Now the Republican Party’s nominees, U.S. Senate candidate David Perdue and U.S. House of Representatives candidate Rick Allen have come out battling against their opponents while making common cause between themselves.
Both met Saturday with supporters who gathered in the Bulloch County GOP headquarters, in a former storefront building on South Zetterower Avenue. It was part of a daylong “Unity Tour” put together by the 12th District Republican Party. Besides Statesboro, the tour had scheduled stops in Lyons, Dublin, Waynesboro and Augusta.
Perdue and Allen obviously have something in common: decades of experience operating businesses, no experience in government, and therefore “outsider” status.
“We have business backgrounds and the priorities in Georgia right now are the debt and the economy and jobs, and so he and I have had several conversations and his stands on those are very similar to mine,” Perdue told reporters in Statesboro.
Having beaten the local favorite, U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, in the statewide primary runoff, Perdue now faces Democratic nominee Michelle Nunn in the Senate seat being vacated by retiring Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss. Allen, meanwhile, is challenging Democratic Rep. John Barrow for the 12th Congressional District seat he has held for almost 10 years.
Perdue, 64, now a Glynn County resident, served as the CEO of Reebok and Dollar General. Allen, 62, of Augusta, owns R.W. Allen & Associates, a construction company he founded 37 years ago.
Another thing they seem likely to share from now to November is a tactic of linking their opponents with national Democratic Party leaders — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and President Barack Obama — whose names are spoken as anathema in Georgia Republican circles.
“We see the failed policies of this administration as being the centerpiece of this debate, and right now in this district we need to present the fact to the people that his opponent is another supporting voice of Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Barack Obama,” Perdue said, making the charge against Barrow on Allen’s behalf.
Returning the endorsement, Allen noted that his “outsider” talk sometimes sounds like Perdue’s.
“Obviously I have not served in public office, and so I’m an outsider,” Allen said. “I know you’ve probably heard that from our next senator for the great state of Georgia, but yes, I’m a businessman, I’m not a politician. I’ve created jobs, I’ve grown the economy, I’ve balanced budgets, and the politicians in Washington can’t seem to do either. It’s time to change. The country is ready for it.”
Through the primaries, Perdue often acknowledged that he and Nunn, past CEO of the nonprofit corporation Points of Light, are both government outsiders, and cited this as one of his advantages over Kingston in running against her. Now, Perdue contrasts himself with Nunn and says it will be an easy choice for Georgia voters.
“If they like the failed policies of this administration, the debacle of foreign policy, open borders, a disaster called Obamacare, then I think they need to vote for Michelle,” Perdue said. “But if they really want to get back to the principles of the Republican Party, you know, economic opportunity, fiscal responsibility, a limited government, and really see real change and get people working again, then I think they need to look at our campaign seriously.”
Talk of the economy, with assertions that its problems have been caused by Democrats, is another bond between Perdue and Allen.
“We’ve got to get the people in this country back to work,” Allen said. “We’ve got 92 million people sitting at home, not working, that are on some type of government assistance … because it’s more of an advantage for them to sit home than it is to go out and look for a job. … In the last six years, this president has done everything he can to shut down this economy.”
The 92 million figure he cited is from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of U.S. residents over age 16 not in the workforce, and it has reached an all-time high. However, it includes a long-predicted increasing number of retirees, as well as younger people who stopped looking for work.
Allen’s answer for growing the economy is reducing regulation. He criticized Barrow for having supported the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, popularly called Dodd-Frank after the former senator and former representative who chaired the committees where it was introduced.
“We know what works. We know that the regulatory environment is far too aggressive. John Barrow voted for Dodd-Frank,” Allen said. “It affects our farmers. .... We know what it’s doing to the banking industry. Talk to any community banker and he’ll tell you how difficult it is to do business.”
Blaming the steep 2008 economic decline on “a bubble caused by the Fair Housing Act that President Clinton put on steroids in 1998,” Allen told reporters that banking can regulate itself.
“What happened to this economy was the federal government tried to engineer the economy,” he said. “We need to get back to our free enterprise system. The banks will regulate themselves.”
Both Allen and Perdue say that securing the border should be the first step to solving the immigration problem, which has recently involved tens of thousands of people, including unaccompanied children from countries farther south such as Guatemala and El Salvador, crossing from Mexico.
“We’ve got to secure this border, and if it needs to be, we need to call out the National Guard and get their help in doing it,” Perdue said. “We need to develop a long-term plan to secure that border. This is a perfect example of why that’s necessary, and why we need to take amnesty off the table.”
The idea that illegal immigrants will be granted an amnesty is encouraging more to come, he said. Asked about a path to citizenship for the millions of immigrants already here, he said that debate should wait.until the border is secure.
“Our problem in the past is we jump to talk about that and come up with all the possibilities for doing that, and we don’t secure the border. At this point, it’s like a business solution,” Perdue said. “Let’s segment it into its components and solve that first one first.”
Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9454.