ELLIJAY, Ga – With the Georgia Primary finally set for June 9, the nine candidates for U.S. House of Representatives District Nine seat met for a Zoom debate.
The nine Republican candidates are State House District 8 Rep. Matt Gurtler, District 50 State Senator John Wilkinson, State House District Rep. 9 Kevin Tanner, property rights attorney Ethan Underwood, small business owner Kellie Weeks, small business owner Andrew Clyde, former law enforcement officer Maria Strickland, physician Paul Broun, and Constitutionalist Michael Boggus.
All candidates voiced their support for the big issues like Second Amendment Rights, supporting President Trump, limited government, and fiscal conservatism. However, Gurtler took the opportunity to call out fellow Georgia General Assembly members for their yearly budget votes.
“As one of the three elected officials in the State House and the Senate, I think it’s funny when I hear my opponents Tanner and Wilkinson say that they’re fiscally conservative, yet they vote for the budgets, which add a billion to 1.5 billion dollars every year to Georgians. I oppose those budgets every year and we also take one to one federal money, which adds to the national debt that’s something that I’ve been fighting for more transparency with HB4,” expounded Gurtler.
Wilkinson responded, “I’m proud of the state we live in. I’m proud to serve on the appropriations committee. I’m proud that I’ve been able to help the counties of Northeast Georgia during my service at the legislature I think that speaks for itself. When you have a triple-A bond rating, a balanced budget, and you’re the number one place in the nation to do business and a million more citizens than you did ten years ago, something must be going right and I’m proud to be part of that.
“I’m a Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, anti-federalist type politician. They believed in a limited role of the federal government. The states under the 10th amendment have certain responsibilities – transportation, education infrastructure, [and] other things are part of the [state’s] responsibility. I’m proud we have a balanced budget in Georgia, a triple-A bond rating, one of the few states in the country that does. I’m proud that Gov. Kemp continues to put forth a well-balanced, conservative budget. I’ve been proud to support that along with most every Republican in the House. We did have a few Democrats and one member of the panel who did vote against the budget.”
Gurtler called out their responses as “fake talking points” by Republicans, and he’s the only proven conservative in the race.
COVID-19 and State Bailouts
On the topic of COVID-19, everyone admitted the virus is real, but it’s time to safely get the country back to work.
“Certainly, the coronavirus is a health issue, not a government issue. In my opinion, Dr. Fauci, Dr. Birx, and even Dr. Toomey in Georgia, they’re swamp creatures, and they have been able to accomplish what Comey, Clapper, Brennan, Strzok, and all those other people tried to do to take this president down, stated Broun. “We need to get this economy going. We need to let people be responsible for their own actions.”
“I would never diminish the fact that people are afraid,” said Tanner. “I have been surprised how quickly people are willing to give up their liberties for safety. I think that is a concern. I think we have small government overreach in many areas. I have been amazed at how well businesses have stepped up on their own.”
Many also denounced the first $2.2 trillion bill for government overreach and unnecessary spending. Gurtler said that “75 percent of the bill had nothing to do with the coronavirus.”
Wilkinson championed moving manufacturing back to the U.S. and making China accountable for some of the debt incurred by COVID-19.
Most were against a states bailout by the federal government, except Strickland.
She said, “I would think a limited amount of bailout would be appropriate to some of the states only because this a unique situation that no one expected to be getting into. Granted, the states some of them like New York, New Jersey that spent their money on illegal immigrants and all this other kind of thing. They didn’t prepare for the future. We do need to bailout some of them, but only a limited amount.”
“I think it’s fine if the states get a stimulus as long as it goes to people and the small businesses,” stated Boggus. “Small businesses [are] the backbone of this country. This stimulus should be pork-free unlike the last one and there shouldn’t be [any] ice cream bought by Nancy Pelosi.”
Underwood brought up the Federal Emergency Relief Act, which is available to all states to purchase medical equipment and relief.
“Are the states not going to tax us? Because it seems like every level of government thinks their money comes from somebody different, and it’s all coming from us. We all the taxpayers here,” explained Weeks. “We’re all just getting billed again and again and again.”
“Several states were in trouble before this started because of irresponsible decisions at the state level. Bailouts don’t work. Bailout bills are always filled with pork and actually reward bad decisions,” heralded Clyde. “We have a huge national debt and it would be irresponsible to add more to it. We need to get the people back to work.”
Hear detailed answers from all the candidates about the next COVID-19 package, contact tracing overreach, and defunding the World Health Organization, watch the debate here.
Turning to the ongoing saga of affordable healthcare for Americans, all candidates agreed that Obamacare should be repealed.
Underwood championed a private healthcare system that travels with people. It would no longer be tied to employers, which prevents many individuals in the gig-economy from accessing reasonably priced and effective healthcare plans. He added that preexisting conditions must be factored in when creating a new healthcare platform.
“Stand firm against socialized medicine,” said Gurtler. When Republicans controlled the House and Senate, they still couldn’t repeal Obamacare.
“People in our rural areas deserve good healthcare and the best way to do that is to get the federal government completely out of it,” Wilkinson stated.
Broun, who previously served in Congress and worked as a physician, presented his bill that would put doctors and nurses in charge of medical decisions. “All healthcare goods and services cheaper for everybody.”
“The only solution to health care is a free-market solution,” said Tanner. “The bigger underlying problem is the pharmaceutical companies have their hand in almost every Congressional race and Congressman in Washington. They’re controlling the drug prices. Gov. Kemp appointed me to chair the mental health reform commission last year. One of the biggest challenges we faced was the pharmaceutical companies and their desire not to have changes in our healthcare system.
To hear the candidates’ comments about President Trump, immigration, China, sanctuary cities, staying in touch with voters, and closing statements, check out the debate.