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Anderson touts accessibility, bashes opponent Barrow
Wants conditions for debate

A constituent called the office number listed on state Rep. Lee Anderson’s business card expecting to get a staff member.
When Anderson answered the phone, the caller asked whether Anderson was available.
“You’re speaking to him,” Anderson told the caller, catching her off-guard.
Anderson, the Republican farmer from Grovetown who is trying to take incumbent Democratic U.S. Rep. John Barrow’s 12th Congressional District seat, lists his cellphone number as his office number.
“I never consider myself a politician,” Anderson said. “I’m a servant, not a politician.”
He ended a roughly 40-minute interview with the Statesboro Herald by repeating his cell number at least three times. Then he proceeded to walk around and meet whoever was left in the Herald offices after 5 p.m., shake hands and pass out his campaign literature.
That is Anderson’s preferred style: one on one.
But Anderson’s campaign has insisted for the past couple of weeks that he will only debate Barrow, who is running for a fifth term in Congress, if the moderate Democrat will unequivocally say who he is voting for in the presidential election in November and his choice for House speaker or Democratic leader.
For his part, Barrow has said he will vote for “the top of the ticket,” meaning President Barack Obama at the top of the Democratic ticket. He has three times voted for Nancy Pelosi for House speaker, but in 2011, he voted for fellow Georgia Democrat John Lewis.
That isn’t enough for Anderson, however.
“I’m voting for Mitt Romney for president,” he said. “Why can’t he go on TV and say, ‘I’m voting for Obama for president’?”
Richard Carbo, a Barrow campaign spokesman, said Barrow has agreed to participate in forums sponsored by WJBF-TV in Augusta, the Statesboro Herald and the Atlanta Press Club.
Anderson emerged as the winner of a bruising four-candidate primary that took six weeks to decide, with the final count giving him a 159-vote margin over Augusta businessman Rick W. Allen.
Since then, Anderson has set his sights on Barrow – and Obama.
The 12th District is a closely watched race nationally because Republicans see it as their best chance in years to take the seat. The GOP-controlled state Legislature redrew the district to cut out Democratic-leaning Savannah, which had been Barrow’s home base, and include more Republican-leaning rural areas. Barrow moved to Augusta in March to be within the reconfigured district.
Should Anderson be elected, the first two actions he wants to take are to work toward repealing Obama’s signature health-care legislation and requiring that the federal budget be balanced every year.
Barrow three times voted against the Affordable Care Act or enabling legislation – which ultimately passed -- and he voted three times against measures that would have repealed it.
Anderson and the National Republican Congressional Committee, which has promised to pump nearly $1 million in funding for Anderson’s campaign, have used Barrow’s votes against repealing the law against him.
“When Obama and Nancy (Pelosi) tells him how to vote, he’s gonna be there for them,” Anderson said of Barrow.
On other key issues, Anderson said he would do whatever he can to help facilitate the deepening of the Port of Savannah and he supports the charter schools amendment. Deepening the port is supported by leaders in the coastal region and in Atlanta as an important economic development tool.
The charter schools measure will be on the ballot in November and, if passed, would amend Georgia’s constitution to allow a state-level charter school commission to grant charters for public schools if local school boards denied them.
“I support the charter schools amendment because it will give freedom to our parents to help them educate their children,” Anderson said.
Anderson, 55, has been a farmer for most of his life. He grew up as a dairy farmer; three generations of his family were dairy farmers. But in 1992, he sold the dairy and, since then, has specialized in growing Bermuda hay. He supplies feed stores, horse stables, dairies and others.
He has been married to his high school sweetheart, Donna, for 31 years, and they have two children. He also said his Christian beliefs are an important part of who he is and inform how he works both on the farm and in political office. He was elected to the Georgia House in 2008 and also has served on the Columbia County Board of Education and Columbia County Commission.
“I am running because of the family,” Anderson said. “We need to make it where families can stay together and make sure the burden of this Obamacare and $16 trillion debt is not on the backs of our children and grandchildren. I want to leave this country in better shape than it is now. … I live to serve, and I give my lord, Jesus Christ, all the honor and glory.”

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

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