GOP primary candidate speaks in Lee County

Photo by Laura Williams

Photo by Laura Williams

ALBANY -- A candidate for governor in the Republican Party primary election considers talking to voters a job interview.

"I'm trying to do a job interview for what may be the most important job available in Georgia this year and that's to be your next governor," said Eric Johnson, 57, of Savannah.

Johnson brought his campaign to the Republican Club of Lee County for an 8:30 a.m. breakfast with about 12 club members and guests at Meatslangers Bar-B-Que on U.S. 19 Saturday.

"I think this campaign is about trust. Who do you trust to govern this state using the conservative principles that we believe in?" Johnson said. "Who do you trust to tackle the tough issues that we have?"

Johnson outlined a few conservative principles he promotes: cutting taxes, cutting spending, reducing the size of government, passing tough illegal immigration laws, cracking down on sexual predators, allowing the Bible to be taught in public schools, expanding school choice, protecting property rights and the right to own guns.

An architect, who invokes the name of conservatives Ronald Reagan and Newt Gingrich while speaking, Johnson outlined his plans to build a better Georgia.

The primary job of governor is to put people back to work, Johnson said. The state should build roads, power plants, school buildings and other infrastructure so that private businesses, especially new businesses can flourish, he added.

"I want to put the hard hats back to work," Johnson said.

To provide energy for businesses and their employees Johnson said he wants to harness nuclear plants, drill for oil offshore and use biomass as fuel. The biomass he spoke about was wood pellets made from pine trees.

"We are the Saudi Arabia of pine trees," Johnson said.

When it comes to business Johnson would like to see less regulation to expand existing businesses and allow new businesses to start. He wants a tax system that would encourage business. He would increase consumption taxes while lowering income taxes, which, he said would encourage work and profit. He would promote tax credits to new businesses.

"We are the only state that doesn't use state pension funds as venture capital (to finance new business)," Johnson said.

Stepping up to education reform, Johnson said he would like to see the state issue vouchers that would allow parents to educate their children anywhere they would choose. The money would follow the child to whatever school his parents chose.

"Parents could send their children to public schools, private schools, home school, virtual schools or wherever they thought best," Johnson said.

The audience applauded Johnson while seeming to be in strong agreement with the thoughts of the former president of the state senate, who was first elected to the General Assembly in 1992.

"I like his experience and his Reagan, Gingrich approach," Angela Cape, Lee County resident said. "Expanding business and jobs is the most important thing now."

Johnson's talk also agreed with Lee County resident Tom Heldenberg's views.

"I feel as a candidate he well represents my personal views," Heldenberg said, "and I think he represents most of this area as far as Lee County's conservative values."