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Seven Republicans squaring off for U.S. Congress in 10th District; Johnson challenged on District 4 Dem ballot

Mike Collins

Mike Collins

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Gary Gerrard

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Jody Hice

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Stephen Simpson

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Donna Sheldon

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Brian Slowinski

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Mitchell Swan

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Tom Brown

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Hank Johnson

With their congressman now on the ballot for U.S. Senate, the voters of U.S. House District 10 have many choices for their next representative.

With seven Republicans in the race, the May 20 primary features a pastor, a politician, a business owner, two military men, an attorney and a tea party activist.

Here is a look at the candidates in the district, which encompasses eastern Gwinnett and Barrow counties, along with 23 other counties.

In a year where Georgia politics has some familiar names in the mix — like Perdue, Nunn and Carter — the House District 10 race is no different.

Mike Collins is the oldest son of former U.S. Rep. Mac Collins, but he has based his campaign on his own business experience, not his father’s political background.

“We need to tackle this country’s national debt and we can get that started by getting jobs back in this economy and reforming our entitlements,” said Collins, who lives in Jackson. “I am the only candidate in this race who owns and operates a business on a daily basis. I believe the way we get this economy turned around is to send people to Washington who have firsthand experience creating jobs and know what taxes and regulations do to small businesses.”

Jody Hice first entered the political fray when a Ten Commandments lawsuit was filed in Barrow County.

Four years after getting to a runoff in a congressional race in House District 7 (the lines have since been redrawn), the retired pastor, who now is a conservative radio show host, is back on the ballot.

“Most of my adult life, I have been invested in reclaiming our nation and returning to our constitutional roots. I recognize that the Constitution authorizes only 18 enumerated areas for Congress to act; everything else should be left to the people and the states,” Hice said. “The amount of intrusive government laws and programs coming out of Washington is staggering, and this trend must stop. I will lead the fight, just as I did when the ACLU tried to take the Ten Commandments out of the courthouse in Barrow County, and when I took a stand against the IRS when they tried to censor pastors at the pulpit.”

Stephen Simpson’s first deployment to Washington was with the U.S. Army, serving as the secretary’s representative to Capitol Hill.

Now retired to his hometown of Milledgeville, Simpson wants to represent the people of District 10. He is mounting a new campaign two years after challenging Broun for the role.

“As a fourth generation military veteran, love of country and servant leadership is a way of life. We have too many politicians and too few leaders in Washington,” said Simpson, who counts job creation, tax reform and balancing the federal budget as his top goals. “Doing the right thing for our country and our future is far more important than self, political party or one’s own reelection. In office I will put the needs of the people I serve far above the politics of Washington and reelection.”

Donna Sheldon is the only candidate among the crowd who has first-hand experience in elected office.

During a 10-year stint in the state Legislature, the Dacula woman quickly rose to a leadership position as state House caucus chair, and she wants to use her skills in hashing out solutions in Congress.

“As we know, the solutions to problems in Atlanta are not the same as the solutions to problems in Monroe, so the federal government needs to understand that the solutions to problems in Maine are not necessarily the solutions to problems in Georgia. I will work with every member of Congress to find ways to allow more power to reside with the states. I understand that will be difficult with many members of Congress, but I will work to achieve this goal even if I have to achieve it one step at a time,” Sheldon said. “Any child can stand on his or her chair and scream “no” at the top of his or her lungs, but I think we have too many children in Congress as it is. We face serious problems in this country, and we need serious men and women to solve them.”

Gary Gerrard isn’t just promising to pass a balanced federal budget, he has signed a contract that he won’t seek congressional pay until it happens.

“With a national debt of over $16 trillion that’s increasing by the second, Congress has not passed a budget in over three years. Instead, they just bicker and call each other names,” said Gerrard, an attorney from Oglethorpe County. “It’s obvious to me that Congress is broken. As your Congressman, I will fight to balance the federal budget now and for future generations by cutting spending without raising taxes and by adopting a balanced budget Constitutional amendment.

Brian Slowinski, who has chaired the Columbia County Republican Party and the county’s tea party, said his first vote would be to fire the House Speaker and support new leadership. Even before working to defund Obamacare, Slowinski said rules should be set to required recorded votes, give more time to read bills and stop bad bills from being approved by the unanimous consent rule.

“I am a non-establishment out of the box thinker who will upset the applecart thru action not words. I am a work horse not a show horse because of my background as a grassroots, conservative, tea party republican,” Slowinski said. “I am the Republican base candidate Washington fears because I am not influenced by their promises of money or power.”

Another military man in the race is Mitchell Swan, a colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves who spent two years writing policy in the Middle East. With a special needs child who gives him a unique perspective on health care issues, Swan also believes he can kickstart the economy by creating a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants and reforming the tax code code to implement a flat tax.

“I am an analytical and complex problem solver; by training and experience,” Swan said. “I believe the most enduring policies are established when individuals are able to negotiate solutions without compromising their opposing ideologies; these are known as win-win situations. Unfortunately, our current leaders in Washington seek ‘win-lose’ solutions that only reward one political position.”

The winner of the May 20 primary — or a July 22 runoff, in necessary — will face Democrat Ken Dious in the November general election.

Congressional District 4

In southern and western Gwinnett, Democratic voters will choose between U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson and his challenger, retired DeKalb County Sheriff Tom Brown.

Johnson said he is proud of his record the last eight years in office.

“As a champion of fairness for working families, I have introduced, co-sponsored and passed legislation to level the playing field and create opportunity,” Johnson said. “I have consistently supported legislation to ensure everyone has access to employment opportunities and affordable healthcare. I have championed consumer protection, education, civil liberties and public safety.”

He wants to continue work on jobs and the economy, including his legislation the Help Entrepreneurs Act and the Small Business Fairness & Transparency Act.

Brown, though, says more should be done.

“Few things are as empowering as a decent job with decent pay,” he said. “Unfortunately the 4th District remains today at the top in the sad and frustrating category of unemployment. Yes, the 4th lags behind almost all Congressional districts in the U.S. when it comes to job development and creation. That must change. So my top goal will be to bring economic development and new jobs to the district. To accomplish that, we need a strong voice that will be heard and respected by the federal and state governments, the chambers of commerce in the region and big and small businesses. I will be that strong and effective voice in Congress.”