Scott in Macon to woo former Marshall supporters

Among Austin Scott’s supporters at a “meet and greet” Thursday in Macon were people who’d voted in the past for his political opponent, U.S. Rep. Jim Marshall.

Worries about an expanding federal government — particularly with health care reform — caused their shift from Marshall, a Democrat from Macon.

Paul Riffle of Warner Robins said he’d supported Marshall in the past, but he has switched his allegiance to Scott, the Republican nominee for the 8th Congressional District. Riffle said he’s worried about the balance of power in Washington.

“I have to admit, the president, (House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi and (Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid, they make a good team,” Riffle said. “They’re destroying the United States.”

Riffle isn’t alone. Scott, from Ashburn, told a group of about 15 supporters at the Ryan’s restaurant that “I’m going to vote for new leadership in the House of Representatives.” That comment was the only one that drew outright applause.

Scott spoke a few hours before Marshall held a town hall meeting in Macon. He said he was the candidate to beat Marshall — a Democrat who has withstood several challenges in an area that typically votes for Republican presidents and governors — because he’ll do what he says he will. He asked his supporters to compare his voting in the Georgia House of Representatives with Marshall’s votes in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Scott attacked Marshall for voting to raise the federal debt limit and not voting to repeal President Barack Obama’s health care reform package.

Questions of how the local representative fits into the greater federal government are likely to be a major part of this election. Marshall voted against the health care bill and said Thursday he would vote to repeal it if such a vote took place, but he said other reforms are needed.

Mark Wimer of Macon, who has voted for Marshall, was picking up a second set of yard signs for Scott.

“The reason I’m taking part in this campaign is the Democrats and the spending in Washington are completely irresponsible,” Wimer said.

Another pair of Scott supporters, Roy and Doris Wilder of Macon, said they’d always voted for Marshall’s Republican opponents. This is the first time they’ve gotten involved in politics, Roy Wilder said.

“We really see this as the last ditch for America,” he said. “The government’s taking over more and more.”

To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.

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