia and around the Atlanta area. It’s really good because the response has been great.”
Collins said his stops on Thursday were to look at “new manufacturing and the new economy” to bring good-quality, high-paying jobs to the area, particularly those in the manufacturing and technology industries.”
“For me, I’ve been working in Congress on the electrical property, the patent issue, copyright issue, trademark issue, which in the area, from the gaming side of it to the manufacturing side, is at the heart of it, and that’s something that we were excited to do,” he said.
In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, Congress has approved relief in the form of the CARES Act, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, and the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, with many other bills being considered.
This year, Collins was also was named as one of eight House Republicans to support Trump during his impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate and, in May, introduced the COVID-19 Accountability Act seeking to hold China accountable for the global pandemic.
“From the congressional side, I like to run, and I feel like I’m about halfway through a marathon and I’m tired because it’s just been so much this year,” he said. “We started out all last year with dealing with impeachment and dealing with the issues into the first of the year, then into COVID, so our focus has been on making sure that businesses get the help that they need to keep this economy going.
“It’s a reminder that the economy did not shut down because of an inherent problem in the economy. It shut down because of the virus, that we had to take care of, so government has done well.”
Collins said his remaining time in the U.S. House seat, which he has held since 2013 and is not seeking re-election for, will be dealing with the federal budget before shifting his focus to the November elections.
In January, Collins announced his candidacy for the Senate seat held by Loeffler, who was appointed to the seat by Gov. Brian Kemp after the retirement of Sen. Johnny Isakson due to health issues.
Isakson last won re-election in 2018 for a six-year term, and this November, Loeffler and 20 other candidates in a ‘jungle primary,’ which, unlike other races where separate primaries are held for Republicans and Democrats to pick their party’s representative, will pit all candidates against each other to fill the remainder of the term.
In no candidate receives at least 50% of the vote plus one vote, the top two vote-getters will go to a runoff on Jan. 5.
Collins was reportedly Trump’s preferred pick for the seat. The Gainesville native says being elected to the Senate would put northwest Georgia’s values on display for the entire nation.
“We’ve already proven that in the 9th District, not only have we been a voice for Georgia and the 9th District, but nationally because we worked hard in seven years to get there,” Collins said. “So, taking that voice to the Senate where I would not be new -- I know the senators, we’ve worked with them on legislation, criminal justice reform, other things we’ve worked on. It will be a chance to put Georgia on the platform to which it’s really entitled.”
Collins is an attorney, pastor and former Air Force chaplain where he served in Iraq. He said some of his biggest priorities if elected included helping the state’s business environment, with a special focus on agriculture, economic development and the tech industry.
He said, “at the end of the day, my goal is not only to stand for conservative values but also actually get things done.”
“So when you look at our communities and you look at our opioid issues or you look at our mental health problems, but also criminal justice, which we’ve authored [legislation] for the president as well, it shows that our state and our attitude is to get something done,” Collins said. “People expect us to work, not to betray our values, but to work and get something done.”