U.S. House Rep. Sanford Bishop (D), is seeking re-election to his District 2 seat is running unopposed in the May 20 Democratic primary. (Staff photo: Brad McEwen)
ALBANY — With May 20 primary elections just around the corner, campaigning has begun for two south Georgian Republicans hoping to be on the ballot in November to challenge incumbent U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, a Democrat, for the U.S. House of Representatives District 2 seat.
The Republicans competing to run against Bishop are Greg Duke of Lee County and Vivian Childs of Warner Robins.
Duke is a Lee County resident and former Lee County School Board member. In addition to his time spent on the school board, Duke is active at First Baptist Church of Albany as a volunteer and leader. He serves on the budget committee, is past chair of the church properties committee, is an adult Sunday School teacher and member of the choir. He has also served with Dixie Youth Baseball’s advisory board and as T-Ball director.
Duke, who is a licensed optician, said he’s always felt called to public service and has been looking for ways to serve in a better and larger capacity.
Duke said the biggest reason he joined the race was to fix what he deems are serious problems with taxation and health care that are hindering individual rights and the growth of business.
The main points of Duke’s campaign are to reduce taxes in order to spur business, to improve education, and to limit what he feels is big government infringing upon individual liberties.
Duke said he is concerned the financial situation in the district and the country and how this, coupled with the lack of job growth, is going to affect future generations.
If elected, Duke said he plans to reduce taxes so that more money will stay in the pocket of the worker and the small business owner, which he believes will spur job growth and a better economy.
“The amount of debt this country keeps putting on the backs of its children concerns me,” said Duke. “Everybody is hurting because the marketplace is stagnant right now. I want to cut taxes to to put money back in the pocket of the producers.”
Duke also feels his experience as a school board member puts him in a good position to improve education.
Duke said that while money is important, the key to improving education is to gain more parental involvement at home, something he feels should be instinctual and natural.
“I truly understand that money is not the answer to our problems,” Duke said. “Lee County was sixth from the bottom in terms of money spent on each child, but it’s a great school system. The answer is parents and the household.”
Feeling that big government has been infringing upon individual liberties through legislation such as the Affordable Care Act, Duke believes in limited government and that the district itself is more important than the party.
“I’m for limited government without a doubt,” said Duke. “I’m concerned about where the leadership of this country is taking us and the lawlessness regarding the Constitution. I don’t think its the role of government to promote their programs to get more people involved in it.”
Childs, who resides in Warner Robins and has never held public office, has served as the 8th Congressional District chairman for the Georgia GOP.
Childs is a member of the Warner Robins Area Chamber of Commerce, where she serves on the board of directors and on the Education and Military Affairs committees.
She is also the president of the Warner Robins chapter of the National Association of Professional Women, a member of the International Women’s Leadership Association and serves on the Adult Education Advisory Board of Central Georgia Technical College in Milledgeville.
A retired educator who has worked as a teacher, principal and athletic director, Childs feels her professional and life experiences will help her execute the three main points of her campaign — improving education, supporting business and agriculture and supporting and strengthening the military.
Childs hopes to improve education by working to raise funds to support school programs and by allowing area school systems to better structure education to students of differing backgrounds.
“The beauty of my teaching was having the curriculum and being to take that and design a curriculum for each and every child,” said Childs. “One size does not fit all.”
“We have to make sure the right people have the right skill sets,” said Childs. “We need to be able to get the right people in the right communities into the right jobs. If we have an educated workforce, businesses will want to locate in the district.”
Child’s third major focus is support of the military, both through support of the military installations in the district and through support of veterans.
“Those in the military are on call 24 hours a day and put their lives on the line 24 hours a day,” said Childs. “That’s what they signed up to do. When those men and women signed on there were guarantees. I feel like we’re starting to renege on those guarantees.”
The winner of the Duke-Childs primary will face Bishop, who is seeking re-election for the 12th time, having first been elected in 1993, in the general election.
While Bishop is not being opposed in the primary, he will be on the ballot and has already begun his campaign.
Bishop was both a state senator and state representative in Georgia before going to Congress. He says his experience on Capitol Hill makes him the right person for the job.
Bishop sits on three subcommittees of the House Committee on Appropriations; the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration; the Legislative Affairs; and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, where he is the ranking member.
Bishop said he focuses on the needs of the district’s agricultural base, supports the district’s military installations and uses his experience to get things done.
“Agriculture is really, really big in our area,” said Bishop. “The Agriculture subcommittee which appropriates all the funds for our farm programs, rural development, conservation programs, nutrition programs, agricultural research, means a great deal to our district, to our state and to the United States. Particularly the agriculture research has made it possible for us in the United States to produce the highest quality, the safest, the most abundant and the most economical food and fiber anywhere in the world.”
Understanding that the military and the area’s military installations are vital to the district, Bishop plans to continue using his influence to advocate for Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany, Fort Benning and Robbins Air Force Base.
“One of my charges is to try to look after those bases to make sure they have the resources they need so that whatever the military requires of them, they will be in a position to respond,” said Bishop. “BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure) is a big threat that every community that has a base is always concerned about, because our military bases hire many people and they have tremendous economic impact on the communities that surround them. My seat on the Military Construction Veteran’s Affairs subcommittee for appropriations gives me a vantage point to interact with the policy makers at the pentagon who decide how to use our military forces.”