Conservatives in Strong Position for 3 Georgia House Runoffs

Thursday, 22 May 2014 11:08 AM

By John Gizzi

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Republicans who campaigned on the most conservative platforms in three open U.S. House primaries in Georgia are in strong positions as they proceed to the July 22 runoff election.

Easily the most stunning example of this is former state Sen. Barry Loudermilk, who topped the four-candidate field in the 11th Congressional District in suburban Atlanta with 37 percent of the vote.

Loudermilk, backed by local tea party groups and pro-family organizations, surprised most observers by leading the second-place candidate, former Rep. Bob Barr, who gained 26 percent of the vote.

Although Barr was far better-known, he suffered from changing positions on issues such as medical marijuana and the Patriot Act. In contrast, Loudermilk campaigned as an unabashed conservative across the board — strongly pro-life, for traditional marriage, and against lifting the debt ceiling.

National conservative groups such as the Madison Project and the Senate Conservatives Fund weighed in for Loudermilk, who is considered a strong favorite over Barr in the runoff.

In the 1st District in Southeast Georgia, where the House seat was vacated by veteran Rep. Jack Kingston — who is seeking the GOP bid for the U.S. Senate — the top two finishers in a six-candidate primary were state Rep. Buddy Carter (36 percent) and Dr. Bob Johnson (23 percent), physician and former U.S. Army Ranger. The third-place finisher (20 percent) was John McCallum, a former aide to Newt Gingrich who had the former speaker's endorsement.

Johnson's campaign call to "repeal and replace" Obamacare resonated with primary voters, giving him a place in the runoff.

"I say Obamacare is the worst legislation ever written in American history," Johnson told Newsmax. "And with people getting their policies canceled every day, it is getting worse and worse."

The primary for nomination in the 10th District to succeed Rep. Paul Broun ended in a near standoff. Both trucking executive Mike Collins and pastor Jody Hice each had about one-third of the vote.

Hice, who also has a popular radio program, campaigned as an unabashed opponent of abortion and of same-sex marriage. His speaking style and refusal to soften his positions on issues rallied many cultural conservatives to his side.

Collins, son of former Rep. Mac Collins, is considered more soft-spoken in his conservatism and has the backing of much of area GOP "establishment."

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.

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