Congressman Jack Kingston stopped by the Daily Post on Friday to talk about a possible run for the U.S. Senate in 2014.
Kingston, a Savannah Republican who has represented southeastern Georgia in the House of Representatives for two decades, is “close” to a decision on the race to replace the retiring Saxby Chambliss.
In the upper Chamber, Kingston sees a possibility of breaking issues open, after years of frustration building budgets as a member of the House Appropriations Committee only to see them killed or ignored in the Senate.
He talked about an agriculture proposal he worked on with Dick Durbin in 2011 and remembers the congressman saying that it was the most member-to-member interaction he had experienced in five years.
“One thing we need in the Senate is people who will work with both sides and don’t have to sell out our Republican principles to deal with it,” Kingston said. He likened compromise to a church. “You can compromise on the color of the paint the nursery, but you don’t compromise the doctrine,” he said, saying issues like error rates in the school lunch program and cutting down on the number of job training programs shouldn’t become partisan squabbles.
Representing five military institutions, Kingston said an upcoming sequestration deadline will likely mean civilian layoffs, but he said cuts can be made, and lawmakers can finally get together on a budget that can right any wrongs that come from the scheduled $85 billion cut.
“(The president’s) habit is to believe everything becomes a fiscal cliff and a crisis and a showdown,” Kingston said. “At some point the commander in chief is going to have to assume some responsibilities. ... It is possible to reduce the size of government.”
Kingston said worries about national security and the national debt keep him up at night.
“It’s terrifying when you think about what we are doing to the next generation,” said Kingston, who brought along his son Jim, a student at the University of Georgia, his father’s alma mater. “We have to make tough choices.”
A cyclist, who rides 11 miles to his Washington office on days when it isn’t too cold, Kingston said he hopes to be in Gwinnett often, if he decides to seek the Senate seat.
“It’s very much a battleground,” for the Republican primary, he said, adding that he believes he can bring together the varied groups in the party, from tea party crowds to constitutionalists to moderates.
“We need to be focused on President Obama and Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid,” he said. “There’s plenty of room to come together and take on a liberal government.”
Kingston, who trades off with Rand Paul and Rick Santorum at third base on the congressional baseball team, had little to say at this point about Paul Broun, the Athens congressman who is the only announced candidate in the Senate race.
“I’ve served with Paul and we agree on many things,” Kinston said. “We both want to do what’s best for the country.”
Group endorses Broun
Broun already has the backing of one of the state’s biggest tea party groups in his quest for the GOP nod.
TheTeaParty.net cast its support for Broun, whose district includes eastern Gwinnett, calling him a proven ally in Washington.
“He will be up against well-funded establishment moderates, but we’re going to make sure that what he lacks in deep-pocketed country club fundraisers like Karl Rove he makes up in tens of thousands of citizens who are worried about the future of our nation,” said Todd Cefaratti, founder of TheTeaParty.net. “It comes as no surprise that the Democrats and liberal media would love to see Paul Broun defeated, and they will do everything in their wheelhouse to do just that. That’s why the Tea Party Leadership Fund has endorsed Paul Broun for the United States Senate.”
Broun said he was honored to receive the endorsement.
“TeaParty.Net and their millions of members have played a crucial role in getting conservatives like Rand Paul and Marco Rubio elected, and I am excited about serving side by side with these patriots as Georgia’s next senator,” he said. “I will be the only candidate in this race who is focused on cutting spending in Washington and returning this country to the constitutional, conservative principles that it was built upon.”
Political Notebook appears in the Thursday and Sunday editions of the Gwinnett Daily Post.
Camie Young can be reached via email at email@example.com.
For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/politics.