FIVE Georgia vets run for Congress as Democrats

Pretty interesting observation from CQ Politics.  Four veterans, three of whom fought in Iraq, are all running as Democrats in four different districts in Georgia.  (And actually, First Coast News shows there are five, not four.)

The five are:

GA-01: Bill Gillespie

GA-06: Bill Jones

GA-07: Doug Heckman

GA-10: Bobby Saxon

GA-11: Bud Gammon

First Coast News has more on the candidates.

“When you add all of the guys up together, we’ve probably got close to 75 years of combined military service,” said Bill Jones, a former Air Force officer from Marietta who is planning to launch a campaign this week against Rep. Tom Price of Roswell. “I’m excited about the idea of veterans stepping up and representing the Democratic Party.”


Along with Jones, 53, an Air Force Academy graduate and former commercial airline pilot who is now an executive at a technology firm, the candidates are:

— Doug Heckman, 48, of Norcross, a West Point graduate and former Army colonel who served as a senior adviser to the Iraqi military in east Baghdad in 2006 and 2007. Heckman is trying to unseat eight-term Rep. John Linder of Duluth.

— Bill Gillespie, 44, of Tybee Island, a retired Army lieutenant colonel who was a senior logistician during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Gillespie is challenging eight-term Rep. Jack Kingston of Savannah.

— Bobby Saxon, 46, of Nicholson, an Army veteran and Georgia National Guard major who served with the 3rd Infantry Division in Iraq in 2005. Saxon, who runs a software consulting firm, is challenging freshman Rep. Paul Broun of Athens.

— Bud Gammon, 57, of Rome, an Air Force Academy graduate and pilot during the tail end of the Vietnam War. Gammon, now a commercial airline pilot. Gammon is running against three-term Rep. Phil Gingrey of Marietta.

And since we live in the reality-based community, and not the pie-in-the-sky one…

Despite public dissatisfaction with the war, Democratic veterans have not fared well as congressional candidates. In 2006 only a handful won seats, including just one Iraq veteran, Patrick Murphy of Pennsylvania — despite the party’s boasting that more than 50 veterans were running.

Let’s keep that in mind before going overboard with optimism.

Still, it is rather interesting that so many Iraq War vets are returning home and running for Congress as Democrats, isn’t it?

Now, for those that have issues outlined on their webpages, I do like what I’ve seen so far, for the most part.  I’m under no illusions that these are Democrats running in the reddest of red districts, and in Georgia, no less.  We shouldn’t expect “liberals”, and if you really want to apply those kinds of litmus tests, then here’s a gun for you to shoot yourself in the foot.

But on the major issues, and on what the Republican Party now stands for, these people get it.

Gillespie said Republicans are trying to capitalize on emotion and patriotism while ignoring the huge costs to the military.

“They are playing the politics of fear, and Americans are tired of it,” said Gillespie. “We’ve been training Iraqi forces for five years. I do not believe the Iraqis cannot stand up and defend themselves.”

Aside from Iraq, the candidates say Georgia’s Republicans — among the most conservative in Congress — are too partisan and, as a result, ineffective.

Heckman, who compares his politics to that of former conservative Democratic Sen. Sam Nunn, says his opponent, Linder, has done little over a 16-year career other than push for a long-shot “Fair Tax” plan to eliminate the IRS and shift to a consumption tax.

“He’s written a couple of books and it’s been a profitable endeavor for him … but can anybody name anything this guy has ever done?” Heckman said, referencing Linder’s books with conservative radio commentator Neal Boortz.

Heckman, especially, is really trying to draw contrasts between himself and incumbent John Linder.  I don’t think many Kossacks will be enamored with Heckman’s calling for a Balanced Budget Amendment, but his explanation for it is a pretty good one, focusing on what we’re doing to our children.

The new budget – the Fiscal 2009 budget – has been submitted by the President and is already in deficit by over $400 BILLION dollars. Unacceptable. Collectively, we can not do this to our children. Or to rephrase, we can, but SHOULD not. The bill will come due someday.  Current politicians know they will probably be gone by then.  I say stop it NOW.

Heckman, while saying he’s “generally” a free market kind of guy, does talk about the uneven playing field, and highlights China as a prime example.  He also chides Linder for not believing in man-made global warming.

Bill Gillespie still has a bare bones issues page, but one thing that caught my eye was his calling for the repeal of No Child Left Behind.  Reminds me of Jon Tester calling for the repeal of the Patriot Act.  No fiddling around with it at the borders, just repeal the entire damn thing.  And the environmentalist in me is intrigued by his “South Georgia Alternative Energy Initiative”.

Saxon talks about providing all Georgia children with healthcare, and making it affordable for everyone else.  Reminds me of what a certain presidential candidate is saying….  He also calls for more Alternative Energy industries working with our top research universities in creating green jobs and making our country more energy independent.

Gammon and Jones don’t have an actual issues page set up yet, so I can’t comment on those.

All in all, yes, these are going to be pretty ridiculous longshots for the Democrats, but this is Howard Dean’s 50-state strategy in action.  Challenge EVERY seat, no matter how red, with credible candidates.  And these veterans are most certainly credible.

GA-11 Candidate Kicks-off’s On Sunday’s Kudzu Vine!

Georgia's 11th Congressional District candidate will be announced, interviewed, and his campaign site will launch on Sunday's Kudzu Vine!

Also, don't forget Jim Spearman, Ex. Director of the Alabama Democratic Party will join us on the Kudzu Vine Sunday Night. Jim will discuss their US Senate race, defending Bud Cramer's seat, and 2 possible Congressional pick-ups in the state.

Listen live at 7:00 EST or download later here