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All candidates confirmed for Monday debate
12th District GOP forum will be held at Ogeechee Tech
Allen WEB
Rick Allen

What: 12th District GOP Series Debate

When: 6:30 p.m. Monday (meet-and-greet at 5:30 p.m.)

Where: Joseph E. Kennedy Building, Ogeechee Technical College

Cost: Free. Tickets are available by visiting and clicking on “12th Congressional District Debate — Bulloch County.” A ticket is not required to enter, but those with tickets get first priority on seating.

With less than two months before the May 20 primary election, five Republican candidates vying for the right to challenge a formidable incumbent Democratic congressman will kick off a series of debates Monday in Statesboro.

All five — Rick Allen, Delvis Dutton, John Stone, Diane Vann and Eugene Yu — have confirmed they will participate in the forum, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. in the auditorium of the Joseph E. Kennedy Building at Ogeechee Technical College. The debate will be preceded by a meet-and-greet, at 5:30 p.m. in the lobby, said Mike Welsh, the chairman of the 12th District Republican Party.

Statesboro City Councilman Phil Boyum will serve as the moderator. Each candidate will have two minutes for opening and closing remarks. Questions will be “locally sourced,” according to the party, preapproved by the debate host committee and not shared in advance with the candidates.

Candidates will be given 90 seconds each to respond to questions. A yellow card will be raised at 70 seconds, and a red card at 90 seconds.

Candidates will not be allowed to directly question each other. If a candidate is mentioned by another candidate, the moderator will decide whether to allow that candidate to respond. If so, there will be no counter-response.

Cheering, catcalls and other disturbances from the audience will not be permitted, and signs will not be allowed in the audience.

After Monday’s debate, there will be other forums throughout the 12th Congressional District. They are set for April 8 at Dublin High School, April 24 at a location to be determined in Augusta and May 1 at a location to be determined in Coffee County.

Allen, of Augusta, owns R.W. Allen LLC, a general contractor headquartered in Augusta. He ran for the 12th District seat in 2012, losing in a runoff to Lee Anderson. Anderson lost to incumbent Democrat John Barrow in the general election.

Dutton, of Glennville, owns General Pump and Well, a drilling and water well company based in Glennville. He serves in the Georgia House of Representatives, representing the 157th District, which consists of Evans, Tattnall and Wayne counties.

Stone, of Augusta, is a former congressional staffer and former news anchor for Augusta radio station WBBQ. He lost to Barrow in 2008.

Vann, of Macon, is a registered nurse who served during the Vietnam era in the Army Reserve Nurse Corps. She lost in the 2010 Republican primary for 8th Congressional District to Austin Scott, who defeated incumbent Democrat Jim Marshall in the general election.

Yu, of Augusta, is an Army veteran and former Richmond County sheriff’s deputy. He had been part of a crowded Republican field running for the open U.S. Senate seat being vacated by the retiring Saxby Chambliss, but he opted last month to run for the 12th Congressional District seat instead.

If no candidate gets a majority in the five-way race on May 20, the top two vote-getters will face each other in a runoff July 22.

The winner of that election will face Barrow, a five-term incumbent who has twice been drawn out of his district by the Republican-dominated General Assembly, yet has managed to fight off stiff challenges by Republican candidates. Barrow is the last white Democratic congressman in the Deep South.

Jason Wermers may be reached at (912) 489-9431.

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