HARTWELL – U.S. Rep. Doug Collins was put on the defensive here Tuesday night as his four primary challengers sought to position themselves as more constitutionally-focused alternatives who could shift the balance of power in Washington away from the executive branch.
The Republicans challenging Collins, R-Gainesville, for his Ninth District congressional seat slammed several of the major votes he cast in the last year at a candidate forum sponsored by the Hart County Chamber that drew a standing room-only crowd of more than 300. In the crosshairs were his votes in favor of John Boehner for speaker, an education policy measure and a more than $1 trillion government spending bill that did not zero out funding for Planned Parenthood, which they said indicated Collins has strayed from his campaign promises.
“Doug as a person, I like him a lot, he’s a good guy … but I just don’t like the way he votes and the omnibus bill was the final straw. There is so much in that bill that was bad, so many votes that he’s made up there that were simply bad,” said Mike Scupin.
All four challengers vowed to focus on returning Washington to more constitutional principles and said there needed to be a widespread leadership change.
“Folks, the establishment need to go home,” said Paul Broun.
Collins defended his legislative record, as well as his credentials on abortion. He framed himself as a productive lawmaker with a track record of notching wins for his constituents, including on water rights and allowing residents to self-select their TV market, as well as his current work to pressure Windstream to address customer complaints.
“That’s action. That’s actually taking the concerns of constituents, going to Washington, D.C., and doing something about it,” Collins said of the water wars saga in last year’s spending bill.
The forum overall did not prompt the fiery rhetoric that has frequently defined the Ninth District primary since the candidates were not allowed to engage with one another.