ALBANY — Albany firefighter Tracy Taylor has tested the political waters in the past with runs for mayor, the Dougherty County Commission and state Senate.
Now Taylor, who also serves as chairman of the Dougherty County Republican Party, has set his sights a little higher.
This time Taylor is seeking to challenge his former boss and political mentor, veteran U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Albany. He has declared his candidacy to seek his party’s nomination for the 2022 congressional race.
Taylor, who worked in a previous Bishop campaign and counts the congressman as someone who helped him in his political education, said the time is right for new leadership in the 2nd Congressional District.
“We need somebody that’s going to help this district grow by bringing jobs and economic development,” he said. “It’s time for a change. I think it’s time for some conservative leadership that is going to grow this district.”
While Bishop has been in office for 30 years, the district still suffers from poverty and neglect, Taylor said. The district is shrinking, populationwise, as is the city of Albany, and an economic boost is necessary to help reverse that trend.
“The resources he (Bishop) has access to, I don’t think he’s utilizing the resources for the 2nd District,” Taylor said. “The 2nd District is the poorest district in the state of Georgia.”
While southwest Georgia, which makes up much of the district, needs additional federal funding for infrastructure, the person in the office needs to do more than that, Taylor said.
“I feel like as a member of the House of Representatives, as a member of Congress, he needs to be talking with his state representatives and state senators and how he can bring more funding,” he said “What I also would do as a congressman, I’d have a seat at the table to go to corporations and see how I can lure them to southwest Georgia. While he’s looking out for the farmers, our economic stability has gone down.
“I will talk to all the mayors and county commission chairmen in our district to see how we can bring federal funds to our counties and cities.”
Bishop has had few serious challenges during his time in Congress. The exceptions were in 2000, when he won with 53 percent of the vote, and his closest election was in 2010, when he won with 51 percent in the vote that at least one national news organization initially called for Republican challenger Mike Keown.
Taylor knows he has a big challenge ahead of him, but he said he thinks his advocacy for immigration reform and border security and a “reconstruction” of the region will resonate. He also said he believes that those who want to become citizens should have a path to do so.
While his previous political runs have not been successful, Taylor said they gave him a chance to learn and get to know people from around southwest Georgia, experience that will be helpful in seeking his party’s nomination and in the 2022 general election if he is the winner in the primary.
“I think that has given me some comfort in running a campaign,” he said. “Ultimately, that gives me experience of working with people. I’m invested in this community. I’ve got some skin in this game.”