The race to follow retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss is crowded. There are 11 Republican and Democratic candidates seeking the seat. The race hasn’t been this crowded since the 1972 primary when there were 15 Democratic candidates trying to succeed Sen. Richard Russell, who died a year earlier.
On the Republican side there is an interesting combination. There are three U.S. House members -- Paul Broun, Phil Gingrey and Jack Kingston. Two of them, Broun and Gingrey, are medical doctors. There are three newcomers: patent attorney Art Gardner, Derrick Grayson and businessman David Perdue. Filling out the field is former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel, who also ran for governor four years ago.
On the Democratic side, only one of the four candidates, Steen Miles, has held elective office. Miles served one term in the Georgia Senate. The others, Michelle Nunn, Todd Robinson and Dr. Branko “Rad” Radulovacki, a psychiatrist, are newcomers.
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The views from the right and left about how to solve the issues facing the nation couldn’t be more starkly different, particularly on health care.
On the Republican side, one of the most novel and doable ideas came from Gardner. He believes that one change to the patent laws would drastically reduce health care costs for Americans. Pharmaceuticals cost much more in the United States than the same medication overseas. The U.S. is the only country in the G-7 that allows drug companies to have true monopoly power. Gardner suggests a patent law -- one that would declare a drug patent invalid if the cost of the drug in the United States exceeds the cost of the same drug overseas by a certain amount -- would solve the problem. Gardner has also broken from the Republican mold on social issues. He said it is “fundamentally wrong to say gay people have fewer rights” than others.
The other candidate who is a breath of fresh air is David Perdue. He touts his business experience of rescuing Reebok and Dollar General. Perdue earned two degrees from Georgia Tech and could not be called a political ideologue. He would go to the Senate with a world view that is not based in political theory, but a practical, how-do-we-get-things-done attitude. He’s a Middle Georgian who knows the importance of the state’s military installations, particularly Robins Air Force Base. He’s caught fire from the other Republican for just suggesting that in order to get out of the budget mess that we need to look at raising revenue and making smart cuts.
On the Democratic side, Steen Miles stands behind the Affordable Care Act and believes we need to make more investments in renewable energy. Unfortunately, her campaign, as are others, is woefully underfunded.
The candidate in the Democratic primary with instant, for lack of a better term, “star power,” is Michelle Nunn, daughter of Sam, who served in the Senate from 1972 until his retirement in 1997. Michelle Nunn’s DNA seems soaked in the same practicality as her father, who was a workhorse not a show horse. Nunn says she would use her skills as a community organizer and head of the Points of Light Foundation to reach across the aisle for bipartisan agreement. She said her father never passed a noteworthy bill without bipartisan support. Nunn has the right agriculture bona fides to support one of the state’s largest industries. She already has a target on her chest from her Democratic and Republican opponents. She has the fundraising moxie to match any opponent. The state’s Democrats are pinning hopes on her to grab a Senate seat that has been in Republican hands since 2003.
In the Republican primary we choose David Perdue. In the Democratic primary we choose Michelle Nunn.